God knows where we are, too, but He wants us to know where we are. Where are we spiritually? Where are we morally? That is what God is interested in.
In Luke 15 we read the story of a lost son and his loving father. The son was likely reared in a wonderful home where God was worshiped and children were loved and were reared right. The prodigal son belonged to a family.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The strength of a nation lies in the people–in the homes of the people.” He said, “Our strength is the home.”
But the home today is disintegrating. There is deep concern for what our children are being taught or not being taught, whether at home or at school. Our young people are no longer being taught what is right and wrong. And they are floundering. They don’t know which way to turn.
I don’t believe that young people today can live clean, pure lives without the help of God. The peer pressure is too great, and the temptations of what they see in the movies and on television and on the newsstands is too much. Only Christ can protect them. Only Christ can give them the power to say no. That is why we need a moral and spiritual awakening. If we don’t have it, we may destroy ourselves.
The young man we read about in Scripture left home, and when he arrived in another country, he wasted his inheritance on foolish living. The Bible says that there is pleasure in sin (Hebrews 11:25). You can go out and drink and take drugs and have sex and all the rest of it–and have a lot of pleasure at it–but the Bible says it is only for a season. Then it is over. It leaves you bitter and finally destroys you. A day of reckoning always comes. The Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). You are going to suffer if you continue on the road you are on. “Sin, when it is full-grown,” the Bible says, “brings forth death” (James 1:15).
This young man wasn’t satisfied; he was unfulfilled. He began to search for something else, but it was too late.
The Bible says that he began to be in want. His friends left him. He had no home, no money. He was in trouble. It is impossible for us who were created for eternity ever to find anything in this world to satisfy our souls. The Bible says that if the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want (Psalm 23:1). But if He is not our Shepherd, we are in trouble. We will be in want. Sometime, somewhere, someday we will pay the price and be in want.
This young man’s body began to be in want, his mind was in want, and his spirit was in want. Why? Because of the slavery of sin. He was a slave: “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).
There are many of us who think we are free, but we are slaves. The devil says, “Do this,” and we do it. Sin says, “Do this,” and we do it. We are slaves to that habit that we have, to that lust that we have. We are slaves. We can’t break the habit. We are bound by chains.
What did this young man do? He tried to get a job. Finally he went to some fellow and said, “Give me a job, just anything. I’m hungry.”
The man said, “Well, I have only one opening. You can feed the pigs; you can live in the pigpen with them.”
So he lived in the pigpen, and he began to eat with the pigs. That is how low he had sunk. He had been a wealthy young man, but he had wasted it all. Now he had to pay the price.
The Bible says, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Suppose you had the whole world, but you lost your soul. Your soul, or your spirit, is that part of you that lives inside your body–in which you can know God. You are searching, questing, hungering, thirsting for something. You don’t know what it is. You want God! Without God you will go on until you reach the point of judgment and destruction.
What are you trying to use to fill your emptiness? Money, fame, sex, intellectual attainment? This young man had walked out from the discipline of his father, and now he was in slavery to a stranger. You cannot be neutral. Christ won’t let you be neutral. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve this world and God. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). You cannot serve self and God. You have to choose.
This young man came to himself. He said, “I will arise, and I will go. Even the servants that my father has are better off than I am. I’m going back home to my father. I’m not worthy to be his son any longer. I will ask if I can just be his servant” (Cf. Luke 15:17-19). So he got up out of the pigpen and started down the road toward home.
Let’s see what has been happening to the father. All this time the father has probably been praying, weeping. Every evening he looked down the road to see if his son might be coming back, because he hoped his son would return. Day after day passed, week after week, month after month. Perhaps three or four years passed. He was always longing, always loving. This story could be called the parable of the loving father. This young man was returning, and there was his father waiting for him. That is a picture of the heavenly Father waiting for you, loving you, wanting you to come and return to Him.
One evening the father saw a figure coming over the hill. All of a sudden he recognized his son. He ran to meet him. The son said, “Father, I’m not worthy to be called your son. I want to be a servant” (Cf. Luke 15:21).
The father put his arms around him, and the tears streamed down his cheeks. He said, “My son who was lost is home and safe” (Cf. Luke 15:20, 24).
The Bible says there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). That is the teaching of this whole chapter: When you repent of sin and turn to God, even heaven rejoices. All the angels rejoice over just one person. And you may be that one person right now who could cause heaven to rejoice.
The father said to his servants, “Put a robe on him. Put a ring on his hand” (Cf. Luke 15:22). They began to rejoice, and the father said, “Kill the fatted calf. Let’s give a banquet in honor of my son’s return. Invite all the friends and neighbors in” (Cf. Luke 15:22-23). And they had a great feast and a great banquet to honor the coming of his son.
When you come to Christ, you become a child of God, a joint heir of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what God offers you. He gives you peace and joy and a sense of forgiveness that you never knew before. You can have it now.
When the thief on the cross was dying beside Jesus, he couldn’t join a church. He couldn’t be baptized. He just turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42-43). That is all he said; just, “Remember me.”
And Jesus said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Do you know Christ? Have you received Him? God is waiting for you to come home. Christ died for you. He rose again. He is alive. He is waiting for you, and His arms are outstretched for you. He will listen to you, and He will be closer than any friend you have ever known.
Repentance means that you say, “Lord, I have sinned. I have wandered away from home. And I receive You by faith into my heart. I want You to live in my heart from now on, and I want to live for You. I want to be one of Your followers. I want to start today.”