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J090918
Lost, Found, Restored
Star Wars (,,)
Indiana Jones
Lord of the Rings
Back to the Future
All wonderful trilogies.
As someone who grew up in Cross Lanes UMC / Received his call to ministry at Baber-Agee UMC / now preaching at Fairview UMC
I feel as if I’ve completed the ultimate Wesleyan Trilogy of Cross Lanes, West Virginia
Thankful for the opportunity to worship with you all this morning.
Several familiar faces, have been here several times over the years - almost always it involved food.
Today doesn’t appear to be any different.
Having served under Pastor Mark Harris before as a lay speaker, youth leader and friend.
I have learned a lot from this man of God and again I am thankful to be here this morning.
He’s taught me how to prepare for a sermon, how to minister to God’s people and how to plan a worship service.
However, this next bit of advice I was given, wasn’t given from him but I’m sure he’d agree.
I was once told that there are two things that I should preach about.
About Jesus Christ…. (Mark do you agree?)
and
About twenty to twenty five minutes….
In Luke Chapter 15, Jesus tells three parables.
- The Parable of the Lost Sheep
- The Parable of the Lost Coin
- The Parable of the Lost Son... or the Prodigal Son.
To keep close to the 20-25 minutes I just mentioned; we’ll not read ALL three of these parables.
But lets look at the last one.
The Prodigal Son.
As someone who grew up in Cross Lanes and having the opportunity to move back years later, I can relate to todays scripture in multiple ways.
The tale of a man who went away and came back.
Spiritually I did that years ago.
Physically I just did that last year as I bought the house I grew up in off of my parents.
Having come home both physically and spiritually, I can relate.
Let us look to God’s word…
11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons.
12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them.
13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.
14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need.
15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything.
17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death!
18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands." ’
20 So he got up and went to his father.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him.
21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet!
23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting
24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
Let us Pray …
How incredible is your love, O God! We have been made new in your love and reconciled to you and to each other in peace and joy.
Be with us this day as we hear your words of comfort and hope. Guide our lives that we may serve you more fully all of our days. AMEN.
I always think of the different perspectives that we have here in this story.
- We have the youngest son who leaves, squanders, hits rock bottom, then returns.
- We have the loving father who obliges his son’s absurd request, lets him go, sees him coming back, runs to him in love.
- We also have the stubborn older brother who doesn’t leave, hears older brother is back and father throws a party, gets jealous and doesn’t show up!
Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to take in with just one parable.
We have greed and recklessness.
We have unconditional love.
We also have bitterness and jealousy.
Well, this sounds like a daytime Emmy award winning soap opera.
There’s all kinds of issues to deal with in this parable.
But let us look this morning at the main character in this story and that’s the younger son.
But looking at the story, there are two movements in the life of the younger son.
He leaves and he returns.
The leaving starts in Verse 12 when the younger of these two sons says to the father, “Father, give me my share of the inheritance.”
He’s asking for his inheritance... typically, the thing he would not get until his father died.
This would have been shocking to the listeners gathered around Jesus, as it should be to us. T
he younger son was essentially saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead. Give me what is mine, and give it to me now.”
How absurd is that?
Have you ever heard of anyone wishing away their parents life?
Wanting their parent to die, so that they could get their insurance money?
I haven’t seen something this crazy since Disney’s The Lion King
Don’t act like you don’t remember young Simba singing this very idea.
“Oh I just can’t wait to be king”…
The only difference is, the younger son didn’t have the entire Animal Kingdom singing along with him about his fathers death wish.
But with the boldness of the son’s request.
What’s even more shocking is that the father complied. He gave it to him!
In verse 13, we’re told that just a few days later the younger son takes off for a distant land, where he “squandered his property in reckless living.”
He got his inheritance and bolted.
Check out this language: SQUANDERED...RECKLESS.
This is the 1st movement. The younger son leaves home & essentially, leaves the father.
Any time we try to find our happiness or our identity in anything outside of God, we leave home.
We leave the Father.
We are the prodigal son.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
During my time away from God, I filled that void with many things.
One in particular wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that’s when I began my obsession with Roller Coasters!
Anything that you do that allows a separation between you and God, is a problem.
Sin comes in all different shapes and sizes.
Sin is sin.
There’s not one greater than another.
We have abandoned our Father in search of fulfillment in something else. When we do this, this movement away from the Father is a movement toward a life of EMPTINESS.
We see the younger son begin to understand this emptiness in verses 14-16. He spent all his money. Of course he does. Then, a famine hits.
In verse 17 it says he finally came to his senses.
He knew what he had done. He understood that in his culture he would never be able to reclaim his place as his father’s son. Servant maybe?
>> And do you see how he practices his speech? Have you ever done that? Speech Class?
After the son practiced his speech, he began his 2nd movement: the movement home. This is where the story really starts to get wild.
(ESV)
This is the biggest moment of shock so far in this story. It’s bigger than when the younger son wished his father was dead and requested his inheritance. It’s bigger than when the father humiliating himself by actually giving it to him. The father RUNS (something an honored Jewish patriarch would never do in public) to his son. He hugged him. He kissed him. He wasn’t waiting on the couch to ground him.
In verse 2, the younger son started to give the speech that he had rehearsed, but the father ignored him and called the servants. He had them bring the best robe and the fattened calf. “We must celebrate,” the father said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and
kissed him.
In this moment, the word prodigal, which means “recklessly spendthrift,” can now be used to describe the father’s grace.
This is the grace and the forgiveness and the love of our Father. This son came home. He found grace, forgiveness, love and rest. This is what God wants to do for you.
APPLICATION
- Do you need to find rest? Are you hurting or tired or broken?
- Are you searching of fulfillment from something other than the Father?
>> Relationships, Popularity, Being a Great Student or Athlete...
- Have you messed up so bad that you’re certain God would never let you back in, even if you tried to return?
As soon as you turn home, you’ll see that He is running to meet you. Let’s pray.
So many people say they can't come to church because they're not good enough.
But those of us inside the church know that no one is ever GOOD ENOUGH
It’s through Jesus Christ dying on the cross, and the shedding of us blood that made HIM perfect, so that we could be made perfect IN Him.
So it's our job to remind them, that the father is already waiting and anticipating their return.
That’s why it’s important that we show the love of God to everyone.
No one is excluded.
That’s why we’ve been called to love our neighbor.
When I think about the amount of people who aren’t listening for God to call them home.
I think of my own journey as someone who knew he needed to be in church.
Who knew the relationship he started with Jesus back in 6th grade, was still needed.
As I said earlier, I grew up down the road at CLUMC
I graduated high school and did everything in my power to NOT be at home on a Sunday morning.
To sleep in and make up excuses to NOT go to church with my family.
I wanted nothing to do with the church.
After years of walking away, being out on my own, I knew deep down what I had to do.
Much like this prodigal son who went out.
Spent his fathers inheritance.
Wasn’t expecting there to be a famine; but there was.
Found himself working with pigs, dreaming of eating their leftovers
How desperate must you be, to the point of thinking the slop looks good enough to eat.
A lot of times we look at the things of the world and think they’re great.
The drugs
The sex
The money
All the world has to offer, can sometimes look tempting.
But in the eyes of God; our rock bottom moments are just that, pig slop.
The things we choose to do and the cravings of the world that we have.
Are nothing more, than pig slop.
Nasty, filthy, messy, pig slop.
I suspect there are a lot of others out there who are in the same situation.
They know the father.
They leave the father.
They realize they NEED the father.
But don’t know how to come back to the father.
That’s where WE come into play.
We as the body of Christ.
We can join together, work together, to bring together, God’s people.
I knew Jesus, I knew he died for me, but I too was afraid to come back to him, on my own.
I was in need of assistance and that’s where other believers come into play.
That’s why I’m glad God sent my wife, Erin, Jerald’s granddaughter, to help bring me home.
Which reminds me of another wonderful story, this time from the Gospel of Mark.
A story that shows the POWER of FAITH,
the POWER of COMMUNITY,
and the POWER of the healing that can only come from Jesus Christ.
1 After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home.
2 So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them.
3 Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed.
4 They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven!"
********
6 Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves,
7 "Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins."
8 Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, "Why do you fill your minds with these questions?
9 Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’?
10 But so you will know that the Human OneOr Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins"—he said to the man who was paralyzed,
11"Get up, take your mat, and go home."
12Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, "We’ve never seen anything like this!"
Just like it took a beautiful young lady who would leave our Sunday afternoon BBQ’s to go to church to get me to leave the BBQ and follow her.
Sometimes it’s going to take a community of believers.
Sometimes it’s going to take some work.
Sometimes it’s going to take someone breaking down the roof and dropping you in the arms of JESUS
And that’s ok.
Not everyone comes to Jesus during a closing hymn.
Not everyone comes to Jesus upon first hearing about it.
Not everyone comes to Jesus all by themselves.
Sometimes it takes an act of a few good friends, who are willing to take you.
Assess the crowd.
Realize it’s not possible.
Go and DO the impossible.
Climb up and cary you up to the roof.
Remove the roof, remove the obstruction that’s blocking YOU and JESUS.
Lower you down into the presence of God and allow Jesus to do the changing.
Unfortunately we can’t bring people who don’t believe into Heaven when it’s our time.
We can’t speak for others.
But what we can do, however, is do whatever it takes to bring people into the presence of God.
Into a place where they can encounter Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the changing in their heart.
God desires a personal relationship with his people.
God wants to hear from us.
Whether we’ve turned our backs on him or not.
Whether we’re like the younger brother, or the older brother.
God desires our attention, our hearts, and our lives.
Loving God,
when we wander to distant places,
you watch the road to greet us when we finally come home.
Whenever we are far from you,
remind us that we are your beloved children,
and give us the strength and courage to return to your open arms.
When we have sinned against heaven and before you,
forgive us, for we are coming home! Amen.
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