This past Sunday we looked at the prodigal son and his difficult decision to return home to his father’s house where he was loved and welcomed.
______________________________

I will never forget the first time I met a top gun fighter pilot, Lt. Colonel Wallace Holden. He was a highly decorated soldier who had served three tours in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. He was part of an elite group of Texans who had achieved the distinction of serving in all three. And here I was a hippie with long hair and sandals going to meet my future father-in-law. Talk about not feeling worthy!
_____________________________

Meeting the Father for the first time can be a frightening experience!

The first thing you need to do is commit. There is no turning back, because everything you’ve ever wanted becomes a reality once you’ve met the Father.
_____________________________

Some of you need an introduction to the Heavenly Father. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Are you at that point today…
– making a choice to commit to meeting the Father for the first time
– or maybe, you have been “a long way from home” for a long time and you want to see if there is still a place for you in the Father’s house

Read the story of the Prodigal son:  Luke 15:11-32

Forgiven! My son was lost and now he is found!
_____________________________

We can look for all the wrong things or we can look for all of the right things in the wrong places.

There are some profound needs that every heart yearns for:

1.  Everyone wants peace – when we have peace there is a lack of conflict, there is a peace that surpasses a knowing that everything will be all right.

2. Everyone wants safety – a place where we don’t have to hide who we are, a place where people know us and accept us, a place where we are safe and among friends.

3. Everyone wants relationships – no one wants to live life alone; we all want relationships that are accepting and we want to be known.

When a person has these desires it points them towards God.
– It’s like a beacon that constantly searches for home.
– A desire that looks for this intangible peace that we see in others but can’t seem to find for ourselves.
– A relationship with God that is not based on impossible rules but instead based in the security of knowing that I am loved by a power that can change me, know me, and accept me.

What we call, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” should be called , “The Parable of the Loving Father.” Because the son represents all of us – different stories, personalities and circumstances, but the Father remains the same.
_____________________________

What keeps us from Him? Fear!
–  We are afraid of what will happen.
–  We are afraid of what He will do.
–  We are afraid of what we will lose.

But what will happen is…
He will embrace you and the only thing you will lose is your guilt, shame, and sense of not belonging.

Here is what God says He will do with our sin:

– God forgives all our sins. Ephesians 1:7:8
– God releases us from our sins by the blood of Jesus. Isaiah 1:18
– God makes us whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7
– He casts our sin into the sea. Micah 7:19
– He remembers no more. Hebrews 10:17; Jeremiah 31:34
– He removes our sins immeasurably. Psalm 103:12
____________________________

At the close of the Civil War, President Lincoln was asked, “How will you treat the southerners? How will you make them pay for the rebellion?”

He replied, “I will treat them as if they had never been away.”
____________________________

The Father loves you no matter what condition you are in. His love is unconditional. He has what you have always wanted.

The son thought he wanted – deserved the possessions.

But the Father gave him…
– a covering for his rags, a robe of righteousness
– a ring for his finger, invoking security and power
– shoes for his feet, separating him from slave to son

The Father is waiting for you to come home today with open arms and an open heart.

Advertisements