Coming Home to Father

Rembrandt’s, “Parable of the Prodigal’s Son”

“He was yet a great way off, his father saw him.”

Luke 15:20

The boy had, in the far-away country, a vision of his old home. As he sat there and thought of his dishonor and his ruin, there flashed before him a picture which made him very home-sick. The vision brought back the old home in all its beauty and blessedness. There was plenty there, while here the once happy, favored son was now starving to death.

It was a blessed moment for the prodigal. It was God’s message to him, inviting him to return home. When a child is stolen away from a lovely and tender household, it may be kept among wandering gypsies or savage Indians even to old age, but there are always broken fragments of sweet memories that hang over the soul like trailing clouds in the sky — dim, shadowy memories of something very lovely, very pure, reminiscences of that long-lost, long-forgotten past, when the child lay on the mother’s arms, and was surrounded by beauty and tenderness.

So there is something in the heart of every one who has wandered from God that ever floats about him, even in sin’s revels — a fair, ethereal vision, dim and far away perhaps, but splendid as the drapery of the sunset. It is the memory of lost innocence, of the Father’s love, the vision of a heavenly beauty possible of restoration to the worst.

When the prodigal reached home he found his vision realized. His father was watching for him — had long been watching for him. It is a picture of the heavenly Father’s loving welcome of every lost child of His that comes back home. Thus He receives the worst who comes penitently. Our sweetest dreams of God’s love are a thousand times too poor and dim for the reality. A great way off God sees the returning prodigal, and runs to meet him. No matter how far we have wandered, there is a welcome waiting for us at home.

JR Miller

 


I have had to edit Pastor Miller’s comments a bit, but absolutely nothing to its original content or integrity. Whatever he has written carries the content he was realizing. I posted this on BB because of his sincere message and burden.

–Pastor Bryan 

 

 

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Susanna Wesley’s Prayer of Repentance

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“God’s way is perfect.
 All the Lord’s promises prove true.
 He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”

Ps. 18:30

When Susanna Wesley prayed, God listened. I recently came across this  and knew it was meant to be shared on Brokenbelievers. I hope you read it and it spurs you to pray as well. We all need encouragement and this is pretty valuable stuff. I know of no higher call than to teach another believer how to pray.

“Heavenly Father,
“I have much need in humbling myself before you, the great and holy God because of the sins I am daily guilty of, in thought, word and deed against your holy majesty.  Help me overcome the levity and to shun vain and impure thoughts which, though they do not make their abode for any long period of time, yet in their passing through leave a tincture of impurity.”
“Enable me to keep my heart with all diligence, my thoughts, and affections, for out of them are the issues of life.  How often I have offended in this kind!   Cleanse me from secret faults, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  Help me to guard against vain and unnecessary words, and to speak of you, O my God, with that reverence, that humility, that gravity that I ought.”
  Amen.”

Susanna Wesley

From Wikipedia:

Susanna experienced many hardships throughout her life. Her husband left her and the children for over a year because of a minor dispute.

To her absent husband, Susannah Wesley wrote:

“I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.”
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“Cold prayers will never have any warm answers”. 

–Thomas Brooks

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Living Tethered to the Cross

We live in this place.

We live in this place.

St. Francis of  Assisi once wrote, “The devil never rejoices more than when he robs a servant of God of the peace of God.” Sometimes I think I’ve made the devil dance far too many times.

I confess that peace has never been real high on my list. Love, joy, kindness and even goodness are clear priorities. Peace–well… not so much. Until it’s not there. And then I get frantic by its absence, and look for it with manic bewilderment.

I’m panting for some sign that God still loves me. Anxiety eats at me. I beat myself up by my last failure. The guilt of my latest sin grows until it looms larger than the blood that saved me. Sometimes religious people have the most neurosis.

I’m afraid that we are taking “the present tense’ out of the Gospel. The past tense is far preferable to us as we manage the Christian life. We like to make check marks on our list. Repentance– check. Baptism– check. Bible study– check. I think it gives me a definite feeling of ‘maturity.’

But truth has a way of punching through. I haven’t arrived, and it seems I’m still the hideous sinner I always was. I cannot pretend otherwise, even with a truck load of cosmetics at my disposal. I know, I’ve tried. And I’m still ‘ugly.’ I do know forgiveness, and I do walk in its wonderful light (by grace.)

I read Luther 30 years ago. (And Bonhoeffer would say something similar.)  “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” – Martin Luther (this is the first of his 95 Theses.) There is a present tense here we can’t ignore. I don’t just repent over smoking, or fornication, or of hypocrisy, once and done. But my entire way of living is to be one of repenting.

Repentance is a ‘moment-by-moment’ grace.

As I read the Beatitudes I cannot evade the sense that they are present tense. Read them, they’re obviously not a spiritual checklist. Each verse seems to speak of the time being, the present moment. No list here, guys. It will never be ‘one-and-done.’

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Matthew 5:3-10, NLT

All of the Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture.”

–John Piper

Luther’s last words, on his deathbed wrote on a scrap of paper these words, “We are beggars! This is true.” Thirty years before, he was only echoing his first thesis. It seems dear ones, we are to live at the foot of the cross. Everyday. Because we desperately need to.

And perhaps the biggest reason is this: Jesus only comes for ‘sinners.’

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A.W. Tozer, on Having a Personal Revival

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How to Have a Personal Revival,
Serious Repentance and Restitution, and
Steps to Spiritual Growth.

by A.W. Tozer

Put yourself in the way of the blessing.  It is a mistake to look for grace to visit us as a kind of benign magic, or to expect God’s help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them.  To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion is to wish one way and walk another.

Do a thorough job of repenting.  Do not hurry to get it over with.  Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life.  Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.

Make restitution whenever possible.  If you owe a debt, pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so you honesty will be above question. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible make that crooked things straight.

*****

Thought 

Repentance and restitution result when we seriously reflect on what God shows us in His Word. What is it of which we need to repent and is there restitution to be made?

 

Scripture

“Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart];”

Matthew 3:8 (Amplified Bible)

Prayer

My tendency, Lord, is not to take seriously my sin that hurts other people and to leave unrepaired the damage I have left in the lives of others. Make me sensitive, Lord!

 

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tozer
Aiden Wilson Tozer was born April 21, 1897 on a small farm in Western Pennsylvania, the third of six children. And although he would inspire millions with his preaching and writing, he was given very little education during his childhood.

A. W. Tozer was 66 when he died of a heart attack on May 12, 1963. Buried in a small cemetery in Akron, his tombstone simply and appropriately reads, “A Man of God.” He left behind many books that continue to give Christians encouragement and guidance. His writings are as fresh today as when he was alive. His honest and colloquial humor has been known to sweep up congregations in gales of laughter. And his wisdom has left them silent and stunned. For almost 50 years Tozer walked with God, and even though he is gone, he continues to minister to those who are eager to experience God.

 

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One More Night With the Frogs

Here Come the Frogs!

“You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.”

10 “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

Exodus 8:9-10, NLT

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

This was the dynamic working in Pharaoh’s mind. God had warned him earlier that he must release the Jews from slavery. But he oscillates, and vacillates after each warning. His stubborn indecisiveness  is pretty remarkable. Pharaoh resists, and becomes more and more obstinate.

There is a deep danger of delay. God sends 10 plagues– quite dramatic and miraculous. But “the supernatural” really can’t touch certain hearts. There were certain pharisees in Jesus’ time that would not believe, no matter what Jesus did. (We call this, “hardness of heart.”)

In this particular ‘show-down’ a plague of frogs is threatened. It’s kind of funny, but Pharaoh doesn’t dispute the possibility of this “green invasion.” He just absorbs the inevitable. Pharaoh replies, “I will take one more night with the frogs.”

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

Sadly to say, there are so many like that man today. “Lord, I’m going to follow You, but let me have just one more fling, one more trip to Vegas, or the bar, or the Princess cruise, or a new car– just “one more night with the frogs!” And the “one more night” stretches out into terrible, endless night, in “the blackness of darkness for ever”!

The Bible says, “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?” (Hebrews 2:3, NLT).

Will you choose to spend another night with the frogs, that is, in your sins? Or will you come to Jesus Christ for salvation today? There are consequences that follow each decision. What will you decide today? Will it be sin or the Savior? Will it be Heaven or Hell? Will it be forgiveness or the frogs? What will you do with the message you have read here today?

Often there comes a point in a person’s life that not to make a decision, becomes the decision.

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Please call 1-888-NEED-HIM

On Life Support

 untitled (2)And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 11:19-21, NLT

This is one of those complex portions of God’s scripture where several ideas overlap. In our English translation, we read compound sentences and knotty syntax. But the thoughts are God’s, and therefore significant. Without these truths though, I believe that we can quickly slip into a ‘comatose’ condition.

First we must consider who is involved.

  1. God [speaking through the prophet] declares His intentions.
  2. His repentant people [Israel] are acted upon.
  3. But there is a third bunch, those unrepentant ones who have decided within themselves that they will stick with their idols.

God is very decisive by this point. The prophetic ministry was supposed to work, many prophets and teachers have been sent out. But with very limited success. If we pick one out, it would have to be Hosea; his ministry was dramatic– but ultimately fruitless. The only real successful prophet was Jonah– preaching to Ninevah, ironically a pagan people. But God’s own people are living in flagrant sin. They remain untouched. They’ve chosen to remain in their sinful condition.

A solid and clear promise has been given. An interior work has been promised by God, if they can only show a minute sense of life. The nation is on “life support.” The prophets attend to the needs before them. They are very far from the virile and robust nation– they are in the ICU and are showing only scanty signs of life.

This promise is that a special work will be done inside. They will become both tender and responsive again. A new receptivity and awareness will come into being. The ability to obey will ignite within. We call this “revival.” Revivalists throughout history have carried this to every generation.

As I scan over my Christian life of more than 30 years, I simply see my own “cycles” of sin and revival. I wish I could have been more consistent. But I cling to the faithfulness of God. He stays true even when I’m not. He has promised me. I’ll take Him at His word.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6, NLT

God will do what He can, His efforts are heroic. He fully intends to change us— if we’re only willing.

“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.” 

Charles Finney

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The Sin That Sticks

                     

“If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
         And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents.”  NASB

“And give up your sins– even those you do in secret.” CEV

Job 11:14  [in two versions]

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“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.”

Eccl. 8:11, NIV

 

We know it, deep inside of us.  Our sin and iniquity, those things that stick to us, must be renounced and stripped away.  I think it’s interesting that Job is working from the assumption that each of us has sin issues.  I don’t think scripture is ever really shocked by the depth of our iniquity.  We are sinners, and we will sin, but the Holy Spirit is never surprised or caught off guard by our sin and deceit.  But we are, most certainly guilty.

This verse in Job emphasizes “renunciation”.  That means relinquishing or repudiating the evil that we love doing.  I think that in Job’s thinking it means abandoning our sinfulness.  We are to let it go, releasing it to the grace of God.  We are not to sin in secret.

We privatize our favorite sins to make ourselves acceptable.  I think that this is a truism:  “We care more for what people think of us, then what God thinks of us.”  Our sin thrives in solitude, its like a warm and humid greenhouse for our evil.  Secretiveness just causes it to grow, our hiddenness is “Miracle Grow” for our darkness and ugliness.

Job is very much concerned I think, by the contagiousness that sin has.  We transmit the sin virus to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  If we have a hidden darkness, we will most certainly sicken those we touch.  Our Churches have been decimated by private and hidden sin.  I’m thing of Achan in Joshua 7.  He secretly desired nice things, and it destroyed him and his family.

What judgement will you bring on to your loved ones, and your church?  What are you hiding?  Often, I have heard questions like that, and it temporarily moves me.  But it seems the change is not permanent (I desperately wish it was.)  But I suggest that you go into your “tent” and bring your deceitfulness out into the full light of day.  And then, put it to a merciless death.