The Father | Perspectives
Monday— “There was a man who had two sons…” Luke 15:11
The boys were raised side by side. Same parents. Same schools. Same opportunities. One took advantage of those opportunities. The other took advantage of his father. One made something of himself; one made a fool of himself. “I credit my father,” said one. “I blame my father,” said the other. Same upbringing, different results. Why?
Many parents face that dilemma. “Where did we go wrong?” they cry. They agonize over every event in the prodigal’s life: “Maybe it was when we…” But sometimes it’s not about the parenting; it’s about the child’s sin nature. We all have one. We’re born wanting our own way. Some choose to submit to God, some choose to rebel, but one fact is certain: You cannot train the sin nature out of your children. “He’s a good boy,” tearful mothers cry. “He just got in with the wrong crowd.” Maybe he IS the wrong crowd. Maybe we’re the wrong crowd. Two people, side by side. One chooses to honor God; one chooses to rebel. But just as this father eagerly welcomed his repentant prodigal, so our Father welcomes us when we’ve come to come to the end of ourselves. We shuffle home, humbled, reeking of the pigpens we’ve wallowed in. We have nothing to offer, but as it turns out, repentance is all He requires. Once we agree with Him, He begins restoring us to the beloved children He created.
Challenge: Two people. One obeys God; one follows the devil. Which are you? It’s not too late to return home.
Prayer: Father, thank you for welcoming us home when we finally come to the end of ourselves. I pray for those prodigals who are still far from you. Open their eyes to see the pigpen they’re in and grant them repentance so they can come home. Amen.
Tuesday— …the younger son got together all he had and set off for a distant country…” Luke 15:13
Dad had pleaded, explained, warned, and probably cried in private, but his young son refused to listen. Now the bags are packed and by the front door. A couple of donkeys are saddled and waiting. Maybe friends are also geared up and ready to help the boy make a fool of himself. “Well, I guess this is it,” declares the son. “Thanks for the loot, Dad. I’ll see ya when I see ya!” And out he goes. The father watches from the window, his heart aching. He knows what’s out there; the boy doesn’t. But notice one important fact—the father did not run after him. He would let the kid reap the consequences of his foolishness.
“Why did God bring me such a psycho wife?” Andy moans. Dan nods. “Yeah, and why didn’t God answer my prayer for a better job?” Both Andy and Dan are overlooking a glaring truth: God owes them nothing. They’d ignored God and His word when they made their poor decisions, so they were reaping the consequences. They were free to walk away from God, but they couldn’t also blame Him for the results. In Luke 18, another man walked away, a rich hotshot who had heard the truth but said, “No thanks.” And Jesus let him walk away. He didn’t run after the guy or make it easier on him. Love is not an enabler. Love doesn’t soften the truth to gain temporary relief. Love respects a person’s right to make his/her own decisions, but refuses to minimize the consequences of those decisions. Sometimes, consequences are all that will wake them up.
Challenge: Sometimes we let people walk away so they can reap the results of their foolishness. That’s what God does.
Prayer: Father, I’m guilty of running after people until it ruins me. I enable them and call it love, but now I see that you’ve set an example I should follow. Help me live and speak your truth whether people walk away or not. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again…” Luke 15:32
“Hold on, Jesus! Why would the father say his son was dead? He was clearly alive—smelly, but alive.” To conclude His lesson about losing things, Jesus threw in a little theology. That “dead” comment wasn’t hyperbole. Jesus was driving home the point that people are not just “away from God,” they’re spiritually dead. A dead man can’t repent or desire holiness. He’s dead. And we’re all born spiritually dead. We can’t, on our own, figure out how to save ourselves. Only God can breathe life into us.
Ephesians 2 says, “…you were dead in your transgressions and sins…gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts…we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Catch the parallel. The father in this story was not exaggerating when he said that his son had been dead and was now alive. That’s how our heavenly Father sees us. We’re born ready to follow our sin nature. We can’t even respond to Him properly unless He takes the initiative. So He meets us in our sin, whispers that there’s more, and offers to give us life if we’ll do it His way. He put His own Son to death and then raised Him again so that the spiritually dead can receive that same life. We were dead, now we’re alive, and that’s cause for celebration.
Challenge: Jesus did not die to make bad people good. He died to make dead people live.
Prayer: Father, the more I learn about what you’ve done for me, the more grateful I feel. I could do nothing to save myself. I was dead, but in Christ I’m made alive. May His life and power flow through me and keep me from sin. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— So he set out and came to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20
Kay ducked her head, too ashamed to look up as the preacher brought the service to a close. Heat rushed to her face and voices taunted inside her head as they did every time she thought about returning to God. “God doesn’t want people like you…You’ve made too big a mess…After what you’ve done, forget it!”. She’d once imagined being a missionary, or a worship leader, or just a mom raising godly kids. But now it was too late. The string of bad choices had begun to define her. Misery was a way of life. If only she could start over. If only she could get her act together, maybe she could go back. If only…
Jesus told this story for people like Kay. Satan made slaves of them and when they wanted out of his cage, he turned on them: taunting, whispering lies, convincing them that God had given up. So Jesus told about a loving father who never gave up. This father not only let the kid back in but ran to meet him. Dignified gentlemen did not make public spectacles of themselves over filthy pig-feeders. That was outrageous! And that was the point. God’s extravagant love is outrageous. He shouldn’t welcome us like that. We’re covered in filth, offensive to Him, but He’s ready to wash us clean, put His robe on our shoulders, and call us His children. No matter which pigpen we’ve wallowed in, Jesus’ blood is strong enough to wash away the stench.
Challenge: Our Father’s love is extravagant and totally undeserved. How are you honoring that extravagant love?
Prayer: Father, I’ll never grasp how outrageous your love is for me. I don’t understand it, but I’m forever grateful. You’ve cleaned me up, put your robe on me, and welcomed me home. May I live to please and honor Jesus. In His name, amen.
Friday— “…your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14
What matters most to God? Have you thought about that? If you listen to some of the internet preachers today, you’d think it was money. Dig a little deeper, and you might think God’s major concern is your health, wealth, and prosperity. Not even close. God’s passion is His own glory and He receives the greatest glory from human worship. Is He an egomaniac? Of course not. If His glory is the highest pinnacle of the universe, He’d be depriving us to keep it from us. Instead, He is passionate about saving people from hell so that they can be part of it. Hell was created for Satan, but if we insist on following him, we go too.
But that’s NOT the Father’s will. It breaks His heart. He’s a restorer. He knows how we are and what we’ve done and stands ready to clean us up the moment we turn to Him. The dad in this story did not want his rebellious son forever cut off from the family, but the boy had to come to his senses and return. Neither is our Father willing that anyone be forever cut off from Him. But we must come to our senses and return. Every human being is born with a purpose—to glorify God. He wants to see His own image reflected in our lives as we learn to obey Him. Part of that obedience is helping Him snatch others from Satan’s clutches. Nothing brings God greater glory than when His children help someone else turn from sin to honor and obey Him.
Challenge: How well are you reflecting God’s glory? Are you helping rescue others?
Prayer: Father, have I been selfish with my faith? Am I keeping you all to myself? Examine my heart and life. Am I following your orders to tell those little ones about you? Please forgive me. Help me learn to glorify you. In Jesus’ name, amen.