The One Year New Testament
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11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered 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. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
In this story God is pictured as a patient and compassionate Father who welcomes our repentance with great rejoicing. Those who truly repent (i.e., turn from sin to God) have come to realize the foolishness and unsatisfying nature of living apart from the Father (Luke 15:17–19). Jesus is calling us to turn away from sinful pleasures and return to the welcoming grace of our Father God. In a broken and tempting world, we must daily remember to turn from sin and look to our Father for ultimate satisfaction.
This story also adds an unexpected twist at the end (vv. 25–32). Even we who have known the grace of our heavenly Father can be stingy about others receiving that same grace. The image of the angry older brother challenges us to have God’s heart of compassion toward other sinners. Our compassion toward others is one of the best indicators of how well we understand our own need for grace.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Paul begins and ends this letter with grace (1 Thess. 1:1; 5:28) because it is the heartbeat of the gospel. The grace of God had produced in the Thessalonians a steadfast hope in Christ that sustained them in their work of faith and labor of love (see 2 Thess. 3:5).
God himself gets the credit for the fruitful work happening in this church. In love, God had chosen them, and called them through Paul’s preaching of the gospel, awakening their hearts to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:4–5). In response, the Thessalonians became imitators of the apostles and of the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 6), causing Paul to rejoice at the example they have become for other believers (v. 7). The Thessalonians have turned from false worship (v. 9) and are now spreading the gospel message, shining the light of their faith into a dark world (v. 8), showing generous hospitality, and serving the living and true God (v. 9). Because of the Thessalonians’ vibrant faith in Christ, people everywhere know who they are and the truth of the word they proclaim (v. 8). From the very beginning, even amid much affliction, this church has been gospel-centered, reflecting the light of Christ as they await the return of Jesus, who “delivers us from the wrath to come” (v. 10). Our final deliverance from the wrath of God (5:9) is the thrilling last chapter of the gospel story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The book of 1 Thessalonians is a message of good news from start to finish.
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
Thoughts For Prayer
Our sin deserves God’s judgment, but Christ has taken that judgment in our place. Let this gospel truth encourage you to be quick to confess any sin in your life and receive the cleansing forgiveness that is yours in Christ.
Missions Prayer Requests More
April 9, 2021
Supported Workers: Emily (& Blake) Ackerson
Country: United States of America
This month all the Bridges team leaders will gather for a virtual conference. Pray they would be deeply refreshed and encouraged by the Lord during this time as they lead on their respective campuses and faithfully connect with students during these challenging times. Blake has continued to connect with a former Chinese PhD student who became a believer right before returning home. He has found that it is very hard to follow Jesus in his home country. Pray that God would connect him with other believers there and give him the strength and courage to follow him. Pray that God will allow Blake’s team to build partnering relationships with churches who desire to reach international students with the gospel. Praise God for answering prayer for Emily’s recovery. She is experiencing significant improvement through specialized physical therapy.
The Gambia (Africa). Population: 2,227,413, Believers: 0.8%. Young people have flocked to Banjul (the capital) and are increasingly subject to Western culture at the expense of their traditional values. Pray that God would raise up a new generation of Christian young people who will lead their peers into a lifestyle of godliness.
From Operation World DVD-ROM 2010, www.operationworld.org
The One Year New Testament Copyright Tyndale House Publishers, used by Permission. NIV Bible copyright International Bible Society.