On earth...

In Matt. 6:10, Jesus calls us to pray with words like this: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." "On earth..." messages are the reflection of various local writers sharing common experiences in daily living and then guiding renewal of the mind and spirit from God's Word. It is scheduled to appear on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The loving father, the prodigal son

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[September 01, 2007]  Parables are a teaching method Jesus used to describe the kingdom of God and spiritual principles by putting them in terms of a story that we can understand. The parable examined here is found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15. (Reader, please read Luke 15:11-24.)

This parable is commonly called "The Prodigal Son," but it could well be identified as "The Loving Father."

In this parable there are two sons and a father. The older son will not be studied here. The father represents God the Father, who is kind and is willing to allow us our free will to do whatever we choose, even to "screw up."

The younger son, the one we will examine in detail, represents those of us who are willing to give up a better life tomorrow in exchange for a few pleasures today. Reader, have you ever done that?! Haven't we all?

So the story goes like this. A young man has grown weary of being under the authority of his father and wants to get out on his own -- you know, do things his own way. Rather than just run away, he has the audacity to ask his father for his inheritance immediately rather than waiting until the father's death.

Here is a key point. The father could have said, "No, I will not allow you to do this foolish thing," but he did not. Instead he allowed the son to exercise his free will. The father allowed the son to choose his behavior.

So the young son set out for a distant land where he indulged in wine, women and song. He satisfied all of his fleshly lusts without concern as to what would happen tomorrow.

Have we not all done this to some extent? Have we given up the rigors and discipline of a college education to get a job to make some money so we can buy some things? Have we ingested substances for a present high but endangered our future health, or worse, the health of our children? What about credit cards? If we use credit to buy something we cannot afford, are we not sacrificing our future good for the sake of a present pleasure?

The son wasted his entire inheritance at the same time that a total famine hit the land where he was. He soon found himself totally broke. In order to survive, he took a job at slave wages. The story says the only job he could get was feeding the pigs, and apparently his pay was so meager he could not make enough to feed himself and he would gladly eat the food that the pigs were eating.

He now realized how good his life had been with the father. How wonderful it would be to have anything he wanted to eat, to have a clean place to sleep, to be able to bathe at any time and to have the fellowship of his father and family. His choices, however, had led him to be at the absolute bottom pit of existence. He was just trying to survive.

Then the Bible says, "He came to his senses." He realized he had made a huge mistake, and he was repentant for his choices. Repentance is the first step to a new life. There was also the realization that his father's household had provided much in terms of comfort and fellowship. He immediately got up and started back toward his home, where his father lived. (Remember that the father in the parable represents God the Father.)

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Verse 20: "But while he was a still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." That tells me the father had not rejected the son but was longingly looking for the son to return.

I see the father gazing into the distance and at first seeing just a speck. I see his eyes trying to adjust to the distance, because there was something familiar about the way the person walked.

Could it be? He took a few steps closer, wiped his eyes and strained as his heart began to pound as he began to realize this could be his son coming home. And then he knew it was his son and

he ranů he ranů he ran to himů. he ran to him.

The verb tense in the Greek would translate that he hugged him and he kissed him and he hugged him and he kissed himů again and again.

Then the father called his servant and commanded that a robe and a ring be brought for the son. He declared a feast and a celebration began immediately. His rejoiced that his son who was dead was now alive.

Let's examine the circumstance of the father and the son in the manner that God the Father views us.

  • The son came slowly under the burden of sin.

  • The father ran to his son, showing how quickly God's mercy is extended toward us.

  • The son came home between hope and fear (knowing he had done wrong).

  • The father received him instantly with joy and respect.

  • The son came home in rags.

  • The father clothed him in the best clothes

  • The son came home hungry.

  • The father not only fed him but had a huge party for him.

Prayer: God, I have at times lived my life as the younger son. But I repent of my tendency to succumb to a present pleasure rather than choose what you have destined to be my inheritance.

Run to me, God,
Hug me and kiss me, God,
Put your robe on my back and your ring on my finger and
Declare that I am your beloved son who was dead but now is alive.

[Here I am, send me]

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