What is your favorite Bible story? Each week you have been hearing encouragement from our various pastors and leaders in our church. I have been writing most of the Wednesday devotions and there have been times I’ve struggled with what to share. As I sat down to write this week I was thinking about how many of you probably have never met me. So I’d like to share a little about myself and my favorite story about Jesus.
I grew up going to a Lutheran church with my family until Middle School. That was because soccer took over my world. However, my senior year I hurt my hip really bad and I lost all hope of my D1 scholarship. I ended up going to a D3 school to try and recover and transfer out. But I never fully healed, this started my journey into a fraternity. I thought I could find satisfaction in being a part of a new team, but something was missing. Nothing satisfied me and I was lost, searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. I ended up moving in with my grandparents after my Sophomore year of college. That summer everything changed. One night laying in bed I gave my life to Christ. That Fall I transferred to Liberty under some pretty miraculous circumstances. Then Jesus called me into ministry and I changed majors going into my senior year of college. YIKES!
In August 2014, I started attending Hyland Heights where I started serving in the Student Ministry as part of my practicum for my Church Ministries and Youth Ministries degree. As I finished my degree I went off to do some internships at a church in Houston, TX. When my internship came to an end I was offered a job as the Student Ministry Worship Coordinator here at Hyland Heights in August 2016. I am now one of the part-time pastors here, married to my amazing wife; we love to cook, read, and play with our new puppy.
Now that leads me to my favorite story in the Gospels. In Luke 15, we find a parable of Jesus with three mini-parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (better known as the prodigal son). If you haven’t read it recently, take a moment to go read it. Don’t worry, you can pick up right where you left off.
Now that you are back, It’s my favorite because although I grew up in church and had heard the gospel, I never received it. I heard that Jesus died so I could be reconciled back to God, but I didn’t surrender my life, instead, I ran. I ran and squandered everything I had, just like the lost son. It was at the deepest point of my life that I came to Jesus with nothing but my sin and shame, and He saved me. I want to encourage you, if you have never received the salvation found in Jesus Christ alone, to surrender your life now to Him. If you need help reach out to us.
But as I have grown in Christ and studied the Bible for years now, and just finishing my Masters in Biblical Studies in December, I have come to appreciate this parable even more. You see all of Luke 15 is a large parable containing three mini-parables and they all are communicating the same thing. At the end of each mini-parable it closes with this:
I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance (Luke 15:7 CSB).
I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10 CSB).
But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found (Luke 15:32 CSB).
Every time anyone comes to Jesus there is a celebration in heaven. All it takes for heaven to turn into an awesome party is one person coming to Jesus. My question and challenge is, are we as excited to see people repent and come to Jesus, like heaven, the angels, and God the Father?
Or are we like the other brother? You see Jesus was calling the Pharisees the older brother, although they were considered the righteous who are “with God” their hearts were just as far away as the other brother who ran away. Why? Because the older brother was just in the house to get the prize, he didn’t know the Father either. We know this by his reaction when the other brother gets home and gets his position back with the Father and a celebration begins. The older brother is jealous and upset. Although he had been with the father, he needed to repent also.
So, the parable shows us that when one person repents and comes to Jesus there is a celebration that we should join in on. My last challenge is as the world begins to open back up, as our church begins to open up this weekend, who do you need to share the gospel with? Who around you needs to repent and come back to Jesus? Maybe it’s you? Maybe it’s a family member or a friend? Maybe a neighbor or a stranger? Whoever it is, I cannot wait to rejoice together with you as we see people far from God receive Jesus in our church.
For His Glory,