Few things are more painful than parenting a prodigal. Open rebellion, poor choices, cultivating dangerous friendships.
When our children express those behaviors, it breaks our heart. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us that prodigals aren't new to our generation. In Luke chapter 15, Jesus told a story about a father with two sons, and this well-known picture of one family's dysfunction has the potential to restore broken relationships.
So let's resume the study that Chuck started on our previous program. He titled his message, A Father Everyone Admires, and we begin with prayer. Dear Father, thank you for taking us in. Thank you for loving us with a deep compassion, for not putting us on probation and holding us there for years to prove the sincerity of our repentance.
Thank you for this word quick. As the father turned and told the servants, bring the robe, bring the ring, bring the sandals, bring the food. Remind us, Lord, that you're the same yesterday, today, and forever. We never wander so far away that you lose track of us, though you often leave us on our own till we begin to hurt and starve and finally come to our senses. We wish that you would not only speak to us dads today, but speak to rebels wherever they may be. Speak to moms who stand in the shadows behind the scenes watching much of this happen.
Those who have strong and capable husbands, fathers for the children, we pray that you would use the story to bring families back together. Make our hearts with it. Penetrate this phony facade of having it all together.
We don't. Our need for you is total, not partial. So speak and we will listen.
Make this time especially meaningful not just because it's this special day for dads, but because there's a special story for us all here. May we be willing to acknowledge Rome and come just like we are. Draw us near, Lord, precious Lord. Draw us nearer to your bleeding side as we come to Christ just like we are. In His name we pray. Everyone say, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled, A Father Everyone Admires. God's word is a lot to say about dads, fathers. And you know what? Often it's affirming.
It's positive. And among the most admirable is a man who appears in a story Jesus told but never named the man. Doesn't tell us where he lived. There are a couple of things before we get into what he did that were true of him as a person. First, he's affluent. We don't know how much he's worth, but it's a lot. His estate is referred to in this passage of scripture as well as his wealth in verse 12.
Second thing I would note about him is that he's approachable. Not once does he interrupt his son when his younger son gets off on this, I want my money now. Now. I don't want to wait until you die.
I want it now. If you check the Jewish law in Deuteronomy, you'll find that this was really up to the father to determine when he would share his inheritance. And if there were two sons, two thirds would go to the older and one third would go to the younger. Here's a man whose wealth has not made him greedy. And when you read the next verse, you understand that he didn't just with a shrug give him the boy the money and wave goodbye. Look for yourself. Look at the story. It's in verse 13.
A few days later, we read the younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land. Whoa, stop. Wait, wait. Jesus is Jewish. Often told stories to Jews.
They would understand. But this distant land had farmers who raised pigs. So he moves into Gentile territory. He's way away from the familiar.
A distant land. He's had enough of home and family and those tight surroundings, that older brother. He's gone. With that kind of money, he draws a fast crowd and they come happy to spend it for him and with him. But when that money ran out, those friends ran out. He can't make his rent. So he's on the street. About the time his money ran out, a great famine.
Isn't that amazing? One after another after another. Bad goes to worse. Worse goes to impossible.
Impossible goes to the end. He hits bottom. And we read no one gave the young man and anything. Dad keeps waiting. But I'll tell you what he did do. He prayed and he watched.
Sunrise and dusk, looking for that familiar silhouette on the horizon. For however long, we're not told. The dad doesn't even gossip about him and he doesn't believe the gossip that the grapevine brings back from wherever the boy was living. We read that finally he says to this farmer, could I possibly work for you?
And of all things, the worst, the most degrading of jobs. This Jewish boy begins to feed pigs and he's knee deep in swine excrement and slop. He is filthy.
And it's cold and lonely. It's all part of the plan. The father let it be. Do I speak today to a dad who is trying to interfere or intervene? Stop it. Stay out of it. I know you don't want that for you. Of course you don't. But you're not his God, you're his father. It's the boy's will that took him there. By the way, it's a good place for me to give you those three statements I've given you before.
You may have forgotten them without quoting the authors. Listen to these three. In the end, pain wins. Pain is a language all its own and it wins. It wins. Here's another. Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel heart.
Never doubt it. Enough pain and the rebel begins to soften. It's amazing what bars of a prison will do to a rebel. It's amazing what a setting and or disease, brokenness, mistreatment, brutality, being mugged will do to a hard-hearted young man or woman on the street.
Here's a third one. It's doubtful God can use anyone greatly until he's hurt him deeply. That's the word.
That's a Tozer quote. Hurt him deeply. And the father stays away. The boy has blocked out all the advice, has ignored all the warnings, and you read an amazing statement in verse 17. He finally came to his senses, which tells us what?
All the time he's feeding those swine and living in the street, he's out of his senses. I call it temporary insanity. Gross carnality is temporary insanity. That's why they do what they do. That's why they live like they live. That's why the conscience is seared.
The boy doesn't even seem like the one who left home some time earlier. He's out of his senses. But the pain got so great he came to his senses.
And look at this. When he came to his senses, one of his opening lines was, I will return, not to my room, not to my home, not to my friends in the street I used to run around with telling all those nasty jokes, not even to religious people who would shun me. I don't need sermons from my older brother.
I don't need the stares of religious people who write me off. I will return to my father. There it is. There it is. I'll go to the one who will understand. Look at that.
I love that as much as any part of the story. I don't need a sermon from my brother. I don't need any nasty comments from my former friends. I don't need the shunning of the religious people. I need forgiveness.
I need understanding. I need loving, the tender touch, the grace, the grace greater than all my sin. Oh God, I need my daddy. I need my daddy. And verse 20 shouldn't surprise you.
Look at it for yourself. I love this. He returned to his father and while he was still a long way off, a long way off, his father saw him coming. I love this scene. And before he tells us what the father did, it tells us how the father felt filled with love and compassion, not a thought of resentment, not a I'll teach him a lesson when he gets here.
He gets through with my probation. None of that, none of that filled with love, filled with compassion. He ran to his son and embraced him and kissed him. The way it's described in the Greek, he covered him with kisses.
He kissed him over and over and the boy is trying to get out his speech. Father, I'm not worthy to call your son. Father, I've done wrong. Father, father.
And the father goes quick as he speaks to servants standing beside with their mouths open watching this father-son scene they thought they would never see before. Quick, get that robe, bring it, put it on him. Get the ring right there, right there on the cabinet.
The one with the family crescent on it and our our initial in it so he can buy again with that ancient credit card. Get him that ring and get sandals for look at his feet. They're torn and they're filthy. And round up bossy and kill that calf.
We've been getting that calf fat for a long enough time. Get the wood, get it, get the fire, dig the pit. We're gonna have a buck, bring the neighbors in.
We're gonna have a celebration like we've never had before. Why? Because my son was lost and has been found. He was dead and he's alive. Love that.
That is a dead. Not one word of blame, not not one point of demand. Tell me what you've been doing. What'd you do with the money?
What do you have left? Look at yourself, you're filthy. None of that condemnation, none of that, none of that. Those kisses covered it all. Can you imagine sitting at that wonderful barbecued place at the head table besides a very grace-filled father and an amazed son.
The dad is ready to risk again. The kid spent all third of his wealth and he's feeding him this delicious meal, having this marvelous party because his son has been found. If you think this is a story just to entertain the curious, you missed it all.
This is a story to be applied which is why it has lived through the centuries and people who hear it give it acute attention. Your sitting in silence is so appropriate. You're imagining it, you're seeing it.
Part of it you're amazed at. Several questions I have to ask you as I close. First, is there a father you need to thank? Is there a father still living, maybe one you've not talked to in a long time? I know, I know, you've got those things. I know, we all do.
My dad's gone. I understand. I couldn't talk to him if I tried. But you may be able to.
Is there a dad you need to forgive? Do it. Do it now. Do it today.
It's his day. Is there a son or daughter you need to release? They're tearing up the home. They're ruining the family relationships. They're making a mess of things and you're trying to juggle all of that. Let them go. Let them go. Is there a prodigal you need to forgive and restore that's come back full of shame and humiliation and repentance?
You have one of those in your family? Is there a celebration you need to have? Not probation. Enough of probation.
One of the best words in the whole story is quick. Get the robe. Get the ring. Get the sandals. Get the meat. Quick. This boy's back.
One more question. Is there a father you need to return to? No known as a heavenly father. Here's a great song. I've wandered far away from home. Lord, I'm coming home. The paths of sin too long I've trod.
Lord, I'm coming home. See that cross? Look at that symbol. It's the most prominent symbol in this church.
We don't have trappings. We don't have a lot of other things to attract attention, but that cross remains prominent on purpose. It's like a massive magnet saying, come.
Come. Interesting thought. Only one perfect father has ever existed and his name is God. Isn't it interesting he has the most wayward children all over the world running away from him?
Many of them I think are just scared. They just don't understand because written across that cross is the word grace. What God does for us that we don't deserve. We'll never earn. Never be able to repay. When the son comes home, he doesn't say, okay dad, what do I owe you? Just tell me and I'll start working on paying you back.
None of that. Dad, dad, I'm not worthy to be calling your son. Father says, come on home. Come on home.
I don't know where you are in the answering of those questions, but they're for you to answer. And you'll be happy to know that when you decide you're going to come to the father, he'll take you just as you are. It's the original come as you are party and all your filth and mess and rebellion and ugliness come just like you are. You can't even begin to clean yourself up. That's what he does. Father didn't have to tell the boy to get a shower or get a bath before he embraced him. He embraced him filth and all.
Of course, grace has its own cleansing agent and how grateful we are that it does. Please bow with me just for a moment. Sit quietly there. I speak not only to dads, but to all of us, sons, daughters, moms, dads, distant, distant rebels. Some of you who are living phony lives and God sees it all. I get most concerned about you. What will it take to bring you to repentance?
Give it up. Come now. So grateful, our father, for your love story that it still touches us deeply. So grateful for your grace greater than our sins where sin abounded, grace super abounds. How grateful we are for the standing we have in Christ when we come to you through him. Hear the prayers of those today who've made that decision as you welcome them home.
And for those who continue to run, keep them miserable, keep them hungry. May they know no rest or peace, no relief until they come to you and find their hope in you, dear father. We all thank you today for being our heavenly father, loving us most often in spite of ourselves because of Christ. In his name we pray these things.
And all God's people said, amen. In a message that was originally delivered on Father's Day 2022, Chuck Swindoll is talking about a father everyone admires, and this is Insight for Living. If today's program has inspired you to cultivate a stronger relationship with your sons and daughters or even your grandchildren, remember that every sermon you hear on Insight for Living is paired with online study notes. We call these free Bible study resources Searching the Scriptures Studies.
To take a deeper look at Luke 15, go to insightworld.org slash studies. Look for the series called Restoring Your Family's Foundation. Chuck also wrote a practical book for dads, moms, anyone who cares deeply about today's family. It's called Parenting from Surviving to Thriving. You'll enjoy reading the biblical wisdom that Chuck offers in the uplifting style you've come to expect from him. And this book would make a thoughtful gift for young moms and dads as well. To purchase a copy of Chuck Swindoll's book called Parenting from Surviving to Thriving, go to insight.org slash store or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. In the early days, perhaps you recall listening to Chuck's teaching when your children were quite young. You didn't have a lot of financial resources back then. You were just trying to make ends meet.
But years have passed and the picture has changed for you. We invite you to give generously so young families will benefit from Chuck's teaching just as you did. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
You can also give a donation online at insight.org slash donate. And then there's just one more message in this brand new seven part series from Chuck. We'll be focusing our attention on getting past yesterday's failures.
And as the apostle Paul said, forgetting what lies behind, I press on. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the Inside for Living Ministries cruise to the great frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun. And without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska.
In fact, I guarantee this. You'll come home refreshed and filled with all for his majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.
They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing. You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you? The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or visit insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll presents an uplifting message called Getting Past Yesterday's Failures next time on Insight for Living.
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