Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate.
In the parable of the lost son, I find an invitation to those who, like the younger son, are living apart from God. If you have wandered away from God, He does not hate you. He loves you so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for you. It does not matter what you have done or how far you have wandered–if you take the first step toward God, He will come running to meet you.
But perhaps you are more like the older son. You think, “I am not perfect, but at least I am not like these other people.” Jesus was saying unless you realize you are just as guilty as the worst sinner of all time, you cannot receive the gift of forgiveness that God wants to give you.
Joe Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute, wrote about a time when Dan Rather visited the campus to appear on a radio program. Stowell confessed, “Dan Rather has not been one of my favorite people. I looked at him as part of the left-wing media establishment with its secular, pluralistic, relativistic, anti-God philosophy.” But to Stowell’s surprise, Rather was warm and caring, and he seemed interested in what Stowell was saying about Christianity.
During the radio program, an interviewer said, “[If] God were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?”
Rather paused and replied, “Well, I have to say it wouldn’t be for anything I have done. It would have to be totally by the grace of God.”
Stowell later wrote, “I have no idea what his spiritual condition is. This is not a statement about his spiritual condition; it is a statement about a shame I bear in my heart. The shame is it didn’t cross my mind once to pray for Dan Rather that God would compassionately reach out and embrace his soul, cancel hell and guarantee heaven, and fill him with abundant living. . . . I was too mad about all this stuff to think about his need for a Savior. I refused to be a middleman in a compassion transaction between God and one who possibly needed him.”
To anyone who is outside the Father’s house, whether it is because of blatant sin or subtle self-righteousness, God’s invitation is the same: come home to the Father who loves you.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Value Of Lost Things” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Joe Stowell, “God’s Compassion for Sinners,” Preaching Today, https://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons/2005/august/188.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org