Daily Devotional for Sunday July 10, 2011
One of the Great Passages of Scripture is the Parable of the Prodigal Son
(Luke 15:11-32; Mark 8:36)
One of the great passages of scripture is the "Parable of the Prodigal Son." It is such a powerful picture of those who know Christ as their Savior, have a relationship with Him, and decide one day they want to live life apart from the Lord. They no longer have a desire to follow Jesus and simply want to live their life in rebellion to God and His Word. I share with you, often, the fact that our way never works, God's way always works. When we choose to live life our way, there is nothing but pain and heartache. When we choose to live life God's way, there is peace and joy and the abundance that Christ promised.
TODAY, GOD IS SPEAKING TO YOU THROUGH THESE WORDS AS LOUD AND AS CLEAR AS IF HE WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. HE IS SAYING, "COME HOME!"
The parable starts out with the younger of two sons asking his father for his portion of the estate. He basically went to his dad and said let's figure out what part of the estate is mine, and let me have my share now. The father did as his son requested and the Bible tells us, "That very soon after he got his share of the estate, the young man took off for a 'far country.'" He had obviously been planning his rebellion, since it was immediately after he cashed out his portion of the estate that he left.
My friend, when we rebel against God, it starts in our heart. Our actions are simply the manifestation of the rebellion that started in our heart. When we sin, before we ever commit the act, it starts in our heart, moves to our head, and ultimately is manifested in the action itself. That is why we have to guard our hearts. It is critical that we keep our hearts pure before the Lord. David cried, "Create in me a clean heart." We keep our hearts clean through our time each day with the Lord in prayer and in God's Word.
The Bible tells us that once this young man was in the "far country," he wasted all of his money on "riotous living." Now we don't have a detailed account of what this young man did, or what "riotous living" involved, but we probably have a good idea. If it was the year 2006, he would be out every night drinking, doing drugs, frequenting the strip clubs, the casinos, and having sex with many different people. He would wake up the next day and do it all over again. For anyone who has lived this type of lifestyle, you know that it is only a matter of time before your money, no matter how much you have, runs out.
That is exactly what happened to this young man. He ran out of money and about that same time the Bible tells us there came a great famine in the land he was in. I am sure you have heard the expression, "when it rains, it pours." When you are living your life in rebellion to God, NOTHING GOES RIGHT! It is simply one problem after another, and eventually they mount up and just living from day to day becomes a nightmare. You don't even want to get out of bed, and eventually, you don't even have a bed! As I tell you often, SIN COSTS AND COSTS MORE THAN YOU EVER EXPECTED TO PAY!
This young man was now faced with being in a foreign land, broke, and simply trying to survive day to day. The Bible tells us that he went to work for one of the citizens of the country he was in. His job; FEEDING THE PIGS! Here was a young man, who just months earlier, was an executive in his father's business. No doubt he worked hard, but he was in an executive position, overseeing the day-to-day operations, people working for him, making the important decisions that have to be made each day in any business. All of a sudden he is no longer an executive but the lowest of the low, literally feeding the pigs!
REBELLION TO GOD COSTS, MY FRIEND! When you choose to live your life in rebellion to God, do it your way and you will pay the price in so many different ways. One day you are a big time businessman, running companies, hundreds of people working for you, spending your time making deals, eating out in nice restaurants, driving nice cars, wearing nice clothes. The next, all of that is gone and you are simply trying to survive from day to day. You have gone from enjoying your life to just existing. You will always pay a huge price when you choose to live in rebellion to God.
It was at his lowest point that this young man began to hear God speaking to him. Let me make sure you understand something very important. The Bible proclaims that God will never leave you nor forsake you. That is a promise from God to you, and it is true. God is there with you every step of the way whether you acknowledge Him or not. What happens is we quit listening to God, we tune Him out. When we are living in rebellion to God, He is the last person we want to hear from since we know deep down inside we are sinning. However, God is always there, always trying to get our attention, waiting patiently for us to listen to His voice and respond.
In 1989, near the end of my 10 years of running from God, I was driving down the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago heading downtown where I lived. It was 3 a.m., I had been out drinking that night, my legal problems were starting to mount, and I was looking to escape in every way imaginable. As I was driving home, I flipped through the radio stations and stopped when I heard booming from the radio, "FOR WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN, IF HE SHALL GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, AND LOSE HIS OWN SOUL!" The voice was that of Dr. Joseph Stowell, Chancellor of the great Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, but it was clearly God speaking to me trying to get my attention. Sadly, I was in full rebellion to God and He was the last person I wanted to hear from. It would be many months before I was ready to listen.
The Bible tells us that this young man began to hear God's voice that was clearly calling him home. He began to reason that he was sleeping with the very pigs he fed and eating the same food they were eating. The servants in his father's house at least had a nice place to sleep and plenty of food to eat. He realized that he would be better off going home, asking his father's forgiveness, and becoming one of the servants. That was GOD speaking to this young man telling him to go home.
Many of you reading this today are "sleeping with the pigs." You are eating the same food the pigs eat.You are tired of living like this, tired of waking up each day with no hope, tired of running from God. My friend, God loves you, He cares about you so much, and He is waiting for you today. The fact is, God is NOT going to force you to come home. That has to be your decision. No doubt, this young man's father could have tracked him down and brought him home, but he didn't. It was not because he didn't love his son, but because it was a choice his son had to make on his own. God is not going to force you to come home, it is a choice YOU have to make yourself.
I love you and care about you so much. The wonderful end to the "Parable of the Prodigal Son" is that the son did go home. When he arrived, he was not made a servant in his father's house as he was hoping, but he remained a SON! My friend, just because you have left the Lord, you never stopped being His son or daughter. You may have denied Him, you may have chosen to reject Him, but He never denied you and He never rejected you. YOU NEVER STOPPED BEING HIS SON OR DAUGHTER!
I will be praying for you today, praying that God will speak to your heart about going home. You don't need to be miserable any longer. You don't need to dread waking up each morning. God can take the pain and the hurts in your life and replace them with a peace that passes all human understanding and His joy. God is speaking to you today. God is waiting for you to come home. He is waiting to rejoice, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
Let me leave you today with the words to the great hymn "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling." Read the words, they are from God for YOU today!
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me; See, on the portals He's waiting and watching, Watching for you and for me. Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, Pleading for you and for me? Why should we linger and heed not His mercies, Mercies for you and for me? Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, Passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, Coming for you and for me. O for the wonderful love He has promised, Promised for you and for me! Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon, Pardon for you and for me. Refrain: Come home, come home, You who are weary, come home; Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller