The prodigal son trudges up the path. His pig stink makes passersby walk wide circles around him, but he doesn't notice. With eyes on the ground, he rehearses his speech: "Father"—his voice barely audible—"I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son." He rehashes the phrases, wondering if he should say more, less, or make a U-turn to the barnyard. After all, he cashed in the trust fund and trashed the family name. Over the last year, he'd awakened with more parched throats, headaches, women, and tattoos than a rock star. How could his father forgive him?Maybe I could offer to pay off the credit cards. He's so focused on penance planning that he fails to hear the sound of his father...running!

The dad embraces the mud-layered boy as if he were a returning war hero. He commands the servants to bring a robe, ring, and sandals, as if to say, "No boy of mine is going to look like a pigpen peasant. Fire up the grill. Bring on the drinks. It's time for a party!"

Big brother meanwhile stands on the porch and sulks. "No one ever gave me a party," he mumbles, arms crossed.

The father tries to explain, but the jealous son won't listen. He huffs and shrugs and grumbles something about cheap grace, saddles his high horse, and rides off. But you knew that. You've read the parable of the gracious father and the hostile brother (see Luke 15:11-32).

But have you heard what happened next? Have you read the second chapter? It's a page-turner. The older brother resolves to rain on the forgiveness parade. If Dad won't exact justice on the boy, I will.

"Nice robe there, little brother," he tells him one day. "Better keep it clean. One spot and Dad will send you to the cleaners with it."

The younger waves him away, but the next time he sees his father, he quickly checks his robe for stains.

A few days later big brother warns about the ring. "Quite a piece of jewelry Dad gave you. He prefers that you wear it on the thumb."
"The thumb? He didn't tell me that."
"Some things we're just supposed to know."
"But it won't fit my thumb."

"What's your goal—pleasing our father or your own personal comfort?" the spirituality monitor gibes, walking away.

Big brother isn't finished. With the pleasantness of a dyspeptic IRS auditor, he taunts, "If Dad sees you with loose laces, he'll take the sandals back."

"He will not. They were a gift. He wouldn't...would he?" The ex-prodigal then leans over to snug the strings. As he does, he spots a smudge on his robe. Trying to rub it off, he realizes the ring is on a finger, not his thumb. That's when he hears his father's voice. "Hello, Son."

There the boy sits, wearing a spotted robe, loose laces, and a misplaced ring. Overcome with fear, he reacts with a "Sorry, Dad" and turns and runs.

Too many tasks. Keeping the robe spotless, the ring positioned, the sandals snug—who could meet such standards? Gift preservation begins to wear on the young man. He avoids the father he feels he can't please. He quits wearing the gifts he can't maintain. And he even begins longing for the simpler days of the pigpen. "No one hounded me there."

That's the rest of the story. Wondering where I found it? On page 1,892 of my Bible, in the book of Galatians. Thanks to some legalistic big brothers, Paul's readers had gone from grace receiving to law keeping.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.... (Gal. 1:6-7)

Joy snatchers infiltrated the Roman church as well. Paul had to remind them, "But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work" (Rom. 4:5).

Philippian Christians heard the same foolishness. Big brothers weren't telling them to wear a ring on their thumb, but they were insisting "you must be circumcised to be saved" (Phil. 3:2).

Even the Jerusalem church, the flagship congregation, heard the solemn monotones of the Quality Control Board. Non-Jewish believers were being told, "You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us" (Acts 15:1 NCV)

The churches suffered from the same malady: grace blockage. The Father might let you in the gate, but you have to earn your place at the table. God makes the down payment on your redemption, but you pay the monthly installments. Heaven gives the boat, but you have to row it if you ever want to see the other shore.

Your deeds don't save you. And your deeds don't keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV)

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  • This story lets us know we can't work for grace it's something God give to us out of the generosity of his big heart even though we don't deserve it, this story is kind of funny because at first when I started reading it sounded like the brother was looking out for him but as I continue to read I had to say precious no.... He was that part of the reading .....You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.... (Gal. 1:6-7) really enjoyed this reading Lord help us to know your word for ourselves speak to us help us to hear you so we will not be trick by the enemy.

  • I can contest to this story of the “big brother” there were so much, “You Can’t do’s, I truly felt inadequate, not good enough, incomplete, all of the negativity and it had me in a place where I knew I couldn’t serve less alone please God.  I left the church several times, because I was not measuring up to the standards of the “church”. It wasn’t until I begin to build the relationship with God, little by little I realize that all that was “Man’s” doctrine, not God. It was especially revealed to me when I was in a certain church and I went through these missionary classes. My eye truly came open, I started to see what the real truth was. God begin to speak, and I begin to hear what the Spirit of God was saying. I like this from our reading; “Your deeds don't save you. And your deeds don't keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV)”.

  • Yes thank you LOD for your Grace and your Mercy over my life yes you favored me.

  • Amen

  • This story is Awesome because it shows us how God shows grace when we do wrong. Just like the son in the story he thought he was grown and thought he could do whatever he wanted.....that's how we are with God we do things sometimes against His will because things isn't  working out the way we think it should so we just do us but like the son he came to his senses and we back to his father and asked for forgiveness his had compassion on and welcome his son back home......God and His Grace will the same

  • THANK GOD I AM WHO GOD SAYS I AM. IT IS BY HIS MERCY AND GRACE THAT I AM HERE TODAY. THAT IS WHY HE GIVES EACH OF US A measure of grace her loves us an WE HAVE to remember what GOD TELLS us to do and how to do it. (No haters allowed)

  • syllabus notes: 
    Your deeds don't save you. And your deeds don't keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV)

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; [d]neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor [e]those who participate in homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].

  • My side Notes: Luke 15: 11-32

    Jesus told these parables to answer the scribes and Pharisees, who had complained that he mixed with tax collectors and other low-class people. The more respectable Jews considered such people unworthy of God’s blessings. They were angry (much like the prodigals’ brother) That Jesus showed interest in them and that many of them responded his message. Luke 15: 1-2: Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin show that God does more than welcome sinners: he actually goes looking for them (much like the Father of the prodigal son, who went after his own son) and when they repent, He rejoices. The Pharisees, however, did not consider themselves sinners. Therefore, they could not repent and so they brought not pleasure to God(much like the elder brother of the prodigal son). The similarities between the cold and merciless attitude of the Pharisees, the older brother who was angry because of the father’s welcoming the prodigal home. The Pharisees were self-righteous, they know God’s law and never saw themselves as lost and as a result they never repented, Much similar to the elder brother of the prodigal.  

    Religion can run a person way for sure… What upsets me is that some religious people put up a good front and put heavy demands on everyone else but don’t practice what they preach…

    On one more note: Matthew 23: 2 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.

  • God's grace a gift to humanity. It gives hope in knowing that even in our short comings or disobedience, we will receive His grace..  O'Lord thank You for extending Your Grace to me. Amen 

  • When Grace Goes Deep

    Grace is something that God has given all of us. Due to our lack of faith in Him we don't sometimes feel as secure as we should. We must get to a place to were we don't allow problems, trails, tribulation, hardships and sufferings, dictate how we behave. We can not  be a Church that suffers grace blockage.

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