Prodigal Love

Art by Aaron and Alan Hicks

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:5-8

Prodigal love is lavish love. It is love freely and seemingly recklessly given. Today’s gospel lesson told of the reckless, seeming wastefully spent love of a father on a son who who had squandered the inheritance he received from his father and had returned broke and broken. The father’s prodigal love cared not what looked appropriate as he ran to wrap his son in his embrace and welcome him home. Robing him in fine clothes, feeding him a feast, and serenading him with celebratory song–all fit for a prince, not a wayward son. Such was the father’s prodigal love.

Such is the love of God for me…and for you. It is the same prodigal love. God the Father did not spare His beloved Son. That is why Jesus came to earth–to give his life, freely, recklessly, without reserve. His life for ours. On the Cross He wore our sins so that we might be robed in His righteousness. He comes running to find us wherever we are and to fold us into His embrace. He tells us He has prepared a home in Heaven for all who believe in Him, who return to Him and accept His prodigal love.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

“If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…I will give you rest.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

We may be prodigals, but we have an even greater Prodigal Father!

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August 29 Living Letters

Art by James Donaldson

Art by James Donaldson

Job 31:1-33:33; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18;  Psalm 43:1-5;  Proverbs 22:8-9

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,

but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Corinthians 3:2-6

 

God send us out as living

letters

with the message

of the Spirit’s

power to

infuse faith

and change the way

we act,

speak,

think,

respond

to the world around us.

Send us out as living letters

spelling out

grace,

mercy,

love,

and kindness

to those we meet.

We may have

run on sentences,

misspelled words

or incorrect grammar,

but the message will be the same:

“For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only Son

that whosoever believes in him,

will never die,

but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

Send us, Lord.

Signed, Sealed and

Delivered by You.

Amen

 

August 5 Plain And Simple

Image by Sandara Lee

Image by Sandara Lee


Ezra 1:1-2:70; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 27:7-14; Proverbs 20:22-23

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things; so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us the wisdom from God–that is–righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-30

No fancy talk,
no detailed plan,
no step by step
to happiness.
God reached down
plain and simple
took my hand
and led me to see
that I needed Him.
Needed Him to
wash me up,
fill me with the
Bread of Life,
to know His Son
who died for me.
That nothing I could
say or do
would make Him
love me less.
Plain and simple
Faith takes hold
of that unseen
and walks ahead with Him.
“For God so love the world
that He gave His only begotten Son
that whosoever believes in him
will never die,
but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Plain and Simple!

February 4 Holy Smoke

Image

Image by Phyl Brown

Exodus 19:-21:21;  Matthew 23:13-39;  Psalm 28:1-9;  Proverbs 7:1-5

“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightenings

and a thick cloud on the mountain

and a very loud trumpet blast,

so that all the people in the camp trembled.

Then Moses brought the people out of the camp

to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord

had descended on it with fire.

The smoke of it went up  like the smoke of a kiln,

and the whole mountain trembled greatly.

And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder

Moses spoke,

and God answered him in thunder.

The Lord came down on Mount Sinai,

to the top of the mountain,

and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain,

and Moses went up.”

Exodus 19:16-20

Holy Smoke!  God gets close and the people back away!

Holy Smoke!  God wants to get close to us, but our sinful nature in the presence of a Holy God causes us to back away—way back!

But wait!  Someone goes before us, just like Moses, to speak to God on our behalf!

That someone is Jesus:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will never die (go up in smoke!) but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Lord God, thank you for sending down your Son–to be our intermediary–our go between your demands for holiness and perfection and our sinful waywardness.  His perfect life was sacrificed on the altar–the Cross-which you found acceptable though it caused you much pain to see Him suffer and die.  So great was your love for us.

Thank you, Jesus, for your obedience–your willingness to stand before your Father bearing the sins of the world; to be totally rejected by Him and to die completely alone.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for working faith in our hearts to believe that because of Jesus we no longer need to fear the wrath and punishment we deserve.  Thank you for letting us experience the joy and peace of being near to Almighty God and to know His love and mercy.

We give you all thanks and praise and look forward to being with you forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

September 12 Plain Vanilla

ImageIsaiah 10:1-11:16;  2 Corinthians 12:11-21;  Psalm 56:1-13;  Proverbs 23:6-8

“We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ;  and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.”  2 Corinthians 12:19

 

The Corinthian Christians welcomed all varieties of preaching and teaching–the fancier and more expensive the better.

And the Apostle Paul was greatly concerned for them–concerned that they would settle for more than plain vanilla–made from the pure milk of God’s Word and the truth of the Gospel.

They were being tempted to embrace a must-do-in-addition-to-believing practice of outward observances of Old Testament Laws.  A Rocky Road version of salvation.

Paul knew that only plain vanilla would save the Corinthians from false teachings–and from their sins.

Only Jesus and Him crucified saves souls and creates new life in the hearts of those who believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him will never perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Simple Faith.

Plain vanilla!

Lord God, many voices proclaim ways to get to heaven–lots of rules, do’s and don’ts, elaborate schemes.  Lord may we stick with pure vanilla–the simple yet profound truth that your great love provides us a way to heaven–faith in Jesus, the sinless lamb of God sacrificed for us.  Forgive us Lord when we pile on “extras” to the Gospel truth because we think they will make it more palatable–easier to swallow.  Help us to always live and love the pure Gospel of Jesus, our Lord.  In His name, we pray, Amen.

Feb. 6 All Shook Up

Exodus 23:14-25:40;  Matthew 24: 29-51;  Psalm 30:1-12; Proverbs 7:24-27

Jesus’ disciples were rather shaken up at His words predicting the fall of the great temple in Jerusalem, and asked him privately “when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of this age?” Mt. 24:3

Jesus answers them first with a detailed description of what NOT to pay attention to then tells them:

‘The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;

“The stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

And…

“At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.”

Instantaneous recognition of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  For some it will be a gloriously joyous occasion–their Redeemer is coming to take them to their Heavenly Home.

For all others–those who denounced the existence of God or believed that Jesus was just a good Teacher–they will be shaken up–with fear and grief.  They will mourn– experience great sorrow–that they will not be counted among those who believed.

Sometimes I picture people that I know who do not confess Jesus as Lord on the day that He returns “coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”  Mt. 24:30.  I visualize their faces as they see Christ coming on the clouds–first looks of surprise…then wonder…then terror…then grief and despair.

I pray for them regularly that their eyes may be opened to the truth about themselves–that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

…and the truth about God, “how God shows His love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

I also pray that this truth becomes real for them “For God so loved the world that He sent His only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

When Jesus returns I want to be able to see the look of pure peace and joy on their faces, too.

Lord God, thank you for the assurance that we will know without a doubt when the end of the age in here.  There will be no guessing.  May we keep our eyes of faith on your Son Jesus at all times, and not be shaken by uncertain times or by false reports.  Let us not grow weary of waiting or let our guard down.  Enable us to be found faithfully doing the work of sharing the gospel until all nations have heard the Good Word.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.