There are a lot of grumblers in our churches and in society. People who are constantly disapproving of what others do. Churches have determined what a Christian should look like and how they should think. Anyone who does not measure up to their conception is not Christian. How sad. There are also political parties out there who do the same. They scream and yell at you, set things on fire, riot and kill if you do not agree with them. This is what happens when God is taken out of our churches and society. Without God, there is no Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit of God to work on the heart, the heart is left to its sinful state. The heart by itself is desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9). Only good comes from God. Without God, there is no good. Evil is all that is left. Amazing how few give thanks to God for the good they do. Instead of griping, complaining and grumbling, churches need to rejoice when a sinner returns to Jesus. That doesn’t mean we accept the sin, it means we help the sinner to confess, repent and turn away from sin. There still may be sins in her life, but her desire is to remove them and live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. Those griping, complaining and grumbling haven’t yet found Jesus. They haven’t yet confessed, repented and turned away from their sins. They are the ones who are lost. Churches today are like the churches of Christ’s day, hotbeds of vice, sin, wickedness and damnation; all under the guise of sanctity. We make sure we have the symbols such as steeples, crosses, stained glass windows, tall ceilings, appropriate music and proper attire to look sacred; but the hearts are full of sin. Luke 15:1 to Luke 16:17 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. I love that! “Drawing near to hear Him”. Are we drawing near to hear Jesus? Or are we drawing near to our pastors, churches and denominational publications? We need to draw near to Jesus by opening His Word and reading with a desire to hear only Him. I think there are too many of us who are actually fearful of “drawing near to hear Him” because we love our sins. Our sins are “Ok”. It is “their” sins that are bad. They need to draw near to Jesus. Me? I go to church! And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Yes He did. He received sinners. He even “eats with them”. Why? So they can experience the joy of Jesus. So they can feel His righteous character overflowing to them. So they would be able to hear and see how to live His perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. Many express the same attitude towards this little ministry. I associate with sinners to bring them God’s Word. But the “good” church people are offended and grumble. So he told them this parable: I’m still trying to understand and put that concept into practice. I don’t think I’m learning very fast. He didn’t condemn them openly. He didn’t embarrass them in front of the “sinners”. He told a parable. Maybe we should draw closer to Jesus to hear His parables. I wish I knew how to give parables. “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? Since the Pharisees were the ones who offered the lambs to “appease” God, yes, I am sure they raised sheep to sell to “sinners”. It was a very profitable arrangement. Raise the sheep. Sell the lamb to a sinner. Collect a fee to sacrifice the lamb from the sinner. We even try to fleece the lamb before we sell it as a sacrifice to get more from it. God would be proud of us! Yep, we don’t want one lamb getting lost. It makes lots of money for our church! And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Absolutely! Ching, ching! I can just hear the cash register now. More money! And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ “Ok, time for evening sacrifice, who needed this lamb? Let’s rejoice that I can help a sinner pay his debt to God.” Remember, Jesus is talking to Pharisees. It was they who were grumbling. Could this be what they were thinking? Is your church only thinking of money when they go looking for the lost? Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Wait a minute, what did Jesus say? Over a sinner who ‘repents’? No, no, no, over a sinner who buys my lamb and then pays me to sacrifice it! After all, if they repent and stop sinning, they won’t need to buy my lamb anymore.” Jesus was truly confounding church leaders. He taught nothing about belonging to their church. Nothing about their rituals, traditions or sacrifices. Nothing about honoring them as the rightful teachers of the people. “Get rid of this man!” “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? Jesus was not sexist. He believed in equal opportunity and salvation for all. A man had sheep and a woman her coins. Both lost something of value to them. Both searched diligently for the lost and found it. Both celebrated the find with friends and neighbors. I believe that most church members are not even aware that they have lost a lamb or a coin. They see people coming and going in their church and never diligently seek who is lost. Not much rejoicing over the “lost and found” in our churches, unless it was a person’s wallet that was lost and found. I think our priorities are all out of place. And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Not much of that going on in today’s world. We rejoice when one has bought a new car, a new refrigerator, received a scholarship, found a new job, etc. Somewhere along the way we lost our love for souls. The love of most has turned freezing cold. Can somebody turn the heat up, please? Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Notice, it isn’t about a sinner joining a church. It isn’t about a sinner claiming to be a Christian. No, the angels of God rejoice over “one sinner who repents”. Heaven rejoices when we repent and turn away from sin. Our churches rejoice over a new carpet, organ, pews and a new pastor. How far we have fallen. And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Interesting that the father did not argue with the son and try to stop him. Free will was understood back then. Today, society doesn’t believe in freedom. Everyone is trying to persuade and influence everyone else to do what they want you to do. That is why only people who have voluntarily stopped sinning will be in Heaven. It is freedom of choice. There are those in today’s world, whether religions or political parties, who don’t want you to have freedom of choice. They want to control everything you say, think and do. If you don’t agree with them, they cancel you. A day is coming when God is going to cancel them. As we do to others, it will be done to us. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. I think too many of us are doing the same. We are taking the blessings that our Heavenly Father has given us and are squandering them on reckless living. We spend and spend and spend on ourselves, but very little of it has to do with our duty to our Father. We have truly taken a “journey into a far country” away from our Father. Many of us may not realize we are in “reckless living”, but when compared with the life of Jesus, good probability. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. Not just physically or economically, but spiritually. There will come a time when we will begin “to be in need”. We will recognize how foolish we have been and how dependent we really are on our Father. I pray that we recognize it before it is too late. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. We attempt to fill that need by hiring ourselves out to the world. We look to the world to satisfy our needs. We look for the “perfect” job. We search for the “right” woman. We look for the right savings and retirement plans. We look to everything except our Father. It is all crashing down upon us. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. We look longingly around us hoping that something will fill that desire; that need within us. We have wandered far from our Father and His blessings, and must come to the realization that nothing of this world will satisfy the love and care our Father has for us. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! So few actually come to themselves. Most are still running from one pigsty to another trying to satisfy themselves. They flip channels from MSNBC to ABC to CBS and CNN to satisfy themselves. They go from one “pod” to another IPod thinking that all the new toys will fill the void. All the “pods” of this world will never fill the emptiness of the heart. I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ Until we recognize we are not worthy, we will never appreciate our Father and what He has for us. Lucifer, standing beside the Father, began to feel that he was worthy and that the Father owed him. He became selfish and lifted himself up. We can never get to heaven until we empty ourselves of self and feel our unworthiness. Looking at Christ on the cross is the only way we can truly understand our unworthiness. Why do you think the devil is working so hard to keep our eyes off the cross? Instead of looking to the cross, he has us looking to Easter and Christmas, he has us looking to the church, our pastor or our denomination. But nothing will help us understand our unworthiness like the cross. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. The Father is waiting to embrace us. He is waiting to kiss us. He has great compassion for us. He wants to clothe us with His robe of righteousness. But until we feel the need of His embrace, His kiss and His compassion, we will never experience it. We must empty ourselves of all self-righteousness, pride, worthiness and all the “I” the world has to offer. Then we can arise and go to the Father in our unworthiness. Interesting concept. After Jesus had humbled Himself before the world, he then arose the third day and went to His Father. His Father saw Him coming from a long way off and sent all heaven to embrace Him and lead Him to the throne where the Father kissed and embraced Him for a sacrifice well done. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ This was not a “canned” speech. This was not a show. He recognized the superiority of His Father. He recognized his own inferiority. The world today, since about the 1960’s, has been inculcating into children, and society, the idea that we are worthy. That we are special. That we are important. That “I” am to be respected and given everything “I” want. All of that has only destroyed our families and society today. It will also destroy our eternal life. Fewer and fewer feel their need to work for the respect of society and the Father. Only a humble recognition of our unworthiness will be accepted by the Father. But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Once we recognize that we are unworthy, and actually live the part of unworthiness, humbly accepting our Father as supreme in our lives, then He will be able to trust us with the finest He has to offer. I recognize every day that I am unworthy; that I am stupid, dumb and ignorant. Then I am able to accept all that my Father offers me. It is all His. He is simply sharing what He has with me to use for His praise, honor and glory. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. Yes, he was a “good” son, working hard in the church “for” God. He was in the mission fields, house to house, soup kitchens, passing out clothes and served as deacon. But he was angry that his Father would accept back one who had not labored as hard as himself; one who had squandered His goods. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘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!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” The Father treated both the same. All He had was theirs. The “good” son and the “bad” son both would receive as they loved. The oldest son was having a real hard time loving. He thought his hard work entitled him. He didn’t realize that all the work in the world would not make up for an ounce of love. We must have the love of Jesus in our hearts or the work we do will be useless. I’m still working on that one. He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. Both the prodigal son and this manager wasted possessions. What made the difference? The prodigal son did not deceive his father. He was straight up with him. He wanted what was his and left. After all, it was his inheritance. The manager took what wasn’t his and deceived the rich man. The possessions did not belong to the manager. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ The son could continue working for the father. Why? Because it was his possessions he wasted. He didn’t lie or cheat his father. He would come back and serve, working with honesty and integrity. The manager had been lying, cheating and stealing. His character was so far gone there was no chance for redemption. There was also no mention of repentance or sorrow for his wrongs. His only thought was about himself. And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. Instead of repenting, he justified himself and began looking for a way out. He was looking at his own talents, gifts and abilities, “strong” and “ashamed”. He should have been bowing before the master humbly asking for forgiveness and to be given any position the master was willing to give him. No, he was looking for a way to continue his deceptions. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ He decides to become shrewd. Maybe the debtors were in trouble and might not have paid their debt. Therefore, he provided a way for them to pay. Maybe they would appreciate his shewed management skills. So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ Ok, maybe the master received the debts paid and was thankful to get anything at all. After all, hard times are hard times. But it wasn’t right for the manager to make those decisions. The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. You can respect a criminal for his excellent criminal behavior, but he is still a criminal. The manager was still dishonest and deceptive. Therefore, he could not retain his position as manager. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. In most cases, that is a fact. The people of the world are far more involved in their business dealings and earthly desires than Christians are in their dealings with and desires for Heaven and eternal life. Do we pay as close attention to finding the lost as we do balancing our checkbooks? Do we pay as close attention to finding the lost as we do to buying a pair of shoes? Are we “sons of light” or sons of sales and bargains? And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. That ends the conversation about the shewed manager. Now, looking at His disciples, Jesus is expressing His desire that instead of being shrewd and involved with this world and its “unrighteous wealth”, we need to use the “unrighteous wealth” of this world, not for selfishness, but to make friends for the purpose of bringing them to eternal life. We are not to be unfaithful as the shrewd manager was, but faithful in the little things that have to do with eternal life. How many friends have you made with worldly (unrighteous) wealth whom you have brought to Jesus? “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. We must be perfect in all we do. Whether it be little or much, hidden or publicized, everything is seen by God and we will be judge by what we do. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? If we have been deficient in worldly wealth by stealing, being dishonest and managing badly, God cannot trust us with the souls of men. God has entrusted me with this ministry along with the equipment, financing, supplies and property. I pray I am faithful with it. Sometimes I feel it is all for naught. And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? If as a worker for another you have been unfaithful, deceitful, dishonest, how can God give you a mission of your own for the salvation of others? You will be lost, along with those you were not willing to bring to salvation. No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” You cannot serve the things of this world and expect eternal life. We must give up this world in our hearts. God only lends us the things of this world to bring others to eternal life. If we use the things of this world selfishly, we are not serving God and will lose our eternal life. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. Many of those who claim to be Christians ridicule God by the quantity and quality of this world’s goods they possess. Claiming to be Christian, but using their abilities to acquire worldly goods, is ridiculing God and blasphemy. Everything we have is to be used for the advancement of the gospel. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Yes He does. Most Christians are an “abomination in the sight of God”. They go to church, pat themselves on their back and think they are blessed by God for all the wealth He has given them. That “wealth” will be their downfall and will condemn them in the end. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. Yes they are. People are building more and more churches to satisfy their selfish hearts. They pay preachers well to preach good things to them. They think they are saved. They have the “good news of the Kingdom of God”, but they don’t have the “good news of the Kingdom of God” in their hearts. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. The Law of God teaches humility: not to steal, not to lie and to love others as yourself. But Christians today steal, lie and show their “hate” to others by not putting their wealth to work for the salvation of the lost. God’s Law can never be done away with. It is the character of God. God is love. God gave Himself for the salvation of the world. Have you?