Thursday, September 06, 2012
Today’s Topic: The Gift of the Grind
Today’s Text: Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
For reasons I am not at liberty to share, a very well-known parable of Jesus has been on my heart. There is a very real possibility that I am going to be blessed to watch it lived out before my own eyes. There is no greater testimony to the reality of the forgiveness available from the Father than to see the process of rebellion, repentance, reconciliation, and restoration in action.
Take a moment to read this familiar story again.
Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 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. 13 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. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “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! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 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. 21 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.’ 22 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. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 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.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 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. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
Here are the points that really connect with my heart:
- Rebellion – the squandering of the Father’s property, whether it be my life, someone else’s life that was given to me as a gift, or the possessions that God gave me to use for His glory which I instead use for my own purposes and fleshly desires.
- Repentance – The New International Version reads “When he came to his senses” in verse 17. Coming to our senses reveals itself in four ways – taking responsibility for our actions before God (vs. 21); taking responsibility for how our actions affected others (vs.18); releasing all personal rights to the people against whom we sinned (vs. 19a); and willingness to assume a humble position (vs. 19b). That’s true repentance.
- Reconciliation – The son is actually embraced and received back into fellowship by a compassionate father before he can even repent, but that fact is what gives the son the confidence to repent. It is the knowledge of our compassionate Savior who loves us and wants to forgive us that propels us to repentance. The Father’s arms are a safe place for absolute honesty. Oh that others would see the same safety from us.
- Restoration – The father declares the son to still be his son! The lost has been found. There is no change in status. All rights are restored. Let the celebration begin!
This is not to be a rare occurrence in our lives today. It is the constant reality of our relationship with the Father. But it is also to be the constant reality of our relationships with others. It is a glorious display of the Father’s heart for the lost when the world sees us living this out. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who are lost. We are the arms of love that extend from His heart to those who are coming to repentance.