Far countries aren’t measured in miles and yards. We walk away from God in our hearts. We do postpone decisions and tasks. God allows U-turns at the Cross. Do not waste time. Go to Him. His mercies are new. Come receive grace. (Luke 15)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller, Pastor John Love
6:30 PM on 5/3/2020
P. Love –
Thank God for the work of the Cross and what it means. It never gets old celebrating what was done for us at
Calvary. It never gets old. It’s always so fresh. Always such a reminder to us that what we
needed more than anything in this life, what everyone needs more than anything this world
could ever offer them is a Savior. Luke 15 to share a few more thoughts in light of what we
heard this morning from P. Schaller in the 11:00 service about the father, the father’s love, the
father’s longing for his son to return. Luke 15 I want us to focus on a few verses that focus on
the prodigal himself beginning in vs.17.
This is after he left his father’s house and wishing his father were dead essentially by asking for his inheritance and then going out and the wild lifestyle, the far country, and the money ran out, and the friends disappeared, and he found himself in the pig pen. Vs. 17-20. “So he got up.” He got up. One evening I was surprised when I
went to open one of the drawers in our kitchen. I noticed there was some unusual objects in
there. There were small pieces of cardboard paper all in a round circle and a bunch of them in
there. Something was written on them. I picked one up and look at it and it said the word
“tuit.” It was spelled T-U-I-T. I had no idea. I finally asked my wife, what are these? What is this?
What does this mean? She said that’s a round “tuit.” What is it for?
It’s for you because you are always saying when I ask for certain things or certain tasks to be done in the home, you always tell me you’ll get around to it. So I filled the drawer with round “tuits” and there are so many in
there that there shouldn’t be anything that you won’t be able to accomplish now. The reason
why she did that is because like probably a lot of us, I am or can be a master procrastinator. We
all know what that means. We are probably all guilty of it. It’s the act of putting off or delaying
especially something that needs immediate attention like preparing for an exam or writing a
paper for school. Just postponing the inevitable.
Procrastination. We keep telling ourselves I will get to it later. I promise it’s going to be done. If we keep telling ourselves that enough, the urgency disappears. The urgency of what needs to be addressed or accomplished evaporates. It just goes away. What happens after that? There are consequences. Think about the prodigal.
Think about the lost son for a moment. Put aside his blindness and his pride no doubt, his
foolishness, and his journey to the far country. I think when the Bible speaks about going into a
far country, I’m sure that God meant it could be measured in miles, but you don’t have to go
miles away to be in a far country. You don’t have to get on a plane when in your heart you
desire to go to a far country.
A far country is when there is distance between you and your heavenly Father; when there is distance between you and his mercy, distance between you and his grace, distance between you and forgiveness. It’s not necessarily measured in miles or distance because it’s something that can happen to any of us in our hearts, in our minds. Think
about that. This is where the prodigal was. We know there is some distance involved in this
journey but the statement that sums up his words or this story is “so he got up.” I love that
because it indicates this quick response. Imagine if he had procrastinated. There’s nothing in
here that suggests that he did. When he came to himself in vs. 17, that was obviously the
That’s what stirred his heart. In vs. 20 it ends by telling us that he got up. No sitting
in the pig pen trying to come up with a plan or promising himself like we sometimes do,
promising ourselves I’m going to get going soon. I know there are important decisions that need to be made in my life and I will address them. I will take action, just not right now. We do
that. Sometimes by postponing these critical and important decisions, we miss out the great
love of the Father. We miss out a time of celebration in our lives. We miss the party like the
elder brother did. Believers are missing out on a celebration that God has planned for them,
prepared for them because maybe because of procrastination.
The Bible doesn’t say so the next day he got up. It doesn’t say after some time had passed it got up. Or when he waited to find out if there was decent traveling weather he got up. It just says, he got up. Those few words
sometimes can make all the difference in our lives. There may be people listening to this
message tonight anywhere around the globe and they are thinking to themselves, that’s what I
need to do. I need to take a step towards my father. I need to put off this decision that I know I
should be making. The great thing about God no matter how far down a road we have gone the
wrong direction, he always tells us there is a way back. Someone best described it that God
allows U-turns. Where does he allow a U-turn?
At the cross. He allows U-turns at the cross. One of the devil’s chief tools is procrastination. Yes, okay. I agree. You are committed to making that decision. Let’s just put it off. Let’s wait to a more convenient decision. Ever done that when getting up in the morning? You know you should get up. You know you need to be somewhere
on time like work or school. You say, just a little bit longer. And before you know it, you fall
back to sleep. Wouldn’t the devil love for that to happen in believer’s lives. When God has
brought them to a point, or the Spirit of God has brought them to a point in their lives where
they say to themselves it’s time to get up. It’s time to move. It’s time to go in God’s direction.
All the reasons come pouring into our souls as to why there is a better time to
do that. I think that’s why procrastination is so effective because we’re not saying no. we’re
saying not right now. The devil says, good. That will give me more time to work on your soul.
That will give me more time to create a consciousness of guilt and shame. That will give me
more time to bring in the rationalization of thoughts that have nothing to do with God, that will
make you believe that you cannot get up. You should not get up and you mustn’t go in your
Father’s direction. We’re not turning the alarm off consciously; we are just hitting the snooze
button. I don’t know about you, but I have hit the snooze button several times in one morning,
just putting it off, putting it off, putting it off.
Procrastination. Why do we do it? Maybe one reason is we try to put off the pain. We don’t want to have to deal with any painful consequences that might result if we got up. We kind of turn towards God. We change our
mind just like the prodigal experienced in that pigpen. Did you ever watch those television
commercials about people in health clubs or maybe they are trying to sell some exercise
equipment. Did you ever notice it? They are on that equipment and they look great. They are
not sweating. They are smiling. All you have to do is smile your way to shedding 15 pounds.
There is no indication that there is any pain. There is no indication that you will pay a price. You
just buy this equipment or go to this health club and everyone else is smiling and everyone else
That’s not the case. You go to a health club and you hear some awful groanings and
grunting and you think someone is dying beside you. They are just lifting up more weight than
they are capable of. Too much pain. We don’t act sometimes because we think it will be too
difficult, too much pain, too much heartache, so we put off the workouts because we don’t want any sore muscles. We put off the hard conversation we know we need to have because
we don’t want any awkward tension that we know we need to have between ourselves and
somebody else. We put off getting help because we don’t want to appear being needy or weak.
We put off asking for forgiveness because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves. That would
mean I have to admit I was wrong.
I made a mistake. In light of what P. Schaller just said a few minutes ago, because of the cross and because of mercy we should just be forgiving each other a lot. Don’t put that off. That will frustrate grace and keep grace from being extended with other people that we love. The prodigal son knew how hard this trip was going to be. Going
back home to see the disappointment. Maybe that’s all he could think about. When he gets
there, will all he see is the wagging finger of his father. Will he see as we heard this morning the
father’s arms are crossed? Will he even hear from a distance as he gets close to home, I told
you so? No. Will he feel judgment, condemnation? Will it be too painful, too shameful, too
Maybe it would be put praise God the Bible says he got up. It was worth it. He got up.
He got up. I think that’s one of the reasons why we procrastinate. We can’t deal with the pain.
Another reason why we might procrastinate is maybe we want to prolong the pleasure. It’s
possible. We’ve all heard preachers teach and preach and say to their congregations and people
hearing their messages you know sin is not pleasurable. I think it is. The Bible says it is. Hebrews
11:25 speaking about Moses it says Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of
God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Even the Bible comes out and says in effect
sin is pleasurable.
But the other point, the most important point about it is that it is fleeting. It
doesn’t last long. The Amplified Bible calls it the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life. That’s what
it is. Not only is it a fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life but it is so short, so quickly over and then
what do we have to deal with? All of its consequences. All of its heartache, ruin, destruction,
and pain. Like a young person thinking about taking a drink of alcohol. They’ve never done it
before. Why would they even think about it? They’ve watched those television commercials,
and everyone is running around and maybe they are in the Rocky Mountains and they are
scantily dressed and drinking beer, and nobody puts an ounce of weight on.
Everyone is happy. I doubt a young person thinks about taking a drink because they look out their window and
they see a man stumbling down the street covered in his own vomit and say boy that’s what I
want to be! No, they think it’s all about pleasure. It’s not. He ended up in a pig pen. Maybe he
was still there until the famine showed up. The longer we prolong this pleasure this desire to
enjoy the pleasures of sin, it’s almost like you waiting for the pain to become even greater.
Imagine the prodigal son. In our days if this happened today, it could be the prodigal son could
come to himself and say, I’m out of money, but no problem I have credit cards. Then he
prolongs the decision to go to his father.
After he does decide to go home to his father, he says dad, I need to let you know. I made terrible decisions. I’m so sorry, but also there’s a whole line of creditors following me, and I owe twice as much as I took from you when I left in the first place. That could happen in today’s life. It’s possible. The millionaire athletes. I read this story
and you might have read it yourself, one athlete, one NBA athlete, he made 100 million dollars
in his career, 100 million dollars! And then several years later he filed for bankruptcy. He had
absolutely nothing. He must have thought he could live that lifestyle. These millionaire athletes might work for 10 or 15 years and then they should have enough money to retire for 60. It’s the
opposite of you and I.
We have to work for 60 and then Lord willing, we might have 10 or 15
years where we can retire. Right? Not that any of us are thinking of retirement. We’d like to be
up here. We’d like to be preaching. We’d like to be serving and then drop dead and go home to
be with Jesus. That’s the way we want to go. There was a player and thank God I wasn’t in the
country at the time. We were overseas on summer harvest with our young people, and I got
phone calls and couldn’t answer the phone. I didn’t have a cell phone back then. When I got
home, I found out he had been calling me regularly. I finally caught up with him months later.
What was it? I was out of the country?
He said I needed to borrow some money. I thought to myself, you want to borrow money from the chaplain who doesn’t get paid to provide the chapel services for the athletes that are making millions? Oh, I see! No problem! You’re asking the wrong guy. How can you live that way? They just want to prolong everything that money
can give them. They want to prolong the lifestyle that’s just lavished. That’s just
procrastination. You are putting off the inevitable where you’re going to have to come down to
earth so to speak and live like everybody, practically, wisely. The prodigal could have prolonged
the pleasure. He could have said not now. I’ll put it off. No he said I’m going to get up.
The next thing we sometimes procrastinate because we want to plan it to perfection. It’s so simple. Just
get up, go home, and talk to your father. That’s all that had to be done. You don’t have to
devise a plan. We don’t have to think it through and make sure we cover all of our basis. It’s
just not worth it. Maybe he thought about stopping, getting cleaned up first, get a job. How
about this? Get some gainful employment and go home to your father and bring him a little bit
of money saying, good news. I didn’t spend it all. Sometimes we want to plan things and we
have this perfection in our minds but what do we do when we put off knowing we should be
making good decisions, quality decisions, decisions that will head us in the right direction. We
just complicate things.
Instead of doing that which is absolutely simple it’s what he did, and you
have to commend him for it. He got up. He went home and the best part of it all is his father
was waiting. His father was looking for him. And praise God like we heard this morning, not
waiting to punish him. Not waiting to waiting to discipline him. Not waiting with the wagging
finger. Not waiting with the arms folded and the look of disappointment and frustration on his
face. Maybe like our heavenly Father it we find ourselves in a similar situation, Isaiah 30:18 says
God is waiting to be gracious to us. We don’t think that sometimes. We think God is waiting to
Listen, he’s already judged his Son in our place. He cannot judge his Son for our sins
and then turn around and judge us for our sins. It’s the law of double jeopardy. It can’t be done.
We mustn’t ever think that God thinks this way. That judgment rejoices against mercy. That’s
not what the Bible says. What does it say? Mercy rejoices against judgment. That statement
alone should pave the way for every believer to turn around and make the decision as the
prodigal made. Just get up. Just that statement alone is so valuable in our lives. All of us are
going to stumble. All of us are going to have our moments.
All of us are going to believe the lie that our sin was too great, and our bad decisions were too horrific and there is penance to be done and there is a price that needs to be paid. When God says mercy rejoices against
judgment and when he cries out on the cross and he declared it is finished, he meant it. Now, let’s not put God in a holding cell so to speak where he has to wait to be gracious to us. Just
come and receive that grace. The Amplified in Isaiah 30:18 says “the Lord earnestly waits,
expecting, looking, and longing to be gracious.” As Matt said tonight in his prayer, who is like
unto you Lord who pardons iniquity. Who is like unto you Lord who takes our sins and casts
them behind your back.
Who is like unto you Lord who separates us from our sin as far as the
east is from the west. Who is like unto you God who refuses to give us what we desire and
punish us for our crimes and our sins. There is no one like you. I think the most valuable thing I
can take away today from what I heard in the messages is that I must come to know my Father
this way. I must know what this character and nature is like. I must understand that he is the
God of all grace. I must understand that his justice was satisfied. That was the problem with the
elder brother. He couldn’t stand to see someone who had lived in such a manner to receive
grace. He wanted justice.
The two groups of people as this 15 th chapter begins were the publicans, the sinners, the notorious sinners and then there were the Pharisees. Jesus addressed both of those groups. He said to the sinners, you can come just the way you are, no stopping to clean yourself up. No stopping to make amends. No trying to pay for your sins. You
have a Savior here. You can approach this kind of God. Come boldly, only understand the
nature of my mercy. The Pharisees, the proud Pharisees who only wanted justice to be
executed they can’t come. They are too busy rehearsing their own righteousness. They are too
busy focusing on their own self-righteousness. You can see clearly that Jesus was separating
these two groups by the illustration of the one son and the other son, both of them in the
house, both of them lost but one of them realizing my father is good, my father is merciful, my
father is gracious and I’m going to get up.
Don’t let procrastination rob you and steal from you to make that U-turn in your life because some of us at some point in our life we are going to need to know that. It doesn’t matter how far down that road you have gone. There is only one thing you can do. Get up. Turn around. Go in the other direction and you will find a Father
running to you, loving you, ready to be gracious. If you ask what is he doing while I’m in the far
country? What is he doing while I’m spending all the money? What is he doing while I’m doing
all the wild living? He’s just waiting to be gracious.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.