The Prodigal Son: Coming Back Home

Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke chapter 15. This parable is filled with many deep and important theological truths. The one I will focus on today is the loving, welcoming father who not only accepts the wayward son back into his home, but ends up throwing a feast in his honor. This is not what we would have expected the father in that time and culture to do, but he does, and his joy overflows because of his son “who was lost and has been found” Luke 15:24.  

To put this parable into context, we must look at the two preceding parables in Luke chapter 15; The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin. In the parable of The Lost Sheep, Jesus tells the “tax collectors” and the “sinners” that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” And in the parable of The Lost Coin, Jesus says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” Luke 15:7, 10.  It is clear from these parables of Jesus, that God always stands ready to welcome home those who have strayed away from Him. And that’s good news for all of us!

In the parable of The Prodigal Son, the son asks his father for his inheritance, before the death of the father, so that he could go out into the world and live the kind of life he wanted. This request in essence meant that the son considered the father dead to him, since he requested this before his father’s death. The father does as the son asks and the son takes off to find himself and to live a life of self-indulgence. After the son squanders his wealth and has nothing left, he hired himself out to a citizen of that country and was given a job feeding the swine. This of course was not a good job fit for a Jewish man, and he became so hungry that he longed for whatever leftovers the swine would not eat, which I can imagine would not be much. So coming to his senses, he decided to go back home and beg his father to allow him to return as a “hired” man.

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” Luke 15:20. 

Now in that culture, the father would have never ran to meet his wayward son. And the father would certainly not have been looking for him after the son had shown a complete lack of respect for the father and the family. But in this parable, Jesus says the father “ran” to meet the lost son and to welcome him back into the family. The father even gives the son his best robe and puts a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And then the father throws a feast to celebrate his son’s return.

If you have strayed away from God, there is great news for you in this parable: God is not only willing and delighted to accept you back; He will never give up on you! He will continue searching for you, and he will meet you as you repent, to leave behind your life of sin and come home to Him. Although we may at times give up on ourselves, the great news from this story is that God never gives up on us! Our heavenly Father is forgiving, loving and always searching for those who have strayed away from Him. And Jesus tells us that the angels in heaven rejoice when that one sinner decides to repent and come home to the Father.

If you have wandered away from God for a while, it’s time to come home running to God. And you won’t have to run far, because God will come running to you, and will meet you, and accept you back into his gracious and loving presence. Leave behind your life of sin, and come home to the Father who loves you, and who at this very moment is watching over you.  

 

 

 

 

 

Does God Still Speak Through Dreams? Part 2

Revelation 4:1-3 (NASB): After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.

Several weeks ago, I wrote the first part about how God can communicate with us through dreams. Here is the link to that first blog in case you want to read it: http://walkwithgodtoday.com/2016/12/30/does-god-still-speak-through-dreams/

“Just as God controls the physical world, so too he controls and influences the spiritual world. One of the most important things we need to learn is to be open to this spiritual world because here we can recognize God’s hand even more clearly than in the physical world that surrounds us.” Morton Kelsey, Dreams: A Way to Listen to God, p. 100.

I have been struggling for over a month now to write this follow up on dreams. Although the Bible speaks often about God communicating with human beings through dreams, we don’t really talk or teach much about dreams in the church. We must be careful when trying to interpret dreams that we believe to actually be from God. As I wrote previously, I have only had two dreams in my 52 years that I believe to be from God. So we must be cautious when we state that God spoke to us in a dream, and we must pray over these dreams in order to allow God to further reveal the dream’s meaning to us. It’s also a good idea to seek out qualified Christian ministers, who can help you unpack the meaning of your dream, and give counsel as to whether or not your dream is from God.

About two months ago, I had what I believe was a second dream from God. It was early in December and I don’t remember there being anything in particular that was weighing on me at that time. God often comes to us unexpectedly, as he did throughout the Bible, to people that he spoke to through dreams. In my dream, I had a compelling sense that I was in heaven, in the presence of God. This is where my dream began; it was not clear to me how I arrived at that place. I remember being surrounded by what appeared to be smoke. After a short time, the smoke began to clear and I was aware of a spiritual being that I can’t describe. What overwhelmed me was the appearance of a powerful emerald color around the spiritual being. It seemed that the emerald color completely surrounded and engulfed me. The emerald color was almost overwhelming, and yet it felt warm and it gave me the feeling of healing and reassurance. I stayed in the presence of this emerald color for several minutes and it gave me the sensation that its power was going through my entire body. And then I woke up feeling at peace but not quite sure of what had just happened.  

So I prayed and contemplated over this dream and its meaning for the next two months. I also prayed for God to give me another dream to help explain this dream but that didn’t happen. As I prayed for God to give me further insight into this dream, God led me to two passages in the Bible that helped me to come to some understanding of this particular dream. And both of these passages spoke of two things in my dream that I couldn’t reconcile: the smoke and the emerald color.  

The prophet Isaiah is given a vision of God in heaven, and in Isaiah 6:4, he gives this description of what he was seeing: “And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” This is reminiscent of the smoke on Mt. Sinai, when God’s presence came down from heaven and covered the mountain with smoke. After two months of praying over this and reading the Bible, I believe the presence of smoke gave me the indication that this dream was from God.

And then in Revelation 4:3: “And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.” The emerald is often used to describe a rebirth or to convey a healing. For me, the emerald light was overwhelming and as the light seemed to go through my body, I felt as if it was healing me and strengthening me. It certainly gave me a feeling of contentment and peace that was undeniably from God.

So what was God trying to communicate to me through this dream? For me, this dream served to give me encouragement and to strengthen me for what was ahead. Over the last two months I have had to deal with both personal and work related issues that were very difficult and burdening. With each day that I faced these struggles, my dream served to remind me that God was in control and I didn’t need to worry or fear any of these temporary struggles in my life. God had promised to go ahead of me and prepare the way, and he also gave me the assurance that everything was going to work out, according to God’s perfect plan for my life. 

Has life been easy and my struggles few for the last two months? No! However, in each struggle and through every challenging moment in life, God has given me the reassurance that if I will only trust him and obey him, everything will eventually work out according to God’s plan. Because of my faith and trust in God, my dream served to remind me on a daily basis that God is actively at work in my life, carrying my burdens and bringing healing each and every day.  

This brings me back to one of my favorite verses of scripture that I recite to myself almost every day: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those who hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)

“God has created the physical world and the spiritual one. God gives us the dream as one way of discovering the nature of that world and our kinship with it.” Morton Kelsey, Dreams: A Way to Listen to God, p. 101.