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Home Is Where the Heart Is

prodigal son.jpgLuke 15:11-24

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The parables of Christ serve multiple purposes. This parable applies to individuals who lose their way. It also describes the attitudes of the Pharisees of Christ’s day. But beyond that, this parable embraces the whole of man’s spiritual history.

The Road Out

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The Agitation that Angered Him

At some point in Junior’s life, discontentment boiled up. Curfew, can’t play the new music, can’t wear my hair like I want—-who knows what the conflict was? It all comes down to a clash of wills.

Adam and Eve lived in paradise, suffered no pain or discomfort, saw no evil—-everything was perfect. Yet, Satan stirred up rebellion in their hearts against God.

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:1-5

One of the most interesting and insidious words in the Bible is the word, “implacable.” It means “impossible to pacify or appease.” Man gets into most of his trouble because he will not accept the unfailing word of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.

The Allurement that Enticed Him

Have you ever looked in awe at the skyline of Manhattan Island? Tall and sleek, the glass and marble towers stir up fascination and curiosity in the viewer from a distance. It’s only when you walk the neighborhoods of the lower east side or parts of Harlem, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens that you see the seamier side of the glittering jewel of the Big Apple. While we were eating five inch high corn beef sandwiches and New York style cheese cake at Junior’s in Brooklyn, a guy had broken into our van and was running down the street with our car phone.

The “far country” for the Prodigal was too far away for him to notice the slums, the addictions, the pain and breakdowns.

The glitter and glamour of Madison Avenue bombards us with false pictures of happiness and fulfillment. We never seem to learn our lesson. Knowing full well that that Thigh-Master is not going to take .5 pounds of ugly fat of our bodies, we still melt the plastic to buy a that beautiful piece of junk and set it up in our family rooms or basements. By the way, we are now soliciting merchandise for next year’s flea market, and those exercise contraptions will be hot items. Some of them have made their rounds to other flea markets and garage sales as well.

The point is that somebody or something will always be around to tempt you. The muscular physique, the sensuous figure, the luxurious ride, the sporty look, the oohs and ahhs of envious stares—-all of these images pull us toward the far country.

The Action that Sent Him

In spite of all the attempts to stop him from heading out on the road to certain downfall, the young man did it anyway. Why?  Why did he turn his back on his father?  Why did he turn a deaf ear to all the warnings?  Why did he think he knew what he was doing?  Who knows?

How many people have awakened about halfway through their lives, sat up, looked around and said, “How on earth did I get here?” Actually, it’s pretty easy. Just do nothing, get preoccupied with trivia, major on minors and pay no attention to the weightier matters of the soul and spirit. Eventually, you’ll be like the man who asked, “Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?”

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10

For human history, the road out away from God has always been a downward spiral leading away from truth to falsehood, from peace to strife, from good to bad, from life to death.

The Road End

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

He Lost His Resources

I am speaking to some people in this audience today who have been spoon-fed politically correct pluralism. Language has been turned inside out and life has been gutted of truth. In the minds of the humanistic elite, the very word, “sin” has been discredited.  But the fact is, sin always strips a person bare. Call it what you will, sin will always have an impoverishing effect. There is a familiar mantra to sin—-lose, lose, lose.

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:14-15

He Lost His Respectability

The fact that the Prodigal lost all his money was not the worst blow. It was much worse to lose his dignity and respect. Here he was, this rich boy from a solid, stable family, not only feeding the pigs, but trying to eat some of their food.

Sin never leaves anyone in a neutral position. The Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” It takes clean and makes it dirty. It takes well and makes it sick. It takes good and makes it bad. It never leaves you better off. When the pleasures of sin that only last for a season run their course, man is left humiliated, disillusioned and empty.

“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars.” Jeremiah 17:1

He Lost His Reason for Living

At the end of the road, despair finally overwhelmed the Prodigal. He had barreled headlong into a huge, yellow, diamond-shaped sign that said, “Dead End.” His money was gone, his friends were gone, his dreams were gone, and with it all went meaning and hope.

Something happens at the lowest point of sin. You look around and say, “\What’s the use? What’s the purpose? Nothing makes any sense.” This is where much of the world we live in is at the present. It’s called nihilism. Nihilism holds that life is pointless and human values are worthless. It rejects all religion and morality.

Sin is a fantastic lie. Satan said it would make man wise, happy and God-like. Instead, it turned him into a fool, filled him with infinite sadness and made him into a child of the devil.

The Road Back

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Reality Check

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Repentance: Stop lying to yourself.

Return: Go back to the truths you have forsaken.

Rejoicing: If you stay where you are, you will never hear or never know rejoicing.

Rejoicing is back home.

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