Come Home to God Come Home for Christmas Part 3 of 3
December 24, 2006
Make it personal
1. Come ________________________
“When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death…” Luke 15:17
“Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is time is running out. Wake up…” Romans 13:11 (NLT)
2. Come ________________________
“…and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned…’” Luke 15:18
“People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)
3. Come ________________________
“…I will set out and go back to my father…” Luke 15:18
“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God's presence, assured of his glad welcome.” Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)
4. Come ________________________
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15: 22-24
“Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins – making us friends of God.” Romans 5:11 (TLB)
Come Home to God
Come home for Christmas
Part 3 of 3
December 24, 2006
We looked at Jesus’ telling of the story of the prodigal son and as we talked about coming home to God we asked: What kind of God will we be coming home to? – I said to you we’re going to come home to a God who:
1. is patient enough to not give up.
2. is passionate enough to show extreme love.
3. is forgiving enough to accept me.
The question I left you with last week and the one we now need to ask is, so what?
“Maybe we understand God a little bit better but so what? What does this mean to me? How can I come home? How can I create that closeness with God?”
Since it was Jesus’ story about how to come home and how to get close, let’s just follow the steps of the son and ask: What did the son do?
1. You come to your senses.
Verse 17 of the story “When he came to his senses.” He says to himself: “My father’s hired help eats better than me and has a better life than me”. He came to his senses. This first point is the wake up call. For some of us it’s the “Ah-ha! That’s what I need to do.”
Sometimes it’s surrounded by pain and it’s not the “Ah-ha!” it’s the “Oh, no!” A wake up call.
The first place to begin to change is just come to your senses.
We all go through times when we move away from God and we allow our soul to starve. It just happens. There are times when our spiritual life goes shallow.
We each of us need to self- evaluate our own life. Hold up the mirror. Why? Because the Bible says time’s running out.
Romans 13 “Another reason for right living, for coming to your senses, is you know how late it is. Time is running out. Wake up. Don’t miss out on that closeness you can have with God.” You can come home and be intimate with Him.
Then what did the boy do?
2. You come clean.
He says, “I’m going to say ‘Father, I have sinned.’” That’s coming clean. This is where you expose to God your sin and ask for forgiveness that you know He’ll give. It’s not only to expose your sin to God and ask for forgiveness but I would encourage you to express it to somebody else for accountability. Expose it for forgiveness and then express it to a friend for accountability. A lot of us like the first part. I can confess. Great. But the next step is express it to a friend.
Why? Because all of us miss the mark. That’s one of the things we have in common. We all mess up. Then when we hide – we go from missing the mark to hiding and you don’t deal with it – and here’s what happens. You move into this position of being alone. You might have people around you. You might have a lot of friends. You might be in a good marriage, but you’re alone. When you’re alone you don’t give and receive genuine love. Your intimacy and relationships with others begins to dissipate. You’re alone. You’ve hidden. You haven’t expressed it. That’s what this “come clean” is.
It saddens me when people are more concerned with getting caught than getting help. Come clean. The Bible is so clear about this. Proverbs 20:8 “People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them they will receive mercy.”
Come to your senses. Come clean. Share in the context of a small group or a Christian friend for a little accountability.
3. Come home.
Verse 18 “I’ll set out and go back to my father.” Remember “He’s waiting for everyone to come to repentance” – repentance means to turn around and come home. What does coming home mean to you? Maybe coming home for you means you have never ever entered into a relationship with God. You might know a lot about God. You might have been at church for a long time, many years. But you’ve never come home to Him and let Him throw His arms around you and kiss you and embrace you and throw a party.
You know a lot about God. You just don’t know God. Or maybe you’ve just been invited to check God out. You’d say, “I want a relationship with God.”
Coming home is about committing my life to Christ.
Some of you here have already done this and maybe you’d say “I’m not in a distant land,” but you are disconnected. Maybe there’s just something about today or this message or God’s Spirit that is working you over and you say, “I am disconnected. I want to renew my commitment to Christ.”
Remember what I said in the last point: You expose it to God and come clean. You find someone who you can be accountable to. Maybe your thinking: “I’m already a believer. I already feel pretty connected to God. What’s my action step?” Your action step is to point others home. Your action step is to tell others about this God that you are connected with. Your action step is to tell others about this God who is patient with you and loving with you and forgiving to you and the greatest time of the year to do that is now.
Why don’t you point other people here so they can find out about this God that you love whose forgiven you and who you have a relationship with.
Runaways can always come home. When you do just imagine God’s presence, His joy, His face. You can be assured that God’s saying, “Welcome back! I’ve been waiting for you. Welcome home!”
The natural result of these three steps is the fourth one.
4. Come celebrate
Celebration is the result of being connected with God. When I am connected with God, it gives birth to an attitude of celebration. I live in the real world with you. I understand pain. But what I’m talking about is the celebration that rises above your circumstances. It’s a joy that is deeper than just your normal happiness. Celebrate these three things we’ve been talking about. Coming to your senses, coming clean, coming home. Now come celebrate.
Sometimes people say they’re Christians and I believe them, but I can tell that they’re not very well connected. You don’t see that smile on their face or they’re not really connected. You don’t see the glimmer in their eye or their passion to serve their Lord. You don’t see the bounce in their step or the joy in their voice. Sometimes I want to say to them, “If you really believe that Jesus rose from the dead and you really believe that God’s Spirit lives in you and God’s power is available to you and God’s presence is with you, if you really believe all these things would you please let your face know.”
This coming home that Jesus referred to in His story ends with a celebration. Verse 22-24 “But the father said to his servants quick, ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of my was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
The robe and the ring and the sandals were symbols that he belonged to the father. They enhanced the celebration. Again, I realize that there’s a lot of pain in this place.
But one of the results of being connected with God is that life works better when you’re connected with Him. One of the results is an attitude of celebration. When I celebrate, I want to be with friends. The Bible says that when we come home to God, we can be friends with God.
Romans 5:11 “Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God. All because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins making us friends with God.” Underline in your mind’s eye “friends with God.” That’s what coming home to God is, it’s being a friend of God. It’s deepening that relationship.
I want to finish by reading you a wee story. It’s a story about the game that all of us know called Hide and Seek. We’ve all played it.
How long since I’ve played Hide and Seek? Thirty years. Maybe more. I remember how I could become part of the game in a moment if invited. But adults don’t play Hide and Seek, not for fun anyway. That’s a pity. Did you ever have a chum in your neighbourhood who always hid so well that nobody could find him? We did. After a while we’d give up on him and go off leaving him to rot wherever he was. Sooner or later he’d show up all mad because we didn’t keep looking for him. He’d say, “It’s Hide and Seek, not Hide and Give up!” We’d all yell about who made the rules and who cared for who anyway and how we wouldn’t play with him any more if he didn’t get it straight and who needed him anyhow and things like that. Hide and Seek and Yell. No matter what, though, this guy would hide too well again.
There’s another game like Hide and Seek, it’s a family game called Sardines. It’s especially good in a big house and best with about six or more. It has to be dark. You turn out all the lights in the house. The person that’s "it" goes and hides. Everyone else counts slowly to 100. When they’ve counted they go find the "it". But when they find "it" they hide with him/her until the last person finds the hiding group. You can be pretty creative in where you hide. Usually someone ends up giggling or laughing and then everybody gets found.
I think that’s great picture of what the church should be like. A few giggles and laughter mixed with some truth and a challenge to be found. The challenge for us all is to be careful not to be the person who hides too well. Make sure you can be found - because God wants to have a relationship with you not only this Christmas but every day.
Lord God, thank You for Your love for us. When we read this story and think about how much You love us we’re overwhelmed. Thank You that Your love for us is patient, that it’s extreme and it’s forgiving and that You created us and want a relationship with us. We want a relationship with You even though we perhaps don’t understand everything, but we want to come home and to hear you say Welcome back. Father, may we be different people as we all leave here today because we’ve heard Your voice and we’ve sensed Your presence. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.