From Slaves to Sons

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In this message, we learn what it means to go from spiritual slavery to spiritual sonship.

Hey friends, good morning. If you’re got your Bibles, turn with me to Luke Chapter 15 and Galatians Chapter 4. We’re in our series called ‘Finding Our Way Home’. And for the past few weeks we’ve been taking a look at one story in Luke Chapter 15, the story we tend to call ‘The Prodigal Son’. And as we’ve unpacked it and talked about it, we’ve said that’s probably the wrong name for the story, that a better name would be ‘The Prodigal Father’. And we said the prodigal, it means recklessly extravagant; one who gives or spends lavishly. And while the son in the story is recklessly extravagant with his inheritance, the father is even more recklessly extravagant with his love and his grace and his mercy and his compassion. We said this is not a story about the sins of a son. It is a story about the father’s heart. So to reset the context for you, basically remember what’s happening. Jesus is teaching. He is telling stories. He’s got two groups of people gathered. He’s got the religious Pharisees, and he’s got the tax collectors and the sinners.

And as Jesus has been going through the story up to where we are in the story so far, the tax collectors and sinners are loving it. Remember, here’s a quick recap of what’s happened. The younger son has come to the father and said, “Father, I want my inheritance. I want it now.” Father gives the son the inheritance. He goes out, blows it in wild living, a sinful life, wakes up one day in a pig pen starving. He knows he can never be a son again, but goes home to try to get a job in his father’s estate. His father sees the son, runs to him, recklessly extravagant, reinstates him with the full rights of being a son. And as the tax collectors and the sinners who are hearing Jesus tell this story – in Luke Chapter 15 – as they’re hearing this, they’re inspired. They’re full of hope. They’re thinking, “I can go home. The father will receive me again.” But all the while, the religious people or the Pharisees, they’re listening as well and they’re thinking the story doesn’t apply to them. They’re thinking, “I’m home. I’ve never left home. I’ve never left the Father.” But what they don’t understand is there’s another brother, another son, who is about to be introduced into the story.

So look with me. Verse 25 of Luke Chapter 15 – it says, “Meanwhile,” – meanwhile, while all that was happening with the younger son and the father and the pig pen and all that – “the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look you!’” – That’s what the word means in the original language. Like, “Look you!” Not recommend saying that to your father. “Look you! 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘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.’”

Can we all agree that this is not the nicest guy in the world, right? This son, he is not the nicest guy in the world. He is home and yet he is not really home. He is so close and yet he is so far. You see, what we don’t realize in this story is that both of these sons needed a homecoming. Both of them needed to find their way home. They both needed to learn to live in the father’s love. They both needed to learn to live as a son under their father. They both needed a homecoming. The younger son needed to come home from the pig pen. The older son needed to come home from bondage, from being enslaved. You see, the older son, when he gives his response it’s a little bit shocking, don’t you think? I mean, his response is a little bit shocking. Like, he won’t even call his brother as his brother. He says, “This son of yours.” He won’t even call him his own brother. He is angry. He is furious. He is pouting. He is complaining.Not one time in the entire story does he ever refer to the father as his father. He calls him, “Look you!” He talks to him the way you would talk to a servant. I mean, he totally kind of has this rude and crude response. I think it’s a little bit shocking, but yet at the same time I think a lot of us might look at that response and say, “That’s how I would respond. I mean, shouldn’t the younger son have some consequences? Like, should he really be brought in and reinstated as a son, be fully instated?” And here’s what the brother’s problem is. The older son’s problem is this. He has never received the love of the father, so he has no love to give. He has never received his father’s love in his own life. So he has no love to give his brother. You see, 1st John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” So the only way you can ever love other people in life is by receiving the father’s love and then you will be able to release love to those around you.

And so if you’re here today and you’re wondering why that person in your life can’t give you love, you’re dying for them to give you love or you want them to give love to your child, or you want them to release or express love to the world around them, or maybe you’re here and you are that person and you want more than anything else to love the people in your life, but no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to muster up the love to release it. Well, here is the reality. It’s that if you’re not receiving the Father’s love, you have no love to give. If the people in your life are unable to give you love, it’s because they’re not receiving the love of the Father for themselves. And that’s what’s happening with this son. You see, the son has never lived as a son. He has always chosen to live as a slave. Look at Verse 29 – “But he answered his father, ‘Look you!’ All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Here’s this son and he has never lived as a son. He has always lived as a slave.

He has got a great father, the prodigal father, recklessly extravagant. He has grown up his entire life under this good father, and yet he has never lived as a son would live under his father. He has chosen to live as a slave under a master. And you can see it all over his life. He refuses to celebrate when his brother comes home. He is offended the father has given the calf for the party. He is accusing the father of never giving him anything. He talks about all the great things he thinks he has done for the father. He is trying to win the approval of the father. He is not living as a son. He has been living as a slave. And in Verse 31, the father responds and says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” In other words, the father looks at the son and he says, “Why are you living as a slave?” He says, “I’ve never one time asked you to live as a slave. In fact, I’ve never wanted you to live as a slave. All I’ve ever wanted for you and from you is to live as my son. In fact, everything I have belongs to you. You are my son. You are not a slave.” And you can hear the heartbreak in the father’s voice. You see, whenever sons and daughters choose to live as slaves it will always break the father’s heart. And the reason this story is so powerful to us, especially the older son, the reason it’s so significant is because we tend to live our lives just like this son. We tend to live enslaved and in bondage to a whole lot of things. And it is a really awful feeling to feel like a slave in your own life. And yet I don’t know if you know this or not, but in Jesus Christ we are no longer slaves; we are sons. Okay? Are you with me this morning? Three of us are with me. Are you with me this morning? Okay, here’s what we’re doing in this series. We’re taking one more deep dive. I know sometimes you come in here and you want me to give you like, “three steps to a better marriage.” This is not a series like that – “three steps to a better marriage.” This is a deep dive that’s spiritually discerned. And if you will catch a hold of this revelation in your heart, I promise you it will change your life.

And you will have a better marriage by understanding this stuff that we’re diving into. So you’ve got to open up your minds and say, “Spirit of the Living God, will you speak to me this morning and tell me what you want me to do?” Okay? So before we go any further, let’s define ‘enslaved’. We’re talking about slavery and bondage. What does it mean to be enslaved? Here’s what it means. Anything that controls you more than the father’s love, you are enslaved to that thing. Anything that controls you more than the father’s love, you are enslaved to that thing; you have bondage to it. It becomes your taskmaster in a sense. Anything that controls you more than the father’s love, you are enslaved to that thing. In the story, the son is enslaved to working in the field and winning his father’s approval. It controls him more than the father’s love. He is enslaved to that. And you can be enslaved to almost anything. You can be enslaved to the praise of man. If you find that in your life you care more about what other people think about you than what God has to say about you, you are literally enslaved to the praise of man because it controls you more than the Father’s love.

You can be enslaved to your marriage. If you allow your spouse to dictate your moods and your feelings in your entire life all the time, and it’s always about your marriage, then you’re enslaved to your marriage. It controls you more than the Father’s love. You can be enslaved to your finances. If you’re always worried and concerned about your finances more than the Father’s love, you’re enslaved to your finances. You can be enslaved to your past. If you let your past define you more than what the Father has to say about you, you’re enslaved to your past. You can be enslaved to religion. If you allow religion to control you more than the Father’s love, you’re enslaved to that thing. And the reality is we are enslaved to a whole lot of things in our lives, but as followers of Jesus we are not slaves; we are sons and daughters. Let me show you – Galatians Chapter 4, starting in Verse 4 – It says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, Jesus, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.”

In the Bible it always talks about ‘the law’. ‘The law’ is slavery, that we’re enslaved to sin when we’re under the law. So he is trying to redeem us from being slaves, that we might receive the full rights of sons. “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son, the Holy Spirit, into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” – Daddy, intimate; a close relationship. Not a father who is somewhere way far off, but a father who is close. And Verse 7 – ready? – “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians makes it so very clear that when we put our faith and our trust in Jesus we are not a slave; we are a son or a daughter. And it says, “You are no longer a slave”, which means we all start enslaved. Everyone of us in this life, we start enslaved to something, but Jesus has come to rescue us, to bring us over here that we might become a son or daughter of a good Father.

And as a follower of Jesus, you are so much a son or a daughter that you are a son as much as Jesus Christ is. In fact, the Bible says that the Father loves you the same way he loves Jesus, that you’re as much of a son or a daughter to God the Father, as Jesus Christ himself is. Jesus even goes on to call us his brothers in Hebrews and in John. You’re not just any son. You’re a son with a full share of inheritance, a full right. You are co-heirs with Christ. Your position in the spiritual realm is you are a son or a daughter. We’re not slaves. We’re sons. Now, last week if you were here, I talked about this thing that we tend to say a lot, that you hear a lot in the world. And we say things like this, that everybody in the world is God’s children. We tend to say that. “Everybody is a child of God.” That’s actually not theologically true. That’s not true. Well, God wants everybody to be a child of God, and while there is an open invitation for us all to be sons and daughters, and while we’re all made in His image and His likeness, the only way we become children of God is through faith in Jesus Christ.

And so I told you last week that every one of us is born as spiritual orphans. That when we’re born in this world we’re born as spiritual orphans. We’re born alone on our own, that the world is like a big orphanage. And God is trying to adopt us to become His children, that He might become our good Father. And so I want to take that thought and I want to take it one layer deeper for you. See, I don’t know if you know this or not, but there are two fathers in the spiritual realm. Okay? There are two fathers in the spiritual realm. We tend to talk a lot about our dads on this earth, which is important, but there are two fathers in the spiritual realm. There’s a good father and there’s a bad father. Two families, two kingdoms. Let me show you what Jesus has to say. John Chapter 8, Verse 42 – Jesus talking to the Pharisees or the religious people – He says, “If God were your Father,” – the first father, the good father, the heavenly father as the first father – “you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own, but He sent me.”

“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil,” – the second father, the bad father; Satan or the devil; the two fathers – “and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his natithe language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus makes it very clear that in the spiritual realm there are two fathers. And he looks right at the Pharisees, the religious people, and he says, “Hey, Satan is your father.” No wonder they want to kill him all the time. Right? [Laughs] I mean, if I got up here and said, “Hey, Satan is your father”, you’d all be mad and want to throw a rock or something. I mean, he gets up and he just says, “Hey, there’s two fathers.” He says, “There’s a good father and there’s a bad father. There is the heavenly father and there is Satan. There is the father of lies and the father of light.” James 1:17 calls God the ‘Father of Lights.’ The father of deception and the father of truth.

And we are all born in this world under the bad father. We’re all born under the father of lies. He says to the Pharisees, “You’re father is the devil.” Why is that true of them? Because they haven’t put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That’s the only way we get redeemed to become a part of God’s family with the good father. And we all grow up with father wounds. You can have the best father in the world, on this earth, but because you start under Satan, the bad father, we grow up with these father wounds. But the good father wants to adopt us and bring us into His family. You see, here’s what I want to tell you today. Satan wants slaves, but God wants sons. Satan wants slaves, but God wants sons. Satan wants slaves. Listen to what the Bible says about him. Father of lies; he has come to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the great accuser. All he wants to do is point out shame and guilt and condemnation into your life. That he prowls around like a lion looking to devour us.

Everything Satan does is meant to enslave you. Every temptation he presents before you, everything he invites you to, every thought he tries to put in your mind, it’s all meant to enslave you. Satan wants an empire of slaves. And what he wants to do is get us to think slave thoughts. He wants to literally implant in our mind slave thoughts to get us to think like a slave. Here’s a slave thought. I will never get over this sin. I will never get past it. I’m going to struggle with this sin for the rest of my life. I will never get over it. That’s a slave thought. That’s how a slave thinks. A slave will think, “Hey, I will never get healed or redeemed or set free as long as I live on this earth. I’m going to have to wait until I get to heaven.” That’s a slave thought. A slave thought is there’s nobody to take care of me. This is as good as it gets. I have no favor in life. I need to work really hard for myself to make it happen. That’s how a slave thinks. Satan wants slaves, but God wants sons.

Listen to what the Bible says about God. It says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Jesus came to give us abundant life, that we might live the life that he has for us. Everything that God is inviting you towards is meant to lead you into a life of freedom, to set you free, to help you live as sons and daughters. God wants you to think son thoughts. Here’s what a son thought is. “Hey, I’m struggling with this sin right now, but I know Jesus has already defeated sin, death and the grave. So I know I’m going to get over it and I’m going to beat it.” That’s how a son thinks. A son thinks, “Hey, I have some provision I need in my life right now. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but I know I have a good Father and I know He is going to provide for me and take care of me.” A son thinks, “Hey, I know I am a victorious conqueror in this life, that even though I have some troubles Jesus has overcome the world, and I’m a part of that family now. And so I know I am an overcomer as well.” That’s how a son thinks. See, Satan wants slaves, but God wants sons.

And the crazy part about it is, in the spiritual realm we are positionally sons and daughters through faith in Jesus and yet we choose to go back and live enslaved lives. All you need to do is look at the Israel – all you need to do is look at our own lives, but the Israelites are a great example of it. Listen to this; Exodus 4, Verse 22 – “This is what the Lord says:” – This is God talking to Moses to go talk to Pharaoh. “Israel is my firstborn son. Let my son go, so he can worship me.” The Israelites for 400 years are enslaved under the Egyptians. They live a life of slavery and God says to Moses, “Go tell Pharaoh, Israel is now my son. I have adopted him. I am setting him free out of slavery. He is now going to live as a son. They’re going to live as sons and daughters under my care.” For the first time in 400 years they’re children of God, they’re set free from slavery, and they get all the way to the Red Sea. And what do the Israelites want to do? They want to go back to Egypt.

They get to the Red Sea, they get into the desert, and all they do is complain and say, “Take us back to Egypt, Moses. It was better living as a slave. Put the shackles on us. Give us the taskmasters. Give us the slave masters over us. It was better than being out here in the wilderness and having to live as sons and daughters.” And I was thinking this week, “Why did they always want to go back to slavery?” Because when you live as a slave the only person you have to trust is yourself. That’s why it’s easier to live as a slave than live as a son or a daughter, because when you are slave you are in bondage to something. The only person you have to trust is you. But when you live as a son or a daughter you are in complete trust, complete dependence upon a good Father. The reason we’re terrified to live as sons and daughters is because it means we actually have to trust God as a good Father to provide for us and protect us and lead us into the unknown. And so a lot of us say, “That’s just too much trust, man. I ain’t going there. I’ll go back and live in slavery. I know what the shackles feel like. I know what to expect every day. We think we’re in control and I’m kind of in control.”

“I only have to trust me and I trust me pretty good, so life will be okay.” [Laughs] That’s the Israelites. I mean, it took them 40 years of wandering the desert to finally realize, “We’re sons and daughters. We don’t ever have to go back to Egypt. It’s actually better to walk with God into the unknown, but we’re terrified to trust a good father. We want to trust ourselves and live in slavery.” But what we forget is that it is only in complete trust where you will ever find complete freedom. A lot of the times that we struggle with the Christian journey is because we say, “The Bible says it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. How come I don’t feel very free?” Because we choose to go back and enslave ourselves. You in Jesus, you are totally – I mean, totally free, and yet we live these very enslaved lives. Satan wants slaves. God wants sons. And we’ve got to move from slave living to son living. Okay? Are you with me on that? Do you want to know how to get there, from slave to son?

Okay. So I’m going to give you a couple of thoughts on this. I’m going to compare and contrast them, so you can kind of catch this in your heart and in your own life. Okay? First thing is this. Slaves have to; sons get to. Slaves have to, but sons get to. Look at Verse 29 – “But he answered his father, ‘Look you! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” That sure sounds like slave thought, doesn’t it? That sure sounds like a slave mentality, like slave thinking. Like, I have to do this. I have to be in the field. You see, the son saw the father as someone who had to be obeyed instead of someone he got to live life with. He saw the father as a taskmaster, as a slave oversight; someone who had to be obeyed instead of someone he got to live with. He forgot that he got to be under the protection of the father. He got to have the blessing of the father. He got to serve and honor his father. He got to steward his father’s resources, which was ultimately to become his own inheritance.

He didn’t have to; he got to. Slaves have to, but sons get to. And I think a whole lot of our spiritual journey is defined by those things. Can I try to set you free a little bit today? Listen; you don’t have to do anything. You get to do everything in Jesus Christ. You don’t have to do anything. You get to do everything in Jesus Christ. It’s not an obligation. It’s a privilege. Okay? I don’t know if you this or not, but when you came in today you don’t have to worship. You get to worship. Like, you don’t have to raise your hands and raise your mouth and raise your heart. Like, you get to come in here, in a free country, and worship God and encounter the presence of the Living God and let Him forever change you. You don’t have to do it. You get to do it. You don’t have to read your Bible. You get to read your Bible. There’s nobody telling you that you have to do it every day. You get to open that thing up and find life-giving truth that will change your life. You don’t have to serve anybody. You get to.

Don’t serve anybody if you don’t want. You don’t have to. You get to! You get to be an ambassador of the kingdom of God and represent the Father, live a life of purpose that makes a difference in this world. You don’t have to be obedient and take next steps. You get to and get to follow God in the freedom. You don’t have to forgive people. You get to forgive people. Release the love that the Father has put in your life and into their lives. Listen; I don’t have to follow Jesus. I get to follow Jesus. Okay? [Laughs] Some of you are looking at me and you’re like, “No, I have to.” Yeah, well – and I can see it on your faces. Okay? I can just tell in here. I don’t have to follow Jesus. I get to. And I get to go on the greatest adventure of my life, because I’m not a slave; I’m a son. Slaves have to; they don’t get a choice. Sons get to; free will. God invites us. You see, slaves wake up every day with a list of have-to. Sons wake up every day with a life of get-to’s. Big difference. Slaves wake up with a list of, “I have to, have to, have to.” Sons wake up with a life of “I get to.” Let me ask you; do you spend most of your life with a have-to perspectithe or a get-to perspectithe? How about this one? Are you ready for this one? You ready for this one? As God makes sure you’re ready for them before I say it, okay? You don’t have to tithe; you get to tithe. I asked you if you were ready for it. I still don’t think you are ready for it.

You don’t have to tithe. You get to tithe. Tithing; right? I was thinking about it this week. Why does God ask us to tithe? To give back to Him the first and best 10% portion of our income. Bible makes it really clear that it belongs to the Lord. That we don’t even give it to Him; we return to Him because it’s His. And I was thinking this week, “Why does God ask us to tithe?” Like, God doesn’t need your money. You know that right? God doesn’t need your money. In fact, everything you have, it already belongs to God. Everything in the universe belongs to God. He doesn’t need our money. So why does God ask us to tithe? Because tithing teaches us to live as sons. Tithing teaches us to live as sons and daughters, because when I tithe then I give 10%, the first 10% of my income to the Lord. What I’m saying is, “God, you’re my Father and I’m doing this because I get to give this to you. And this means I am in total trust and dependence upon you. God, I’m not sure I’m going to take care of everything else with 90%. So I am trusting that you will provide for me, you will protect me, you will take care of me.” Tithing teaches us to live as sons in total dependence and trust on the Father. God asks us to tithe, so we will be reminded it’s not about what we have; it’s about who we have. That we have a great Father and He is trying to move us from slave thinking to son thinking. Slave thinking is, “I’m afraid. I’ve got to hold on to everything I’ve got because I may never get it back. Life is about me and my pleasure.” Son thinking is, “Man, I can’t wait to give it away because I know as soon as I give it the Father is going to bless me and give me even more.”
In fact, here’s how Jesus himself says it. Luke 12:32 – “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid.” And then he says the same thing the father in the story says. He says, “Everything the Father has, it already belongs to you. It gives Him great happiness to give you the kingdom. Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to you. So don’t be afraid, little flock.” You see, slaves live in fear of not having enough. Sons live with the freedom of knowing everything they will ever need will always be provided for them by a good father. That’s the difference between a slave and a son. It’s the way we think. And if you’re here and you’re saying, “Well, I have a giving problem, like I’m unable to give”, there’s no such thing as a giving problem. It’s a receiving problem. You don’t ever have a giving problem. It’s not that you have a giving problem with love or forgiveness or tithing. It’s not a giving problem. It’s a receiving problem. You’re unable to receive the love that the Father has already given to you.

You have a full share of the inheritance. Everything the Father has belongs to you. So let me ask you today. What in your life do you feel like you have to instead of you get to? Ask the Spirit of the Living God to give you a revelation and change your mindset from living as a slave to a son. Okay? Slaves have to; sons get to. Second thing is this. Slaves live for the Father. Sons live with the Father. Slaves live for the Father. Sons live with the Father. A slave never lives with the Father. A slave doesn’t get to sit at the Father’s table or eat the Father’s food or fellowship with the Father or share in his inheritance. A slave comes, does his job, tells the Father it’s done, and goes back to the slave quarters. A son never lives for the Father. He only lives with the Father. He sits at the Father’s table, fellowships with the Father, eats the Father’s food, and has a full share of the inheritance. Slaves like for; sons live with. And in our story you see that this son has spent his entire life under his father and yet he has never once lived with him. He has only ever lived for him.

He has grown up with the prodigal father, and he has no idea what his father’s heart is about. Look at Verse 28. “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look you! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” The father goes out to the son and he begs him to come in. He says, “Please, come in to the party. Your brother is home and we’re celebrating and we’re feasting. Please come in and be with me. You should be right there next to me. I need you inside. Come and be with me. I just want you to be with me. It is not a party without you.” And the son responds with all the things he’s done for the father. The father says, “Come and be with me”, and the son responds, “With all the things I’ve done for you, all these years I’ve slaved for you. I never disobeyed your orders.” The father says, “Come and be with me”, and the son says, “Here’s what I have done for.” That’s the difference between slave thinking and son-ship thinking.

You see, you can spend your whole life doing things for God and never have been with God. Do you know that? You’ve spent your whole life doing things for God and never once actually be with the Father. In fact, in Matthew 7, here’s what Jesus says. He says, “Many will say to me.” That word ‘many’, if we’re honest with ourselves, is terrifying that he uses the word ‘many’. That to me means more than 50%, like many. That’s a lot. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, look at all these great things we did for you. We prophesied in your name and we cast out demons and we healed people. We went to church service every week and we read our Bible, and we parked far away in the parking lot so other people could have closer spots [Laughs]. And we participated in a missional move and we did a small group and a serving thing. I mean, look at all these great things that I’ve done for you, God.” And He says, “’I will say to you, away from me, for I never knew you.”

God isn’t interested in you doing all these things for Him. He wants you to be with Him. And yet we live our life with this like, “I have to do this for God.” And the reason I think we think we have to do things for God is because we’re just trying to mask the shame and guilt from our past. That somehow if we could do something for God it makes us feel like we’re wiping away the ledger, and what we forget is it’s already been taken care of in Jesus. Do you realize Jesus never did things for God? He only did them with the Father since he only went where he saw the Father going. He only said what he heard the Father hearing. He only did what he saw the Father doing. Jesus didn’t do things for the Father. He did things with the Father. Last week at our house there were some trees in the front yard that needed to be trimmed, and they had kind of gotten overgrown. It had been a long week. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my kids. And so I went inside and found my 5-year-old boy, Tray, and said, “Hey Tray, I need you to come outside and help me trim the trees.”

The 5-year-old boy has no idea what that means. He says, “Daddy, I don’t even understand.” I said, “It’s okay. I just need you to come outside and help me trim the trees.” He says, “Okay.” And so we go into the garage and I get my big saw out, big handsaw that I’m going to use to cut down things, and he goes, “Ah!” He goes, “Where’s my saw?” And I kind of thought about it for a second and I said, “Mama is home. Not a good idea to give you a saw today. She’ll probably see it. Maybe next time [Laughs]. So instead here’s a pair of pruning shears. Okay? I think we can get by with that one.” And so we went outside and we went to the trees and the branches were way up high. So I start sawing and Tray is there, 5-year-old, and he goes, “Dad, I can’t even reach those branches. What am I supposed to do?” And I kind of looked around for a second and thought and said, “Well, why don’t you take those shears and just clip off some of the top of the bushes that you see?” It didn’t even need to happen. I’m just trying to give him something to do. So I’m working on hard work, sweating and cutting the branches off, and we’re having a great time. We’re laughing. We’re joking. We’re talking about football. We’re just having a great time together. And I finish pruning all the branches and we kind of take everything and drag it to the road. And we walk inside and he goes running in to find Coleen and he goes, “Momma, momma! Come outside and look at the trees that me and daddy trimmed. They look so good! I want you to come and see it.” And I remember looking at my 5-year-old thinking, “You didn’t do nothing!”

What is this ‘we trimmed’? But you were playing in the mud the whole time. Like, you didn’t do nothing [Laughs]. And he says it again. “Mama, come see the trees that me and daddy trimmed. They look so good.” And so as they went outside I was standing there and I was thinking about it and I just had this moment where I was like, “Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be like with us and our Father?” That he doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He just wants us to be with Him. I didn’t invite Tray outside because I was expecting him to trim trees. I invited him to come outside because I just wanted to be with my son and spend some time with him. You see, that’s how it’s supposed to work with us and the Father. The Father does all the hard work. He does all the heavy lifting. He does all the stuff that we can’t do. And then we get to walk around and say, “Come and see what me and my daddy did. Come and see what me and my Father did.” That is the way it’s supposed to be. Listen, I hate to break it to some of you. Let me burst your bubble, alright? Psshh! God doesn’t need you to do things for Him. He doesn’t. And some of us walk around and we’re like, “Man, what would God do without me [Laughs]. Like, I do some good stuff for God. I don’t know how he can get that done.” Listen, He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t. He wants us. He doesn’t need us to advance the kingdom of God, but He says, “I want to do with you. Let’s do this together. I don’t need you to do it for me. Let’s do it together. You come and do it with me and I’ll do the heavy lifting.” And sometimes God will invite you to do something dangerous and impossible, like giving a 5-year-old a saw to trim trees, to force you to remember that it’s not about living for the Father. It’s about living with the Father.
You see, Jesus says, “This is how you should pray. Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Translation. “Hey dad, what do you want to be today?” “Hey dad, what’s your agenda? What’s your business? Where do you want to go, because whatever you are doing is what I want to do today, dad. So you want to go to work? We’ll go to work together every day. You want to go to school? We’ll go to school together. You want to go to a coffee shop and talk to people? We’ll do it. You want to just stay home and rest? Hey dad, whatever it is that you are about today, that’s what I want to be about.” You see, God doesn’t want our visitation. He wants our habitation. He wants us to dwell within Him. And for some reason we come to church like this and we pop in and we’re like, “Hey God, look it. This is what I’ve been doing for you this week. I’ve got about an hour to spare. These are all the good things I’ve been doing. I mean, I let that person merge on the highway, God. That was a big deal. I know you know it. I know you saw that one [Laughs]. I just want you to know and I didn’t curse. So it was a good day.”

“And so here’s all the good things I’ve been doing for you, God. The list is really long though, so I’ve got to go. I’ll catch you next week or maybe the week after that.” And then we take off. That’s not what God wants. He wants you to dwell within. You see, slaves visit, but sons abide. Slaves visit to tell the father, the master, the things they’ve been doing. Sons abide and rest in the father’s love. And we’ve got to learn to stop working and striving like slaves and start resting and receiving like sons and daughters. Okay? And the last thing is this. Slaves strive for the father’s approval. Sons live from the father’s approval. Slaves strive for the father’s approval. Sons live from the father’s approval. The entire story, the older son’s – the point of it is he is trying to win the father’s approval. That’s all. He is trying to win the father’s approval, and the really sad part is he doesn’t realize he already has it. He is already approved by the father, but because he doesn’t realize that he is striving for it.

He is enslaved to performance, to achievement, to success, to work, to being in the field. He is enslaved. All these things control him more than the father’s love, and he is already approved. And the reason you know he is trying to win the father’s approval is because he is making his brother earn his approval. See, whatever you do to make other people win your approval, is what you believe you have to do to win God’s approval. Whatever you make other people do to win your approval, your favor, is what you think you have to do to win God’s favor or God’s approval. All you need to do is stop and say, “What do I do to make other people earn my favor?” Subconsciously, that’s what you believe you have to do to win God’s favor. And the sad part of this story is the son was already approved, not because of what he did but because of who he was, as he was a son. You see, slaves try to earn the favor of the father. You have all of the favor you will ever need in Jesus Christ. It’s already done.

Matthew 3:17 again – “You are the beloved son or daughter in whom the Father is well pleased when you put your faith in Jesus.” Catch this. Ephesians 2:4 through 6 – “But because of his great love” – the Father’s love, the reckless extravagance – “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ready? “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” This is huge. It says that Jesus is seated, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms, in the spiritual realm, if you have your faith in Jesus. You are seated in heaven in the spiritual realm at the right hand of the Father. The Father is there. You’re under His protection, His goodness. You are living as a son or a daughter, totally connected to the Father. And it says that Jesus is seated. The reason that is so significant is because in the Old Testament the priests could never sit down. The temple and the tabernacle – there were no seats in the temple or the tabernacle.

What was the temple and the tabernacle? It was where the tomb that was made for the people’s sins. There were never seats. The priests could never sit down. Why? Because the work was never done. There was always more favor that they had to earn for the people, always more forgiveness that they had to go and ask God for, for the people. Always more approval that they had to go and get. There was always another sacrifice, more blood that had to be shed, an animal that had to be killed and the blood to be sprinkled. It was temporary approval that came and went based on what the people did. The priests never got to sit down because their work was never done. But it says, “Now, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.” And the Bible says that Jesus, when he died on the cross, he was one sacrifice for all time; took care of all sin from the beginning of time to the end of time. It is complete. It is done. And the fact that he is seated at the right hand of the Father means there is nothing left to do to take care of our sins. There is no forgiveness left to strive for, no approval left to earn. It has all been taken care of in Jesus Christ.

And not only is Jesus seated next to the Father, totally approved in Him. It says we, in Jesus, are seated next to the Father, which means you are sitting down. There’s no approval left to earn. There’s no forgiveness you have to strive for. There is no favor left to get. It’s done. You’re seated! You’re seated. I’m telling you, that will change your life. We spend our life striving for God’s approval. I hear people say it all the time. “Oh, God is just mad at me. I don’t even know if I’m saved. I just had a bad week.” Crazy, crazy! Slave talk. Slave thoughts. It’s crazy! And we all think it. You are seated in Jesus, which means it’s done. How different would your life be if you lived it from approval instead of for approval? I joke with you and say, “You come in sometimes and say like ‘Give me the three steps to a better marriage.’” Listen; if I give you three steps to a better marriage but you don’t realize you’re seated next to Jesus, by Tuesday it will wear off and your marriage will be worse than it was the week before.

But if you come in and realize, “I’m seated with Jesus. I’m a son or a daughter”, it changes your whole life because you stop living as a slave and you start living as a son or a daughter. In Matthew 18 –and I’m just about done here; I’m going to close it – Matthew 18 – “The disciplines come to Jesus and they say, ‘Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Who is the greatest, Jesus, in the kingdom of heaven?” Slave talk. What do I need to do to be great? How do I need to perform? What do I need to strive for? What do I need to do to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Slave talk. Slave thoughts. And Jesus looks at him and he takes a little child and he says, “Whoever wants to be great in the kingdom of heaven is to become like a real child. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children, for those who rest as sons and daughters are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” They ask a slave question. Jesus responds with the son-ship answer.

And he says, “You need to stop achieving and start receiving.” He says, “It’s done. Live as a son or a daughter.” I wonder how much of the kingdom of God do we not see because we don’t live as sons and daughters. He says the kingdom belongs to children, but we don’t live as sons and daughters. We live as slaves. Slaves don’t get to see the kingdom. Slaves don’t get the resources of the kingdom. Listen; we spend a whole lot of our life slaving in the field. Like it or not, we live as slaves. And it’s just heavy and it’s this burden and it makes us disappointed in the scriptures, because we know it promises a life of freedom, but we don’t experience it. We’re slaving in the field. We’re slaves to religion, to performance, achievement, finances, our kids’ sports games, our marriage, shame and guilt, and stuff from our past. We’re enslaved to so many things and we don’t even realize it. And all the while the Father is over here saying, “Hey, there’s a big party going on. Come inside.” We’re like, “No, I’ve got to stay in the field, man [Laughs]. I’ve got to keep working in the field.” And we’re the ones that miss it. I wonder how many miracles don’t we see because we don’t know we’re sons and daughters and can just ask for it.

I think the son, like he complains, like you never gave me a goat – right? I think if he were to have just asked his father, “Hey dad, I want to have a party with some of my friends. Do you think maybe I could have a young goat?” I think the father would have looked at him and said, “Take five and have a great time.” But he never asked. Why? Because he is thinking like a slave instead of like a son. You see, I love how Jesus ends this story. He leaves it with massive tension. It’s a cliffhanger. It would be the like worst movie you’d ever go to because it doesn’t end. You don’t know how it ends. Listen; Verse 31 and I’m done – Verse 31, “He says, ‘You are my son. You are always with me. Everything I have is yours.’” He says, “But we had to celebrate. We’re having a party because your brother is home. You can come in and live like a son, or you can stay out and live like a slave. The choice is yours.” But we never know whether or not the son goes inside. We know the younger son comes back home. He is now robed in righteousness, partying with the father, living as a son.

But we never know if the son who is living like a slave, if he goes in to live as a son or if he stays out as a slave. And I think the reason Jesus did that is because he wants to leave it as a cliffhanger for us, because that’s the question we have to answer. Am I going to live as a slave or am I going to go in and live as a son or daughter? I don’t know about you, but I’m done living like a slave. I’m tired of it. I want to live well loved. I want to live a life where I receive the good things that my good Father has for me. And that’s all I want for you. So you close your eyes and bow your heads with me. Let me just ask you; what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you? What’s he whispering to you? What’s stirring in your heart?

You see, there’s two sons in this story, one who runs from the father; one who runs for the father. And I’ve lived like both of those at some point in my life. And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t want to live as an orphan or a slave anymore. I want to live as a son. Maybe you’re here and you’ve never put your faith or your trust in Jesus, and so this whole father thing it’s confusing to you because you’re still under the bad father. Well, today is your day. It’s as simple as this. Just pray something like this. If God is stirring in your heart and drawing you close and He wants to lead you into freedom, just pray. Say, “Jesus, I invite you into my life. I give you all my sins. I take all your righteousness. I want to be a son or a daughter in the kingdom of God. I want you to be lord of my life. I want to follow you and receive everything that you have done for me. Jesus, I don’t even understand it all, but I know in you. I’ve become a new creation and I’ve become a son or a daughter, and so I receive that from you today.”

And if that’s you, you’ve just moved from death to life. You’ve just walked in to the family of God. You have a great Father. You are now His beloved son or daughter and you’re seated at the right hand of the father, nothing left to do. For a lot of us sitting in here, for years maybe you’ve walked with God, and yet for a lot of our lives we’ve lived as slaves. Can you maybe just in your own way right now invite the father deeper into your life? Maybe it’s just something as simple as, “Father, will you fill my life? Will you come and reveal yourself to me and teach me how to live as a son or a daughter? I don’t want to be a slave. I don’t want to be an orphan. I want to live secure as a son or a daughter with the great Father, who loves me and provide for me and take care of everything I need.” Satan wants slaves. God wants sons. If you’re here today and you need prayer for anything, we want to pray for you. We’re going to have people up here to pray for you. Maybe you need prayer for a relationship with Jesus, prayer to live as a son or a daughter, prayer for just some stuff that’s going on in your life. Let us pray for you. Don’t leave without letting us minister to you. We believe in a big God who does big things. If you’re new to Valley Creek Church, I’d love to invite you over here to Guest Central. I’ll be in there with some of our leaders. We’d love to introduce ourselves to you and tell you that we’re glad that you’re here. But I pray, you go rejoice in this week, living free as sons and daughters with a great Father. And I pray this truth takes deep root in your heart, because it will change your life. May you go and rejoice in this week. Blessings.

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