And When He Came to His Senses…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 9-11; Luke 15:11-32

 

17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19  I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:17-24, Common English Bible).

For the first time since starting Journey Through Scripture, today I actually had to make a difficult decision regarding the text on which I would write. Both the Prodigal Son and David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) are great stories. Further complicating things, once I decided which text would be my focus for the day, I had to further cut it down. Which one of the sons do I focus on or do I ignore them both and talk about the father.

Well, by this point it should seem fairly obvious which way I went. We are talking about the Prodigal Son and the first of the two sons, but you can’t talk about either of them without talking about the father.

At the point where I pick up the story, the younger son has taken his share of the inheritance and blown it all in what we will just call “wild living.” Having nothing left and thinking going home was not an option, he hired himself out to a pig farmer. There is little that could be worse for a Jew than being a pig farmer. And, if there was anything worse to eat than pork (I’m not saying I agree, about pork, I still love a good bacon-cheeseburger. I am talking about to a true, faithful Jew) it would be the slop fed to the pigs. And, the Scripture says, he was ready to eat that.

Then one day, he came to his senses. Hopefully when any of us are acting and thinking in a way that, let’s just say, isn’t to smart, we come to our senses as the son did in this lesson. He thought to himself, “Here I am starving to death. My father’s servants eat better and are treated better than this. I know I can’t go back expecting to pick up where I left off. I blew that chance when I left . But, if I go back, perhaps my father will hire me back as a servant. Whatever things may have been before, they were always better than this.” And, he heads for home.

How can you not love the father in this great story. “While he was still a long way off…” His father knew what was going to happen and he allowed his son to make the mistake. Too many parents today, don’t let their children make their own mistakes. The father in the story did. When my boys were still at home I would count myself in that number,

But, while he allowed him to make the mistake, he also knew one day he would come back and he was watching the road for the return of his son. Even when the son was a long way off, the father saw him and new it was his son. He ran to his son. We guys may not have tried this much, but running with a long skirt isn’t so easy. It would require raising the hem above the ankles, something men didn’t do in those days. It violated societal norms and yet, for his son, he did it anyway.

The son had his speech ready. “Dad, I am a sinner. I am unworthy of being your son. But please, let me come back and just work for you.”

For his part, the father would have none of that. In essence, the father said, “You can come back, but it won’t be as a servant! It will be as my son.” And with that, the father threw a barbecue that any Texan would be proud to throw.

Friends, there is a word for that. GRACE. We have talked about it a bit already. Grace – God’s unmerited favor. There is nothing the son did to deserve what his father was doing for him. He couldn’t buy the position, he had no money. He couldn’t expect to borrow from it. He couldn’t take it or otherwise rob his father of it. It could only come as the free gift from his father. It was more than he deserved. It was more than he could pay back. It was more than his fair share. Remember, he had already received his share of the inheritance. There was nothing else he deserved, legally or otherwise, and yet his father gave to him anyway. That is grace.

Just like the son, we too receive grace. It is more than we deserve and it is more than we could take or borrow or anything else. God gives it to us out of God’s love for us, God’s greatest creation. You and I receive the gift of grace, God’s unmerited favor.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness (For that grace),
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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