Observations Of A Prodigal #6

Prodigal

 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. Luke 15:22-24

Father Says.

The father said to the servants. I like this because he doesn’t tell the son to go get cleaned up. Immediately, the father restores the son and treats him like a son. Isn’t that wonderful? Sometimes, we feel like we’ve got to go through some restoration process with God but that’s not the case, He always welcomes us home as sons and treats us like one immediately.

Hurry up! There’s no more time to waste. Enough time’s been wasted already! Get the clothes, ring, sandals, and food, quick!! Chop, chop! I love the thought that this father is in such a hurry to receive his son back. He wants the son to be aware of the extreme amount of love he has and the excitement that he has for his return. The father does some very important and symbolic things for his son.

“Heir-aspotle”.

First he says bring the clothes. Get those rags off my boy! He’s going to wear the finest. It’s time to go from rags to riches. He wanted to immediately restore the boy’s image. The boy had been low in self-esteem and this was a way to immediately impact him: make him look different. I don’t care what anyone says, I always feel better when I’m dressed nicer. Clothing has a lot to do with image and how we feel about ourselves. The father knew this and had the servants bring the very best. Isn’t it awesome to know we’ve been clothed in the righteousness of Christ?

Lord Of The Ring.

Secondly, the father puts a ring on his finger. This was to signify his identity with the family. It was probably like a signet ring. He was back home where he belonged. He was still part of the family; a son, nonetheless! A ring symbolizes we belong to someone and typically, such items are passed down from generation to generation. This ring was given to remind the son to whom he belonged. It was given to show such a restoration that the father wanted it passed along. The ring would be a reminder of the love and acceptance, the empowerment that comes from being a son.

All-Stars.

Thirdly, the father puts sandals on his feet. This was to represent the father’s answer to the son’s desire to be a servant and not a son. Slaves during this time did not wear shoes. The father would have none of that! This was his son and yes, sons serve but he would not be treated as a mere servant or slave. How could he be treated that way when he’s a son? The father did not want the boy to lose sight of the complete unconditional love the father had for him. The boy probably sold his shoes trying to get food. Now he would have a new pair and dine in royalty.

What Beef?

Fourthly, the fatted calf was killed. This meal would be a great celebration. Only the best food, the best meat would be served; and plenty for all. The father wanted everyone to know, to join in the celebration because something of incredible significance had happened: his child had come home! Isn’t it simply amazing to think that God would make any big deal out of you or me and yet the fact remains: He does!

EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE (2)

Are you ever in a hurry for anything? Do those things matter? Is there something that you should be in a greater hurry for than what you are?

Is there someone in your life that needs to be restored? What can you do to assist the healing process?

How does the way you dress communicate the way you feel? Have you ever tried a completely new style, trying to find a new you? Did it work? Have you ever been given something that was “just not you”? How about something that was you “perfectly”?

Do you have some old rags you can get rid of? Go through your closet and get rid of some things. Go out and get a new outfit. Splurge a little?

Have you ever been given an heirloom? What was it? What kind of value does it have to you and why?

What piece of jewelry means the most to you? Why?

Have you ever given a piece of jewelry to someone significant? What was it and why?

How important are your shoes? What do they communicate about you? How important are they in our society? What do they communicate in our world?

What’s your favorite meal? What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a meal? Was it worth it?

Why not take someone to dinner and just let them know how much they mean to you. Communicate God’s love through a meal together.

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Observations Of A Prodigal #5

Prodigal

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. Luke 15:20

 

Sin’s A Domino!

Sin affects in many ways. We sin against God and man at the same time. Even if we don’t directly sin against man, our sin still affects our relationships with man and certainly every sin affects our relationship with God. Sin is the domino that sets off a ton of other dominos. This young boy learned that principle. His sin was not limited to a single relationship but multiple ones. I’m sure any of us can look back with great heartache and see the ways our sin has affected the way others respond to or treat us. It can leave a huge hole to climb out of!

Possessing Or Possession?

The boy’s perspective changed drastically. It’s amazing how some time, distance, hardship and heartache can do that! Initially, he thought he was somebody because of what he had instead of who he was. However, it’s who has us, not what we have that counts. For a while the possessions possessed him and now that they were gone, so was his self-esteem. His self- worth was in the dumps. But then again, how many us are right there with him? We somehow have forgotten that our worth is not based upon our choices but upon our birthrights! Once a son, always a son. This young man was worthy because he was a son not because of what he had or had not done. We must remember this. Our worth as a child of God goes beyond any goof-up, mistake or sin. We must make every effort to remember that it’s not so much about self-esteem as it is esteeming God highly. When we do that properly, we will understand how much we mean to Him too.

Far-Sighted?

I’m near-sighted, which means I can only see things close to me. I use glasses for this problem. I believe that this father was far-sighted because he could see the son a long way off, recognize him and respond to him! He also didn’t care about the stuff that was near, like the stench, the mud, or the dirt. So here’s a father running rather undignified, to his son with no concern for himself, his attire, or his protocol. It’s his son! And nothing is going to get in the way. Nothing! He’s been watching, waiting, and praying for this day and now it’s here!I love the fact that the son seems to be walking but the father is running. I love the fact that the father throws his arms around him and kisses him. These are all initiated by the father. The son simply receives all the father wants to give him. How much more the incredible picture of God running to us, taking the first steps in embracing and kissing us.

Full, Not Half.

The father was filled with compassion. He could have been angry, upset, bitter or any number of other justifiable emotions. Yet, he is full, not partly or half but full of compassion. The word “compassion” means “with suffering”. Ever heard: “this is gonna hurt me more than you”? That’s the case here. Every time we turn from God and go our own way, God’s heart breaks.

It Is Over!

The father was filled to overflowing with compassion. In his mind, the whole ordeal was over the moment he saw the boy again. The same is true with us and God. It’s over when he says it’s over. Some times we can’t get over it and there are definitely others that can’t get beyond it but God always does. It’s over before you even know it!

EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE (2)

Think back on a time when there was a domino affect because of some sin you committed.

Is there something that has happened where others have not been able to let you live down or forgive you for? Have to been able to forgive them for not forgiving you?

Where do you find your self-esteem? How is your level of esteem? Where does your self-image find it’s roots?

How do you look at yourself? Does your image line up with what God says about you?

How does your self-worth issues affect your decision-making? Your response to others and to God?

What are you expecting from God? How do you think He’s going to treat you? Do you trust His heart?

What needs to be over in your life? Why not confess it and let it be so?

How’s your compassion for others?

Developing The Desire Of Discipleship

Java Printing

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. —Matthew 5:6

Jesus’ word is quite clear that when we are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, we will be filled. But why aren’t more people hungry and thirsty for righteousness? Why aren’t more disciples pursuing God’s ways?

I read this very interesting quote this morning:“The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness.” Born After Midnight, 8. A.W. Tozer.

Missing The Vacuum Of Desire Sucks!

Tozer says that we have become so contented with our own wretched condition that the vacuum of desire is missing. I rarely use the word “sucks” but it fits well here. Simply looking at my own life, I can easily see how I have shrugged off sin in the past. Not only that but I have settled for some less than ideal states of my heart, rather than dealing with them.  When I ignore or allow sin to remain, it sinks deeper and deeper, as dirt and stains in a white carpet. My spiritual zeal, zest, and zoom disappears and spiritual desire dries up like a desert when I fail to address the trouble spots in my life. The heavy sin traffic areas require attention to detail. Otherwise, I will live out a mediocre life and succumb to a lackluster, meager existence not intended by God.

Repairing The Belt Of Discipline Hurts Sometimes

One of the most basic malfunctions of a vacuum is a simple broken belt. The snapped piece of rubber doesn’t turn the head and allow the agitation of the carpet which needs cleaning. In the same way, when I ease off the belt of discipline in my life, I find that  dirt can be lodged in the recesses of my heart, even though others may never even see it. Paul was clear when he spoke of  the need for personal discipline when he said;

26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 ESV

There are times when I have failed to bring out the belt on myself as I needed. Whether it’s failing to see sin the way God does or shrugging off sin as “natural” , failure to repent is evidence of a broken belt. Not that there must be tears and sobbing over every sin, a spiritual brokenness and contrite heart is what brings me into right standing with God. Confession, contrition, and Christ are what repairs what is broken within me.

Confession Of Sin

Thinking about sin is not the same as talking about sin. God wants us to SAY what we have done. He wants us to ADMIT it. It is not enough to nod in agreement. Confession is made with our mouths. Whether it’s acknowledging my sin to another or simply saying it out loud before God, hearing what I have done wrong arrests my heart and stops me in my tracks.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV

The word “if” in that verse is huge. Confession must happen if cleansing is to come. When I am sensing a lack of spiritual desire I must start here. Developing the habit of audible confession is the pathway to restoring desire.

Contrition Over Sin

Being sorry for being caught is not the same as being sorry for being wrong. When spiritual desire wanes, I become more concerned about what I can get away with instead of what God says for me to do or not do. God who is rich in mercy and grace often allows me multiple chances to repent. He is gracious in forgiveness. However, God is also holy and just and He hates sin and the effects of sin on humanity. When I lack spiritual desire, I fail to see how sin affects me and others. I can become numb to its effects on my outlook, heart and life when there is a spiritual dryness. Perhaps the dryness can be slaked by tears of contrition.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirita broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV

Spiritual desire will return when I truly repent and see sin the way God does. Understanding that sin not only hurts me and others but also hurts my relationship with God, will most certainly move my heart to tears at times. The blood of Jesus cleanses my heart, the tears of my eyes cleanses my soul.

Christ Overcomes Sin

Dietrich Bonhoffer said: “When Christ calls a man, He bids Him come and die”. The call of Christ is not to simply stop sinning but ultimately to stop “living”. Bonhoffer contends that the call of Christ is death to self, which is replete throughout the New Testament. Scripture tells me to “mortify” or put to death certain things in my  life. Moreover Paul admonishes me  in Romans 12:1 to be a “living sacrifice”, meaning to allow Christ to embody me in such a way that sin is no longer my desire but Christ alone. Spiritual desire will return when I return to Christ and His cross.  Having the right and proper view of Christ will always increase my spiritual desire and renew my passion, developing a greater spiritual hunger for righteousness. Spiritual desire dies when I allow Christ to remain on the cross instead of myself. However when I bear my own cross, casting myself at the feet of Jesus, I am restored. Repentance leads to restoration which leads to a renewed spiritual desire. Ultimately, I must understand that it is Christ alone who will empower me through the Holy Spirit, to overcome sin. Spiritual desire is developed through confession and contrition over sin but Christ alone overcomes sin as He disciplines and disciples me.

Questions For Reflection:

Is there any sin hidden in the recesses of your heart? Pray and ask God to search your heart and know your thoughts.

Have you confessed your sin out loud lately before God or to another?

When was the last time you were moved to tears over something you did wrong or a hurt that you inflicted?

What sin traffic areas do you need to give attention to?

How has the belt been broken in your spiritual vacuum?

Is your spiritual desire developing or waning?