by Pastor Tim Burt
I am sure that most of you have heard of or have read the story of the prodigal son. If there were ever a story to read over and over and over again, it’s this story. If there were ever a story taught by Jesus with the intention of helping us understand the Lord’s love, patience, mercy and grace toward us – despite our daily slip ups and failures, it’s this story.
The Holy Spirit will teach you a thousand lessons in your heart through this story if you will approach it with the purpose of being taught, each time you read it. Today, I’d like to point a few very important things that will help us receive God’s strength to live mightily before Him.
Luke 15:17-23 "When he (the prodigal son) finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man." ‘“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.' "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast…”
When the prodigal son left home, I imagine him to be much like many teenagers or young adults today. I believe he wanted to spread his wings, experience more of life, find out for himself who he was, and experience life his way. He probably had only one person on his mind that he cared for and attended to – himself! Of course this led him to every wrong place life can take someone before he had squandered everything his father had given him.
When he “came to his senses” he came home humbled before his father. How did his father greet him? First, with the intercession of a loving parent – he had always been watching and praying for him. Second, he was a man of faith, not despair. He knew that his son was not under his control nor anyone's except the enemy of his soul as long as he yielded to wrong choices. He believed that faith-filled prayers would move the heart of God so that God would continuously work to remind this wayward young man of those that love him. Thirdly, his father was a man of great love, patience, grace, and mercy. He was praying and looking with expectation that at some moment his son would return. When he saw his son approaching, he ran out to meet him. The father’s goal was not to berate, humble or humiliate his son – not to say, “I told you so.” Nor to make him pay for his stupidity and squandering. It was to sincerely rejoice and greet him with a heart of love and forgiveness, embracing him with the love of a father. This was the greeting that no prodigal would expect or feel worthy of. This kind of love is overwhelming because it makes one feel so undeserving, yet when accepted, brings great acceptance, healing, and renewed purpose.
I am sure the son wanted to apologize a thousand times over. The father probably listened only to satisfy his son’s need to repent. From there he moved toward restoration. He put the finest robe on his son. That robe represents the robe of righteousness provided through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is the garment that God covers each of us with so that when he looks at us, He only sees us washed in white and as His child. “Our sins He remembers no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) That robe is what symbolizes us as acceptable and justified – “not guilty” before the Lord. That is the first act of the Father to his prodigal son come home. This kind of love brings great acceptance, healing, and renewed purpose.
Then the father put a ring on his finger. To us that ring symbolizes the authority of being a child of God. It represents the authority given us through the name of Jesus. It symbolizes the strength given us through the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and sin. It symbolizes the discernment to beware of the deceitful schemes of the enemy to draw us off course. It gives us the confidence to pray faith-filled prayers. The ring is symbolic of the source of our authority to live an overcoming life for God. This kind of love brings great acceptance, healing, and renewed purpose.
Finally, the father put sandals on his son’s feet – symbolizing his loving welcome home and a new beginning to share with others the kind of love that his father had shown him. God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation – of the sharing His love with the world around us. This kind of love brings great acceptance, healing, and renewed purpose.
God’s love brings us great acceptance, healing, and renewed purpose. Philip. 1:10 says, “…that you may discern and approve the things that are pure and excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” God has washed us and put His robe of righteousness on us, given us His ring – His authority over Satan in our lives, and the ministry of being His ambassadors so we may share this wondrous love and grace. But, He says, approach it with discernment. Approve in your life what is excellent. Be without offense till the day of Christ.
The young prodigal grew up the hard way. Now the father taught him to move from selfish to selfless and from careless to discerning. Let it empower you with sincerity to choose to discern and approve things that are pure and excellent so you live without offence toward God and man.
If you pause and come before the Lord often throughout your day with the intent of living for the Lord, you will feel that power of discernment working in you. You will have the strength to change your thinking. You will have the power to speak right words. You will have the authority to cast down evil imaginations. You will have the spiritual strength to discern and approve and live out things that are excellent and without offense before God. You will be wearing your robe, your ring, and your sandals well! You’ll glorify Jesus in your life!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt