Through the miracle of redemption, Saul of Tarsus was instantly changed from a strong-willed and forceful Pharisee into a humble and devoted bondservant of the Lord Jesus. There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God. Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 (9:53 am)
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Luke 15:20-24 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 worthy 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.
I’m sure we all have heard the parable of the Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32], but I want to spend some time this week really dissecting this particular parable so we can gain deeper insight into this message of Jesus (Yeshua). This is a story of a somewhat dysfunctional family ? something most of us can relate to. So first, let’s look at the Prodigal son. He asks his father for his inheritance, immediately, before the normal time for receiving it — essentially implying that he would prefer that his father were dead, rather than remaining with him and his older brother. The father would have been quietly devastated. Think about it ?- if your son approached you with a request which was normally fulfilled by your passing away — how would you feel? Yet in spite of the pain caused by his callous son — the Father truly loves him. Upon his return, the Father embraces him once again and even treats him like a King! So it is for much of the unbelieving world with no acknowledgment of or gratitude for their Creator — they’re happy to enjoy the abundance of God and His creation, while completely ignoring His existence and counting Him as dead. Yet God so loves his prodigals — and desires every one to return Him! We are all called to reach this world for the Lord. And prodigals are everywhere (including many of us)…Let’s give them a taste of their Father’s love — so that when they begin to come to their senses, they will know and feel that they can safely return to His house and be received with open arms!
Friday, January 11, 2013 (10:28 am)
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions Romans 11:12 Now if the fall of them [Jews] be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? The parable of the Prodigal son might also serve as an illustration of the relationship between Israel and the Church. In this perspective, both Israel and the Church have been in the position of each of the brothers, but for the purpose of this message we will look at the Church as the older brother. Since the Jewish leadership rejected the Messiah at his first coming, the Jewish people have been dispersed across the globe for nearly 2000 years, as it were, fatherless, and without a homeland. The result of this rejection has been grace to the Gentile nations as the gospel has gone out over the world, while the Jews have been persecuted, often in the name of their own Messiah, Yeshua, (Jesus). Although the Gentile church was warned by Paul in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 11), not to become proud in their knowledge of the Messiah, but to remain humble and loving toward Israel, to make her jealous, the church has largely failed (until recently) and has, instead, adopted an attitude toward Israel almost identical to the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Those who believed that God had forsaken the Jewish people because of their disobedience, remained silent or even participated in the persecution of Jews. Now, to the amazement of many Gentile believers, Israel’s restoration has begun, the “Prodigal” son is returning, just as the prophets foretold. And just like the older brother, much of the Gentile church has failed to comprehend the unconditional love of God and His faithfulness to Israel, and is complaining about or even opposing this restoration, which is beginning as a physical return to the ancient homeland, and will continue as a complete national spiritual rebirth. The Lord will adorn them with a robe, prepare a kingly feast and restore Israel’s position in the Millenial Kingdom. So, now…how will we, as the “elder brother” church respond to this restoration of our “younger” brother? Will we, in self-righteous contentment and jealousy despise and oppose this grace toward Israel? Will we become angry and bitter that, after 2000 years of labor in the father’s vineyard, he hasn’t thrown a party for us, but ecstatically welcomed our undeserving “brother”? If we do, I believe we will miss our blessing. Charles Spurgeon stated, “I think we do not attach enough importance to the restoration of the Jews. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. The day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us who were afar off, shall be gathered in again. Until that shall be, the fullness of the church’s glory can never come. Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel, their gathering shall be as life from the dead.” A great blessing of God is bound up with His love and faithfulness to the Jewish people – a blessing for us which is closely related to our response to this returning “Prodigal Son”. Will we embrace him, join and participate in his joyful return? Will we be a responsible older brother and seek to mend and heal the wounded relationship with the Father? Or will we remain silent as Israel is confronted by all manner of opposition, including those who are calling for their annihilation? My friend – if there was ever a day when we need to be the elder son that should have been – it’s today! With so much work to be done, please remember us in your prayers, as we labor in the midst of this amazing prophetic restoration of the Lord’s beloved (for the sake of the fathers), Israel.
Monday, July 29, 2013 (6:02 am)
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. There is a fascinating true story about the Apostle John narrated by the early church “Father”, Eusebius, well worth reading. The account goes that the elderly John took an affection and interest in a young man from Ephesus and subsequently entrusted him to the care of a bishop in the vicinity, and that, after a season, this young man became entangled with a band of criminals, and was corrupted by them, finally becoming their leader. When John returned after some time to search for the young man, expecting to find him spiritually well and maturing, the bishop despondently informed John of his fate. Eusebius wrote, “The apostle tore his clothing, beat his head, and groaned, ‘A fine guardian I left for our brother’s soul! But get me a horse and someone show me the way.’ He rode off from the church, just as he was. When he arrived at the hideout and was seized by the outlaws’ sentries, he shouted, ‘This is what I have come for, take me to your leader!'” “When John approached and the young leader recognized him, he turned and fled in shame. But John ran after him as hard as he could, forgetting his age, and calling out, ‘Why are you running away from me, child – from your own father, unarmed and old? Pity me, child, don’t fear me! I will give account to Christ for you, and if necessary, gladly suffer death and give my life for yours as the Lord suffered death for us. Stop! Believe! Christ sent me.'” “The young man stopped, stared at the ground, threw down his weapons and wept bitterly. Flinging his arms around the old man, he begged forgiveness, baptized a second time with his own tears…[John] led him back and did not leave him until – through prayer, fasting, and instruction – he restored him to the church.” What an awesome story! I’ve used this story many times when talking to the despondent backslider who believes he can no longer be forgiven. Be an example of His love! No matter how far someone believes he has strayed from, or even deserted the Lord – he can always be restored! Perhaps, while reading this message, the Lord is reminding you of a person with whom you can share this story. Just possibly, you are the one that God wants to use to bring about his/her restoration. If so, I trust that, reading of the Apostle John’s loving example, you’ve been inspired by the compassion and grace the Lord Himself feels toward His “prodigals”, and moved by His Spirit to go out in faith…and rescue the lost sheep!