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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Manor Township barn
Manor Township Barn
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Not Condemnation, But Celebration"

Message summary: When we return to our Father rather than condemnation there is celebration!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21). "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2).

There is no condemnation
Just a Father who's been waiting to put His arms around you
Oh, the anticipation, the great celebration
For you were lost but now He's found you
There is only rejoicing and a tender kindness shown
When the prodigal comes home

Traveling through Lebanon County yesterday on our way to a chaplain visit we heard a song that touched our hearts (link to song below). It tells the story of the prodigal (lost) son, a parable from the
Bible that illustrates the forgiving character of God. The entire story is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. We consider today those of you who have a prodigal in your life or any of you who might be living as a prodigal.

When the lost son who had wasted his life finally came to his senses he returned to his Father reasoning that being a hired man back home would be better than perishing in a wasteland. He had rehearsed his speech in his head before heading home and once he arrived he put all his cards out on the table, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21).

Just consider the shame in those words, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son." In one sense the statement is correct. He had blown it big time; he was no longer worthy. But the father in the story, illustrating our heavenly Father, seemed oblivious to this petition.

The text continues, "But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate" (Luke 15:22-24). Rather than condemnation there was celebration!

The Apostle Paul in our second daily text tells us there is now "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". The word "condemnation" from the original Greek means "an adverse sentence." Because of Christ's death on the cross we are no longer objects of God's wrath, but we are His beloved children. The verdict for those who are in Christ Jesus is "No condemnation!" Could there be a sweeter sentencing for those who at one time were objects of God's wrath and certainly "no longer worthy"?

Like the prodigal son when we come to God with a contrite heart He does not turn us away but instead delights to show mercy: "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19).

Once our sins are buried into the depths of the sea it is there that we need to envision a posting of "No Fishing" as a reminder; if God does not hold our sins against us we should not go fishing for troubling memories that place us under condemnation and guilt once again.

Peter boldly proclaimed, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18).  Due to the resurrection we have also been raised with Christ (Philippians 3:1) to newness of life.  Hallelujah!!!

Do you believe? Accept the forgiveness of sin that Christ freely offers; rejoice and live for Him today.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You softly and tenderly call us back to Yourself  after we walk away from Your truth and live in defiance of all that we once held dear. You do not shame us by scoldingly point Your righteous finger in our face but instead You embrace us and cast our sins into the depths of the ocean, to be remembered no more. If we are to remember anything of our past, let it be that which brings glory to You when we share with others that which You have forgiven. May the contrast of our former lives not bring up condemnation which You have freed us from, but celebration in that there is no sin beyond Your merciful pardon. To God be the glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

283 flooded 8/31/18 (photo by Richard)
Yesterday was our first day making chaplain visits since the heavy storm last Friday and we sure heard some interesting stories. Richard sent us this photo he had taken on the entrance ramp to Rt 283, the busy 4 lane freeway that runs from Harrisburg to Lancaster. It was flooded under the Rt 772 bridge and the car seen was stuck in the water. Richard, a project manager at White Oak Display, showed us the photo when we visited him and then sent it over in an email. I thanked him and he wittingly replied, "My pleasure, Stephen - that picture brings back a flood of memories."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When The Prodigal Comes Home"  Video  Tribute Quartet (the song that prompted today's message) Thoughtful lyrics. In addition to the chorus quoted above the verses are:

In the mud and mire behind the fences
When you finally came to your senses
You said, "Even the servants in my father's house
Are better off than I am now"
You didn't think he'd take you in
Much less call you son again
Instead you found a mercy so beautiful and wild
That it looks beyond the foolishness to seek a wayward child

Rehearsing words to beg him for forgiveness
Then down the road you saw him in the distance
As he ran to meet you face to face
And wrapped you in his strong embrace
The acceptance in his eyes
Made you finally realize
He will always love you, you will always be his son
No matter where you've wandered, no matter what you've done

And to every child of God
Who's somehow lost their way
Even now He's longing for you
Can you hear Him say... (repeat chorus)

"And Can It Be"  Video   Sovereign Grace Music  (Second song quoted today)

"How Can It Be"  Video  Lauren Daigle

"No Longer A Slave"  Video  Voices of Lee

"Grace Greater Than All Our Sin"  Video  Calvary Church (the song that closed our service this last Lord's Day)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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