This past Sunday we welcomed to the pulpit Pastor Allen Randolph who spoke on the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. He began by teaching us that there is no place like home and our home is found in Christ Jesus.
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We all find where we fit – our job, family, friends, neighborhood. But, there’s no place like home. Home is always a good place to be.

“Home is the place where when you go there they have to let you in!” – Robert Frost

The Gospel summed it up this way:
“Jesus left His place, to come to your place to take your place, to take you home to His place.”

Opening Scripture

John 14:1-3  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Heaven is a home where everyone is welcome, but not everyone will go there.
– Some by their choice, will not go there.
– Some by their procrastination or indecision will not go there.
– Some won’t go because no one loved them enough to tell them how they could go there.

Acts 16:31  Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.
It really is quite simple.
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Jesus had an unusual encounter with Zacheus in Luke 19. Zacheus was Jewish, a hated tax collector for Rome, and he was rich. Jesus invited Himself to Zacheus’ house. The religious people were astounded and disapproving that He was a guest of a man that was a sinner. While Jesus was there, Zacheus has a transforming conversion, giving half his wealth to the poor and restoring four fold to the people he defrauded.

Luke 19:10   For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus specializes in what others think are lost causes.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11   …Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
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Luke 15:1-3  Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying,

Jesus was the great story teller. To make truth understandable and personally applicable to all who were listening, he told parables or stories that were taken from familiar, everyday events and circumstances.

Here were three stories on the same theme – Lost & Found.

vs. 4-7 – 100 sheep, one lost
vs. 8-10 – 10 coins, one lost
vs. 11-24 – Father and 2 lost sons

Each story differs slightly but ends similarly, what was lost was found, restored. This is not really about sheep or coins or a wasted inheritance, it’s about recovery, restoration, and rejoicing. In all three cases, much effort was put into finding that which was lost.

Verse 11 begins the parable of the Prodigal son. Both sons distanced themselves from the Father. The Prodigal geographically separated from his father and the elder son relationally separated from his father.

Tragically many in church are allowing a growing distance between themselves and God.

If you are not closer to God than you’ve ever been, then you are not as close as you need to be!

Mark 8:36-37  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Proverbs 4:23 NLT  Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV   For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

At the center of all you are, say, and do, is your heart! You will not change your habits until you ask God to change your heart.

The Prodigal’s story is simple:
1. He departs from home – (vs. 12-13) The Prodigal “left home” long before he approached his father for his inheritance.

2. His disappointment – (vs. 14-16) Sin is never what you expect.

3. His realization – (vs. 17) He began to be in want and no one gave him anything. He realized his father had given him everything and he’d forgotten his love and generosity.

4. His return home and confession (vs. 18-20a) He had to face his past and embrace his future.

5. His reception and restoration – (vs. 20-24) When he was a great way off, his father saw him, felt compassion, and ran to him and embraced him. He began his rehearsed confession and his father interrupted.

This story is more about the father than the two sons. Jesus was talking about His Father and ours! Wherever you’ve wandered, whatever you’ve done, however long you’ve lost your way – Your father is watching and waiting for you to come home.
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Imagine how different the story could have been:
– If the brother had urged him not to go?
– If the older brother had seen his father’s pain and had gone to find and return his brother?
– If someone during his time in a far country had befriended that young son and encouraged him to return home?

There is some nearby you not knowing what to do with their pain – a co-worker, neighbor, friend, family. They are apart from God, away from home.

Lost people don’t always know they are lost. They need kindness, encouragement, reassurance, friendship. This may be all they need to turn their heart toward home.

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