“The Value of Life”

During World War II, German Nazis imprisoned about 7 to 8 million people, mostly European Jews, in 22 concentration camps. By 1945 they had murdered about 6 million of the inmates. Some were killed by firing squads, others died of starvation or as a result of experiments performed on them by German doctors and scientists, and most died in poison gas chambers.

When Allied forces liberated the camps in 1945, they found them littered with thousands of unburied dead, and the majority of the survivors were suffering from disease or starvation.

Major camps included Dachau, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Natzweiler, Gross-Rosen, Stutthof, Lublin, Hinzert, Bergen-Belsen and, for women, Ravensbrück,

German law at the time legally considered Jews as “not fully human.” They were classified as a “sub-human” species. Legally speaking, they were “non-persons.”

If I went hunting and I saw a bald eagle and shot it, would I be guilty of killing a protected species? Yes. Would the law punish me if I were caught? Yes.

Who decides that I killed a protected species? The government. What makes a bald eagle a protected species? The law. Who makes the laws? Other men. How do we determine that a life has value? Who makes that decision?

The German opinion in 1933 said that Jews were not human. The German government was stronger than the Jews and their opinion prevailed for many years. But it was not right.

Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America stated that African-American’s counted as only three-fifths of a person. This was not repealed until the 14th Amendment in 1865. So, before 1865, could I say that African-American’s were not fully human? Would it be right? No.

Here is the truth: There is only one opinion that matters in relation to you having value…God’s. People who do not believe in God can’t offer any objective reason for saying that they have value as a human being. Everything is subjective – one person’s opinion against another person’s opinion – and the strongest person’s opinion wins. Subjective means I believe something because I “feel” that it is right. It is my own opinion.

However objective means that we are not dealing in opinions or feelings. We are dealing in facts, pure and simple. No-one objects when an animal kills another animal. When a wolf kills a deer, it’s no problem. Without God, we are no different than animals.

The Bible says…

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God created man and breathed the breath of life into him. Man is God’s creation.

Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

God saw fit to create man in his own image and likeness. God made us. We did not make God. God is not a human idea! He is a universal truth.

A man once said that God made man in His image, and man has been trying to return the favor ever since! I believe that our biggest mistake is to try to make God like us, instead of us trying to be more like God. There are groups of people who build whole doctrines on the belief that God is like them. God is black or God is white or God is yellow. All for the purpose of making God so like them, and so unlike someone else.

May I tell you that I do not care what color God is? If the Lord God Almighty is black, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is yellow, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is purple, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! And if the Lord God Almighty is white, it doesn’t matter to me. I am no more like Him than if He was black, or yellow, or purple. PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!!

I do not serve a white God. I do not serve a purple God. I serve a LIVING GOD!!! I will serve the Lord with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my mind. My eyes cannot even conceive of His beauty. I cannot imagine. I will not dare to compare myself to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I am content to be called His servant, and blessed to be called one of His sons. That is enough for me.

I believe that man has value to God, because he saw fit to create us. He did not have to, but it pleased Him.

Genesis 1:27-31 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God said that everything He had made was “very good.”

Revelation 4:10-11 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

We were created for His pleasure and to bring glory to Him. There was no second class of people in this creation. He made man and he made woman and he instructed them to multiply. Every man, woman, and child on the earth came from these two people. Every black man, every white man, every red man, every yellow man. The same bloodline. God gave life to us all.

Acts says He “made of one blood all nations.”

Act 17:22-26 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Make no mistake; you are special to God. God did not make any mistakes. Because you have sinned, does not make you any less important to God. He sent His Son to redeem you. His Son died for each of you. If there is anything in your heart that judges another man’s worth, put it out! Do not think any less of your fellow man than God does.

Jesus gave two commandments…

Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I can’t truly say, “I love you” if I look down on you or think you are less than a man. Followers of Christ, love each other, care for each other, think well of each other. Do not separate yourselves for any reason. Each of you is precious to God. He has loved you since before you were born. And since we are precious to God, we should treat each other that way.

We are one people. One bloodline. One family. One body of Christ. Show the world the love of God through the love you have for each other.

Know God, Not the Plan

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

When working in ministry you are asked questions sometimes that are rather difficult to answer. Over the last several years I’ve asked many of these questions, “How long will you remain in ministry?” What if God had something else for you?” and “What is God’s plan for your future?” Answers to these questions aren’t always easy for several reasons. First, because ministry never ends, yes we may stay in certain areas of ministry for a season but as a Christian wherever you are and whatever you do, the need and importance of ministry is still there. The second reason these questions are difficult for me to answer is that I don’t know God’s plan. God has led me to have a passion and love for the incarcerated and I chose to follow His leading so that I may glorify Him through disciping men and equipping them to make disciples among the incarcerated. I can plan and map out the way in front of me if I want but it still only remains my plan. I can speculate changes in my future but it still only remains my speculations. There is one thing I don’t have and that God’s master plan.

Throughout my past I have heard numerous sermons about finding the grand and glorious plan that God has already mapped out for you.  If only we can figure out God’s plan, then we’ll be set.  But I have not found that to be true in my life. In fact out of curiosity I Googled “God’s plan” one night and had hundreds of results that came up, all about focusing, finding, and following God’s plan for you. I have come to this conclusion at this point in my life that God isn’t going to tell me His plan.  God’s plan is on a need-to-know basis, and apparently, He thinks I don’t need to know.

So does following God cause uncertainty at times in our lives? Yes and No! Yes it may cause uncertainty at times but it should never cause us to distrust God. The problem for many of us adults is that we don’t really trust God.  If Jesus himself drove up to our house and said, “Get in,” we’d have some questions we would want answered. “Where are we going?” “How long is this going to take?” “What do I need?” We would waste a bunch of time trying to figure out what Jesus had planned before we would agree to go along.  And that is how most of us live our lives.  We are obsessed with finding things out, especially as they relate to us and our lives.  We want to know where we are headed, how we are getting there, how long it will take, and what will we need. And we won’t budge until we have all those questions answered.

The secret to finding out God’s plan for your life isn’t to keep asking God to tell you the plan. It’s to get in the car and go.  It doesn’t matter where God is taking you.  Just go. The reality is none of us know where God is taking us.  And our obsession with knowing the plan is just our obsession with control.  We want to know so we can feel more in control of our destinies. God has never promised to tell us the plan for our lives.  He has only promised that if we want to, we can know Him. The reason most of us are obsessed with knowing God’s plan is because we don’t really know Him.  Faith is not knowing the plan.  It’s going even if you don’t know the plan.  And faith comes from knowing God.  God hasn’t promised a plan.  He’s promised Himself.

So my reply to the questions that have been asked of me is this. I am God’s creation and when he formed and created me, He put inside of me a passion and love for the incarcerated. God has opened doors and led me to serve Him through prison ministry and I am willing to stay where I am at and be faithful in service to Him or go and serve Him elsewhere if He leads me. Ministry will not have an ending date in my life as long as I live because as a Christian it is what I’ve been commissioned to do. I don’t know God’s master plan and rather than me trying to determine and know His plan I am choosing to pursue and know the God that is leading me.

Testimony: “Afterlife Without End”

My life began to spiral out of control as a young child, Major depression and schizophrenia afflicted me at a young age, and by the age of 16 I was put in a mental institution. This would be the first of many trips. By the time I was 17 years old I was hooked on drugs. There did not seem to be any hope in my life. I was caught up in demonology and witchcraft; using drugs and alcohol; and hearing angry voices because of my disease. I struggled with suicide almost daily. Prison or death did not seem far off. Luckily for me, death was not my sentence. At 17 I was involved in a murder and was sent to ‘prison with Life without parole. The prosecutors had asked for the death penalty, but the jury voted for Life. For my first few years in prison I was a searcher, looking for some kind of meaning. I studied Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and several other obscure religions looking for something meaningful, but I could not find it Finally, I found the Truth. Jesus Christ came into my life and saved me and I became a Christian. Peace and joy flooded my life. For the first time in my adult life I did not want to die. For the first time in my adult life I was truly happy, even in prison, I embraced Christ, got a job working in the Chapel, and started to enjoy the true Serenity that comes for being a child of God. I’ve been working in the Chapel for over a decade now, and I still have that same peace that I had when I first I started. I still have Life Without Parole, but I also have Afterlife Without End, and that’s what’s most important. My prayer is that everyone may eventually find what I have found ….. the love of Jesus Christ.

This is a testimony of an incarcerated brother inside the facility that I serve in.

Testimony Of An Incarcerated Brother

My testimony is like so many other behind these walls. Some even in society could identify with our testimonies. We all have our weaknesses, challenges & failures. We all have gone astray much like the prodigal son. Though our stories stem from the same source of chaos known as the devil and his lies, our stories are yet unique. Our stories are success stories in a seemingly story of one failure after the next. I write this as a man who has nothing to boast of or to be proud of other then that of God.

I killed a man who was a friend of mine at the age of sixteen. The story is that I was told by a thirty-six year old man to go out and kill someone for gang rank. Though it came out that I was not a gang member, the story I suppose still sticks. Everyone ( including myself) would have never believed that I would shoot someone, My case was an accident. Nevertheless that was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Though I know that I am a new creature in Christ, I still have a hard time forgiving myself for what I have done, the pain I have caused to so many others, The ending of another’s dreams and hopes. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. Christ had to suffer endless hours of beatings and pain to bring forgiveness to mankind.

As a child I had always prayed and talked with God as if he were right in front of me. Sometime along the path of childhood I found a false sense of independence. I began to think I knew best. The greatest thing I lost in growing up was my sense of dependence on God. Such as when a storm came I would seek God to keep us all safe. When I got older I no longer paid much attention to the storm. As a man I now am relearning to have that dependence on God once again.

I grew up in a military family. We moved constantly. I have no childhood friends because of our constant movement. Each time I would have to readjust, seek ways to fit in. I wanted popularity, acceptance, etc that eventually led to doing drugs, going to crazy parties, stealing cars, all just to fit in, to be held in high esteem by my peers. My parents were both in the medical field, Because of their long hours of work I had a lot of free time I would make bad use of such times, I would throw parties or go out and do whatever, I had never officially been in trouble before with the law, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do stuff to go to jail before hand. I was a stupid, stupid teenager. I look back in disgust on my past, I had so much promise and threw it all away. But even if I had succeeded and I didn’t know God I was still doomed anyway.

I didn’t immediately come to God after being locked up because I was so resentful at God. When I shot the gun that terrible night I was in a car when I did it. I got out of the car and got into another car with a couple of girls. One of the girls asked” what happened back there, I think someone got shot”. I began to cry, pray and beg that no one would be hurt. I got home and my mother told me that some friends of mine came over and said that a friend of mine just got shot. I was later arrested and while in county jail waiting for trial I begged God for a chance to get out one day or to give me the death penalty, anything but life without parole. I received life without parole. I wanted to die, I began to cuss God and declare my great hate for Him. I begged for death over and over again. I began to learn witchcraft and Alister Crowley’s version of Satanism. ‘persecuted Christians in here. I would call them names and talk about how stupid they were. I began to study evolution so that I could use that to show that God didn’t make us. I would also educate myself in psychotherapy (Sigmund Freud) to challenge these Christians. I hated God so much. Then one day someone told me that I didn’t hate God, I laughed, He said” you would be glad to be hit by a bold of lightening as long as you know God was listening to you”. He further said that I just want to know if God ever heard me or cared for me. When I laid down that night I knew he was right. I was like a child who blamed his parents for every thing that was going wrong in fife and I threw a temper tantrum just the same. The truth was that I wanted God in my life but I was too afraid because I didn’t know if I could depend on Him. If I could trust him. I had to learn to forgive myself and I had to learn to forgive Him. I know that sounds strange but I did. Since then it has been a constantly developing relationship. It’s a love affair. I have fallen in love with Him. I am no longer bitter or extremely resentful toward myself. As I have said I am still in the process of forgiving myself for my crime. I have a sense of purpose and hope in my life. I finally have direction. Where there is lack of vision the people will surely perish. Also I have had to learn to stop being so selfish. I still struggle here, but I was privileged to be able to work on hospice for a long time and give back to life. I watched many men wither away and die in here. It is a sad thing to watch men die in here. But I am grateful to have been able to take care of them before they did die.

I have learned in my few years in life that dependence on God is the greatest of gifts we receive, where we have a daddy who is so intimate, so caring that He wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives. We become like children who before we do anything we look to make sure daddy is there to protect us and watch over us, to provide us with all that we need. He has taken good care of me since my incarceration. A sixteen year old in prison has no chance. He has protected me from men who have tried to kill me and much, much more. Then He gave me a great gift in being able to play music for Him. I have always loved music. I used to play a little when I was a kid, but smoking pot caused me to stop. Loving God caused me to play. God is a blessing and He loves to bless. I am still growing in Him, I’m sure it’s a lifetime process. What I find ironic is that it is actually a fun process. I conclude by saying thank you God for second and third chances, for never giving up on me and loving me even when I didn’t love myself.

“Behold Your God”

Last June in the Faith Based Honor Dorm, I begun a journey through a study called Behold Your God for 12 weeks with 16 men. Behold Your God is born out of a desire to see the glory of God manifested once again among God’s people. The class attempts to answer two questions, “Who is the God I profess to know?” and “How must I live if I am to live faithfully unto this God?” After the class I had each student write two essays on how the study had effected the way they think about God and how the study might had impacted them long term. These are some of the responses from these men.

How has this study affected the way you think about God?

Mark- This study made me realize that I had only scratched the surface in my relationship with God. It made me want a deeper relationship with God. I have a desire to seek the god of the Bible in a way I never did before.

Earnest- This study has showed me how God is made visible to me. I have to learn to open my eyes and search for Him. It has also inspired me to stay in the Word, stay away from the temptation in this camp. I love the Lord and I know that I am saved and want to feel His presence each day of my life.

David- This study has given me a better understanding of what God expects from me in my relationship with Him as well as how I should pursue that closer relationship with Him.

Courtney- This study has helped me draw near to God and know that He will draw near to me. No one has ever seen God, the only way we get to know the Father is through His Son Jesus Christ. This study made the invisible God, visible to me and my peers.

Joshua- This study has made me realize that if you’re going to follow the Lord then it is something you need to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the past I followed the Lord on my time and when it was convenient for me. I know that is not how things work and I need to change things.

Roger- This study has caused me to take a more serious look at God and led me to rethink the way I worship Him.

Marvin (A Muslim in search for the truth)- It is always a pleasure to be involved in a study designed to generate deeper thoughts about God. It has been refreshing and enlightening. This study has greatly affected the way I think about God.

How has this study impacted you long term?

Roger- This study has inspired me to sow into the lives of the men in my cell-block.

Samuel- I want the impact of this study to become a habitual lifestyle.

Mark- It has made my desire to know the God of the Bible grow stronger, which will have a long term impact.

Earnest- Evangelism is what God has called me to, but if I don’t put God up front, the rest is no good.

David- I must be more diligent in my pursuit of my true relationship with God, put my life in the hand of God and trust Him.

Billy- This study has challenged me to share who God is and what He has done for me to my family and those around me.

I am excited and blessed as I see God’s work in these men’s lives. Feedback like this gives me reason to continue sharing the Gospel message with those who are not yet following Christ and to help nurture personal growth and holiness to those who have surrendered their lives to following Christ. My prayer is that they would recognize their depravity without God, experience His forgiveness, and then surrender their lives to Him in worship.   “Forgiven much, Worship much”

A Challenging Excerpt From The Letters Of John Newton

This excerpt is from the Letters of John Newton (pp. 26-27),describing the heart of the person singularly focused on the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.

“A palace would be a prison to him without the Lord’s presence, and with this a prison would be a palace.

Therefore he is not afraid of evil tidings; but when the hearts of others shake like the leaves of a tree, he is fixed, trusting in the Lord, who he believes can and will make good every loss, sweeten every bitter, and appoint all things to work together for his advantage. He sees that the time is short, lives upon the foretastes of glory, and therefore accounts not his life, or any inferior concernment, dear, so that he may finish his course with joy.

Now, in proportion as we advance nearer to him, our judgment, aim, and end, will be conformable to his, and his glory will have the highest place in our hearts.

He has a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which would be importunate if he considered only himself; but his chief desire is, that God may be glorified in him, whether by his life or by his death. He is not his own; nor does he desire to be his own; but so that the power of Jesus may be manifested in him, he will take pleasure in infirmities, in distresses, in temptations; and though he longs for heaven, would be content to live as long as Methuselah upon earth, if, by any thing he could do or suffer, the will and glory of God might be promoted.

And though he loves and adores the Lord for what he has done and suffered for him, delivered him from, and appointed him to; yet he loves and adores him likewise with a more simple and direct love, in which self is in a manner forgot, from the consideration of his glorious excellence and perfections, as he is in himself. That God in Christ is glorious over all, and blessed for ever, is the very joy of his soul; and his heart can frame no higher wish, than that the sovereign, wise, holy will of God may be accomplished in him, and all his creatures. Upon this grand principle his prayers, schemes, and actions, are formed.”

Miller Family Update

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“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” [Psalm 96:3]

Greetings from the Miller family.These last few months have been going well at St. Clair despite the rough start this year. We hosted Kairos Prison Ministry at St. Clair on the last weekend in March, which turned out to be a great success, thanks to the many men that sacrificed their time to facilitate and participate in the event. During the Kairos weekend we had several men participate that were very active in some gangs here in the prison. The weekend had a major impact on several of these men, which led us to have a weekly Discipleship Class with them and their fellow gang members in the chapel. One of these men described his experience this way, “I have 3 Life Without Paroles convictions. Justice demanded blood for blood and that I should be put to death, but God didn’t allow it. I couldn’t figure out why, or what purpose He had for my life, why would He keep me alive and in prison for the rest of my life? Even though I could feel God pulling at me like a moth drawn to a flame, I just wasn’t ready to let go of the world and surrender to God. I was still young and had a fearsome reputation. I was a Gangster Disciple and chose to follow a man instead of Jesus, but I still knew in my heart that it was wrong. While in the Chapel one day I was encouraged by a brother to sign up for the upcoming Kairos weekend. He shared that Kairos was the greatest experience he had ever had in 19 years in prison. Even after all I heard about it, I still wasn’t expecting it to be one of the most awesome things that has ever happened to me in my life; inside and outside of prison. This was the major event that allowed me to see God and experience love, caring and understanding. Kairos showed me what it means to be strong. The last day, at closing, I cried like a baby even though I told myself I wouldn’t. When I really thought about how Jesus died on the cross for me; how He gave His life for me out of His love for me, and experienced the true love of God through other people, it was more than I could take.” Please continue to pray for these men as I believe God is calling them to repentance and a life of service to Him.

In April I was honored to baptize two of my incarcerated brothers at an evening chapel service. The service was centered on the subject of justification and that the necessary means of justification is a personal faith in Jesus Christ as the crucified Savior and risen Lord. Explaining that justification is a judicial act of God, pardoning sinners, accepting them as just, and restoring permanently, their previously estranged relationship. Before they were baptized they each shared their testimony in front of the church and as I listened to their testimonies I was reminded once again of the urgent need for all men to know Him. I echo the words of Oswald Chambers, “So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.” Pray, that as I go through my daily activities at the prison that I would always be aware of lost and hurting around me.

This last month I have begun several new classes in the Faith/Character Based Honor Dorm and the Therapeutic Community, in which I am excited about. Every Wednesday, I meet with 8 guys in the Faith Based Honor Dorm and study together the importance of prayer, Biblical meditation and the need for personal holiness. On Friday morning at the Therapeutic community I meet with 10 guys as we study a call to courageous manhood. As men, we all face decisions in life that demand integrity and courage. This course tackles head on the call to living, breathing manhood, offering a powerful vision for what it means to be a man who truly conquers and wins. It identifies 5 stages of a man’s journey through life-boyhood, adolescence, manhood, mentor, and patriarch-and examines a man’s responsibilities at each step. Friday evenings I meet with 16 guys as we study what it means to rethink God Biblically. Our understanding of God affects every other area of our lives and what you believe about God will always influence what you think of yourself. What you think of God and yourself will affect what you think of sin. And what you think of all three of these will determine what you think of salvation.

We do ask for your prayers as we continue to serve at St Clair. Pray that I would continue to foster healthy relationships with the inmates by sharing encouragement and friendship, while understanding the urgency of sharing the Gospel message with those who are not yet following Christ. Pray that I would help nurture personal growth and holiness to those who have surrendered their lives to following Christ, by mentoring them and offering spiritual guidance. Pray as I continue to teach and facilitate Biblical studies and practical life skills, to have an emphasis on preparing inmates for successful re-entry into society and a deeper communion with our God.

I am currently in the process of raising support so that I will be able to continue this ministry at St. Clair. My wife and I, along with our three small children, have committed ourselves to this ministry and are grateful to each of you who currently support this ministry or who have offered support in the past. Since long-term ministry at St. Clair is what we believe God has called us to, and in order to be able to serve in the capacity that we do now, we need the financial and prayer partnership of individuals like you. We pray that you may consider partnering with us and trust that God will provide as He has in the past. If you decide to partner with us financially you can do so either by a one-time financial gift or a monthly recurring financial gift.

Make all checks payable to, We Care Program and send your financial support to: We Care Program 3493 Highway 21 Atmore, Alabama 36502.Include a note stating that it is for Jeremy Millers support. Without God, your prayers, and monthly financial support this ministry would not be possible.

Jeremy Miller

A Tender Word for Pharisees (John Piper)

Here is a post from John Piper that I highly recommend reading.

This Sunday I preached at Watermark Church in Dallas under the title “A Tender Word for Pharisees.” There are not many tender words for Pharisees in the mouth of Jesus. Mainly his words to Pharisees are tough, even terrifying (see Matthew 23).

The most moving words of tenderness for Pharisees are in Luke 15:25–31, the words of the father to the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

Luke 15 begins with Jesus eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” The Pharisees grumbled, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

Jesus explains what he is doing with three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The point of each is that when Jesus eats with sinners, what’s happening is that the Father in heaven is seeking the lost. The physician is tending the sick (Luke 5:30–31). That’s the meaning of Jesus’s ministry.

Seeking Lost Legalists Too

But in the third of these parables, Jesus goes beyond explaining what he is doing with collectors and sinners; he explains what he is doing with Pharisees. We know this because in Luke 15:1–2, the Pharisees are standing aloof grumbling about the meal Jesus is sharing with the sinners. And in Luke 15:28, the older brother is standing aloof, angry and unwilling to join the father who is eating with the younger brother who represents the tax collectors and sinners.

The older brother “was angry and refused to go in” (verse 28). He said to his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (verses 29–30).

Notice the words “served” and “command.” The problem is that the older brother related to his father as slave to a master, not as son to a father. His father was merely a command-giver, and he was a command-keeper. And therefore, merit, not mercy, was the foundation of the relationship; and mercy to the undeserving made him angry.

Five Tender Expressions from the Father

How will the father handle this situation? The son is angry on the porch of merit and refusing to walk into the celebration of mercy. In great patience and tenderness, his father does five tender things.

1. The father moves toward him, similar to the way he ran out to meet the younger son (verse 20). Verse 28: “And his father came out.”

He does not send a servant to get him. He does not holler from a distance and command his son to come into the house. He goes himself. This is a picture of God coming to save hypocrites as well as harlots.

Read the rest of the post here

Testimony Of Christ’s Work

When I was twelve my parents got a divorce and that messed me up even more, but I stayed in California just trying not to worry. My mom moved to Tacoma, Washington and soon my dad would follow. By the time I turned 14, my mom had moved down south to Birmingham, Alabama and she wanted me to stay with her. I did, and when I got down there I found out that I had another brother that also looked so much like my dad, and he was younger than my little brother and me. But anyway, I went to school in Birmingham and got into so much trouble fighting they kicked me out of the Birmingham school districts. I earned a mean reputation as a kid not to be messed with and if I came around, folks always knew something was fixing to happen, My mom felt like she did all that she could for me so she sent me back up to Washington to stay with my dad. When I got there, I wanted nothing to do with my dad because I felt like it was his fault that he and my mom weren’t together anymore. After this I went to California to stay with my aunt. I ended up in juvenile for six months for assaulting a police officer at the high school. Once I had gotten out I went back three months later for breaking a rival gang member’s jaw at school.

After this, I tried to do what was right, but still found myself in and out of trouble. I was doing gook in school and every summer I’d go see my family in Alabama. I ended up starting my own gang in Alabama, and once the guys saw the movie “Colors” they really wanted to become part of my gang. I was a “Crip” and I started looking at this gang stuff like it was a higher power or something. I finished school and had a chance to go to college to play basketball and football, but I was so out of control that I ended up getting shot in the back, shoulder & stomach which left me paralyzed for 3 months. Now I didn’t want to live anymore. I was praying to God and telling Him to come and get me because I couldn’t live like that.
Well, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant with my son, so now I wanted to live seeing her like that. I was 18 and now had a son on the way. I wanted to be the best father that my son could have, but not knowing if I would be paralyzed the rest of my like had we worried. I didn’t trust the doctors, so I just started praying a lot night and day. One day God gave me a vision and showed me a tunnel of light. As I ran toward it, it would move away from me. But a hand had appeared and once it pulled me into the light I woke up, feeling my body move when at first I could only move my neck. As I started being able to move again I thanked God so much and I had to go through a process, therapy and all. I had to learn how to walk all over again. It was a lot of hard work and I wanted to give up at times, but I just kept thinking about raising my son and being there for him, so I never gave up. I couldn’t do a lot of things like play basketball the way I used to, but I was walking and feeling a lot better. I still have a slug from the bullet that went through my back and lodged in my chest.

Anyway, when my son was born I held him and wanted to just do so much for him that I started selling drugs a lot until I joined this rap group in Birmingham. That slowed me down for a while but I was still selling drugs and buying my son every little that I saw that looked cool to wear. Soon even that failed. I had a manager who wasn’t trying to help me for real, he was just using us to help keep the law off of him, we were making money and opening shows for other big time rappers and it was fun and all, but we wanted to be more than just a local group. Anyway, our manager messed up a deal with a big production company that wanted to sign us, and I got so mad that I just went deeper into the gang stuff. I loved my son and wanted to do so much for him and my homies in the hood, that I messed up and caught a case and got sentenced to 3 years with a six month split. When I came to prison I saw it wasn’t anything like juvenile in California; it was much different. I got out and had another son.
I was so respected in my hood that I was the gang leader, so I didn’t stop slinging dope or gang banging. The devil had me so trapped that I wasn’t even thinking about God anymore; it was all about me. So a year and some weeks later after getting out in 1994 I got locked back up but this time for a murder-robbery case that sent me to prison with a life sentence. While in prison I was still lost, gang banging and smoking weed to try to suppress the pain that I held inside of me. But soon I started reading books and learning a lot about life and as I started seeing my kids grow older and I didn’t want to see anyone else die on me, but I couldn’t let go of violating, so in 2009 I got caught with a cell phone inside of prison and I was happy except for getting a write up. But that was when I got down on my knees and really asked Jesus to come into my heart.

I love what God has done in my life, because now I can give love back to my family and show that His love, grace and mercy can work if we just have faith in His Word. I am proud of myself, seeing what I came from. I joined that praise band in the chapel and I don’t even care about not getting paid for doing music as long as I know I’m doing what my Father would have me do. I give God all the honor and glory knowing that He will be delivering me up out of this prison soon, when I get out, I want to do in the freeworld just what I do in here; inspire others through the love of Jesus Christ.

“GOD’S GOT THAT”

If God Brings You “TO” It, He Will Bring You “THROUGH” It

I don’t know about you, but that term “going through” something has a very encouraging implication. When I think about “through” I think about going in, but the assurance that I will come out on the other side! I think about a car wash: you drive in the entrance, your car is carried through the washing process, and it comes out on the other side – clean. Truth is, whether you are a Christian or not, you are going to go through some things. Adversity is a part of life. If there were no problems, then there would be no need for problem solving skills. I believe that a person who is blind has no concept of the color green; or the person who is deaf cannot understand the singing of the birds. Just in the same way, a person cannot truly relish victory unless they have experienced defeat at some point. We all have troubles, we all have problems and we all have hard times. The difference is, the person who is in relationship with God does not have to go through those things alone.

Isaiah 43:1-7 says, But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

This passage starts off But now – This expression shows that this chapter is connected with the preceding. The sense is, “Though God has punished the nation, and showed them his displeasure in Isaiah 42:24-25, yet now he will have mercy, and will deliver them.”

That created thee – The word ‘thee’ is used here evidently in a collective sense as denoting the Jewish people. It is used because the names ‘Jacob’ and ‘Israel’ in the singular number are applied to the people.

Now you may be thinking, “I’m not a Jew, nor of the tribe of Jacob, so this doesn’t apply to me.” I want to look at who Jacob was: He was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. God made some promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

And maybe you think that’s all good for Abraham, but let’s take a look at Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

So, I want to point out that the promises God made to Abraham applied to Jacob, this promise to Jacob is proof of God fulfilling that promise, and this passage in Galatians shows that promise even now being fulfilled toward us: IF you are in Christ, if you are a born again believer!

True enough, we are not Jews, WE ARE THE CHURCH! Not only do we have the promises that God made to Abraham, we have a far better covenant that is sealed with the blood of God’s own Son.