A Love Letter to My Heavenly Father

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Dear Heavenly Father,

I am sorry that I couldn’t find a card for you for Father’s Day, but there are none available  here on earth. As you know, my earthly father is no longer here; so I thought it would be proper to write you a love letter of appreciation on this Father’s Day.

First of all, I would like to thank you for adopting me into your family. I know that it was at a great cost for you because your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ died in my place. The amazing thing about this adoption is that there was absolutely nothing in me that made me desirable to you. After all these years, I still can’t believe that I have the privilege to call you Abba, Father!

As my Heavenly Father, you have blessed my life in so many ways that it is impossible to express all that you have done in one letter. You have been so very patient with me throughout the years. Yes, I have failed you many times, and yet you continue to show me love and mercy through your forgiveness. Not only do you forgive me, but you also choose to forget every sin that I have done against you.

One of the greatest gifts that you have given to me is your Word in order to teach me more about yourself. I have enjoyed learning all about you. Your Word has revealed your beauty which is evidenced in your love, faithfulness, mercy, holiness, and grace. Your Word has revealed your great power, wisdom, and majesty. In the Word, you have taught me the way that I should I go. Even when I depart from that way, you redirect me and place me back on the right path.

Dear Father, thank you for being with me at all times. You have always fulfilled your promise that you will never leave me nor forsake me. In the good times, you are with me. In the difficult times you are with me. Your presence has given me strength to continue on in spite of times when I felt like quitting. I find no greater joy than taking a walk and being aware of the fact that you are walking with me.

There are many times when I need to cry out to you and you always listen to me. You listen to my cries of desperation, but you also listen when I just want to say thank you for the many blessings which you have given to me. I am grateful that your ears are always open and you recognize my voice.

Father, when no one else understands, you do! You know everything about me. You know my thoughts, my actions, my desires, and my attitudes. You know when I get up in the morning and you know when I go to bed. As the Psalmist writes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me”!

For this Father’s Day, I really don’t have anything to give to you, except I want to say once again, “I love you!” Yes, it is an imperfect love, but it is all that I have to give. Again, thank you for being my Father who loves me with an everlasting love! I don’t know where I would be in this life without you.

From Your Loving Child,

Mark

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Twenty Daily Blessings from Our Heavenly Father

Sunrise in the Smokies

Sunrise in the Smokies

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19)

Our Heavenly Father demonstrates His love towards us every day. These daily blessings are often not seen or appreciated by His children. Why is this? We often focus upon our past, instead of living out today. We often worry about the future instead of enjoying the blessings of today.  God not only gives us blessings for today, but he gives them abundantly!  What are some of these daily blessings? Will we enjoy these blessings today?

1. God gives us the gift of a brand new day to love and serve Him.

2. God gives us the privilege of opening His Word and hearing His words of truth, encouragement, promise and exhortation.

3. God give us the opportunity to speak to Him at any time during the coming day. He is never too busy to hear our prayers.

4. God promises to love us throughout the day regardless of what happens.

5. God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us. He brings guidance, comfort and spiritual fruit into our lives.

6. God gives us the confidence that whatever comes into our lives today must first pass through His loving hands.

7. God gives us His forgiveness .  When we confess our sins to Him, He restores us to a right relationship with Him.

8. God gives us what we need for today not necessarily what we want.

9. God brings people into our lives each day to fulfill His plan for our lives.

10. God gives us the privilege of His presence throughout the day. He is always with us!

11. God gives us the strength we need to bear what may happen throughout the day.

12. God gives us His comfort when sorrow, rejection or pain may seem to overcome us.

13. God gives us the assurance of eternal life if die today. We are confident that death is  an entranceway to heaven.

14. God is always available to hold us up when we seem ready to fall. Fathers do this for their children.

15. God knows all that is happening in our lives today. Nothing that happens today is a surprise to God.

16. God gives us wisdom to face whatever situation may arise in our life.

17. God gives us the opportunity to enjoy His creation.

18. God gives us the ministry of encouraging others and praying for others.

19. God enables us to escape the snares of Satan’s temptations.

20. God gives us a restful night sleep if we trust in Him.

“Dear Lord, I often forget the blessings that you give to me every day of my life. Yes, I see particular answers to prayer, but I often forget what you give to me every day. I thank you for all of your blessings that you give to me each day; however, the greatest blessing is that you sent your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die for my sin. Help me to keep looking up to you instead allowing myself to focus on the past or the future. Today is the gift that you have given me. Help me not to forget how you have loaded me up with great blessings today. I love you, Lord. Amen.”

Jesus: Our Companion in the Valley

Near Fontana Dam, TN.

Near Fontana Dam, TN.

 

The valley is often a place of loneliness. We may feel that nobody understands exactly how we feel. As we experience sleepless nights, the loneliness and darkness of the night seem to settle like a foggy mist upon us. The hopelessness of our situation paralyzes us . Where can we find hope, comfort and companionship during these dark hours in the valley? The answer is Jesus!

Jesus gives us this promise in Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  No matter how dark the night, He will not leave us. No matter how deep the valley, He will not leave us. No matter how painful the path, He will not leave us. As we trod through the valley, Jesus promises to walk every step of the way with us!

The valley no longer is a cold, dark, lonely place when we seek after the Lord and become aware of His presence. David faced many valleys in his life. God used the valleys in David’s life to create a longing for fellowship with Him. In Psalm 42,  David expresses his longing for God. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

The valley may not be our plan for our lives, but it is God’s plan for our lives. He knows how easy it is for us to drift in our relationship with Him. We can even slowly fall into the sin of the church at Laodicea. This church had become lukewarm because they no longer saw their desperate need for Christ. In our Christian life, there are times when we become lukewarm. The Lord sends us into the valley to restore our passion for Him.

Many of us would say that some of the sweetest times in our lives is our valley experience. Yes, the valley seems painful, lonely, dark and confusing, but it is also quite sweet. It brings us once again to the feet of Jesus. We become broken before our Lord. We don’t pray out of obligation, but out of desperation. We cling to Christ and He takes us unto His bosom and brings great comfort to us.

Christ’s presence changes our whole outlook of our valley. No longer is the valley a place filled with sorrow and bitterness, but a place to accept with joy. How does Christ change our valley from a place of bitterness to a place of sweetness?

1. The valley is a place of darkness, but Christ changes it into a place of light. “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12)

2. The valley is a place of anxiety, but Christ changes it into a place of peace. “My peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

3. The valley is a place of confusion. but Christ changes it into a place of understanding. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

4. The valley is a place of heartache, but Christ changes it into a place of comfort. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

5. The valley is a place of rejection, but Christ changes it into a place of enjoying His love. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”

6. The valley is a place of sleeplessness, but Christ changes it into a place of rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

7. The valley is a place of sorrow, but Christ changes it into a place of joy. “And ye now therefore have sorrow:but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:22)

8. The valley is a place of uselessness, but Christ changes it into a place of ministry. “and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2)

9. The valley is a place of weakness, but Christ changes it into a place of strength. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“Dear Lord, thank you for making the bitterness of my valley into something very sweet. Thank you for walking through this valley with me. Thank you for allowing me to draw closer to you during this very difficult time. Though this valley is not my choice, your way is always the best. Thank you for not only taking me into the valley, but also through the valley. Your presence has made all the difference!  Amen”

Verses for the Valley

Cape Verde-Photo by: Mark J Booth

Cape Verde-Photo by: Mark J Booth

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” (A Tale of Two Cities: By Charles Dickens)

These words by Dickens can typify the valleys that we face in our lives. We can say with Dickens that the valley is the worst of times, but it is also the best of times. It is an anxious time. It is a comforting time. It is a time of sorrow. It is a time of joy. It is a time of discouragement. It is a time of encouragement. It is time of confusion. It is a time of direction. It is a time of silence from God. It is a time of closeness with God.

The valley is a place of contradictions. If our lives were without valleys, there would be very little spiritual growth. The valleys expose our need for God. The valleys expose the many things that need to be changed in our lives. The valleys teach us faith.  Though the valley may not pleasant, there are many verses that bring refreshment to us as we go through the valley. These verses have refreshed me as I have traveled through a valley.

1. GOD IS WITH ME  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

In life we often face very dark valleys. How can we keep going as we travel through a valley filled with the unknown, with dangers, and with pain of heart?  The loneliness of the valley can become suffocating. There is no one who understands. There is no one to help us get through this rough patch. However, David understood that the Lord’s presence is with us even in the darkest valley of all, death. God never forsakes His children. Though we don’t see Him, we know that he is with us every step of the way as walk through the dark valley.

A Prayer  “Dear Lord, as I walk through a very dark valley. I don’t know how long I will be here in this valley, but I know that you are with me. You are teaching me. You are guiding me. You are comforting me. You are walking alongside me enabling me to enjoy your presence. Please enable me to honor you while I am walking through this valley. I love you, My Shepherd. Thank you for loving me. Amen”

2. GOD DOESN’T CHANGE.  For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)

Changes are reality in life. We change. People change. Our surroundings change; Our circumstances change. Our life can often feel like a boat adrift in the ocean; yet amidst the uncertainties of life, God doesn’t change! His Salvation, His Word, His love, His mercy, His comfort, His faithfulness, His holiness never change. These unchangeable truths give us hope as we trod through the valley. Yes, our world may be changing before our eyes, but God never changes.

3. GOD STRENGTHENS ME. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

We need strength and courage for what lies ahead. The path before us looks impossible to tread. We feel tired. We lack sleep. We are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. We want to quit.  We think we can’t go one step further. Where can we find the strength and courage to continue moving forward?  The same strength and courage that Joshua found from God before crossing the Jordan River and confronting Jericho is available to us.

A Prayer “Dear Lord, the path before me seems filled with difficulties and dangers. I feel tired. I don’t know how much further I can go. I have lost the will to continue in the struggle; however, I thank you for your presence. I thank you for giving me the strength and courage to go forward. Amen

4. GOD IS MY FOCUS.  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:3) “

Have you ever found yourself so engrossed in a situation that all you can do is think about it? There is little sleep.There is little peace. There is little joy. What are we to do?  When we take our eyes off of the situation and place them upon Jesus, our perspective becomes totally different. When we focus upon the people who may have placed us in this valley, we start to become like them. When we place our eyes upon Jesus, we become more like Him.

A Prayer:
There is no wisdom in myself, but in you.
There is no compassion in myself, but in you.
There is no courage in myself, but in you.
There is no peace in myself, but in you.
There is no joy in myself, but in you.
Thank you, Lord, for always being with me, so that when I look to you, you are always there. Amen.

5. GOD IS MY BELOVED (Deuteronomy 33:27) “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

The valley can be a place of opposition. You may feel unloved. You may feel alone. This is a time to remember God’s everlasting arms are waiting to embrace and draw you unto Himself. Like a child runs into the arms of a loving parent, We also can run into the arms of our loving Father. The valley produces great needs in our life.  As a result of our needs our love increases for the Lord.

A Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to you whose arms are wide open. I need you to embrace me and hold me tight because:
I need your love.
I need your comfort.
I need your understanding.
I need your peace.
I need your wisdom.
I need your forgiveness.
Thank you for always being ready to embrace me when I come to you with a broken and contrite heart. Amen”

6. GOD IS MY DELIGHT. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

In spite of situations that are not delightful, we can still delight in the Lord. When we delight in the Lord, He will change our desires to match HIs desires. Delighting in the Lord will enable us to find peace and joy in the midst of the valley.

God’s Word has always brought comfort to His people. These verses have brought comfort to me in the midst of my valley. May you find comfort in them as you travel through your valley.

 

Invisible People

“Right Through The Invisible Man,” by eshplagami @ flickr.com Creative Commons – Some rights reserved

“Right Through The Invisible Man,” by eshplagami @ flickr.com Creative Commons – Some rights reserved

When I was a child, I would wonder what life would be like if I could become invisible.  As I grew older, I soon found the answer. I had experienced being invisible to people around me.

There are invisible people everywhere. They are in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our hospitals, in our nursing homes, in our shopping centers, and even in our homes. Who are these invisible people?  They are people who are ignored by those around them as though they were invisible.

For example people can come to a church. They sit alone. A few people may say “hello” to them, but they are virtually invisible to the people around them. Perhaps, we are too preoccupied with our lives to open up our eyes and see other people around us. The greatest danger in the church today isn’t empty pews, but having people sit in pews who are invisible to those around them.

There are invisible people not only in our churches, but in all walks of life.  We may go to a restaurant and our server may be invisible to us.  We are only interested in getting served and we never make direct eye contact with the server.

People who are in nursing homes or who are shut-ins are also invisible to many in our society.  We are too busy with our lives to see the needs of these people who are lonely and invisible.  They are in a place that we never have to enter unless we make the choice to seek out these invisible people

Many children and young people are invisible to us.  We don’t understand them and we feel awkward communicating with them. We would rather stick with people our own age and with our own interest.  For this reason, many of our young people feel rejected by adults.

Being invisible is not a pleasant experience, no matter what age you are  It is difficult to have people walk by you without a word of greeting or a smile.  It is difficult to be alone for days without end and have nobody to speak with you.  It is hard to come to a church and seek love and find that you are invisible to the people in the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ understood people who were invisible.  To Jesus nobody is invisible!  He died for every person who walked upon this earth.  He knows the heart of each person.

When Jesus walked upon the earth, he paid special attention to those who were invisible to those around them.  He healed the lepers and the blind.  He paid special attention to Zacchaeus, who was a small man whom the crowd ignored. Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, who was shunned by her community.  He gave forgiveness to the repentant thief on the cross.

How did Jesus see and minister to these invisible people?  He looked beyond Himself and learned to share His love and compassion with those around Him.  Do we have this same love and compassion to see those who are invisible in our churches, nursing homes, hospitals and many other places?

“Dear Lord, I thank you that I am not invisible to you. You know everything about me. You love me with an everlasting love. When I am invisible to others, I know that I can still enjoy communion with you. Help me to look beyond myself and see those people who are invisible to others.  Amen”

Clinging to God

Kangaroos in Australia (Photo by: Mark j. Booth)

Kangaroos in Australia (Photo by: Mark j. Booth)

Do you remember as a child when you would cling to your dad or mom when you felt danger approaching? “My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Psalm 63:8) The words “followeth hard” have the idea of clinging unto the Lord. When danger, temptations and sorrows approach, the best response is to cling to Our Heavenly Father. He alone can carry us through the tough times.

The world is a dangerous place for every child of God. We face a variety of dangers, including temptations from Satan, the lusts of our own flesh, and pressures from the world to conform. Because of these dangers, we need to cling to our Lord each step of the way. When we let go of the Lord, we not only find ourselves being exposed to dangers from without, but also the dangers from within our hearts.

The first aspect of clinging unto the Lord is total dependence upon Him.  We know that within ourselves there is no hope to face the dangers and pitfalls of this life. When crossing a very busy street, I would cling to my Dad’s hand. I was completely incapable of crossing the many lanes of traffic alone. The cars were large and moving fast. I completely depended upon my Dad to navigate me to the other side of the street.

All through the Word of God, we see people who forsook their own ability and completely depended upon God. David when he battled Goliath totally depended upon the Lord. Like David, no matter how big the danger before us, we can cling unto our Heavenly Father.  He will never push us away.

Joseph continually faced pressure from Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery. The pressure was great to yield to this temptation, but Joseph continually depended upon God. Daniel could have compromised his faith several times while in Babylon; yet he depended totally upon God. Ruth could have lived a life of great despair, but she depended upon God in the midst of all the trials she faced. We have the same Heavenly Father that each of these had. We can and need to depend upon Him.

A second aspect of clinging unto the Lord is our complete love for Him. Peter’s denial of the Lord occurred when he placed his love for himself above his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. After the resurrection, Jesus emphasized this truth to Peter when He asked him three times: “Do you love me?” Jesus wanted Peter to know that there was great safety in clinging to Him in love.  Peter would face innumerable trials, but he clung to the Lord in love.

How close are we to God? Have we left our first love like the church at Ephesus did? When our love grows cold God seems distant. We don’t speak to Him with words of affection. We don’t open His Word with enthusiasm. We live our lives as though God is not there. This lack of love creates greater opportunities to fall into temptations, to doubt God’s love and provision, and to live a selfish life before others.

Loving God means that we need to stay as close to Him as possible.  We want to listen to His Word. We enjoy our times of communion with Him. We are not ashamed of Him, but we are proud to call God, Our Heavenly Father.

A third aspect of clinging to God is to recognize the dangers of this life. Last year, while in Australia, I came across a joey with its mother kangaroo. The joey was lying close to its mother; however when I came closer to the joey, the joey recognized danger.  He immediately leaped to its feet and jumped into his mother’s pouch. The joey found complete safety in his mother’s pouch.

Do we recognize the dangers in our life? Jesus constantly warns His followers of the ways of this world. He knows that we can easily become apathetic and careless in our spiritual lives. We don’t see the need of clinging to the Lord because we have become insensitive to the dangers around us and within us.

God is always there to uphold us, as long as we are always ready to cling unto Him. He holds His arms out as though saying: “Come unto me, I will protect you. I will love you. I will guide you through this situation.” We mustn’t let pride, self-will, ignorance, and busyness keep us from clinging to our Heavenly Father.

“Dear Heavenly Father, I have crossed many dangerous roads in my life. Sometimes, I have chosen to cross those roads without you. This has created difficulties for me and others. Thank you for the many times, that I have clung to you and you took me through those dangerous roads. I know that in the future I can depend upon you regardless of what happens. Thank you for first loving me; so that I can love you in return. Amen”

Am I a Spiritual Demolition Expert?

346-hudsonPano

On October 24, 1998, there occurred a very sad event in the history of Detroit.  On this day, the J.L. Hudson’s department store demolished. This landmark of downtown Detroit was, at one time, the second largest department store building in the nation.

The Hudson’s building was prepared for demolition by experts who knew what they were doing. In a matter of seconds, the building came tumbling down. The demolition experts had done their work.

In the spiritual realm, there are also demolition experts. These people have a talent to harm other believers and churches. They may do their work with a spiritual veneer, like the Pharisees did in the time of Jesus.  They may have a goal of “doing what is good”. They may be sincere or “mean well”.  Whether intentional or not, these demolition experts cause broken lives and churches.

We may not think that we are a demolition expert, but there is a demolition expert in all of us.  We have all caused harm to an individual or to a church fellowship. What are some of the qualifications of being a spiritual demolition expert?

One of the first qualifications of a demolition expert is pride. Pride causes us to feel superior to others. Because we are better than others, we have every right to condemn them and put them in their place.  Pride means that we are never open to correction, but we are always open to correct others. It also causes us to love self instead of loving others. We see this in the life of Saul when he became jealous of the acclaim that David received.  Saul’s pride caused his death, the downfall of his family, harm to the Kingdom of Israel, and great grief to the life of David.

Another qualification of a spiritual demolition expert is an uncontrolled tongue.  This person’s tongue can destroy a person or a church in various ways. They can speak words of slander about others. They also can create divisions among people through gossip. Angry words have also destroyed people and churches. These people are experts at welding their tongue to bring harm to many with whom they come into contact. James warned us of the danger of the tongue when he wrote: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

A third qualification of a spiritual demolition expert is the “Holy Spirit Syndrome”.  This individual feels like they have the answer for everybody’s situation. They know what others need to do and how they should do it. This doesn’t seem to bring harm to others. However, the person with this syndrome keeps others from developing their own personal walk with the Lord. Instead of looking to the Word of God or to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction, many people look to the person who has become “their holy spirit”.

A fourth qualification of a spiritual demolition expert is a person who lives their lives to please themselves. This person hurts others because they don’t see the importance of their example. They may say: “I don’t care what other people think. It is my life.!” This person leads others down the path of sin, rebellion and destruction. They have forgotten what Paul said: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

God has not called us to be demolition experts. He has called us to be builders. “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (Ephesians 4:11) A builder shows care, concern and sacrifice in producing a building.  We need to have this same concern and love for individuals as well as for the Body of Christ.

Let’s take a quick look at a few qualifications of spiritual builders.

  • They have a love for the Lord and others.
  • They have a humble spirit.
  • They use their tongue to build up others.
  • They encourage others to develop their own walk with the Lord.
  • They are sensitive to the needs of others.

“Dear Lord, I know that I have hurt others in my life, and that I need to forsake the qualifications of a spiritual demolition expert.  Help me, to have a ministry of building up others through my love, words and actions. Thank you for the people you have used in my life to build me up spiritually. Truly, you have blessed me with many spiritual builders. Amen”

Remembering the Love of God (The Parable of the Prodigal Son)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by: Liz Lemon Swindle (Used with Permission) If you are interested in her paintings her webpage is: www.lizlemonswindle.org

The Hope of Every Parent. Painting by Liz Lemon Swindle (Used with Permission) If you are interested in her paintings, her webpage is: http://www.lizlemonswindle.org

“When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

One of the most beautiful stories in the Word of God is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  We enjoy reading this parable because it is a great reminder of God’s unfailing love. We may say in our hearts: “I would never do what this son did with his life.” However, on further investigation, we may see a bit of ourselves in the Prodigal Son.

In the beginning of this parable, we see the younger son asking his father for his inheritance. This seems like a very strange request because the father is still alive. However, it shows that the son is insensitive to the feelings of his father.  He is basically saying; “I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I wish you were dead.”

In our lives there are times, when we also act as though we don’t want to have anything to with God. We make plans without consulting God. We seek to please ourselves above all else. We are happy to have a place in heaven, but we are reluctant to allow the Lord to rule our hearts.

After the son receives his money, he leaves his father and family and goes his own way.  He spends his money on all sorts of sinful activities. He has no interest in the things of heaven. His focus is purely on sinful pleasure. He has no thoughts of his father.

Like the Prodigal Son, we find it easy to have an earthly focus in this life. The world becomes all important to us. The getting of money becomes more important than seeking the true riches of God’s Word. Seeking our comfort becomes more important than seeking the glory of God. Paul tells the believers at Colossae. “Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

After the Prodigal Son loses all of his money, he makes another drastic error. This is the time that he should immediately return to his father; however, he tries to get out of his mess by his own effort.  He soon takes the lowest of all jobs. He tends to the pigs. His humiliation is complete. He finds that the his downward spiral has hit the end.

When we find ourselves at the end of our rope. How do we respond? Do we try to resolve the situation with our own effort? Do we just quit on life and become filled with despair? Yes, we have sinned.  Yes, we have failed God, but must we go to the very bottom? Do we know that our loving Heavenly Father is waiting for us to return?

The parable takes a sudden turn when Jesus says: “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19)

The Prodigal Son has finally seen the reality of his situation. He sees that his only hope is to return to his father and confess his sin. His past flashes through his eyes. His regrets are real; yet he moves from despair to hope as travels the long distance back to his father.

Have we travelled a great distance from our Father? Have we turned our back on God’s love, mercy, peace and grace. Is our present situation filled with despair? Like the Prodigal Son, we can return to our Father. We know He loves us in spite of our sins and failures. He is waiting for us to repent of our sin.

As the son approaches his father, we see one of the most touching scenes in the Word of God. Jesus says: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) The father pours out his love upon his son. The father’s love is greater than his son’s sin. He instantly forgives his son. The relationship is restored.

Our Heavenly Father also waits for us to return to Him. His arms are open. His heart is ready to receive us again. Yes, we don’t deserve this love, but God’s love, like all of His attributes, is infinite. Will we, like the Prodigal Son, “come to ourself” and return to our Father?

“Dear Father, like the Prodigal Son, I often neglect you and do things that don’t please. When I try to deal with my problems, I fail. I have the tendency to have an earthly focus and I don’t concentrate on my relationship with you. I do want to return to you. Please break my pride; so that I will flee back into you loving arms.”

The Reasons Why We Deserve God’s Love

Winter Sunset in Wyoming (Photo by: Deanna Maston)

Winter Sunset in Wyoming (Photo by: Deanna Maston)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

When I was young, I remember a song that had the following words: “What the world needs now is love sweet love, It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” This song expresses the search for love that is part of each person’s life.

Where do we find love? What can we do to receive love? The Word of God makes it clear that love begins with God, continues with God, and ends with God. He is the source of love. He demonstrated His love by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.

The love of God is real. We see that His love is a perfect love that desires to see change in our lives. He wants us to go from being dead in our trespasses and sins to having eternal life. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Deep down, we feel that we deserve God’s love. We demonstrate this when we complain during the difficult times in our lives. We may say of God: “If God is a God of love why did He allow this.” We feel we are deserving of God’s love and he has failed to love us. Do we deserve God’s love?  Here are several reasons why we deserve God’s love.

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“Dear Lord, I come before you in all brokenness and humility because I know that I don’t deserve your love. Your love for me is based on all that you are. I deserve nothing but your wrath because of my sin before you. Yet, you have loved me with an everlasting love. I don’t understand your love, but I thank you for it. I thank you that I can call you “Father” because you brought me to a saving knowledge of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please help me never take your love for granted. Amen”

Have we accepted God’s love? Have we come to Him realizing we don’t deserve His love? He has His hands of love outstretched towards us. Will we accept His offer of love today? This love is expressed in an old hymn. The words abound with the sacrificial nature of God’s love for us.

“WHY SHOULD HE LOVE ME SO?” By Robert Harkness

1.Love sent my savior to die in my stead;
Why should He love me so?
Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led;
Why should He love me so?

2.Nails pierced His hands and His feet for my sin;
Why should He love me so?
He suffered sore my salvation to win;
Why should He love me so?

3.O how He agonized there in my place;
Why should He love me so?
Nothing withholding my sin to efface;
Why should He love me so?

Chorus: Why should He love me so?
               Why should He love me so?
               Why should my Savior to Calvary go?
               Why should He love me so?

The Preciousness of Christ

Sunset over Lake Michigan (Photo by Mark J Booth)

Sunset over Lake Michigan (Photo by Mark J Booth)

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.”
(1 Peter 2:7)

The word “precious” means of great value or of high price. It also means to be dear or beloved in the eyes of the beholder. Peter makes it clear that believers in Jesus Christ should naturally have a great passion for Christ. He should be pursued with all of our hearts, because there is nothing more precious than he.

Is Jesus Christ precious in our eyes today? Perhaps, the world no longer sees Christ as being important, because believers have slowly lost sight of the preciousness of Jesus Christ. When Peter wrote the words: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.”
(1 Peter 2:7), he was writing to believers who were facing great persecution. These believers had a great passion for Christ, in spite of the great persecution they faced. They understood there was nothing of greater value in this life than having Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The Bible clearly shows us the preciousness of Christ in many ways.

1. Jesus Christ is precious because He is God in the flesh.  The Book of John  shows Christ’s deity in his works, his words, and his holiness. John wrote:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) His Deity means that He has all the attributes of God the Father.  Our worship, our words, our attitudes and actions should reflect our love and submission to Christ, who is God in the flesh.

2. Jesus Christ is precious because He is the only way of salvation. Mankind is under God’s condemnation. We are all born in sin and in rebellion to the Holy, Righteous God. However, God the Son came to earth to satisfy the Father’s justice. He took our sins upon Himself when He died upon the cross. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the object of our love because He took the punishment of our sin upon Himself.

3. Jesus Christ is precious because His love never ends. As Jesus was preparing to leave the earth, his disciples felt lonely. Despair had overcome them; yet Christ encourages them with words concerning His eternal love. Christ’s love for us isn’t based upon our performance, it is a love that never ends. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

4. Jesus Christ is precious because He is the Good Shepherd. Life presents many challenges. We face important decisions, immovable obstacles, sicknesses, and loneliness. Do people really care? Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14) Jesus knows our hearts. He leads us in the way we should go. He carries us with tenderness when the path seems impossible. He takes away our fears. He walks with us even in the valley of the shadow of death. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

5. Jesus Christ is precious because of His great promises. Christ not only gives us promises to encourage and exhort us, but He also keeps all of His promises. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4) Reflect upon His promises and know that Christ is more precious than anything else in this life. Here are just a few samples of His promises.

  • “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” (Psalm 91:15)
  • “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
  • “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
  • “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

With our finite minds, it is impossible to completely comprehend the preciousness of Christ.  He is precious in all of His attributes, words and deeds. The more we know Him, the more precious He will become to us. When others see how precious Christ is to us, perhaps, they will start to take the claims of Christ seriously in their own lives.

“Dear Lord, I often take you for granted. I know that you are my Lord and Savior; yet, I don’t treasure my relationship with you. You are precious beyond all of my understanding. Help me to gaze upon you and see how precious you are to me. Amen.”