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Tag Archives: parable of the prodigal son

An Unlikely Comeback

There are certain things that God calls people to do that are awkward, challenging and unappealing,  Unless someone possesses a strong conviction or will to act, most individuals exercise freewill to decline this opportunity to serve God.  In the passage below, an Old Testament prophet receives a clear message from the Lord.  However, human nature compels Jonah to flee, heading in the opposite direction of Nineveh.  This decision sets the stage for an unlikely comeback.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to ]Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

From time to time, I have met people whose lives have taken a similar path to Jonah.  Initial stages play the role of a prodigal, indulging their sinful nature until hitting rock bottom.  For those who come to their senses, confessions, repentance and reconciliation follows.  While in college, I spent a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio with two co-workers.  My friend Harry ran into an old youth pastor.  Eddy and I stared at each other in shock, unaware of Harry’s former life.  Prior to this encounter, Harry was in full blown prodigal mode, cursing like a sailor daily while living with his girlfriend.  This God instance planted the seed for another unlikely comeback.

Then they said to him, “Now tell us!  Who is to blame for this disaster? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country?” So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I [reverently] fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was running from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming more and more violent, Jonah 1:8-11.

Stories like this and the apostle Paul’s radical transformation in Acts 9 communicate a powerful message, anything is possible with God.  The Psalmist uses the imagery of infinity, ” as far as the east is from the west,” to describe God’s endless supply of grace, love and mercy.  To the human mind, this fact is hard to comprehend and grasp.  Nonetheless, whether you are currently running away from God, stuck in a relentless storm or ready to give God another chance, its never too late for a comeback.  May the testimony of Jonah give you hope that you too are a candidate for an unlikely spiritual comeback.

by Jay Mankus

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Stay Close

Watching a rerun of Jaws the week before you go to the beach isn’t the mental image you want racing through your mind as you enter the Atlantic Ocean for the first time this summer.  Nonetheless, I followed two of my children, Daniel and Lydia into the crashing waves.  When the big waves subsided, each of us began wading on our boogies boards, floating peacefully beyond the  break line.  A few minutes later, I felt a leg brush against the bottom of my foot.  As I was about to blame my daughter, I realized she was three yards away, not close enough to reach me.  Seconds later, my son began to freak out as something big swam underneath him.  Turning around in all directions, two dolphins surfaced for air just to our right.  This event served as a simple reminder to stay close when you enter uncharted waters.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, 1 John 2:1.

While on earth, Jesus served as a big brother to little children.  Like a guardian, Jesus realized the need to shield young people from the dangers of this world.  According to Jesus, sin is the greatest threat, corrupting and poisoning the innocence of a child.  To prevent addiction, bad habits or sinful desires from spread, God urged his followers to stay close to God.  The parable of the prodigal son illustrates what happens when individuals rebel or stray away from loving parents.  Sure, there will always be exceptions to this, yet the broad road which leads to destruction is often too enticing for the masses to resist.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Matthew 7:13-14.

My three children have reached a point in life where I don’t have the influence as I once did.  Friends, peers and society are making suggestions daily trying to win them over.  Hal Lindsey’s book Steeling the Mind of America warned about this danger over twenty years ago.  In recent years, instant gratification is blinding minds from doing the right thing.  Fading absolutes and expanding grey areas are fueling young people to make poor choices.  Since free will is offered to adults and children, parents have to let go at some point.  When you do, take time to pray asking the Holy Spirit to remind your children to stay close to God.

by Jay Mankus

When You Begin to Lose God’s Favor

When the outcome to a day, week or year does not end as you expect, hoped for and seek, there are various explanations to consider.  Perhaps, its not your time to receive what you desire.  Maybe others are more qualified or simply worked harder than you.  However, at some point you might have to consider that you are losing God’s favor.

He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything, Luke 15:16.

A first century doctor recounts a parable shared by Jesus.  This story illustrates how its possible to lose God’s favor.  Instead of waiting for his father’s inheritance, the prodigal son forced the issue.  This thirst for earthly riches led to a chain of events resulting in one bad decision after the other.  Before this young man knew it, the prodigal was broke, homeless and longed to eat the sloop fed to unclean pigs.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD‘s purpose that prevails, Proverbs 19:21.

Whenever you hit rock bottom, the first step to recovery is coming to your senses.  Once former thoughts of rationalizing sin disappear, individuals can begin to acknowledge their wayward steps.  Thus, the best way to repair your relationship with God starts with confession, humility and public apologies.  If you’re struggling to grasp why things are going your way in life, may the Holy Spirit enlighten you so that you can regain God’s favor.

by Jay Mankus

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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