The goodness of God attracted people like Zacchaeus. “The goodness in Jesus’ spirit created a comfortable, safe environment in which, though there was no pressure to change, Zacchaeus found himself wanting to and choosing to change. The goodness of God expressed in Jesus produced a true repentance… The essence of his glory is his goodness… Jesus’ entire life was one, long, streaming video that displayed the goodness of the Father.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 68
How can I be grateful if I don’t know what I have been given? And I want to live a grateful life, Lord. I want to give thanks for every blessing, every promise, every gift that you have given me. I don’t want even one to remain unopened. Because if it is unopened, it is unknown. And if it is unknown, it will be unappreciated. And if it is unappreciated, it will be unused. If unused, then I am the poorer, those around me are the poorer, and the world is the poorer. Which is tragic in light of how much wealth has been entrusted me. Forgive me, Lord, for the many ways I have squandered my inheritance, not so much by wasting my inheritance the way the prodigal son did, but by not even knowing what was there to waste.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 124
Religion tells us that first we must get our house in order. Repent or else! But what does Jesus say? He says to whoever hears his knock and opens the door: “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20). In other words, “Let’s have a feast!” But what about the wretchedness, the moral poverty, the spiritual blindness? What about the house being a moral mess with everything in disarray? Would Jesus not feel more comfortable if he first cleaned house and then sat down to eat? The pattern of Jesus’ life on earth gives insight into God’s method of transformation. He knows that you, like Zacchaeus, will not be changed by performance but by his presence. The power of his love, the joy of his presence, and the peace coming from his acceptance are far more capable of changing the human heart than rebuke, censure, condemnation, and rejection.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 94
In the story of the persistent friend, the friend is outside, but the children are in bed with their father. “The picture is of the warmth, closeness, and intimacy that is ours within the father’s house. If the man reluctantly answers the request of his friend on the outside, how much more eagerly will he answer the request of his children on the inside? The friend standing at the door has to knock; the children lying next to him in bed have only to whisper. The one has to persist; the other has only to tug on his nightshirt. Here is the point: we are not the friend on the outside; we are the children on the inside. Lying next to him. Snuggled warmly by his side. He is that near to us. And we are that dear to him.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 102.
Finally, on August 7, as I was mowing the lawn, I stopped and said to the Lord, “Father, if you never let me preach again, that’s okay with me.” Immediately I felt him say to me, “Son, if you never preach again, that’s okay with me.” Then it hit me. I never again had to preach! Preaching was no longer my identity. I was a son, and as a son I could preach because I knew that was what the Father called me to do. But no longer was my preaching motivated by the fear of displeasing God if I didn’t preach or by the guilt of what might happen to those to whom I didn’t preach.
I felt the way the woman must have felt who had been bent over by a crippling disability when Jesus healed her, lifting the burden that had been on her back for eighteen years (see Luke 13:13). Suddenly I could stand up straight. As I did, everything looked different. God looked different. People looked different. I looked different. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was surprised at the image staring back at me. It was no longer a distorted image. It was a true reflection of who I was—a dearly beloved son.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 33
Why did the father not reward the older brother for his long years of diligent service? The answer to that question contains one of the most important truths you will read in this book: it was impossible for the father to reward the son with that which already belonged to him by inheritance! All the skinny goats and fatted calves already belonged to the older son, for when the father gave the younger son his inheritance, the older son had received his also: “So he divided to them his livelihood” (Luke 15:12). Every single calf and goat already belonged to him! He could have had a party every day of his life.
The father said to him: “All that I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). What a tragedy! Since the older brother perceived himself as a servant rather than a son, he awaited a reward and forfeited the enjoyment of his inheritance. Everything his father had was his by inheritance, but he was never able to receive what was rightfully his to enjoy. His servant mentality limited him to the anticipation of a wage or reward and kept him from recognizing his liberty as an heir to appropriate what was his. Why do Christians who earnestly desire everything that God has for them never receive the blessings promised to them? The answer is clear: they await a reward for their service, and, because they are heirs, the Father can never give them as a birthright.
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 45-6
Instead of allowing God to write a happy ending to their own stories, many Christians are writing a tragic ending because they just do not grasp the Father’s mercy and grace. Why is this happening in so many believers’ lives? The problem is this: we are unable to see ourselves as God sees us. We are so self-consciousness; the recorded memories of the past and the misunderstanding of the gospel combine to blind our eyes to the truth….
It is imperative that we allow the truth of God’s Word to challenge the lies of Satan who uses our history against us. ‘Behold the Lamb,’… Not once did the priest examine the worshiper! Not once!… Where is your focus? The Lamb or yourself?”
The Birthright, 2010, Zondervan, 131-2