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A Father Who Makes You Want To Come Home

Saturday, June 15, 2024

A Father Who Makes You Want To Come Home

Wade Webster

Some suggest that the Parable of the Prodigal Son should be called the Parable of the Loving Father.  Often, in studying the parable, we spend our time talking about the son going away.  However, the parable is really about the son coming home.  The chapter is not about getting lost, but about being found.  The coin, the sheep, and the son were all found. There is a key difference between the first two parables (coin, sheep) and the final parable (son).  In the first two parables, that which was lost was sought and brought home.  Coins and sheep don’t come home on their own.  However, prodigal sons sometimes do. What was it about the prodigal son’s home that drew him back?  What were the recollections of the father that paved the way for him to return? The text makes clear that the attitude of the son changed.  Luke records, “And when he came to himself…” (Lk. 15:17).  He left saying, “Give me…” and he returned saying, “Make me…” He left feeling entitled, and returned, feeling indebted.  “I am no more worthy…” (Lk. 15:21).  This was the turning point of this young man’s life. The prodigal son remembered that even the servants in his father’s house had bread and to spare (Lk. 15:17).  It was the remembrance of the father’s goodness that brought him to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Hopefully, our children will never go astray.  However, if they do, and they certainly can (1 Cor. 10:12; Gal. 5:4), we want their recollections of home to be such that they will want to come home.  As fathers, we want them to remember us in a positive way.

A Father Who Will Give You A Warm Embrace Rather Than A Cold Shoulder - The prodigal son requested his inheritance. Distribution of the inheritance was usually made at the death of the father.  If made earlier, it should have been at the father’s suggestion and not at the son’s request. The prodigal son’s request shows ingratitude and disrespect.  It was as if he couldn’t wait for his father to die. Although the prodigal son showed ingratitude and disrespect for the father, the father showed great love for the son.  Rather than a cold shoulder, the son received a warm embrace.  Luke records, “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” (Lk. 15:20). The father was watching for his son to come home.  He had not given up on him. The father had compassion, and not contempt, in his heart for his son. The father ran to meet his son.  He was ready to forgive (Isa. 65:24).  The father fell on his neck or embraced his son.  He didn’t keep his son at arm’s length.   The father kissed his son.  The tense of the verb suggests that he kissed him again and again.  Some have pictured the prodigal son as knocking on the pig farmer’s door in the far country and handing him back the slop bucket.  As the son handed the bucket back, he declared, “I’m going home.” The farmer answered, “When your father sees and smells you, he’ll send you back.”  “Mister,” the prodigal said, “You don’t know my father.”  

A Father Who Will Give You A Son’s Robe When You Ask For A Servant’s Towel - The prodigal son headed home with the intention of declaring that he was no longer worthy of being called the father’s son.  He was asking merely to be treated as one of his hired servants (Lk. 15:18-19).  After the son confessed his sin, and before he could request to be a servant, the father called for the best robe, a ring, and shoes (Lk. 15:22).  The returning son was received not as a servant. The robe was the kind worn by kings.  The far country clothed him in rags, the father in the best robe (cf. Isa. 61:10; Zech. 3:3-5). The ring was a symbol of authority.  The ring revealed that the son was not going to serve as a slave. The shoes or sandals were also significant.  Slaves did not wear shoes.

A Father Who Will Give You A Place At The Table Instead Of A Seat In The Corner - The elder brother thought that his brother should be punished, not pitied.  He thought that he should be rejected, not received.  He thought that he should be flogged, not fed.  The elder brother was angry and wouldn’t go into the feast (Lk. 15:25-28).  The elder brother wouldn’t even speak of the prodigal as his brother.  He said to his father, “Thy son” (Lk. 15:30). The father corrected him (Lk. 15:32). The elder brother rejected the reasoning of his father (Lk. 15:28; Isa. 1:18; Hag. 1:5, 7) and charged his father with favoritism (Lk. 15:29-30).  His attitude must have dampened the father’s joy.  The father had to leave the celebration to deal with his eldest son.  The elder brother’s reaction dampens the parable.  The same father that ran to meet the prodigal son left the party to meet him.  It reminds the Bible student of Jonah (Jonah 4). The elder brother seems not to care that his brother has repented and that the father has forgiven him.  He brings up his brother’s past as if it were still his present condition.  His brother has been forgiven, but he would not be because of his attitude (Mt. 6:14-15).  He declared his brother’s sins, but missed his own (Mt. 7:1-5; Lk. 18:9-14).  He said he had done nothing wrong, but at that moment he was not obeying his father’s pleading for him to go into the party and rejoice.  Furthermore, he charged the father with not giving him a fatted calf when the father had already given him a double portion as the firstborn.  It all belonged to him (Lk. 15:31).  He could have had a party with his friends anytime he chose.  Imagine what would have happened if the elder brother had met his returning brother before the father.  Likely, he would have sent him away. Unlike the elder brother, the loving father would in no wise cast his penitent child out (John 6:37).  The father would show his son mercy (Psa. 103:10-14).  The father commanded the fatted calf to be killed and for there to be a celebration at his son’s return (Lk. 15:23).  The father understood the significance of the occasion.  His son, who was dead, was now alive.  His son, who was lost, was now found (Lk. 15:24).  He told his eldest son that it was “meet” or “right” for them to celebrate (Lk. 15:32).  Everyone in the chapter finds joy except for the elder brother.  Everything the prodigal son hoped to find in the far country, he found at home – fine clothes, jewelry, friends, feasting, love, security, etc.

Let’s all try to be fathers that make our children want to come home.  Our heavenly Father is certainly that kind of Father.

Lessons from a Lawnmower

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Lessons from a Lawnmower

Wade Webster

Likely, with all the recent rain, we are having to cut our grass every week. Have you ever thought of some lessons that your lawnmower can teach you?

First, tall grass is harder to cut.  Perhaps, you have had to take a step and stop when cutting grass to keep the lawnmower from going dead.  Maybe, you have had to raise the mowing deck or to cut much narrower rows to get your grass cut.  I have had to pushed down on the handle on the push mower so that I could push it forward and slowly lower it on to the grass. I have had to go over the same areas more than once to gradually get  my yard back into shape.  Take my word for it, tall grass is harder to cut. The same holds true for things that we let go in our lives.  For example, if we put off dealing with problems with our spouse,  bitterness develop (Col. 3:19).  If we put off disciplining our children, bad things may put down deep roots into their hearts (Prov. 19:18; cf. 5:22; Rom. 6:17-18). If we put off dealing with problems with our brother or sister it may hinder our worship (Mat. 5:23-24).  The Bible warns us not to let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26) or to wait for a convenient season (Acts 24:25).

Second, a dull blade won’t cut very well.  Some folks use a lawnmower year without sharpening the blade.  Over time normal use takes the edge off the blade.  Gravels, sticks, stumps and other objects left in the yard hasten the process.  Dull blades don’t cut very well.  The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives.  Living in the world can dull our edge.  Temptations and trails can and do hasten the process.  We must sharpen our spiritual lives by spending time in God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11).  Spending time with good friends and brethren can also help us to stay sharp.  Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17; cf. Heb.10:24-25; 1  Cor. 16:18).

Third, a flooded lawnmower is impossible to crank.  Have you ever flooded a lawnmower?  If you have, then you know how frustrating it is.  You pull and pull on the cord , but nothing happens.  A flooded lawnmower is impossible to crank. The same is true in our spiritual lives.  The cares of life and the things of the world can choke us out or drown us (Mat. 13:22; 1 Tim. 6:9). We must cast our cares on Christ (1 Pet. 5:7). We need to lay aside that which is weighing us down (Heb. 12:1).  We must redeem or buy back as much time as we can (Eph. 5:16).

Fourth, trash is easier to pick up before you run over it.  Pieces of paper and other trash sometimes blows into our yards.  If you have ever run over it, then you know what a mess it can make.  It is much easier to pick up before it is cut into a thousand pieces and spread all around.  The same is true in our spiritual lives.  How we handle things matters.  For example, the idle talk that we hear about others needs to be handled properly and not spread around (Lev. 19:16; Mat. 12:36). The tongue can kindle a great fire and cause a lot of destruction if it isn’t handled properly (Jam. 3:5).

No doubt, there are many more lessons that our lawnmowers can teach us, but if we will learn these four things, we will be off to a great start.  Who knew that our lawnmowers had so much to teach us?

Have You Made A Deal With God?

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Have You Made A Deal With God?

David Sproule

You’ve heard of people trying to “make a deal” with God, haven’t you?  Maybe you have been one of those people.  “Lord, if you will ______, then I will _____.”  Those “deals” are usually designed for the good of the recipient, aren’t they?

Would you ever try to “make a deal” with God for the good of someone else?  In Psalm 71, the psalmist does exactly that.  We will look specifically at verse 18, but get the feel for the entire psalm first.  “In you, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame.  Deliver me…cause me to escape…incline Your ear to me…save me…Be my strong refuge…save me…Deliver me…Do not cast me off…Do not forsake me…do not be far from me…make haste to help me…do not forsake me…revive me again…bring me up again…increase my greatness…comfort me on every side.”

If you only read those expressions in the psalm, you could easily walk away thinking the psalmist was being very demanding, rather selfish and not very God-centered.  But such a conclusion would miss the mark.  The question to consider is, “Why?  Why was the psalmist making these pleas to his God”?  Let’s consider the focus in verse 18, and then expand that to the rest of the psalm.

“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (71:18).  The psalmist had a goal.  He had a purpose.  He had a strong desire to “declare” the strength and power of God to his present generation and to successive generations.  He was striving to make a deal with God to “deliver” him, “save him” and “not forsake” him, so that he could fulfill his goal of telling others of God!

Look at the rest of the psalm in that light.  “My praise shall be continually on You…Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day…I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more…My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits…I will make mention of Your righteousness, and of Yours only…I declare Your wondrous works…I will praise You and Your faithfulness…My lips shall greatly rejoice…and my soul which You have redeemed…My tongue also shall talk of Your righteousness all the day long.”

Have you tried to “make a deal” with God lately?  So often those deals are focused on the good of the recipient, but the “deal” that the psalmist was seeking to strike with God was not for his own good but the good of others and of the glory of God.

Could you say (or Would you say) to God, “Spare my life until I declare Your greatness to this generation and to the generation to come”?  That…and that alone…is our purpose!

The Mission Field Just Outside Your Front Door

Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Mission Field Just Outside Your Front Door

Wade Webster

In the last installment of this study, we noticed the mission field that is just inside our front door. In this installment, just outside our front door. Likely, this mission field is more familiar to us. However, we may still miss some great evangelistic opportunities if we are not careful.

Neighbors

Obviously, the Parable of the Good Samaritan expands our thinking when it comes to our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37). Everyone we are going to discuss in this article is our neighbor. Of course, the same would ultimately be true of those who live in the most distant and the remote places on earth. Every man is our neighbor, and we are to strive to love him as we love ourselves (Mat. 22:39). Having said that, I want to narrow our focus for the sake of this study. For the sake of this study, we are going to focus on those in our neighborhood or on our street. These are likely individuals we see from time to time as we mow our yards, take walks, check our mail, etc. We wave when we see each other. We know their names and they know ours. Surely, we can and should invite them to services or try to get a Bible study with them (Isa. 2:3).

The Mailman and Deliverymen

A mailman stops at our house almost every day. It is very easy to build a relationship with him. He comes at virtually the same time every day, so it is not very difficult to catch him and to have a brief conversation with him. Deliverymen also come to our houses on a regular basis. Although we may have a wider array of deliverymen than postmen, we likely have the same deliverymen from time to time. Times of delivery vary a little more with other companies than with the post office. Still, there are opportunities to build relationships and to evangelize. These know our name from the package they are delivering and it is pretty easy for us to learn theirs.

Coworkers

Many members work jobs where they spend long hours each week with the same people. In fact, they may spend years working side by side. Although the workplace may be a tricky place for evangelism, it does afford us opportunities to build close relationships that are the best soil for evangelism anyway. Opportunities away from work will likely appear from time to time and give us opportunities away from work for evangelism. We can visit them or fix a meal for them during times of sickness and loss. You remember that Aquila, Priscilla, and Paul shared the same trade or craft (Acts 18:1-3).

Store Owners, Clerks, and Cashiers

Likely, we frequent the same stores, restaurants, and businesses on a frequent basis. As we shop and dine, we will get to know each other through these interactions and have good evangelistic opportunities. No doubt, you recall that Paul found some evangelistic opportunities in the market (Acts 17:17).

Community Ball Teams

Some adults play community sports which gives them opportunities to meet other adults who share a common interest in some of the same things. In addition to parents who play community, many children do. As parents come to watch their children play, they meet other parents who have children of similar ages and interests. This gives Christian parents excellent evangelistic opportunities (1 Pet. 3:15).

Hairdressers and Barbers

Likely, when we find someone who is good at cutting our hair, we schedule regular appointments with the. These appointments give us opportunities to build a relationship with them and to win them for Christ (Prov. 11:30).

No doubt, there are many more evangelistic opportunities just outside our front door, but these examples may help us to see opportunities that we may have overlooked. The fields are likely closer to harvest than we have ever considered.

The Mission Field Just Inside Your Front Door

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Mission Field Just Inside Your Front Door

Wade Webster

The We often talk about the mission field just outside our front door.  While this is certainly true, we might miss an even closer mission field - the mission field just inside our front door.  It is this mission field that I want us to consider in this article.

Our Mates

Some are married to non-Christians.  It should be your goal to win them to Christ. Peter wrote, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Husbands and wives have the opportunity and the responsibility to try to save each other.  Paul wrote, “For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16).

Our Children

Some homes have children who have reached the age of accountability but have not obeyed the gospel yet.  Parents have both an opportunity and a responsibility to talk to them about putting on Christ in baptism.  Other homes have children who are rapidly growing to the age of accountability.  It is not too early to start planting and watering these seeds.  Like Noah, we want to save our houses or families.  We read, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Nephews, Nieces, Etc.

In addition to the family members who regularly live inside the home, there are other family members who visit from time to time.  Some of these family members may not be Christians.  Their visits present excellent opportunities to win them for Christ.  For example, grandchildren can invite grandparents to come with them to worship.  It is hard for a grandparent to say no to that. Young people can be a powerful example.  Paul wrote, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (“1 Timothy 4:12).

Handymen, Appliance-repairmen, Maids, and Babysitters

From time to time, we have handymen and appliance-repairmen come into our homes. This presents us with an excellent opportunity to help them to fix what is broken in their lives.  Other homes have maids and babysitters that come in on a regular basis.  Over time, a very close relationship can be formed with these workers.  What a shame it would be for these individuals to help us with earthly concerns, and for us to help them with eternal concerns. As you know, many servants became saints in the New Testament.  In fact, Paul wrote an entire book about one of these servants.  We read, “For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever” (Philemon 1:15). 

Friends

Often, friends come into our homes.  These friends are some of the closest relationships that we have on earth.  Solomon wrote, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).  No doubt, you remember that Philip found his friend after he found Jesus.  We read, “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:43-45). Surely, like Philip, we want to introduce our friends to the greatest friend that any man can have - Jesus Christ.  Jesus declared, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). 

When you are thinking about mission fields, don’t forget the one just inside your front door.  There are likely some in this field who also need the gospel.

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