Thursday, April 30th

Thursday, April 30th

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. Luke 15:20

My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life. Proverbs 6:20-23

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, "Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:20-21

Let's begin with the Colossians passage above. The focus is on children being obedient and fathers being loving (non-aggravating). Earlier a parallel passage from Ephesians was used that said it this way, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord." So here's how this all fits together: The starting point is for fathers to take the responsibility that is theirs for leading the way in the spiritual training of their children. Fathers mistreating their children is a real danger and evidently happens more often than not even when fathers are seeking to fulfill their responsibility with the spiritual training of their children. Children, whose fathers relate to them in harsh and critical ways, become angry and discouraged. Children are to obey their parents, but it will be much easy for them when fathers create a climate of love and gentleness in the home.

Let's put this together with the Luke passage. We have a son who didn't get it right (for awhile) and had been caught up in disobedience. Remember that he had gotten his inheritance from his father, gone to a distant land, and spent it all on loose living which was certainly a lifestyle that was the opposite of how he had been raised. The passage above says, "So he returned home to his father." Remember that he was returning merely with the hope of (at the most) being able to be a servant in his father's household. This would suggest that his father had gotten it right. The son knew his father as a loving and gentle father to whom he could return. And of course his determination to return home to his father was totally warranted as we see in these words, "Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him." If he had not been this kind of father all along, it is not likely he would have been this kind of father now. If being harsh and critical had been the norm before the son left, after all the son had done, it would certainly be that way upon his son's return (of course returning to this kind of father would be much less likely).

The passage from Proverbs above reminds us that good spiritual training is vital. And the Mark passage above shows us in the example of Jesus that how we relate to our children makes a huge difference. The loving father in the Luke story seems to have gotten it right all the way through and yet his son still went off in disobedience. This father raised his son in "the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord" and he did it in a spirit of love and gentleness. When his son hit bottom, it made all the difference.

God is a redeeming God. The most important lesson we learn from the father in our story is that God is a loving and gentle God who always embraces with open arms those who turn from their waywardness and return to him. God is healing God. Whatever we have experienced from our own parents, whatever we have experienced as parents, wherever we are in our lives, God is there to forgive, cleanse, and heal us. God is a restoring God. He specializes in putting broken relationships back together. We can count on him to take us right where are and take us to wherever we need to be, but always in his time and his way. We are children of our Heavenly Father and we need to trust him and rest in him with the heart of a child.

Lord, we bless you and praise you. We run to your loving arms today for your redeeming, healing, and restoring touch upon our lives. We commit all our relationships to you as we trust and rest in your arms of love. Thank you for the difference your loving and gentle presence is making in my life.

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