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Bringing the children home

Isaiah 43v5-7

9th November 2018

Immediately after the wonderful prophecy we read last week, in which God reassures each one of us by saying, "I have summoned you by name; you are mine" and promises us all, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you" God continues to speak through the prophet Isaiah in this way:

Isaiah 43v5-7
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

In these words, God promises to bring His people's descendants back from wherever they'd been scattered to. The first fulfilment of this prophecy was in 538 BC, when Cyrus the Persian decreed that the Israelites should be allowed to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, and settle in Judea again.

But I think it also applies to us. God also promises to bring back into the church all those Christians - all those children of God - who for, for one reason or another, have drifted away - the ones some have come to call the "prodigals". Many thousands of British Christians, and millions across the world, are living apart from God's church, and are not experiencing the love, joy and peace of God in the way He intends. God will bring them back, and He calls us all to help them.

God instructs us, "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth". Of course, we can't make anybody do anything, and we should never try to coerce or manipulate anybody into doing anything, but we can love our brothers and sisters, in the hope that they will experience something of God's love through us.

If you meet a Christian who's fallen out of church, show him God's love and pray for him. If a Christian returns to his old church, or tries a new one, welcome him with open arms and uncritical hearts. Welcome him back as the father welcomed the prodigal son. Celebrate his return. Don't interrogate him about why he left, or what he's been doing - just rejoice that he's back.

Every Christian, no matter where he's been or what he's done, is called by God's name. He was created for God's glory. He was formed and made by His heavenly Father. He's welcome. He's part of the family.

And you, dear Christian brother or sister, are called by God's name. You were created for God's glory. You were formed and made by your heavenly Father. You're welcome. You're part of the family.

And if you have fallen out of church, whatever the reason, God loves you just as much as He did before. Perhaps the church mistreated you, or ignored you. God will never do that. And He wants you back with the family. If you have bad experience of church, then find a good one. There are plenty of good, loving, Biblical churches around.

You are the person God intended you to be. God hasn't finished shaping you yet, but He has made a start, and He knows what He's doing.