God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect. God doesn’t operate on our timetable or according to our plans. But, when He does operate, it’s ALWAYS just right.
Text Free Photo: Pixabay/Dan_Park
A rumbling in the tummy would be easy to satisfy for some. But, what of the hunger for something greater?
All hungering is not bad. All hunger show there is a lack somewhere that needs to be filled. All hunger says I have something in me that needs to be satisfied.
For that, I say, hunger on! For only when one is truly starving for more than what they currently posses do they allow that gnawing desire to push them to find a source of fulfillment.
Who doesn’t want a life characterized by fulfillment? Who doesn’t want to feel completely satisfied? Especially when it comes to our spiritual walk; a walk that says, in everything I have Lord, if You’re not in it, then I am empty. My life is nothing.
If the hunger is for more of the glitter and gold of this life then it is truly to be better without. For that hunger can drive you to places and things that will leave your soul starving. But, my friends, if it is more of Him that’s your desire, come, partake, and be satisfied for “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,” (Matthew 5:6).
Let your desire drive you toward God. Let Him be the only quencher of your longing for everything.
Run! Grab Him that is the bread of life, and eat. Take your fill and don’t stop till you look at Him through the eyes of eternity, and say, now soul, you are full. For you have taken of Him fully and fully you shall live forevermore.
Father God, fill us up with more of You. Let everything that You are, be the satisfaction that everything in us is looking for. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!
“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16
Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.
One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad but true!
Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.
I’ve seen this play out with seagulls also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down to grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never-ending circle of desire and wants that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!
The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants…” (Genesis 26:12-14).
He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.
Afterwards, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)
So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.
Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not… For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” If one keeps following the leading of God, God, in turn, will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can ensure your growth.
If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee… let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.
The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.
When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.
VERSE DISCOVERY: Psalm 95:1-7 (KJV, Public Domain)
Once, I had the privilege to attend a Christian concert. Oh, what a blessing and a joy for me to experience some of my favorite performers live in worship. It was a really awesome time.
Good, Christian music can have that effect on you. It may not change your situation, but it can change the atmosphere and how you feel about a situation. Christian music draws you in a realm of worship that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
Apparently, scrolling through my site I found that I have written quite of few things that involve singing, but one of my all times favorites that I have written is simply titled: “Sing!” and it goes like this:
“And I saw as it were . . . them that had gotten the victory . . . and they sing the song,” Revelation 15:2-3, KJV
Songs. Movements of the heart and soul. I don’t know how they come about. Do they start with words that won’t let the mind rest until the lyrics are expressed? Or, is it a tune, a melodious humming in one’s being that beckons to become more?
Songs come and go at any time and there’s one for every occasion. Most great songs come from one’s life experiences. Whether in good times or bad, happy or sad, the man inside calls for a tune to join the ceremony.
Songs express joy and times of rejoicing. A good song motivates one when it’s hard to push forward in life and lifts one out of times of sadness. We see the power of this type of inspiring music in 1 Samuel 16:23, when David played the harp before Saul and the evil spirit left him.
Music is no doubt powerful. The most precious and heart-felt songs come after times of hardship and struggles. When we have gone through the wringer of life, made it to the other side, and have squeezed out a heart that expresses gratefulness to God. Music that tells the world that yes, it was hard, but I made it to the other side. After crossing the Red Sea did not Miriam put a tambourine in her hand and say, “Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” (Exodus 15:21, KJV)?
In the book of Revelation, we see songs of deliverance going up before God. They had overcome “the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having harps of God,” (Rev. 15:2, KJV). And, what did they do? “They sing!” (Rev. 15:3, KJV). Their praise cannot be constrained any longer. They have never felt freer then when they had overcome. That kind of joy starts to seep out every crevice of one’s being until it pours over in song, releasing praise to God!
Music and songs are wrought throughout the Bible. The psalmist exhorts us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing,” (Ps. 100:1-2, KJV). When the Assyrians were prophesied to be destroyed, Isaiah 30:29 emphatically declares, “Ye shall have a song!” (KJV). When Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises, the earth quaked and prison doors were opened (Acts 16:25-26). After the Last Supper “they had sung a hymn,” (Mk. 14:26, KJV). James said, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” (Ja. 5:13, KJV).
I don’t have the best voice, but I have a praise in my soul that I have to let out!
I’m shy in front of other people, but I’m living to please an audience of one! It doesn’t have to be in front of a crowd (yikes!). A praise can wring out of your spirit at any time and in any place.
Give your heart – your spirit – your soul permission to rejoice. God has been so good to us – so, Sing!
You are an overcomer also. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” (Rom. 8:37, KJV).
Those in Revelations had every right to sing, and so do you. Just sing! He’s worthy of it today!” (www.wordforlifesays.com).
The focus of that article was singing and rejoicing; worshiping Him because He is worthy; because He has done so much for you and me. In it, you find the same call as today’s lesson to “Make a Joyful Noise!” coming from Psalm 95. If nobody else honors God, we the people of God should readily “Make a Joyful Noise!”
Make a Joyful Noise
Psalm 95:1 “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
“O come,” to me, rings out an open invitation for all to participate in the worship of God. “Come” is beckoning the hearer to come nearer; to approach God in the manner specified in today’s lesson.
And, the manner specified is through song and “a joyful noise.” Yes, your prayers matter to God and your service also; but God is also attentive to your worship. A well-rounded Christian is active and alive and moving in all these areas.
Psalm 98 gives the same command to “make a joyful noise” and shows how that can be done through the voice and through instruments:
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King,” (Psalm 98:4-6).
Repeatedly in the Bible, we are commanded and shown that God alone is worthy of all our praise, honor, and glory. He deserves this and so much more. Praise and honor through song is something He expects from us and looks forward to. It’s like a love letter from us to Him. What an awesome perspective!
Now, I have written about the need to “make a joyful noise” enough in the introduction. Here, I want to focus on the word “unto.” “Unto” gives us direction to where this worship is to go.
There are many types of Psalms in the Bible. Some speak of confession and some of wisdom. Some tell history and some cry out against injustice. Some prophesy of the future Messiah and some, like today’s Psalm is considered a Royal Psalm. It is titled such because it declares the kingship of God. It is “unto” Him; it is “unto” the King, “the LORD” which we are commanded to “make a joyful noise.”
He is “the rock of our salvation.” “Rock” represents strength. It pictures one standing on a sure foundation that will not fail. I’m sure many are familiar with that old hymn that states: “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,” (“My Hope is Built,” Edward Mote, 1834; Public Domain). 2 Samuel 22:32 asks, “For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?” God is “the rock of our salvation” and He is worthy to be praised!
Psalm 95:2 “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”
“Come before his presence with thanksgiving” shows a grateful heart in action. One who knows not to take the goodness of the Lord for granted. One who dares not enter the place where He is or draws nigh unto Him without reverence for all that He has done for one in their life. Thanksgiving is not a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a life that knows apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5); a life that recognizes their need and dependence upon this great Salvation and can’t help but to say, “Thank You!”
In a previous article titled: “What Ever Happened to Thank You?” it was noted that “There is a great danger in forgetting to be thankful, especially when it comes to recognizing the great work that God has done in our lives… When one fails to appreciate what is done for them they, of themselves, can begin to get prideful. Simply refusing to acknowledge that there was outside help to raise them out of a situation can make one think they have delivered themselves of their own accord and power. Being thankful means being grounded. It is recognizing that we don’t have it all together as we think we do, and we need the assistance of another to help along the way.” (www.wordforlifesays.com)
When we enter His “presence” we are to do so with a grateful heart that doesn’t take His goodness for granted. The article goes on to say, “God is so gracious to us; let us not take Him for granted. We may slight our fellow man once in a while (which we also need to continually watch out for and learn to do better), but don’t slight God. Give Him His due. Is it really that hard to simply stop during the busyness of our day and say, “Thank you?” Does it really cause us that much extra work to simply acknowledge what has been done for you and me with an attitude of gratitude?” (www.wordforlifesays.com)
With that heart of gratitude, we are exhorted to once again “make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” Many know that “psalms” means songs. It shows us the real impact of God-honoring music during worship: He loves it!
For Our God is Great
Psalms 95:3 “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”
Deuteronomy 10:17 mightily declares, “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” God is the real thing! There are a lot of false and destructive forces that try to sway man away from the truth of God and His deity over all creation, but the fact of the matter is, He is the real deal. Everything begins and ends with Him. He is the authority over all. Therefore, He is the one worthy of praise.
Too many go through their day without ever considering the fact that hey, He is God, and He should be before all others. With that realization in hand, I want my life to reflect that great truth. I want every word, every action and every thought to magnify the greatness of who He is and all His glory. When I go about my day, I want people to see Him in me. Do I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! But I have a goal. I aspire to do better and to be better every day. God has been so good and wonderful to me, and I feel that as His child the least I can do is showing Him the honor due Him.
“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” (Ps. 29:1-2). These two verses have been among favorites of mine for many years now. When you think of “giving to the Lord” one realizes just how futile our efforts can be because of His vast greatness. But, something that each of us can give is honor and praise because He is God!
Psalm 95:4-5 “In his hands are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.”
Another of the Royal Psalms that really emphasizes the truth of this verse is Psalm 24 that opens declaring, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods,” (vss. 1-2). He “founded”, and He “established” along with the phrase from today’s lesson “he made it: and his hands formed” really expresses His all-powerful supreme rule over all creation. The word “his” showed here four times, along with the word “he” declares His ownership over all. He did it, not we. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). Therefore, He should be praised and honored.
We, His People, Worship Him
Psalm 95:6-7 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand…”
Here, the psalmist reemphasizes the call to “come, let us worship.” Worshipping God is something that cannot be overemphasized. It’s something that we can’t exhaust. It’s something that we better get used to because it will be happening all over heaven for all eternity.
To “bow down” and “kneel” shows honor to the one who receives this form of respect. We often see this in the realm of royalty and would aptly be applied here in a Royal Psalm to Him that is King above all the world and all kings of the world.
Oh, how quickly we tune in when we see royalty on display. Events revolving around those who belong to royal heritage gain our attention when we see their pageantry on display. As people come out in celebration and crowds gather around their televisions worldwide, we take a peek into the lives of those whom we know only afar off, and we watch their beautiful display of majesty on parade (at least on a human level). The celebrations are grand as the people cheer and look on with fascination.
The pageantry that God deserves is far greater “for he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” We belong to Him and should want to celebrate Him in a manner that is higher than any earthly royalty could ever experience. He is the one who watches over our affairs. He is the one who comes to our rescue when we need help. He is the one who cares enough to let His only begotten Son die on the cross because of our mess-ups and mistakes. He did that for us all. Celebrate Him! “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth,” (Psalm 74:12). Celebrate Him! “O come, let us worship!”
“We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” God has often been identified as our Shepherd. Psalm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” He is the only one who can care for His people as He does. God loves you and you belong to Him. He is in love with His flock and declares them as His. “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD GOD,” (Ezekiel 34:31).
If you are not a member of His flock, I urge you to make that change today. Don’t let another opportunity go by without Him as your protector, your provider, your salvation and your Shepherd. There’s too much at stake. “He is our God” and He can be your God today as well. Turn to Him, give Him praise, and make a joyful noise before your God!
PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Make a Joyful Noise
Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Psalm of Praise
Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Psalm of Praise
Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages
Draw the Scene: Joyful Noise Draw the Scene
“Make A Joyful Noise Microphone Craft”: Here is a craft that will surely inspire your younger students to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Basic craft instructions can be found here, although there are many versions out there. After following the basic construction of the craft, print out the PDF: Make A Joyful Noise Toilet Paper Roll Cover. Have students color, decorate, and attach to the toilet paper roll. Ball up aluminum foil into a tight ball or use a Styrofoam ball covered in glitter (can be done in advance) and attach to the top of the roll with regular or hot glue, or tape. Below is a version I did. Enjoy!
“Printable Microphones:” If you like the idea of using a microphone theme but don’t have time or resources, use this printable for students to cut out and decorate (cardstock works best or glue cut out to construction paper, cereal boxes, or cardboard). Attach the memory verse to the back and your students are ready to rock out for God. Enjoy! PDF: Printable Mircrophones (Use this link for accurate printing)
“Making a Joyful Noise Instruments” Though our lesson focuses on singing, making a joyful noise is made with instruments in Psalms 98:6 it says, “With trumpets and the sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.” Below are ideas to praise God with instruments. Enjoy!
“Homemade Kazoo Craft” from Preschool Crafts for Kids (Below is a sample done by my daughter 🙂 ):
“Water Bottle Shakers” from Thecraftingchicks.com (Decorate outside any way you wish and fill with beads, beans or whatever. Very easy project to help the children “Praise the Lord!” Again, done by my daughter 🙂 ):
“Straw Pan Flute” from Classic-play.com
“A Heart of Worship” from Ministry to Children
“Let the World Praise the Lord” from Ministry to Children
“Praise the Lord” from Childrensministry.com
“Why Do We Praise God?” from Kidssundayschool.com
“Praising God with Your Hands” from Ezinearticles.com
“I Will Praise God” Coloring Page from Twistynoodle.com
“Sing Praise to the Lord” Coloring Page from Lessons4sundayschool.com
“Sing Unto the Lord” Coloring Pages from Childrens Gems in MY Treasure Box
“Praise the Lord” Coloring Page from Church House Collection
“When We Praise God” Coloring Page from Hem of His Garment
Despite the suggestion of this present age, we are not in this world for ourselves alone. Our paths cross times, destinies, and people for a purpose. Our lives are meant to connect as building blocks upon the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ to help bring about change in the world of individuals we meet and pray for and love with the heart of Christ.
There is a “one another concept” that is richly expressed in God’s Word time and again. One verse tells us, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Another verse says, “…by love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13). And yet, another still says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).
When we are thinking along the lines of ministering to people, it will only happen when we consider one another. It only happens when we step out of self for a moment, take our eyes off us, and see what another may be going through, and taking the time to step into their world for a minute to edify, serve, or help that one to bear something they need help with at the moment.
Serving people is reaching into their world where their need is pleading for help. Sometimes that need is physical for things such as food or warmth, but at other times it’s a hug or a buddy saying, “I’m with you through this.” All of it is driven by concern about what someone else is going through. It’s not sitting in the seat of judgment over circumstance but it’s viewing them with the same compassionate eyes that caused Jesus to care about people the way He did.
This kind of compassion toward others causes movement. One can’t see the struggle and not want to help with the need. It’s recognizing, Lord, I may not be able to help everybody in everything, but for this need, I can stretch out my hand, my heart, and my time to care about another soul.
From the time of the creation of humanity, the “one another concept” has been in play. God designed another being in the form of Eve to help compliment Adam so that he wouldn’t have to do life alone (see Genesis 2:18-22).
They were designed for relationship that offers support physically, emotionally, and spiritually to one another. This idea can most certainly be applied to relationships with our friends, people on our jobs or we come across during the day, acquaintances and so on. It’s hands and hearts of love designed for the betterment of humankind to meet the needs of one another wherever they are.
The “one another concept” isn’t just a good idea. It’s a life choice that raises awareness of simply being there for people when people need you the most. In other words, put people on your radar and become alert to any distress signals or troubles that might be registering for attention. Some people may not know how to ask for help or feel completely uncomfortable with the idea, but in our awareness, when we notice those signals and answer the call, we can make a positive difference in that life that may have felt like it was going under all alone.
After all, if it hasn’t happened already, and even if it did, there may still come a time when we need that same support system that compels another to be willing to put us and our needs ahead of their personal feelings, advancement, and/or pleasure.
We don’t have to fit in with the self-serving nature of our modern culture. Especially, if we remember that Christ deliberately put all our needs ahead of His own when He went to the cross in our place. Love is what turned his attention off Himself and onto us. What more can we do but make the same effort to reach another with the same love and help that was so freely given to us?
Is there another that needs you today? Watch those you come into contact with during the day. Are there ways you can brighten someone’s day? Can you offer water or bread, in Jesus’ name, to one who has a need to be filled? Can someone else use a word of hope and encouragement that guides them to see more than what they are facing now? Can another just have your listening ear and understanding so they can unload a great weight they have been carrying much too long?
Touching needs where they are is only made possible when we get involved in the “one another concept”; when we allow God to use us, and our big or small offerings of help, to plant seeds of love in the life of one who may really need it today. Together, we can do this!
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2, NKJV
I don’t know about you, but I have made many mistakes in almost every area of my life. Every “i” has not been dotted, nor every “t” crossed. If I would begin to go down the list and check off all the goof-ups, blunders, and short-comings it would tell a story most don’t get to see on the outside; a story of blemishes on my record marred with many imperfections.
Failure and mistakes are some of those things that are hard to overcome for some. Mess-ups have a way of smearing defeat in one’s face making them feel that there will never be a space for recovery and restoration. But, God is a God of restoration.
The children of Israel had a propensity of straying from the will of God and messing up on several occasions (actually more than several but who are we to judge). Knowing their history, when Solomon was praying at the temple dedication, he included a plea for restoration from the sins and mistakes of the people. He prayed,
“When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.” (1 Kings 8:33-34)
In the above verses, we see a pattern to deal with defeat: 1) Pray and confess the wrong or mistake; 2) Let God restore. Now listen, even if what one has “failed” at does not necessarily qualify as sin, such as one may wish they had spoken better to someone else or, in hindsight one realizes they could have put more effort on a project, or it was just an honest mistake of accidentally overlooking something or someone – whatever the cause innocent or not, I believe the same model that King Solomon laid out can be applied to just about every situation.
Point number one: Any mistake, honest and innocent to sin and wrongdoing, can be taken to the Lord in prayer. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Not just your worries and disappointments, but every care that deals with situations that make one say, “Boy, I sure messed that up. Now what?”
Taking things to God in prayer allows Him to work on your case and opens up the doors of grace to be released in one’s life. Which leads to the second point: let God restore and work on your case. Solomon’s prayer said, “Bring them again unto the land,” which speaks of the opportunity to set things straight and start over; another chance to experience recovery of the Lord’s healing over the situation.
God specializes in fixing the broken and healing what others thought was impossible. Trust Him with everything that is bothering you and let Him work it out.
If the cause of failure is due to sin, confess it and get rid of it (seek spiritual counsel from a pastor or leader for help). If one has made a mistake that’s keeping you bound in doubt, pray for His deliverance even in this. God is standing at the ready to repair the brokenness and bring healing to the land.
“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me,” (Micah 7:8).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:16-17).
VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 15:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)
Man’s failure and God’s redemptive work is the whole story of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation; from the Fall to last words of Christ in the Bible that state, “Surely I come quickly,” (Rev. 22:20), God has sought a relationship with mankind that would eventually lead into eternity. No other story in the Bible demonstrates this sought for relationship better than that of the Prodigal Son.
In it, we see the rebellion of man. But, also in it, we see the love of the Father looking for His lost child. One’s eternity will be predicated on if one made the same choice as the Prodigal – to turn back to the Father, repent and rest in His love, and let Him restore.
The Prodigal’s Request
Luke 15:11-12 “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.”
The Pharisee’s had a propensity for thinking they knew better than Jesus. Many of Jesus’ actions were frowned upon by them. Little did they know His mission was to seek and to save them that are lost, (Luke 19:10). To do this, He often stepped out of the box most in His time would not. Their comfort zone didn’t allow them to spend time with the baser sorts of the world and when Jesus did, He was talked about and misunderstood. His motives were of pure love and showing mankind there was a better way. He didn’t mind teaching to any who had an ear to hear including “publicans and sinners,” (Luke 15:1-2).
His focus was to teach them, as well as the religious elite, the Father loves the world (John 3:16) and the salvation He seeks to give and the relationship He wants to have is extended to all mankind. Every human life is valuable to Him; therefore, He will rejoice when even just one of those lost ones becomes found.
To demonstrate this, He told stories we have come to know as parables. These heavenly nuggets of truth illustratively depict the Father’s desire to be in constant communion with us. When that bond between Father and creation was broken by sin, His love was not, and He celebrates with all of heaven the one who turns back to Him.
Before reaching the story of the prodigal son, Jesus told two lost and found stories regarding sheep and a coin (see Luke 15:3-10). These are things, property if you will, who have no eternal value in them. Once they have expired their use here on earth that’s all there is. There is no soul to worry about in these “objects” for eternity. Yet, people get really upset when property is messed with; when things that can be replaced disappear.
Jesus knows His audience. He knows the value they put on these “things.” He knows when a disappeared object is restored and found happiness soon follows. To bring it all into perspective He adds in Luke 15:7, 10 the joy that all of heaven experiences “over one sinner that repenteth.” Some get happy over found objects, but heaven rejoices over found people. Unlike those objects, people have eternal value. They do have souls to worry about and when one is restored in proper fellowship with the Father – oh, what a day that will be!
Priming the pump, if you will, with those parables, Jesus further explains in more detail using human relationships, something not as easily dismissed as a story of a sheep or a coin. He tells of a father and his two sons, one of which is dubbed forever as the prodigal.
What made him a prodigal? His reckless lifestyle of squandering money and resources to please his immediate pleasure of the flesh to live lavishly made him so. Not wanting to wait until his father died, one day the younger of the two boys, the prodigal son, went to his father and said, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,” (Luke 15:12a). To some modernist, this may not seem like a big deal. Nowadays, some like to give out portions of inheritance so that they can see their kids enjoy what would have been left to them.
But, in Jesus’ day, this was an insult. His father was apparently still alive and very vibrant in health. He had many years ahead of him and was nowhere near to being on his death bed. But this selfish son couldn’t wait that long. He wanted his portion now. Pushing forth in this manner was not only a disrespectful sentiment toward his own father, but he was seeking to usurp the tradition of the older son receiving first. According to law, the older son would also receive a double portion because of his firstborn status (see Deut. 21:17).
The Bible doesn’t go into detail about the father’s reactions. Was he taken aback by the younger son’s request? Did something in his behavior lead the father to believe this day was coming? We don’t know. But we do know surprisingly the father agreed to the request and “he divided unto them his living,” (Luke 15:12). With the word “them” included, we can only assume that both sons at that time received their inheritance.
The Prodigal’s Riotous Living
Luke 15:13-14 “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”
Not wasting much time, “not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living,” (Luke 15:13). As if his original demanding of an early inheritance was not offensive and dishonorable enough, this rebellious son took all that was now his and left.
He took his father’s hard-earned money and resources which he spent a lifetime accumulating and put a huge distance between himself and his family. Instead of loving the father more for what he had received and cleaving to him, he sowed seeds of division. Acting like a spoiled brat (as one would call him today), he separated himself from the reach of his father and his jurisdiction, and off he went “into a far country,” (Luke 15:13).
Reading the text, we see this younger son’s wrong lifestyle and choices caught up with him. Judging by the robe, ring, and feast later given at the end of the parable, I am supposing his father to have been a man of considerable wealth. Meaning his portion of inheritance was no chump change. He had to have arrived at that far country with a considerable sum of money. With one wrong decision leading to another, and then another, extravagantly spending here and there, he squandered his money and “wasted his substance with riotous living,” (Luke 15:13).
His irresponsibility went far beyond just misspending and purchasing items without regard. His lifestyle knew no restraint. The son exposed himself to a free for all, anything goes pattern of behavior, he was not privy to under his father’s roof. He may not have to answer to his father any longer but, life and the choices he made, will demand one. Eventually, what he sowed he is going to reap (Gal. 6:7) and he will begin to understand the real impact of his actions.
With a famine befalling the country and no longer with the privilege of money and friends at his disposal, “he began to be in want,” (Luke 15:14). Never in his life did he ever have to go without, but now just the basics of life eluded him, and he was destitute. He was poor beyond measure. One can lack money and still have some sort of familial support or a soul to confide in and depend upon. He had none. His lifestyle didn’t promote the faithfulness of human support to see him through his difficult ordeal. Any friends he had probably came and went with his money. Now, his situation is about to get even more desperate.
The Prodigal Hits Rock Bottom
Luke 15:15-16 “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”
And, as they say, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” With that, “he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine,” (Luke 15:15). Becoming a citizen of a country means you agree to be one of them now. You agree to abide by and uphold their laws and traditions. Depending on the country you could be asked to totally acclimate to their culture and give up all previous markers of identity that made you, you.
In his desperation, he felt he had no choice. He was starving and without residence and he needed to secure employment just to live. Being in no position to negotiate, he had to take what he could even if it was something totally against his upbringing. He had to feed the swine (Luke 15:15). The Jewish people do not eat or deal with anything pig related. To them, these unclean creatures were the lowest of the low, and yet his employment now causes him to care for them.
If his situation couldn’t get any lower, we read his desperation was teetering on the side of despair and total hopelessness. With no dignity left, and without regard to propriety, he began to desire the slop the pigs were eating: “he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave until him,” (Luke 15:16). This is what one calls a rock-bottom scenario. He was about as down as down could get.
How was he to come out of this?
The Prodigal Returns, Repents and is Restored
Luke 15:17-24 “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. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
After the reality of a situation so bad he was willing to eat the slop of pigs, the prodigal son was hit with an even bigger dose of reality. His destructive lifestyle had taught him a lesson or two the hard way: 1) The grass is not always greener on the other side, and 2) What he had, to begin with, was not so bad after all. This is one of those moments when the obvious is made clear and people say if it was a snake it would have bit you.
Therefore, he said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to eat 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,” (Luke 15:17-19).
It’s amazing how a humiliating and humbling experience can open one’s eyes to true blessings that were already there. In his coming to himself moment, his eyes were opened to many things: 1) His eyes were opened to the fact that even the servants in his father’s house were better off than him right now. While living there did he ever stop and think about their work or appreciate the fact that he had servants to help care for his home and livelihood, dependable people who worked hard to make sure everything was cared for? He knew that right now they were not in want as he was. He was perishing with hunger. Though a son by birth, they fared better than he at this moment; 2) His eyes were opened to his sin. He realized, not just for the sake of needing food and roof over his head, that he had wronged his father. His foray out into the world made him realize his blunder. Notice also, he readily admitted that he had not only wronged his father but heaven as well. Sin impacts one’s relationships with people and God; 3) His eyes were opened to his now unworthy state. Claiming his early inheritance and distancing himself from his father meant he wanted no more dealings with him. He knows he could be disowned from the privilege of being called “son.” Yet, he is willing, if his father is willing, to secure employment there and work as a “hired servant.”
He sought a complete turnaround in the life he messed up. With great resolve to get back to where he belongs, “he arose and came to his father,” (Luke 15:20). Little did he know, despite his selfish behavior his father never stopped loving him and never stopped looking for him. “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,” (Luke 15:20).
This is that type of rejoicing we see in the two previous parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin made even more alive by the returning of the lost son. The father who is representing our heavenly Father has compassion and rejoices over the repentance of the lost. As I stated at the beginning of this article, this has been the whole story of the Bible. Man’s lost state meets with God’s compassionate redemption. Wow!!
Every time someone leaves the world of sin behind and comes back to the Father, He is overjoyed. Heaven is singing and shouting praises. People matter to God. Lost people are loved by God. His strongest desire is to see them come back home in His loving arms where they belong. What an eye-opening picture this parable presents.
The son readily admitted his failure to his father and confessed his sins (see Luke 15:21). Thinking to come back as a servant, how big his eyes must have gotten when he heard the command, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry,” (Luke 15:22-24).
Instead of disowning him and putting him to work, the father received him with joy and restored his position as his son (signified by adorning him with the best robe, ring, and shoes – all markers of his position in the family). This went way beyond his farthest dream could imagine when he was hungering and wishing for at least some pig slop to eat. He was totally restored!
This is God’s end desire for all, including the lost. He wants to welcome them home and put on them the identifying markers that they are His child and they are restored. Those that are spiritually dead He wants to make alive once more. If one finds themselves currently in a prodigal state of living, without hesitation I plead with you to turn back to our heavenly Father and let Him restore you. Experience His compassion of salvation offered through our Lord Jesus Christ.
PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Prodigal Son
Object Lesson: “Three Wishes” (Here you will find a great object lesson/lesson introduction including group activities such as “Balloon Art” and “Prodigal Son Puppet.” Enjoy!)
Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages
Draw the Scene: The Prodigal Son Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: The Prodigal Son Memory Verse
Prodigal Son Welcome Home Party Hat: When the lost son came home his father celebrated. Simply print the PDF (whichever version you like best I couldn’t decide which one I liked more, so I leave it up to you: Prodigal Son Party Hat or Prodigal Son Party Hat 2 (both options are shown at the bottom) with verse onto cardstock. Color and decorate. I added a little pom pom on the top. Another option is to glue pom poms all over instead of coloring the stars if you wish. The only limit is your and your student’s imagination. Punch holes in the side and string with yarn. There you have it. Enjoy!
“Parable: Prodigal Son” (Awesome lesson ideas and printables your students are sure to love. Enjoy!)
“The Prodigal Son Pig Pen Craft” (Great, demonstrative lesson idea for the students to learn more about the prodigal son’s wrong choices. Scroll down to craft and enjoy!)
“Teaching Kids Forgiveness/Prodigal Son” (This is an easy and awesome craft idea your students are sure to enjoy that reiterates the true nature of this lesson. Enjoy!)
“The Prodigal Son Pictures for this lesson” (These pictures help tell the story of this lesson. Enjoy!)
No matter what yesterday was like, today is a new day.
Today is a day to start over.
Today is a day to take a fresh breath in and realize there is great potential up ahead.
Today is a gift from above, with mercies we have never seen before.
There’s something wonderful about today.
I thank God for this new day.