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Archive for the ‘Letters to Lovers of Prodigals’ Category

sighThis is another in a series of letters to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, with reality for all of us.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“Sigh.”

How many times have I said, “Sigh”?!  With a deep sigh.

When my prodigal does the same thing again!

When an anticipated good outcome becomes not good at all.

When bad choices require hard choices of me.

When my prayers don’t seem to accomplish anything.

A sigh is a lament.  It expresses sorrow, yearning, weariness, resignation.

And when our journey is ongoing, and our prodigal keeps making the same poor choices, and the pain is weariness, we are deeply sad.  We do sigh in resignation, despair, even hopelessness.

We make a lament.

Which is very biblical.

A lament is an elegy or a dirge.  It is verbalizing our mourning.

And many times we are in mourning, lamenting the loss of peace and hope and dreams.

Scripture has an entire book of laments:  Lamentations.

God is not offended by our tears, our laments, our sighs.  He understands.  He receives and treasures them.  He reaches out to comfort and encourage. He invites us to rest in Him.  To hope in Him.

sigh linusIt is then that a wonderful thing happens.  My sigh changes.  Instead of sorrow and resignation, it becomes my response to His invitations:  A sigh of being understood and accepted, of leaning on Him, of snuggling into His arms, of resting in peace and even contentment.

I have sighed often in the past six months.  And just when I thought the sighing was done, it is back.

So I am giving my lament to God, and asking him to transform my sighing from despair to trust.

May He do the same for you.

Love and grace for your new year.

Judy

What about you?  What causes you to “sigh”?

c2013 Judy Douglass

If you love a prodigal and would like to join this loving, praying community, write to PrayerforProdigalsatgmaildotcom and request an invitation.

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When our son was in his late teens, tattoos were all the rage—as they continue to be.  So he headed to the local tat parlor to have a biohazard sign emblazoned on his left arm.  He thought it was really cool.

A year later, however, he grew tired of it: “This thing is forever!”  So back he went to his favorite skin artist to change it.  The only solution:  a large and beautiful Celtic cross.  “Awesome,” I responded.  “Now you are branded for Jesus for the rest of your life.”

Of course, I’m still waiting for that tat to become a symbol of a bond slave completely yielded to the Savior.  There are days or months or even years that look like that is happening.  And surely–and gratefully–he is well past the wanton prodigalness of the past.

In my waiting, I have spent some hours in Isaiah, my go-to book at such times.  From Chapter 40 through to the end, God repeatedly speaks words of hope and encouragement to me as He spoke to the children of Israel about to come out of captivity.  Here are a few of those words:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine…. Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:1,18,19)

This is what the Lord says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.  If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 44:17-18)

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.… I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed….Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce?…Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you,  and your children I will save.” (Isaiah 49:23-25)

But here is the verse I really hang on to.  Our son may have a cross tattooed on his arm, but Jesus has him tattooed on His hands:

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:16)

So I wait with hope, and occasional despair, until Jesus gains all of his heart, his mind, his life.

May the truth that your loved one is engraved on his palms give you peace.

What about you?  Is there someone you need to remember is “engraved on his palms”?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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The past few weeks have brought story after story of heartbreak and pain for many of my friends and family. Brokenness, loss,  relapse, destructive choices have caused heavy hearts, fear, even despair.

In my years of walking the heights and depths of prodigal wilderness, God’s Word has been a refuge, a haven, a place of courage and hope.  These are some the passages that have infused my heart and mind with peace and gratitude in even the darkest days.  May they do the same for you.

Jeremiah 24:6,7:  My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:16,17:  This is what the Lord says:  Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded.  They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your descendants.  Your children will return to their own land.

Isaiah 54:13:  All your children will be taught by the lord, and great will be their peace.

Isaiah 59:21:  As for me, this is my covenant with them.  My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.

Job 42:12:  The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Philippians 1:6:  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:4:  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.

A blessing for you from Psalm 20:  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.  May the Lord grant all your requests.

Psalm 21:6:  Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

Deuteronomy 31:8:   The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.

Colossians 3:12-13:  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

James 1:5:  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,  who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Hebrews 4:16:  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I Thessalonians 5:18:  In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 34:5-7:  For those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:18-19:  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Isaiah 60:22:  I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.

What about you?  How has God encouraged you in a wilderness journey?

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I’m resting.

At least I’m planning to rest.

After 3 months of much travel all over the world and the U.S., many meetings and projects, and the June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer, I’m ready for some rest.

So I’m at my favorite place—the beach.  With intentions to rest, pray and read.  And maybe a little writing.

I, however, have a long way to go when it comes to resting.  REST was my “word” in 2011.  I spent a lot of time reading about rest in Scripture, and in other books.  I got some great insights.

So much so that I made it the theme of 2011 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.   For 11 weeks I wrote mini-devotionals about rest for last year’s Prodigal Prayer Day, and as I read over them, I realized how much I had gained from that study.  Though the letters in it are written to “lovers of prodigals,” it has great help and hope for all of us who could use a little rest.

So I put the devotionals in a book—a FREE E-BOOK.  I want you to have a copy.  And I would love if you would send it to your friends and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

So here it is—FREE to you:  Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Rest.  My gift to you.  For your Kindle, Reader, Computer. (Instructions included.)

So get some rest!

What about you?  How have you been able to rest?

C2010 Judy Douglass

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This is the ninth and final in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

 

We have prayed for Jon over the years. He has been estranged, then reunited with his dad, Louis. He and his girlfriend had a baby. Then they moved back to where he had lived previously. He returned to drugs and alcohol.

One day, high on drugs, he drove erratically down the highway. And caused a crash in which a woman was killed. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

Louis was devastated. How could this happen? Heartbroken. Is there no future for my son?

But days and weeks on his knees and in the Word, and Louis found peace. He writes:   “God’s majesty shrinks at no one’s behavior. Everything we know is for God. He uses every last thread of our lives. How he uses it? We only get to participate, not know exactly his will at any particular time… “

God’s grace was sufficient for Louis.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

God’s grace is enough.

These brief nine devotionals have perhaps (hopefully) opened up some new aspects and understanding of God’s grace for you. We looked at some definitions of grace, at who qualifies—those with no alibi, at how amazing it is, and how grace stoops to serve. We considered the voice of grace, the forgiveness of grace, the scandal of grace, and the grace-full Father.

We have barely scratched the surface on the height and width and depth of God’s grace. I have not intended to be exhaustive on this incomprehensible topic. But there are a few more things I want to mention.

Grace is an undeserved free gift, undeserved favor, and undeserved love.

And it is more than enough for any person, circumstance, tragedy, need.

God’s grace has made His love and salvation and provision—everything He offers—available to us. There is a catch. In order to live in it, we must receive it. And he gives us a little understanding of who will be able to truly access and experience that grace:

Those who are humble.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

This truth is repeated several times, and it is the first step toward accepting God’s grace–to understand that you don’t deserve it.

But that grace is abundantly sufficient.

We are saved by grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God freely gives the grace that save us—we can not earn salvation. And it is that same freely given grace that will save our prodigals. Keeping the rules, doing the right things, not doing the wrong things—none of this will save us or them.

Only grace is sufficient to save us.

Grace enables good works

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The good works, doing the right thing, not doing the wrong thing—these all matter and are desirable. But we can’t live that perfect life ourselves.

Only grace is enough to enable us to live like Jesus.

And today, when my son told me of another marriage conflict, my emotions took over. And at first I didn’t access that grace to speak kindly and to believe the best. Then God reminded me of what I had just been writing—the words above…

And His grace was more than enough.

What about you?  Where have you found God’s sufficient grace?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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This is the eighth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

If you have a prodigal, you know this story.  It’s called the Story of the Prodigal Son, but most of us have learned it is about two prodigal sons—the younger and the elder.  But really it’s about The Grace-full Father. (Luke 15:11-31)

A little synopsis, then personalization and application.

Here’s what the son did:

He shamed his father by asking for his inheritance—which is equal to wishing him to be dead.

He took a significant portion of his father’s livelihood.

He sinned extravagantly—which is the real meaning of “prodigal.”

He squandered all of it with wild living.

Then he despaired, repented and returned.

Here’s what the father did:

He gave him his inheritance.

He let him go.

He watched and waited (and I imagine he prayed).

When he saw him coming, he ran to him, embraced him, kissed him.

Then he threw a party for him.

He reinstated him in the family.

Does this make sense?  NO!!  Did the son deserve such grace?  NO!!

Here’s what I have done:

I could make a long list of my sins—all the usual ones, generally not the “big” ones.

I have sought to follow Him, obey Him, live and love like Jesus.  And too often I have failed.

I have disobeyed, shamed, dishonored, abandoned, misused…my heavenly Father and His generous gifts.

Here’s what my heavenly Father has done:

He created me in His image, for definite purposes.

He has pursued me, purchased me, redeemed me, reconciled me, forgiven me.

He adopted me as His very own loved daughter.

He invited me into His presence, talked with me, enjoyed me.

He welcomed me back over and over.

He extended amazing grace to me.

Does this make sense?  NO!   Do I deserve such grace? NO!

Here’s what my prodigal has done:

He has done many prodigal things:  lied, stolen, disrespected us.

He’s used and abused alcohol, drugs, girls, our home.

He went through 17 cars in five years.

He spent time in JDC and in jail.

Okay I will stop.  Those cover most of the big things.

Here’s what I have done in response:

I established boundaries, enforced consequences, helped him to move out.

I got counseling—for him and us, sought advice, listened, pleaded, preached.

I bailed him out—once.

I have paid for more than I should have.

I have prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.

I welcomed him back, encouraged him, home schooled him, promoted his work efforts.

I have mostly loved and extended grace.

I have done some things well, other things not well at all.

Does he deserve the grace given over and over?  NO! Was I right to give grace?  I think so.

So now it’s your turn.

What has your prodigal done?

How have you responded?

Would grace call for any different response?

What about you?  How does the Father’s grace affect you?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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This is the seventh in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

Not fair!!!

How many times has your prodigal said that?

How many times have you said that?

And how often is that our response to the scandalous grace of God?

Our Bibles are full of stories of undeserved grace.

David:

Faithful shepherd boy.  Courageous defeater of Goliath.  Chosen King of Israel.  One who wouldn’t raise his hand against Saul, God’s anointed, who was trying to kill him. Conqueror of  pagan tribes.   Author of the Psalms.  And, oh yes, adulterer and murderer.  Yet, He was “a man after God’s heart.”

Rahab:

Lived in pagan Jericho.  Prostitute.  Liar.  Yes, she saved the Israelites who came to spy out Jericho.  But did she really deserve to be in the line of David, and of Jesus?

Saul/Paul:

A righteous Pharisee.  A defender of Judaism.  A Hebrew of Hebrews.  Yet a persecutor of The Way.  Murderer of Christians.   By his own words, “the chief of sinners.”  But Paul is considered the greatest teacher—besides Jesus—of the New Testament.

How is it possible that God could use such sinners?

Grace.  Scandalous grace.

Jesus told story after story that reflected the same “unfairness,” the same grace:

The woman at the well:

Jews always avoided going through Samaria, but Jesus “had to go through Samaria.”  Why?  He had an appointment to keep, with a sinful woman.  Five husbands, now living with a man not her husband.  Jesus knew all this.  Yet He talked to her—a Samaritan, a woman, a sinner.  The shame of it.  He told her what he knew, but he didn’t condemn.  Instead he offered her living water and a changed life.

The parable of the workers:

Some started early morning, others midday, some at the end of the day.  And they all got paid the same—what they had agreed to.  What?  Unfair!  Those who worked one hour got paid the same as those who worked all day?  But the landowner said, “Are you envious because I am generous?”  (Matthew 20)

The thief on the cross:

An evil man, certainly, to have earned crucifixion as punishment for his crimes.  Yet, even as he is dying, he asks for mercy from Jesus.  Jesus could have said, “It’s too late.  You have lived a terrible life.  You are only repenting now because you are afraid.”  But no, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

How is it possible that God could condone such actions?

Grace.  Scandalous grace.

Is it fair that someone who has been a terrible parent has wonderful children, yet you, who has tried to do everything right, has such a prodigal child?  Of course not.

Is it fair that your prodigal, who has hurt you repeatedly, abused your kindness, rejected your love, should be forgiven and welcomed back?  Of course not.

But is it fair that we, imperfect, inadequate, unworthy as we are, should be forgiven, redeemed and bound for eternity with our God?  Of course not.

You see, we are addicted to fairness, to justice, to revenge, to earning our way, to performance.  Yet in reality, we truly don’t want God to respond to us based on those addictions.

We can’t help but be grateful that God is, in the best sense, addicted to grace.  Yes, to scandalous grace!  And He wants to pour out that grace on us, but also through us to those much loved, though hardly lovely, prodigals.

So, can we enter in, with whole hearts, to God’s scandalous grace?

What about you?  Where have cried Unfair!?  Where have you received grace?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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This is the sixth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is a powerful story of forgiveness and redemption.   When Jean Valjean is released from a 19-year prison sentence for stealing bread, he is a hardened man.  Looking for a place to sleep, he is invited in by a kind bishop.  In the night, though, Valjean stole silver from the bishop and sneaked away.

In the morning the police brought him to the bishop, silver in hand.  The bishop’s response:  “So there you are.  I’m delighted to see you.  Had you forgotten that I gave you the candlesticks as well?  Did you forget to take them?” And to the police:  “This gentleman was no thief.  This silver was my gift to him.”

That was the beginning of Valjean’s transformation.

Err on the side of grace

That story had a powerful impact on my response to our prodigal.  It coincided, in the darkest days of our journey with our son, with a strong word from God:  When you make mistakes with this boy—and I made many—err on the side of grace.

What?  What about consequences?  Of course there were consequences.  What about enabling?  No, we didn’t want to enable.  It takes supernatural wisdom to blend these things.

But God was clear:  Forgive.  Extend grace.  Seek reconciliation. Pursue conversation, not conflict.  Keep your doors—and arms—open.  It’s not a balancing of truth and grace—it’s a blending of 100% truth and 100% grace.

God is our model here.  When I want to make sure my prodigal experiences what he deserves, I think of how God has responded to my many bad choices:  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  Grace.

Keep on forgiving

His Word is equally powerful:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:4)

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”  (Luke 23:34)

Philip Yancy, in What’s So Amazing About Grace,” writes: “Like grace, forgiveness has about it the maddening quality of being undeserved, unmerited, unfair….The gospel of grace begins and ends with forgiveness…grace is the only force in the universe powerful enough to break the chains that enslave generations.  Grace alone melts ungrace.”

Henri Nouwen defines forgiveness as “love practiced among people who love poorly”  He goes on:   “…even as I have said [I forgive you]…I still wanted to hear the story that tells me I was right…I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving praise in return…for being so forgiving

“But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself….It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life….it demands that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged, and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and one whom I am asked to forgive.”

And again from Philip Yancey:  “…forgiveness is an act of faith.  By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am…I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy…Though wrong does not disappear when I forgive, it loses its grip on me and is taken over by God, who knows what to do.”

Finally, a word from Lewis Smedes:  “The first and only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgivenss….When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”

A Prayer of Forgiveness

Following is a brief prayer that you might want to pray, expressing your choice to forgive your loved prodigal.  You may have to pray it many times.

Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace toward me, and for forgiving my sins through Your death on the cross.  Thank You that You forgive me over and over, for repeated sins and for new sins, big or small.  I am so grateful for your grace.

Lord, I need to forgive ___________, my loved one who has wronged me, hurt me, betrayed me, offended me, sinned against me.  It is hard for me to do this—I am still hurt, angry, confused.  So I come asking You for the power to forgive ____________.  Fill me with Your Spirit and remind me of Your love and mercy to me—and to _______________.

By Your Spirit, I choose to forgive ________________.  I choose to extend grace and mercy to him/her, even as You have done for me.  I choose, as You enable me, to live at peace with this person I love.  I ask that You bless ____________ in Your love.  Please may we be reconciled and our relationship healed.  And if that does not happen, may I continue to love and forgive.

Thank You that this is possible in the power of Your Spirit.  In Jesus’ name.

 What about you?  Is there someone you need to forgive?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.

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This is the fifth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

“That’s disgraceful!”

“You are so ungrateful.”

“That behavior makes you persona non grata here.”

All of these phrases have a root of grace—or lack of it.  They mean without grace.  And they are words that any of us might have said to our prodigals, because they are true.

Yet God tells us just the opposite should be true of the words we speak.  They should be full of grace:

“…your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.” (Psalm 45:2)

“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

I am convinced that one of the most important ways we extend grace to our prodigals is through our words.

Words are powerful.  They have the potential to inflame discord and to inflict great emotional harm, or the capacity to encourage repentance and restoration, to offer healing and reconciliation.

Certainly, we must speak truth, and our prodigals often need to hear some hard truths.  But God’s Word reminds us how we deliver those words:

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  ( Ephesians 4:15)

Easy?  No.  Our frustration prompts negative words.  Their disrespect elicits a raised voice.  Anger arouses emotions.  Conflict escalates.

How?  How do we speak truth in love.  How do we make sure our words are seasoned with grace?

Some practical thoughts:

Count to 10 before you speak.

Speak slowly, calmly, gently and firmly.

Think:  Will these words throw oil or water on the fire?

Consider:  Would you like someone to speak such words, in that tone of voice, to you?

Recognize:  The words you speak today can be part of your relationship with your prodigal for all the years to come.

Realize:  Your tone of voice can turn neutral words into destructive words.

Remember:  You love this person.

And most of all, stop to pray before you speak.  Make sure you are filled with the Spirit.  Ask Him to govern your tongue, to release His love into your heart.  Choose to be an instrument of God’s grace.

Gracious words may or may not lessen the carnage in the immediate “conversation,” though they should help.  But over time words filled with grace will eliminate the fuel that feeds what often becomes an inferno.  Return, reconciliation, restoration will occur more easily when the words we have spoken have not done irreparable harm, when grace has prevailed.

Love speaks grace.   So should we.

What about you?  Do you need to add more grace seasoning to your words?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.

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This is the fourth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

Grace stoops.

God’s grace has stooped to reach us.

“We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (Romans 5:7-8,MSG)

Do you realize how far God had to stoop to pour out His grace on us?

…from heaven to earth

…from deity to humanity,

…from holiness to depravity.

Chuck Swindoll reminds us:

Don’t miss the absence of conditions in the Romans passage above. God didn’t  look down and say, “When those scoundrels show the least bit of interest in  cleaning up their act, then I’ll meet them more than half way.” No, while we were  sinning and loving it, the Father stooped and extended supreme grace in the person of His Son.

 He didn’t ignore our sin. He didn’t excuse our sin. He looked past our sin and accepted us in spite of it. And so? Let’s go there on behalf of others. Embrace others in spite of how unworthy or how unlovely they are to you. (From “It’s Time to  Embrace Grace by Embracing the Unlovely”)

When do we say “Stop!”

Of course, we can feel that our prodigals are unworthy, and their behavior is surely unlovely.   After all, we have endured, waited, encouraged, helped, pleaded, wept.  At some point do we say, “Stop.  No more grace.”?

Not unless we are better than God.  He extends unending grace. He loves us and accepts us and keeps His welcoming arms open to our return.

But what about consequences?  What about standards in our home?  What about safety for our family?  What about requiring responsibility.  Yes, all needful and appropriate. But grace is still possible.

Swindoll adds:  No one expects you to excuse the sin of the unlovely, nor should you become their doormat. Extending grace doesn’t send the message that you approve of their behavior. And don’t fall into the trap of fearing that grace enables people in their sin. In fact, grace brings conviction to the heart of the sinner much more quickly than a rebuke.

How do you extend grace to a rebellious prodigal?

So how do you extend grace to a rebellious, unappreciative prodigal?  Perhaps there will be a major opportunity—like a repentant request to return home.  But most often it will be in little things—doing the unexpected favor, returning a curse with a blessing, taking them out to dinner, sending a note….

When Josh was still a minor living at home and would do something aggravating, I would do his laundry for him.  That was his responsibility, but I would say, as I put each piece in the washing machine, “I choose to bless you, not curse you.”  I don’t know if he was grateful for that grace, but it did wonders for me.

Bill Bright provided an amazing model for me in giving grace.  When a Christian leader would fall because of some immorality, most of the body of Christ would criticize, judge, reject, condemn.  But Dr. Bright would always be one of the first to call, to pray for, to listen to…to extend grace.

Can we stoop to give grace to our loved ones?

What about you?  What one act of grace could you do for your prodigal?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.

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