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Are You Refusing to Enter the Celebration?

I say this often, but I will repeat it here: God knows what He’s doing. This morning, as I was particularly feeling sorry for myself, my personal study through the Bible led me to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I love that Story, as it has a very personal meaning to me: I WAS the prodigal Son. I squandered my inheritance on wild living. I threw my life away, and came home broken and repentant and was lavished with love by the Father. Yet, today, my attention was on the other son. What a sad person he is! Never leaving the Father’s side, he had all the benefits of being a son in the Father’s house. He had access to the Father, his goods, his riches (the Father even said “And all I have is yours”), and yet, it was not enough for him. He could only look on, with envy at the Brother’s celebration (and possibly his rebellion), refusing to come in, and complaining how it didn’t fit in with what he thought the Father should be doing.

How often are our hearts like that? How often am I, also, the older brother, looking only at my situation, and refusing to enter in to God’s celebration? Think about it: we want to be the younger son, but often identify more with the Elder son; we’re in the presence of the Father, but it’s not enough for us! How often are we looking with envy upon the grace repentant sinners have received, and wondering why we’re not being lavished and celebrated? That’s what, I believe, many are going through in the Church today. We, like the elder son, want life to be about us. We want the parties, and the recognition, but we forget that the mission of the church is to seek and save the lost. We miss out on the celebration because our wants, wishes, and desires are not being met. We miss out on Grace, and Peace, and Joy because we are focused on our own misery and unmet expectations.

So ask yourself: are you refusing to enter in to God’s celebration when the sinners are coming home? Are you so wrapped up in your situation, that you can’t see the Father’s wealth and blessings all around you? If so, then it’s time to renew your heart, listen to the Father’s pleading and come in to the Celebration, where Peace and Joy and Rest are.

Luke 15:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

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