31/03/2019: A Love that Never Gives Up

CALL TO WORSHIP:          Psalm 32 (CEV)

 

(A special psalm by David.)

The Joy of Forgiveness

1 Our God, you bless everyone whose sins you forgive and wipe away.
You bless them by saying, “You told me your sins, without trying to hide them, and   now I forgive you.”

Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, and I groaned all day long.
Night and day your hand weighed heavily on me, and my strength was gone as in  the summer heat.

So I confessed my sins and told them all to you. I said, “I’ll tell the Lord each one of my sins.” Then you forgave me and took away my guilt.We worship you, Lord, and we should always pray whenever we find out that we  have sinned. Then we won’t be swept away by a raging flood.
You are my hiding place! You protect me from trouble, and you put songs in my  heart because you have saved me.

You said to me, “I will point out the road that you should follow. I will be your teacher and watch over you.
Don’t be stupid like horses and mules that must be led with ropes to make them  obey.”

10 All kinds of troubles will strike the wicked, but your kindness shields those who trust you, Lord.
11 And so your good people should celebrate and shout.

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

READING:     Luke 15:11-32 (CEV)

Two Sons

11 Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons.

12 The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.

13 Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living.

14 He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.

15 He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs.

16 He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.

17 Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death!

18 I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you.

19 I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”

20 The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.

21 The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”

22 But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.

23 Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate.

24 This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.

25 The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing.

26 So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?”

27 The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.”

28 The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.

His father came out and begged him to go in.

29 But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends.

30 This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”

31 His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

32 But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

QUESTIONS

    1. Make a note of each of the characters, and the role they play, in the story.
    2. What do you think is the focal point of the Parable?
    3. Personal perspective has an influence on our reading, and understanding, of the Bible. Perspective matters! With this in mind – which character in the story do you identify with, and why?
    4. If we read the parable as one that deals with “Lostness”; can you identify how each character, in their particular situation, may be “lost” in some way?
    5. What do you think about how the parable ends?
    6. I said: “True Forgiveness is not as easy as we like to think. Indeed, it goes to the core of our very being. It is perhaps the primary test of our spiritual maturity – if we are honest, we struggle with forgiveness, because it seems so unfair!” … and …. “Forgiveness can appear irrational and extreme.” What do you think?
    7. The “Good News” in the story is the way Jesus displays the love of the Father as being “all-consuming, amazing, embracing, and in a non-nonsensical way!”

This Lent, take a new perspective …:

“God loves you – fiercely, vulnerably, courageously…and unendingly. Whether you have wasted opportunity after opportunity or whether you have been quietly working away faithfully and wondering when you’ll be noticed, God loves you. Whether you have welcomed others who are down and out or have judged others for not measuring up, God loves you. Whether you think this news is the best in the world or barely notice it, even then God loves you. Whether you’re in the church reluctantly or filled with joy, and peace, whether you have had a lifelong relationship with God, or have just come to know God, or aren’t even sure yet God really exists, even then God loves you…truly, madly, and deeply.” No need to stay LOST! Time to come home.

GOD BLESS,

REV.TIM

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