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This is the Truth Network. Here's a Finding Purpose Minute with Pastor Russ Andrews. Was that this child was the promised seed of the woman. That's what the virgin birth was all about. It was a sign from God that this baby Jesus was the promised Messiah.
He was the promised seed of the woman. In Genesis 3 15, God told the serpent, and you will strike his heel. Some translations say you will bruise his heel. So when did this happen? It happened when those Roman soldiers took those wrought iron nails and drove them through the wrists of Jesus and through his heels. And it was a bruising blow, but it was not a fatal blow.
Why? Because three days later, Jesus did what? He arose from the grave. You see, at the cross, Jesus was victorious over sin, death, and Satan. Finding Purpose is a triangle-based ministry for men offering small Bible studies, biblically-based counseling, and more. Visit findingpurpose.net.
That's findingpurpose.net. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?
I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living.
For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. All right, hopefully you got your Bible with you, so I'll ask you to open up to Luke chapter 15.
We're going to be looking at verses 11 through 24, and I've entitled this, Come Home. The Bible tells us that God is a loving Father. That's the picture the Bible paints for us. He's a loving Father. He loves us men more than we can imagine. In fact, He takes great delight in us. Zephaniah 3.17 says, The Lord your God is with you.
He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing. Have you ever thought about that? God rejoicing over you with singing.
That's the way He looks at you and me. But let me ask you, do you sit there tonight feeling alienated from God? Or do you come in tonight carrying a load of guilt? Are you saying to yourself, God could never forgive me for what I've done?
Are you really wondering if God really loves you? Well, tonight we're going to look at a very familiar passage of Scripture. And as I've just said, turn to Luke chapter 15. And in this chapter, I want you to notice in verse one, Jesus is talking to a group of tax collectors and sinners. Verse one says, Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, This man welcomes sinners and each with them. Did you know that Jesus loved to hang out with sinners? And sinners love to hang out with Jesus.
Do you know why? It's because sinners never feel any condemnation coming from the Lord. In John 3 17, Jesus said, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Did you hear that? He did not come into the world to condemn us, but to save us. Now this passage that we're looking at tonight is usually referred to as the parable of the prodigal son, and the focus is nearly always on the prodigal.
However, I want us to focus on a different person in this text tonight. I want us to focus on the Father. Warren Wiersbe writes, I believe this story should actually be called the parable of the loving Father, because I believe it really emphasizes the graciousness of the Father more than the sinfulness of the Son. Now this passage, we're going to see that it unfolds in three phases as we look at the life of the prodigal. But I want you to notice that throughout the three phases of the life of the prodigal, the Father is standing there watching, hoping, and waiting that His Son would come home.
So let's look at Luke 15 beginning with verse 11. Jesus continued, there was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country, and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he'd spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, how many of my father's hired men have food to spare?
And here I am starving to death. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
Make me like one of your hired men. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. And the son said to him, Father, I've sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, quick, bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found. So they began to do what?
Celebrate. Now I want us to look at the three phases in the life of the prodigal son as he makes his way back home. And here's phase one. In phase one, the prodigal's journey to the far country involves rebellion. Verse 13 says, the younger son set off for a distant country.
The younger son took his father's wealth and left home. And this is just a picture of rebellion. So what exactly is rebellion?
Well, the word rebel essentially means to resist. It's saying to God, I want what is mine and I want to go my own way. This is the essence of sin.
Sin is essentially turning a deaf ear to God and doing what you please. And all you have to do is look at the prodigal son. He went to his father and he demanded his inheritance.
Now apparently this was perfectly legal in this culture. However, it was certainly not a loving thing to do because he was in essence saying to his father, I wish you were dead. But the son got what his heart desired. And again, this is a picture of God. He gives us what our hearts desire. He gives us the desires of our heart. He lets us go our own way.
You can read about this in Romans one where it says three times he gives us over to the sinful desires of our hearts. So why does the son want to go to the far country? Well, because it looks so appealing. It offered excitement. You can almost hear the son saying, when I get away from my father, I'll be able to do whatever I want.
I'll be free at last and it's going to be fun. So what do you do? He set off for a distant place. Have you ever had a desire like this? You just want to do something that you know deep down inside is wrong, but you go ahead and do it anyway. I believe that this son knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he took off anyway. But he found that life in the far country was not as he expected.
It never is. The son found himself without any money. His friends deserted him. He had nothing to eat.
So what do you do? Not something that a good Jewish boy wanted to do. He hired himself out to a pig farmer and he became so hungry that he longed to eat what the pigs were eating.
And I'm sure he was thinking, what on earth has happened to me? It all looks so promising in the beginning when I set off on my own. Man, the Bible tells us that sin is pleasurable for a season. Sin is fun for a little while.
Have you ever noticed that? But then you have then you wake up and you have to deal with the consequences. So this scene in the story is the Lord's way of showing us what sin does in our lives when we turn away from God. In your outline, sin promises freedom, but it only brings slavery. And what happens is Satan lures us away from God with promises of excitement and freedom. But we soon discover that the lure has drawn us into Satan's trap where we become enslaved to sin and our lives are destroyed.
Has that ever happened to you? Wish me says the son thought he would find himself. But what happened?
He lost himself. And this is what Satan loves to do. He tempts us into believing that if we go our own way, we're going to find peace and joy and peace go our own way. We're going to find peace and joy and contentment. But instead we find heartache and death. And this is what happens whenever we turn away from God.
We're turning away from the only source of joy and hope and peace and life. Remember Adam and Eve? God placed them in the garden and gave them everything they needed, but it was not enough. Apparently they wanted more. God placed a tree in the middle of the garden among hundreds of other fruit bearing trees.
Just put one there. And he said, Do not eat from this one tree or you will surely die. However, the woman in Genesis three six, it says that the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom. You see, Satan tempted Eve, think about it, with promises of freedom if she would turn away from God and eat from the tree.
How did he do this? Well, he appealed to the desires already in her heart. And this is the problem of our hearts, men. Our hearts often desire those things that are forbidden. And we need to remember that they're forbidden for a reason.
That's because they will destroy our lives. So Adam and Eve essentially did the same thing that the prodigal son did. They took what God had given them and they turned away from him in rebellion and they ended up in the far country. They thought they could have more without God, but instead they became separated from him and then they died. And here's a warning in your outline. Sin and rebellion always leads to separation and death.
You may not die physically, but you will feel like you're dying on the inside. So let me ask you a question. Have you ever taken a trip to the far country? I heard one yes, sir. Maybe you're in the far country tonight. Do you need to come home? Keep on listening. So we see that the first phase in the prodigal's trip to the far country involves his rebellion against his father.
He left home. Now let's look at phase two. The second phase in the prodigal's experience in the far country involves repentance. I want you to focus on verses 17 and 19 because here we're going to see that he finally comes to himself. Well what is repentance? Well we've talked about this a lot the last two or three weeks, but just to remind you repentance is literally a change of mind that leads to a turning away from sin and a turning back to God. You may have heard this in military terms.
It's when the sergeant goes company halt, about face, forward march. You literally do a 180 from the direction you're going away from the sin that has you entangled and you turn back straight towards God. Well this is what the prodigal did. When he came to his senses, he remembered home and the love and care of his father.
Even he remembered his father's hired men were better off than he was. So in verse 18, look there in Luke 15, it says, he said, I will set off and go back to my father and say to him that I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. And so guys right here we see a picture of repentance. And this is man, this is all that God wants to see in any of us.
He just wants to see a heart of repentance. You see most people think that to be a Christian means you have to be good. You have to be a good churchgoer. You must look a certain way.
You must act a certain way. But here's the truth. The Bible makes it clear that who's good? No one. Romans 3 verses 10 through 12 makes this so clear. Paul writes, as it is written, there's no one righteous, not even one. There's no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away.
They have together become worthless. There's no one who does good, not even one. Didn't that make you feel sort of good to know that you're not the only one who's not good? Most people who, well I'd say a lot of people who go to church, what they're doing is they're trying to earn God's favor by appearing good.
But many are still lost. You see, God is not looking for someone who's good. In fact, He's looking for the opposite. He's looking for those who recognize that they're not good and then they become brokenhearted because of their sin and they cry out to God for mercy.
Does that describe you? Have you ever gotten to that point where you just cried out to God for forgiveness, for mercy? Right after David committed that horrible sin with Bathsheba, he penned the words to Psalm 51. And he recognized, he says, you, talking about God, would not be pleased with sacrifices or I would bring them. It's not religious striving that God's interested in. He said, if I brought you a burnt offering, you would not even accept it. And then he says the sacrifice you want, God, is a broken spirit, a broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise. That's what God loves to see in a man, is brokenness.
John Everett said, no man ever enters heaven until he's first convinced that he deserves hell. I'm sure you know the story of John Newton. John Newton was a sailor with a filthy tongue with a filthy tongue, and he worked on a slave trading ship, bringing slaves from Africa that they had kidnapped and they brought them to brought them to America. One night during a severe storm at sea, literally life and death storm, he remembered some of the scriptures that his mother shared with him because he was brought up in a Christian home and he examined his life and he saw what a wretch he'd become. And there in the midst of that storm, he cried out to God, asked Him for forgiveness, asked Him to cleanse his heart. And God did. And so then he later left the slave trading business.
He moved to England where he became a minister. And then he wrote a hymn that I think you're all familiar with. What's the name of it? Amazing Grace. Amazing Grace.
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found was blind. But now I see. When I've seen that.
That's just a. That's that's the heart that that reminds me of the heart that God wants to see in each one of us, a broken and contrite heart. Acts three, 19. It's a great verse that describes repentance.
It's in your outline. It says, Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. The times of refreshing may come from the Lord. And then that's what he does when you repent and turn to him.
He just floods your heart with refreshing joy and the guilt is taken away and the stain is removed. So again, we see that the prodigal is on a journey. We're looking at it in three phases. The first phase involves rebellion. That's when he ran from father, his father to the far country. The second phase involves repentance. He came to a census and he started heading back towards home.
Now let's look at the third phase. In the third phase, we come we see the prodigals returned from the far country, and he comes to a place where there's rejoicing, there's celebration. So while the son was still a long ways away, the father saw him. Why do you think the father saw him? He was always watching.
Do you know why? It's because every day the father would keep an eye on that distant horizon, always looking to see if his son was coming home. His heart was broken. He loved his son. And every minute that his son was away, the father's heart was in pain.
I want you to picture the father sitting up on his front porch, perhaps in a rocking chair. He's got binoculars out every afternoon and he's just looking at the horizon. And all of a sudden he sees a speck and he watches that speck because he was always looking for the horizon for the specks. He watches that speck as he gets bigger. And his hope began to grow. And as that speck grew larger, he stood up out of that rocking chair. And then he saw the outline of a man that, and as that man got closer, it began to take on a familiar shape.
And then he even noticed that the clothes that this man was wearing looked familiar, although they were ragged and more torn than the last time he saw them. And then all of a sudden, and then all of a sudden, he realized that this man was his son. And so he leapt from his rocking chair. He ran off the porch and he began running to his son as fast as he could go. Meanwhile, the son saw the father running towards him. So he began to run towards his father. And as they got close to each other, the father saw tears streaming down his son's face. And the son saw a smile break out on his father's face. And when they got to each other, they almost knocked each other down.
That's the way I picture this scene unfolding. And the father grabbed his son, lifted him up in the air, and as he did that, his son began to cry out, Dad, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. But before the son could even finish what he was saying, the father turned to his servants and said, quick, bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Today we will celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found. And what they begin to do? They begin to celebrate. Then the Bible says that when one sinner repents and turns to the father, there's more rejoicing in heaven over this than over the many righteous persons who do not need to repent. In fact, look at Luke 15 verses 8 through 10. See, when a prodigal comes home, it's like something of great value that has been lost now being found. Luke 15 verse 8 says, Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there's rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Do you want to make heaven rejoice? Just repent.
If you've never come to Jesus by faith, repent and come to Him and you'll cause a celebration in heaven. When Billy Graham's funeral service was aired, I don't remember how many years ago, six or seven years ago, on TV, I watched and was touched by one of his daughters, Ruth. I don't know if y'all saw that. Ruth Graham shared that her marriage ended in divorce after 21 years. She was devastated. She was floundering. She shared all this at this funeral service. She said she did a lot of wrong and her family thought it would be a good idea for her to just move away and get a fresh start. So she did. She moved near to her older sister where there was a good church.
Well, when she started going to that church, the pastor of that church introduced her to a good looking widower and they began to date fast and fiercely. But she said that her children do not like the man. And but she thought to herself, Well, what do they know?
They can't tell me what to do. And then she got a call from her mother in Seattle. She got a call from her father in Tokyo. And they both advised her to slow down. They said, Listen, we don't know this man well enough yet.
You need to slow down. But she was stubborn, strong willed and sinful, as she put it. And she married this man on New Year's Eve. And after 24 hours, she knew she'd made a big mistake. After five weeks, she fled. She said that she was afraid of the man and all she wanted to do was go home to a mom and her dad.
And it was a two day drive. And she drove questions swirled in her mind. What was she going to say to a mother? What was she going to say to her father? What was she going to say to her children?
She felt like such a failure. What were they going to say to me? She thought we told you not to marry him.
You should have listened to us. You know, the Grahams live on the side of a mountain. And she says that when she arrived at the entrance, she began to drive up that driveway. And when she finally made the last turn, she saw her dad standing there, Dr. Billy Graham. And she said she got out of her car. And the first thing that he did was wrap his arms around her in utter two words, welcome home.
She said my father was not God. He showed us what God is like that day. When we come to God with our sin, our brokenness, our failure, and our pain, and our hurt, he says welcome home.
And men, that invitation is still open to all of us. God just wants to say welcome home. And so if you've never come home to the Lord, you're never come home to the Lord, don't wait any longer. He's a loving, heavenly Father. And He's just looking at the horizon, waiting to see us when we turn and come to Him.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your Word. And Lord, we thank You that You are a gracious, heavenly Father. We thank You, Lord, that You love us so much. We thank You for sending Your Son into the world to die for each one of us because of Your great love for us. And I pray, heavenly Father, that there's a man here tonight who's in the far country, that he will reflect on how loving You are, and that he'll come running to You, knowing that You'll greet him with open arms. Heavenly Father, we love You. I pray for each one of the men in this room, that You bless them, that You watch over them as we pray for Christmas. Lord, help us to remember the reason for the season. It's the birth of Your Son, the Savior of the world. It's in Your name that I pray.
Amen. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh.
Find out more at findingpurpose.net. Here's a Finding Purpose Minute with Pastor Russ Andrews. Can you see the Gospel message in Genesis 3-15? And do you understand why it's now called the proto-Uuangelion, the first Gospel? It's the first mention of the Gospel in the Bible, and the Gospel is all about the Cross. Never lose sight of the Cross because your salvation and my salvation depended upon what Jesus would do on the Cross. Now listen, I want to share with you a few more prophecies that were fulfilled from the Old Testament at the Cross, and I want you to really notice the accuracy of Scripture. This is when you really begin to realize how supernatural the Bible is, that it was God-breathed, that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 22, verse 18, which was written a thousand years before the birth of Christ, David wrote, They divide my garments among them. Finding Purpose is a triangle-based ministry for men offering small Bible studies, biblically-based counseling and more. Visit findingpurpose.net. That's findingpurpose.net. This is the Truth Network.
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