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BY PASTOR MICHELE PLAYLE | NEW LIFE CHILDREN’S PASTOR BEULAH CAMPUS

Gratitude

In Luke 15:11-32 it talks about a rebellious son that wanted to run his own life and make his own decisions. The Bible doesn’t tell us what brought the son to this conclusion. We only see that he asked his father for his inheritance early because he was leaving.

I am imagining how this played out….maybe the son was jealous of his older brother? Maybe he was done working everyday for his father in the fields? Maybe he just thought he knew better and thought he could make more money on his own? Whatever the reason he did not really understand how good he had it at home and was clearly not grateful for the life and opportunities that his father gave him. 

It is easy to get in the complaining phase and forget to be thankful for all that our heavenly Father has blessed us with. Right now I want you to make a list of all the blessings that God has given to you. If it is hard to start, begin with thanking Him for His creation around you: the clean air we can breathe, the birds singing, for the trees and the amazing star filled nights.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP) says, “In every situation (no matter what the circumstances) be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer

In Luke 15:13 we see that it did not take long for the son to waste all of his inheritance and find himself homeless and starving wanting to eat the food that the pigs were given. At this part of the story it is easy to say, “Good! I am glad this bratty kid got what he deserved!” It is easy to judge this family and say, “Well that father should not have just given him the money I knew that is what the son would do” (kinda predictable like a hallmark movie right!?).

As parents or even a friend in a relationship it is hard to let our kids/friends go especially when we see the hard road they are heading towards. We see the amazing things that God has for them that they sometimes can’t see for themselves.

At these moments, and like the moment when the father in Luke 15 watches his son walk away with his inheritance, it is heart wrenching. We feel helpless in these moments because we have done everything we know to do to help this person. In these times we need to pray and believe in faith for our friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc...because prayer changes the course of history!

I believe that once the father saw his son walk away he began to pray, beg, and plead to God night and day for his son to come home safely. We don’t know how long or short this process can go, but then one day it happens. In verse 17 it says, “The son came to his senses.” The NIRV says, “He began to think clearly.” You can try to reason this away, but I truly believe that this was no coincidence. It was a direct answer to a praying father for his son!

If you are longing for a child, family member, or friend to come back to God, there is hope! Fight for them in your prayer time! God’s grace is waiting to rescue them. The enemy has confused and enslaved their thoughts and mind. As you pray and intercede for them watch as they “come to their senses and begin to think clearly” and are able to see the truth of God and the lies that the enemy has been speaking to them.

Forgiveness

Many people stop here at this story. The son was found, it was a happy ending. The father threw a celebration party…credits to the movie play, now let’s go home….wait, wait, wait…there is more….

In verse 25 we now hear about the older brother. He comes home from a hard day at work to find that his younger brother came home- yay! Nay! I am imagining the fuming anger coming from the older brother. His father has put on a party for his bratty younger brother who “probably never worked a day in his life,” (so the older brother says).

I see this play out in verse 28 where it says, “The older brother became angry and deeply resentful,” and he was not going to go to the party even though his father pleaded with him to go. The older brother said to his father, “I served you for many years, and never neglected or disobeyed a command and you haven’t given me a party or anything. But now my younger brother who may I remind you took your money and bought prostitutes and wasted it all on foolish living and now you are celebrating him!”

When I read this ending my first thought was, “Oh man! Why couldn’t the older brother celebrate and see how God’s grace was poured out on his younger brother?” 

Here’s the kicker…the longer we live as a Christian the easier it is to become complacent and even cold toward the salvation message and/or toward others who have found the grace of God (like the younger brother did). It is like a school teacher who has been teaching 2nd grade for over 30 years and gets easily “angry and resentful” towards her class because she expects these new little 2nd graders to know what she has been teaching for over 30 years. She has clearly lost her passion for teaching and the kids who she is trying to teach.  

As Christians, we must spend time with our first love Jesus Christ because He renews our passion for Him and for others.

Like the older brother it is easy to harbor unforgiveness toward someone. Then even if they get their life right with God we can’t celebrate with them because our hearts have become hard toward them. If we are not careful we can find ourselves like the younger son in need of God’s grace because we have gone down a long hard road ourselves and turned to worldly things. I can’t help but wonder if the older brother ever chose forgiveness or did he too harden his heart and turn away from God like his younger brother did.

The fact of the matter is that we can at any time in our lives become either the younger or the older brother. If we are not in the Word our hearts can become hard and unforgiveness can creep in— we can turn away from God.

Do not ever think that you are past the lies and schemes of the enemy. The enemy is like a weed and before you know it he creeps in and over time completely entangles us with his lies to choke us out and keep us from living for God.

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“Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our Potter, And we all are the work of Your hand,” Isaiah 64:8 (AMP). Remain moldable and teachable like clay in the hands of a potter— “The Potter”— all the days of your life.

Pray this with me today: Lord, forgive me I admit that my heart attitude has been wrong. I admit that I have been like the older brother striving and doing things for you instead of with you. I admit that I have offense toward another person forgive me for my anger and resentful heart. I am sorry that I have not celebrated with others who you have shown grace to. I choose to live unoffended toward people, celebrate their victories, build them up in the faith, and to be Christ-like today!

“Create in me a clean and pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” Psalm 51:10.