03 Oct Luke 15:22-32

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22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 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.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 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; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 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.’”

Many of us came to Christ with child-like faith, but somewhere along the way fell into the life of a religion of rules. Maybe we felt we had to do our Christian life like everybody else and we just couldn’t keep up. We had no joy, even though we thought we were doing what God wanted. My story is one of trying to gain satisfaction from my pure behavior and as long I was at least as good as those around me, I felt pretty good about myself. I refrained from acting out on my selfish desires most of the time and when I failed, I felt the appropriate amount of guilt. My definition of holiness was one of external deeds and church related activities. This is not the life Jesus came to bring me. I was like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. Like him, we find it hard to swallow Jesus forgiving sinners and restoring them to non-guilty status. I believe now that God wants more than anything else, to have fellowship with us. When we fall into the trap of believing that the only way to please God is to do enough things for Him, we miss an important truth; what we have done for God is nothing compared to what He has done for us! Because the older son thought pleasing God is a matter of keeping the outward rules, he found himself standing outside the party. If you measure yourself on how you stack up to other Christians, or if you are trying to obligate God to love you based on your works, you need to stop. It’s time to crawl up in your Heavenly Father’s lap and just enjoy Him.