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!

Advertisement

December 11 Walking Clothes

Photo by Kevin Carden

Photo by Kevin Carden

Amos 4:1-6:14;  Revelation 2:18-3:6;  Psalm 130:1-8;  Proverbs 29:21-22

“I know your works.  You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you received and heard.  Keep it, and repent.  If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and your will not know what hour I will come against you.

***

“Yet you still have a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.  I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”

Revelation 3:1-5

Jesus gave a wake up call to the Christians in Sardis.  Their reputation was solid, but it was a charade and Jesus saw right through it.

Wow.  That means He can see right through me too. When I think I’m walking the walk, and talking the talk Jesus says, “Wake up!

I’ve been doing some sleeping lately; my motivation for writing a Christian blog on a daily basis teeters on a “have to” thing rather than a missional “I want to serve Him in this way, this day” thing.

That’s why Jesus’ words in this letter to the Sardis Christians speak hope to me:  Repent!  He sees.  He forgives.  He gives me His set of walking clothes–His righteousness won for me on the Cross are mine to wear, because I believe in Him and what He is able to do through me!

Thank you Lord God, for your letters to me and to all Christians as found in the book of Revelation.  Thank you for caring enough about our spiritual welfare that you write us strong warnings and give us your encouragement to “hang on.” Thank you for the assurance that our names are written in the book of life as we continue to put our faith and trust in You and You alone.  In this season of Advent, may we remember your letters to us and to give you thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

November 8 NEVERTHELESS

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Ezekiel 18:1-19:14;  Hebrews 9:1-10;  Psalm 106:32-48;  Proverbs 27:10

“Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;

he gave them into the hands of the nations,

so that those who hated them ruled over them…

Many times he delivered them,

but they were rebellious in their purposes

and were brought low through their iniquity.

NEVERTHELESS

he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.

For their sake he remembered his covenant,

and he relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”  Psalm 106:40-45

~

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful.”  2 Timothy 2:13

~

We are not so unlike the children of Israel,

who, even though they experienced deliverance upon deliverance

and miracle upon miracle

and visibly saw the glory of the Lord

go before them as fire by night and cloud by day,

and the walls of Jericho fall at their feet

and their enemies driven away by the Hand of God,

turned away from Almighty God

to chase after idols and adopt the ways of the unbelieving

nations around them.

~

We, who have been saved by faith,

washed in the waters of Baptism,

partaken of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist,

have succumbed to the siren song of sin

seeking to please ourselves rather than God,

to listen to “new”, “enlightened” voices of this age

promising self-fulfillment, bank accounts overflowing,

and disease free living;

have neglected God and His Word by skipping worship,

by stingy giving,

by neglecting the needs of our neighbors.

NEVERTHELESS

God remembers that He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, to this earth to be the price-payer for our very

rebellious souls.

He remembers the cost of His Son’s life

given freely on the Cross–for us–

and in his never ending love and compassion

has mercy on us when we cry out to Him

dirtied from the pollution of our choosing,

and puts His Son’s robe of righteousness upon us!

Thank you, Father God for the NEVERTHELESS aspect of Your relationship with us;  that in spite of our weakness and waywardness, you let us come before Your throne by grace.  Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice, for breaking down the wall that separated us from the Father, for your continual intercession on our behalf.  Thank you Holy Spirit, for bearing the sword of Truth that pierces our hearts, convicts us of our sin, and restores us to fellowship with one another and with You. “Save us, O Lord, our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your Holy Name and glory in Your praise.  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! —and let all the people say “Amen!”  Praise the Lord.

September 26 Yes, I do!

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

Isaiah 48:12-50:11;  Ephesians 4:17-32;  Psalm 69:1-18;  Proverbs 24:5-6

“Now I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of heart.  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

“But that is not the way you learned Christ!–assuming you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the Spirit of your minds, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:17-24

Golden butter

I know Jesus,

yes, I do.

I know Jesus,

how ’bout you?

I know His ways,

yes, I do.

I know His ways,

how ’bout you?

I walk in His ways,

yes, I do.

I walk in His ways,

how ’bout you?

~

Not because I’m “special.”

Not because of what I’ve done.

But, all because of Jesus,

all that He has done.

He paid the price

with His own life

to free me from my sin,

to give me new life

through faith

that I might walk with Him.

A new change of clothes

were given me

through the Water and the Word,

a miracle!

For apart from Christ

I’d be dressed in a different

set of garb.

My heart would still

be hard.

So pretty

Thank you, Jesus, for clothing me in your white robe of righteousness purchased for me on Calvary’s unbecoming Cross.  May my life reflect the new life I have through faith in You.  Help me to remember the great clothing exchange at my Baptism–the heart exchange–the life exchange–the giving up of the Old Adam, for the New.  May my thoughts, words and actions today bear witness to the only life worth living–the life in You.  In your dear name I pray, Amen.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and hatred and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:30-32

September 12 Shoot For Peace

Photo by Ben Branum

Photo by Ben Branum

Isaiah 10:1-11:16;  2 Corinthians12:11-21;  Psalm 56:1-13;  Proverbs 23:6-8

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him–

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of power,

the Spirit of knowledge and

of the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees

with his eyes;

or decide by what he hears

with his ears,

but with righteousness he will

judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions

for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the

rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he

will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash

around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them…

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge

of the Lord

as waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah 11:1-9

~

Isaiah, prophet old

posits a picture

of peace.

A shoot,

a Spirit Branch of wisdom,

counsel and power

who knows God,

who is God

who is to come,

who has come–

His name is Christ the Lord

and will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead.

Name bearers, we

Christians,

Gift receivers of His Grace

wait for his reign of peace.

All will know him

All will see his glory

All creation will rest in Him.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Amen.

September 11 Back To The Future

Image by Jeff Brown

Image by Jeff Brown

Isaiah 8:1-9:21;  2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 55:1-23;  Proverbs 23:4-5

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.  In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future

he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the

way of the sea, along the Jordan.

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the

shadow of death

a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation

and increased their joy;

they rejoice before you

as people rejoice at the harvest,

as men rejoice

when dividing the plunder.

For as in in the day of Midian’s defeat

you have shattered

the yoke that burdens them,

the bar across their shoulders,

the rod of their oppressor.

Every warriors boot used in battle

and every garment rolled in blood

will be destined for burning,

will be fuel for the fire.

~

For unto us a child is born,

unto us a son is given,

and the government will be on

his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government

and peace there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:1-7

Image by Lenin Rodriguez

Image by Lenin Rodriguez

Lord God, into a tumultuous world riddled with warring nations fueled by mankind’s greed, pride and lust for power you sent your Son.  Our world seems no less different today than the one into which the prophet Isaiah spoke and the one into which Jesus was born.  Sin and evil abound.  But thanks be to You, O God–our Wonderful Counselor has come!  Our Mighty God has broken the chains of sin and death!  Our Everlasting Father reigns above!  We have met the Prince of Peace!  Days of righteousness and justice are coming!  Lord, may faith increase in our world–that people will look to you for their salvation.  Help us to be your faithful witnesses, for Jesus’ sake, 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!

July 19 Holy Hill

Photo by M Jones

Photo by M Jones

1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30;  Romans 5:6-21;  Psalm 15:1-5; Proverbs 19:18-19

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?

He whose walk is blameless

and who does what is righteous,

who speaks truth from the heart

and has no slander on his tongue,

who does his neighbor no wrong

and casts no slur on his fellowman,

who despises a vile man

but honors those who fear the Lord,

who keeps his oath

even when it hurts,

who lends money without usery

and does not accept a bribe

against the righteous.

He who does these things

will never be shaken.”

Psalm 15:1-15

Clean and holy art Thou

Perfect and blameless

I’m not.

But Christ in my heart

by faith

leads me to Your holy hill.

His righteousness

I bear,

doors open wide

and admit a forgiven

sinner there.

I may not always

speak the truth

or do my neighbor good.

I may delight

in unholy things

and fail to do

what I should.

Faith takes hold

when evil lurks

and tries to rattle me.

“I know you’re weak,

but I am strong,”

my Savior comforts

me.

He who never once did sin

leads me on

to reach

Your holy hill.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that through your righteousness I will stand firm on Your holy hill.  May I seek to do those things that please you:  to speak the truth, gossip not, help my neighbor, abhor evil, rejoice in the good, keep my promises, and serve my fellowman to your glory.  In your name I pray, Amen.

 

December21 Make No Mistake

Image

Photo by Pierce Brantley

Zechariah 1:1-21;  Revelation 12:1-13:1a;  Psalm 140:1-13;  Proverbs 30:17

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Christ.

For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them

before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,

and by the words of their testimony…

Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them!

But woe, to the earth and the sea, because the devil

has gone down to you!

He is filled with fury, because he knows that

his time is short.”

Revelation 12:10-12

Make no mistake.

We, who believe in Jesus as “the Way, the Truth and the Life”, are targets of Satan’s fiery darts designed to inflict doubt, deception, and destruction.

Make no mistake.

Satan’s lies are all around us.  He masquerades as “an angel of light” peddling a different gospel:

     “If a person is good, he’ll go to heaven.” 

     “God wants your happiness above all–do what makes you feel good.”

     “God wants you to rich in this world and fulfilled (full of yourself no matter what the cost)”

     “The Bible is nothing but stories about a good teacher named Jesus.”

      “You can believe whatever you want as long as you are sincere.”

 Make no mistake.

Satan wants every believer in Christ to turn his back on Him;  to give up and give in.  “Be sober minded.  Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

Make no mistake.

As redeemed children of God, He’s equipped us to meet Satan’s onslaught.  “Put on the whole armour of God, that you be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…the belt of Truth, the breastplate of Righteousness, shoes of the gospel of Peace, the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”  Ephesians 6:14-17

Make no mistake.

Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross delivered us from sin, death and the devil.  Satan has no power over us. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

In this season of “Happy Holidays” boldly proclaim “Merry Christmas.  Christ has come!  He’s coming again!”

Make no mistake.

It will make the devil shake.

Gracious God, thank you for standing up to our accuser, Satan, on our behalf;  for sending Jesus who never gave in to Satan’s temptations using Your Word of truth against him.  May we do the same.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

December16 Who Dat?

Image

Image by Jeff Boriss

Micah 5:1-7:20;  Revelation 7:1-17;  Psalm 135:1-21;  Proverbs 30:5-6

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah…out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”  Micah 5:2

Who dat?

Jesus.

“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  And he will be their peace.”  Micah 5;4

Who dat?

Jesus.

“Then one of the elders addressed me saying, “who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?”  I said to him, “Sir, you know.”  And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Revelation 7: 13-14

Who dat?

You.  Me.  All who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

Who dat?

Our Lord and God!

From the Old Testament prophet, Micah, to John who recorded God’s Revelation to him, our questions are answered.

Who saves us from our sin?

Who will “shelter us with his presence?”

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne , and to the Lamb!”  Revelation 7:10

Dat who!

Lord God–your prophets foretold Christ’s coming as the Babe of Bethlehem.  And they have foretold of his coming again to judge all people.  We eagerly await his coming!  We thank and praise you for dressing us in the white robes of righteousness paid for with the blood of your son on the cross.  Through faith we believe that our sins are truly covered and that is why we do not fear your return.  Help us, Lord, to share this wonderful good news with those who need to hear.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

“Amen.  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever.  Amen!  Revelation 7:12