Our Heavenly Father’s Heart Is For People

Our Heavenly Father’s Heart Is For People    Dr. Christopher Longgrear                     freshfireministriesintl.com

Luke 15 /1,2 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus liked to hang out with the common man! He enjoyed being around the general population. He had His biggest impact upon the average-Joe throughout His ministry days! While the religious leaders rejected, ridiculed, & accused Him consistently, the street people received Him, followed Him, & honored Him. Jesus always seemed to have a good time of fellowship & ministry with the citizens of the region, while He never did get along with the religious hierarchy, for they didn’t perceive who He was, while the citizenship of Jerusalem & the Galilean area did. To those that received Him, Jesus was a breath of fresh air, a highlight of the day, & a voice of hope for their life! Jesus regularly ‘partied’ with street people, & seemed to thrive on it! Everywhere He went, people were hearing Him, receiving from Him, & having miracles, healings & deliverances manifesting in their midst & in their lives! What an couple of examples for us to consider: If we believe Jesus has something for us in times of prayer, fellowship, & worship, then we, too, like the common people of His day, shall encounter His grace, power, & love! But if we, like the Pharisees & Scribes, reject Him, scorn Him, & question His motives, then we are likely to find ourselves powerless, frustrated, & declaring a form of godliness while denying (Christ), the power of Christianity! Jesus received sinners, commoners, wretched, depressed, social failures & rejects, into His company, heart, & life! That sure is a slap in the face of religiosity, isn’t it? He consistently perplexed the religious people by gravitating towards society’s rejects. Plain & simple, Jesus loved people, period! He loved anyone & everyone that He encountered, fellowshipped with, & ministered to! And most of the people that followed Him did so because they had a growing love for Him. Today, the Holy Spirit is among us, with us, & in us, through the New-birth, & He has placed the very life, nature, & love of Jesus into us! Jesus now makes His home in us, with His life, by His Spirit! We have a more tangible, fruitful, & victorious relationship with Him than the people of the day did!  Those followers of His that received the gift of eternal life are now in Heaven along with Him, awaiting our arrival, in order for the ultimate party, the wedding supper of the Lamb, to commence! Today, even as then, Jesus is after the common man, the street man, the family man, the working man, the housewife, the school teacher, the college student, the high school kids, the elementary school kids, the toddler, & everyone that will hear Him, believe Him, & receive Him! Because He loves them, likes them, wants to fellowship with them, died to save them, & arose to live in them! That’s the Gospel message. In Spirit & in truth!
 3-7 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
Every sheep (person) in the flock of the shepherd (Jesus) is valuable to him. Every person is eternally valuable to the Lord. Whether they’re Born-again or not, God has great love for them, & sees great value in them. Whether church members or non-members, both saved & unsaved people are loved by God. As we know, what makes the difference in people’s relationship with God, & what determines where they’ll spend eternity, is the Lord Jesus Christ! Relationship with Jesus gives us access to the Heavenly Father, permit’s the Holy Spirit to indwell us, & places the life of the Holy Trinity into us! While a group of 100 people (pictured as sheep) are corporately valuable & precious to the shepherd of the flock, (Jesus, the Good Shepherd), so is each individual member of the flock! Jesus as the shepherd would leave the presence of the flock to pursue & recover the wayward & lost sheep, so Jesus left the realm of Heaven, where He was adored by countless angelic hosts, & came into the earth to seek & save (rescue) that & those who were lost, & cut off from God! As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is faithful to keep those who receive salvation by Him! Not only because He is faithful by nature, but because of the intensity of His burning love for them, & their unsurpassed  value to Him, the Father, & the Holy Spirit! The Lord shows Himself to be exhilarated when a relationship is begun or restored to Him! The picture we see in the shepherd carrying the found sheep back to the flock reveals who it is that carries us in our union with God: Jesus, the Good Shepherd, carries us, secures us, restores us, & places us into His tender care! He is the Faithful High Priest, that Hebrews introduces us to, who ever lives, having made intervention for us, once & for all, at Calvary! It’s the nature of the Holy Trinity to throw a party in the presence of everyone in Heaven, when someone receives salvation! That means that Heaven is the ultimate party zone, for someone around the world is being Born-again every few moments, 24-7! Just as the shepherd got excited & notified his friends about a celebration of finding his sheep, so the Trinity in Heaven are sending out notification by the witness of the Holy Spirit inside every Christian, that the joy of the Lord is our strength, & we can rejoice in our union with God, being full of glory, & having unspeakable joy!
8-10  “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Here we see a picture of Believer’s being considered a treasure to the Lord! We also recognize the principle that we are His coinage in life & we’re His method of passing the Gospel of Grace on in the world, as His ambassadors, just as coins are a means of exchange in the world! See how thoroughly & heartily the woman searched for the missing coin? She was determined to find what had been lost. Isn’t this a picture, along with the hunt for the lost sheep, of the love of God that compelled each member of the Godhead to manifest forgiveness, redemption, & salvation? Again, see the joyfulness she declares to her friends at the recovery of her coin. Doesn’t that picture the loving excitement that the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit share with one another & among the saints & angels of Heaven at each New-birth experience that takes place in the earth? I believe it does! Heaven must sound entirely different than the typical church service usually does, once the musical worship session is completed! Heaven can’t be religious, lukewarm, or quiet! It’s filled with people that are in the midst of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: these people have been redeemed from every culture, nation, time-span, & life-style: they’re saved, sanctified, sealed, & seated in Heavenly places; they’ve been in the manifest presence of the Lord for anywhere from a few days to two thousand years, & they are alive forever more! How could that not keep them pleased, passionate, & praising God joyfully & vibrantly? We, too, are full of glory & joy unspeakable, because of the life of Christ Jesus that abides in us!
11-19 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”‘
Here’s an initial look at three flavors of righteousness. The first flavor we see is the taste of unrighteousness. The younger son of this father demands early distribution of his inheritance, leaves home, travels a long way off in order to distance himself from his family & background, & lived an unholy & riotous lifestyle, at least until his money was gone, along with his temporary friends. I believe that a contributing reason to this son’s unholy behavior is his lack of understanding of who his father was! Similarly, many Christians of today haven’t discovered the fullness of the Heavenly Father’s grace, mercy, compassion, & wisdom, & because of that, we often make bad decisions in life, & shortchange ourselves in experiencing the goodness of God! This son lost his way, lost his money, lost his friends, lost his room & board, & out of the need to survive, decided to return home. On the way, he demonstrates his belief that he’s lost his son-ship & relationship with his dad, so he rehearses a plea bargain that should gain him some degree of redemption, at least enough to serve in his home as a worker! Again, he thought that his actions would bring disfavor with his dad! Isn’t that the same thing that we’ve been taught to expect when our Christianity example falls short of God’s glory? Even today, there are many, many, many Christians living under the yoke of guilt, condemnation, & failure, because of what they think the Father thinks of them! Is our motivation for receiving the Lord or ‘getting right’ with Him always pure? While major desperation was a motivating factor in this young man returning home, being desperate has a tendency to be therapeutic for us, as well! Haven’t we been somewhat mercenary in our dealings with the Lord, sometimes not praying until we have a glaring need, or not reading our Bibles until we need direction in a crisis? Not any more than the father of this young man is going to reject him, so our Father in Heaven won’t leave us or forsake us!
20, 21- And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
While the wayward son was on his way home, his daddy was already out looking for him, expecting him back, believing that his son would return home, for one reason or another! And when his dad saw him way off up the road, He was deeply stirred with love & mercy for his son, & went running out to him! The dad didn’t wait for the son to make it to the yard, didn’t make him give an account of his whereabouts, & wasn’t disgusted at the boy’s appearance & smell (remember, he’d recently been inside a pig pen)! The Daddy placed far more value on his son as a person than he did on his son’s recent behavior, attitude, & returning condition! That’s how the Father feels about us! Nothing we do or have done can dissuade Him from loving us unconditionally. Once we’re born into His family, nothing can cause Him to leave us, forsake us, or reject us, as we see modeled by the father in this story! What a shining example of the Heavenly Father we see mirrored in this dad! In his embarrassment that he’d been carrying all the way home, the son shared his “I’m so unworthy” speech with his dad, who had a response that the son wasn’t expecting, & if they’d have been there to hear it, the Pharisees & Scribes would’ve flipped out in religious anger, just as someone else in this story will shortly do! Unrighteousness has condemnation & guilt riding shotgun with it, as we see here in the son. His unrighteous mindset & recent actions had made him a target of condemnation, guilt, &of a sense of unworthiness! That’s also how religion works against you: to get you to focus your Christianity upon your own performance, & to bear the weight of a poor-self image whenever you fall short of the glory of God! Be reminded that your performance didn’t earn you a place in Christ, it didn’t get you saved, nor does your behavior keep you saved. It’s based upon the life, death, burial, resurrection, & ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, which you received in your New-birth! Jesus is your perfection, completion, salvation, redemption, righteousness, sanctification, consecration, & eternal life! For in Him you live, move, & have your being!
22-24 “But the father said to his servants, ‘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 fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Here is a marvelous picture of the unearned, unequaled, & unfailing love of God. The real focus of this story is the loving & gracious Father! In spite of the unrighteous actions of the younger son, & in spite of the self-righteous attitude of the older son, the love, grace & favor of the Father never wavers toward either son! In spite of the misadventures of his younger son, the father is glad to have him back, doesn’t interrogate him, nor condemns him for leaving & blowing his inheritance! This response sure does take the focus of relationship off of the son’s performance, doesn’t it? What we see here is the reality of imputed righteousness, from the father to the son! The father imputed righteousness to the son through faith, not by behavior. That’s what the Heavenly Father has done for us, He imputed righteousness to us through the death of Jesus with our sin, & through His resurrection from the dead because of our justification before God, & that legal imputation has been literally & actively imparted into us by the Holy Spirit at our New-birth! We, who were dead in sin, are now seen, deemed, & esteemed as the righteousness of God in our union with Jesus! What a revelation for those hungry for the reality of righteousness, & what a revulsion to those self-righteously religious. The son’s behavior didn’t deter his father from receiving him back, & restoring him to son-ship, which had never been earned, but had been bestowed because of the relationship of the boy being his dad’s son! Likewise, once you’re born-again, you’re a child of God, once & forever. You didn’t & couldn’t earn that privilege, you received it as a gift through calling upon Jesus, receiving the Holy Spirit, by whom salvation was manifested in your behalf! 
25-28 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
Here’s a peek at the second flavor of righteousness: self-righteousness! This older brother had already passed judgment upon him. Self-righteousness always compares others to yourself, & places the focus upon you. Self-righteousness is a form of self-love, while a sense of unrighteousness gives you a sense of self-hatred. Only the righteousness of God which allows His love to flow to us & in us unwavering can manifest genuine & divine righteousness.
29,30  So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
Here’s the voice of self-righteousness speaking loudly. The brother is passing judgment upon his dad’s other son, wouldn’t refer to him as his brother, & obviously had envisioned what the younger son had done with his time & money while being gone, by what he accused him of before their father! Self-righteousness brings division among people, with a bad taste of religion. The older son also was self-centered, in that he boasted or complained of his own faithfulness to the father, while he declared his brother’s unfaithfulness. It doesn’t seem as if these two brothers were best friends, does it? Let us be reminded that neither misapplication of relationship or righteousness had a powerful affect upon the Father, for read his reply to the older son, while being reminded of his response to the younger son earlier in the story:
31,32 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.
What a faithful friend this father proves himself to be! What a mirror-image of the Heavenly Father we see modeled in this father! Neither unrighteousness nor self-righteousness could move him, change his heart towards his sons, or deter him from modeling love, mercy & grace towards both of them! How much more can we trust in our Heavenly Dad to love us unconditionally & freely, because of what Jesus did for us, Who He is in us, & because of Whose children we are! Since God is for us, Jesus died & arose for us, & the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are literally children of God, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus, & we are everlasting temples of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit of Holiness lives in us, & seals us forever! You are your Daddy’s child, & He loves you fully, freely, unconditionally, & eternally. That’s why He created you, so that you could be His child forever, a child that puts a gleam in His eye & a giggle in His voice. He loves you because He wants to, & through your union with Jesus, Daddy gets to love you, forever! And that’s the third flavor of righteousness: divine righteousness, that is pure, holy, unearned, & that comes through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, from the Heavenly Father! He made us righteous because He loves us & wants to spend eternity with us!  

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