Luke 16:19

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 16:19

“Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.” – Luke 16:19

Today we will look at the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.

Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. And he said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment. But Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. But he said, No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent! But he said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:19-31. 

This is an account of a very rich man who lived a life of extreme luxury. However, outside the gate of this man’s house was an extremely poor man named Lazarus who only hoped “to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.” Luke 16:21. The rich man was completely indifferent to the struggles of Lazarus, showing him absolutely no love, sympathy, or compassion. Then a time came when they both died. Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man found himself in hell. Calling out to Abraham, whom Lazarus was with, the rich man  requested that Lazarus come to him and cool his tongue with a drop of water to lessen his agony in this fire. He then asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brothers to repent so that they would not join him in hell. Both requests were denied. Abraham told the rich man that if his brothers did not believe in Scripture, neither would they believe a messenger, even if he came straight from heaven.

There is some question as to whether this story is a true, real-life account or a parable, since two of its characters are named, making it unique among parables. But real or not, there is much we can learn from this passage. First, Jesus teaches that heaven and hell are real, and  He spoke of both throughout His ministry here.  Second, He shows that once we die our destination, and these are the only two places we could ultimately end up in, will be permanent. There are no more chances.  The decision we make in this life, to truly accept Christ as Savior or not, is fulfilled with no opportunity to reconsider after we die.  And it is either heaven or hell, with no other possible destinations.

We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He called this the most important or greatest commandment.  Then He said a second is like the first, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  These two commands are the basis of all the Law and the Prophets. And true followers of Christ will exhibit these two things: loving God and loving others. They will give themselves completely to God and His service.  Also, they will not be indifferent to the plight of the poor like the rich man in this story was. God loves the poor and is offended when His children neglect them.  “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 17:5. In fact, those who show mercy to the poor are in effect ministering to God personally. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40.

James wrote the following regarding our lives, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14. Our time here on earth is exceedingly brief. Perhaps the greatest lesson to learn from this story, then, is that when death comes knocking on our door there is only one thing that matters: our relationship with Jesus Christ. “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ” Matthew 16:26.  Eternal life is only found in Christ. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:11-12. The truth is, if we wish to live apart from God during our time on earth, He will grant us our wish for eternity as well. As one pastor aptly said, “If you board the train of unbelief, you will have to take it all the way to its destination.”

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Acts 16:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 16:14 

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” – Acts 16:14

Many people who read this verse simply see a woman of Thyatira who was a seller of purple.  As a side item, purple was the most valuable color, which was obtained from shellfish.  It was chiefly worn by princes and the rich, and the traffic in it would be very profitable.  So based on this, we can assume she was well off regarding her financial situation.  Yes, Lydia is the focus of this verse, but not her profession or her income.  The most important idea in this story is her religious fervor.

As we read further in our focus verse we see she was a worshipper of God.  It is probable that she was a proselyte to the Jewish religion.  She worshipped the true God, the God of Israel and not the many gods of the gentiles.  She was listening to what Paul was saying about Christ, “and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 16:14b.  She was so desirous of knowing the truth, God opened her heart to understand and ultimately respond to the truth of the gospel.  Then in the next verse we read, “And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” Acts 16:15. Her and her household were saved and baptized.  Paul himself believed she was being faithful to God and accepted her invitation to stay with them. 

Now, Paul did not go directly to her and preach the gospel.  She was simply one of several who had gathered together where Paul and several others had gone to a place to pray.  “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.” Acts 16:13.  However, in his speaking to the women there, God used Paul to help Lydia understand the truth of the gospel. 

Now I have a similar story regarding a young man who had left the church and his home, thus turning away from God.  I was at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant around 2:00 AM buying breakfast and speaking with a man who was hitchhiking and I had picked up to take him home.  As we were eating, I was presenting the gospel to him, and when I mentioned the church I attended, The Rock Church in Homestead FL, a young man came over to me and asked me if I was a member.  I told him I was and he told me he had gone to the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, VA but when his family moved here, he went to church for a time but then had a falling out with his dad and he left the church and moved in with a drug user and began using them himself.  He then asked me to take him home, so we all left, dropped off the other man who was not interested in hearing about God, and then this young man and I walked along the beach behind his apartment for a couple of hours discussing his situation.  To make a long story short, his dad had nothing to do with him after He left and the only friends he had left were those who took drugs with him.  I convinced him to call his dad and ask him if he could move back home.  I told him he had to move out of there and give up all drugs and go back to church.  After we prayed for a while, I left and he assured me he would follow through. 

I had no contact information and thus lost contact with him.  One evening, about a year after meeting with him, God placed him on my heart and I asked God to show me that he had done as was promised.  Well, that weekend the Christian band I worked with as the sound and lights person was performing in a park in North Miami.  When we were setting up, a young man ran up to me, and it turned out to be the person I met at Howard Johnson’s and spoke to about going back home.  He said he did what he promised.  He made amends with his father and started going back to church, leaving the drug life behind.  He was attending a church in the area with a leader who used to attend the Rock Church but was now a leader in the church the young man was currently going to.  I was so thankful and praised God that this young man came back to God.

It is important that we take every opportunity to be a light in dark places, showing the truth of the gospel to as many as possible.  And as with Lydia and Paul, and this young man and myself, you never know how God will use these opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others through us.  So even though you are speaking with one or several people, be open to who God is speaking to through you, and ensure you are open to helping them to develop a strong and joyous relationship with Christ.  There is no greater joy you will ever experience in this life.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.