Mundane Monday: Prodigal Revisited

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Psalm 107:1, 8, 17, 28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures.  8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for His people.  17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins.  28  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.”

In light of a fantastic sermon on the prodigal son at our church yesterday, called, “God is Not Co-Dependent”, I wanted to reblog a post I wrote on October 8, 2014, called, “The Prodigal’s Father”.  May God turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. (Malachi 4:6).


The image of the prodigal son’s father anticipating his son’s return with open arms is such a picture of God’s heart toward His children. But what is often missed is that the rebellious child must return.  Parents can long for their children to return, but if the child is still rebellious, then it would not be a complete picture of sweet repentance and restoration.  Instead, it would become a dysfunctional relationship of enablement and abuse.

God is loyally loving His children when he permits consequences for their rebellious actions, but the child does not often recognize such love.  Discipline is viewed as unloving, when it is actually a kindness to not allow sin to go unchecked. Blame is cast on the parent who was unreasonable to expect basic obedience, whether doing chores, the expectation of telling the truth or not permitting the child to stay out all night.  But when the child comes to his senses, as in the case of the prodigal son, it is a wonderful picture of repentance and the story of the Gospel – how God is willing to forgive all wayward children.  Forgiveness hinges on that moment of confessing sins, though, and cannot be dished out just because the prodigal believes he or she deserves it.

Many in the next generation have revolted against authority and are embittered at the suggestion that they should be accountable to anyone.  It is not just this generation that has bred prodigals, though – we are all prodigals in our own right.  Forgiveness and acceptance are much more pleasurable than living in sin, so what hinders the prodigal from returning? Deception, pride and loving our victim status.  Bearing the outward attitude of rejection, despite leaving being our choice, we receive attention and pity.  The original deception becomes truth if we feed on the praises of the enablers surrounding and flattering us.  The only way out?  Cry out to God for understanding and admit our wrongdoings.  Don’t seek sympathy for something we deserve. Take responsibility for our actions – only then can the mind of Christ illuminate and reveal our true condition. Lastly, if we could for a moment contemplate how our actions have hurt our loving father, instead of how our actions have hurt ourselves, we would begin to walk in freedom.

Let us give thanks that God shows us our rebellious ways and punishes us – though He does not give us what our sins deserve.  Loyal love is a love that keeps the unconditional love “on”, but does not permit an abuse of that love.  For a child to accuse a parent because of consequences they must bear due to their own behavior is folly.  God does not fall for it, either – but He does offer the sweetest peace, joy and love for those who have truly repented and not made excuses for their sin.

Lord, thank you for Your loyal love, which endures forever!  You did not leave us in our sins, but made a way out, praise Your Name!  Help all of us prodigals to wake up and see we are blessed beyond measure because of Your faithful love!

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Singer | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Thoughtful Thursday: Loving Discipline

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Job 5:17-27

17 “Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandages; he strikes, but his hands also heal. 19 He will deliver you from six calamities; yes, in seven no evil will touch you. 20 In time of famine he will redeem you from death, and in time of war from the power of the sword. 21 You will be protected from malicious gossip, and will not be afraid of the destruction when it comes. 22 You will laugh at destruction and famine and need not be afraid of the beasts of the earth. 23 For you will have a pact with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. 24 And you will know that your home will be secure, and when you inspect your domains, you will not be missing anything. 25 You will also know that your children will be numerous, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. 26 You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. 27 Look, we have investigated this, so it is true. Hear it, and apply it for your own good.”

Healing.  Deliverance.  Safety.  Provision.  Protection.  Confidence.  Peace.  Fruitful.  Long life.  What an amazing list of promises God has for those who would welcome His correction in their life.  We see this message also in Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12, the living word crying out to us that discipline, while not pleasant to receive, is actually a blessing for those who accept it and yield to the LORD in discipline.

The Word of God is pretty blunt; labeling as stupid those who don’t love discipline.  But when we consider the kindness of someone showing us when we are errant, it would be a fool who would prefer flattery which brings ultimate ruin.

We often think someone going through a hard time is disobedient and being punished, but the opposite is true.  Scripture tells us that we are to accept all hardship as discipline by a Father Who loves us.  Perhaps our view of discipline is wrong.  Instead of seeing troubles as burdens, seeing them as sculpting the inner man while the outer man or the flesh is capitulating to the will of God.

This does not mean we are filled with delight when we suffer, but it means we see that God uses it all for good and that a little sobriety in this life can cause us to live a life that pleases God instead of wasting our lives on futile matters.

When it seems like others are receiving blessings and we reap only trouble, it is in those times that we should not be offended by God, but rejoice that He lovingly has a unique plan for each one of us filled with blessings coming in one form or another; blessing or burden, all of it is useful in the hand of God in the lives of His children.

Lord, thank You for showing us our need of You and where we fall short.  When life seems challenging and we wonder if you see, help us to know that You are a loving Father carefully weaving it all for our good and Your glory.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One: Life

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Job 33:4

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Psalm 139:14

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. At first blush, this song seems rather carnal and materialistic, but the original intention was a vivid example of our lives hidden in Christ.

Although we can complain that Christmas items are out at stores right after Thanksgiving, the early church began the Christmas celebration a  month out and then the timing for the commemoration of the Twelve days of Christmas was celebrated from December 25th through January 6th, leading up to the Epiphany.

These Twelve Days of Christmas are purported by some to be an esoteric code for Christians to remember their beliefs, to others a traditional song reminding us of the Wise men who came and brought gifts all those years ago, and to still others, a secular song with no inherent meaning at all.

But for the early church to set aside a month to celebrate the birth of God is a reminder to us that we can also benefit from this tradition.  Not a month just to be busy, but time to reflect on the significance of what Christ did for us.

Arriving at a perfectly historically accurate understanding of the purpose of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” might be impossible, but perhaps a new tradition is in order.  As a catalyst for sincere praise in this season of giving, over the next twelve days this blog will reflect on twelve amazing gifts that God has given us as we lead up to Christmas.  Day one . . .

On the 1st day of Christmas, our Creator gave to us “Life“.  The complexity of the creation of mankind blows my mind.  From the tiniest cell packed with DNA, to the hairs on our head, eye color, stature, personality – to every detail God lovingly placed in each of His children – our God is awesome, a genius; thoughtful and loving.

This gift of life is often painful, challenging, joyful; a wild mix of emotions.  But to feel is to live.  Each day a gift, whether it was a day filled with trouble that sent us running to our Father, or a day filled with bliss that caused us to be filled with gratitude, every day has a purpose in the scope of eternity.  The “good”, the “bad”, however each moment is assessed by man – ALL of it is used by God miraculously woven into our lives for His glory and our good.

As we come to kneel before our King this Christmas and consider afresh this gift of life, what is the greatest gift we bring now to our Creator, but to offer our lives back to Him in worship?

Lord, thank You for life.  Sometimes it hurts so terribly bad and we wonder how You could ever take such a mess and make it beautiful, but somehow You do.  Lord, thank You for every day of this life and help us to offer each day back to You in sincere gratitude and worship.

Worshipful Wednesday: Determined Praise

Proverbs 16:28

“A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip separates the closest friends.”

Psalm 108:1-3

1 “A song, a psalm of David. I am determined, O God! I will sing and praise you with my whole heart. 2 Awake, O stringed instrument and harp! I will wake up at dawn! 3 I will give you thanks before the nations, O LORD! I will sing praises to you before foreigners!”

Psalm 109:1-4, 21, 26-30

1 For the music director, a psalm of David. O God whom I praise, do not ignore me! 2 For they say cruel and deceptive things to me; they lie to me. 3 They surround me and say hateful things; they attack me for no reason. 4 They repay my love with accusations, but I continue to pray. 21 O sovereign LORD, intervene on my behalf for the sake of your reputation! Because your loyal love is good, deliver me! 26 Help me, O LORD my God! Because you are faithful to me, deliver me! 27 Then they will realize this is your work, and that you, LORD, have accomplished it. 28 They curse, but you will bless. When they attack, they will be humiliated, but your servant will rejoice. 29 My accusers will be covered with shame, and draped in humiliation as if it were a robe. 30 I will thank the LORD profusely, in the middle of a crowd I will praise him…”

If you have ever been talked about, it is not much fun.  Inner turmoil is a possibility, but it does not have to be our reality. David was bugged by people spreading false rumors about him.  He told God about it, but what is so beautiful is how He rested in God as His Defender.  He did not need to refute the lies.  He just trusted that His Daddy would take care of it for him.  Even more amazing was that He knew that falsehood spread about him hurt God’s reputation because His child was being spoken about in a hateful way.  David was jealous for God’s glory and wanted His reputation cleared.  People were jealous of David and wanted his reputation marred.  David just cried out and rested in His loving Father’s acceptance and love.

We do not know fully what the attacks were on David, but He defeated it with prayer, faith and worship.  In His prayer, He uses the future tense – He had already decided and determined that He was going to praise God and He was confident that God would move on His behalf.  That is the place of peace and sincere worship.  When people attack, whether it is due to jealousy or presumptions, we are not accountable to people’s perceptions, but we are accountable to God.  In that place of suffering, a catalyst for drawing nearer to God is formed.

Our response at such times can bring Him glory, or can drag us down into the mud with the mudslingers.  Not much decision there.  I confess that when I have been in similar situations, I am hurt but I do not wish for people’s demise as strongly as David did.  I just wish people could believe the best and be all about God’s glory instead of finding things to be bugged about. The time is short and we need to be upset about things that really matter … like Christians persecuted and murdered for their faith, or a nation that is falling from within.

If we are honest, we have all spoken about others at one time or another.  We have also probably been the recipient of such treatment.  This ugly behavior even enters the church.  Although it can be painful to endure when people attack us for no reason, it is a beautiful tool in the Master’s hands, freeing us from the fear of man and stirring up fervent praise.  He is worthy at all times!

Lord, thank You for helping us to have Your perspective and for bearing all of our burdens.  I worship You, Lord, and thank You that You are our Defender.  May You be glorified in our moments of blessing and in challenging times, as well.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way. 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Blessing of Rebuke

Job 5:8, 17-19

5:8But as for me, I would seek Godand to God I would set forth my case. 17Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandageshe strikes, but his hands also heal19 He will deliver you from six calamitiesyes, in seven no evil will touch you.”

Proverbs 15:32

“The one who refuses correction despises himself, but whoever hears reproof acquires understanding.”

Psalms 94:12

“How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O Lordthe one whom you teach from your law.”

Psalm 145:1

“May the godly strike me in love and correct me! May my head not refuse choice oil! Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.”

This morning I am praising and thanking God that He loves us enough to rebuke us.  That’s right.  Where would we be, if we were just left in our sin?  Some of you might be tempted to say – “free” – but enslavement to sin or poor character is not free at all.  I love how the Holy Spirit can speak to us right in the middle of a thought we are having.  At the doorway to our mind and heart are multiple thoughts, seemingly at the speed of light.  I daresay we allow some in without realizing the poison they are injecting.  It is in those moments that I am so grateful for God opening our eyes to recognize thoughts of pride, jealousy, anger, hatred that are astir in our minds.  We might not call our thoughts those names, but if we look at the root and give our sins the worst name, we are not deceived.

We all know that feeling you get when you’ve been caught – either by another person or the Holy Spirit within you.  Sort of like the child with their hand immersed into the proverbial cookie jar, there is no denying the rebuke you feel in your spirit. As much as that conviction might not be pleasant, what a gift it is!  Our response in the moments following being confronted with our shortcomings can produce beautiful fruit if we let it. Do we attempt to deny the allegations, become offended at someone else judging us, or do we consider the rebuke as an opportunity for reflection and ultimate blessing?

Perhaps a rebuke is errant – maybe it is not applicable at all.  Praise God!  But more times than not, if we are honest, we are culpable on some level to the charge being asserted.  The messenger might not have been godly in their correction – even more of an opportunity to glorify God by not taking it personally.  A poor messenger does not always mean the message is not valid.

Maybe there is truth in the rebuke, confirmed by the familiar conviction felt in our soul.  What then?  No despair or discouragement is necessary.  Isn’t that awesome?  Just recognition and surrender to God, then replacing those thoughts with His.  Feeling mistreated by someone?  Pray for them (not judgmentally, lol), sincerely and do not allow your thoughts to become presumptive.  Let it go.  Accept the rebuke and realize that it is not an end, but a beginning.

David was shocked to hear of the behavior that the prophet Nathan detailed about a wicked man who would take from someone less fortunate.  When he realized it was him being spoken about, that he was the adulterer and the murderer, he was undone.  He repented and acknowledged his guilt before God.  He had become deceived and yielded to the flesh, despite knowing God to be the one true God.  We in the New Testament can do the same thing, yet the standard is higher. Our thoughts condemn us as just as guilty as if we had committed the actions those thoughts represent.

So where is the blessing in rebuke?  The book of Job, chapter 5 lists numerous ways we are blessed by accepting God’s rebuke.  We are redeemed from death, famine, the power of the sword, protected from malicious gossip, no fear of destruction, unafraid, our home will be secure.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the good news today – God never gives up on us.  He is a loving Father Who corrects His children, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.  Accepting His rebuke is accepting life.  Refusing rebuke or making excuses for it is death. Some may rebuke with the purpose of tearing down, but God is able to take even that and turn it around for our good. Amazing, awesome God.

Lord, thank you for teaching us through Your Holy Spirit and revealing sin, that we might gain forgiveness and fellowship with You.