The Prodigal Son…

The more I ponder on the parable of the prodigal son, the more I am in absolute wonder at the beauty of this story and how the bible speaks to us about God’s love.

This parable can be looked at from three different viewpoints. The son who took his inheritance, the son who stayed at home and the father.

The son who took his inheritance was impulsive, with no sense of duty towards his family. He knew what his inheritance would be but he was impatient and couldn’t wait for it, so with the audacity of one so young and impulsive, he asked his father for it. It may not have consciously crossed his mind, but what he was really saying was, “I can’t wait for you to die!” So his father gave him what he asked for.

Meanwhile the other son, who you might say was the responsible and dutiful one, stayed and continued to work on the estate.

When the younger son had spent his entire inheritance on wild living and had nothing left, he began to reflect on his past… thinking of what he’d left behind. He had sunk so low that he was looking after pigs belonging to a gentile, for surely no respectable Jew would keep such unclean animals. He wished he could share their food just to survive, he was so hungry. He’d hit rock bottom. How on earth has it come to this, he reflected. I had everything and now I have nothing. My father is a good man, he treats his servants well and they have plenty to eat… I will return home and say to him, Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands. So he left the pigs and set out on the journey home.

Every day since the son had left, the father had come out to look for him. He missed him so much and longed to see him again. On this particular day, as he looked out, he saw his son walking towards him and his heart was filled with joy! He ran out to meet him – and the son, not expecting a welcome, began his rehearsed speech. Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son… But before he could say, Make me like one of your hired servants, the father had flung his arms around him and embraced him. He called to his servants to bring a robe and sandals, and put a ring on his son’s finger, then he called for the fattened calf to be killed. His son was gone for so long – he didn’t know if he was dead or alive – but now he was home. It was the most wonderful day and worthy of a huge celebration.

The older brother, wondering what the commotion was, asked a servant. When he heard that his brother had returned he was not pleased. This selfish, reckless boy had been given his inheritance while his father still lived and had not even thought about his brother being left behind to do the work of two. Though the father tried to encourage him to come into the banquet, the older son refused as he felt so angry and resentful. He now directed that resentment not just at his brother, but at his father too. He felt his little brother had been given everything. The irony was that one day, he would inherit everything the father had. His brother would have nothing other than his father’s love. But sadly, the older brother couldn’t see that he too was loved. He was working to build his own inheritance, but didn’t build his relationship with his father.

And therein lies the moral of the story…

We all expect to inherit something, someday. But will it be what we think is rightfully ours because we’ve worked for it? Or will we have the joy of experiencing the love of the father, that we haven’t worked for, and don’t deserve but is freely given?

The choice is yours….

Did Jesus purchase our healing…?

This is Young’s Literal Translation…

Isaiah 53:4-5,10
Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, And our pains — he hath carried them, And we — we have esteemed (considered) him plagued, Smitten of God, and afflicted. [5] And he is pierced for our transgressions, Bruised for our iniquities, The chastisement of our peace [is] on him, And by his bruise there is healing to us. [10] And Jehovah hath delighted to bruise him, He hath made HIM sick, If his soul doth make an offering for guilt, He seeth (sees) seed — he prolongeth days, And the pleasure of Jehovah in his hand doth prosper.

Read this. Then read it again. Then REALLY read it and drink in every word! SURELY he bore our sicknesses and carried our pains! By his bruise there is healing to us!

No ifs buts or maybes. FACT! Believe that Jesus paid for EVERYTHING at the cross – including our healing!

Hidden in Christ…

Ok, so this is a rather poor depiction of a prophetic picture I had a while back but, as persecution and spiritual attacks against Christians generally are on the rise, I thought I should share what I believe the Lord was saying…

The “people” you can see are all born again Christians, saved by grace through faith and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The bright white light is where Jesus is, at the centre. As we draw nearer to him we are completely hidden from the enemy. He knows the blinding white light is where Jesus is, but he can’t see him. He knows there are believers with him in the light but he can’t see those who are close to him. The people on the periphery are saved and sealed, but they are distracted by the things of the world, not staying close and not keeping their eyes on Jesus. The further they move away from the Lord, the more visible they become.

The enemy constantly fires arrows at us; lies, fear, discouragement, sickness, affliction… Those darts cannot harm those who are in Christ, BUT the people at the outer edges can be seen and aimed at more accurately and when their eyes are not on the Lord, they can see those darts coming and RECEIVE them!

Let me explain what I mean. Imagine it’s raining and you’re driving carefully through a flood on the road, but someone coming the other way speeds into the water making a big wave that goes right over your car. I’ll bet that even with your doors and windows securely shut and your windscreen wipers going, you still duck! It’s a natural reaction because you see the big wave coming your way and try to dodge it so you don’t get wet – even though you’re protected!

Back to the picture… if you see the arrow speeding towards you, it’s very hard not to receive it!

There is a “positive thinking” saying: What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. In a positive context, this is how many world class entrepreneurs, scientists and athletes – to name but a few – got to where they are; because they visualised their goal in their minds and then consistently behaved in a manner that would support and realise those goals. This shows us how powerful our thoughts really are!

The mind is also capable of pessimism, doubt and negative thinking, and where this becomes our normal daily mode, can make us ill and depressed, stealing our lives from right under our noses…

If we believe that God’s plans are to prosper and not to harm us and that Jesus came that we should have life in abundance we need to know that this is achieved by keeping our thoughts fixed on the one in whom that life is found.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

That battle rages all around us, but the biggest one is the battle for our minds, for what we believe dictates how we behave. Stay close to Jesus, keep your eyes on him and, if you feel a sting where you have been hit by a stray arrow, DO NOT RECEIVE IT!

Amazing Grace…

A few days ago I was sitting in the living room with the dog when my son pulled into the drive. I knew it was him as my other two were at cricket and he was due home from work. The dog barked and jumped up to look out of the window, as he always does when one of our cars comes onto the gravel. I then heard a noise I didn’t recognise that was like a dull thump and, after processing it for a moment, I thought he must have driven into the wall! I hurried to the front door, upon which my son was now urgently knocking!

I opened the door to see his forlorn face…

“Mum, I’m so, so sorry…” he said, over and over again.

It turned out it was not the house he’d driven into but my car! He didn’t see it (though it was parked in just the same place as usual) and reversed straight into it. The driver’s door had a very crinkled indent and had dropped a bit so it didn’t quite shut properly at the top. Praise the Lord it still opened and closed and locked ok!

The funny thing though, was that I felt completely calm and inert, as though nothing had even happened! All I could see was the shocked face of my little boy saying, “Mum, I’m so sorry!” and I just wanted to hug him!

As I thought about this later, and marvelled at my lack of anger, annoyance or indeed ANY negative emotion I thought… this is how Father God sees his children. Sometimes we mess up, do silly things, or even wilful and rebellious things at times, but when we run to him crying out, “Father, I’m so sorry…” all he feels for us is love. He doesn’t condemn us or feel anger towards us. Sometimes, of course, there are consequences in this realm, but his love towards us remains the same.

My son’s consequence is that he has to pay for my car to be fixed – but he is still my son and I still love him!

We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone. It’s a free gift that we cannot earn – we just need to receive it because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Our performance may often be imperfect but our position is secure. Once born into God’s family, we cannot be unborn! He is always our Father. That’s why it’s called Amazing Grace!

About the Church…

I may offend a few people with what I’m about to say, and I do apologise as I have no wish to upset brothers and sisters in Christ or cause an argument. I just wanted to say a few things about the established church and perhaps think about it in the context of the early church and its purpose, as described in the bible.

I’ve been saved for 25 years and have spent all of that time (until recently) in the Anglican Church, though I’m not sure why as I’ve never really been an Anglican at heart. (I think I’m too much of a rebel!)

I believe that everything we need to know about the Christian life and how to live it is in the bible!

So, NOT Easter (as such, with all its traditions – it’s pagan) but death and resurrection to new life – a statement of what it is to be a Christian if ever there was one! And the Passover has huge relevance to Christians, though this is rarely taught.

NOT all the hype surrounding Christmas, but a simple remembrance of how and why the Christ child was born – whatever time of the year that actually was!

NOT a special ceremony of “the Eucharist” for the favoured few who are both water baptised AND confirmed into the Anglican Church (Really??! Sounds more like a club membership to me!) but a power filled act of remembrance for ALL who truly believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was fully God and fully man, who came to pay the penalty for our sin, was crucified, died and was buried, was raised to life on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the Father where he intercedes for us!

It was his blood sacrifice that made the new covenant with God the Father, paid the penalty for our sin once for all and left the veil permanently torn so we may forever be in the presence of God; and his body was broken so ours could be healthy, for by his stripes (the brutally torn flesh on his back) we ARE (perpetually) healed (and in health)! THAT is why so many believers are sick or have “fallen asleep”, because they do not understand the power that the communion bread and wine has in the fallen-ness of this world. Jesus reversed the curse!

[ 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 NIV
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. [30] That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.]

So… a bit before Christmas 2018, I started to feel uncomfortable and that I needed to just leave the church, though I hung on for quite some time before I had to let go because there were many people there that I loved, so it was a painful parting. But all that kept going through my mind was “Come out of her, come out of her.” I was reminded of Revelation 18.

[Revelation 18:4-5 NIV
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; [5] for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.]

When you look at the two main Christian denominations, Catholics and Anglicans (who only broke away from Catholicism so a king could get a divorce!) and think about some of the awful things that have been done in the name of the church (though not in the name of Christ!) over many centuries, and how man made traditions have been allowed to overtake the simplicity of the gospel of grace and make it a lukewarm mixture of grace AND works, you have to wonder if, in this passage, Babylon could be referring to the established church!

I do feel that the Church of England as an organisation, has lost its way, focuses too much on tradition, rules and regulations (if you know what a faculty is, you’ll get my drift!) is becoming liberal and PC in many areas and not keeping its focus on sharing the gospel message of salvation in Christ alone.

The “Church” has a simple mission – to make disciples! It does not need to be politically correct, people pleasing, bogged down in red tape or spending all its energy designing “events to serve the local community”. By making disciples, each one can then serve where the Lord puts us, ” to do the works PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us to do”. The works prepared by God, not man, because he knows where we can be put to the best use!

[Ephesians 2:10 NIV For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.]

At prayer a couple of years ago, I had a vivid picture of a large banner suspended across the front of the building. It said,

DON’T COME TO CHURCH!
The Church is already amongst you.

And really, that’s what it’s about. It’s what it’s always been about. Not rules, not traditions of man, not pomp and circumstance, but simply believing in the Lord who sends us OUT, with his authority, to gather the harvest.

Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”