Garments of Grace; The Prodigal’s New Clothes

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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Many look at the story of the prodigal son, in this week’s SS lesson as a story about one man in the church and one who was out. However, it is interesting in the end, the one who is out comes in and the one who is in goes out. The prodigal son asks for his inheritance before he leaves. What the son is saying to the father is, “I want all your blessings but I don’t want to live under you roof and abide by your rules.” I don’t think the prodigal son is alone in his way of thinking. Remember earlier in these lessons we spoke of Joseph’s brothers being jealous of the special coat that their father had made him. His brothers wanted all the blessings Joseph had, but did not want the intimate relationship with their father that Joseph had. Do we do the same today? Do we ask God to bless us while we are willfully ignoring His commandments? If so, we are just like the prodigal son who said, give me my inheritance and I am going to go live somewhere else where you can’t tell me what to do. Unfortunately the inheritance only lasted as long as the relationship. Lesson learned: The relationship is the inheritance!

 

When the son realizes this, he heads for home. Now feeling unworthy of the relationship or inheritance, he seeks to become a hired hand. His Father would have none of that. While the son is a great ways off, the father runs to him and hugs and kisses him. I am reminded of a story in the Great Controversy, of a religious leader during the dark ages, making a ruler stand out in the snow before he would forgive him. What a gross misrepresentation of my heavenly Father! My Father does not make people stand out in the snow before He forgives them. He runs to where they are and hugs and kisses them, and welcomes them home.

Meanwhile the other brother who stayed at home is not the least bit happy to see his brother return. It makes him so angry he leaves the house! When you read his argument you see he thought all these years he was working for all he had. Come to find out it was all a gift given to him and not of works.  The son who stayed home benefited from grace as much as the one who ran away.

On my trip home from Tulsa I ran into weather problems in Dallas-Fort Worth, where I was to make my connection flight. My flight was cancelled and I ended up spending the night on the chapel floor at the airport. I was frustrated because I lived in the Dallas area for ten years and still have many friends there, but I could not ask them to come get me in the storm which included tornados.  So I laid down on the airport floor with my laptop case for a pillow. I had just begun to feel sorry for myself, when I realized, that many people more noble than I sleep on hard floors every night. People more noble than I had just lost their homes and even lives in the Joplin tornado. People more noble than I sleep on the hard ground under bridges every night! I realized my nice comfortable apartment back home in Tampa is not something I have earned or deserve. It is a gift from God! I then realized that the nice little chapel floor in the airport was not a curse, but rather a gift of grace from God. A gift that I had not earned or deserved.

Since I could not sleep well, I prayed for the prayer requests coming in from my Facebook. Surprisingly they came in all night long. That morning I woke up feeling the presence of God in that chapel more vividly than when I am even at home. I realized my gift from God’s grace is a relationship with Him and not a comfortable place to sleep. I realized I was just as much my heavenly Father’s son while sleeping on the airport floor, as when I will be resting in my heavenly mansion.  Interesting…..Jesus was just as much His Father’s Son while laying in a manger as He is now sitting on the throne in heaven.

Mark 8; The Cross Before The Throne

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark 8 :29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 

 8:30       And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 

 8:31       And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 

 8:32       And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 

 8:33       But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 

 8:34       And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 

 8:35       For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 

 8:36       For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 

 8:37       Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

 8:38       Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 

Peter could not comprehend or imagine Jesus being crucified. I think this is why Peter was so sure of himself, when later he swore he would never deny Jesus. I think he made that promise while only thinking of Jesus upon a throne, never dreaming Jesus would be crucified on a cross. Jesus rebuked Peter, because Peter was telling Him he did not need to die to self on the cross. Jesus at once recognized this as a message from Satan. Earlier Satan had told Jesus He would not have to die if He would just worship him. If he would, then Satan would give Jesus the world back without Him needing to die. Long before this, Satan spoke through false prophets in the Old Testament, prophesying smooth things that kings longed to hear. The kings would get upset when a real prophet would prophesy about death and destruction, because they did not want to hear it. Peter did not want to hear it either. Peter only wanted smooth things prophesied to him. Jesus, the King of Kings had to overcome where the former kings failed, and be willing to accept a prophecy of death and loss.  Jesus gives Peter a further rebuke, when he tells him that if he is ashamed of these words about the cross, then Jesus would also be ashamed of Him when He comes in glory. Peter, who at the time could only imagine a throne and glory, finally found that glory-in the cross. He who loses his life finds it. Jesus was glorified after he was crucified. Do you want glory and honor and a throne too? Then pick up your cross and follow Jesus in death to self. Find the glory that many Old Testament kings greatly desired, but were never willing to die to self for.