Sermon delivered February 21, 1998

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

Mc Donald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

Bible quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

Tune Up Your Family

A Disobedient Disloyal son Demanded his Dad's Dough. His Dear Dad Did Divide the Desired Dollars. He Departed, Disappearing Down the Dusty Drive toward Darkness and Destitution. The Dollars Daily Dwindled, Deepening his Depression and Discouragement. He Dwelled on a Dunghill Digesting Discarded Dirty Debris.

Dying and Doomed, he Desired his Distinguished Dad. Disgraced and Disheveled, he Disembarked for his Distant Dad's Domicile. He Determined his Daddy's Domestic Drudgery was better than Death. So he returned to his Dad. But when he arrived his parents were off to a party. The house was locked. He slept in the barn. The next day he tried to get back into good graces with his dad but they had a big fight. His dad claimed that the story of his son's evil lifestyle had disgraced the family name and he was not welcome. So the boy went out and committed suicide and his rich family lived happily ever after. * (See another description at the end of this sermon.)

Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son does not end that way. Good fathers are not like that. Let's examine this parable and focus on the Faithful Father.

In fact let's take this a step beyond that. Let's look at the Qualities found in every good father as brought out here in this marvelous story as told by Jesus.

1. FREEDOM The younger son wanted to leave home. He also demanded his share of the inheritance. This must have caused the father much pain. Perhaps after days of agonizing thought the Father came to a decision. Amazingly the Father allows his son the freedom of choice. The son is grown now and probably old enough to be on his own.

After you have done the proper training and once your children have come of age, you must allow them liberty in their own personal choices of life- style, occupation, spouse, and other details.

2. PRAYER The son left for parts unknown. But he does not leave the fathers heart. Every day this sad parent thinks of his son. Every day he must uplift him in prayer to his God.

If your children have left you and joined themselves to the world.... If they no longer attend church and you suspect the worst about them.....

3. BELIEVE in your children. The faithful father Expected that his boy would return some day. He was out there looking for him every day. If your children are wayward don't give up on them. Trust in God. The Bible says: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Anticipate the day when the turn-around will come. Prepare yourself for it. Make sure you are sweet and loving and your heart is truly open.

Believe in your children.

4. ACCEPT your children as they are. When the tattered, smelly, dirty, discouraged son came into view the father saw him as he was and went after him. The faithful father had been looking for him every day.

When the kids are young, they arrive with build in tendencies and moods. Eventually their personalities come out. Try to accept who they are becoming. Keep them from evil as the faithful father did until they come to the age of full accountability. And then continue to accept them regardless of their choices. When the faithful father saw what his son had become he still received him.

God receives us as we are. The gospel song, "Just as I am" is true. This parable is of the ever present possibility of a new beginning. No one today is worse than the prodigal son. He went clear to the bottom, landing in the mud of the pig pin. He is hopeless, penniless, friendless, bankrupt, and stained to the core with sin. If you feel your life has gone wrong and you are a failure, and that you are too far from God to ever return, just realize that God will accept you as you are. There is still hope. If the sinful prodigal out there on the most hopeless road can find happiness and acceptance again, so can you.

You must get up from the pigs. You must face your condition honestly and "come to yourself" and begin the long trip back home. God is waiting for you and will accept you just as you are.

5. LOVE your children. Luke 15:20 - So 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."

In the far east a father would wait until his son came to him and made a statement of respect. But our God is exceptional! God is filled with love. So is a good father. Do you hug your children? They need it even more when they are teenagers. Touch your teenagers. Hug them.

Kiss your children. Even when they are returning from a life of sin, demonstrate your affection for your children. There stood the prodigal son with the dirt of the road mixed with the stench of the hog lot. He was wearing what remained of his high life party clothes. On these ragged garments were wine stains, the smell of drugs and the filth of a life of deep sin.

In that condition, the father kissed his son. When the father kissed his wayward son it was a sign of complete reconciliation. Can you see that God will embrace those who turn to Him? That includes you. You may have just come from the bottom of the barrel out in the swine yard, but if you come to the Father, He will embrace you.

6. FORGIVE your children. The father directed his son to remove all the old rags and directed that the best robe be placed on him.

Zechariah 3:3,4 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."

In removing his old garments the father completely forgave his son of any and all sin. The old life is forgotten. The apostle Paul used a metaphor of putting off the old man and putting on the new. The sins of Yesterday are forever eliminated.

The son had to be willing for the symbols of his old life to be removed and he had to desire a new life. If you are willing, God will provide you with victory over your past sinful life.

7. NEW LIFE. A good parent will give their child a new start, a new beginning. Another chance.

Luke 15:21, 22 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him."

The ROBE represents the pure holy righteousness of Jesus Christ our Saviour. The robe is the unblemished character of Jesus. Notice that the father does not charge the son for this fine pure garment. It is entirely free. The son is penniless and could never pay the price anyway.

So there the son stands, clothed with a character that makes him FIT to sit at his fathers silver banquet table.

Also given with the robe and wrapped up in it is a new desire for right living. Like superman donning his cape, the robe changes his entire being. All things are new. The son is a changed man. The old man is gone, and he now has a new nature. The desires are changed. He is given a hatred for sin and a love for right things.

8. RING, RESTORATION to the Family! A good parent does not just forgive, he restores position. Luke 15:22b - Put a ring on his finger....

This is like the time when Joseph was promoted to vice president over Egypt, the signet-ring was placed on his finger giving Joseph authority.

The ring of the returned son gave him access to the family money again. Like putting his name on the signature card of the checking account. This meant he was restored with full rights to the family. No one is partially saved. When we get to heaven we will all be in the first class section.

9. SHOES POWER TO STAND. Luke 15:22b - "Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet." The squandering bankrupt son undoubtedly returned bare-footed. He intended to work as a slave and slaves went barefoot. But he was restored to full sonship.

Notice that shoes were waiting of the exact size he wore. Notice that the robe was tailor made to fit him. The ring fit his finger! How obvious that the loving father fully expected him to return and pre-planned his reinstatement into complete son hood. The father believed that the backslider would come back. Good fathers expect the best from their children. Everything is prepared for our heavenly homecoming. All heaven is waiting.

Sturdy, well fitting polished shoes were placed on those tired but freshly bathed feet. What can we learn from this? The road of life is rough. Along its path there are roots and thorns and rocks jutting out and sharp flint to cut the feet. Eventually each step becomes painful. Bare feet are bruised and cut by elements which the shod foot tramples upon without thought.

The heavy boot empowers the wearer to withstand the trials of life. Ephesians 6:13 God will make him "ABLE to withstand in that evil day, and having done all to STAND." Here is power to live the Christian life as the Christian travels the rough road of his existence. Psalm 40:2 "he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." God will enable you to stand. The shoes represent Gods power and protection from evil. God provides shoes for his children that will never wear out.

10 GROWTH. A good father will provide sustenance for growth. Luke 15:23, 24 "Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." So they began to celebrate.

The prodigal son was starved. Be aware that what drove the delinquent son back home was his stomach. It was not a feeling of shame for godless living or sinfulness but plain ordinary hunger.

His father provides for his needs. What he needed most was not provided first. Initially he needed forgiveness and cleansing and the love of his father. After that every hunger was satisfied. The calf was fat and waiting in the stall for his return. The free bread of life was his forever.

Are you starving out there in the world? Are the crackers of this world unsatisfying? Whether you are seeking nourishment in the garbage of the pig pen or you seek it in the loftier pursuits of the intellect and science, you are doomed to be unfilled. Millions roam the asphalt jungle with hungry hearts. Isaiah 55:2 "Why do you spend your money for that which satisfies not?"

Get fat on God's word. Read it every day. Savor every verse. Relish every sermon at church. Taste the choice morsels in each Sabbath School class. Obtain nourishment for your starving soul.

Come home. A spiritual banquet awaits you. Your loving Father will accept you as you are. All good fathers are like that. They long to provide that which will cause true growth and satisfy the hungering broken heart.

This classic short story by Jesus is primarily about the compassionate character of our heavenly Father. Like honorable fathers today, God approaches sinners who turn to Him with open arms. God's primary job description is to seek and save that which was lost- Luke 19:10

Opening Hymn: 103   O God Our Help
Scripture Reading: Psalm 128:1-4
Closing Hymn: 316 Live Out Thy Life Within Me 

                       THE FAITHFUL FATHER

Feeling Footloose and Frisky, a Feather Footed Fellow Forced his Fond Father
to Fork over the Farthings.  He Flew Far to Foreign Fields and Frittered his
Fortune with Faithless Friends.

Fleeced by his Fellows and Facing Famine he Found himself in a Filthy Farm
Field.  He Filled his Famishing Frame with Fodder Fragments.

My Fathers Flunkies Fare Far Finer, the Fugitive Forlornly Fumbled, as he
Frankly Faced the Facts.  He Flew Forthwith to his Family and Falling at his
Fathers Feet, said: Father, I've Fruitlessly Forfeited Family Fellowship
Forever........

But the Fugitive's Fault-Finding brother Frowned.  So the Faithful Father
Figured that Filial Fidelity is Fine, but the Fugitive is Found!

What Forbids Fervent Festivity?  Fetch the Fat calf For a Feast.  The
Faithful Fathers Forgiveness Formed the Foundation For the Former Fugitives
Future Faith.

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