The Prodigal's New Clothes

The Prodigal's New Clothes

Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
Date: 06/04/2011  Lesson: 10
The story of the prodigal son describes God's willingness to give us freedom of choice and to forgive us when we repent.
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Good morning and a very, very Happy Sabbath to each and every one of you this morning, listening on the radio, watching live on our website at saccentral.org, various television networks, dvd, however you are joining us this morning, welcome. I hope you have had a wonderful, blessed week, and that you are ready to open up God's Word and study together this morning. Of course before we do that, we're going to sing like we do every week, favorite requests that have come in from all over the world. So pull out your hymnals, those of you at home, and join with us this morning, 547. "Be thou my vision" is a request from cedric, shanelle and nola in australia, sebastian in barbados, don and brenda in California, judith in barbados, sebastian in british virgin islands, maxine, charlene, george, courtney, sophie, serena, bradley, lindy and hank in england, jade in Georgia, sheila in india, jane, feranda and gloria and pasedo in italy, Danielle and Christina in jamaica, vitali in kazakhstan, andrew in Maryland, tita in Minnesota, rut in netherlands, joyanne in New York, naomi in new zealand, vern and sandy in North Carolina, rut in peru, cathy in saint lucia, iain in south africa, mandesa in south korea, and grace in tennessee.

Be thou my vision. This is a lovely song. We're going to sing the first, second and fourth stanza. ... If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, it's very simple.

Go to our website at saccentral.org, click on the "contact us" link. And you can request any hymn in our hymnal. And I know that this is especially wonderful for our viewers that are shut-ins, that are hours away from their local adventist church. This is their Sabbath school. And they are so excited that you get to sing with us.

And we really appreciate hearing from each and every one of you. And we do our best to sing your requests as quickly as possible, even though sometimes it doesn't seem like that. We do. "Seeking the lost," is our next song, 373. This is from Moses and zuckla in australia, joy in barbados, steve and kimberly, brianna and victoria in Canada, cathy, ann in Canada also, kaylie, paige, sharice and sandy and georgina and Joshua in england, rodger, tonette, shane and stevie and stevan in jamaica, shakesi in netherlands, claremont and kimberly in New York, alice in North Dakota, jessie in papua new guinea, David and belinda in singapore, Pauline in tennessee, charlotte in vanuatu and una in Virginia, 373.

We're going to sing all three stanzas this morning... Father in Heaven, we thank you so much this morning for being the lamb, the lamb of God, who took away our sins and has given us a hope of everlasting life with you. We thank you so much for sharing blessings upon us that we do not deserve, for life, for health, for our strength, for a place to live. I know that we are a very select few here this morning that are blessed in this way. There's so many around the world who do not have what we have.

And I pray that we will never hoard the blessings that you have given to us, but we will always share with others. We thank you so much for dying on the cross for us, because each and every one of us, no matter our situation in life have all been given that gift and that blessing of you, of you, of your love. I pray that you will just be with those this morning who need a special sense of your love this morning, that you'll just put your arms around them and comfort, give peace, give joy, whatever it is. Father, you know each and every one of us and our individual needs. Please be with us as we open up Your Word and we study together this morning.

And be with our speaker. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study will be brought to us--oh, by pastor mike thompson. He is our health and outreach pastor. That's right.

Yes, that's right, debbie. Thank you, girls, for singing. They do a nice job, don't they? And Happy Sabbath to you all. We're on lesson 10. Good morning, caroline.

"Garments of grace: clothing imagery in the Bible," lesson 10 today, and it's called "the prodigal's new clothes." I would imagine the story of the prodigal son, the parable of the prodigal son was probably or probably is one of the most well-known and loved stories that Jesus ever, ever told. Even people who don't so much maybe go to church, there's a good number of them I think that are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. We have a free offer today. It is called, "can a saved man choose to be lost?" And if you call -866-study-more, or -866-788-3966, we will send this to you absolutely free, "can a saved man choose to be lost?" Our memory text is from Luke 15, and this is where we find the account here of the prodigal son. This is The Father speaking.

"It was only right that we should celebrate and be joyful, because this your brother was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." Father speaking here to the older son, who has got some misgivings about the younger son who's been sowing his wild oats when the younger son comes home. Today we don't get into that issue between the older boy and the younger one. But we're actually looking at the relationship and the events that take place between a father and his young boy. And I have a question this morning. Do you know where to find righteousness? Do you know where to go if you've done wrong, and we all do wrong? Do you know where to go if you need forgiveness? Do you know where to go if your life is all broken and in shreds and tatters? Do you know where to go so you can have it all picked up and put back together again? To Jesus, that's right, absolutely right.

There's a surprising number of people who long to be put back together again. And they realize they've done some bad things and they feel very, very guilty. But they don't all know where to go, or how to find their way there. And this story, this lesson this morning, is looking at how somebody like that can go find righteousness, can go get a new life and have a new start. And I'm assuming all of us know how to find righteousness, but it's always good to be reminded, isn't it? So Jesus begins this well-known parable in Luke 15:11 with the words, "a certain man had two sons.

" The comments and the lesson bring before us, the idea-- and it's not just an idea, it's a fact, and we see this many times, that both these boys are raised in the same home, the same dad. Maybe there was a mother somewhere, she doesn't come into mention today. Both had the same food, the same opportunities. They both had a same or equal start in life. And for one of those reasons, or some of those reasons that we don't always understand, one goes one way, and one goes the other way.

One is the good boy who stays at home, and the other one, well he's the bad boy. And he goes away, 'cause he's got plans. He's got bigger plans than he could ever conceive of. He could never fulfill his dreams if he stays at home with his family. So off he goes.

And he goes, first of all, having first being able to persuade his father to give him his portion of the inheritance before time. And well, for the sake of moving ahead with the parable here, Jesus said his father agrees to that. So off he goes. Now if we put this within the st-century context, it's equal to a Christian, any Christian. But let's make it especially applicable to a 21st-century Seventh-day Adventist, walking away from God in the last few critical hours before this world comes to an end and Jesus comes.

Not a good thing to do, is it? And there's two reasons why this is indeed a very perilous thing to do, to walk away from God. You're a Seventh-day Adventist. They say, "you know God, I've got other plans. I was raised in an adventist home, but I just want to get out there and see what this world thing is all about. People in the church talk about worldliness.

What is worldliness? I want to go taste it, see what it's like." Off he goes, or off some of us go. And I think some of us have come back, which is a good thing. But pray for those who are still out there. So they chose to walk a path. When you walk this path--here's the peril and the danger.

There is no guarantee of God's protection. And there is no guarantee that the angels are going to be there to bail you out. What you do when you say goodbye to God and you leave the security of his house, you leave yourself vulnerable and wide open to become the sport and under the power of evil angels. And that should just absolutely make us shudder, to think of just stepping out and saying to dark, evil angels, "here I am." Would you want to do a thing like that? Well people do. People do.

And this is why Jesus told the story here. And a second reason why it's dangerous to do that is because a 21st century Seventh-day Adventist, walking away in a critical hour does so in the face of great light, or at least having had the opportunity at home where there's not just a Bible, but there's all those volumes, the testimonies to the church and messages to young people and the story of redemption. All that treasure just there under one roof. And they say, "thank you, but no thank you. I want to taste the world.

" So off, off they go. And the problem is with that, you see, because they have been greatly privileged, to have such an opportunity of having so much light, which a lot of people don't have. What it means is it makes them more what to God? Begins with an "a," more accountable, right? Makes them more accountable to God, which means if they go gamble with their life, and they have a plan to come back before the curtain comes down but they don't do that, it's gonna be worse for them in the judgment than the heathen who may have done some terrible things like flying a plane into the world trade center building. Yes, I mean they'll suffer for that. But you know, those people, not to excuse what they did, they don't have near the light that each of us have this morning sitting in this church.

Think about that. And someone might say, "yeah, you know, but, you know, if they turn around," but you know, sometimes people, they don't do that, they don't, they don't turn around. I'm not trying to speak about doom and gloom today, but we need to consider the realities of life. It's very short, hangs on a very flimsy thread. And it's not that God cannot save anybody who is out there, even though they've rejected great light.

But it's just that the more light we reject, and the longer we stay out there, the greater chance there is that that great light will more rapidly turn to darkness. And the mind becomes spiritually dark and blinded, and the heart becomes hardened and insensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Now somebody who has done this or may be doing this right now may not like the idea of being lost. I mean who wants to walk away from the house, from your Father's house, willingly saying, "I'm leaving, dad. And by the way, I'm gonna go in hell fire, but that's okay.

" Nobody in their right mind is going to say that. Who wants to be lost? Nobody. But the problem is, you see, you may be lost, but if you lose a desire to be reconciled to God, you're in a pretty hard place, because you can harden the heart and lose all desire to be reconciled. Here's a statement from "Desire of Ages," 587, if I can read my own writing. "In every age there is given to men their day of light and privilege, a probationary time in which they may become reconciled to God.

But there is a limit to his grace. Mercy may plead for years and be slighted and rejected. But there comes a time when mercy makes a last plea. The heart becomes so hardened that it ceases to respond to the Spirit of God. Then the sweet winning voice entreats the sinner no longer and reproves and counsels cease.

" And you know how that person feels at that time? They got peace. Yeah. You know, there's a time in the past they felt troubled about this, and they felt troubled about that. And felt, "I should stop this." But now suddenly they got this peace. It's not a good kind of peace to have though.

Is it, caroline? Not at all, not at all. The susceptibilities to the Spirit are being worn down. And God's still there. I read the illustration like this one time. The sun is still shining just as bright as ever, just as bright as ever, but we bring so much darkness over our mind; the light can no longer penetrate.

Well, I'm not saying these things this morning to make anybody shudder in their pew today, or maybe somebody out there on television think, "I do believe I've committed the unpardonable sin. I'm sure I have as I listen to the message this morning." Just hold on, we're not done yet. Okay? I just want to give you that. We're not done yet. God always, God always respects our right to exercise our own free choice.

And it's only right that we should do that. And if we're determined to pursue our own course, he's gonna say, "alright, if that's what you want. If you want these forbidden things, go ahead, they're yours. And what's more I won't trouble you anymore. If you don't want it, okay, I'll leave you alone.

Then we kind of get the--there's a verse comes to mind there from Hosea 4:12, without any further efforts from God, the decree goes forth as it were, "ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." So the Spirit departs, never to return. And the angels take their flight, and they move on to minister to other souls who are still putting up a fight. And they may be just as sinful, but you know, they still want to put up a fight. They're not willing to, and ready yet, say goodbye to God.

The angels, they'll never leave them. And God will never leave them. But those who say, "Lord, I'm done." He leaves us to our choice. So let none of us take a gamble with our salvation, as the prodigal son did. It was late for him in his time to take such a risk.

But my friends, it's even later in our time to take an even more dangerous risk, and to go walking in his footsteps. Need to heed the warning from John 12:35-36. "Jesus said, 'yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of God.

" It's a wonderful thing to be able to walk in that light, knowing that light was not given to us as someone giving out free light bulbs or candles. That light that we have shines from the cross of Jesus Christ. That light is an expensive commodity. It doesn't come from smud. You don't pay for that light as you pay for your utility bill, or lights to light this sanctuary here.

That light comes to us through the lines of God's grace. And those lines, the closer you get to God, the more you hear those lines of his grace just humming with grace and love and power. So praise God for that. So the younger one was granted his desire. He got his share of his inheritance.

Monday's section speaks about spreading his wings. Luke 15:13. So off he goes. He gets his inheritance. And it says, "and not many days after the young son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country.

" Everything looks better when it's far away, doesn't it? You know. I would have said something, but I won't. Even the girls, right? You know, you see a girl from a distance. She looks beautiful over there, but sometimes you get closer up. I just dug a hole for myself, I realize that.

But you know what I mean. And I know it works the other way as well. You ladies, all you young ladies, if you watch such things as trashy television, and I hope you don't, they see these young rock stars, you know. And they look just so handsome. And they desire these men, and they watch them from a distance on television.

And one day they actually stand in their presence and they think, "I don't know. He's not so good looking after all." My wife realized that about me. I'll tell you, 'cause she won't. She's told me though I think. I used to be in a rock and roll band in england a long time ago, and nobody famous.

Some have you have heard this story many times, so you can go to sleep. And one time I went to this little village where my wife lived. And I didn't know she lived there. And we were playing in the band. And it was the break.

I was about 19 years old, and I thought I was wonderful. You know, like all rock singers do. It's just terribly proud and vain. But anyway. I was standing on the stage, and during the break the girls from the village were supposed to walk around the dancehall floor.

And these gallant knights in armor in the rock band were supposed to choose the one that they thought should be the carnival queen. And I remember--this is not in my notes--standing, sitting just off stage against the wall with two girls. And I don't remember their faces, but I remember saying to one of them, "get up and walk around." And she said something about, "I'm not eligible because I'm not from this village." And I thought, "oh come on." Well she didn't. Well we left that venue. We moved off, and I forgot I'd even been there.

Then in 1970, about 2 years later, I just became a Christian, I'd go to nursing school. And I meet this student nurse, and I get talking to her and she says to me--i mentioned to her, I said, "you know, I've been a Christian--" I was witnessing, you see. I said, "I've been a Christian a few months now." I said, "I used to be in a rock and roll band. I used to drink a lot, but you know, Jesus changed my heart." She says, "what was the name of your band?" And I won't tell you. And I told her, and she looked at me and she said, "you came to my town one night.

You said "hello" to me." Would you believe it? That was the girl who is sitting down there on the floor. And if somebody had told me that, "you will marry that girl," I would never have believed it. But the point is this. And I'm sorry it took a long time getting there. When my wife looks at her knight in shining armor every morning that she used to see from a distance, it doesn't shine so bright anymore.

You know? The whiskers, I've been told I have hair like a rooster. It's just wiry stuff. I have a tooth; I got kicked in the mouth playing rugby when I was 14, so I have a tooth that comes out at night. So I'm not a pretty sight in the morning. Anyway, I didn't mean to get too sidetracked there.

But the young man takes off into a far country, and he thinks everything is going to be just so beautiful and exciting and fascinating and such fun, rather than being at home in his Father's house. "So he took off into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living." I like the way the King James puts this, "wasted his substance with riotous living." Again, let's suppose that the prodigal son is a 21st century Seventh-day Adventist. Now if he was--or she--we have prodigal daughters as well, we should know that--if he or she were a 21st century Seventh-day Adventist, if there's one thing they should know about is tHis Word. Right? They should be reading tHis Word. They should understand that it's the time of the judgment that began in 1844, the end of the prophetic days of Daniel :14.

They should understand the message of righteousness by faith. They should understand the importance of an experience with Jesus that brings out perfection of character and be preparing for that time when they will not be aware, when their name is called up in the great heavenly tribunal, and their book is open and it's open before God and the angels and all the inhabitants of the unfallen universe. What a moment that will be. And not one of us will know it. But if you know it's coming, right? You should be walking in the light.

And if there is a place you should not be, as somebody that claims to be a Seventh-day Adventist living in the 21st century, living closer and closer to the coming of Jesus, you should not be in a far country wasting your substance on riotous living. Right? Shall I be more specific? For example, I used to hang out in bars and nightclubs. I don't go there anymore. And none of us should. It is a sin for Seventh-day Adventists to go to bars and nightclubs.

It is a sin to drink alcohol, even if you think it's, "well, it's just one glass." You should not be in such places as that. It's not the place for those who are looking for the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is a time of deep solemnity, and we must be ready for that time. Casinos, there's one right on our doorstep, very close to Amazing Facts. It's supposed to be one of the most profitable ones I think in placid county or the whole of California, or maybe even across the United States.

Yes, you can get a cheap meal there. You can get a cheap room. But I wouldn't go in there for anything. We don't need to frequent those places. I'm sure some people will send emails for me saying this, but hey, you know what? I'll speak the truth.

I'll speak the truth. This is no time to be messing around. And so he jumps in his car, does the young man in his new sports car, and off he goes to las vegas. And there he is drinking the liquor, fast food, fast women, wine, the whole thing. Because his bank account is flushed with thousands of his father's hard-earned dollars.

It doesn't say whether or not he still claimed to be a Seventh-day Adventist. I actually hope that he didn't, because that would be totally out of place to do that sort of a thing. John 2:15-16 says, "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of The Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of The Father, but is of the world.

" We don't need to be in a far country, or just down the road in any casino wasting our substance on riotous living and claim to be a Seventh-day Adventist. That is hypocrisy. It brings shame and contempt upon God and his church. And we don't need to go there to listen and watch show business icons. I'll say no more about that.

Anyway, there's another point here I want to make about the prodigal son. The prodigal son took off to indulge in riotous living. Again, with whose money in his pocket? Yeah, flushed bank account, hard-earned dollars, but they came from his daddy, right? Cool. Maybe it was a credit card, whatever he had. And here we can very clearly read into this, or extrapolate from this, the fact that the issue of stewardship and financial accountability is very clearly addressed in the parable of the prodigal son.

We're all accountable for the way that we manage our finances because every dollar in our pocket, or in our checking account, all belongs to who? Belongs to God. For this reason, and as an expression of our appreciation, we should be faithful, joyfully and happily faithful in returning an honest tithe to God. And free will offerings. Should be glad to do that. You don't look at what you get, and say, "well, let's see.

I got my rent to pay and this to pay and that to pay. And if I pay my tithe, I'm going to be short on something or other." You pay your tithe. God will take care of you. He'll take care of you. He's taken care of me.

I've never--I've never yet gone without. There's times I've been just about down to nothing, but we put God first. We agreed to do that. And he's always been there. I know a lot of you could tell stories about that.

And there's--some of you, I know some of your lives, I know some of you struggle with that. I know some of you, you just want to do it, but you're scared somehow. You didn't trust God. I want to encourage you. I'm not judging now; I'm encouraging you.

You give God a chance. He's not going to let you down. He's going to take care of you. When you see that he comes through yet, you're going to get such a thrill. And you're going to say, "Lord, I want to be broke again, just so we can go through this whole thing again.

" Well, maybe you won't be that eager, but you know what I mean. When God comes through, it takes sighting. So, where was i? So we're accountable to God to bring him our tithes and offering. God calls it robbery if we don't, right? Malachi 3:8-9, would somebody like to read that so again I'm not reading everything? Malachi 3, you have a second chance here. "Will a man rob God? Yet he have robbed me.

But ye say, 'wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: and ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Thank you very much, thank you. But you know, it even goes further than that in robbing God if we don't return our tithes and offerings. You see God leaves us with 9/10 for our other needs. That 9/10--it's not like it's alright saying, "well, I've paid my tithe and offering.

Now I can go squander this like the prodigal son." No, we're accountable for that as well. It's what we call stewardship. We look all around us in this world. There are people in need, people who give anything for somebody to--i know there's people who are phony. They know the system.

They go from one place to another where they can get a free handout. I'm not speaking of those people. There are people in genuine need in this country and across the seas. What they wouldn't give for somebody to just drop $20 in their lap. They'd think it was a dozen birthdays all at once.

They really would. And we can take $20 more, and what can we do? We can just blow it on garbage, rubbage. You know, God takes note of all these things. The poor in this world, not always because of the fact they're poor. God sometimes allows them to be there to see the hearts of his people, whether they will extend themselves and give themselves and be willing to go without for a little bit once, once in a while.

So we're accountable. You know, I think it's, yeah, it's Matthew 28 where--25--where we have there the separation of the sheep and the goats. And Jesus says to the sheep, he says, "come ye blessed, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the foundation of the world." And they look at him and say, "Lord, what did we do?" He says, "well, I was sick and you came to see me. I was in prison and you visited me." He said, "I was naked, and you brought me some clothes."And they'll say, "well, I don't remember doing that, Lord." He says, "well, you didn't actually give it to me, but there was a person there and there and there and there. And in as much as you did it to them you've done it to me.

" And then the goats, he's going to give them this sentence of condemnation, and they say, "Lord, what's going on here?" And he says, "well, I was hungry and I saw you going in macdonalds," or well, we won't go in macdonalds, "I saw you going in taco bell. I saw you going in fresh choice to have a meal that you really didn't need. I saw you go in this place, that place and the other place. And that day I sent somebody across your path. You passed them on jay street.

They weren't begging for money. It was a mother and a little daughter who had just coming away from the jail, and I prompted you to get in that pocket of yours and give that lady $20." "Do you remember?" "Well, yeah, I do, Lord." "Why didn't you do it?" Not a word, not an excuse, you see. God sees these things. And he doesn't hang these sentences of condemnation over us to scare us or whip us into shape. He wants us to do it out of love.

You see, when we get to heaven, will there be any poor people, will there be any naked people that we need to clothe? Will there be any hungry people that we might be able to sacrifice a meal for once in a while and give them something to eat? No. Will there be anybody who's thirsty? And there certainly won't be anybody locked up will they? See, I know it's not easy living in this sinful world. But in this sinful world, we have a golden opportunity that all those unfallen beings across the universe never had and never will have. And all the angels, well the angels minister, but still; we have an opportunity that all those unfallen beings don't have. We have an opportunity of giving to people in need.

And God is looking for us to do that. And he expects it. And we can't do that if we're going to be like the prodigal son and run off into some far country to just have a good time. So he's out there, and he's spending his money. And he has a lot of, well friends, you know, a lot of girlfriends, finds a lot of ladies of ill repute.

And he's--here he is. He's all over the place spending his dad's money. And then we get to verses--Luke :14, "and when he had spent all," it's all gone now, "there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he fain would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him.

" So he's in desperate straits. He looked for some friend. All his phony friends, his money friends have gone. And he attaches himself to this citizen of this country. It was probably a man who takes advantage of somebody who's down and out, so he's a source of cheap labor.

He says, "yeah, go in the field and feed my pigs." So he's out there. And even the pig slop looks, starts getting really tempting, 'cause he's getting so, so hungry. So here's the rich man's son, flat broke, down and out. So hungry he could eat with the pigs. And remember, as Jesus told this story, he knew to the jews, talking about a Jewish boy, or anybody Jewish, messing around in a pig pen, that represented--you couldn't go any lower than that.

You couldn't be any more defiled than that than hanging out with the hogs. And here he is. And he could almost eat what their eating. So you can imagine the people. But you read the beginning of Luke 15 there.

Jesus is telling this story. You know why? 'Cause the scribes and pharisees come by, and they've seen Jesus sitting with the publicans and sinner. And they're saying to one another, "this man sits with sinners. How can he do such a thing." And so this is why Jesus is telling this story here. And so here we are in the pigpen.

And he starts to think, does the young man, "oh, if my father could, my dad, could just see me now," he must have thought. He already must have felt kind of disgraced and ashamed. But how much harder it would be to bear such a sorrowful burden if his father really could see him like this. Surely his father would be disgusted with him as well. You know, how bright and exciting and attractive everything was when he first began this grand adventure.

But you see, beloved, that's one of the big deceptions about sin. The devil is a master. He's had a lot of time and opportunity. He is a master of packaging sin, making it look so good, smell so good, feel so good. It has a very sensuous feel.

He's very good at doing this. And also attractively knowing how to sell it so that the unsuspecting. They go like lambs to the slaughter, and they grab the golden carrot. And they think they're on the way to this grand adventure when all they're doing is putting their feet on the downward path that leads to misery and finally eternal death. There's many a doorway that the devil titivates up with lights and sparkling things.

And it looks like the road to paradise, but it's not. Galatians 6:7 and the latter part, first part of verse 8. It says, "be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." You know, I was--i told you I was in a band and I was--if I hadn't become a Seventh-day Adventist when I was 22, in , that was a good year for me, I would be an alcoholic. I know I would, probably a dead one I'm guessing.

But praise God he had something better for me. But about 5, 6 years ago I went back to england. My dad was sick. I went back several times in several months. And I looked in the newspaper one night and it is--i almost said a boy, this elderly gentleman had died that I'd gone to school with when we were boys.

I thought oh, I remember him so well because he was in the senior rugby team and I was in the junior team and I used to play with his brother. His brother, derrick, was my age. And I thought, you know, maybe his brother is going to be there, his younger brother. I haven't seen him for years. Last time I saw him was in the bars.

I thought maybe his brother's going to be there and I can take him, "steps to Christ." And so I went to the church and I went to see the minister. It was a methodist church. And I said, I said, "I wonder if you would allow me just to say a little word in the church service, in the funeral service." And he says, "oh no, no I'm sorry, you can't do that." So anyway, I had my book. And I was there at the funeral. And I'm looking around.

And I looked, and who do you think I saw? Derrick. There he was. And there was another kid whose nickname was knobby. I hope he doesn't watch this, 'cause he'll probably figure out what I'm talking about. But anyway, they were both over there.

And I looked at these guys that I went to school with, and it was very obvious by the language that when they were done they were heading back to the bar. I hadn't been in bars for 40 years. And I looked at them and I thought, "dear God." I didn't feel bad, I didn't feel like I was the, you know, the pharisee in the church, "Lord, I'm better than these men." No, it wasn't that. It was, "Lord, I'm so thankful that you got me out of those dives." Because one of them had like a bloated beer face. And he had his little beer belly.

And I was just so thankful. Anyway, I saw him outside the church, and I had the little book and a thing, and I said, "hey, you remember me?" And he looked at me, and he said, "mick." I used to get called, "mick." "Mick!" I said, "yeah," I said, "I want to leave you this." I said, "I can't stay, but I hope you get time to read it." And there was my card and my phone number. God knows his name. Pray for him. He hasn't never called me yet, but you never know, do you? You just never know.

So anyway, I got out of those things. And as usual now I've forgotten where I was. Oh, yes, so here he is. Everything's just gone belly up. And he's filled now with this terrible crushing burden of guilt and remorse, remorse.

You know what remorse, burning remorse is like? It means you had something, you didn't really appreciate it. But now it's gone you realize just how valuable it was. And you think, "oh why was I such a dummy?" That's remorse. Or you had an opportunity of doing something that was right, but you messed up and you said, "why was I such a fool?" And that's where satan loves to lead people. And that's where he loves to leave them, just burdened with guilt, burning up with remorse.

And then when they're in this moment, after all this want and pleasure, he jumps on their shoulders and he whispers, "there's no hope for you!" And you know a lot of people believe that. But that is a lie. That is a lie, my friends. Because you can be the worst profligate, the worst sinner in this world, but the Bible says, "where sin abounds, God's grace does much more abound." And here's where things begin to change now. Even though he'd walked away from great light, and that's a dangerous thing to do, we got a happy ending.

And it can be a happy ending for anybody who's walked away from great light and wasted their substance in a far country and know very well that they've offered to God the most disgusting and awful insults and disgraced him and shamed him and put him to grief. But they can know in spite of that that God still loves them. And there is a chain, a golden chain, that is far longer than what you can spend sinning. And God's able to send that chain down to where you are, however deep the hole, however dark the hole, and he can fish you out. Anyway, let's see how it happens.

So here he is in his pig pen. And there he is, he's looking at these pigs, and he's looking at the slop and the husks, and he's thinking, "oh, I could really eat some of that." But then something happens. It says in Luke 15:17, "he came to himself," n.i.v. Says, "he came to his senses." Good to come to your senses sometimes, is it not? He came to his senses and he started to think. And he said, you know, "how many hired servants of my Father's house have bread enough to spare, and I perish here with hunger!" Duh, you know, the light goes on.

And he begins to entertain an idea that not too long ago I would not even have dared to consider. He's getting pretty daring now to think that, "you think that maybe I could go back home? What would my dad think?" Anyway, makes his mind up. Verse 18 he says, "I will arise and will go to my father." He plans his speech and he says, "I will say to him, 'father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and I am no more worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired servants.'" So he gets his speech all ready and he decides he's going to go home. So off he goes, going back to his Father's house. And he's rehearsing his speech and his plea for mercy, hoping his father will give him a roof over his head if he volunteers, you know, to become one of the staff.

He'll even take the lowest job for even the lowest pay. This reveals something about the prodigal son. You know, his first thought was to go home to his father because he was hungry. First thought was, "well, you know, servants in my Father's house, they get food to eat." He was so hungry, he thought, "well, maybe I could just get something to eat at least." So he starts thinking about this. And then he decides that he'll tell his dad for the sake of getting some food that he'll work as a servant.

But all this does is to prove that distincted and dwarfed idea that he has about his father. It's his dad. It's his daddy when all is said and done. Now I know there's some dads in this world who are kind of like the one that the prodigal son was probably thinking of. But this dad here represents who? Represents God.

In fact, I know why it says in, "Christ object lessons," 212, "how stinted is his conception of his father's love?" And how true it is that many who have gone astray in returning to God think the same way, feel they got to add something, "Lord, forgive me and I will do this. Forgive me, and I will do that." They feel a need to add something to their confession. But the return of the prodigal son presents a picture of God that is not like that and does not require that kind of a thing. See Jesus didn't tell us--doesn't tell us in this parable that when he reached home and rang the doorbell The Father was looking through the blinds and he said, "ah ha! There's that boy! We're going to make him ring that bell 1,000 times." So he stands behind the door, "keep ringing, boy!" No, Jesus doesn't say that, right? Pardon me? He did. Jesus didn't say that his dad stood there behind the door gloating over the prospect of teaching this son of mine a lesson.

"I'm gonna take him in front of the household and the servants, and I'm just going to give him a taking of. I'm going to embarrass him and humiliate him because that's what he deserves!" Well he did, didn't he? That's what everybody deserved. But no. That is conspicuously absent from the story of the prodigal son. Because the prodigal son's dad was different.

Luke 15:20, son's making his way home. He hasn't got to the door yet, but this is what we read in verse 20, "and he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet--" what? "A great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Why did the prodigal's father see him while he was still a great way off? 'Cause he was already looking for his son, right? Because he'd never forgotten this boy who was, yeah, he was a naughty boy and he really deserved a good paddling. But he loved him, and he longed for the return of his youngest son. And all day and every day where was he? He was looking through the window.

He had gone the doorstep and he was looking, you know, that distant land somewhere over there where his son had gone. Or he'd look in the bedroom, he was doing something, he'd run to the window and he was looking down that path. A few years probably went by. And he's looking for his son. But when the prodigal son left, he had no idea how much sorrow he had left behind in the heart of his father.

So his father loves him, he misses him, and The Son has no idea just how much grief is caused to his dad so he could go off and have all this fun. And yet The Father here is hurt, and his tender heart is wounded. Never stopped loving him. There in his father's arms, as it says, The Father ran to him and he put his arms around him. And he kissed him.

There in his father's arms the prodigal son's heart becomes truly broken, and it melts. This time not from self-pity, for the consequences of what this sin has brought to him, and not because he's hungry, but at this outpouring of his father's compassion and mercy and pity and love. He stands there in this tattered, filthy, and just absolutely smelly and soiled clothes, soiled and filthy from the pig pen. And yet without a care for such his father comes and he just throws his arms around his boy, clasps him to his breast and kisses his filthy face. And he just hugs him and pours into his ear these expressions of this fond, deep, passionate love for his dear boy.

That's what God's like. Now earlier we discussed the perils of walking away from God after having received such great light and opportunity. And yet it is a dangerous thing to do. He had great light. But the prodigal, in spite of that, he has a father who still forgives him.

Earlier we discussed the sin of robbing God of tithes and offerings and then squandering our remaining means on selfish pleasures. With hardly a care for the millions of needy all around us, the prodigal son had done that very thing. He was guilty of it, yet still his father loved him and forgave him. And such an outpouring of merciful love was just too much. And the flood that says the fountains of the great deep burst forth.

And this son finds in this heart that had become hardened, there are fountains of the great deep that just burst open in his soul. And there in his dad's arms he just sobs out his apology and his sincere confession. He says, "father," it's not like a speech this time. He says, "dad," he says, "I'm so, so sorry. I've sinned against you, and I've sinned against heaven.

I'm not worthy to be called your son. You can make me one of your hired servants." But what's his dad going to do? He's having none of that. His dad is having none of that. "Christ object lessons," 202, "the love of God still yearns--" this is for the prodigal sons and daughters out there. Sorry, I got to finish rough, quickly here.

"The love of God still yearns over the one who has chosen to separate from him." And he said, "sin operation influences to bring him or her back to The Father's house." Even if you're in the pig pen, even if you're in the bar, even if you're in the brothel, you got a little inkling to return to God, that didn't originate with you. You can be encouraged by that. That is God your father reaching out to you, to put that desire in your heart, to come back home where you belong because your daddy loves you.

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