It’s Time To Come Home

I already shared the bizarre but beautiful sermon illustration that Hosea lived out for the Israelites and for us. His wife had been unfaithful to him and had gotten herself so far in debt that she was a virtual slave. Hosea, in a clear picture of God’s amazing, unrelenting love, bought back his wife, paid off her debts, and completely restored her to himself. 

Sadly, the people of Israel—even after seeing this grace-filled living lesson—continue to push farther and farther away from God. This prompted God to announce the indictment against them… 

Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:1-2). 

It wasn’t the first time that someone preferred the things of the world to the things of God (like Adam and Eve), and it wasn’t the last time (like you and me). We mortals tend to be seduced by what we can see and hold right now, instead of trusting God for something far better. 

Jesus told a story about a son who enjoyed the full privilege and favor of his father, yet this son thought he could do better on his own. He asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left for a distant land, determined to live a life where he called all the shots. But with his money gone, he found himself in debt, starving, and working as a hired hand in a pigsty. 

It was then that Jesus said that young man came to his senses. He had nothing to bring to his father—no gift of restitution, no token of respect, nothing except his words. All he could say was, “Father, forgive me.” 

But that’s all that was needed. Hosea counseled the Israelites to do the same thing:

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips” (Hosea 14:1-2). 

The wayward son had a rehearsed speech asking his father to simply hire him as a servant, as if he wasn’t worthy to be considered a son any longer. But the father—in words that reflect our Heavenly Father’s love—cut the son’s speech short. He let the son only say, “Forgive me,” but before the son could make the request to be a servant the father totally restored him. 

After Hosea calls the wayward people to return with their “forgive us,” he quotes God’s reply: “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (14:4). 

How could this be? How could God’s full judgment not fall on His wayward people? How could it not fall on you and me?! Because it fell on Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)! So when we come back to God with our words of forgiveness, He restores us and clothes us in the robe of Jesus (Galatians 3:27). 

Absolutely amazing! 

God longingly speaks to His wayward people, “It’s time to come home. I’m waiting for you with open arms. I am ready to restore you completely. Just come home.”

Join me next week as we continue to learn about the major lessons we can discover in the minor prophets. 

What If I Sin?

I have been trumpeting this truth: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. God wants you to know that you have found His favor. 

But what happens if we sin? Do we lose God’s favor? In a word—NO! 

Here’s what happens instead: God becomes our Prodigal Father. 

Let me show you from both the Old Testament and the New Testament what I mean, but first, let’s define prodigal: it means recklessly extravagant or lavishly abundant. This is always how God treats His children. 

In Isaiah 59, the prophet reminds us that nothing about God’s strength or ability to respond to our pleas has been diminished. Instead: your sins have separated you from your God—we can leave God, but He never leaves us! 

Isaiah catalogs all our sins that have become a quicksand trap for us. God looks to see who can help us, and finding no one, here’s what He does: so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. 

God did what was underserved. God did what no one else could do: HE HIMSELF BECAME OUR SALVATION! 

If ever there was a definition of recklessly extravagant, lavishly abundant love… this is it!! 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story that people often call the story of the prodigal son, but it’s really the father who is prodigal. The son squanders all his father’s blessings on wild living and finds himself bankrupt, starving, and completely disgraced. But the moment the son came to his senses and began to move toward his father by confessing his sin, his prodigal father ran to him! 

Jesus tells us this father was overflowing with compassion. There wasn’t anything his son could have done to diminish the father’s love, nor was there anything the son could have done to make his father love him more. The father was all-loving all the time. He was recklessly extravagant and lavishly abundant in his love. 

The father RAN to his son and covered his son’s disheveled, stinking rags with his royal robe. 

This is exactly what Isaiah said God would do for us…

  • instead of ashes, we get a crown 
  • instead of rags of mourning, we get an anointing of gladness
  • instead of a spirit of despair, we get a garment of praise
  • instead of shame, we get a double portion of God’s riches
  • instead of disgrace, we get God’s inheritance

How does all this happen? Our Prodigal Father abundantly, lavishly “clothes me with garments of salvation and arrays me in a robe of righteousness”!!

Don’t ever buy into satan’s lies that God loves you less, or that you’ve used up your changes, or that your sins are too many or too big. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 

Join me this coming Sunday either in person or on Facebook Live as we learn more about God’s favor toward us. 

Thursdays With Oswald—An Aroma From God’s Garden

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

An Aroma From God’s Garden

     [Oswald Chambers is speaking about how the prodigal son returned home.] 

     Did the father send any message to the far country after the younger boy? There is no record of any message being sent. What did the younger boy have to do? He had to do exactly what is recorded in Hosea long before that picture was painted by Our Lord—he had to return. Drawn by God? It does not say so. Read the fourteenth chapter of Hosea: “I will heal their backsliding” [Hosea 14:4]; but the backslider has to get up first, leave the pigs and what pigs eat, and go back to where he came from. Help granted him? None whatever. Messages from the home country? Not one. Tender touches of God’s grace on his life? No. Can you picture that prodigal son returning, a degraded, sunken, sin-stained man, going back in all the cruel, bald daylight? Oh, it is a hard way to go back out of the backslider’s hell; a hard, hard way! Every step of it is cruel, every moment is torture. But what happened? Before that younger son had gotten very far, the father saw him “and ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him”!

     Worker for God among backslidden souls, remember God’s way, put the sting, if you can, into the backslider’s soul that he may get up and come back to God, and what has he to do? Take with him words and say, “Forgive all my sins and receive me graciously” [Hosea 14:2]. Did the prodigal son take with him words? He did, he rehearsed them over and over again where he was amongst the pigs—“I will say to my father this and that,” he had it all by heart. Does Hosea say the same? He does: “My sins have been my downfall” [Hosea 14:1]. … 

     I just said now that no message was sent to the far country; God sends none, but, worker for God, will you be a message from the Father? Will you so bathe your life in the atmosphere of prayer that when you come in contact with a backslidden soul, it will awaken a remembrance of the Father, awaken a remembrance of what that soul once was? Will you let your life be like a bunch of flowers from the Father’s home garden, just awakening for one moment a remembrance of what life once was, and then pass on, and pray and watch, and you will be mightily rewarded by God when you see that poor backslidden soul get up and go back to God, taking with him words and saying, “My sins have been my downfall.” 

From Workmen Of God

What about you, my friend? Do you love the prodigals enough to be the Father’s message from home to them?

Can A Christian Lose Their Salvation?

As a part of our annual Q Series, this was a question that was turned in: Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?

Check out the video below…

Some of the Scriptures I reference in this answer:

For other Q&As from this series, check out discussions here and here.

Encouragement For The Parent Of A Prodigal

There is perhaps nothing more heart wrenching for a Christian parent than to see their son or daughter living a life differently than how they were raised.

One biblical promise these parents can claim in prayer is—Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

But perhaps an historical example might be helpful as well—

AugustineHe was born in 354 in a North African town set among the woods near the Mediterranean. His father was a pagan, but his mother, Monica, was of devout Christian stock. 

Augustine was an undisciplined child, idle and truant despite frequent beatings. He loved sports and pranks and soon discovered a host of adolescent pleasures. … Augustine was also brilliant, and he soon moved to Carthage to further both his studies and his fun. Monica warned him against fornication, but ‘I ran headlong with blindness.’ 

At about 18 he found himself the father of a son. At the same time he joined a cult. Years passed, and Monica, praying ceaselessly, heard that Augustine was planning to leave Africa for Rome. She begged him not to go. When he refused, she determined to go with him. Using deception, he left her praying in a chapel and sailed without her; but she took a later boat and intercepted him. They traveled to Milan where she persuaded him to listen to the great Bishop Ambrose. The bishop’s razor-sharp sermons penetrated Augustine’s head, if not yet his heart. Monica continued praying, confiding her struggles to Ambrose. He told her not to worry: ‘It isn’t possible for the son of such prayers to be lost.’ 

One day as Augustine sat in a friend’s garden he heard a child singing, ‘Take up and read!’ He opened the Bible near him and read from Romans 13: ‘Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent.… Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear.’ By the time he finished the sentence, he later said, he was converted. On the eve of Easter, April 24, 387, Augustine and his son Adeodatus were baptized by Ambrose as Monica watched. Her lifetime of prayer was answered, and a church father was born.

Years later as Augustine shared about his conversion in his book Confessions, he wrote out this prayer to God: “My mother, Your faithful servant, wept to You for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than others shed for the bodily death of a son. You heard her.

So, Christian Mom and Dad, don’t EVER stop praying for your wayward child! God hears those prayers, and is moving on behalf of your child.

Encouragement For The Parent Of A Prodigal

Jim Daly“Do you have a loved one who’s lost their way in life? Whatever you do, don’t give up on them. Take a lesson from the Judean date palm tree. You never know when a seed may take root and bloom.

“In the mid-1960s, an archaeological dig in Israel revealed a cache of date palm seeds nearly 2,000 years old. Having lain dormant for two millennia in such an arid climate, most experts logically assumed the seeds were dead and, other than their historic value, useless. But then faculty at a Jerusalem university were given a few of the seeds to conduct scientific experiments. To everyone’s surprise, the seeds germinated soon after being planted. In fact, within a few years, the date palm tree they produced was thriving and stood nearly eight feet tall.

“It’s a powerful reminder for families with a loved one who’s gone astray. When someone’s life seems barren and directionless, it can feel as if their circumstances will never improve. But our lives are often like that desert seed that blossomed into a beautiful tree against all expectations. Even when it seems like nothing is happening, you never know what potential God may already be stirring inside someone’s heart.” —Jim Daly

4 Blessings From Trusting God + 1 Curse For Not

Choose lifeWhen you have a decision to make, isn’t it nice when you know the outcome of each option ahead of time? I mean, it makes it way easier to decide when you know what you’re going to get with each decision.

Like just before the Israelites head into the Promised Land, God says, “You can choose Me and have a whole lot of blessings, or you can choose another god and miss out on all My blessings” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

Easy choice, right?

I think the songwriter of Psalm 125 had that Deuteronomy passage in mind when he wrote his song of ascent. Basically, he says, you can trust God (v. 1) or you can walk on crooked paths (v. 5). What does it mean to trust God? Literally it means to have a confident expectation that He is Who He says He is, and He does what He says He’s going to do.

To help make the decision easier, the songwriter lists four blessings that come when we trust God—

  1. We become as secure and unshakeable as Heaven is (v. 1).
  2. We experience God’s “surroundedness” over, around, above and beneath us (v. 2).
  3. We escape evil’s clutches (v. 3).
  4. We experience God doing good for us (v. 4).

Of course, we can also choose not to trust God. We can try another path on our own. The curse for doing that is pretty sad—God will allow those who aren’t responsive to His voice to walk away from Him (v. 5).

Just like the story of the prodigal son (in Luke 15), the Father will allow you to walk away, but He will continue to long after you. And hopefully like that wayward son you will “come to your senses” and return to your Father. When you do, He will run to you, wrap you in His love, restore you to His family, and allow you to experience all of His blessings again!

The choice is up to you. I pray you will choose life and blessing and surroundedness, and God’s goodness toward you.

%d bloggers like this: