"A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him; neither will he go unto the wise."Proverbs 15:12andTHE PRODIGAL (Beginning at vs.17)"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worhty to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found, and they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of his servants and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry and would not go in, therefore his father came out and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found."Luke 15:17-32-----Illustration with 15 - The #1 is a stick man (father) with arms extended and reaching; the #5 is made small and sketched into the kneeling son (prodigal,) and about an inch away from them, I sketch another stick man with an unhappy face representing the older brother who is turned away from them both and unwilling to be a participant in the celebration of the prodigal's return. This reminds me of the loving compassion of a father who reaches out to "both" of his sons in personal ways. The prodigal receives the loving favor and forgiveness of his father; the older son displays scorn, contempt, and anger at the injustice of grace.-----Reread the Proverb and then consider:Scorn - To show disdain, disapproval, and contempt. The word "scorn" is illustrated perfectly by the elder brother who, in a state of agitation, anger, and disbelief, observes the compassion of his father on the prodigal's return.Immediate disdain, anger, and hatred boil over as he watches his father bestow tangible graces on this undeserving son.Unwilling to enter into the celebratory feast being prepared for his younger brother, the father once again initiates a compassionate response and goes out to meet the "elder brother" ... this time.The elder brother explodes, as a verbal barrage of vile accusation spill out of his mouth in an attempt to remind his father of the faults, failures, flaws, and fickleness of this unworthy cast-away called "his" brother.Everything is just so doggone unfair!He feverishly reminds the father of his years of labor, service, devotion, and dedication ... with the desire of returning some normalcy to this ridiculous house hosting a "grace party."But the father remains unmoved and the party must go on, with or without the approval or presence of the older brother;Because grace doesn't require a permission slip.Grace is the gift that God gives because He gets too.That's who God is.That's what grace is.Nobody gets a voice in it.Hmmm...-----Grace is a painful pill to swallow when you're the big brother.But it's the sweetest, finest, most divinest thing ... to those who return as prodigals.When we recognize and grasp the reality that there's a little bit of "prodigal" inside of each of us, we become party throwers instead of party crashers.Attend the party, my friend, of the next prodigal who returns;Because one day you may find ...That prodigal is "you."-----Father, we are so ugly without grace: hateful, hurtful, harmful and unhealthy.Cease the attitude of "older brother syndrome" inside of us and forgive the sense of entitlement we bring to Your holiness.We are nothing apart from You.Cease the striving and help us return once more to You.Grant us a spirit of humility, tenderness, and grace.For grace that defines You ....thank you.Amen-----THREE QUESTIONS:1) Which of the three characters best defines you: Younger brother, Elder brother, or Father? Why?2) Whose party have you "chosen" not to attend recently and whose "fault" list do you enjoy rehearsing?3) Take a moment to consider the long range implications to your spiritual growth and the growth of those around you if you choose to remain "outside" the party.
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