Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Are The Prodigal Son

"And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they begun to celebrate. (Luke 15:21-24)

This story of the prodigal son is amazing, and it pertains to every one of us. We are this son. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory. I know I've gone on my own path, believing I knew what was right and what was wrong. But even my moral compass isn't enough truth. The Lord wants us all to come to Him. He's not keeping a tally of all the sin we commit. He's waiting for us to come alive, AGAIN. We need to be redeemed. The son in Luke believed that he could get a job as a slave for his father, and be able to earn food and shelter. The son was sleeping with the pigs and had nowhere to go. When he came to his father, he had no idea his father would bless him with a celebration and give him the rights to his wealth, AGAIN. The father redeemed his son.

God is the same. We are ALL His children and He loves us all EQUALLY. He wants to redeem us, put fine robes on us, and give us His best...but we have to first seek Him. We have to come to Him. The prodigal son's father thought his son was dead. He didn't know any better. All he knows is his son squandered the wealth, and left; never to hear from his son again. And then his son came to him, and the father redeemed him. I know the Lord is omniscient. But, we still have FREE WILL. Although the Lord knows you aren't physically dead, to Him, you're spiritually dead. And He CAN NOT save you. Because we HAVE to come to Him. He is more than willing to receive us and give us His best, but we have to come to Him to be received. To be RE-born, we have to first be found. And to be found, we cannot be lost. And to not be lost, we have to find our Owner. And to find our Owner, we have to believe Christ bought us with His blood and obedience. And when we believe that, we are not only found. We are redeemed.

"But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.' "And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 'But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found." (Luke 15:28-32)

This is a problem that us believers face. We are like the prodigal son's brother sometimes. We tend to hold ourselves in favor when we do what the Lord asks us to do. We think that because we have done His commands, we are to be held at a higher blessing. But this is simply not true. The older brother was jealous that his father gave the younger son the fattened calf, his best, and celebrated his return. All his older brother could see was an outcast from the family, coming back from squandering all the wealth he took from his father. But that's not what OUR Father sees. He sees His son coming back to Him, and He's ready to bless him.

As followers of Christ, we cannot condem the sinners. We cannot get upset when someone that has led a sinful life, comes to the Lord, and recieves blessings. We cannot be upset when a sinner comes to the Lord, and is favored and loved equally to us. Why? Because like the father of the prodigal son said, we ALREADY have the blessings. When the Lord rejoices for the return of His lost sheep, we are not to be jealous, but to rejoice with Him. Everything the Lord has, is ours. And everytime someone NEW comes into the Kingdom, they have just as much right to His blessings as we do. Whether we have been saved for 20 years or 20 minutes, we are all redeemed and we all have the same right to the Lord's blessings.

There are no better than the lost sheep that has yet to find the Lord. We have nothing to boast about. It isn't how long we go without sinning that saves us, but the grace we receive after we sin. It's hard to accept sometimes, the fact that we cannot earn our way into heaven. The world we live in has accustomed us to working for what we have. But God is not the world. He is God. And we must accept that the ONLY reason we are saved, is because He let Christ become our sin so we could be forgiven. We are redeemed and we are forgiven. We are not perfect, and we have no works good enough for the Lord to save us accordingly.

Love the lost and the found equally. Because when the lost are found, you will be at their celebration! Be blessed! :o)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Investing In the Future

So much has been on my mind lately...and I've listened to many great sermons, and some good sermons. Something that really sticks out to me, especially in down times with our economy, is investments. On occasion, there is nothing better we can do with our earned money or given money, but invest. Which investments do we choose? Which stock? Which company? When searching for the greatest option, we look at production. It is wise to invest in a company that has a record of good production, positive increase in wealth, and a good return on investment. Right? Any half-intelligent person would look for success before investing into that company.

What about loans? I know being the lender is a different position than being a borrower. If you were the lender, what would you look for in a borrower? If I were to lend money that I earned to someone, I would make sure they are credible. I would want either a personal relationship with that person to where paying me back is something that is understood. If I owned a business that offered loans, I would do things much different. Such things would be, demand a record of payments the borrower has made within several past years. Check the credit report. And a number of other things I would check to make sure I wouldn't be lending money to someone that couldn't afford to pay me back or that wouldn't pay me back in general.

Well, this is all very obvious statements that anybody would agree with. So, why do we have faith in the opposite? In the world, the afore mentioned budgeting schema is not only accepted but expected. But in our faith with the non-visible realm, we not only accept different but expect different too. What do I mean? Well, God gives everyone talents. Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus uses the parable of the master and his 3 slaves. The master gives one slave 5 talents (which in these times meant currency), to another he gave 2 talents, and to the last he gave 1. The slave with 5 talents made 5 more, the slave with 2 made 2 more and the slave with 1 made no more. The slave with 1 instead buried the talent in order to escape the risk of losing the talent and upon his own 'priniciple' saying "Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground." (Matt 25:24-25). This is especially important. Jesus used this parable to explain how His Father works.

God gives everyone talent (in this meaning I mean actual talent, not currency). With our talent, we earn currency. Athletes that harvest their talent get a free college education and some even use that talent to earn money after college. Shrewd businessmen use their talent to get ahead, and make wise choices. Intelligent peoples strive for excellence and climb the economical ladder. And so on and so forth. But it's not what you do with your talent that I am addressing, but what you do not do with your talent. The Lord will NEVER give you anything you cannot handle. Everyone has a different talent. If we all had the same talent, we would never experience growth because we would only be a nation that is great at 1 talent. (ESPN would be out of a job).

For those peoples that have yet to harvest their talent, or complain of having too little currency, I ask you this: What are you doing with what you have already been given? If God gives you $100 and you squander it, why would He entrust you with more? If you are given money and never give back any money, why would God bless you with more money? If a promotion is what you are in search for, what makes you deserving? Don't you think if God was receiving a portion of you earnings, He would bless you with more knowing you will GIVE Him more?

This brings me back to the investment. God will invest in those who will give Him a return on HIS investment. When you want a 'loan,' the Lender wants to see a record of payment. Are you giving what is not yours? I know we are used to earning money and saying "this is my money, I'll spend it how I please." But, you forget, God GAVE you talents. And He WANTS to be given a return on His investment. Yes, you are a shrewd businessman. But, no one can be more shrewd than the ORIGINAL Businessman.

Are you taking what you have been given and using it on yourself for your own benefit? Not giving God what is His is the same as burying it in the earth. I mean, when you die, you cannot take what you've gained here on earth with you. So yes, ultimately, you are burying your talents. On the other hand, if you are a good investment, will you not receive a promotion? If you give the lender their money back, plus interest, will they not lend you MORE? "For everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he has shall be taken away." (Matt 25:29).

If you are waiting on God to bless you before you give Him what is rightfully His, than you will not see a promotion. Because He needs to see a positive payment history in order to make a WISE BUSINESS DECISION. Do not make a bargain with God that you have yet to prove you can accomplish. If you aren't willing to lend your money to someone based on their word alone, don't expect God to be so foolish.

GIVE and you will be GIVEN MORE! And this isn't just monetary. Give your time, talent, money, attention, etc. Whatever you have, you are meant to share.