A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children

Prodigal

The Father-God Love for the Prodigal

Our father watches, waits and longs for His prodigal children to come home. His heart hurts when we are separated from His presence. He longs for the intimacy that He had with us, when we walked with Him in the original garden. When Jesus came, He came to show us the heart of the father. He represented God the Father in everything that He said and did. Jesus did not live independently of God.
 
When Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), He showed us the heart of the father. The father allowed his younger son, to assert his rebelliousness of demanding an early inheritance. The father did not run after him and try to rescue him when all of his money was gone and there was famine in the land. He waited till his son hit bottom and came to his senses and rightly recognized and honored his father.
 
The father ran to the son when he finally came home. After the son had repented to His father, then the father called for the servant to get a ring for his finger, shoes for his feet and a robe. The Father through a party and celebrated his return. He restored him fully to a place of honor and authority as His son.
 
Too often, we want the privilege, honor and favor of Father God, without full repentance. Repentance is a gift from the Holy Spirit where we turn around and make a complete change of heart, mind and direction of our lives. The joy of holy intimacy with Father God is found when we totally surrender our lives to Him and don’t hold anything back.

Are you a Prodigal?

I was looking up the definition of “prodigal” and was surprised by the definition:

  • prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources. 

  • luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance.

  • lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance.

  • profuse implies pouring forth without restraint.

  • lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion.

As I looked at this definition, I thought of our American lifestyle. Have you or your children followed this pattern:

  • Our children are encouraged to go to Ivy-league schools and to not worry about the debt accrued with student loans.
  • After they go to college, and meet the perfect somebody, they go into further debt from the lavish wedding.
  • Then of course, there is further spending as they purchase their first house.
  • Then they purchase the first  a mini-van
  • Then extravagant equipment for their babies.

The Prodigal Cycle

The out-of-control spending, the reckless and wastefulness of resources has become confused with the American dream. Remember, how our forefathers and mothers sacrificed when they came to a land of freedom. They hoped for a better life, but their definition of a good life is much different than what the entitlement generation feels they deserve.

If you were around in the 80’s when Imelda Marcos, the widow of a Filipino dictator, was found with a legendary 3,000 pairs of shoes. The media was appalled by the extravagance when so many of her people were in great need. Yet, Americans love to shop till they drop and build mansions where only a few people live in them.

The Entitlement Culture

Let me tell you a story of a land which is becoming a culture of waste. The amount of resources that an individual home waste’s every year could feed and cloth all the pilgrims who died trying to settle this country. They gave their lives for religious freedom and we waste what has been given us.

Let me tell you a story from the Bible.

There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

 That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. (Lk 15:11-20).

I have never seen myself as a prodigal…

I fell in love with Jesus early in my life. I didn’t do drugs. I was a virgin when I married. I thought that all the prodigals were people who were “loose” or had sex outside of marriage or had corrupt morals. Yet, when I read this definition: 

I realize that as an American citizen I am included in these statics:

1. Junk galore. Each American throws out about 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of trash every single day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest 2012 figures.

2. Food Wasted. According to America’s Second Harvest, over 41 billion pounds of food have been wasted this year (www.secondharvest.org).

I know that I fall into the above categories of waste. But as Americans, we also have these statistics.

3. Drug Use. America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

4. Teenage Pregnancy. America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.

5. Credit Card Waste: According to a Gallup survey, the average cardholder carries a credit card balance of $2,210 at the end of the month. Statistics on creditcard.com show that the average APR on cards with a balance is 12.78%. Considering that 176 million Americans have a credit card, the wasted amount on credit card interest is over $49 billion each year.

Hope for the Prodigal…

I could get really discouraged by these statistics, but the good news is that the story of the Prodigal Son is not as much about the son who was reckless and wasteful, but about the Father who loves… Look at the how the Father loves every prodigal.

 When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ (Lk 15:20-24)

A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children

Wow! We spend so much time thinking about “the prodigal”, but really this story is about the Father! As we turn around from our own reckless living we can be sure of this! Our repentance opens the door for intimacy with Father-God to be restored. When we change our thinking and embrace a lifestyle of repentance, we draw near to God and He draws near to us. The truth of God’s never-ending story is told again and again as the father welcomes us home to Himself. Remember this:

1. God Loves Us

2. God Receives Us

3. God Restores Us

4. God Authorizes us

God Rejoices Over Us

// ]]> The Father is waiting for you and for me to come home!

Consider taking a spiritual retreat where you spend time with God, coming closer to Him. Click here to download your free guide. Click Here to Download

Hope to hear from you. If you want prayer for your own prodigal heart to come home, or prayer for a loved one, leave a comment and we will join you! A Father’s love never fails to welcome home His child.

Launching Out Into the Deep

Launching Out Into the Deep

Sometimes, God calls us to get in over our heads… Launching out into the deep requires you go deeper in your faith, hope, and trust in God.*

Jesus Calls Us Deeper

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”  And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!  A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”  For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. Luke 5:4-9 NLT

Jesus called Peter to be his disciple on a rough day.  Peter and his companions had been out all night fishing and they caught nothing.  Tired, hungry, surrounded by a multitude of people, Peter tried to stretch out and clean his net so that they could go out fishing again that night. He had a lot of people depending on him as a business owner; he couldn’t afford another day without catching fish. The multitude was pressing Jesus and power was going out of Him so that everyone around was being healed (Luke 5:1-11).  Before Peter knew it, Jesus had stepped on his boat and charged him to put out a little from the land so that He could sit down and teach the crowd.  Peter didn’t mind. In fact, listening to Jesus teach made the tedious work of washing nets go faster.  He had heard about Jesus and he was curious to know if the message and the messenger was real.

After Jesus stopped speaking, he asked Peter to launch out to the deep and let down their nets for a catch.  This was completely ridiculous.  Peter, as a fisherman knew that the right time to fish was at night. He also knew that you caught more fish in shallow water.  Peter wanted to correct this rabbi, but he had spoken with such authority that he simply said “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5).  It was at this point that Peter knew he was not dealing with any ordinary rabbi.  Not only did they catch fish during the day in deep waters, they caught so many fish that their net was breaking and they had to get their partners to come and help them. Both boats almost sank.  Simon Peter was so overwhelmed by the supernaturally abundant catch of fish, that he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.”(Luke 5:8 Message)

But Jesus looked deeper into Peter.  Others saw a rough, impetuous fisherman to spoke more than he thought.  They laughed and called him “Simon” which means “shifting sand” But Jesus called him “Peter” which means rock.  He saw the potential in Peter to be a great leader who would “catch” men. 

Launching Out into the Deep Waters

Jesus is constantly calling us to launch out into deeper waters. He is calling you to go deeper in Him… to trust and rely on Him more. He wants to increase your impact on other people. He is going to multiply your efforts. Even if you have toiled all night, you can through your net on the other side of the boat and have a “supernatural-catch.” 

Be Encouraged Every Day!

To find out more about Sue Detweiler, her books and radio ministry click here 

Make a Friend

Make a Friend

Have you every walked in a room and not known anyone there?

make a friend

It can be difficult to build relationships especially when it feels like everyone knows each other and you’re the new kid on the block.  It’s in those moments that you and I need to know that we can throw our shoulders back and take the first step by reaching out our hands and our heart to make a new friend.

True, you could be rejected. Yet, if you keep reaching out you will find future friends that will be a treasure for the rest of your life. God specifically places people in our lives as friends.

Making Friends in Texas

Being new to Texas has required me to stretch out of my comfort zone and initiate new relationships. We had been in Nashville Tennessee for 28 years serving in pastoral ministry before we took the leap of a cross-cultural move. Everywhere we went we knew people that we had history with. We would often be standing in the grocery store or movie theater laughing or praying with people that we would run into. It was difficult to be willing to go where God was leading us. But we said to God:

We’ll go anywhere You want us to go…

We want to be at the right place,

at the right time,

doing the right thing,

with the right people.

On Mission with God

Our lives are to be lived on mission with God. The joy of following hard after God is that we will build the kingdom with friends. We will have friends all over the world who have a heart to see God’s kingdom established. We will also make new friends as God leads and guides.

One of the things I love about being in a new city is the opportunity to see God at work building new relationships. I may need to be the first person to reach out my hand and my heart to make a friend, but I’m not alone. As Christians we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. We are never alone because Jesus promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. 

So today, take the first step, reach out and make a new friend.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Proverbs 17:17

Get daily encouragement to help you every day.

healthy habits

Be Encouraged Every Day!

To find out more about Sue Detweiler, her books and radio ministry click here 

Empty Arms (Link up)

Do You Know Someone with Empty Arms?

“‘I’m not picking up a heartbeat, Pam. There doesn’t appear to be any fetal movement. I think the baby is dead.’ In disbelieve my emotions began to run wild and unchecked….” Hear Pam Vredevelt‘s heart in this video:

Overcoming Pain and Loss

The emotional aftermath of losing a pregnancy or an infant is experienced by so many. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed annually on October 15 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australian States of Western Australia, New South Wales and in Italy.

Did you know that…

Empty Arms

 

Empty Arms Journal

Empty Arms Journal

The Empty Arms Journal is a 21-Day interactive experience with God. A step-by-step guide based on the timeless wisdom of Scripture and decades of brain science.

A five-step process that empowers you to:

  • Embrace your loss in the light of God’s love
  • Let go of preoccupations that block transformation and fulfillment
  • Experience moments of relief from blinding pain
  • Keep moving forward without derailing or getting stuck in grief.
  • Find meaning and purpose on the way towards a brighter ‘new normal’

Tears are Healing…

If you or someone you know has empty arms, reach out to them with love and understanding. Their pain needs to be expressed to find healing and hope. Get Pam Vredevelt’s book and journal as a resource for anyone experiencing pregnancy or infant loss.

empty arms

 


How to Be Salt and Light

How to Be Salt and Light

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

How to be salt and light

A good woman is taking a stand to be salt and light during this year’s election where the majority of Christians may have given up on being a voice for God in the voting booth. Liz Lemery Joy’s first book How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Vote beacons evangelical Christians to take a stand for God when they vote.

Statistics show that few Christians fully embrace their god-given right to vote. Here are the statistics:

Only about 50 percent of Christians in America are registered to vote.

Of those, only 50 percent show up at the polls, meaning 75 percent of all Christians are not taking advantage of one of their greatest privileges.

If every Christian would register to vote and then do so, candidates who share their beliefs and values would win the presidency in a landslide.*

75 % o Christians are not standing up for their beliefs and taking action in the voting booth. Often the stumbling ground is

How to be salt and light

Liz Lemery Joy being interviewed in Washington DC.

the personalities in the presidential race. Liz Lemery Joy says,”Too often people get sidetracked by the personalities who are campaigning. Your vote does not have to do with whether or not you like a candidate. Concentrate on casting your vote as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Be heaven’s voice in the voting booth.”

How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Voting

After a completing a Daniel Fast, God spoke to Liz Lemery Joy’s heart about writing a book that would help people to “vote the bible.” As she took a stand to obey God, doors began to open on radio, television and social platforms. She is motivating Christian voters to vote biblical on the issues of the election.

About Liz Lemery Joy:
Liz is a mother of four, author, speaker and blogger in New York State. She started a ‘Vote the Bible’ initiative corresponding with over 500 churches in her State in order to help Pastors, Ministers and Clergy become active in the political process through biblical voting. She has been on numerous radio shows, Trinity Broadcasting Network in NYC, and worked closely with a New York Senator to host several prayer events and promote active Christian voting.

How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Voting is being published by Life Bridge Press, A division of Detweiler LLC. If you would like to interview Liz, contact her directly at info@lizlemeryjoy.com or LizLemeryJoy.com.

How to be salt and light

Get your copy at LizLemeryJoy.com.


  • Accessed on September 25, 2016 at “Your Vote Matters” at http://www.providenceforum.org/yourvotematters.

4 Promises for Troubling Times

Trust in God

Hearing the first sound of gun shots, the terrified victims began to run. Shetamia Taylor, mom of four was shot by the Dallas sniper as she jumped on her 15 year old son to protect him from the shots. Lodged between a couple of cars, they lay there for 5 minutes. All Shetamia could think about was whether or not her other sons were safe. After being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, she recovered in her hospital room praying for the families of the officers who had been murdered.

Promises

The recent horrific news of the violence in Orlando and Istanbul have added to the growing concern of the American people. Our hearts are crying out against the senseless murder.

Standing Firm on God’s Promises

In times of escalating violence, we need to stand firm on the promises of God. Jesus made these 4 promises to His disciples the night before his crucifixion. His promises still hold true for us.

1. Jesus Promises Comfort

Jesus said,

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3 NLT

A troubled heart is in anguish. For many of us, as we have watched the news reports of violence we have felt concern for the families of those who have died. Jesus promises his presence. He promises to prepare a place for us eternal. His words bring comfort and hope.

2. Jesus Promises Power

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12-14

As the church of Jesus Christ stands up in unity, we are able to accomplish the greater works that Jesus is talking about. His prayer for us is that we put aside our differences and become united.

3. Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

 “If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:15-17

The Holy Spirit is the one who advocates on our behalf. He advocates for the African American youth who have been targeted unfairly. The Holy Spirit leads us into truth.

4. Jesus Promises Peace

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.  I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. John 14:27-29 NLT

The more you watch the news reports, the less peace you will experience. What you meditate on you will magnify. Jesus is hear to give you and I a gift– peace of mind and heart. The world can’t give us a gift like this — only Jesus can.

Promises

So in the wake of this violence, here are 2 things that you can do right away:

1. Trust God

You will be led by the spirit to be at the right place, at the right time, making a difference in people’s lives. Trust that God is bigger than the problems of the world. Trust God to help you forgive and let go of any bitterness you may feel.

2. Believe

Believe what Jesus has said. He has called you and me to not let our hearts be troubled… that must mean it is possible to be in the middle of troubling times and still be filled with his gift–peace of mind and heart. Believe that He has given you His authority to make a difference. Believe that He has overcome the world by the power of the cross, and so you can be an overcomer too.

I would love to hear your comments… Where were you when the shots were fired? Do you stand on these promises? 


Free to Be You (Link up)

Free to Be You

Every time you take a step forward out of obedience to God’s call on your life, the step itself is a shot of confidence. You are free to be you! No one is courageous in his own strength. True courage comes from God. There are times that you will still feel fear as you step out in faith.

Free to be you

Freedom from Perfectionism

In this Instagram world, it is easy to look at the families of friends and think they have it all together. Her life looks perfect, so it must be. This false picture-perfect-image is just an illusion.

All of us experience storms in our lives. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus so that my feet don’t sink into the waves of the storm (see John 6:15-21). In the midst of the storm you will be transformed. The things that used to frighten you no longer have power to manifest fear in your life.

Perfectionism is a blinding foe. You don’t realize you have been blind-sided until you come to the end of yourself. It will drive you to strive for excessively high performance goals. It may cause you to be highly critical. You will be driven to meet impossible standards, unable to please yourself and others. It squeezes the fun out of life and steals the joy out of relationships. Rather than being relaxed and at-home with who you are, you may constantly try to be someone else.

Replacing Perfectionism with Presence

Replacing the drive for perfectionism with the peace-filled presence of the Holy Spirit in your life will rejuvenate you. Learning to relax in God’s presence will free you from fault-finding.

“If you wait for perfect conditions,

you will never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 LB

Perfectionism causes you to hesitate. If you place such high standards on yourself you will never move forward and obey God. Your internal dialogue could be something like this… I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid that I’m going to get it wrong. I need to just play it safe. If I can’t do it perfect, I won’t even try.

Perfectionism can cause your prayer life to have extreme standards. You may have nagging thoughts or unreal expectations… If I really knew how to pray, than all my problems will go away. I’m going to set my alarm for 4:00 and pray for 2 hours before work. Then when you sleep through your alarm and rush to work barely getting there on time, you blame yourself for not following through. Any virtue can become a vice when we try to accomplish it in our own strength.

You may be your own worst critic when you don’t accomplish your goals. The only way to truly overcome perfectionism is through God’s grace that sets you free. As human beings, we all fall short of God’s standard. That’s why we need a savior.

Are You Ready to Wave a White Flag

Are you ready to surrender your heart fully to God? As you let go of your futile desire to be perfect and embrace the only PERFECT ONE–Jesus, you will find fresh freedom to be you! You won’t be fear-filled and anxiously trying to impress. You will be fearless and content.

Five Promises for Every Day Life

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