What We ValueHow often do you read the Bible?
Top Music Videos
Sunday March 23
rules and grace
Students in a Christian elementary school lined up at the lunch table to get their food. At the head of the table was a pile of apples. A teacher made the following note and posted it on the apple tray: “Take only ONE. God is watching.” At the end of the table, next to a large tray of chocolate chip cookies, a clever student placed this note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”
This cute tale illustrates two different kinds of people— those who follow rules and those who break them.
In response to the Pharisees complaining about Jesus socializing with sinners, He shared a story about two brothers—one obsessed with rule-keeping, the other a rule-breaker (Luke 15:11-31). The youngest brother, the rule-breaking “prodigal son,” usually gets the most attention. But let’s briefly consider the rule-following older brother.
Furious that his father was throwing a huge welcome home party for “this son of yours” who broke every rule in the book, he spouts off to his dad, “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to do. And in all that time you never gave me . . . a feast with my friends” (vv.29-30).
The older brother’s tirade says it all—a life controlled by rule-keeping turned him into an embittered slave who was just as “lost” as his brother.
The father (who represents God), however, was just as gracious with his older son as he was with his younger. When the oldest refused to enter the party, the father “came out” to see him. And rather than scold, he gently pleaded with his son to join the celebration (vv.28-31).
Are you like the “older brother”? Join the party of God’s grace. It’s for you too! —Jeff Olson
The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him (v.28).
Read Mark 2:23-28 and see how Jesus challenged the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath rules.
How does your life tend to be dominated by rules? Why is it important to follow God’s commands but also to understand His grace?
- What We Value - How often do you read the Bible?...read more
- The Job Paradox - When have you missed an opportunity to follow God’s guidance during a difficult time?...read more
- Begging the Question? - Do you ever feel pressure to share your faith in ways that seem awkward to you?...read more
- Fulfilled - Why is it important to view Old Testament laws through the lens of Jesus’ fulfillment of them?...read more
- Red Houses - What has God given you—time, finances, ability—that you can use to help someone in need today?...read more
- Tongues Afire - When have you recently endured the wound of another person’s words?...read more
- True Fellowship - What comes to your mind when you hear the word fellowship?...read more
- After 35 - What does it mean for you to rely on God in all things?...read more
- The Failure Wall - In what ways do you need to be prepared for encounters with spiritual enemies?...read more
- Worship 101 - What can you praise God for today?...read more
- Distance - What expectations do you have of fellow church members when it comes to meeting your needs?...read more
- Sarcasm and Sincerity - Do your words provide a safe environment for others?...read more
- Empty Spaces - What’s taking up space in your heart?...read more
- Showing the Way - How prepared are you to share your faith with others?...read more
- New Address? - Where’s the line between worrying and simply pondering a decision?...read more
- Real Stewardship - How are you using your gifts and talents to bring God to others?...read more