Extending Grace For Those Who Return From Rebellion

When he came to his senses…(Lk 15:17).

When the prodigal son returned to his father’s house, it was not pleading, begging and prodding that brought him home. Nor was it shame and guilt that he was welcomed with upon his arrival.

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Not being a parent myself, I cannot imagine the pain of letting a adult child go to follow their own stubborn rebellion. However, this is what the father does in Luke 15. The prodigal son had to get to the end of himself, before he was able to see and realize his own foolishness.

There is a ripping and tearing of the soul whenever an adult child rebels and goes their own way. However, we must allow them to “come to their senses,” because until they do, their hearts will never truly change. Their behavior might be changed, for fear of reprimand or shaming, but not out of a desire for holiness.

The fathers arms were always welcoming to the son, in a posture of grace and forgiveness he never shut his son out. The father did not remind the son of his many failures, but rejoiced that he had “come to his senses.” We too must position ourselves in the same spirit of grace towards those who, “come to their senses” in our lives. To constantly remind them of their failures, how they have hurt our family or failed as Christians puts them at odds with us, making them feel like constant failures. This keeps them from being completely restored to us upon their arrival. Not out of their own fault, but our of our unwillingness to offer them the grace of God.

God never shames us when we repent and neither should we shame others. Not just our children, but for anyone who has hurt us, rebelled or strayed from us. Every Christian needs to know that we believe in them. We believe they can be different, shutting them out or shaming them communicates to them that we believe they are an unredeemable person. In doing so, we have forgotten the grace of God and become self-righteous sinners in our own way.

Father, forgive us when we shame others, constantly bring up their failure, living in the past, not in the present hope of a bright future. Help us to remind our loved ones not of who they were, but who they are in Christ. Lord forgive me, I am quick to allow the past hurts of people to taint who I believe them to be or who they can become in you. I am self-righteous in my own way. I do not want to be that way. Forgive me for how I have wrongfully treated others and not extended the grace of God to them, in Jesus name, amen.

Cowering in Fear: Worrying About What “Could” Happen

If God is for us, who can be against us?… (Romans 8:31)

I have a problem.
 
I have lived most of my life in fear. I fear what people could to do me. I overplay what “could” happen in my mind, keeping me stuck in a place of worry, instead of courageously stepping forward in faith. I often find myself cowering in the corner of fear.
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“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25)
 
Whenever we cower in fear, we say to God, “I do not trust you.” We have exchanged his sovereignty with our need to be in control. This will never go well for us. We’ll be manipulated by our own fear, doubt and discouragement. We’ll never enter into the spacious land of God’s promise, because we do not believe God can deliver us into it.
 
More often than not, I am a coward. Yet, that is not who I am in Christ. As Christians, biblical wisdom teaches us to flee from worry and embrace our confidence in God’s sovereignty. As we do this, we release the fear of man to the trusting hands of a loving Father. It is His goodness we can trust. It is His hand that we can now receive from.
 
“The fear of man lays a snare, but those who trust in the Lord are safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
 
Lord, I have been a a cowering, fearful woman, but I know, that is not who I am in you. I can be confident because you say, “You are the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Father, I want to receive everything you have for me. Whenever fear sneaks in to keep me from your promise I want to stand on your truth. I want to proclaim the promises of your word in my heart and mind. I want to believe that you can work even through the people I fear the most to accomplish your purposes for me. Father, I submit my fears and I give you praise. You are the eternal God, trustworthy and true, in Jesus name, Amen.
 

The Death of Self

And the disciples were filled with grief…. (Mt 17:23)

I remember a few years ago I used to daydream often about dying for Jesus. I’d come into some room where anti-christian rebels would take me captive and I would die for Jesus, not afraid, but with great courage. Sometimes, the gun they were using would jam and I would do some karate kid moves on them and save the day for the rest of the captives by setting us free with my sweet Bruce Lee moves.

Then, one day, God give me a vision. This time, instead of anti-Christian rebels holding a gun to my head, it was my own self, that old woman with a critical, controlling spirit. She said to me, “Are you really going to die physically for Jesus, if you won’t die to the old woman you used to be?”

I realized in that moment that my life needed some major humbling. I had walked a path of deception, believing myself to be better than or more courageous than or whatever else you want to say. I was hero of my story, but God soon showed me that I was no hero. I was bowing to the enemy, living not in the victory of death, but in my own spiritual blindness.

As Jesus stands before His disciples in Matthew 17 He tells them of his imminent death. He explains to them that He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised to life. I imagine, for the disciples hearing the news that their teacher and friend was going to die was heartbreaking.

Yet, in death, God loves to birth new life.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19).

Whenever we die, God always births something new in us . Lets be honest though, the dying part is hard, because it requires us to give up control. It means we have to set aside everything we have planned for ourselves to enter into God’s agenda. There is a certain abandonment we must always live in if we are to walk in the victory of death.

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We are like dead people who are surrendered to God’s will, not moving until He lifts us up. The tragedy comes when the old man or woman steps in to try to lure us into deception and we take the bait. This usually manifests itself in things like fear, anger, criticism and pride. Whenever we rise before the master calls us we always operate from unhealthy places.

We can be confident that “he who began a good work in us will carry it out until the day of completion in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 1:6) There is always a new work God is doing in us. Sometimes grief is accompanied with it, but God is near to those who grieve. He meets them in the places of their pain to build and grow something new in them through the grieving process. If we would only but look for Him to heal our wounded hearts we would find the salve for our souls to find healing in Jesus name.

Do not be afraid to die to yourself. Selfishness is the death of living for anything beyond ourselves. Living for others and for God kills selfishness to birth in us new life to receive the gifts of a greater purpose. Grieve and mourn whatever you need to, but understand that giving up doesn’t mean greater loss. Giving up is great gain for the glory of God.

Lord, you carry us. In dying there is life. Sometimes the death of us carries with it a period of grieving, but you are with us. You are making all things new and we can stand on your promise that you will never leave nor forsake us. You make us strong and stout-hearted. Lord, I am quick to avoid dying to myself, because I love to be in control. I want to avoid pain, so I press into my own ideas instead of surrendering my own heart to your plan. Yet, I want to live differently, I want to walk by faith and not by sight. I want to walk in the victory of the risen Christ who lives inside of me, in Jesus name. Father, today I will die, let new life rise in the me, in Jesus name, Amen!

Lead and Guide Me

for the sake of your name lead and guide me…. (Ps 31:3).

Helping my nephew learn how to walk brought me such great to see his little wobbly legs place one unstable foot in front of the other.

Holding Gabe

When he first started learning how to walk I would hold his hands and guide his feet. Sure, at times, he’d stumble or get scared and not want to take the next step, but I was there, and so was his mommy and daddy to encourage him to be courageous and let us help him.

Walking God’s path for our lives is more about being led by the hand of His mercy than knowing each step along the way. It is to place ourselves in a position of dependence upon the Father’s hands to hold us up, encourage us, and guide us on the next step in our journey.

There is a certain happiness of the heart we will never experience if we do not go before the Father with an attitude like a child. God cannot direct self-assured, overly confident persons, but he can lead and guide the humble. He can take our wobbly legs and give them purpose and direction. All we have to do is hold onto His hand and with great joy as the master teaches us how to walk.

Father, today, I hold fast to your hand of mercy. Sometimes, because of my own stubbornness, I run ahead of you. I forget that I am a child in need of your mercy. Lord, guide me by your hand. I want to put myself in a position of humility before you in Jesus name, Amen.

Come and See

Come and see what God has done,…(Ps 66:5).

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It is difficult to see the hand of God in them midst of trouble, but if we are willing to look past hurt, disappointment and unmet expectations our understanding of the situation can radically change. Sometimes triumph comes not in the changing of circumstances, but in our perspective to see them differently.

God is always at work, it is our own blindness that keeps us from seeing His hand. It is our anger, despair, bitterness and resentment keep us from moving forward.

The only person God cannot work with is one who is hard of heart. Until the heart softens through humility and love, we will never move past our hurt to see life from God’s perspective. We go on begging God to change our circumstances, when He is already working in them. Victory is not found in demanding our own way, but joining God in His.

Father, I am quick to demand my own way. I am prideful and self-righteous. Forgive me for how I have allowed difficult circumstances to keep me from your perspective. Give me eyes to see you in all things. Shower me with your grace, in Jesus name, Amen!

A Consecration of Corruption

“And Micah ordained the Levite”….(Jdg 17:12).

The ordination of this man from the tribe of Levi was a consecration of corruption. Micah’s house was full of idols and prior to this consecration he wrongfully set his own son up as priest, who was not a Levite. To do so would have been highly opposed to the word of God.

There is no longing in Micah for holiness, but instead, only for himself. There is no reverence of God. Unfortunately, we can see he learned this from his own mother.

“…his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image”…(Jdg 17:4).

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Sadly, much like in Micah’s day our culture is not much different…”Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdg 17:6). There is a lack of reverence for God and His word that is appalling, yet no one is called to account. The lack of accountability and reverence for the awesomeness of Yahweh God keeps Israel stuck in spiritual dryness, with an all out assault on the most basic, fundamental truths of their faith.

As Christians we too can fall into such deception if we stray from the word of God and become consumers of the culture rather than students of the cross. We must be rooted and grounded in the fundamental truths of scripture. The Bible is not just a book of old history, as some try to make it seem, nor it are it’s commands to be taken lightly. It is the very word’s of life. It is the vehicle by which God has chosen to reveal HIs plan to redeem mankind through Jesus. Therefore, we must esteem it. We must learn to be students of it. We must be willing to set aside our own agenda’s to take up God’s ways made clear in His word.

Sometimes I read a passage in God’s word and it makes me angry or rubs me the wrong way. This is when I know, there is a spirit of rebellion in my heart that I need to deal with, before it deals with me. Submission is the key to holiness and obedience is the path we must walk towards our freedom in Christ. To obey God’s word is to walk in freedom, not in bondage. The laying down of what we want to take up what God wants is the best kind of life.

Lord, forgive us when we stray from your word and start to do what is right in our own eyes. We are foolish people. We do not reverence you or your word as we should. We, in many ways, are much like Micah, setting up images in our own lives to worship thinking we can have both you and them. Lord, show me my idols, I do not want them any longer. I want more of you. Jesus, please, be my greatest joy and my place of contentment and peace, Amen.

From the Hand of His Heart

LORD, I wait for you;
you will answer (Ps 38:15)….

As a child, waiting for Christmas to come was the worst. I had so much built up excitement I couldn’t hardly stand the wait. My mom was a master gift giver too. She’d always come up with some creative way to give us the last and final present. Which was always the crescendo of Christmas at our home. She’d hand us some envelope that would lead us to a brand new Nintendo 64. Then we would burst with excitement over the thought of more and more Super Mario Kart in our lives.

In preparation for Christmas, sometimes, I’d do a little peeking around the house, seeing if maybe, just maybe, I’d happen to “accidentally” grab a glimpse of something that would soon find its way under the tree. One year I “accidentally” placed my gaze upon some rollerblades in the storage room.

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Truth be told, I was extremely disappointed with myself because I did not wait for the surprise. The gift lacked the joy it was meant to have, because I couldn’t wait for its timely reception

There is a joy that awaits us if we are willing to wait for the giver to hand us His blessing. The human heart wrestles with contentment, because its appetite hungers for gifts pursued out of an unhealthy need; not blessings found in the fulfillment of joy from the hand of their creator.

We cannot receive from God what we are not willing to wait patiently for. We also cannot become who God wants us to be if we are not willing to sit with Him in a place of rest- a spacious place away from wanting. The answer of God comes in the patience of waiting, not in the action of anxiety.


The answer of God comes in the patience of waiting, not in the action of anxiety.

Lord, I am impatient and demanding at times. I make plans. I am reminded of my daily need for your grace, because of how my heart wants to gather its own treasures. Father, forgive me. Make me more like you Jesus. I long to sit with you in a spacious place away from wanting. I have everything I need in you. Thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.