The Prodigal Son

The story of the prodigal son, in the book of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11 through 32, is full of redemption and grace. In this story, the son spent all of his father’s inheritance and was living in a pig sty for survival. It took courage for the prodigal son to return to his father’s house. He felt shame and regret for his actions. This is not your typical story of a father disappointed in his son; this is a story of unconditional love.

Jesus is telling a parable to a crowd of people about a prodigal son who left his home for what he thought would be a better life. The story begins in Luke 15, verses 11 through 16, where the son asks for his inheritance. In verse 12, it states that “the father divided the property between them.” The son left his father’s home and went to the country. In verse 14, it says that he spent all his father’s money and lacked food and water with no shelter. He spent all his inheritance and had no other options but to return home. In verse 17, it sums up how we all feel when we make a mistake and do not know how to make it right. It says “when he [the prodigal son] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Imagine what this prodigal son was going through as he dreadfully walks back home. His head toward to the ground, kicking the dirt underneath his feet, feeling defeated and angry with himself. He must have felt fear of being shunned by his family. He was struggling on how to forgive himself for his selfish actions and did not know if his family would forgive him as well. As he continues walking home, he is preparing a speech for his father to accept him back into the family. Let us pause for a moment and think about how we handle situations in our lives. We are much like the prodigal son. We worry and fret over our mistakes and how our actions have hurt others. We even memorize long speeches about how sorry we are for hurting them and pray that we are forgiven. We make ourselves miserable, just like the prodigal son, and worry before we even know how the other person feels about us.

The next part of the story is not something you can predict. As we continue reading, we are expecting the father to have a grudge and be hurt by his son’s actions and betrayal. This part of the story cannot be explained by words but by emotion. Instead of being rejected by his father, the prodigal son received love and acceptance. In verses 20 through 21, the prodigal son was approaching his father’s home and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son filled with shame and regret, is now ready to convince his father that he is not worthy to be in his father’s home.

The prodigal son did not need a speech to be accepted. The father was overjoyed to see him alive and well. The father was not concerned about his son’s actions.  Instead of expressing his hurt towards his son, he showed him grace and unconditional love. In fact, the father celebrated his return. In verses 22 through 24, “the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.   For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

How many times have we hung our head in shame asking God to forgive us for our sins and betrayal? I know, personally, I have been in a place where I did not think God loved me anymore because of my actions and I was afraid to approach Him fearing I would be rejected. This parable is a perfect example of our heavenly Father. He embraces us and accepts us back into His arms. He did not only forgive us for what we have done, but, in addition, He celebrates our return. The All-Knowing God loves us unconditionally. He gives us grace and mercy when we do not deserve it!

In the book of Luke, it says that the father treated his son like royalty with the best robe and a ring. A ring signifies a covenant which means it is sacred. The love that God has for us is deeper, wider, and farther than we could ever imagine. When God places the ring on our finger, it is a covenant with Him. It symbolizes a relationship with God. The robe stands for worthiness and righteousness. We are all worthy of God’s love. As stated in Scripture, we are given the best robe which means God gives us His best for our lives.

Have you walked away from God?
Are you frustrated or angry with Him?
Have you ever had a relationship with God?
Are you seeking something more than you have ever experienced before?

If you have walked away from God or just have doubts of who He is in your life, I encourage you to seek Him and take the journey of faith. Just like the prodigal son, he walked the journey back home to find that his father embraced him rather than condemned him. The heavenly Father will do the same for you. He is just waiting for you to come home to where you belong.

If you have never had a relationship with God, I encourage you, as you continue this journey to know Him, that you will find His hope and love for your life.

Application:

I encourage you to find a quiet place alone to pray and write down your thoughts on being a Christian. What does Christianity mean to you? What are some ways you plan to build your faith and have a closer relationship with Christ?

Fruit of the Spirit – Self-Control

Today, we will be breaking down the fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Self-Control

Self-control is described as having control over your feelings or actions or restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires. Self-control can be described in a simpler way as not letting our emotions to get the best of us. There are many emotions that can override our faith such as fear, anger, and disappointment. Second Timothy 1:7 says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” To manage our emotions and desires, we must have a strong prayer life. If we do not spend time with God every day, there will be no peace in our lives. Our emotions would be out of control, and we would remain in a state of confusion. Our thought process and emotions will become irrational and our actions will not dictate who Jesus is. Our flesh will take over on what we say and how we act. First Thessalonians 4:4 says “that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” God expects us to have self-control over our lives and be Christ-like in everything we do.

Application

Do you let your emotions to get the best of you?  Do you get angry or frustrated quickly?  Can you control your emotions?  I can honestly say, I sometimes cannot control my emotions, and I have to take a step back, after reacting in the wrong way, to correct my actions.  I am a very passionate person, and if someone criticizes or judges me for what I love to do, I defend it with harsh negative words.  You might can relate with a similar situation.

We all have areas in our lives that if pushed too far, we will say or do things that is not of God.  We are all human, and that’s why God gives us grace.  He gives us second chances to make it right.

When our emotions override our faith, we are not being Christ-like.  When we have self-control and allow God to work through our emotions, we are showing the world that we can stay calm through difficult situations.  Where are your emotions today?  Are they under control?  Is this an area that you need to work on and pray about?  Ask God to help you.

Fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness

Today, we will be breaking down the fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Faithfulness

Faithfulness is having or showing true and constant support or loyalty. It can also be described as deserving trust and keeping your promises or doing what you are supposed to do. God mentions faithfulness throughout the Bible. The faithfulness that God is referring to in Galatians 5:22-23 is to keep our promises with Him and with others. We need to stay loyal to our word and not disappoint those who are counting on us to come through for them. Luke 16:10-12 states that “one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” When we live by our word, we are becoming more like God. Deuteronomy 7:9 says “that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.” The world is filled with false promises and hopes, and we, as Christians, need to stay true to our word to show them who Christ is through our actions.

Application

Do you have a hard time keeping your promises?  Are you faithful to those around you and honor your word?  God’s word is always faithful and true.  To show who God is to the world, we must be loyal to what we say and do.  We need to encourage those around us by staying faithful to our commitments.

Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness, Goodness, and Gentleness

Today, we will be breaking down the fruits of the Spirit: KINDNESS, GOODNESS, and GENTLENESS. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Kindness, Goodness, and Gentleness

Kindness, goodness, and gentleness are all characteristics that work closely together. The definition of kindness is the quality or state of being kind or a kind act. The word goodness means the quality or state of being good. Gentleness means the quality or state of being gentle as well as mildness of manners or disposition. There is more to being a Christian than accomplishing good deeds. Our motives behind our good deeds matter to God. We need to have a kind and gentle heart while we complete God’s work. It is easy to be kind to others when they are kind to us, but what about those who are unfriendly and mistreat us. Are we holding a grudge against those people or are we showing them kindness. God says we are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). He also says to “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). Titus 3:2 tells us to “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward[s] all people.” When we are showing kindness and gentleness, while doing good, God is working through us for others to see His ways and not the world’s. It is vital that we look like Jesus through our words and actions.

Application

Is there someone in your life that makes life difficult?  Do you struggle showing kindness towards him or her?  God has asked everyone, not just you, to be Jesus to the world.  That means we must show kindness to everyone, not be selective to who deserves it.

In everything we do, we must have good motive.  God looks at goodness as our heart.  When we do something for God, we must do it in the goodness of our heart, not expecting anything in return.  This is not always easy.  God may ask of something that stretches our faith or boundaries that we have set for ourselves.  God wants a cheerful heart in everything we do for Him!

Our words and actions can hurt people without even realizing what we are saying or doing.  Our words must be gentle so we do not let others feel worthless or judged.  Our actions must be synchronized with God so we know that they reflect Him and not the world.

All these things above: Kindness, Goodness, and Gentleness are all from God.  Jesus functioned in all of these so that He could bring light into a dark and weary world.  We are called to do the same.  If you feel like you lack in one or more areas, take the time to pray and read the Bible.  I encourage you to read about how Jesus lived here on earth.  It is the greatest example of walking out the fruits of the Spirit.

Fruit of the Spirit – Patience

Today, we will be breaking down the fruit of the Spirit: PATIENCE. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Patience

Patience is not a virtue that most people are born with but perfected through maturity. We live in a world that demands immediate results. This kind of thinking is called the “microwave mentality.” If we want something now, we purchase it and think about the consequences later. The word patient is defined as able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people. Another definition of patience is waiting over a long period of time without hurrying. Romans 8:25 says, “if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Psalm 37:7-9 comforts us by saying, “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in His way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” God rewards us as we patiently wait for Him to work in our lives.

Application

Do you get impatient easily when something is not going your way or just having to wait too long for answers.  In life, we all expected to wait on something — in line at a store, stopped traffic on the road, delayed answered prayers from God, and so forth.  How do you spend that time while waiting?  Do you grumble and get irritated the longer you wait?  Or do you try to find something positive in that situation?  I am guilty of being impatient and then regretting my negative thoughts afterwards.  If you wait with a good attitude, God honors you.  The next time you may feel anxious and impatient, remember what God said: “Be sill before the Lord and wait patiently for Him”

Fruit of the Spirit – Peace

Today, we will be breaking down the fruit of the Spirit: PEACE. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Peace

As we grow in our Christian walk, we will experience God’s peace. When we believe God will help us through difficult times, we exchange our worry for His peace. We do not allow our emotions to overwhelm us, but, instead, we put our trust in God. Peace is a state in which there is no war or fighting. John 16:33 God says “that in [Him] you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; [He has] overcome the world.” Colossians 3:15 says, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” According to this Scripture, God is peace. It originates from Him.

In the Book of Colossians, chapter 3, verse 14, it states that love “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” We see in this Scripture that love and peace collide together with perfection. The perfect love that God has for us brings peace into our lives. May “the Lord lift up His countenance upon [us] and give [us] peace” (Numbers 6:26).

Application

Do you have peace in your life?  Do you feel anxious about something or someone?  When you completely trust God with your life, He overwhelms you with His peace.  The world may be full of chaos and confusion, but, with God, He is peace.  He is your peace maker in the midst of life’s storms.

Fruit of the Spirit – Introduction

The more we grow in Christ, the more we get to know who He is and who we are through Him. One way to grow in our Christian walk is to allow the Bible to transform our lives. It is a Book full of redemption, love, grace, hope, and forgiveness. The Bible shows us how to live a Godly life. Galatians 5:22-23 is a life-changing Scripture that not only speaks truth over our lives but challenges us to live a righteous life.

First, God warns us what is not Christ-like. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Then, God explains what is expected of us as Christians. He tells us how we need to live by the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).

The words, “fruit of the Spirit” has great significance in the Scripture above. The word “Spirit” is referring to God Himself. The descriptive words, “love, joy, peace” etc. that follow are describing who God is: God is love, He is joy, and so forth. God is asking us to be just like Him. When we act more like Him, we are being fruitful. Metaphorically, we are much like a tree. God is the roots and the trunk. He is the Spirit that lives in us and helps us grow strong in our faith. We are the branches and the fruit. We determine how many branches we have on the tree, and how much fruit it produces by the way we live.

According to Galatians 5, there are nine fruits of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is a great way to evaluate our lives to see whether or not our actions and words reflect the way Jesus lived on earth. As Christians, the world needs to see us acting Christ-like and know that we are not hypocrites. Sometimes our actions do not reflect who Jesus is, and it distorts how the world sees Christians. That is why it is important to live our lives as it states in Galatians 5:22-23.

As we breakdown the fruits of the Spirit, I encourage you to not just to read the text but ask God for a deeper understanding of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Application:

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

LOVE

JOY

PEACE

PATIENCE

KINDNESS

GOODNESS

FAITHFULNESS

GENTLENESS

SELF-CONTROL

Before we break down the fruits of the Spirit, write down your weaknesses and strengths. I encourage you to be honest with yourself. This exercise is to guide you in prayer and to help you figure out which areas to focus on as you continue to grow in Christ.