Jacob wrestled with God and we often wrestle and struggle with God also! We have doubts, fears, temptations, and sins, which separate us from God. But God is always looking for our return as in the Parable of the Lost Prodigal Son.
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Drifted Away From God
Unfortunately there is also a category of people who at one time went to church; but now do not go to church to worship. Many people have drifted away from going to church; have turned away from God. Some people have drifted away slowly… we become luke-warm Christians, loose our enthusiasm, and our faith.
We start to miss going to church and slowly and we drift off of the path. Finally we stop going to church at all! Some peoples’ faith has been choked out from the “weeds” of worldly problems, bills, too little time, career, health problems, etc.
Some people have been discouraged from going to church from Christians whom act badly; some Christians act very judgmental, self righteous, and unforgiving. When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett.
Some people have turned away from church because of betrayed trust. All denominations have had predators of children; this is an extremely painful example of betrayal of a sacred trust. It hurts the most to be betrayed by people whom you trust and love. But even Jesus was betrayed with a “kiss” by Judas. Some people have been turned off by insincere, pretentious, “ceremony” in church. Worship must be authentic and honest!
Some people have abruptly left church because of some tragedy that has occurred in their life. Something that they didn’t deserve, something unfair, something they cannot forgive God for allowing to happen. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.
Some people are arrogant; they feel that because of the work of their hands they have achieved for themselves financial success, fame, glory, career heights, they feel that they do not need God.
What would it take for a person to go to church;
and later what would make them not go to church?
And what would it take to bring them back to church?
Returning to God
The Prodigal Son
‘My son,’ the father said,
‘you are always with me,
and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours
was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
The Parable of the Lost Son
Luke 15:11-32 NIV
11Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13”Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17”When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21”The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’
22”But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25”Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27’Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28”The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
Lissette Reeve Commentary: The prodigal didn't break the law
he broke his father's heart,
that's why he got fixed by love not law!
· ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’
This is bluntly saying, “I don’t love you, give me my money, and drop dead I don’t care if I ever see you again!”
· So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed his pigs.
Remember by Jewish Law he could not eat pork! He had a job feeding an animal that he could not eat and the pig was treated and fed better than he was.
· – He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
God gives to those who hunger and thrist.
· But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.
God is always watching for your return no matter how far you wander.
· he ran to his son,
Children ran, slaves ran, but in the Middle East at this time it would have been humiliating, beneath the dignity of a wealthy landowner to run to his son or subordinate. God will stop at nothing to come to you!
· ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. YOU are an Adopted Child of God and God Loves YOU! No matter what you have done; the Father welcomes you back.
· But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
Parable of the Lost Son may have well been an inspiration John Newton’s Amazing Grace.
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven
over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:1-7
· The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
The older brother was acting very self-righteous, indignant, and judgmental. The older brother was unhappy that the father was giving forgiveness that wasn’t earned or deserved especially without his brother suffering for it.
How often are well-meaning Christians standing in the way of people seeking God?
Are YOU standing in the way of people seeking God?
Are YOU an obstruction to others seeking God?
‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.
The brother is now being self-righteous!
The older brother now is now exaggerating his righteousness!
30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“But when this son of yours”
The older brother does not even claim his younger brother.
How often do we deny that all people are our brothers and sisters? How often do we deny that we are our brother’s keeper?
“squandered your property with prostitutes”
The older brother is now exaggerating the sins of his younger brother! There was no mention of “prostitutes!” The older brother has embellished the story! Whenever we exaggerate the sins of others (consciously or subconsciously) we are exaggerating our own righteousness. The more we try to lower someone else – the higher we are try to raise ourselves up on a pedestal so we can look down upon others. This is an easy trap to get caught into!
The Father answers: ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’
If you have been a faithful servant to God; you have already received God’s blessing.
‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
We are the
“Workers” which God is seeking.
We are the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep
that God is so patiently looking for.
We are the ones ‘cast adrift on the sea,’
we are the ones caught in the middle if the Storm.
We are the “Lost” that God is looking for!
YouTube “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood
There were some pigs under the shade of an apple tree, eating some of the apples that had fallen to the ground. These pigs never looked up to see where the apples had come from.
We need to never act like pigs! We need to always look up and give thanks to our Lord. For it is from our Lord that all of our gifts are given to us.
Ten Healed of Leprosy
Luke 17:11-19 NIV
11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The lepers were completely ostracized from Jewish society.
They were made unclean by their disease, they were outcast,
and they were at the absolute bottom of society!
In everything give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Everything I have achieved... God has given me.
They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice,
“Jesus, Master have pity on us.”
· Lepers had to “call out” that they were “unclean.” Lepers could not enter the city, lepers could not approach healthy people.
· You can always call out to Jesus (prayer) and Jesus is never at a distance too far away to be called upon. Jesus is always accessible.
When he saw them he said, “Go show yourselves to the priest.”
· The only way that these men could rejoin society was for the Pharisees, the priest to inspect them and to deem them clean. Only after the priest deemed them clean could they rejoin society and worship in the Temple.
And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked him –
· Only one out of ten of the leapers returned to give thanks to Jesus and praised God!
· The fact that the Samaritan returned to thank Jesus may indicate that he had received salvation in addition to the physical healing all ten had received. NIV Note 17:19
and he was a Samaritan.
NOW – These days when we speak of a “Samaritan” or a “Good Samaritan” we are thinking of the Samaritan from The Parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37 a stranger who does a good deed, something helpful to another stranger, sacrificing for another with no thought or intention of payment or reimbursement.
THEN – A Samaritan was a despised enemy and hated foreigner to the Jewish people.
Then he said to him, Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
· This may also be said, “your faith has saved you.”
· We would like to think of ourselves as the one healed leper, who returned to thank Jesus, but too often we are like the nine lepers who did not return to give thanks to God.
· Often we do not count our blessings.
· Often we are not truly thankful for the blessings we have received.
· Often after our prayers are answered, we forget to give thanks;
we move on to the next problem!
· Often we forget how blessed we really are.
· Often we are not grateful for what we have.
· Often we do not realize that things could be a lot worse.