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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Luke 15:17-19, "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants."

This morning, we are again at a time of year when people all over are making resolutions to change their lives. Many of these resolutions are natural in scope (such as losing weight, making more money, etc.), while others are spiritual in scope (such as reading more of the Bible, attending church more regularly, etc.). Regardless of the resolution or its type, many of them lose their luster after a relatively short period of time. In the natural frame, the gyms are packed the first few weeks of January with the attendance dropping off steadily after that. In the spiritual frame, many people read through the book of Genesis with zeal and vigor, which is helped by the interesting nature of the book with its accounts, but in keeping with the book's title, they exit their resolution of reading in Exodus due to some of the detailed accounts of the tabernacle construction and law worship. In both instances, the outcomes are similar, and sometimes even the most sincere intents meet with this unfortunate conclusion. Let us, therefore, look at a Biblical account of a resolution, its outcome, and the lesson for us today.

In this passage, Christ is giving the account of the prodigal son who left home and eventually came back. During the entire lesson, we need never forget that this man was always his father's son. Nothing about their natural relationship changed, although the nature of their fellowship did suffer great changes. So, first and foremost, we need to understand that nothing in our lives changes the fact that we are God's children, elect according to His foreknowledge, predestinated according to His purpose, redeemed by His blood, called by His grace, justified by His grace and blood, and will one day stand glorified before Him in complete satisfaction. Whatever happens or befalls us, nothing can ever separate us from that great love wherewith He loved us. (Romans 8, Ephesians 2) The relationship is forever secure and intact, but our fellowship with our Father depends greatly upon our knowledge of our position and satisfaction within that position. The son who left home was no less a son than his brother who stayed. However, his dissatisfaction with his current situation led to a lifestyle that left him poor and destitute.

If our lives have tasted that the Lord is gracious and we have been blessed to see the good of the land in the Master's house, may we be content with that situation. May we never be content with our shortcomings, but may we always be content with His pavilions and courts. A little strife within the house is better than all the folly of riotous living in a far country. Better is a family in each others' presence with the natural grumblings (although we should work to limit such) than a life separated from family with the chambering and riot of the world. Naomi was made to see this great truth as she left Israel during a famine, but returned from Moab in great emptiness. She left the land of the people of God during a dry season, but returned with the knowledge that a dry season in God's house is better than the wealth and greatness in the world. (Ruth 1) So it was in the case of the prodigal son. When we realized what he had, he saw the thing that dissatisfied him when he left was better than anything he had discovered on his journey.

When he reached this point, he made a resolution after coming to himself. His coming to himself basically means that his senses returned to him. Nebuchadnezzar experienced the same in Daniel 4 after spending 7 years cast out from among men. He had the reason and sense to bless the most High. This son had the sense and reason to understand that blessed privilege of being able to sit as his father's son in his father's house. Truly, when we understand the true teaching of God's word and taste its rich goodness and fatness, it does make sense. What the word of God teaches may be difficult, at times, to understand (such as prophecies and visions). However, the theme of God's grace and the redemption of His children is not nearly as hard to understand as it is to accept. Paul instructed Timothy that what we have received is not based out of fear but power, love, and a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7) A sound mind can understand the reason and order of God's way, whereas it takes a deluded mind to craft all the complex and convoluted webs that false doctrine entails.

So, after returning to his senses, the prodigal made a resolution to his course. He determined to beg his father's forgiveness and seek a servant's position. In this account, I believe the context will bear out that he is indeed sincere in his thought and venture. The overall context deals with three stories: lost coin, lost sheep, and the prodigal son. In this context the subject matter is about restoration and fellowship (not eternal security). Christ asserts during this discussion that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, and the repentance of the son shows indeed something worth rejoicing about. His sincerity, I believe, is shown by his decision and humble mentality.

As we read from the account, the son does indeed make it home again, see his father once more, and sees his resolution go unrealized. He fully expected to find mercy at his father's door as a hired servant. Should that have happened, there would certainly have been mercy extended that day, as he did not deserve to be received back after wasting all that his father gave him. The son may have even seen his father's mercy shown in time's past that gave him the hope and assurance that he too would find mercy that day. Yet, what he found was mercy that transcended the mercy that he expected. His resolution was sincere and labour was shown to fulfill it (journeyed back home). Yet, the resolution was denied to make way for something the son did not expect to happen at all. Instead of mercy as a servant, he found mercy as a son with the command to the house to make a feast and kill the fatted calf.

What does the application of the failed resolution do for us today? Have you ever felt to fail in keeping a promise to Him? Have you left off sacrifices that He requires? Have you wasted those things which He has given unto you? My answers to the above are yes, yes, yes, and far too many times. We may feel like, "I cannot come back. It has been too long, for I have strayed too long and too far. All that He gave me is gone." Indeed, we may waste that which He gives to us, but consider that His storehouse is never empty (or for that matter even less than full). His mercy transcends what we may expect in mercy. Have you ever prayed that earnest plea after failing Him yet again, "Make me as a hired servant. I am not worthy to be called Thy son."? What reply makes the answer? Come hither and kill the fatted calf, for my son that was lost is found again.

Our resolutions in life may go unfulfilled. We may fall and come up short again of serving Him as we have promised Him that we would. Perhaps our reading suffers, our prayers suffer, or perhaps we neglect the simple act of showing compassion to one of His little ones. In every case, these shortcomings make us feel to once again not be worthy of the least of His blessings. We may cast ourselves at mercy's door seeking a servant's place, but the mercy we find at His rich throne of grace goes beyond the mercy we may expect. When the house is full of rejoicing with the smiles of the Father in every face in every corner, the love and joy of the fellowship transcends what we may have expected to find. We may think the joy for us will never be as it was before we left. Surely the blessings - we think - will be less upon us for straying away so long, yet the son's place returns to the son with all the joys that he had before. He wasted what was given
him, but found there to be still exceeding abundantly more still at home.

May we never give up hope about our place in Him. We may fail in resolutions, or we may make new ones to Him as the prodigal did. Yet, the prodigal came back putting one foot in front of the other to fulfill his resolve. May we put one foot in front of the other to fulfill our resolve. Will we realize that which we are resolved to do? We may or may not, but just as the father saw his son afar off and greeted him, we will see our Father greet us as He sees us coming from afar. Our resolution may not be realized, but His mercy and kindness unto us will be realized and in greater sense than we may even believe or think possible. The greatest act of mercy ever shown was the Son coming to earth to die for us, but one of the greatest experiential mercies ever shown is the Father coming to the sons to restore them to the joys of that relationship once again. We may not find at home exactly what we believe we will find, but one thing that will be there will be the sweet peace and comfort from the still, small voice that says, "I have loved thee; thou art Mine."


In Hope,

Bro Philip