Promised Land Pentecostal Church

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The Homecoming

    "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! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 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. 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. 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: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." - Luke 15:17-24

    The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24) was our point of interest last week in which revealed profound spiritual truths. This week, we return to meet the younger son in the hog pin after he spent all his allotted portion on reviling. As a point of interest, the younger son’s share was not wages earned by labor, but an inheritance gained and saved by his father. It was by the father’s sweat and sacrifice that the provision of the inheritance was guaranteed. Similar to our heavenly Father who became our salvation (Is. 12:1) taking on bodily form as the Son (Is. 9:6; John 1:1-3, 14; 1Tim. 3:16) to give himself over as the eternal sacrifice to pay the wages of sin (Rom. 5:8). It is by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; we now have access to the inheritance stored by the Father, which is the Holy Ghost that was poured out on the day of Pentecost and now indwelling believers.

    Beneath the surface of the younger son’s request, we are made aware of the spiritual matters of the soul. His behavior mirrors the actions many that use the blessings and benefits of salvation to finance their sin. Homes used as a den for drunkenness, earnings used on gambling, the breath of life used to fulfill the lusts of the flesh that destroy the temple, favor used to manipulate others, and gifts, skills, and talents used to benefit oneself and not others.  When the things of God are exploited and prostituted for the sake of one’s lusts and desires, it is as demanding Jesus pay the price for sins again.

    Once the portion consumed, famine struck the land preventing the younger son from receiving the dividends of his sin. Sin, temporary, will produce a portion to ensure the individual maintains his or her depraved habits. It is similar to stocks that give disbursements with the intent that the inventors reinvest into that stock. Sin is addicting. For the time being, it is consequence-free with its pleasures in surplus. Its futures speak of a bull market with no bear in sight, but that is the snare. The deception of sin is to have a person invest so much into the sin market that you can’t cash out and escape its grasp. Thus, to save a soul, God causes the markets to crash to stop the cycle. Famine hit the land, and now the younger son was in want.

    His want drove him into the hog pin; this was not the place that he saw himself initially. The final destination of sin is the grave, but before that point, a complete spiritual and moral deterioration occurs that sears the conscience. For some, it is also physical were the body begins to break down; the mind is confused, and the immune system is compromised. However, in a moment of grace, the son "came to himself." Sin had made him into something other than himself. The hog pin mirrored his present condition, but the father's house reflected who he was and is supposed to be. In that moment of temporary sanity, he said, "I will arise and go to my father…" He made a determined choice that set the course for restoration. Once intent was pronounced, action followed. Sadly, so many good intentions are left in the hog pin having the potential of greatness, but because immediate action does not follow, they're left in the mud.

    The Word of God is a call to action.  Whether it is to the plea of salvation, reconciliation, or holiness, it requires action. Jesus said, "Believe and be baptized." Peter said, "Repent and be baptized." Acts of faith by obedience must follow the verbal confession of our intent to ensure the moment of clarity is not lost. The younger son confessed his plan and expressed it by leaving the hog pin behind. Regardless of being covered in the muck as the odor of swine permeated from him, he continued to press forward through the shame and guilt back to his father's house. All along the way, he did what most people do in preparation for a confrontation or apology; he "war-gamed."

    Wargaming is a military expression by which teams prepare for their initial action and reactions to the "what ifs" of combat. It seems natural that in preparation for an awaited conversation with another, we debate the invisible person in the car, shower, or living room in an attempt to thwart any advance they may have against our reasoning. The cycle can last for hours until the time arrives for the conversation occurs.  The prodigal son on his way home reasoning to himself and was prepared to tell his father that he would be a servant in his house. It must have been his thought that servitude would be the persuading point that his father would allow him to come back home; his thinking must have gone something as, "Surely, my father will accept me back if I am a servant."

    The younger son’s reasoning “gamed” himself out of relationship and his destiny. He was not born to be a servant, but to be a son. A servant works for a reward, benefit, wage, or blessing. In his case, his servanthood was for essential provision. On the other hand, a son works for intimacy with his father. Young boys find their way into the garage or yard to “work” with dad. They may get in the way and may even make the job more time consuming and labor some as dad must do-over the task. Yet, young sons are oblivious to the work; their focus is time with dad that will foster a positive, loving relationship in the future.

    So often believers quote the text, "Well done, my good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:21). Driven to hear this phrase at the end of our days, we work to please our Father. Yet, we miss the mark. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river, and the heavens opened up, and the Father spoke, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). Jesus had yet to begin his ministry, perform any miracles, preach, or even teach. Nevertheless, he already pleased his Father.

    Once a person is born-again, the intimate relationship with the Father has begun. Like a father who holds his newborn for the first time and is overwhelmed with joy, our heavenly Father is already pleased with his sons (daughters) before any victories or failures, tasks completed or left undone. The relationship with the Father is not built by "time-served" but fostered with "time-communing." It is that relationship that leads one to complete the work for a reward such as heaven but to make dad proud.