The story of the prodigal son is one of the best known and most loved stories in the entire Bible. It is the story of a young man who demands his inheritance, receives it and then quickly spends it on frivolous things. He wakes up one day and realizes he is broke, alone and without prospects. In desperation he makes the decision he will go home and maybe his father will receive him back.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that one day the young man “got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-24

The son thought he could come home and maybe become a servant because in his wildest dreams he never believed that things could ever be the same again and he would be called “son”. In his mind he had blown it, squandered his inheritance and his chances. He was a miserable failure whose mistakes and rebellion against the Father had ruined his relationship forever. He felt he was unworthy to be loved ever again by such a person as his Father, but he was mistaken.

The text says, “His Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.” The Father’s love poured out of his bursting heart when he saw his son coming home. The Father wasn’t standing there wringing His hands in glee at the opportunity to rub his son’s nose in his failures. He wasn’t standing there preparing a tongue-lashing that the boy would remember the rest of his life, nor was he preparing a list of new obligations and regulations that the boy would have to live under because of his failures.

Instead the text shows a Father filled with love and compassion. He runs to the boy and throws his arms around his neck and hugs him to no end. And as the boy starts on his prepared speech of repentance and sorrow the Father cuts him off with commands to his servants to prepare a feast for the boy. The son is home again and that is all that matters to the Father. He is not interested in the defeated past life that the boy lived, but only in the fact that the boy has come home.

It is Thanksgiving here in Canada and we have a great deal to be thankful for in this amazing country. But we have even more to be thankful for in the wonder of the grace of God that accepts us sinners home without condemnation, judgment or chastisement. God loves us unconditionally and longs for us to come home. Our sins and our past are not hindrances to his forgiveness and love. The grace of God covers our broken hearts when we come to our senses and put our lives into the hands of Jesus.

You think you are a sinner and your past is so bad that God couldn’t ever love you? Then hold your life up to David’s. David not only committed adultery but he had the woman’s husband killed. Try topping that and yet God said that David was a man after his own heart. Why would God say that of such and evil and despicable man? Because in spite of all his failures and sins David one day came to his senses and came home to God. He repented of his rebellions and sins and fell on the mercy and grace of God.

If you have read many of my postings you can’t help but notice the constant theme of grace that permeates almost every blog. The reason for this is because grace is the only antidote for discouragement in Christianity. Legalism, works, trying harder and all the rest of what we do to try and impress God only leads to failure and discouragement, but grace lifts us up and fills us with joy and peace. In Christ we find our Thanksgiving because we are restored to the Kingdom of God.

Never doubt your relationship with Christ or your assurance of salvation. Put your trust in God’s love for you and let the Father wrap His arms around you. Let Him put the ring of sonship on your finger and the sandals of grace upon your feet. Let Him wrap you in the cloak of His love and accept the wonderful party of celebration that simply says, “Welcome Home, You are Loved.”

* Today Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. As Christians we can’t help but think of our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted in many countries of this world. We pray prayers of thanksgiving today but we also pray for those who are caught in the horrendous persecution for their faith in Christ – we prey for their protection from this unthinkable evil and that they will find strength to endure this crazy evil that seems to be taking over this world.   Some of their stories can be found at  http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/