A Father Who Runs

walk in fog
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. —Luke 19:10

Every day a father craned his neck to look toward the distant road, waiting for his son’s return. And every night he went to bed disappointed. But one day, a speck appeared. A lonesome silhouette stood against the crimson sky. Could that be my son? the father wondered. Then he caught sight of the familiar saunter. Yes, that has to be my son!

And so while the son was “still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). It is remarkable that the family patriarch did something that was considered undignified in Middle Eastern culture—he ran to meet his son. The father was full of unbridled joy at his son’s return.

The son didn’t deserve such a reception. When he had asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left home, it was as if he had wished his father dead. But despite all that the son had done to his father, he was still his son (v.24).

This parable reminds me that I’m accepted by God because of His grace, not because of my merits. It assures me that I’ll never sink so deep that God’s grace can’t reach me. Our heavenly Father is waiting to run to us with open arms.

The parables of Luke 15 deal with recovering what was lost. In verses 3-7 the search is for a lost sheep; in verses 8-10, a lost coin; in verses 11-24, a lost son. Each time the emphasis is on the sense of urgency of the one who is searching. By Poh Fang Chia

Father, I’m so grateful for all Your Son did for me at the cross. I’m thankful for grace. I offer You a heart that desires to be like Jesus—merciful and gracious.

We deserve punishment and get forgiveness; we deserve God’s wrath and get God’s love. —Philip Yancey

God’s Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:13-16

When sadness, depression, or loneliness assails us, we may feel as if there’s nowhere to turn. But God clearly tells us what to do when we’re in need: We are to go straight to His throne of grace.

The prophet Isaiah’s vision of this setting is so overwhelming that he cries out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5 NIV). This throne room is filled with God’s glory, power, and radiant majesty—it is a holy place from which He rules over the entire universe.

We, like Isaiah, may feel unworthy, but God extends His great mercy and love to us from His throne, taking away our sin. We can approach God there once we have given our lives to Him through Christ. As we cry out to Jesus to save us because we know we can’t save ourselves, the door of heaven swings wide open, and we are ushered into the throne room. We are welcome because Jesus is our intercessor—He gives us access to the God of all creation. Because He walked where we walk, and He sympathizes with our weaknesses.

Jesus was tempted just as we are but never sinned and always remained one with the Father. He invites us to follow in His steps. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to receive mercy and grace at all times. So, instead of sitting alone in our pain, outside this wonderful place where we’re always accepted, we should run through the open doors, straight into the presence of our Father.

Pastors and Teachers

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)

The four or five specific spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this passage are said to have been given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). And all of this is for the ultimate goal that “we . . . speaking the truth in love, may grow up into [Christ] in all things” (Ephesians 4:14-15).

The teaching gift is of particular importance in attaining this goal. The gift of serving as an apostle was given only to the twelve plus a few others (e.g., Paul) who had actually seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:1); the last of these was John. The gift of real prophets who could convey God’s revelations to men was necessary in that first century before the New Testament was written, but that also has apparently ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8), though there are still many false prophets (Matthew 24:11).

The gifts of evangelists and pastors will continue as long as there continue to be lost people who need to be won and new believers who need to be led (the word “pastor” actually means “shepherd” and is so translated in all its other occurrences). The other two lists of spiritual gifts do not mention either evangelists or pastors, but all three do mention teachers (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28). Many pastors also have the gift of teaching, but the other two lists indicate that teaching is a gift for many others as well.

In fact, Christ’s great commission included teaching people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). And since He in the beginning had created “all things” and is now “upholding all things” (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3), this teaching could well include all true education, in every subject. HMM

Confidence in Him

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. —Ephesians 3:20-21

You can have this confidence in God, and you can have this respect for His will. Do not expect God to perform miracles for you so you can write books about them. Do not ever be caught asking God to send you toys like that to play around with.

But if you are in trouble and concerned about your situation and willing to be honest with God, you can have confidence in Him. You can go to Him in the merit of His Son, claiming His promises, and He will not let you down. God will help you, and you will find the way of deliverance.

God will move heaven and earth for you if you will trust Him.

Thank You, Father, for the majesty of this truth. It certainly is only in the merit of Your Son, but in that merit You’ve given us a powerful promise. Thank You that You never let us down. Amen.

A High Privilege: God Counts Us His Friends

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God… and he was called the Friend of God. James 2:23

The image of God in man cannot extend to every part of man’s being, for God has attributes which He cannot impart to any of His creatures, however favored.

God is uncreated, self-existent, infinite, sovereign, eternal; these attributes are His alone and by their very definition cannot be shared with another. But there are other attributes which He can impart to His creatures and in some measure share with His redeemed children.

Intellect, self-consciousness, love, goodness, holiness, pity, faithfulness—these and certain other attributes are the points where likeness between God and man may be achieved. It is here that the divine-human friendship is experienced!

God, being perfect, has capacity for perfect friendship. Man, being imperfect, can never quite know perfection in anything, least of all in his relationship to the incomprehensible Godhead.

The more perfect our friendship with God becomes the simpler will our lives be. Those formalities that are so necessary to keep a casual friendship alive may be dispensed with when true friends sit in each other’s presence. True friends trust each other.

Unquestionably the highest privilege granted to man on earth is to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God. Nothing is important enough to be allowed to stand in the way of our relation to God. We should see to it that nothing on earth shall separate us from God’s friendship!

Seeking After Truth

We have received… the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 CORINTHIANS 2:12

We live in a mixed-up kind of world in which many people are not at all sure of what they believe or what they ought to believe.

Some churches advertise that way—you do not have to believe anything: “Just be a seeker after truth.” Some actually settle for poetry, siding with Edwin Markham who “saw his bright hand sending signals from the sun.”

I, for one, never had any such signals from God. We have Bibles everywhere and the gospel is preached faithfully. Yet men and women seek God in old altars and tombs—in dark and dusty places, and finally wind up believing that God is sending signals from the sun.

Some folks get mad at me when I say that this kind of “seeking after truth” needs to be exposed. We need to double our efforts in telling the world that God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

It must be the Truth of God and the Spirit of God! Far from being an optional luxury in our Christian lives, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit is a necessity!

Dear Lord, I pray that Your truth will go out into all the world with a mighty surge today. I especially pray for this to happen in Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu nations.