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Friday, November 9, 2007

God Running


I seriously can hardly type with that praise mix on my cd. Me and Morgan seem to keep busting out into some praise...seriously! What was I thinking?

(I have included Luke 15 of the Prodigal son at the bottom for you to read...so this looks longer than it is)

I am so moved this morning with a passage that is so familiar. I think if Jesus walked this earth today He would tell so many that He is so sorry for the way He has been misrepresented by parents, preachers, or Sunday school teachers...whoever. I think He would take some of our faces in His hands and look into our eyes and say child, I don't know who gave you this idea about me...but it wasn't from me. It wasn't the heart of God. I am so sorry that you believed this lie. This is me saying this but I do believe that we have some really distorted views of who God is that are not based on His word. If you know me well you are sick of me saying this: The word of God has to be THE Authority in your life. It has to be where you go to find out about who God is and where you go to get nourishment for your weary soul. It has to be what shatters the faulty views of Him that you've had. He is truth and He is the word, the word made flesh to dwell among us. So many people have the idea that God is the great killjoy. That He just wants you to live a stifled, miserable life. Nothing could be further from the truth. No, we will not be absent from hardship on planet earth, I am not saying that. He truly is the greatest joy and blast of my life and listen when I say I would be nothing without Him. I truly sit here crying as I think of what He means to me. I was recalling this morning how it has only been about a decade of walking closely with Him and the road has been filled with plenty of victories and defeats, pride and humbling, love and grace, mercy and forgiveness, and so much learning...ever learning. I am changing and the fad that people thought I was in to "for a while" has not faded but only grown hotter. I read this with fresh affection this morning and for several reasons. I have come from so much brokenness in my life that I was really an accident waiting to happen and perfect prey for the enemy to pounce on. Well, once I came to the Lord and sought Him through His word, everything didn't just clean up overnight. What had been instilled in me for years and lies that I had believed for almost decades were not going to go away overnight. We put a lot of expectations on believers don't we? We think man why aren't they perfect, when we judge them for things that we think we don't do. Well, I have been the one to sin against my loving Father like the prodigal son. Many of you were raised in loving homes and can relate to the son. Some of you can relate to the other brother. Either way...please try to relate. The son is raised in a loving home (God is the Father in the parable) and the son obviously feels like he is missing out on something. Isn't it true of all of us? If you weren't raised in a loving home can you relate to coming to the Lord, experiencing His love and tasting that He is good and for a brief season departing to do "your will." We can be blessed in so many ways, and so loved and still feel this void and ache deep down in us for something more. Most of the time our wantonness and cravings that leave us empty are from the flesh and its lustful desires. The enemy also wants us to be discontent and believe the ancient lie that God is holding out on us. So he wants his share...his inheritance. His father (being wise) gives it to his foolish son. One thing I learned a long time ago and I pray for it to stick is that sometimes people have to learn on their own even if it means a lot of hardship on their part. So he takes his inheritance (which reminds me of Esau selling his inheritance for a bowl of stew. Inheritance meant a lot to Hebrew boys yet these two obviously considered it of little value) and he squanders it on wild living.
The word for wild used in Luke 15 is Asotos meaning he squandered his inheritance on "profligate, wasteful, extravagant" living. "Wastefully, extravagantly, with dissipation. This adverb means to live with wasteful abandon, act with immoderation or unbridled excess, in regard to either personal resources or moral standards. Describes the "wild living" or playboy lifestyle of the prodigal son."
So he sets out and lives a playboy lifestyle of extravagance and waste if you get the picture. He spends EVERYTHING no thought to the future he was living to gratify himself now. That is exactly what the enemy comes alongside us with. The problem is when we quit abiding in Him (which yes firm believers can stop abiding...we are told "take heed you stand lest you fall" none of us are beyond slipping into a pit of destruction if aren't deliberate) we remove His protection from us. I believe that if we are saved we are saved but we can lose the blessed protection that comes from obedience. The Lord is not going to bless our disobedience. He lovingly chastises His children (Heb 12) otherwise we are illegitimate. So he spends it all a famine comes and he begins to be in need (vs 14). So he hires himself out to a citizen of that country and you know the story he is sent to feed the pigs. Pigs were unclean in the Jewish home that he grew up in yet he longed to "fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything." (vs 16) Looking for a hand out huh? Anyway, I love verse 17 it says "When he came to his senses." I was thinking about sin this morning and how progressive it is. You allow a little and it becomes a lot (Gal 5:9). Just like Adam and Eve we to start out looking at our current state, questioning God's goodness in the situation, thinking he is holding out on us and then we might take of the fruit. Sin looks so good at first. It doesn't come dressed as a little red man with a pitch fork. It is whatever will ruin us...that is what the enemy is after. So, we get this euphoria over whatever the thing is and then our eyes are opened and we are naked and ashamed like Adam and Eve. We realize if it is after the fact that the Lord was true and that what we thought would fill us cheated us. We feel dirty, used, and moreover ashamed that we would have left our Father. So the son calculates his father's men that have food to eat and he decides what he will say to his father because he is going to return to him. Then the most famous verse:
20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

God in this picture runs to him. Listen whoever you are...go back to the Father. You have not blown it to the point that He won't receive you. Get up and head back to Him. This is our Father's heart. He runs toward the repentant. He runs to you when you return to Him. He will have mercy on you. Yes there are consequences but will you let Him redeem even your past sin and use it to serve the body of Christ? You are not done because of what you have done. Do you still have breath? No matter how you feel get up and return. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to You. I pictured myself this morning: undeserving, hungry, empty, dirty, lice infested, spent, used, clothes torn, coming home to face the loving Father that I had left (like the prodigal son). I pictured how I would feel and my fear and shame and yet hear God comes running to me, receiving me, kissing me, and throwing a feast. Unworthy. Utterly unworthy. That is grace. That is a lesson forever learned and hopefully the famine that his soul experienced and that mine has as well, will keep me from ever heading off to that distant country again.
Then, the other brother. Can you imagine how he felt? We all miss the mark and don't deserve his grace. But this guy reminds me of how we can get when we start to feel like we have got our act together and that we may be a little better and more deserving than others. I can totally hear his tone of voice when he says:

28
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

We as the church have got to welcome the broken and repentant regardless of what we have done or have not done. It is not by works that we are saved and we have to entrust ourselves to the One who judges righteously. Let's pray not to be the other brother. Christ came to save sinners.

Mark 2:17
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Don't waste any more time in self loathing if that is you...return to the Father. He longs for you to come and stay by His side. There you are safe and will find rest for your soul. Also, if you have a loved one who is prodigal please pray for them and we will rejoice when they come home.

Luke 15:11-31
The Parable of the Lost Son
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.

13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[b]'

22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

4 comments:

Bev Brandon said...

How old are you? Are you 120? Cause you are wise beyond your years...I've been the prodigal coming to God off drugs and drinking and sex...and as a Christian I have lived the "other brother" life too. I just love the picture you painted of our beautiful God running to us. I picture Him with His dangling robe held in his hand, so humble. And I wanted to jump out of my skin reading about it and listening to whoever that was---maybe Kirk Franklin? thankyouthankyouthankyou for praying for me this morning...i have an opportunity tonight to give someone a taste of God---to give that taste to someone who betrayed me...but look what I have done to my Sovereign Savior...AND the log is always in my own eye...

It means so much that you would stop this morning to pray for me Jenny Hope! You have brought God to me this Friday morning...oh my...

Teri said...

Your paragraph "We as the church have got to welcome the broken and repentant regardless of what we have done or have not done. It is not by works that we are saved and we have to entrust ourselves to the One who judges righteously. Let's pray not to be the other brother. Christ came to save sinners."

Really caught my eye. It is what God has been speaking to me for a couple of years now. Actually, though one step furthur...even to welcoming the broken and UNrepentant. When the rubber hits the road and it is all said and done, the compassion that ruled our hearts will be foremost in importance. Compassion for those who are beginning to accept the Father's choice of them...but also to those who haven't even come close to accepting it. I believe so strongly that it is compassion that will set kingdom minded believers apart from those who just believe, but are not interested in seeing the Kingdom of God advance on this earth.

I know I got off on a bunny trail here...sorry...it's just when I get a sister on the same page I get all excited! :)

Fran said...

I'm speechless. I can't put words, yet, around what I want to say after reading this....it may be too lengthy and just all over the place. But, this was just beautiful! And Awesome!! And, thank you for the time you put into writing all this. So well said. So well said.

"Thank you Jesus for sweet Jenny and giving her the wisdom you have. Bless her and her family. We just love her and thank you for her."

With much gratitude,
Fran

darla said...

sitting here in tears, as I remember coming home to Him after being a prodigal...and that impression HE left on me that the Creator of the universe, mighty warrior, ran to me and loved on me and just restored me to my place.

I think it is vital to teach others how to use the Bible and to look for the heart of God in their reading. So many do miss the point when it comes to His heart. Love ya Jenny! Very awesome thoughts!!