Text: Luke 15:11-24
Major Objective: Discover God’s Process for a fulfilling life.
Central Idea of the Text: God has a process that leads to rejoicing.
IV. Subject: God’s Process to a fulfilling life.
V. Thesis and Goal
a. Proposition: God has a process that works.
b. Specific Objective: To encourage people to understand and use God’s process to a fulfilling life.
For thirty-five years I worked with large computer systems controlling medium to large industrial processes.
These included oil refineries, chemical processes, and power plants to include nuclear and non-nuclear processes.
Each of these facilities had numerous processes that in order to work had to be operated in a specific method.
If someone attempted to operate these processes in any other manner they either would not work at all or work at a low level of efficiency.
Yet, once someone learned what the proper method was for the process one could operate them with a high degree of efficiency.
The same principle applies whether you are a doctor delivering a baby, an accountant trying to balance your accounts, or a welder building the next great skyscraper.
Things all have a process and the correct way to operate that process.
Life is very similar.
There are many ways we could choose to conduct our lives.
There are processes in life that lead to a deep sense of fulfillment.
There are also processes in life that can lead to a great sense of hurt, hollow existence, and hopelessness.
It is ultimately up to each of us which way we choose.
I like to think of it like this; God has placed a little part of His sovereignty on the shelf that each and every one of us might have the freedom of choice.
Just as everything has a process so also God has a process.
This process can be readily seen in the story of the Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15:11-24.
God’s process consists of Repentance, Restoration, and Rejoicing.
Today I want us to take a look at this parable that Jesus told and see how God’s Process to a fulfilling life relates to us today.
Repentance is the beginning of God’s process.
The first point today is “Repentance is the beginning of God’s process.”
Within the bounds of Christianity there are many words we as Christians use.
Many times we will assume everyone understands the meaning of the words we are using.
Repentance is one of those words.
Just exactly what does the word “Repentance” mean?
The most commonly used word in the New Testament for repentance is /metanoia/.
This word is actually a compound of two words.
/Meta/ means to shift or alter a position.
This could mean anything from an opinion to a physical position.
/Noia/ comes from the root /noieo/ which means to think or use the mind for a particular function.
Combining these two and we come up with the concept of changing our minds so as to go in a different direction.
Repentance can thus be said to be the act of changing the direction we are going, away from God, to going toward God through a mental act.
Within our passage for the day we can see this taking place.
In Verse 13 we see where the prodigal son gathered all he had and went to a foreign land.
Literally, he turned his back on his father and went in a direction away from him.
Verse 17 we see the beginning of his /metanoia/.
The prodigal son first changes his mind.
Next he turns toward the father and begins going home.
This is the picture of repentance.
We change our mind about what we are doing and turn toward the father.
Application: Many of us over the years have gone through the FAITH training for sharing our faith with others.
If we will remember back the “T” stands for turn.
We repent and in so turn from living for self and make the conscious decision to live for Jesus Christ.
It is from the word /metanois/ that we get this same concept of turning and going in a different direction.
Now the question must be poised, “What is the product or result of repentance?”
Restoration is the result of God’s process.
My second point today is, “Restoration is the result of God’s process, i.e. repentance.”
The first step has been taken and we have turned from our life of self-centered focus to one of focusing on our father in heaven.
He wishes to restore us to a position of closeness and intimacy.
By looking at our passage we can see the three parts of God’s restoration, his attributes, his actions, and his accomplishments of restoration.
The attributes of God’s restoration
The first attribute is the father was waiting for his son.
From the very moment the son turned his back on the father his father had been waiting for his son to return.
Our father in heaven is waiting for us to return to him.
He has been waiting all of our lives for us to return to him.
There is nothing we can do that will change that.
You may be guilty of any numerous sins but your father is still waiting for you.
In a congregation this size there is probably at least one woman that has made the decision somewhere in your past to receive an abortion.
Your father is still waiting for you.
There are probably several men in this congregation that have viewed a pornographic website in the last seven days.
The father is still waiting for you.
The next attribute, the father was intentionally looking for the son.
Verse 20 states, “But while the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion.”
The father is not only waiting for us but he is also intently looking for us.
The father has such an intense love for all humankind he is intently looking for our return.
The father has done all he can to persuade us to repent and return to him.
He has supplied his word to show us the way back to him.
He has provided his son as the ultimate sacrifice that we will have the way paid for.
Finally, he has provided his Holy Spirit to convict us of our wrong doing that we might return to him.
Yet, the final choice is still up to us.
Illustration: If you have just returned from crawling across a hot and dry desert you are in need of water.
If I take a cup and fill it up with water and hand it to you, the choice is yours to take it.
But, if you choose not to take it your thirst will be unabated.
Only by taking the cup of water can your thirst be satisfied.
In addition, if I filled the cup with anything other than water you could choose to take the cup but your thirst would not be resolved.
Therefore, you must choose to take the cup and the cup must be filled with water to satisfy your thirst.
The third attribute is God chooses how you will be restored.
The instructions to the servants for the robe, the ring, the sandals, and the feast were all at the command of the father.
It is our choice to come home but it is the father that will determine how he will restore us.
Just what are the actions of the father to illustrate the son’s restoration?
The actions of God’s restoration
Ran to embrace his son
Luke states in Verse 20b, “He ran, threw his hands around his neck, and kissed him.”