(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Luke Ch. 15 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-10) In Luke 15, there are three well-known parables, especially the Parable of the Prodigal Son (actually, the three parables can be regarded as one parable and the third verse of Luke 15 is expressed in the singular form: “this parable”). But, before we review this parable, let us examine verses 1-10.
The scripture tells us the main reason Jesus talked in parables is because once, someone grumbled about Jesus privately when Jesus was preaching: “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Of course, it was the Pharisees and scribes.
In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, let us understand the significance of searching for the lost sheep in the countryside until we find it, leaving the ninety-nine sheep behind. The purpose is to let people know that as long as there is one sinner who repents, there will be rejoicing in heaven!
In the Parable of the Lost Coin, the woman exhausted her mind – lighting up a lamp and sweeping her entire place – trying her best to find this one lost silver coin. The purpose is the same: to let people know that as long as one sinner repents, there will be rejoicing in the presence of God’s angels!
This is all in response to the previous discussion made by the Pharisees and scribes. It can be seen that tax collectors and sinners are equally precious in God’s eyes. If they repent, God will rejoice. In the parables, when compared to those “righteous people who do not need to repent,” and (who are self-righteous and talk about Jesus in private, they are even more precious!)
(vv. 11-32) In the last parable, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father divided and allowed the younger son to take away the inheritance he wanted while the father was still alive. It was not until the younger son wasted all of his possessions that he finally woke up. At this time, let us take a look at a few actions of the father:
- His “eyes” moved: the younger son decided to go home, and he saw him when he was still far away;
- His “heart” moved: moved with compassion;
- His “feet” moved: he ran to the younger son;
- His “hand” moved: holding the younger son’s neck;
- His “mouth” moved: kissed his younger son again and again.
After that, the father ordered the servants to do the following: take out the best robes, a ring, and shoes, and place them on the younger son; also, slaughter a fattened calf with food and drink to welcome his younger son’s return.
In the parable, we see that this father was “moved” in many ways, but he was not moved to anger! On the contrary, the older son became angry and had to ask his father to persuade him not to fume furiously. In fact, when it came to dividing the father’s estate, the older son already received what he deserved (in verse 12 it is said: “And he divided his property between them”) so why was he angry? From his words, we may understand the reason for his anger. He said: “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!”
The older son never left the house and lived with his father, but he could not consider his father’s will. His father rejoiced for the younger brother who was “dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.“ On the contrary, the older son was angry and his attitude reflected the heart of the Pharisees and scribes at the beginning of this chapter!
These three parables help us more deeply understand how God sees a sinner’s willingness to repent. King David once said: ”The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
In addition, we should consider our Lord’s will, care for the lost, help them hear the gospel, and return to the heavenly father through his son, Jesus. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the “awakening” of the younger son represents a very important key to our spiritual lives. Perhaps our future seems gloomy and bleak, and our lives feel as if we are reaching the end. What we should learn is to “wake up,” think about God’s will in our lives, return to God, and rebuild an intimate relationship with Him!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)