Proverbs 3:5-6

Hyphenated Sins

 

Read:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Reflect:

At certain points in life we come face-to-face with the reality that we can’t do this journey on our own. Each of these moments can be a thing of beauty as we place everything at God’s feet, receive His peace, and hear God’s promise afresh. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He shall direct your paths.”

Courageous trust is taking a radical stand against all self-pity. Outrageous trust is a full frontal attack on all the hyphenated sins of our day: self-indulgence, self-will, self-service, self-gratification, self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency.

Embracing this promise takes both trust and courage. The two are inseparable. Trust is the choice to believe that God loves us and is committed to guiding us according to His perfect will. Courage is the decision to then do what God reveals is best for us. It takes courage to stop leaning on our own understanding. Trust asks us to stop pursuing our dreams and goals, to stop depending on our own ability, and to follow God’s direction instead of our own.

Trust is another awakening of our spirit. One that empowers us to turn away from the world flesh and the devil, as well as turning away from ourselves. In doing so, there comes a turning toward God, where we realize He truly is at the center of everything.

Trust and courage are required if we are to say no to our predictable habits and limited understanding. Trust asks us to risk a journey into the unknown. We need to remind ourselves that we can safely choose, day by day, moment by moment, to trust God with all of our ways, because the promise is certain – He will direct our path.

 

Respond:

Father, as I stand on the edge of the unknown, I long to trust You. Enable me to lean the full weight of my life on Your ability to guide my steps.

Proverbs 3:5

Buoyant Trust

 

Read:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . .” Proverbs 3:5

 

Reflect:

Trust is in short supply these days. As we reach for quick answers and short cures, trust is the only thing that still works. How else can we face the raw heartache, anguish, cosmic disorder, and present threats? For all that ails our culture, stout buoyant trust is a must. Only in turning from the world and toward God, will we realize the advantages of trust.

Influences our choices.

In all aspects, God is to be relied upon. We are not just to think of Him only in special seasons and sacred places. He is to be recognized in the home, in business, at work, at recreation. All our actions, decisions and ways are yielded to Him. All our choices are made in His presence.

Inspires contrition.

Trust makes us aware we are subject to a higher will. We are dependent on life, breath, and everything. Trust helps us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think of others. Through trust we are brought to the humble realization we don’t have the answers to life’s questions.

Informs conflict.

Times come when trust is misplaced, because it seem to go unrewarded. For a brief moment, Jesus Himself felt God had forsaken Him and He had trusted God in vain. But soon He said, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is the ultimate act of trust.

Increases capacity.

Bitterness and cynicism could easily follow struggle and frustration that are a part of everyday life, but the one who trusts, experiences the capacity to live beyond what can’t be explained, simply because they believe their life is in the trustworthy hands of God. Although trust will have to be maintained through tears and darkness, one who does will find the faithfulness of God. strong

Infuses comfort.

There is a comfort that after doing all we can do, our issues rest in the hands of a wiser, stronger Savior, that are stronger than our own. The one who trusts, works as though everything depends upon their own ability, yet, commits everything to God. The storms of life may rock faith, but they will never drown it.

 

Respond:

What if you put the weight of your life on all the wonderful things you say you believe about God?

 

Luke 15:28-29

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Vitalizing Grace

 

Read:

“. . . His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” Luke 15:28-29

 

Reflect:

The older brother’s focus was on himself, and as a result, there is no joy in his brother’s arrival home. He is so consumed with issues of justice and equality that he fails to see the value of his brother’s repentance and return. He fails to realize that anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother, is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother, lives in the light. 

The older brother allows anger to take root in his heart to the point that he is unable to show compassion towards his brother, and, for that matter, he is unable to forgive the perceived sin of his father against him. He prefers to nurse his anger, rather than enjoy fellowship with his father, brother and the community. He chooses suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation. He sees his brother’s return as a threat to his own inheritance.

How did the older brother become so rigid, so uncaring? Maybe he was taken for granted because he stayed home. Maybe he had grown resentful of his life of routine. There was always a spark and glitter to the younger brother, the elder always ended up in the shadows. Resentment had grown in him so deep, that even he did not understand the depths. In the unredeemed art of his nature, he was jealous. He was religious, he believed, “it pays to be good” and when it didn’t, he exploded.

The wise father seeks to bring restoration by pointing out that all he has is, and has always been, available for the asking to his obedient son. The older son never utilized the blessings at his disposal.

Neither our personal badness, nor our personal goodness, determines the love of the Father towards us, but only His vitalizing grace and saving love. 

 

Respond:

Father, help me to stay in relationship with You and remember You make all things possible.

Luke 15:25-28

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The Elder Brother is Everywhere

 

Read:

"Now his older son was in the field, and . . . heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 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.’ But he was angry and refused to go in." Luke 15:25-28

 

Reflect:

Jealousy cloaked in religion is an ugly thing. The older brother was full of self-pity and self-righteousness. Pride is death in whatever form it takes. While the younger son was physically gone, part of his heart was always at home. But the older brother was prodigal at heart, only his body was at home.

There are elder brothers everywhere. They work in church, lead bible studies, serve the poor. They are governed by a sense of entitlement; they have no patience with those who squander time and money; they believe others get what they deserve. The elder brother keeps the letter of the law, but forgets the Spirit. There was no love in the elder brother’s faith, yet the father is gentle in his reply, and addresses religious stinginess with grace.

We cannot imagine Jesus being saddened by the return of the prodigal, or angry with His Father for being generous in His compassion. Jesus not only would be totally sharing the Father’s joy at the return of the sinful son, but He would rejoice in His own sacrifice, the fruits of which made that whole conversion possible. 

We see the elder brother was not ready, in any sense, to share his inheritance. However, Jesus does exactly the opposite out of His infinite charity. Jesus shares His inheritance with us when we return to His Father. Out of this great love, Jesus chooses not to make us eternal slaves in our Father’s house, but to make us co-heirs to His kingdom.

We will never understand such love in this world. It’s only when we see the face of God that we will even begin to comprehend it. 

 

Respond:

Father, help me each day to be more like our Elder Brother and to be different from man’s elder brother.

Ephesians 2:8-9

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Marks of a Far Country

 

Read:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Reflect:

Don’t ever pray, “God, give me justice.” You don’t want God to give you what you deserve, which is judgment. Rather, a better thing to pray would be, “God, be merciful to me. God, extend Your grace to me.” When God extends mercy, He doesn’t give you what you deserve. And when God extends grace, He gives you what you don’t deserve.

We find a classic example of grace in the story of the prodigal son. The son had sinned. He dragged the family name through the mud. If the father had dealt with his prodigal son justly, he would have allowed the boy to be stoned. That would have been justice. If the father would have dealt with the son in mercy, he would have let him come on as a hired hand as the boy had requested.

But the father dealt with him in grace when he provided his son with luxurious attire and placed a signet ring on his finger. That was grace, not justice, and it was even more than mercy. It was grace extended. The father’s love is never mere sentimentalism. He felt grief as he waited. And he waited, because not even a prodigal must be coerced.

There is no easy pardon. God doesn’t casually say, “Oh, just forget it.” Judgment is written across the story. There was the famine, shame, loneliness, alienation. The marks of the far country remained on the lost one. This is not sloppy grace, there is the prodigal’s misery and the prodigal’s grief. Forgiveness is the welcome home and the working of love until we become the home of God. 

 

Respond:

If you are a parent dealing with a wayward or prodigal child, you may grieve over their choices, but there is great power in a praying parent. Whatever the need, take heart that your Lord and Savior already knows all about it. He wants to mend that broken heart. Keep praying. The Spirit intercedes on your behalf.

Luke 15:11-12

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More Than Enough

 

Read:

“. . . There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.” Luke 15: 11-12

 

Reflect:

After being given his share of the family estate, the “prodigal son” wasted everything, squandering what he had been given. The father was disappointed by his actions, but he never stopped loving his son. And, in spite of the son’s waste, the father’s resources never were diminished. When the son repented and returned home, his father still could lavish him with gifts. When the son came to his senses, he realized that even his father’s servants were better off than he was.

In this parable, the son could represent anyone who has lost their way and needs to be restored. In fact, he represents all of us, with an itch for fame, a desire for things and longing for popularity. We all naturally think of ourselves first.

The father represents God. Through this parable we imagine how much it pains Him to watch when we waste His blessings, fail to receive all that He has prepared for us, but His resources never diminish. He always has more than enough.

Even from a great distance the father knew his son. No distance could cheat his eyes of love. Jesus told this story so we might understand how much our Father loves us. That we would know that even if we fail Him and waste the resources He has given us, He is willing to forgive us and give us more. He remains ready to receive us back into His presence.

Today, no matter what you have done, God stands ready to forgive your sins and welcome you home. He is ready to bless you out of His abundance. He is more than enough. More than enough power and wisdom, resources and supplies, joy and peace.

Humble yourself before Him. Praise and worship Him. 

Seek Him. You can never exhaust His inexhaustible supply.

 

Respond:

Father, forgive me for times when I have wasted what You have given me. Thank You for Your mercy! I believe that You can supply all my needs. I pray that You will supply me with “more than enough.”