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A Fantastic Family Homecoming


A Fantastic Family Homecoming
Luke 15:11
I talked to you last week about the matter of bringing up your children. Whether you are a believer or not, if you have children, I am sure it is the great desire of you that your children turn out well and be everything you have tried to teach and train them to be. If you are a Christian parent, I am sure you not only want them to turn out well, but you want them to be saved and live for the Lord. You want them to be faithful to the church and be everything that a godly person would be intended to be.
Yet the reality of the matter for all is that in many instances it doesn't turn out that way at all. There are some of you who have prodigal sons and daughters. We know that young people in America are a great area of concern for all of us. Over a million young people run away from home every year. I know some of that is because of abuse or families where there is a great deal of turmoil. But I think it is true also that there are some people who leave home that have a good home and a solid family with stability. But for whatever reasons they decide they will go the prodigal route and take the journey to the far country.
For some of you who have prodigal sons and daughters it may have come totally unexpected. You got a phone call one night and they said we have your boy over here at the jail. We have picked him up for drugs. Or maybe there was a knock at your door and a police officer stood there and said to you we have picked up your daughter for DUI.
Or maybe your daughter has moved out into an apartment of her own and you decided one day to go over and check and see how she was doing. You ring the doorbell and a strange man came to the door and you discover that this was her live-in boyfriend. That's the first knowledge you ever had that you have a prodigal daughter or son.
I want to talk to you about prodigal sons or daughters today. You may be a parent with a prodigal son or daughter or you may be the prodigal son or daughter.
The Lord Jesus told a story about a prodigal son. Sometimes when we read these Bible stories we get the idea that these were people with long robes riding on camels and we kind of make them unreal people.
But the way this story is told, if it is not the story of an actual father and actual children, it very well could have been, and it is still relevant today. The ultimate message of a parable is that it is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. So all of us as sinners are prodigals from the heavenly Father and the heavenly Father loves us and wants to forgive us and wants us to come home. We know that's the ultimate message.
But I don't think I would in any way be unfair to the story Jesus told to apply it to you and me about those prodigal sons and daughters you may have or that prodigal son or daughter that you are that needs to come home.
Now this drama plays out in a series of several acts.
I.       Act 1, Rebelling.
As the story opens in verse 11 the Bible says that Jesus said there was a certain man with two sons. The younger son came to his dad and asked for the "portion of goods that falleth to me."
Here is a young man with rebellion in his heart.
I talked with you last week about the fact that all of us are sinners, born with a sinful nature. Don't ever forget that because as you move along in this parenting enterprise, if you are not aware of the fact that you have brought into this world a little sinner, then you are going to get the shock of your life somewhere down the road. We are all sinners by nature. We all have the problem of rebellion. The black drop of rebellion is in the heart of every one of us. But it is true that sometimes the black drop of rebellion is blacker and more pronounced in some children than in others.
The fact that they have become a prodigal may have come as a total surprise to you. But in some instances there are signs you can pick up. Here is a child who seems to defy all the rules that you establish. It seems that they are constantly stepping over the boundaries you have laid out for behavior and values in your family.
You discover that they are disrespectful to every kind of authority, whether it be the authority of the father or mother, or whether it be authority at school, or whether it be authority at church. They are constantly expressing disrespect for authority.
Then you will find that they are never willing to take blame for their behavior. It is always somebody else's fault. Then you discover that they begin to disrespect your values as well.
Here is a boy who is going through those very kinds of things. You will notice the disrespect here. It is not apparent to us from our English perspective but in those days a boy got his father's inheritance only after the father died. Look at the disrespect of this boy. This boy walks right up to his dad and looks in him in the face and says, "Give me my inheritance, the portion of goods that falls to me." That was one of the most disrespectful things you could ever do. It was like a child saying to his father, I wish you were dead. It had to have been devastating to the father.
Disrespect is a problem in our culture today. It comes from our music. It comes from our culture. It comes from the world in which we live. There is a great problem among young people today in the area of disrespect.
Not only do you see disrespect, but you see materialism. "Give me the portion of goods that falls to me."
We know that in the parable Jesus tells here that there is no particular blame on the father because it is a picture of our heavenly Father. Yet it may be in some instances that boys and girls become prodigals because they are brought up to believe that material things are the most important things in life. It's easy to understand on the part of parents. Parents want to be good providers for their children. They want to see that their children have everything they need.
But sometimes if you aren't very careful you can send the signal that the material things of life are more important. That the food they eat and the car they drive and the clothes they wear are the most important things in life.
Here is a boy who has been caught in the trap of things. Jesus warns us about things in Luke 12, verse 15. "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consist not in the abundance of the things which he possesses."
Some of you know that is true. You have lived life long enough to know that things won't make you happy. But it may be that sometimes the signal is given to the boys and girls that the most important things in life are material, and they aren't far enough along down the road to know that material things won't make you happy.
So the first picture is a picture of a prodigal and he is rebelling.
And I want you to notice that the father didn't try to keep the boy from leaving. He let him go. Let me read you a definition I read of parenting. It makes a lot of sense. "Parenting is the orderly losing of control over your child." You move the child from the dependence of childhood to the independence of adulthood. He didn't try to tie a rope around the neck of the boy and tie him to a tree. He let him go.
There has to come a time when you let them go.
The morning came. It must have been a bright and cheerful morning. The Bible says that he gathered everything together.
His living was divided unto them and he makes his journey. I can almost see that prodigal boy that morning. He is so glad as he walks away, not even bothering to look back. I can almost hear him as he mumbles, "I'm glad to get away from there. No more of that don't do this, do that. No more of that, let's go to church. No more of that, you can't watch that. No more of that, you can't listen to that. I'm glad to get out of there."
Standing behind is an old father, broken-hearted. He has a lump in his throat. His stomach is churning. His lips are quivering. Tears are chasing one another down his face as he watches that boy become a prodigal.
Do I speak somebody who remembers that day vividly when that son or daughter walked away? You never dreamed they would not be coming back for a long, long time.
Act number one, rebelling, going away to the far country. The far country is anywhere a person goes away from God. How far is it to the far country? Just one step! Just one step of disobedience against God. Just one step of rebellion against God.
II. Act II, Reveling.
He goes to the far country and man does he have a good time! The Bible says that he wasted his substance with riotous living. That literally means abandoned living. He has a sleek new car. He has an upscale apartment. He has a new group of friends. He's really having a big time. He doesn't think about bills coming it.
It hasn't occurred to him yet that there's going to be a water bill coming in on that apartment. He hasn't even thought about that money he's spending on gas that his dad used to pay for. He's not thinking about the credit card bill that is coming in. He is involved in riotous living.
I wonder how many prodigal sons and daughters am I talking to today and that's where you are. You are living it up. You are having a big time. It's fun time for you. You are enjoying yourself. Young people just want to have fun. Young people just want to live it up. Young people want to party and get where the action is.
Young people want several basic things.
Number one they want acceptance.
Number two they want significance. They want to feel like they are important.
Number three they want inner peace and joy.
But there is a difference between fun and joy. I'm not going to tell you that your boy is not having a big time. I'm not going to tell any of you prodigals who are sitting in this building that you are not having a big time. The Bible talks about, in Hebrews 11, verse 25, "the pleasures of sin."
The devil is too smart a fisherman to go fishing without an attractive bait. But the rest of Hebrews 11, verse 25, says, "for a season."
It says he wasted his substance in riotous living. He had a good time. . . for a while. Then a famine came and he began to be in want.
Then he joined himself to a man in that country and went right on down and began to feed with the hogs in the hog pen. The bubble always bursts. There always comes a time when it runs out.
Jesus says in verse 13 that he wasted his substance. The words wasted meant to toss grain up in the air so the wind could blow away the chaff. Literally it is saying that he blew it.
Some of you are blowing it. You have been a prodigal for a long time and you are blowing it. Blowing your life is not living your life. Some of you could have gotten a good education and you blew it. Some of you could have gotten a good job and you blew it. Some of you could have had a family by now but you blew it. Blowing your life is not living your life.
He began to be in want. He is evidently in physical want. Some of you can look around your life and all you see is slop. You go home to a sleazy, smelly, filthy apartment. You are surrounded by bills that are piling up over your head. They may turn your water off in the morning. You have come to the point that you are in want.
There's somebody else listening to me and you are not in a sleazy apartment. You are in a pretty nice apartment. You have found out that there is more want than just physical want. There is also emotional want. There is spiritual want. It is possible to want something deep in your soul that you do not have.
The things of this world do not satisfy the needs of the soul. You are a body but you are also a soul. You have a nature that can respond only to God.
So the bottom falls out and you may be there this morning.
He winds up in a hog pen. I want you to notice that the father didn't go bail him out. This is a tough call right here. This is something that every parent has to wrestle with. I'm not saying that there are not times when you don't need to bail your kid out.
It's a tough call sometimes. There are times when you need to bail them out. There may be times when that prodigal son or daughter has to hit the bottom before they will ever get where God can get their attention.
Have you hit the bottom? We can blame the parents all we want. I'm a parent. I have four children. There's not a one of us here that would say we've always done things the way they should be done. Not a one of us wouldn't say that we have blown it along the way.
All I can tell you parents is what I do myself. I ask God to forgive me for my failures and life moves on. You cannot be constantly tormenting yourself and blaming yourself and heaping guilt upon yourself for the mistakes you made. Ask God to forgive you and move on.
It may be that you didn't do a thing wrong and you still got a prodigal child. Life goes on beyond the prodigal for the parents.   Don't let a prodigal son or daughter rob you of your joy in the Lord.
Let me say something to you prodigal sons and daughters. You are sitting in the hog pen and you may be just as miserable as you can be. You are looking for somebody to blame and the most obvious target is to blame your parents. And they may be to blame. But at some point in your life you have to accept the fact that they blew it. You have to forgive them. You have to move on. You have to start taking responsibility for your own adult behavior.
That's act two, reveling.
III.    Act III. Repenting.
This is one of the clearest and maybe the best illustration in all of the Bible of what repentance is all about. Repentance literally means a change of mind.
It says in verse 16 that he's feeding the hogs. Verse 16 he comes to himself. When you are sitting in a hog pen, staring in the face of a hog, it makes it a little bit easier to come to yourself. This hog pen becomes an alarm clock for the soul. There are some experiences in life that become alarm clocks. They become wake up calls for you.
You had a close call? God is giving you a wake up call. You got kicked out of the apartment. God is giving you a wake up call. You thought you had that girl pregnant. It turns out she's not. God has given you a wake up call.
The Bible says that he came to himself. That means he began to think correctly. Sin is a kind of mental insanity. Sin will take you further than you want to go. It will keep you longer than you want stay. It will cost you more than you want to pay.
Sin will blow your money. It will damage your body. It will blur your mind. It will blunt your conscience. It will harden your heart. It may take a hog pen to get you to wake up and start thinking.
He begins to think about the father's house. It wasn't near as bad as he thought it was. Three good meals a day. Nice bed at night. No rent to pay. Going to church wasn't all that bad. That preacher wasn't near as bad as you thought he was. He was a lot more interesting. You still remember some of the things that preacher used to say.
He says how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! "I will arise." He is saying, "I'm dumb. This is stupid." Take a good look at yourself. It may be that you've been stupid. "I will arise and go to my father." He is saying that it's time to go home.
That's what repentance is. Some of you need to do some repenting. Some of you need to take a good look at where sin has carried you. You need to come home.
IV.    Returning.
It says in this parable which Jesus told, in verse 20, "He arose and came to his father." He's returning.
Notice that he may very well have been returning with some of the hog pen slop on him. But he's not returning with the hog pen slop with him. It's one thing to come back with some of the slop on you. It's another thing to come back carrying buckets of slop with you.
Understand: you may come home affected be the circumstances, but you come home to a different environment. You don’t come home to live ,like a hog in the father’s house. All of that is left behind. When you come home, you have to come home to the values of your family. You have to come home to the standards of your parents. You have to come home to the morals they have tried to teach you.
He's returning. He may have some of the slop on him, but he doesn't have buckets of slop with him. The Bible says that he is making his journey. "When he was yet a great way off his father saw him." How many days do you reckon that old dad had been waiting for this? How many sleepless nights do you think that old man had? How many prayers do you think that dad had prayed?  Do you know why dad saw him? He was looking for him.
Let me say to some of you parents, don't ever give up.
The father sees him and he runs and falls across his neck and kisses him. He has compassion upon him. The boy has his speech made up. He doesn't get to finish his speech.
When the boy left, the father let him go. When the boy hit the bottom, the father didn't bail him out. When the boy came home, he greeted him with open arms and kisses. He didn't blister him. He didn't belittle him. He didn't fuss him out. He didn't accuse him. He didn't tell him what a mess he had made. He just received him back with love and compassion and kisses.
In fact, that is where we see the final act:
V. Rejoicing
Notice verses 20-24
Everything the boy wanted and needed was at home:
He had this physical want and needed acceptance: 
Notice verse 20
He had emotional want and needed significance.
Notice verse 22
He had spiritual want and needed inner peace.
Notice verse 23-24
Don’t you know that boy slept good his first night back at home? The security of his own bed, at home with a father who loved him.
Do you sleep well? Do you enjoy the security of that kind of environment? 
That boy is a picture of every human who has ever lived. That boy is many of you. Everything you need, God offers.
In fact, He reverses the order:
He killed, not a fatted calf, but a sinless lamb to provide for your spiritual needs. And through Jesus he offers perfect peace.
He said, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things will be added to you. 
You will never have lasting emotional or physical satisfaction until first of all you find spiritual peace. 
Don't you think it's about time for you to come home? There’s a lot of rejoicing waiting there.
Let's bow in prayer.


This is special to me, because I was that son one time,
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