Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Coming to Our Senses – Luke 15:11-31

One of my favorite stories from the Gospels is the one we fondly refer to as the Prodigal Son parable. It’s a great illustration of the grace of God shown toward the wayward sinner.

Finding THE GRACE OF GOD in all situations is not easy, but when we do, our perspective changes. Our view of life becomes hopeful and not hopeless. We find ourselves coming alive to the fact that God is working on our behalf and there’s not a single thing we can do that can stop Him.

Romans 5:6
“You see, at JUST THE RIGHT TIME, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Please take note, God’s view of our “right time” is when we are powerless, helpless, ungodly and far from being at our best. The right time for God’s grace to explode on the scenes of our life is when we finally run out of answers. Especially the answers we seek to provide for our own problems.

Like many of us, the young impetuous son falls prey to the wander lust. He somehow BELIEVES THE LIE that life outside his father’s house will be way better than life inside. So off he goes cash in hand, after demanding that he get his share of the inheritance now instead of later.

Ironically THE FATHER GIVES him the money and lets him go; all without an argument, as far as the text reveals. That’s right, he just lets him head off to do his own thing. Now most of us dad’s wouldn’t do that, but this dad did. This dad is a study in character of the nature and perspective of Father God. The story shows the freedom God gives us, despite how foolish we often become.

Now the grace expressed in this story can be found throughout, but the portion that has been on my heart for the last few weeks is the part where the wayward son finds himself smack dab in the middle of his self imposed crisis. And aren’t they THE WORST KIND OF CRISIS? You know… the kind of screw up or misjudgment that falls completely on your shoulders. Ouch!

Anyway, my thoughts are these: How often do we have to have a coming to our senses moment, before we don’t find ourselves in the pig pen once again? And, do you remember THE LAST TIME, if ever, you had a coming to your senses moment?

The reason I ask those questions is because I believe that many people find themselves in and out of crisis or going around THE SAME MOUNTAIN again and again, all the while they somehow believe that life is just that way. Because of THE PATTERNS they’ve lived in for so long have yet to be broken, it all just seems normal. And worst of all, because misery loves company, most of the friends and family that surround a person who passes in and out of the pig pen, tend to just accept the situation as normal.

Secondly I ask if you can remember the last time, if ever, that you had one of those coming to your senses moments, because those times can be BENCHMARKS OF GOD’S GRACE to you, but far too often we miss the power of the divine moment. We glaze it over with a rationale that’s based upon a self centered premise that somehow puts us in the driver’s seat and we forget how much influence the Lord actually has on our hearts and minds.

Keep in mind that we have the power of free will to choose wisdom or folly, but we do not have the power of redemption and grace. Both of which are gifts from God to us.

It’s like this, you didn’t have the power to be conceived and brought into this world, but once you got here, you progressively developed the power and ability to either live or die, to make choices that take you one way or the other. But ultimate once you die, that’s it, your part in any decision making processes is over.

Well much like our life cycle here on earth that contains choices and opportunities, so too does our spiritual life cycle contain choices and opportunities. Another question that’s on my mind is this: How often do we realize the grace and power that God is demonstrating even during the routine of making foolish decisions that lead us once again to the pig pens of life?

See the cool thing is this; grace is found throughout the parable of the prodigal son, especially at the point where he comes to his senses.

As I read this parable I conclude there are at least Five (5) Grace Findings that form a cycle of God’s applied grace, all of which should give us hope despite our failings.

Grace finding number one – the son experienced ACCESS – relationship with the Father (grace) vv.11-12. When was the last time you realized that you have access to Father God, but simply ignored that fact or took it for granted? All that we have to do is speak to the Father and then listen for His voice. Reading His word gives us access to His thoughts and intentions. Simply put, we have access to relationship and that is a GRACE THING.

Grace finding number two – the son experienced his own ACTIONS – freedom of choice (grace) vv.13-16. All too often we view our relationship with God as restrictive. We believe the lie that tells us He doesn’t want us free, that He wants us marching in lock step to what He alone dictates, but that simply is not true. God has given each of us free will. He has given us the grace to choose our own path and actions. The question is have you realized how much grace is in that freedom? The power of you making your own decisions is a GRACE THING. But beware, we tend to make stupid decisions when we stop listening to the voice of truth and embrace the seduction of a lie.

Grace finding number three – the son experienced an AWAKENING – made alive to realize pain (grace) vv.17-20a. When was the last time you came to your senses? You could say one of those V8 moments. Our problems often stem from the many times we get revelation or awakening on a matter, only to find ourselves rolling right past the moment and missing the grace of God’s divine alarm clock. A grace awakening is indeed just that, a GRACE THING. Did I see you just hit the snooze button again?

Grace finding number four – the son experienced ACCEPTANCE – restoration from the Father (grace) vv.20b-21. So often we stay at a distance from God, because we believe somehow that He wants it that way. How sorely mistaken we are. The beauty of this particular finding is that even when we are far away from God, home, sanity, purity, innocence or provision, God runs in our direction. That’s right, if and when we accept the grace awakening sent by God and turn our glance back toward Him, acceptance is immediate. One caveat though, this level of acceptance is only found when we admit our plight and realize our helplessness. Yet even in that moment of admission we must realize that too is a GRACE THING.

Grace finding number five – the son experienced ACCESS AGAIN – to the best the Father has (grace) vv.22-24. Finally, one of the least realized components of grace is the refreshment of access gained once again to the Father’s proximity, prosperity and promises. Ever since I’ve been a minister of the Gospel (20 years now) I’ve noticed something about sinners or wayward saints. They think that their place of restoration with God is somehow unattainable because they’ve been so bad. That’s right, they have such a prideful regard for their depravity that they believe the lie that they could never have a close relationship with the Father once again or ever at all. That is wrong thinking.

If we ever find ourselves at a distance from God for any number of reasons, may I say that grace and mercy have provided us access again to relationship with the Father, and it’s never because we repaired some breech, but always because of what He has done. So take heart, you can boldly come to Him and find mercy and help in time of need. That is a GRACE THING. No matter how far away you’ve been, access is possible and part of God’s desire and plan.

May you realize that the coming to your senses moment you are experiencing right now is all God and none of you. And may you realize that He loves you enough to come to the rescue and give you divine CPR, and you have nothing to do with that except you are dead and in need. Why, because it’s a GRACE THING.

Feel anything yet?

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