Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daily Devotional Thoughts for Thursday (7/23/09)-From the New Testament

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thoughts regarding confession from the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32):

The prodigal son’s was not simply debauchery, lewdness, drunkenness, and wild living. Even worse, it was the sin of having squandered the father’s love. So it is for us Christians who are baptized into the family of God and made His sons and daughters. To deny our status as the beloved sons of God by squandering His love in wild living and misbelieve is worse than the actual sinful deeds themselves. Nevertheless, the Father’s love remains constant for us, in spite of our departures from him.

The prodigal son was brought to his sense, not only because he was left in want, but because he was brought to remember who his father was. It’s as if this were his thought: “If He is merciful to slaves who do not deserve His mercy, then He is merciful toward me, for I have abandoned my inheritance as a son to live as a slave to sin.” So it is for us Christians. Knowing our sin is not enough to drive us back to the father. For if we are unaware of our Father’s love and desire to show mercy, our shame and guilt will actually keep us from him.

In the story, it was the father’s care for his household—even for the slaves—that brought the son back. So it is for us Christians. It isn’t the fun of confession that keeps us coming to the Divine Service, but the desire to receive Holy Absolution, in which we receive the love of our heavenly Father in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

But even as he returns to his father, he has yet to understand his father’s love properly. Sure, he knows that he is not worthy to be called a son; but I might be worthy to be a servant. While a son is born into the family, a servant earns his share. And this is what the son desires to do—earn his keep. And so it is for us Christians. Our nature is to desire to bring something to the table of ourselves, some sort of penence to make the situation right—maybe it’s an improved church attendance or a bigger amount given in the offering plate. But the father requires nothing from his son. Neither does our heavenly Father require anything from His sons or daughters.

The only payment for sins is the death of Christ. The only certainty for us in God’s absolution spoken to us for Christ’s sake. Forgiveness of sins comes to us by grace alone, for Christ’s sake. Christ died for the sons of daughters of the Father—his own brothers and sisters—and shed His blood for the cross for the forgivness of their sins.

The father gave the prodigal son the best robe. So it us with us Christians. Our heavenly Father has dressed us with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Not because we can earn our keep, and not because we have been the good son. But because His great love is freely given.

May the Holy Spirit give you the faith to receive His love in Christ Jesus with thanksgiving!

Peace in Christ, sons and daughers of the Father.

p.s. A big thanks to Pastor Bender whose teaching and resources provided most of the thoughts in today's devotion.

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