Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah 31:3’

(Based on the story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-24)

 

019-prodigal-son300x225

 

Eliab plodded to the top of a familiar rise.  Just ahead he could see the flat rooftop of his ancestral home. Eliab’s heart began to drum in his ears, his face grew hot with shame, and sweat trickled down his back. Soon Eliab would face his father.

As he watched his feet take one step after another, thoughts circled around one question:

What would his father say?

Perhaps, “Get out of my sight! I no longer have two sons, only one.”

Perhaps, “Alright, Eliab, you may work in the fields and barn to pay back your debt. You may also sleep in the barn and take your meals with the other hired hands. Such flagrant waste of your inheritance must be recompensed.”

Eliab would soon know the response that would determine his fate.  He looked up once again to check his progress.  A man was running toward him down the road. What would cause him to be in such a hurry?

No sooner had the question formed in his mind than he recognized the bearing of the approaching figure. It was his father. Eliab’s knees grew weak, and not just from hunger. He collapsed to the ground in a heap, tears streaming down his face.

Quick steps approached; strong arms lifted Eliab up and grasped him in a tight embrace. He heard his father cry, “Oh, Eliab!” And together they wept.

 

prodigalson

 

Moments passed and Eliab steeled himself for the speech he had prepared during his long journey.

“Father,” he choked, “I’ve sinned against God and I’ve sinned before you. I know I can no longer be considered your son, but…”

Eliab’s father wasn’t even listening. He turned to call out to his servants, “Get a clean set of clothes and new sandals. Bring the family signet ring. Then prepare the grain-fed heifer for roasting.   We are going to have the grandest celebration our village has ever seen! My son that was as good as dead to me is alive again!”

And with that, Eliab, caretaker of pigs, was lavishly honored because his father:

  • Forgave him for being so foolish, squandering his inheritance.
  • Restored his position in the family, symbolized by the specific request of shoes. (Family members wore shoes; slaves did not.)
  • Clothed him in fresh, clean robes.
  • Honored him with the signet ring, a symbol of authority.
  • Loved him, pure and simple.

 

return-of-prodigal-son-celebrated

 

 

Now I’ve never been a caretaker of pigs. You probably haven’t been either. But I’ve certainly committed my own foolish acts of selfish rebellion. Maybe you have, too.

And yet, when we throw ourselves on God’s mercy, he

  • Forgives our sins and remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:12).
  • Adopts us into his family, making us his children (John 1:12-13).
  • Clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus (Isaiah 61:10), and God sees us as if we had never sinned (Colossians 1:21-22).
  • Honors us (Psalm 91:15)—with his presence and countless gifts. Someday we’ll receive a crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:4).
  • Loves us, pure and simple, for now and always (Jeremiah 31:33).

tumblr_nc8rcivx4e1ttry05o1_500

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

How I thank you, Heavenly Father, for taking pity on me, as the father did in the story of the prodigal son.  You redeemed my life from the pig sty.  You forgive my sins–every one of them.  You have more than satisfied me with your goodness and faithful love.  Never do I want to lose the wonder of your love and grace!

(Psalm 103:1-5, 13)

Eliab means “to whom God is Father.”

(Art & photo credits:  www.childrenschapel.org; http://www.ncregister.som; http://www.susaneball.com; http://www.spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com.)

Read Full Post »

Hardship

Hardship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday our starting point was Acts 14:22: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Not exactly an encouraging affirmation, is it!

But we discovered that problems can actually be opportunities—opportunities to improve our perspective, foster appreciation, and draw us closer to God.

Another benefit? Problems build character.

And why is that a valuable endeavor? Wise King Solomon answered that question eons ago: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17).  That means,  when I face problems with integrity, I bring pleasure to my Heavenly Father.  Now that’s a goal worth pursuing.

integrity

integrity (Photo credit: glsims99)

Integrity is firm adherence to a code or standard of values. The one and only true standard is God’s standard, laid out in his Word.  Integrity includes righteousness, courage, perseverance, and faith–character traits that don’t develop without pressure.

The key is to live within the spiritual realm with him. Then the physical realm becomes less important. It’s as if we exist in an alternative reality. No wallowing in self-pity. No rehashing the negative aspects of the situation. No time wasted considering the “what-ifs.”

Instead we “count it all joy when we meet various trials” (James 1:2). How?

1. Practice his presence by speaking to him throughout the day.   Keep rehearsing God’s attributes. Remember all his benefits. Think of the blessings he has already provided.

2. Acknowledge those little demons of worry, shame, or inadequacy. Call them by name and present them before God. Notice how they cower as God proclaims his everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Watch them retreat as he affirms his infinite power (Jeremiah 32:27).

3. Anticipate what God might accomplish through these difficult circumstances. Wonderful possibilities exist as he sends us in new directions and uses us to minister to others.

No doubt there are more steps we can take. But these offer a good start. And what will be the result? Difficulties develop perseverance, and perseverance produces maturity—the one positive character trait that covers them all (James 1:2).

Heavenly Father, you know even better than I how easy it is to verbally affirm these truths; it’s another to live by them moment by moment. I still have much to learn about counting it all joy in the midst of trials. But I do aspire to be a mature person, able to say, “It is well with my soul.”   No.   Matter.   What.   Thank you for continuing to work on me, for never giving up.

IT IS WELL

IT IS WELL (Photo credit: Amydeanne)

Read Full Post »

Living Our Days

Gaining a heart of wisdom

Heartful Faith

Chasing After God's Own Heart

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and devotions by Heidi Viars

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions