Only a Prayer Away

Ezekiel 33: 12-16
“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”

The above passage speaks about the difference between righteous and wicked men. And how God deals with them if they turn from their ways. Here it says that a person who led a holy life all throughout but leads an unholy life later on, the good done by him will not be remembered. Though it may seem to be a bit unfair or cruel, that’s how serious God is when it comes to sin. We can view that with an example. Say, a runner is competing in a 400m race, is it of any use if he runs fast and steady for the first 300m and then stops? No, it isn’t, because the prize is for the runner who finished the the entire race. When we look at the above verses from this light, it begins to make more sense. We may also read 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26 to highlight this further.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.”

Whereas, for the wicked person too God has kept this matter in mind. If the wicked turns from his evil ways, hears the Word and turns to the Lord, the evil done by him will not be remembered. This is not to say that there are no consequences for wrongdoing. There is. Because God is righteous, there will certainly be consequences for the wrong done. But more importantly, a soul will be saved. During Jesus’ crucifixion, we read about 2 robbers flanking Him on the Cross. One repented from his ways. Luke 23: 40-43 is as below

“But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

True repentance began the moment the robber realized he had done wrong and he accepted the punishment he was given. Did Jesus send His angels to rescue him? No. The repentant robber died but there was an eternal life kept for him because Jesus saw and knew his repentance was real.

If you had been walking through the right path but somehow lost your way in between, please turn back to Him. If you have been walking the sinful path all your life but you’ve heard the message of Jesus and you are convicted of your sins, repent and turn to Him. It is never too late to repent and put aside the ways of the world for He is indeed only a prayer away.

Return to Him

Luke 15:11-32 speaks of the prodigal son. The parable starts with the son asking for his share of the money. It’s quite strange that the father was so willing to give him what his son asked of him. The son too must have been delighted when his father granted him his request.

We know what ensued from this point. He spent all the money on wasteful practices and soon found himself empty handed and taking care of pigs.

He then realized his mistake, came back and asked forgiveness from his father who was only too over joyed to get his son back.

The father knew his son. He knew everything about him and that is probably why he gave the son’s share so easily. It doesn’t even say that he tried to reason with his son. The next time one of your prayer requests is answered easily, it needn’t necessarily be God’s desire to give it but probably to teach you a lesson.

They say experience is the best teacher. The son learnt the hard way of what it was to live away from his father and lead an irresponsible life. It says in verse 17, “when he came to his senses” he decided to go back to his father and be like one of his hired servants. In other words, he was truly repentant.

On his way back, in verse 20 it says, his father ran to greet him. He must have been waiting for his son to “come to his senses” and return home. On hearing his words of wanting to be like a servant, the father totally pushes it away and instead orders his servants to put on the best robe, ring on his finger and sandals on his foot. The fact that the son sinned didn’t change his relationship with his father. He was still his son. And the father knew his worth. He was not a servant but his own flesh and he deserved nothing short of the robe and ring he put on him .

When we sin, we too forget our Father in heaven. But that doesn’t change our relationship. We are His children and when we return to Him with a repentant heart, He awaits afar off to welcome us.

Have you sinned and strayed away from God and feel you can’t return? If you feel guilty and that prevents you from getting back to Him, remember the prodigal son. Our Father too yearns for us to return to our home if only we repent and turn to Him.

Rend Your Heart, Not Your Garments

Joel 2:12-13

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.

Time and again God keeps reminding His children of one thing – to return to Him. Those who have known Him and yet due to certain reasons have backslid or have not been able to be with Him are always welcome to return to the Lord. However, repentance is to come from our hearts. Mere outward appearances of repentance is not what God is pleased in. It says here to “Rend your heart and not your garments”. Most of us are familiar with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee may have thought his prayers were being heard since he used a lot of pompous words and actions. However, when we look at the tax collector, he only did one action and prayed a single prayer as it says in v 13 

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’

His prayer was heard and God was pleased. Let your repentance, prayers, songs of praise come from your heart and not be an attempt to please men through meaningless words. Remember, your prayers have meaning only when He hears, your tears and repentance will be accepted only when He accepts them. Make sure the intentions of your heart are correct when you enter into His presence.