You Will Be The Reason God Rejoices
This weeks devotional is by Mark Hathaway.
What does a sheep, a silver coin, and a son have in common?
Did you have a good Christmas? Or was it filled with pain and sorrow? The holidays for some can be a joyous season. A family celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But for others, it can be a time of experiencing the loss of a loved one. Many people look forward to celebrating Christmas, others can’t wait for it to be over. I have been in both groups of people. I lost my dad in December of 2001. The Saturday before Christmas this year, my brother and I were talking on the phone. He started talking about dad, and he called to memory some details I had forgotten. I asked him to summarize what we talked about in an email. I had been asked to share a testimony at our Christmas eve service, and what my brother had to say about dad seemed to fit what I felt God was wanting me to talk about. I’d like to share that email with you now.
We both had to learn to forgive dad. I remember conversation you had with dad in Arizona on the payphone. You really laid into him even though it was much deserved [I was 18, and not very wise], later on you asked for dad’s forgiveness and you learned to honor and respect him and forgive him.
I also had to learn to forgive dad and respect and honor him. Because we were able to forgive him , we were able to pray for His salvation for many years. One thing dad always said was “Jesus is not God, he is the son of God. The word Trinity is not in the Bible, it is a man made term! No one is saved until the final day, so all these people walking around saying they are saved are mistaken!”
Dad could not stand to listen to TV preachers or any other preacher. He said they were hypocrites and just out for money. He had a stroke in February of 2001. Our cousin’s wife went in and prayed with Dad. That day, saying a simple prayer, Dad placed his trust in Christ Jesus for salvation.
Following his hospital room conversion Dad told you on the phone, that Jesus came into his hospital room, sat on the end of the bed, and explain to him the Trinity. Dad said he was at peace with it now.
Before dad died he was listing to a TV preacher on the television who was talking about being born again. Mom said he listened to the whole show with a look of peace on his face. After he finished listening to the preacher, mom and dad got in the car. Dad died on the way to the restaurant.
Nothing we could do could change our dad, there was nothing we could say to him to convince him when his mind was made up. It was only our forgiveness, honoring him, and praying for him that enabled him to come to Christ.
It seems that before God saved Dad, He had to strip him of all his strength and independence. He took away his addiction to cigarettes and released his emotions – Dad couldn’t control his emotions after the stroke. Dad died that following December, December 16, 2001. God completely did all the work and there was nothing you or I could say to dad, but only what we could say to God in prayer.
So in many ways Christmas 2001 was a very sad time for me, but then it occurred to me…while I was experiencing sorrow over the loss of my dad, there was great rejoicing in heaven! In Luke 15:1-2 we see the Pharisees and Scribes (the religious elite of that day) complaining that, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” Jesus responds by telling them three different parables. In the first parable recorded in Luke 15:4-7, Jesus tells of a shepherd who loses one of his sheep. He leaves the flock, and goes in search of the stray. He finds it, puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he arrives home he calls his friends together to rejoice over his found sheep.
Next in Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells the religious leaders about a woman who had ten silver coins. She loses one. She lights a lamp and sweeps through the whole house until she finds it. Like the shepherd with the recovered sheep, she calls her friends together for a time of rejoicing over the recovered coin.
In the third parable, found in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus describes a father who had two sons. The elder was a faithful son who stayed with his father. The younger son demanded an early inheritance, went into a far away land, and squandered all he owned. He repentantly returns home. His father runs to meet him and throws a huge party rejoicing with his friends over his son’s return.
So what does a sheep, a silver coin and a son have in common? In each case the owner greatly rejoices when that which was lost is returned to him. You will recall that Jesus told these stories in response to the Scribes and Pharisees complaint that Jesus was receiving sinners and eating (or we might say fellowshipping) with sinners.
The beautiful truth Jesus is communicating is that God rejoices in the presence of His angels over one sinner who repents. I know many of us, when presented with the gospel, have responded by saying, “I’m not ready to repent. I still have wild oats to sow!”, or something similar. But the single greatest act of repentance that you or I will ever commit, is placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ! Jesus assures us that when we do that, God the Father rejoices over us! Jesus says in Luke 15:10, “ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The day my dad placed his trust in Christ Jesus God rejoiced over him. The day I placed my trust in Christ Jesus God rejoiced over me. How about you, friend? Has God rejoiced over you? You are of much more value than a lost sheep or a lost coin. Don’t wait. Place your faith in Christ today and He will gloriously save you – you will be the reason God rejoices!
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.
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