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Lavishly Loved

I know that no matter where I’ve been
and no matter what I’ve done,
I can humbly return to You, Father.
Thank You for receiving me with open arms
and for restoring me with Your perfect love!

Series Focus: “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”

Have you ever done something that you felt disqualified you from receiving the love and acceptance of God? That God would hate you and cast you away from Him because of your sin? Most of us can remember something we’ve done of which we regret and are ashamed. Some replay the mistakes of their pasts over and over in their minds, wishing they would have made better choices, used kinder words, and done things differently overall. Maybe then God would still love them and welcome them.

The truth is, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing we do can cause our Father in Heaven to love us any less. John wrote in his epistles that God loves us greatly, lavishly, inexhaustibly. Our finite minds have trouble grasping this reality. God knew we would wrestle with this. I’m thankful for the parable Jesus taught about the Prodigal Son on this very matter, found in Luke 15:11-32:

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 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. 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. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“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! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 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. 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.’ 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. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 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.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 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. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

This parable – although often titled “The Prodigal Son” – is really about the father. Both sons committed sin. One lived recklessly, wastefully, and selfishly – seeking satisfaction and fulfillment from riches and the world. The other, self-righteous, jealous, judgmental and bitter. The story shows the father loving both of his sons, regardless of their mistakes – in thought, word and deed. The father’s love for his children wasn’t just a statement, a feeling, or a sentiment; and it was not conditional upon their obedience.

No, the father’s love for both of his children was unconditional, and he provided their every need. The only thing required to receive the benefits of his love was to repentantly return to him and remain with him. When the wayward son was journeying home and still a way off, the father ran to meet him with open arms. He embraced his son and celebrated his return. He put a cloak upon him – restoring his covering. He put a ring upon his hand – restoring his authority. And he put shoes on his feet – restoring his protection and provision as a member of the family. There was no need for the son to return as a slave and serve penance for his mistakes.

Likewise, when we repent and return to our Father, He rejoices and welcomes us back. He clothes us with His righteousness, He empowers us by His Spirit, and He provides for us in every way. Don’t allow the mistakes of your past – and even the sin you may be caught up in right in this moment – cause you to think you’ve gone past the point of no return. God’s love is unconditional. He is always for us, and never against us. And He rejoices always in our repentant return to Him. With open arms, He welcomes us back and restores us – every time.

Know you are forever loved! Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:6 that we are accepted in the Beloved. God gave His Son for us. In and through Jesus, God sees us as holy, righteous, and worthy. He has set His unconditional love upon us – lavishly! Believe it! Nothing can separate us from His passionate, enduring, inexhaustible love.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Luke 15:11-32; Romans 8; 1 John 2:15, 3:1, 4:16; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:6


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