Lazarus and the Rich Man – part two

The poor man (Lazarus) died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.”

Did you notice that the rich man has no name? It was common in Parables of Jesus that none of the characters were given names. Since Jesus gave no name in any of the other  parables, it is important to note that the beggar is given the name Lazarus, which means, “God has helped.” 

An exchange takes place where the rich man, does not asks but commands Abraham to send Lazarus to ease his pain in Hades.

His self-importance and selfishness, it seems, extends even into hell itself. Doesn’t it?

This … formerly … rich man hasn’t lost any of his arrogance even in hell. He believes that the worthless Lazarus should be sent to hell to serve his needs.

In this parable Abraham responds by calling the rich man “child” or in some translations “son”, recognizing that this man is also a descendant of his. However, Abraham tells the rich man that Lazarus cannot do as he demands. The is no passage between heaven and hell. As Abraham explains, “Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed.”

Their fortunes have certainly changed, haven’t they?.  

In their earthly lives, the rich man consumed all the best things of the earth while Lazarus was afflicted with unbearable pain, suffering, and humiliation.

However now see how Lazarus is healed and comforted by Father Abraham himself, while the rich man is suffering in a place of eternal torment.

It is amazing how God’s justice and mercy … work hand in hand. Right?

Prayer
Jesus, our savior, by your sacrifice we have all become Lazarus (which means, “God has helped.”) By your  resurrection you conquered death and made the way for our resurrection. For it is  written, “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Lord, before that day arrives, cause us to see “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” through your loving eyes. Amen.

All content (except quotations) ©2019 Thomas E. Williams
Originally published September 16, 2019

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Lazarus and the Rich Man part one

Luke 16:19-21

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”

Lazarus and the Rich Man part one

This is a parable of extremes. For this was not just a rich man this was a very rich man who lived a life of excess. Observe his clothing made of the finest cloth and colored purple, the most expensive dye to use. It was extracted from thousands upon thousand of snails by boiling them in lead vats. So wearing purple as his daily clothing indicates a man of great wealth and also great vanity, such as those Scribes that Jesus condemned in Luke 20:46-47 where he said, “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.”

This man ate each day like it was a feast day, which demonstrates that he had food in excess that was not shared but consumed by him alone.

He also had a gate to his residence which suggests that his property was walled around to protect those things that he had gathered to himself and to isolate himself. We also know that, though Lazarus begged at his gate every day, he never opened the gate to him.

Lazarus was not only a poor man; this was a man who lived a painful, pitiful life every day. His body was covered in open seeping sores. He was lame or at least too weak to walk as evidenced by the fact that he was laid at the gate. This also suggests that, even in such a dreadful state, he had friends who cared enough to bring him daily to the rich man’s gate. He was so weak that he couldn’t even stop the dogs from licking his wounds. On top of this, he was starving to death. He was to the point of asking to eat the same crumbs that the dogs ate from the floor beneath the table.

What a gulf there was between these two men’s standing in society. One was respected, possibly feared, because of his great wealth. He would have had the best seats at banquets and the synagogue. He would have had servants or slaves to do his every bidding. No doubt he was the envy of many in the town.

Lazarus, on the other had was shunned and shut out of most of society. Though he starved, he was not invited to anyones feast. Under the Law of Moses he would be considered unclean and untouchable. He was not only expelled from society but also physically expelled from the village.

Remember that I said he had friends that would daily bring him to the rich man’s gate? Hear these words from Numbers 19:22. “Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be unclean until evening.” His helpers, by helping him would also become ritually unclean for that day. Even if they never touched him but only carried him on a may or blanket … by touching what he touched, they made themselves also untouchable until sundown.

There is much more to this parabel. However I want to stop here and ask an important question, “With whom do you identify in this story?”

  • Are you Lazarus? Are you ill or confirm? Are you an outcast in society? Are you at the poverty level or below? Are you unable to supply your basic needs? If this is you please contact your pastor.
  • Are you the rich man? Do you have more than your basic needs met?  Do you own your own home or property? Are you highly thought of in your community? Do you have a reliable income? Do you have discretionary income? If you have income beyond your basic needs do you spend it on yourself or to assist those in need? If this is you, and this devotion causes you to rethink how your discretionary income is spent, contact your pastor.
  • Are you the friends of the beggar? Are you the primary caregiver of someone else? Do you provide physical or financial aid to those in need? Are you willing to give up your social standing to help someone in need? Are you willing to risk your own health to assist someone in need? If this is you, first of all, thank you. Now, if you would like to expand your outreach or missionary work, contact your pastor.”

Take a moment and consider how you would answer Lord Jesus, if he were to ask these questions.

Prayer
Father, I admit that I have not always been a good steward with the resources you have given me. Forgive me. Open my eyes and my heart that i might see where my abundance might be used to further your kingdom. Guide me into being a better servant for you. Amen.

All content (except quotations) ©2019 Thomas E. WilliamsOriginally published September 14, 2019

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WIDOW’S BREAD

WIDOW’S BREAD

1 Kings 17:10-16

                When Elijah came near the town gate of Zarephath, he saw a widow gathering sticks for a fire. “Would you please bring me a cup of water?” he asked. As she left to get it, he asked, “Would you also please bring me a piece of bread?”

                The widow answered, “In the name of the living Lord your God, I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour and a little olive oil. I’m on my way home now with these few sticks to cook what I have for my son and me. After that, we will starve to death.”  

                Elijah said, “Everything will be fine. Do what you said. Go home and fix something for you and your son. But first, please make a small piece of bread and bring it to me. The Lord God of Israel has promised that your jar of flour won’t run out and your bottle of oil won’t dry up before he sends rain for the crops.”

                The widow went home and did exactly what Elijah had told her. She and Elijah and her family had enough food for a long time. The Lord kept the promise that his prophet Elijah had made, and she did not run out of flour or oil.

            A handful of flour and a little olive oil that is a very basic recipe for bread.  There was no time for livening. The widow and her son were starving to death. This was to be their last meal.  All that was on hand to eat was flour, oil and water. 

            I made bread from this recipe, although I added just a pinch of salt.  This bread was for the communion meal during worship. It seemed a fitting way to end our season of worship at Cutty’s Des Moines Campground.

            Because space is at a premium, campers and RVers know how to “make do with a little”.  With this handful of flour and a little olive oil we fed the twenty or so people who attended our last worship service for the season. 

            The story of turning a little into “a lot” or at least “enough” is the story of God’s love for us.  We turn over the little we have to God and He makes it enough. Sometimes He makes it an overflowing blessing so that we may bless others.  The widow did this with Elijah and certainly Christ has done it for us.

Prayer

Lord who fed the multitude on a notes blue boy’s lunch, thank you for the abundance you provide for us. Forgive us when we see only our scarcity and overlook the bounty you have prepared for us. Amen.

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    All content (except quotations)
    ©2011, 2019 Thomas E Williams

    Originally posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Tom.aka.santa@gmail.com 

    MY PEACE I GIVE

    MUSINGS – May 14 2018

    MY PEACE I GIVE

    Matthew 10:34-38
    “Don’t think that I came to bring peace to earth. I didn’t come to bring peace but conflict. I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A person’s enemies will be the members of his own family.
    “The person who loves his father or mother more than me does not deserve to be my disciple. The person who loves a son or daughter more than me does not deserve to be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me doesn’t deserve to be my disciple.”
    John 14:27 has Jesus saying “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.” This at first seems to be contradictory to the scripture quoted above. But look at what he is saying. His peace is not the peace of the world. His peace is peace with God and with fellow followers. It is not peace with the world, for the world doesn’t accept it.

    There are televangelists who seem to preach a gospel of peace and prosperity, as though becoming a Christian will be an easy road filled with earthly riches. No one who studies the Bible and the lives of the saints could believe that there is not pain and hardship in serving the Lord.
    Some people read the story known as “The Rich Young Ruler” in Mark 10:17-22 and think, when Jesus asked him to give up everything, that He was asking more of him than any of his other followers. But that’s not true. Everyone that Jesus called was asked to give up their previous life and follow him.* And, friends, that hasn’t changed in all these years since. Jesus wants to be number one in your life. Sometimes that means there is going to be strife between family and friends who haven’t given their FULL life to Christ. And is certainly means that, in this Godless world, there will be problems.

    How do you answer the call to put Jesus first, above everyone and everything else?

    Prayer

    Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that i have failed in the pay to put to you first. I’ve allowed my self interest, my family, my work, an and even my pleasures to take precedence over you. Forgive me I pray. I now give myself wholly to you to be led by your spirit. Amen
    *Matt 4:18-20, Luke 5:27-32
    All content (except quotations) © 2018, 2019 Thomas E. Williams

    HURRY – HE IS RISEN

    MUSING _ April 01 2018

    HURRY – HE IS RISEN

    Matthew 28:1-10
    After the day of worship, as the sun rose Sunday morning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly, there was a powerful earthquake. An angel of the Lord had come down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and was sitting on it. He was as bright as lightning, and his clothes were as white as snow. The guards were so deathly afraid of him that they shook. The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He’s not here. He has been brought back to life as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly, and tell his disciples that he has been brought back to life. He’s going ahead of them into Galilee. There they will see him. Take note that I have told you.” They hurried away from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them and greeted them. They went up to him, bowed down to worship him, and took hold of his feet. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go, tell my followers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.”

    Go tell His followers, “You, hurry away from his tomb with fear and great joy and run to make new disciples.”

    Prayer

    Lord, fill me with that infectious excitement that can’t be contained so that I must tell everyone, “He is risen!!!”

    © 2018, 2019 Thomas E. Williams

    Fruit Trees

    MUSINGS
    Fruit Trees

    Mark 11:12-14

    The next day, when they left Bethany, Jesus became hungry. In the distance he saw a fig tree with leaves. He went to see if he could find any figs on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves because it wasn’t the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again!” His disciples heard this.

    When I read this scripture section, it made me think of the Snickers candybar commercial where the person is “hangery” until he eats a Snickers, which changes him into a different person.

    To set the scene here: this is the morning after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He had entered amid the crowd shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is our ancestor David’s kingdom that is coming! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10) He had gone straight to the (temple) courtyard, where he looked around at everything. Since it was already late, he went out with the twelve apostles to Bethany. (Mark 11:11)

    Both his examining the temple courtyard and his cursing of the fig tree foreshadow what comes next. You’ll have to stay tuned ’till tomorrow to see what happens next.

    For today let us concern ourselves with the story at hand. A hungry Jesus went to the Fig Tree expecting to find something to eat. The problem is as Mark states, it’s not the season for figs. So why would Jesus curse the tree when it had no figs before the time of figs? The answer can be found in the fact that the tree had leaves. Since it bore leaves, it should also have had what is called taqsh by the Arabs, a sort of fore-runner of the real figs. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear unaccompanied by taqsh, there will be no figs that year. So it was evident to our Lord, that the absence of the taqsh meant that there would be no figs when the time of figs came.

    So in the natural, we can understand how Jesus knew the tree to be barren. I believe that there is more to the story here. I believe that this is a visual parabel.

    A barren fig tree is as useless as …

    • A people who reject their savior (Luke 19:41-44)
    • A professing Christian who has borne no fruit (Matthew 7:15-20, James 2:18)

    Prayer

    Creator as you created each tree to bear fruit containing seeds of its own kind, you also expect your children to bear fruit by sharing the gosple to expand the kingdom. Lord, I want to be a tree well rooted by the river of life. Let the seeds in my fruit become trees that also bear fruit. Let those with whom I share the gosple also share the gosple. In Jesus name, amen.

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    All content (except quotations)
    ©2019 Thomas E. Williams

    Calm My Fears

    Mark 11:1-10

    When they came near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead of him. He said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As you enter it, you will find a young donkey tied there. No one has ever sat on it. Untie it, and bring it. If anyone asks you what you are doing, say that the Lord needs it. That person will send it here at once.” The disciples found the young donkey in the street. It was tied to the door of a house. As they were untying it, some men standing there asked them, “Why are you untying that donkey?” The disciples answered them as Jesus had told them. So the men let them go. They brought the donkey to Jesus, put their coats on it, and he sat on it.* Many spread their coats on the road. Others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them on the road. Those who went ahead and those who followed him were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is our ancestor David’s kingdom that is coming! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”


    Two things that I noticed with this reading that I head not previously considered, the colt was borrowed and it had never been ridden.

    The react that it was borrowed just brought to king king mind how dependent the Lord was on others. When he said in Matthew 8:28, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” he was being literal. He who caused everything to come into being (John 1:3), had no earthly possessions.


    Next, the fact that the donkey had never been ridden means they it had not been trained to accept a rider. Carrying someone on its back is not a natural thing for it. For all intents as purposes it was a wild creature. However, he who calmed the storm, was certainly able to quiet the fears of that young animal.


    What do these things mean to me? How does it apply it to my life? I am often anxious about haveing enough. Enough money, enough food, enough gas, enough time, enough etc.


    Prayer

    Lord, who from nothing created everything, forgive me for my fearful poverty-thinking. You are sufficient for me. You can supply all my needs. Thank you, gracious Lord.


    Zechariah 9:9

    *Rejoice with all your heart, people of Zion! Shout in triumph, people of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you: He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and rides on a donkey, on a colt, a young pack animal.



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    All content (except quotations) ©2019 Thomas E. Williams