“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.’ The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” Luke 15:25-32

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

While the father leads his household in the celebration of the full return of his younger son, his older son will have none of it. Filled with anger he reveals a heart not only closed to his brother but to his father as well. The older brother did not abandon his father as the younger brother had nor did he live in ways that were inconsistent with the character and conduct of his father as the younger brother did. And yet even though he had always stayed with his father, he evidently had not enjoyed his father in the fullness and openness of a father’s loving heart that declares, “everything I have is yours.” How often our relationship with our Heavenly Father is depicted by what we see here in the older brother. Not only do we miss the fullness and openness of the heart of our Heavenly Father but we contribute to others missing it as well.

Unfortunately, in our profession of being ones who are connected to our Heavenly Father, our lack of experiential connection to Him and subsequent joylessness and obligatory approach to the Christian life proclaim to the lost that being connected to the Heavenly Father is not a very good place to be. When we experience the fullness and openness of our Heavenly Father’s heart we will be joyful and overflowing with His life. Our lives will reveal His heart and the lost will know that being with the Heavenly Father is a good place to be. They will see the “desire” of His heart to have them return and the “willingness” of his heart to welcome them into a full and wonderful relationship with Himself when they do.

So, we have a Heavenly Father who desires our return, willingly allows us to enter into a full and open relationship with Himself when we do, and rejoices abundantly that what He has longed for all along has come to be. And we have the joy of a full and complete relationship with our Heavenly Father and a wonderful impact on the lost who see the loving, compassionate, welcoming, accepting, gracious, forgiving, restoring heart of our Heavenly Father revealed in us. May God awaken us and His church everywhere to the wonderful adventure of living fully for Him as ones who have the heartbeat of God within them in full measure.

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you.” So, since when Jesus came to earth, His prevailing purpose was to seek and to save the lost, we must do the same. We must embrace and pursue this as our prevailing purpose in life and we must do so with eagerness. How readily and passionately we can look at others and critically see the presence of things that shouldn’t be and the absence of things that should be. Why do we concern ourselves with things that are missing from the lives of unbelievers when they are without Christ. Oh that we would be burdened with the fact that they are missing from the family of God and that we would become passionate about being the kind of people that unbelievers are drawn to because there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in our presence individually and corporately that is inescapable.

We need to hang out with other sheep (small groups) in ways that strengthen us to live effectively in the world. How often believers hang out with each other in ways that do not contribute and even hinder their effectiveness at reaching the lost. Sometimes in hanging out with other believers we do so to the exclusion of associating with those who need to be reached. God is waiting to produce in us the love, acceptance, and passion we need for reaching the lost if we will let Him.  

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, you are my home. Thanks for welcoming me back home to yourself. I truly wish that everyone would come back home to you. I join you in celebrating those who come home. I celebrate your people everywhere who are passionate about being ones that unbelievers are drawn to because there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in their presence individually and corporately. Thanks for using your people in what you are doing to bring the lost back home. Your grace, mercy, and love are truly amazing. Amen!