No matter the mess we’ve made of things, the Father is ready to run and receive us. There’s a ring, shoes, and a robe waiting for us. It’s never too late to realize His forgiveness no matter how far we’ve gone away from Him. (Luke 15)

Speaker(s): Pastor John Love
Sermon 11816
7:00 PM on 1/8/2020

P. Love –

Does everyone know that is one family, three sisters from one family. Do you ever wonder how that happens?
How come so much talent goes into one family like that? If three people in my family sang in
the chapel, it would be empty in 30 seconds! Would sound like shrieks! You have Zane and his
sister and Gavin and his brother. When they come out of the womb, you give them an
instrument and they learn how to play it right away!

Coach Lynch, did the boys win today? The boys won. Over a week ago, they were in a Christmas tournament at Cecil County Community College. This is a tournament with all public schools, a lot of students to choose from. We have 15 or 20. We have a small school. They won the first game and after they won, either a player
or coach said the team you are playing tomorrow for the championship will beat you by 50
points. When they came out and took the floor, this group from Elkton High School, they looked
like an NBA team.

I was sitting by two gentlemen and eavesdropping. I was listening and one of them said this team, Elkton, have all the talent. Then they said and I don’t know how they know our team, this team here, Greater Grace, they are well coached. Yeah, Coach Lynch! I’m sitting in front of them saying, amen! They were going back and forth. These kids have talent. They are so fast. The other guy said I’d take a well-coached team any day over talent. Sure enough, that team was so good…we had some guys get in some foul trouble. The well-coached team of
Greater Grace Christian Academy jumped out front, stayed out front and won that tournament!
That school has over 1,000 students.

Just for the record, who taught Coach Lynch? I did! No, I did not. I’m lying! He is amazing. We have a small school. We have a lot to be proud of in our Christian school. Outstanding. Luke’s gospel tonight, chapter 15. We’ll look at the Scriptures together. This is a story we are familiar with in a good sense. The story of the prodigal son is
what we call it. I sometimes think it was improperly named. As much as we understand, it’s a
story of a wayward child, the prodigal son, but you come to the conclusion it’s so much more
about a loving gracious father than it is a wayward prodigal son.

What is so beautiful about this parable is it contains such good news specifically for a group of people who might have reached the conclusion where they believe for me it is too late. Ever meet anyone like that or talk to
anyone like that? They say I can’t come to church. I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone. I
wouldn’t want that roof to cave in on good, innocent people. They are saying you don’t know
what I have done or how many sins I have committed.

What is so beautiful about these parables is whether it was the lost sheep, the sheep was lost in the fold, the lost coin was lost in the house and the lost son was also lost in the house. We could say there were two lost sons,
also the elder brother who was lost in even a worse way, blinded by pride and arrogance and
seeing no need for grace in his life. This my son was dead but now he is alive. He was lost but
now he is found. It’s a parable about being restored back into fellowship with our father.

We use it for salvation and it’s a good application, but the interpretation seems to suggest this son
was lost not in the sense of being saved but in the sense of being found. How many in the
church are lost in the sense they need to be found. They get lost in life. We talk to believers in
that state and they have reached this point, for me, too late. Too far gone. These are people
that recognize the mess they are in but made the calculation that time and opportunity have
passed them by. My children are too old and too much happened between myself and them.

My marriage is too broken. It can’t be fixed or helped. My reputation is too ruined. My debt is
too overwhelming. My addiction is too powerful. My life is frankly speaking, too messed up.
Too far gone. Too many broken pieces to try and put back together. They fail to recognize the
good news not only the gospel to lost souls but good news of a Father who refuses to give up
on any of his children no matter how far gone or how deeply they fall into the trenches of sin.

We read the story of the prodigal son, and the young son said give me the portion of goods and
he divided his living. The son took his journey into a far country and wasted his substance. Luke
15:14. There arose a mighty famine – what is that but the hand of God. Is that a coincidence or
accident or is that the hand of God already at work…to bring his son back. P. Schaller said some
time ago, let’s not stop praying for our prodigal children.

Let’s not stop asking God to do a work in the lives of those who seemed to walk off the end of the plank. They were once here and enjoying the presence of God and built up and encouraged and encouraging those around
them. Even today, I spoke with a mom that said her son is way out there. That happens a lot. As
far as God is concerned, there is no one beyond the reach of his gracious hand. If he creates a
famine, it means bringing him back to his presence.

The prodigal must have thought his life was beyond fixing – no more money, friends, physical strength or options. All of us could say it is such a blessing to be in a place where there are no more options except God. As long as we
have other options because of our old sin nature, we will probably take it. When our only
option is God, God designed that. He prepared us for the place where we have no other option.
If you give me other options, I will probably take them. How did you learn that? Nobody ever
says it was the easiest thing in the world.

They all say I learned the hard way. Nobody says it was so easy, A-B-C and here I am blessed, happy and everything is going my way. We usually hear, I made a series of bad decisions and ignored those teachings and thought I didn’t need God’s guidance and assistance or the Body of Christ. I was brought to a place of virtual ruin and driven by a famine and on my way back to a father that couldn’t wait to see me home. How
about the thief on the cross. He has lots of options. No, he had no option. What drew him to
Jesus? He had heard Jesus speak those 7 sayings recorded in the Bible.

Both of those thieves mocked Christ initially but one of them had a change of heart. What did Jesus say that made
him turn around. Did he hear words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ
was becoming sin for us so we might be made the righteousness of God. I don’t think he had
that theological understanding. Jesus looked at John and said take care of my mother. Take
responsibility for her now that I am being put to death. Was it that? I’m not sure. Which one of
those 7 sayings made the difference?

I think it would have to be, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. He is praying for forgiveness for the ones who nailed him to the tree. Who is this man? Perhaps at that moment instead of thinking it’s too late for me, he might have thought maybe there is some hope for me. Remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Can you imagine those words from God himself: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” and
he was. How easy it would have been for the prodigal son to give up after this famine came into
the land, vs. 15-17. He had that awakening. We call it a wake up call.

Ever get a wake-up call? I don’t mean in the morning to get you to work on time. I’m talking about the one God sends at the critical moment in our lives, at the crossroads that will probably determine our future. He came to himself. vs. 17-20. It says, and he arose. He got up. He could have given up like so many
do. This is the message we want to carry not only to those in the world who think they are in a
place of helplessness, but in the Body that are lost only in the sense of having to be found. They
are believing it’s too late.

The broken pieces of your life are too many to put back together. They believe that instead there is a Father who can’t wait to put his loving arms around you and kiss you. He prepared a speech. What if it’s not good enough? What if I reach my father’s house and his arms are crossed and his foot is tapping like this. You’ll be shoveling manure the rest of your life. He didn’t say that. He humbled himself and owned up to his mistakes. He must have
thought, maybe the thought crossed his mind would it be enough? Would it be enough?

That word “enough” sometimes haunts a lot of believers. We calculate our life and count the wrongs
and wonder, have I done enough? There isn’t enough time to make things right. We draw the
conclusion it is too late. There is no more hope. This is the bed I made. Or we say now it’s up to
me. I have to put my life back together and do more rights than wrongs, cancel all those terrible
things I have done. Remember in 2010, Tiger Woods.

He had a wake-up call. It was a golf club. His wife took it out and discovered all the affairs he had been having without his knowledge. She must have thought I’ll use the nine iron to give him a wake up call. She chased him down the street and he crashed the car against the tree. You talk about a wake-up call. Hopefully,
none of your wives will use a nine iron for a wake-up call. He went on national TV and for 15
minutes laid out a plan of action telling everyone what he would do. He talked about his
Buddhist faith, all based on performance.

These are the quotes from him. He said, “I have a lot to atone for.” Too bad he didn’t read this book. He would have discovered there isn’t a thing you can atone for but a God that came into our world who atoned for every one of them by shedding his blood for our sins. He went on to say, “now it’s up to me.” Paul said the desire to
do what is right is there, but I find that which is good in me I don’t find it. To will is present but
how to perform it. I don’t have it. Tiger said, “I have a long way to go,” like a road that travels
forever. You’ll never reach that road. “I am the one that needs to change.”

You’re better off going to a coke machine for change than find change in yourself. He said, “I need to make my
behavior more respectable.” Jeremiah 10:23. He said, “it’s up to me.” And the last thing he said is, “I
have a lot of work to do.” Imagine if he heard this message. It is finished. No more work to be
done. The payment for your crimes, the cancellation for all your wrongs are paid for, cast into
the deepest sea, all cast behind the back of a holy God that doesn’t see you according to your
sins. He had a lot of work to do.

Apparently, he is still doing it. He will spend the rest of his life doing it unless he comes to Christ. The prodigal must have thought he had a lot to do to atone for his sin. Nothing more important God wants to convey is no matter how bleak things get or the twists and turns, you can have that moment when God speaks to you. All it takes is a single
step. The fact that the Father is about running to you and me. That’s what the story tells us. He
got up and went to his father. Part of the story must have been shocking was the fact the son
asked for his inheritance when his father was still alive, which is the equivalent of saying – I wish
you were dead.

He was saying: Father, I wish you were dead. Imagine a child saying that to his
parents. Imagine your child saying that. Maybe some don’t have to imagine. I don’t know. It
must strike you in your heart. I wish you were dead! Is this speech going to be enough? Are my words going to be enough? I remember what I said to my father. I said I wish you were dead.
Think about the undeserved grace he received and the extravagant love the father lavished
upon him.

When the son was still a long way off. It speaks to me there is no waiting with our
Father. He never waits for us to make it home. The father has already acted before we even
thing about taking action. Romans 5:8 while you and I were sinning, Christ died for us. You talk of
the Father acting before we make a move. It doesn’t get any better than that. God takes action
long before we realize or recognize he has.

When the son was a great way off, the father began running. That was unheard of. Taking his garments and wrapping them up so he could run. Father’s didn’t run in that fashion, but this father did. It’s never too late. The Father is already looking for us, drawing us, praying for us. Next time we speak to someone who walked away
from the kingdom and has gone astray, instead of trying to find out what’s the problem and
how can I help you through rationalization, tell them it’s never too late to turn around. God has
lots of wake-up calls to bring to our attention our need to come back to a loving Father.

Hebrews 7:25 the Father loves us just the way we are. He loves us so much he’s not going to leave us
that way. Look what the father did? Get the best robe, put the family ring on his fingers, give
him a new pair of shoes, get the fatted calf. Best robe, family ring, heirloom, the best calf we
can find. That kind of undeserved grace, extravagant love and mercy that never gives us turns
us and reminds us there is no better place in life than to be in the place of our loving Father.

It might have been Athletes in Action. He talked about this young man who went to college. He
was in a fraternity and majored in partying. He said I never stopped and thought what I was
doing. I never prayed. He was a believer. I could no longer deny what was happening. I had
flunked 4 out of 5 classes. It was the wake-up call. I needed to get out of the fraternity. What I
really needed was to make a change with my relationship with God.

I took the phone in the back room and there was a big stack of pornography. I called my parents and explained I blew it, not just my grades but my walk with Christ. My parents only said three words to me. They didn’t
say “make things right” or “turn things around” or “get some help” or “figure it out.” They
didn’t even say “we love you” or “we forgive you.” They said, “just come home.” Just come
home. The principle cannot be missed. Sometimes the best decision is just to come home to a
Father who loves us, whose arms are wide open to receive us, no matter what we have done,
or the shame brought on the family name.

Just come home. If we will do that, it’s enough because of the nature of a gracious loving Father. Keil [?] wrote this. He talked about a pastor friend of his. This pastor had a 16 year old girl in his church, and she got pregnant. She was the daughter of a local businessman…. they were too scared and didn’t know what to do. The
pastor said have you told your father? She shook her head, no. She was afraid what he would
do. She refused to tell her father. She was beginning to show. She couldn’t keep it a secret
much longer. They told the pastor the plan.

Her and her boyfriend would run away together. Would you tell my father? He said you have to tell your dad. Let’s go and tell him, I’ll be by your side. They drove to the dad’s office. He came in and said this can’t wait. We have to see her father right now. The woman said he’s busy. They went right into his office. Dad was at the desk
on the phone and looked and saw the pastor and his daughter and the young boy. He saw his
daughter in tears. He hung the phone up.

The girl began to sob. She tried to speak but words wouldn’t come out. The pastor said your daughter has something to tell you. He said I hope you are not here to tell me you are pregnant. The girl sobbed harder. Daddy, I didn’t mean to. The father sprang up from his desk, came around, stood up in front of his daughter. He said stand
up and look me in the eye. He said I said, stand up. By this time, the pastor was wondering what
is going to happen. He didn’t know.

The girl stood up slowly, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her father placed his hand on her shoulders, looked her square in the eye, and spread out his arms and embraced his baby girl. He said, it will be okay, honey. I love you no matter what. We will get through this together. When we think of returning after making such a mess of our lives
that we will be met by a Father that is upset or rejects us or tells us we are too late, that will
never be the case with our heavenly Father. His arms will already be outstretched and ready to
receive us with more grace than we can imagine.

The only thing left to do is just come home, no matter how bad it gets. I hope it doesn’t get that bad and we don’t reach that place. If we did, would we be able to recall the message repeated in the Bible. It’s never too late with our God. He’s already ready to give you exactly what you don’t deserve. No matter how many broken
pieces, he loves us. It is a love without condition. It’s a love eternal and unfailing. That’s one
great thing abut God’s love.

His love never fails. As many times as we do, you would think that
would offset or put some condition on his love, but it doesn’t change it. It was when we were
sinning, Christ died for us. Now that we are his children, how shall he not freely give us all
things, Romans 8:32. If that kind of God is for us, who or what could ever be against us. We know
the answer.


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