This sent me to my knees for a long time; pat, flippant answers were not working. These people had gone thru too much, and needed to hear something from God that would speak to their hearts on these issues.
One night laying in bed, this teaching came to me; clear and strong. I had to get out of bed and write it down.
God has given me the privilege to give this teaching in many places, including Teen Challenge; and the Holy Spirit has used it to bring hope, light, and the truth that God does love them, and will receive them, no matter what they've done. It is never too late, no one is hopeless, as long as there is breath, there is hope. People may reject them and give up on them; but they are not God.
The Father- Coming Home
Text: Luke 15:11-32
There have been many teachings on this familiar story. Most of them centered on the two son's. The foolishness of the younger, and the sullen angry older son. However, I've observed several things about the Father in this story that I believe are quite interesting, and we can glean much wisdom from him.
1. The Father did not dispute with the son when he demanded his share of the inheritance. There is no mention of him trying to talk the son out of what he wanted. It merely says "and he divided unto them his living."
2. He did not follow the son; he freely let him go. Sometimes we have to let go of people. If they are bent on going down the wrong road, we cannot force them to change. Sometimes they have to learn the hard way. God will not comform to us in our sin-we must conform to Him through repentance adn a contrite heart in order to have a deep relationship with Him; and restoration of our souls.
3. When the son came to his senses and decided to go back home-even when he was still a "great way off" his father saw him and had compassion, running to meet him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. His father never gave up on hoping his son would come home. Though he did not follow him-he did keep watch from his own boundary, looking to see if he would come back.
We should never give up on those who are astray. Prayer can change things, and circumstances. Corrie Ten Boom has said "No matter how deep we go in sin-God's love goes deeper still."
Interjection: For some of us who have totally ruined our lives; either by drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, or all of the above; I believe have had the experience of knowing the flow of forgiveness and love of God and it is at times overwhelming, and words are unable to express the power of it. In my own life-during the first months after my salvation there were many moments alone when the presence and love of God was so real and powerfull, that all I could do was weep, and allow Him to hold me. Words could not come while my soul was being held by Him-I believe this son experienced this also as he wept in his father's arms, held firmly in his warm embrace. Here we can see love "spirit to spirit."
As we continue to walk out this life with it's sorrows and hardships, even after we have known the Lord for many years; I've found there are times when all I can do is let Him hold me, words won't come, He understands-and doesn't expect me to say anything. The work He is doing in my soul and spirit need no words. This is what He desires to do for all of us, He can and will carry us thru if we will let Him.
4. The son is so convicted of his behaviour and conduct he is willing to become one of his father's hired servants-he doesn't consider himself worthy of being his son. But the father would not consider this-he is his son forever-and now is restored.
5. The father never brings up to the son all that was squandered by him. Everything the son misused and threw away was restored. The father showed no anger, resentment, or unforgiveness. His response was a celebration. This is the same response we see in the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd comes home rejoicing; for he had found his sheep-which had been lost
6. The father did not go to the older son to ask for his approval, or opinion on the issue. Many times when a wayward soul comes back to God; the "pious, righteous" ones seem to think they should be consulted on how to "restore the wayward back into the flock". Any person turning back to the Lord needs noone's approval or consultation. The whole issue is between he and God alone. Ps. 51:4
7. The father did take time and had compassion on the older son-he went out to him and tried to reason with him, to try to restore the family relationship. There are similarities to this story and the story of Jonah. The heavenly Father takes special time to go out to the sullen prophet-and reminds him of the importance of forgiveness and mercy to the repentant people of Ninevah.
In the story of Jonah, the Lord intreats the prophet as he sat under the hot sun, angry because God spared the people. Here also we see the example of the "pious righteous" spirit of one who feels the wicked people of the city should pay for their sins. Restoration and forgiveness was not on Johah's mind-but vengence and judgment.
As we see the conduct of the father in the story of the prodigal son, we get a clear picture what our attitude should be. We see in the actions of the Father, all the attributes and fruit of the Spirit exhibited; (Gal. 5:22,23) which are: love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, joy. Here we are shown by example how the fruits of the Spirit are played out in a very difficult family relationship problem. Jesus is giving a wide scope of problem solving solutions in this story; as well as giving a teaching that could go down many roads. But, the main point I want to bring out tonight is The Father's exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit here, gives us a glimpse of what Paul is speaking about in Galations ch. 5:22,23. If we cultivate and develope these attributes in our lives; as Paul says "against such there is no law."
So, a review of the important lessons here are:
Some people are bent on sin-and we must let them go if they won't listen. But, we can continue to pray, and watch for them; hoping they will return. When we see true repentence-be quick to forgive and don't harbor resentment. Mercy is God's way.
As for the righteous pious ones-remind them gently of God's mercy and grace on THEIR lives, that their sins and faults lay bare before God also; who freely forgave THEM.
We need to remind ourselves regularly that our souls only have redemption and the promise of one of those mansions Jesus talks about in heaven because of the great sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for us "when we were yet sinners". And, the Father's great love for us-his patience in waiting for us to come home from the pig sty we've been in. When we returned, didn't we find His love and forgiveness almost unbelievable? His presence and peace more than we ever deserved?
Indeed, any lost wretched soul who comes to Him is cradled in His arms, the tears, the heartache, sorrow, regrets, are healed as He continues to hold us and restore us. He not only restores, he plants us in His fields, so we can have the honor of working with Him, rescuing other's who were like us. He trusts us to work along side Him in His kingdom to bring in a harvest of souls with the same broken lives and hearts that we had before we knew Him. He grants us honors and priviledges-as though we had never sinned. Only God can do this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
(A 2004 teaching)