The Prodigal Son, part two!

So, I’ve been thinking about the parable of the prodigal son a lot lately, hence part two, after the original post a few days ago.

The Lord never wasted words or chatted idly, he always spoke what we need to hear and understand. Perhaps there is something important here for us to know…?

The prodigal son had received his inheritance. The father knew he wasn’t mature or wise enough to use it well, yet he gave the inheritance because the son asked (1) him for it!

The son went off with his inheritance, not realising the true value of what he’d been given. He carried on his life without regard for the worth of the father’s gift (it wasn’t really an inheritance as his father was not dead.) It was only when the son had tried to live his life his own way, in his own strength, and failed miserably that his thoughts turned back (2) to the father and he saw how good he was and how much he needed to be with him.

When he had returned, not expecting anything more than to be treated as a lowly servant, he realised that his father loved him beyond measure, had been waiting for him to come back and welcomed him with open arms. He did not condemn him (3) for the mistakes he’d made or the time he’d been away. He gave him a robe, a ring and sandals for his feet – all symbols of sonship. The son realised that he had not lost his place in the family but would always be a son to his father.

To me this speaks volumes into the “Once saved, always saved” debate. If you are truly born again into God’s family, you cannot be “unborn”. Once given the Holy Spirit, you are saved and sealed – your position is secure.

Though you may go your own way for a time, or not use what you’ve been given with wisdom, you will not lose the position you hold. And when you realise your great need to be in your father’s presence, he will welcome you back and remind you again of your sonship (yes, even the ladies – sons traditionally inherited.)

This parable is for those who are already one of the family; who’ve messed up, who’ve gone astray and feel like a failure, who think they can’t possibly be loved or accepted, who are reluctant to come home because they don’t feel worthy…

The reason you ARE worthy is because at some point, you said YES to Jesus and believed in him by faith and are now IN CHRIST. Everything that Jesus is to the father is now imputed to you, because (4) “As he is, so are you in this world.” Is Jesus pleasing to the father? Absolutely!

(1) Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [9] “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? [11] If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

(2) Metanoia / repentance / to turn or change one’s mind.

(3) Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, [2] because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

(4) 1 John 4:15-17
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. [16] So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. [17] By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

Part two: … than we can ask or imagine.

With my youngest son safely at senior school, I was looking to get back into part time work that would fit in with family life.

I heard that a nearby church school might be looking for midday supervisors and, as it turned out, an old acquaintance was the chair of governors. I emailed her to ask and she replied yes, ring the secretary to arrange a chat with the head teacher.

So I rang, to find that the head teacher was very busy as it was the week before the Easter holidays and she may not be able to see me for quite a while. Feeling bold, I said, “Is she busy now? I’m free.” As it turned out, she wasn’t, so I went and had a quick tour of the school, then went to her office for a chat.

It didn’t really go quite how I expected. I was being asked a lot of questions about previous experience, qualifications, interests etc – rather more than would be expected for someone supervising lunches – and she was making lots of notes! After half an hour I had been interviewed and offered a position that didn’t yet exist, as a one-to-one teaching assistant to a young boy with special needs who had just received a Statement! Wow! I was not expecting that, but obviously God was speaking to this Christian lady – and she was listening!

We didn’t know when this job would start exactly, but we agreed to continue to pray about it and speak again in due course. After several weeks, I was officially offered the position and started at the beginning of the next school year.

I’m not going to say it was easy! In at the deep end was an understatement, but I learned, out of necessity, to rely on the Lord every day for inspiration and guidance and we had some amazing moments as my young pupil and I found new ways of learning. I felt as though I’d waited my whole life for this opportunity and it was the most fulfilling experience I’ve ever had in a job of work!

Every little achievement made me as proud as if he’d been my own son. When he moved on to his next school I was happy and sad all at the same time, but I knew the season was coming to an end and I had been there just for him, because God has a plan for his life too and I was honoured to be a small part of it.

I think what I’ve been trying to say, is that God really can do immeasurably more than all we can ask OR imagine! When we submit to his will, the yoke is easy and the burden is light. We find unimaginable joy in what seemed impossible, unattainable, way beyond us. But he KNOWS us, better than we know ourselves! I am so very grateful for what he’s given me in my life; the people, the experiences (both easy and difficult) because he’s shown me that, no matter what, he is faithful and I am loved – immeasurably!

Part one: He can do immeasurably more…

When I went on maternity leave with my first child, I strongly felt that the Lord wanted me to be a stay at home mother until my youngest child was twelve – who knew when that would be?! I hadn’t even given birth to the first one! That would mean a drastic drop in our household income for a long time to come, but it’s what we decided to do, and trust him to meet our needs – which he did in various and unexpected ways. We’ve sailed pretty close to the wind at times, but have never actually sunk!

Oh, and I neglected to tell you that I was an “older” mother! We had been married for several years before we decided to start a family and then it seemed like it might not happen at all. After a year of trying, I gave it over to the Lord and said, “If it’s not your will for us to have children, that’s ok. We’ll just accept that you have something else planned for us.”

That same morning, I opened my bible and my eyes fell on Psalm 113 …. He settles the barren woman into her home as a happy mother of children. I chuckled to myself. “Ok, Lord..!”

That was Tuesday. On Saturday I had a positive pregnancy test! When I surrendered to the Lord’s will, I was already pregnant but didn’t know it! He knew, of course, and of all the verses I could have randomly arrived at, he showed me that one! We’d moved house 15 months earlier and truly had just settled in.

So, the night before I was due to go for my first scan, I said to my husband, “We’re having a boy.” “What do you mean? How do you know?” he asked. “I don’t know how I know,” I replied, “but we’re having a boy! God said boy this time, girl next time.”

Though I had many problems during that pregnancy, ending up with pre-eclampsia and an emergency c-section, I knew all would be well, because he’d told me in advance. How could I be a happy mother if something happened to my unborn son?

Fast forward a couple of years… having had a molar pregnancy (not very common) which ended in miscarriage, followed by another miscarriage, finally I had a viable pregnancy. Well, he did say “children”!

I was wondering to myself whether this one was going to be a girl, since the original word was boy this time, girl next time. Then, a few weeks later, during an afternoon nap, I saw a baby lying on the bed and heard my voice exclaim, “Oh! It’s a boy!” And it was!

Some years later, I had a dream that a young girl with long straight hair, similar to mine when I was a teenager, came over and touched me on the arm. I thought she looked familiar but I didn’t know who she was. When I woke up I felt the Lord said, “That was your daughter.” Her name is Kathryn Louisa Grace – the name we chose for a girl – and I believe I will meet her in heaven one day.

I am a happy mother of children, three actually, just as he said. Praise his name!

No limits…

You, Lord, are the God of no limits.

There was no limit to your love for us when you hung on the cross.

There was no limit to the suffering you were willing to bear as you took upon yourself all the sin of mankind, once, for all.

There is no limit to your forgiveness when we call on your name and surrender our lives, so filled with pride and self righteousness, for a life hidden in you.

There is no limit to who you are. You exist eternally, with no beginning and no end, the alpha and the omega. In you, it is always today, for you are the great I AM. To be in your presence is now, this moment, not yesterday or tomorrow.

There is no limit to our hope in you, in your name, in your blood. You have defeated every unholy thing.

There is no limit to the power of the Holy Spirit, who was there at the beginning, as the universe was created, and who resurrected you, Jesus, as the firstborn from among the dead; who lives in us as the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

There will be no limit to the joy we will experience when we finally meet you face to face… then our worship will have no limit as we dwell in your presence for ever.

Love you Lord! ❤

Nothing but the blood…

Some Christians may think that old hymns are boring, difficult or not relevant to modern day living. I’m in two minds about it. There are some well known hymns that I love, that take me to the heights of worship… How great thou art, Great is thy faithfulness and one of my all time favourites, To God be the glory! On the other hand I have been present (and silently worshiping!) whilst a congregation struggles through a real dirge of a hymn, with a difficult song and uninspiring words.

Surely the aim of any musical worship, regardless of style, should be to lift up the Lord and relay an accurate biblical message?

Nothing but the Blood by Robert Lowry does just that.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

NOTHING but the blood of Jesus. Not baptism, not works, not regular Sunday church attendance, not obeying rules or being a “good person”.

It is only by the blood of the Lamb that we are saved.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Acts 4:12
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Ephesians 1:13-14
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

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!