The Awakening of the Prodigal

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘The Awakening of the Prodigal’

© June 17, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 17, 2018

 

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #49:  A Pilgrim Was I and A-wandering; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer Requests; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Responsive Reading #659: ‘First Things First’ (Matthew 6 and 16)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Awakening of the Prodigal’

Let us pray…

Good morning and a happy Father’s Day to the dads who are in the BLCF Church congregation today, as we also celebrate the Day of our Father in heaven.

BLCF Church Sunday June 19,2011

For the lesson this morning, we will examine The Parable of the Prodigal Son, as recorded in Luke 15:11-22. But before we look at Luke’s Gospel, let us read a warning written to the Church in Sardis, to give us an insight to the story of the Prodigal Son, from Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV):

To the Church in Sardis

 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Biblegateway.com gives the following Commentary on the Message to Sardis, which helps us with what is perhaps the most damaging and urgent warning that was issued to a church in the Book of Revelations.

The Message to Sardis (Biblegateway.com Commentary)

The message to Sardis lists no specific enemies, internal or external. There is no name calling–no liars, no Balaam or Jezebel, no deep secrets of Satan, no synagogue of Satan, no throne of Satan. Consequently, of all the congregations in Asia, we know least about Sardis and its problems. Yet no other message is more damaging or more urgent than this one.

Too often, when we encounter no spiritual adversaries, it is because we are the enemy. The only enemy named at Sardis is the angel to whom the message is addressed.

Sardis was situated almost directly south of Thyatira, in the direction of Smyrna and the sea. Its greatest days were behind it, but this once proud capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia (later the western capital of the Persian Empire) was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry. Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78). A sermon of Melito, a Christian bishop at Sardis, entitled On the Passover (see Hawthorne 1975:147-75), testifies to a spirited, sometimes bitter, debate with this Jewish community in the second century. Yet as far as we are told, the problem of the congregation in John’s time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself.

Clean, white clothing in the book of Revelation is consistently a symbol of religious and moral purity, especially in the face of persecution (see 3:18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13), while soiled or disheveled clothing, or no clothing at all, is a symbol of religious and moral impurity and shame (see 3:17-18; 16:15). It is likely that the problem at Sardis was a strong tendency to compromise Christian faith for the sake of conformity to social and cultural standards set by Asian society and the Roman Empire. This spirit of compromise was linked not to one particular faction in the Christian community (as at Pergamum and Thyatira) but to the majority. The ones who had not soiled their clothes had become marginalized. They were the small faction. This explains the severe tone of the message, but it is impossible to be more specific as to the exact nature of the compromises made at Sardis.

 https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Rev/Message-Sardis

While we contemplate the warning to Sardis, I would like to point out a key part of the Revelation 3 warning, found in Verses 2 to 4, where the members of the church are accused of sleeping or have “closed eyes” towards being faithful in completing their assigned task of living witness and sharing, in word and deed, the Message of the Gospel of Christ Jesus:

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

Sardis is admonished to wake up, complete their tasks, and to not only remember the Message of the Gospel but adhere to their part of the New Covenant and to repent. If the people in the church of Sardis do wake up, they will face severe consequences.

With the Message to Sardis fresh in our minds, let us now read from Luke 15:11-22 (ESV), where a son who is blinded to the love and provisions from his father, and in the process becomes a prodigal, by squandering his inheritance:

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

 11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:15 Greek joined himself to b. Luke 15:21 Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants c. Luke 15:22 Greek bondservants

Definition of prodigal (adjective)

1characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure lavish 

  • prodigalfeast 
  • prodigaloutlays for her clothes

2recklessly spendthrift 

  • the prodigalprince

3yielding abundantly luxuriant often used with of

  • nature has been so prodigalof her bounty
  • —H. T. Buckle

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prodigal

In The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus tells the story of an impatient, ungrateful son who demands to receive from his father his share of an inheritance before the death of his father. The father agrees to give the young son the share of the property to be given to the son and the son’s older brother, in advance of the Father’s death. Usually, a son has to earn an inheritance

Rather than acknowledging the gift, the son journeys from his father to a far-off country and squanders away all of the inheritance. A famine falls upon the land leaving the son destitute and desperate for food and the necessities of life, that he hires himself to feed pigs. Not only were pigs considered to be an unclean food, but feeding pigs would be considered the most undesirable of occupations.

It is while the son, who is starving, contemplates eating the pods that he is feeding to the pigs, wakens to the fact that his father feeds his servants better than what he is providing for himself.

The son then returns to his father to confess his sins against God and his father, asking for forgiveness and offering to work as a servant to his father.

The father feels compassion to his son and demonstrates the joy of his return by having a celebration feast and restoring the son by having him clothed in the best robe, giving him a ring and shoes.

The obvious lesson learned from Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son is that believers who have chosen to leave their Lord and faith practices, not unlike the members of the church in Sardis, are not forgotten or without hope. We see in the Parable which is the third in series that addresses the subject of “finding what has been lost”. The other two Parables deal with a lost sheep and a lost coin, respectively.

Another interpretation of The Prodigal Son is, as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, sin has forced us away from Him, leaving us dying and destitute spiritually. However, we are offered the gift of full forgiveness and restitution of the inheritance lost by Adam and Eve when they abandoned their Father by eating the forbidden fruit in Garden of Eden.

By humbly confessing our sins, we are promised to be reunited with our Father in heaven forever, restored by the sacrifice made by His Son, Jesus for our behalf.

Like The Prodigal Son, we deserve His disdain, but God loves us. His greatest desire is for sinners to awaken to our Lord’s soft and tender calling to return home and to be reunited with our Father in heaven. On that day, there will be a great celebration of unbounded joy, Luke 15:7 (ESV):

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #266: Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Benediction – (Romans 12:2): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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The Prodigal and the Final Judgment

BLCF: Gods_love_for_the_Lost

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Prodigal and the Final Judgment’ 

© February 7, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

 BLCF Bulletin Febuary 7, 2016

God is enough

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #602 (Divine Deliverance – from Psalm 33); Prayer                                                                                                                      

Opening Hymn 320: Simply Trusting Every Day; Choruses                                                      

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                     

 Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 33:18-22, Luke 15:11-32, Matthew 19:16-22,  Matthew 25:31-46

BLCF: 1Peter5_10

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for this, the last Sunday of January. Our lesson today, entitled: The Prodigal and the Final Judgment’, examines what will happen to prodigals at God’s Final Judgment.

You may ask, “What is a prodigal?”

According to our Wikibits in the Wikipedia, prodigal” means “wastefully extravagant”.

BLCF: prodigal_definition

With that definition in mind, we may rephrase our question, as what will happen to wastefully extravagant people at the time of God’s Final Judgement.

We begin the lesson with our first Scripture passage, taken from Psalm 33:18-22 (ESV):

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

BLCF: Praise-and-Prayer_Psalm_33

 

We see in verses 18 and 19 of Psalm 33 that the Lord has His eyes set upon the faithful who trust in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

This leads us to the next Scripture, where we see what happens to someone who could be viewed as trusting in wealth and his own devices, when he suffers through a famine, and separated from his Father, Luke 15:11-32 (ESV):

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

BLCF: thr-prodigal-son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:15 Greek joined himself to b. Luke 15:21 Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants c. Luke 15:22 Greek bondservants

Let us look at some of the Wikibits commentary about the above Scripture passage:

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

BLCF: Prodigal-Son-Pompeo_Batoni

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (also known as the Lost Son, Running Father, Loving Father, or Lovesick Father) is one of the parables of Jesus. It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus shares it with his disciples, the Pharisees and others.

According to the story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance before the father dies, and the father agrees. The younger son, after wasting his fortune (the word “prodigal” means “wastefully extravagant”), goes hungry during a famine, and becomes so destitute he longs to eat the same food given to hogs, unclean animals in Jewish culture.

He then returns home with the intention of repenting and begging his father to be made one of his hired servants, expecting his relationship with his father is likely severed. Regardless, the father finds him on the road and immediately welcomes him back as his son and holds a feast to celebrate his return, which includes killing a fattened calf usually reserved for special occasions.

 The older son refuses to participate, stating that in all the time he has worked for the father, he never disobeyed him; yet, he did not even receive a goat to celebrate with his friends. The father reminds the older son that the son has always been with him and everything the father has belongs to the older son (his inheritance). But, they should still celebrate the return of the younger son because he was lost and is now found.

 

Context and Interpretation

BLCF: Parables_of_the-Lost-and-Found

 

This is the last of three parables about loss and redemption, following the parable of the Lost Sheep and the parable of the Lost Coin, that Jesus tells after the Pharisees and religious leaders accuse him of welcoming and eating with “sinners.”[2] The father’s joy described in the parable reflects divine love,[2] the “boundless mercy of God,”[3] and “God’s refusal to limit the measure of his grace.”[2]

 

The request of the younger son for his share of the inheritance is “brash, even insolent”[4] and “tantamount to wishing that the father was dead.”[4] His actions do not lead to success, and he eventually becomes an indentured servant, with the degrading job of looking after pigs, and even envying them for the carob pods they eat.[4]

 

The mention of the son’s longing to eat with the swine in Luke 15:16 could refer to how the Pharisees viewed the sinners (and Christ, for eating with them) in Luke 15:2. The Pharisees, caught up in their ideas of ritual cleanliness, might have thought of these people as filthy pigs.[5]

 

On the son’s return, the father treats him with a generosity far more than he has a right to expect.[4] Some have suggested that this mirrors what Christians should do after sinning: feel contrition and return to the heavenly Father, Who will graciously welcome them back.[5]

The older son, in contrast, seems to think in terms of “law, merit, and reward,”[4] rather than “love and graciousness.”[4] He may represent the Pharisees who were criticizing Jesus.[4]

The father, who represents God, implies to the older son that his love for both sons is not dependent upon their performance, but their proximity, or closeness, with the father.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Prodigal_Son

In the above parable, the younger of a man’s two sons asks his father, contrary to tradition, to be given his inheritance before his father dies.

We see that the younger son leaves his father after receiving hid requested inheritance, and proceeds to squander it all away.

The son decides go to back to his father, to confess his sins against heaven and his father, saying in Verse 19:

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’

The father demonstrates his joy for having his son back, by having a celebration in honor of the repenting son’s return. This parable is related to the two previous parables in Luke 15, which deal with something that is lost and later found. All three parables echo the grace God provides to those sinners who repent to their Father and the joy that their repentance engenders, as Jesus said after sharing The Parable of the Lost Sheep:

Luke 15:7 (ESV)

BLCF: joy_in_heaven

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The statement of heavenly joy over a sinner’s repentance is reiterated by Jesus, after he tells The Parable of the Lost Coin:

Luke 15:10 (ESV)

BLCF:luke15-7

10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The prodigal son, having squandered his inheritance, is relegated to feeding pigs and faces starvation, a situation of his own making. His decision to ask for his inheritances from his father before his father’s death dishonors his father and breaks the commandment to honor his father. By leaving his father after he received the inheritance, the son indicates that he values the material wealth more than the company of his father.

If the son had not frittered away all his fortune, he would likely have the means to avoid death by starvation. The son’s coming to terms with this, and his subsequent decision to return to his father and surrender to his father’s mercy by confessing his sins, brings an unexpected reaction of joy and compassion. The son is considered by his father to have been “reborn” and is warmly received.

Ironically, the older son cannot understand why his prodigal brother is the focus of their father’s joy and celebration, while he had never rebelled against his father. This sibling jealousy reminds us of a similar reaction of Cain to Able. The grace is granted to all by way of Jesus’ sacrifice. We, who are doomed to die in sin, are reborn and resurrected from a death in sin, renewed in forgiveness, and blessed in the Spirit.

Like the prodigal, who wasted an inheritance from his father, there are those who squander God’s gift, who will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment, if they refuse to understand that value of Spiritual riches over worldly wealth, as we see in Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

BLCF: 1John3_17-18

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The eternal life offered by God, through Christ Jesus still eludes even those who somehow manage to obey all of God’s Ten Commandments, but to their own personal glory instead of giving the glory to God, as we see in today’s final Scripture passage, from Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV):

The Rich Young Man

BLCF: follow_me

 

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Just as the young prodigal, and to some degree his older brother, had wrongly placed an importance upon worldly treasures, the young man in Mathew 19 refused to exchange his great worldly wealth to help the poor and marginalized in order to receive a greater treasures in heaven. This self-centered attitude is the same exhibited by goats as described in The Final Judgment, where their final judgment will be to “go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Let us pray…

Communion: Responsive Reading #663 (from 1 Corinthians 11)

BLCF: communion-when-your-children-ask-you-

Closing Hymn #276: In the Stars His Handiwork I See

Benediction – (Romans 12:2)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

BLCF: heavens declare the Glory of GOD