Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).
Two Sons (vv. 11-16)
And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.
I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.
God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.
He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)
But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.
When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.
So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.
The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)
“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 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.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”
Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.
The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.
Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.
Amazing Grace / John Newton
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.