A Prayer for Comfort

Righteous Father and Friend,

Holy living and true. Thank you for your love and tender mercy. Your love is so great You gave Your good Son for us your rebellious children.

Have mercy Lord.

In our lives we are painfully aware of loss. Our hearts are broken when friends and family pass; however, nothing compares to the lose of those who leave too soon. When a parent loses their grasp on a child…

We the living are left to go on. Those who have not lost a child cannot share this loss. However, You do understand. Father please reach out your loving hand and touch us. Comfort us. Let those who are suffering feel your warm embrace.

Father, with only the meager faith a parent has we commit our children into your hands. Take care of them there is so little we can do. You are God, you can do great things with them.

May your grace be on those who have already laid down and gone asleep in your pasture. For the living, Father, have mercy on us. Give us comfort beside quiet waters, courage in the darkest valley, and faith to keep walking in your light.

For it is in Your child’s name we lay our prayer. Amen.

Confessions

Jesus Christ, the historical man who walked this earth a little more than 2000 years ago, is the son of the living God, who created all we see and works even to today in the lives of men. This same Jesus died, was buried, and rose again showing himself to witnesses who wrote about these events so you and I can know about them today. He is now in heaven, working in the hearts and minds of men, to bring them to a knowledge of God so that people may be saved from their sins and can live with him forever.

“until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts”

Sorry I have been gone. I have been absent in my own mind. Still am. Thank God for his mercies and tender love.  Let him who has ears to hear, hear before it is too late.

God bless.

Giving Gifts

I am greedy. I love to get gifts and I really stink at giving gifts. I am not the only one in my family with this problem; however, I am the only one who is an adult. Ouch.

You expect for children to have difficulty with selfishness and some greed. All you have to do is examine a few Christmas lists to get a good idea of what I mean. But, they are innocent. They do not understad how the national economy and supply and demand make it very difficult for Santa to deliver scuba gear for the family pet dog and cat. They think big. Adults think big too but we have no excuses for our bad attitudes and greed. We should know better.

This Christmas I spent time thinking about some examples from scripture about giving.

The Rich Young Man

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:20-22
The Widow’s Mite

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Ananias & Sapphira

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:1-4

James’ Faith

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:14-17

Forgive me for the over simplification. So much more can be learned from these scriptures. For now, what strikes me from these verses are refusing to give up what is mine, giving out of my surplus, giving to get gifts (in this case fame), and ignoring the immediate needs around me. Truth hurts.

Well, the past is gone. Thank God for His Son’s shed blood. Time to move forward making some changes. Here are my suggestions.

  1. Give your things away. I like them, maybe someone else will too.
  2. Don’t buy junk. Give things away you would want or even need for yourself and don’t have.
  3. Give in secret. God said he will reward this kind of giving. Even if you never receive any physical reward, the spiritual reward is emmense.
  4. Don’t ignore the people around you. Neighbors, coworkers, people you pass on the street.

I know I can do better. I am looking forward to it. God bless.

Post Sibling Birthday Depression

I know you have had this syndrome before. If you have a brother or  a sister you know all about what I call Post Sibling Birthday Depression. Its symptoms include sulking, slumped shoulders, down-cast countenance, and foot sliding. At least that is how it looks at our house. The symptoms manifest in a sibling who has not had the last birthday.

Okay, how about some plain english (southern that is). Our older child had a birthday party this weekend. It was a good one. Several friends and family members came over and we had ice-cream and cake. Oh, yes, there were some presents to. I think that is what may have started the depression. Little sister felt somewhat left out. Despite getting one or two gifts for herself and having a friend over to play with during the party, she was still not happy.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We see someone getting recognition, an award, or receive a good gift and instead of feeling proud for the receipiant we are jealous. Our thoughts turn inward and we think only of ourself. You can detect this type of attitude in yourself by listening to the thoughts you tell yourself…

  • Why doesn’t anyone reward me?
  • They really did not deserve that.
  • I never get any good gifts.
  • I never win anything.
  • I wish I could have that too.
  • I am not as good as that person.
  • No one notices me.
  • I don’t have anything nice.

I am sure we could make a longer list but it does no good. This kind of thinking only makes the depression worse. I needed a quick cure for my daughter, so do you.

The cure? Taking a good look at yourself and the blessings you have. The old song “Count your Many Blessings” always comes to my mind.

When upon life’s billows You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged, Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings, Name them one by one
And it will suprise you What the Lord has done.
More at Lyrics.time.

So often we just want more we are not content with what we own. A quick test, would you take one million dollars for everything you have right now? Everything? Your house, your cars, your cat, your dog. Ah, but what about your family? Your children? Your parents? There are times I wish I could teleport my family to some of the places I have visited in my life. We could zip off to a under developed country somewhere and see what it looks like to have nothing.

I am not sure the trip would mean much yet to my children. They are young. But I have no excuse. I am grown up. The author of Hebrews said it this way, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 Not so easy to do sometimes.

How about another exercise… Visit a local nursing home. Go volunteer at a food pantry. Do something for someone who may be a little less fortunate as yourself.

How about this from Paul,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

The key to it all is thanksgiving. Be thankful for all your blessings. Count them one by one.

The Older Brother

In the parable of the Prodigal/Lost son, Jesus intends to teach a very important lesson to the Pharisees and scribes. Remember they were the ones grumbling about Jesus associating with sinners. He saves the best for last in this parable and lets em have it. They are supposed to relate to the older brother. First lets take a look at what Jesus says.

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'” Luke 15:25-32

When the younger brother left, the older brother stayed at home. When the lost son came home, we find the older brother out in the fields. He was doing what he was supposed to do. Responsible, reliable, and a part of the family. Every father’s favorite son. Or was he? Something was dark lie under the surface.

We see the problem come to the surface when the lost son comes home and the Father welcomes him back into the family. The lost son has gotten restored back to the family. He has received grace. But this makes the older brother very angry. So angry we see him yelling at his father who comes out to try to reconcile with the older brother.

But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

I find it interesting that the older brother is not really mad at his brother. Don’t you. He is mad at his father. His words blame his father.  He points out that the has served the father, never neglected a command of his father. He complains, “you never”, “this son of yours”,  and “you killed the calf”. This older brother is mad at his dad. He also seems to be very jealous of his brother.  Jealousy was killing him.

Jealousy is an emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, such as a relationship, friendship, or love. Jealousy often consists of a combination of emotions such as anger, sadness, and disgust. Jealousy differs from envy in that jealousy is about something one has and is afraid of losing, while envy refers to something one does not have and either wants to acquire or to prevent another from acquiring. Wikipedia

Jealous of losing the affection of his father? Envious of his younger brother’s feast and grace. Jealous because he was the good son and he did not want to lose that.

The older brother has a serious heart condition. I think Jealousy is only one of many problems the older brother has.  Here is a nice list I hope you do not relate too.

  • Jealous of the love his father showed his brother.
  • Bitter about the years of work unappreciated.
  • Angry about the injustice of forgiving his brother after all he had done.
  • Ungrateful for all the care and provision his father had been giving him.
  • Unsatisfied with his own choices. Probably thinking, “Oi! I should have gone too.”

The pharisees wanted Jesus’ attention. They were so confused. They probably thought if this really is God’s son he would accept us, not pushing us away. They were the good guys. They had been serving and sacrificing everything to obey God. They were fasting, they were studying the scriptures, they were not sinning. They were the ones eagerly awaiting the Messiah. They just could not understand why Jesus was always picking on them. Jesus told them he had come to save the lost. Jesus came to teach us all that God wants to save people not condemn them. This thought echoes in the words the father speaks to his son at the end of the parable.

‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’

The pharisees had the law. They had the Kingdom and God’s promises. They were careful to do everything right. They were sure they were perfect and they pushed anyone who was a “sinner” away. What they missed completely was LIFE. They had no relationship with God. They did not know him or what he really wants. They were so careful to do what they thought was right they did not have time to listen to what he really wanted. They did not take any time to live in God. To enjoy his grace. To ask for a gift to share. They never realized that they were in the family and had all the benefits of being in the family and that everything God had was theirs.

Instead what we see are a lifeless bunch of religious leaders. To sum up,

  • They were cold and heartless
  • Had a major heart condition
  • They thought observing the law made them righteousness
  • They did not understand Jesus’ purpose
  • Even though they had a relationship with God, but did not understand how much God loved them
  • They ere good people, but were so full of hate and jealousy
  • They had created laws that ultimately separated them from God
  • Came to church, made their sacrifices, tithed but had forgotten why
  • They had no idea they needed Jesus too
  • Could not recognize the sin in their own lives

The pharisees did not understand that they were with God all along. Everything He has was theirs. They did not understand that God’s desire was that all Jews would come to his son. They had the promises. They had the Kingdom. BUT. They did not realize it and they missed the whole point. Ultimately they would miss Jesus all together.

The message to us is the same. Do you realize as a Christian, God says the same to you.

‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’

God loves you so much he gave everything to keep you in the family. He is still seeking the lost and bringing them to him. No one deserves to be in the family. Let us all rejoice and be glad for all who are added to the family.

God bless.

The Prodigal/Lost Son Context

Context tells us the back story. What is going on when Jesus told the parable of the lost son. Why did he tell the parable. Without it we might miss the point.

Jesus was attracting large crowds of people to him to listen to his teaching. Everywhere he went people followed. In Luke 15:1 we find a very familiar scene.Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.” WOW! Jesus was attracting the people he came to save. People who were not in a right relationship with God were attracted to Jesus. I bet there were good reasons why. (More on that in another post.)

Now in this particular situation, tax collectors and sinners were not the only ones coming to Jesus. Luke 15:2 tells us, “Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.'” We see the good people listen to Jesus too. Other people in the crowd were the religious faithful. The ones who through self-control, self-denial, and self-righteousness had elevated themselves above the fray. Respected religious students, leaders, and experts in the Law. Jesus attracted a lot of attention.

There is a problem though. Luke tells us the “good” people were grumbling. They did not like Jesus associating with sinners! They had problems with it. Jesus, being Jesus, takes the opportunity to try to teach an important lesson. Before he tells the parable of the lost son, he starts to lay some ground work in 3 parables starting in chapter 14.

The Parable of the Banquet Luke 14:16-24

Jesus tells a story about a man having a big dinner. He invited many people. When the dinner was ready he sent his servant to tell all the invited guests the dinner was ready. However, all the guests had excuses and did not want to come to the dinner. The man giving the dinner was furious so he went out and invited the poor, crippled, blind, lame, those on the highways and along the hedges. He concludes by saying, “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.”

The Parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:4-7

After the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble about Jesus and the sinners, He told them a story about a shepherd with 100 sheep. He lost one of them. So he left the safe sheep and went looking for the one. After he found it he had a celebration. In verse 7 Jesus said, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

The Parable of the Lost Coin Luke 15:8-10

Next Jesus told them a parable about a lady who lost one of ten silver coins. She searches her whole house until she finds it. When she does she invites over the neighbors for a party. Jesus again tells the people listening, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Whenever Jesus taught large crowds gathered. One group of people were the ones Jesus came to save, the sinners. Another group was made up of those who thought they were saved but refused to acknolege that Jesus was God’s son. The Pharasees and Scribes were not happy.

From the three parables Jesus told before he told the parable of the lost son we find Jesus telling us, those who were invited to the dinner were not comming. The Pharasees and other Jewish leaders did not accept Jesus. They refused to come to him and eat. And we also find Jesus telling us, turning from sin is paramount. Those who do not need to repent are all well and good. However, when one does repent, lets celebrate for the one who is saved.

Jesus uses the parable of the Lost Son to emphasize these two themes. And tries to teach us another heart lesson.

God bless.