January 2017

The Father……Luke 15:11  32…..The Parable of the Prodigal Son

We are a strange and unique people

We knowingly do things we know are bad for us to do to ourselves and/or others.

We eat and drink unhealthy “stuff”

We PROCRASTINATE and suffer the consequences

We “FORGET” to make time for God in prayer and Bible Study

We skip going to God’s House for any number of reasons

The wonder why we are weak

We pay the price for bad decisions  – daily

We will leave God, leave His church and leave our relationships with God and His church behind because of some personal reason.

We will often “stick to our guns” or ride our habits all the way down the proverbial drain, all the way to rock bottom.

  1. We allow our sin to separate us from God as we seek to fulfill the desires of our flesh
  2. We need to remember that, much like the Prodigal Brother, we do not have to physically leave to have separation from the Father
    1. Staying put/attending church IS NOT ENOUGH
    2. Serving the father/Serving God IS NOT ENOUGH
    3. Knowing our inheritance is secure IS NOT ENOUGH
      1. NOTHING IS ENOUGH without LOVE
      2. 1 Corinthians 13
    4. We so desperately need to come to the end of ourselves
      1. Subdue the flesh
      2. Break the hardness of our hearts
      3. Yield it all to God
    5. We call this brokenness
      1. It begins by God revealing to us that we are spiritually broken
        1. Wisdom and understanding where we really stand in GODS VIEW not ours or the worlds view.
      2. In our text the Prodigal Son comes to this understanding at his lowest point of life
        1. From the son of the Wealthy Landowner
        2. To the filth of the pig lot
          1. Lonely
          2. Hungry
          3. Broken
        3. Luke 15:17-19 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ESV
          1. “But When he came to himself”
            1. He woke up
            2. He figured out that HIS PLAN WAS NOT WORKING
            3. God showed him the status of his soul
              1. It was filthy
              2. It was hurting
              3. It was hungering for God
            4. Whatever he thought about his LIFE DIRECTION; he finally figured out that he had messed up and CHANGE WAS REQUIRED
              1. He came to the end of himself
                1. He RETURNED to his father
                2. Biblically we call this REPENTANCE
                  1. We are given the wisdom to see our way is not working
                  2. The Holy Spirit shows us that we are heading in the wrong direction
                  3. God’s Word shows us how God sees us
                  4. We CHANGE OUR DIRECTION
                    1. 180 degrees
                    2. We stop going our way and RETURN TO OUR FATHER
                      1. Trusting He will make it better
  1. What we find WHEN WE FALL INTO GOD’S ARMS amazes us
    1. He has been waiting for our return
    2. He embraces us deep in His arms
    3. He restores our position as His Child
    4. There is celebration
      1. Luke 15:10 “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
    5. We find that our Father loved us all along
      1. When we repent He forgives us
      2. When we repent He restores us
  • When we repent He saves us
  1. Yes, we find out that we were dead
    1. Dead in our sins
    2. Lost from the Father
  2. But, we find out that there is a death that is not permanent
    1. There is a death that we can recover from
    2. There is a death that can die
      1. Killed by ETERNAL LIFE
      2. Resurrection
    3. Failure does not need to be fatal
    4. You can be BORN AGAIN
    5. John 3:4-7 “Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”   ESV
    6. God is BIGGER than LIFE and DEATH
  3. This parable is not about a Prodigal Son…or Brother
    1. This is what we want to hear
      1. Its all about us
    2. Yes, they are there
      1. Running away from their relationship with the Father
      2. Staying close to the Father but not in a close relationship with him

 This parable is about a Fathers Love for His Children

    1. Only the father could give the youngest son his inheritance before his time
      1. Knowing what the impetuous young man would do to philander it all away
    2. Only the Good Father would hurt, mourn and LOOF FOR his wayward child’s return
    3. Only the Father could accept the wandering child back
    4. Only the Father had the power and authority to forgive and restore his son
    5. The Father owned the robe, the ring, the fatted calf and everything else
      1. Only the Father could bestow them on the repentant, returning child
    6. Only the Father could declare a celebration feast
  1. Only the Father is able to destroy death and take away deaths sting and power.
  2. ONLY the Father can declare “My child was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
  3. This is a parable about God’s Love for US!
    1. YES, we NEED to return to God
      1. As the Prodigal did
      2. QUICKLY – before we find ourselves at life’s bottom
    2. The parable teaches that God is always looking, expecting, waiting for YOUR RETURN to Him!
  4. Where do you stand with God?
    1. Are you running away?
    2. Are you in His house today but so far away?
    3. Have you “Come to yourself?”
      1. Figured out your need for God?
      2. Matthew 5:3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” NLT
    4. Break out of yourself
      1. Repent of your sins
      2. Return to God
      3. Receive the blessing of repentance

5 People we come across      Luke 15:11 – 32   The Prodigal Son

All throughout our lives we will come across MANY different types of people; some of who we will identify with and some we will push away from because of our disagreements.

That is OK…..we were never designed to be The SAME and there are MANY disputable issues, understandings, teachings, etc in our world.

All of these different types of people we meet WILL MAKE an impression on our lives.  The closer the relationship the deeper the impression.

Just like a printing press, the impression; the impact, they have on the “PAPER” of our life’s story can be either POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

Help or Hinder

Lift up or Push Down

In our text today, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we will see a few of these people types.  These types are found most everywhere in our lives including our families, friends, co-workers, our community and our country.

Maybe we can learn a little bit about identifying and dealing with them today; both in our world and in ourselves.

  1. The “Up For anything at Any Cost” – The Prodigal
    1. No self control
    2. No fore thought
    3. They are going to do what they want to do
      1. Regardless of the cost
        1. Financially
        2. Family
        3. Future
      2. Running on hormones and emotion – NOT WISDOM
      3. Poverty and loneliness are often the end of the trail of alcohol, drugs, and the “wild lifestyle”
        1. Brokenness
        2. Hunger
        3. Desperateness
  1. The “Take Advantage of Everyone” – Those who helped The Prodigal in “Reckless living”
    1. Always looking for a good time
      1. Never seemingly willing to pay or contribute
    2. These are parasites
      1. They lock onto a free ride
        1. For as long as the ride lasts
          1. Then they are gone
            1. Off to the next host
          2. The “Hard Hearted, Never Forgivers” – The Prodigal Brother
            1. Caused Issues with his fathers and the servants with his hateful attitude and complaining to them
            2. Always holds a grudge
            3. Quick to complain about what others have or have done
            4. Never forgives
              1. No matter how much they repent
              2. No matter how much pain drove them to seek forgiveness
            5. They are the haters
    3. Those caught in the middle – The Pig Farmer and the fathers servants
      1. Maybe they are the servants, as in the test
      2. Maybe they are other family
      3. Maybe they are friends, co-workers or neighbors
        1. They seem to bear a heavy burden
          1. Seeing loved ones fight and argue
          2. Cleaning up the mess of others choices
        2. Having to be in the middle of the mess
    4. The Hope Bringers and Restorers – The Father
      1. The Father in our story tries to bring restoration, wisdom, acceptance and peace to BOTH his prodigal sons.
        1. BOTH
        2. The one who stayed was just as distant from the father as the one who departed.
      2. Know what’s going on
      3. Have clear vision of the failures and hurts around them
      4. See the needs around them
        1. Do a supernatural work
      5. This one is able to bring unity
        1. Celebrate the recovery of the lost
        2. Celebrate the ones who remained faithful
          1. Recognize their faithfulness and reward
            1. You were always with me
            2. Everything I have is yours
    5. I am not sure where each of us may fall on this spectrum today
      1. But I know we have probably all been each of these shows from time to time
        1. We think we got it all figured out
          1. But have no wisdom
          2. We waste the resources God has provided
            1. Time, Money, Witness
          3. We take advantage of who or whatever we can
            1. With no thought of who they hurt to feed their belly
            2. GIMME GIMME…or I am GONE
            3. We USE people
              1. We should USE THINGS not people
  • We hold hard hearts against those who may have hurt or disappointed us
    1. Anger replaces love
    3. They become constant complainers
    4. Complain, fuss, dissent, disrupt
      1. Never seek a real solution
      2. Take pride in the fact that they “Did Something” by complaining and stirring up dissention
      3. Only makes it worse for everyone
    5. Been stuck in the middle of the feud
      1. Over worked
      2. Over burdened
      3. No clear way out of the middle
    6. One God has placed to be His presence
      1. Bring wisdom, hope and help
      2. To be a vessel of restoration
    7. Maybe you are here today in need of Gods help
      1. Perhaps you have left God and are now hurting
      2. Maybe you have become cold and hard and need to know true love for God and others again
      3. Maybe you have become to dependent on others and need to know you can stand on your own
      4. Maybe you just feel trapped in a bad situation
        1. Whatever your need the Wise Father, God Almighty is listening and willing to help
          1. If you would only believe in Him enough to receive His free Gift
        2. You know you are in need of being saved for the situation
          1. The One Path to that needed salvation is by GRACE alone, through FAITH alone, in CHRIST alone.

 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

January 15                   Have You Lost It?

Luke 15:1-10 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?   And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  ESV

  1. Lost folks were drawn to Jesus
    1. They knew their need for Him
    2. They knew He cared for them
    3. They knew He would help them
  2. The Temple Elite were angry about this group and Jesus acceptance of them
    1. They were hard
    2. They were selfish
    3. They had lost something
  3. Jesus told them a parable
    1. Story to illustrate one point
      1. Shepherd love their sheep
      2. They will go and find them
  • They will search and search until they find the lost sheep
  1. They know the sheep are valuable
  1. The Temple Elite had lost their love for the lost people
    1. Those without a relationship with God
    2. They had lost their joy
  2. Jesus told them another parable
    1. A woman lost 10% of her money
      1. This money was important to her
      2. This money was valuable to her
  • This money may have meant the difference between hunger and fed
  1. She tore her house apart looking for this money
  2. She had great joy when it was found
  1. The Temple Elite had lost their view of the value of one person
    1. They had lost their joy for repentant sinners
  2. Do you still have your joy in soul winning?
    1. Does leading a person to God give you cause to rejoice?
      1. Or have you lost that joy?
      2. Have you become numb to the hope of salvation
  • Have you forgotten how important people are to God?
  1. How long has it been since you shared your story of God’s amazing work in your life?
  2. Have you lost it?
  1. Whether 1 in a 100 are found or 1 in 10, the joy is great
    1. Do not allow discouragement, laziness, fear or anything else steal your joy
    2. Help make the angels rejoice because of one sinner who repents
    3. You can bring joy to heaven
      1. Through leading someone to repentance
      2. Through your faith and obedience
    4. Requires work and tenacity
      1. Do NOT give up – KEEP LOOKING

January 8, 2016           “Useful?”        Luke 14:25-35

  1. KNOW the Word of God
    1. Know what it means and how it all fits together
  1. Count the Cost to your relationships and your self
    1. HATE everything else
      1. Hate: detest, persecute, to love less
        1. This is hyperbole
        2. Do not hate your Family
      2. LOVE GOD MOST
    2. We usually TALK about our love for God BUT MOSTLY live our love for people
      1. LOVE God FIRST then LOVE your NEIGHBOR
    3. Love God so much that every other relationship pales in comparison
      1. Make other JEALOUS of your love for God!
    4. Love God so much that your love for others seems weak
    5. Love God more than you love even yourself
    6. Be willing to sacrifice ALL to follow HIM
  1. Count the cost to your life and lifestyle
      1. OK, only Jesus could bear THE Cross
        1. That one was His alone to bear
        2. He bore The Cross willingly and triumphantly
      2. True Discipleship takes:
        1. Time and Resources
        2. Commitment and Devotion
        3. Submission and Sacrifice
        4. Faith and Obedience
      3. Know the reality of CHRISTIANITY
        1. While SALVATION IS FREE
          1. A gift of grace
          2. The Christian life is not – WORK
  1. Count the cost of rejecting Jesus
    1. In its pure form Salt does not expire or go bad
      1. The salt you use today has been in salt pockets/mines for thousands of years
      2. The sea salt you may use has been there a very long time
    2. It is CONTAMINATION that ruins salt
      1. Iodine
      2. Chemicals AND other Contamination
    3. The same can be said for Christians
      1. We can live USEFUL lives for God
      2. But the more contaminated by the world we become the more USELESS we become
        1. Until we have lost all effectiveness
  1. Matthew teaches us to BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH
    1. Be the USEFUL part
      1. Don’t lose your taste for service and obedience
      2. We are to be useful for the Kingdom
      3. Servants of the Living God
    2. There is a cost to rejecting Christ
    3. There is a cost to rejecting the call of Christ
        1. Cost of being USELESS
        2. Lost: Discarded – tossed in Hades
        3. Saved: Damaged relationship with God
          1. Loss of hope, joy, peace
  2. You must be willing to reject everything that you have and all that you are
    1. To receive better than you could ever dream of or hope for
    2. A life lived in faith is not about what you love and hold on to here on this earth
    3. A Life lived in faith is about how much you love God
    4. Hold on to God tighter than you hold on to anything of this world.
    5. Let it all go and GAIN
      1. God over stuff
      2. God over self
  • God over everything

First Steps into 2017:

Pray more.

Read the Bible more

Serve more

Give more

Smile more

Play More

Read More

Listen More

Hug More

Be real more

Be available more

Help more

Share the Gospel more

Obey God more

Chose God more

Encourage more

Love more

Make excuses less

Gossip less

Hinder less

Quarrel less

Slander less

Provoke less

Envy less

Be less jealous

Be less conceited

Be more patient

Be more kind

Be more gentle

Exert more self-control

Exert more effort for God

Represent God better

Smile and Help

If you want 2017 to be any different than 2016 then you must actually CHANGE some thing. Doing the same stuff the same way will yield the same results

Pick one of these you can do and do it, then pick another.

Luke 14:12 – 24         First Steps Into 2017

If you want 2017 to be better than 2016 you must actually CHANGE some things. Doing the same stuff the same way will yield the same results!

Folks say how bad 2016 was and how they hope for a better 2017, but are unwilling to make any changes. Ponder your choices and make changes!

  1. Step 1: BE GENEROUS
    1. Don’t do things for others expecting repayment
    2. Don’t get and anticipate you have to give
      1. Only Sheldon calculates there is a “Quid Pro Quo” in gift giving
      2. Give expecting no return
  • Receive with humility and thankfulness
    1. God gives freely
    2. Receive
      1. You are not able to repay
    3. Step 2: SEEK GOD’S BEST
      1. Know when you are blessed
        1. We often are much better off than we think
        2. But we reject God’s best by proclaiming a pity party
          1. Oh Woe Is Me
          2. Cries for attention on Facebook
            1. God will give us more than enough attention, compassion and love
              1. IF we turn to Him
  • We often turn away from the great things God is trying to give us
  1. We forget how great our God is to us
  2. We forget how God has always been there for us
  3. We take advantage of His grace gifts
  • WE should Find the joy of a humble, submitted life given freely to God
    1. We make excuses for not following God and/or rejecting God’s gifts
      1. Too young, too old
      2. Too busy
  • Too popular
  1. Too political
  2. Too ………
  1. There are more than enough hurting people who will gladly receive the blessing you are turning away
    1. Even so, the offer remains open for you as long as you draw breathe
    2. You will miss the best part of life
  • You will miss the best part of eternity
  1. We must be WILLING to make the changes God requires
  2. If you want 2017 to be better than 2016 you must actually CHANGE some things. Doing the same stuff the same way will yield the same results!
  1. Step 4: GO COMPEL
    1. Go out to all the LOCAL Streets and Lanes
    2. Go out FURTHER to the highways and hedges
    3. Compel people to come
      1. Compel is active – not passive
      2. Compel is push and Pressure and urge
  • Compel is NOT giving up, in or out
  1. God House will be filled
    1. Not by excuse makers
    2. Not by fakers
    3. God’s House will be filled by those who know their need for Him and His gift:
      1. By the poor
      2. By the hurting
      3. By the humbled
      4. By those who you might not expect to be invited
      5. By those who understand their need
    4. God is calling you to a great banquet
      1. He has prepared everything for you
      2. He has made a way for you to attend
  • He has eternity prepared for you as a GREAT GIFT
  1. He has a better, more abundant life prepared for you NOW.
    1. Will you come and graciously receive His gift
  2. Or will you make excuses?

Matthew 11:25-30 “At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, ands learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ESV