The Father’s Heart

Description

In this message, we learn how to connect back to the Father’s heart.

Anybody excited to be here tonight? [Laughs] You all are awesome! I’m so glad that you’re here. Happy Easter. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. If you’re new with us, I’m so glad that you’re here tonight. This is a great place for you to be welcome. Easter is a time when we get together to just celebrate who Jesus Christ is and what he has done in our lives. It’s a celebration of grace and mercy and love. It’s a celebration that Jesus got what we deserved, so that we could get what he deserved. It’s a celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You all are excited [Laughs]. I’m glad you’re here tonight, and I’m excited to share the word of God with you. If you’re new to Valley Creek, let me go ahead and just say to you, thank you for being patient with us in our campus right now. It’s muddy. It’s kind of all torn up, but there’s some really cool construction trucks out there. I don’t know if you noticed those or not [Laughs], but if you’re new, what we’re doing is we’re just making more space for more people to come to know Jesus Christ; come to encounter the presence of God. So thanks for being patient with us, as everything is tore up and muddy and messy around here. Thank you for being gracious. We’re going to start a new series tonight called Finding Our Way Home. For the next few weeks we’re just going to kind of talk about that, break it down, and talk about what is home really like. How do we find our way home? What does it look like to live as sons and daughters? You see, we all long to go home. We all long to belong. But home is not a place; it’s a state of being. Home is not a location. It’s not a house. It’s not a family status. Home is a posture of the heart. It’s a place of rest and peace and abundance. For the next few weeks we’re just going to talk about how do we find our way home, and what we’re going to do is take a look at a famous passage of scripture, just one passage of scripture for the next three weeks, and see if we can find some fresh revelation.

So if you have your Bibles, turn with me to Luke Chapter 15. Famous story; a story you’ve probably heard of. We’re going to take a look at the story of the prodigal son. That’s how we like to refer to it as the prodigal son. You’ve probably heard it before. Maybe you’re familiar with it. In fact, in a room like this some of you, you’ve probably were the prodigal son or daughter at one point in time [Laughs], and maybe you had a grandma or an aunt that was praying for you and constantly reminding you that you are the prodigal child. Maybe you are here and you are a parent, and right now you have a son or a daughter that you feel is wayward, that’s wandering, that you’re hoping will come back home to Jesus, that they will find their way home. So that’s just what we’re going to look out for the next weeks together. Luke Chapter 15, starting in Verse 11 – Jesus has got the Pharisees, the religious people and the tax collectors and the sinners, all gathered around. He is telling them stories. Start with me in Verse 11. It says, “Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.”

Three people in this story; we’re going to look at one of them over each of the next three weeks. “The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” Now before we go any further, can we all agree that that’s a pretty audacious request? We would agree with that, right? Like, usually you don’t get your inheritance until the person has passed away, but this son wants his inheritance and he wants it now. So when he goes to his father and says, “I want my share of the estate. I want my inheritance and I want it now”, basically he’s saying is, “Dad, I wish you were dead.” Like, “Dad, I don’t really care about you. What I care about is what you can give to me. And so could you give me my inheritance, my estate? Now I don’t really care if you’re alive. In fact, I wish you had passed on, because then I would have it. I want my estate. I want my inheritance, and I want it now.” And in Jesus’ day this was a big deal because if you dishonored your father like this, he could literally take you to the city gates and you could be stoned to death. So it’s a pretty audacious request, not something I would recommend making [Laughs]. But what’s even more audacious is that the father actually gives him the inheritance. He actually gives him a share of the estate.
It goes on. Verse 13 – “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, and set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” So he blows his entire inheritance and he’s so hungry he gets a job feeding pigs. And how many of you know, it’s a bad day when pig food looks good. Right? [Laughs] I mean, you know you’re hungry. You know you’ve reached rock bottom when pods that you’re feeding to the pigs looks good. This guy has hit the lowest of lows. Verse 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! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’

“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. 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. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 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.” That’s a great story. It’s a story we love to read, and for years we’ve referenced it as the prodigal son. And when we read this story we tend to focus on the son. In fact, we think the son is the main character. So we focus on the sins of the son, on the rebellion of the son, on the wayward nature of the son, that he has drifted and gone away for years.

The religious community has called this story the story of the prodigal son, and they focus on the sins of the son. And the reason for that is because it’s really easy to focus on the sins of the son in this passage. They’re pretty obvious. They just jump right out at us. But the only problem is that when we focus on the sins of the son we kind of miss the whole point of the story. You see, the son is not the main character in this story. The father is. The father is the main character in this story. Jesus isn’t telling us this story to have us focus on the sins of the son. He is telling us this story to focus on the father’s heart. The story is not about the son’s rebellion. It’s about the love of the father. The father is the main character in this story. It’s the whole reason Jesus is telling us this story, so we would understand the father’s heart. And so I think we should even rename the story to something like, ‘The Gracious Father’ or the ‘Father’s Heart’. Or how about this one? ‘The Prodigal Father’; that’s how this story really should read.

And yet when I say that we kind of recoil, especially if you’ve heard this before you’re like, “The prodigal father. Even when it comes out of my mouth it feels weird.” Well, the definition of the word prodigal means recklessly extravagant, one who gives and spends lavishly. Recklessly extravagant, one who gives and spends lavishly. And while we all agree the son is recklessly extravagant with his inheritance, isn’t the father even more so? I mean, the father is recklessly extravagant that he actually gives the inheritance to his son, but then when his son comes back he is even more recklessly extravagant with love and compassion and grace and mercy. The father literally gives and spends lavishly everything he has on his son. It’s not the story of the prodigal son. It’s really the story of the prodigal father recklessly extravagant with his love and for his forgiveness. And Jesus is telling us this story so we’ll understand the father’s heart. And yet for years the reason we focus on the prodigal son is because we’re afraid of the concept of the father.

If we’re just honest, father is a concept that makes us uncomfortable. It’s a relationship that brings a lot of pain in our lives often. So we just kind of avoid it. In fact, in a room like this if I asked you right now to say, “What comes into your mind when you think about the word father?”, many of us would think about our own dads. And the things that would come to our minds wouldn’t be very good; rejection, disappointment, hurt, pain, abandonment, maybe performance or abuse. I mean, there’s all kinds of things and what’s happened is earthly father figures have tainted our view of God as our father. And so Jesus is telling us this whole story to help us understand the father’s heart. Are you with me on that? Okay. So now that you’ve got that, let’s jump into the story. You’ve got the son. He takes his inheritance and he goes to another place. He lives a wild life and he literally blows his entire inheritance. Dave Ramsey would not be happy with this boy. Okay?

Right? I mean, you know what I’m saying? No 401K, no retirement, no long-term investments, no savings. I mean, the guy blows the entire thing [Laughs]. And one day he wakes up and he finds himself in a pig pen and it says, “When he came to his senses.” When he came to his senses he kind of looks around and thinks, “I’m starving to death in this pig pen and maybe I can go back. I know I can’t be a son again, but maybe I can go back and get a job, and my dad will make me a hired man. So I can at least have enough money to provide food for myself.” And what’s really interesting about that is the son goes back with really bad motives. We think he’s going back like with this great mind. He’s not going back to apologize to his dad. He is not broken over how he has hurt his dad. He is going back because he’s starving. And he finds himself in this really tough position. “Am I going to stay in the pig pen or am I going to go home and face dad?” Which of those two things would be worse? To stay starving in the pig pen or have to go home and face dad? Have you ever found yourself in a position like that? Like, I’ve made a mistake and I can stay in the mistake or I go home and deal with dad? Which one might be worse?

Anybody? Right? That’s not a good day [Laughs]. Have you ever had that with God, where you’ve made a mistake and you had a decision? Am I going to stay in the mistake or am I going to go and talk to God as my father? When I was about 21 or 22, somewhere in that range, my dad bought two brand new jet skis. Okay? I grew up on the Niagara River. I’m from Buffalo, Niagara Falls area. We literally grew up on the Niagara River right above the falls, and so we spent all summer out on the river, boating and rafting and swimming. It’s a short summer in Buffalo, but it’s a great summer that you get to enjoy [Laughs]. And so we wound spend all summer out there and my dad never bought anything for himself. So when he did it was a really big deal. It was something he really wanted and he had researched it and studied and all this stuff. So my dad buys these two brand new jet skis, and I’m about 21 or 22. And he had them for about a week. They had about four hours of run time on them. It means they’ve only been used for about 4 hours total. They still had the stickers on. I mean, they’re brand new.

And one day me and my best friend, Steve, decided we’re going to take the jet skis out after work. And so we get on the jet skis. We’re out on the Niagara. We’re having a great time. We were doing donuts. We were jumping wakes. We were splashing around, ripping all over the river. It’s absolutely incredible. Then we get to this one part of the river and I thought Steve was going to zig, and Steve thought I was going to zag. And the only problem was Steve zagged and I zigged. And the last thing I remember about 30 miles an hour was yelling, “Look out!” Boom, and I T-boned his jet ski. I went flying about 30 yards, popped up with my life jacket on, and literally all I could see around me was broken pieces of fiberglass floating all over the river. How many of you know that’s a bad day? I don’t need to say anything else. That’s a bad day, right? [Laughs] So I pop up and total the two brand new jet skis. And my friend, Steve, he starts yelling, “I’m hurt. I’m hurt.” He was really hurt and so I had to drag him and put him on the one jet ski that was totaled. I mean, it was half sunk, and I tied it to the other one.

They’re both totaled, broken pieces of fiberglass floating down the river. And so we kind of paddle over to the shore and somebody was there. So I get Steve off and get him in this person’s car, and they take him to the emergency room because he really got hurt. And luckily I was upstream from the dock and so I had about an hour float to get back to my dock. How many of you know that was a really long hour? I felt like the son in the story. I was trying to figure out my story [Laughs] and what I was going to say to my dad. So as I float, I’m getting really close to the dock, and my brother is out on the end of the dock. True story. And he sees the two totaled jet skis tied together with me. Steve is missing. Nobody knows what’s happened yet, right? And my brother looks at me and he goes, “Dad is going to kill you. I’m out of here.” And he turned around and just disappeared. Right? I mean, he was off that dock. Boom, gone [Laughs]. And so I get the two jet skis and I pull them into the shore, and they’re both totaled. And my dad comes walking down the shore, and before he even gets to me I just start saying, “Dad, you don’t need to say anything. I don’t need to hear it. It’s my fault. I made a mistake. I hit Steve. I’ll pay for it, Dad. I’ll fix it. It’s my fault. I know I’m wrong. You don’t need to say it, Dad. I already know I’m wrong.”

And I get super defensive and I started to justify my behavior and justify my actions, trying to explain. Like, “I don’t need to be ashamed. I don’t need to hear what I did wrong. I know it.” And my dad just walked up to me and he looked at me and all he said is, “Are you okay, and where is Steve?” That’s how a good father will always respond. See, a good father doesn’t care about his stuff. A good father cares about his son. And that’s exactly what’s happening in our story. You see, the son is on his way back home and the father sees him. You get the impression that the father has been looking and waiting for the son to come back home. And the moment he sees him, the father initiates. The father runs to the son in compassion, in love, in reckless extravagance. The prodigal father pouring out love and mercy and compassion on his son. Not one time does the father ever ask the son, “Hey, what did you do with the inheritance? “ Like, where is it? He doesn’t care. He cares about his son.

And none of us would have blamed the father if when he saw the son the father turned around and walked back inside and said, “I ain’t talking to that boy. In fact, he can come and grovel at my feet if we’re going to have a conversation.” That’s not what he does. He initiates. He pursues. He welcomes the son home. Imagine how shocked the son would have been. The son is coming home expecting punishment and instead he receives the gift of no condemnation. He comes home expecting a tongue-lashing. Like, I’m pulling in with the jet skis just waiting for it, right? You know what that feeling is like? The son is coming home waiting to be shamed, waiting to be punished, waiting to figure out whether or not his father is even going to talk to him. And what the father does is give him the gift of no condemnation. You see, it was the father’s love that led to the son’s repentance, not the son’s repentance that led to the father’s love. Catch that. It was the father’s love that led to the son’s repentance, not the son’s repentance that led to the father’s love.

The father’s love precedes the repentance of the son and it’s in that love that releases the repentance in the son’s heart. And that’s what we have in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Before we even thought about repenting, Jesus Christ came to die for us. Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads you to repentance.” It’s the love of the father that leads us to repentance, not our repentance that releases the love of the father into our lives. And so often we come back to God expecting punishment and all He wants to give us is the gift of no condemnation in Christ Jesus. The story goes on. Verse 21 – “The son says back to the father, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” Son thinks he has lost the right to be the son of the father, that his actions have disqualified him. And I think a lot of us, whether we want to say it or not, I think that’s how we view God. We think we’re no longer worthy to be a son or a daughter.

I mean, look at what I’ve done, where I’ve been, the choices I’ve made, and the mistakes that have happened in my life. I mean, God couldn’t forgive me. God couldn’t want me. God couldn’t welcome me home. And we forget that the Bible tells us there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And so maybe today is the day that you receive the forgiveness, that the father already wants to give you, that you are a son or a daughter in Jesus. But I think a lot of us, not only do we take that, I think a lot of us flip it. And I think a lot of us actually look at God and say the opposite. We say, “You are no longer worthy to be my father. You are not a good father.” We get hurt. We have disappointment. We get a broken heart, and before you know it we start to get offended at God. We get angry at Him. We start to close our heart off to God as if it’s his fault in some way. We start to blame God for the things in our lives. We blame Him for the marriage that blows up, for the dream that dies, for the cancer we get in our body, for the prayer we prayed when we were a little kid that didn’t get answered the way we wanted it to be answered.

And somewhere along the way we make a vow in our hearts to say, “He is not a good father. He’s not worthy to be my father. I don’t even want him really as my father.” Think about my 5-year-old little boy for a second. I have a 5-year-old little boy named Tray. Let’s say me and Tray are out on the driveway and we’re learning how to ride a two-wheeler. We’re taking the training wheels off since it’s live time with my family. And Tray is riding around on the driveway and he’s learning how to do it, and then all of sudden he falls down and he skins his knee. So he starts crying and I run over and I pick him up, and he shows me his skinned knee. And he looks at me and he says, “Dad, where were you? Look, I fell down Dad and I got hurt, and it’s all your fault. You’re not a good dad, Dad. In fact, I don’t want you to be my dad anymore because I fell down and got hurt.” Now listen; we would all say that’s crazy, right? Hey, dads come on. We would say that’s crazy, right? I’m still a good dad, right? All the women are like, “No, no! Where’s the knee pads and the helmet? No.”

“That’s not what a good dad would do.” But if we’re serious for a second, we think “Man, that doesn’t make me a bad dad.” And yet just because you walk through this broken world and get hurt doesn’t make God a bad father. Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” And the truth is we will fall down and get hurt in this broken world, and we forget that God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I’m the first one to pick you up.” And whenever we live saying, “I’m no longer to be worthy to be a son or a daughter”, or “You’re no longer worthy to be my father”, we start living as spiritual orphans. It’s like we have no home; we have no family; we have no father. I have to take care of myself. I need to provide for my own needs. And if it’s going to happen, I’m going to make it happen. And we start living as spiritual orphans. Listen, that’s a really hard way to live.

And the father doesn’t want the son to live that way. So in Verse 22 it says, “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. 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 son starts going through his little speech, and halfway through the father stops it. He didn’t even want to hear it. He just ends it and he says, “Son, I don’t care about all that and the inheritance. I’m just so glad that you’re home.” And the father says to the servants, “Quick! Go get a robe, a ring, and some sandals and bring it to my son.” In my mind I see the story like the son and the servants like making eye contact with each other, both with this look of like, “Are you serious?” Like, is this really happening right now? Reckless extravagance; giving and spending lavishly by the father – the prodigal father. And do you realize; that’s exactly what God does to us in Christ Jesus.

See, these three incredible things. He gives the son a robe, and not just a robe. He says get the best robe in the house. The best robe in the house would have been the father’s own robe. So he says go and get my robe and put it on my son, which is a sign of grace and favor. It’s a sign that there is a right standing in the relationship between this son and the father. And do you realize? In Jesus Christ, we literally get robed with him. Isaiah 61:10 – “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvations and draped me with a robe of righteousness.” In Jesus, you literally get draped in a robe of righteousness, which means your guilt and your shame and your sin and the brokenness and the wounds; the things we keep in the closet, that we don’t want anybody to know about – when we are in Jesus Christ the robe of righteousness covers us, which means we have the favor and the grace of God, right standing with our father. And when God looks at us He doesn’t see our stuff. He sees the purity and the holiness and the perfection of his son, Jesus.

He gives him a robe. Then he says, “Get the ring.” Right? “Get the ring.” A ring is a sign of power and authority. It means the son has authority now over the father’s estate, that he has full right of the inheritance again. In Jesus, we have the authority to access the resources of the kingdom of God. We have full authority to access everything that belongs to the Father. We have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. We are co-heir with Christ. We rule and reign with him. We have a full share of inheritance. And I love the last thing. He says, “Get him sandals.” Probably the most powerful thing in this whole passage. You see, in Jesus’ day only sons wore sandals. Slaves didn’t have sandals. Hired hands didn’t have sandals. Servants didn’t have sandals. So when he gives the son sandals he is saying, “Welcome home, son. In you I am well pleased.” And every day when that boy woke up from that time on and he saw sandals on his feet he was reminded that his father was well pleased in him, that his father loved him.

What it would be like to have a dad that every day told you he loved you and he was pleased in you? In a room like this there’s a whole lot of us that we’ve never even heard that once, let alone every day. And yet the amazing part of that what we have in Jesus Christ is we have that kind of father. Matthew 3:17 – The Father speaks to Jesus and says “You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.” Well listen. As Jesus is, so we are. Catch that. As Jesus is, so we are. If we’re robed in his righteousness, we’re covered in cloth in him, than as he is, we are. So if the Father would say that to Jesus, that means everyday as a follower of Jesus Christ the Father would say to you, “You are my beloved son or daughter”, and in who He is well pleased. The son doesn’t have to do anything. He just comes home. He doesn’t earn it, deserve it, achieve it. He just receives it. What kind of father is that? It’s a prodigal father. Reckless extravagance; giving and spending lavishly. A few weeks ago, it was Sunday afternoon. We had finished up church services and we were at home, and I turned on NASCAR. Got any NASCAR fans? Okay, a couple of us. So listen; just watch like the last 40 laps. That’s all you’ve got to give. Last 40 laps when all the action happens, the strategy, the crashes, the tempers; it’s awesome [Laughs]. Last 40 laps; that’s what you’ve got to watch. So Sunday afternoon I’m tired. I’m watching NASCAR, 40 laps. My 3-year-old little girl, Emma, she comes running into the room and she says, “Hey daddy.” She says, “I want to have a princess party today, daddy. So can we have a princess party upstairs? I want to go on a princess date. You can be Prince Eric. I’ll be a princess and we’ll go on a princess date in my room. Can we do that daddy?” [Laughs]

And I looked at her and I said, “Okay baby, in a little bit. Let me finish watching NASCAR.” She says, “Oh, okay!” And so she runs away and runs upstairs. So now I’m down to about 25 laps. Right? And the next thing I know is I hear this little girl’s voice upstairs going, “Prince Eric!” [Laughs] “The princess party is ready. I’m ready for our date. Are you coming?” And I said, “I’ll be there in a few minutes baby. I’m watching NASCAR.” So a few more minutes go by and I’m down to 15 laps. She does it again. “Prince Eric! It’s time to come to the party. Where are you?” “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She says, “Okay, daddy.” Few minutes later I’m down to 8 laps and this time she says, “Prince Eric, are you coming or what?” [Laughs] Okay? And so I said, “In a minute, okay? There’s 8 laps left. In a minute.” Literally it was one of those times when you don’t want to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life, right? And so I sensed the voice of the Holy Spirit, just real nice and gentle. It just says, “John, what are you doing?” And I very quickly reminded God, “I’m watching NASCAR.” [Laughs] And then I felt Him say to me again like, “Why aren’t you going upstairs?” I was like, “Because there’s eight laps left.” You want to tell me who wins now, that’s fine. I’ll turn it off, but I mean there’s eight laps left. Right? [Laughs] And so I look back at the TV and I think to myself, “What am I doing?” Turn off the TV and I go upstairs and I walk into my little girl’s room, and here she is, 3-year-old. She got a full princess gown on. She’s got the crown on. She’s got the fake earrings, the jewelry. She’s got a little table set up with all her groceries. Two play settings for a date. She’s got a little fake oven with cookies; fake cookies baking in it. And I walk in and she says, “Prince Eric, I’m so glad that you’re here for our date! Will you sit down and join me?” And so I pull out her chair and sit down with her. And she looks at me and says, “You’re Prince Eric and I’m Belle, and this is our date. And I want you to know I’m baking us some cookies. But only if you eat your healthy food first, Prince Eric.”

Okay? This is all true. And so we ate a lot of plastic chicken and broccoli to make sure we could get to the plastic cookies. And so we’re having a great time. She’s pouring me fake – dads, it’s one of those times you just love being with your kids. And I’m sitting there and all of a sudden I just have this thought and I thought, “I’m teaching my daughter how to view God as her Father.” The way I treat her, the way I respond to her, the way I engage with her, I’m literally teaching my daughter how to view God as her Father.” And as I sat there and thought about it, I thought about all of us and I thought, “When she says, ‘Prince Eric, are you coming?’, what is she really saying?” Dad, do you love me? Dad, am I important? Dad, is there something else in your life that takes more precedence than me? Daddy, do you want to spend time with me? And literally I thought about us, Valley Creek Church, and I thought about us and I thought, “How many times in life have we all said, ‘Prince Eric, are you coming?’” Only, he didn’t come. He didn’t come to the recital. He didn’t come to the ballgame. Maybe he didn’t come to the wedding. Maybe he never said, “I love you. I’m proud of you.” Maybe he wasn’t there when we needed him the most. At some point in time we stop asking Prince Eric to come, because we don’t think he is going to come. And we take all those hurts and we project them at God as our father. Oftentimes, it’s way down in here. We don’t even realize that we’re doing it, but what we project it there – we start to hide our hearts. We start to withdraw, and before you know it we live as spiritual orphans and we don’t even know what happened. Like, we don’t even know how we got that lonely, that set apart. We don’t even know like, “Why do I feel like I have to perform for everybody in my life? Why do I feel like I always have to achieve? Why do I feel like I’m never good enough? Why do I always feel like I’m by myself and have to do everything myself?” It’s because we’re living as spiritual orphans. And so let me ask you a really simple question. How open is your heart to God as your father?

Not the, “Hey yeah, God the Father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit. Been in church. Get the deal. Heard it before.” No, no. God as your father? When you have a need do you go to Him for provision? When you’re hurt do you go to Him for comfort? When you have sinned do you go to Him for healing? When you have joy do you go to Him for celebration? See, He’s always there and He always comes, and He wants to be our father. He doesn’t want us to live as orphans. He wants us to live as sons and daughters. And in fact, this whole ‘how do we find our way home’ is this. Home is only found in the father’s heart. It’s only found when we live as sons and daughters with the prodigal father. Home is not a place. It’s not a location. It’s not a perfectly decorated interior design. It’s not a family status. It’s only found in the father’s heart. Our son in the story comes back home and he is not home because he’s back at the father’s estate. He is home because for the first time he rests in his father’s love. That’s home.

And until we rest in the father’s love we will never ever be home. We will never feel home. You see, the Bible says that God is love. And so every place you see the word ‘love’ in the Bible you could replace it with the word ‘father’. So let me kind of close it and pull it all together with this. 1st Corinthians 13 – you’ve heard this at weddings. Let me replace the word ‘love’ with ‘father’, and just receive this. “Father is patient. Father is kind. Father does not envy and He does not boast. He is not proud. Father is not rude and He is not self-seeking. Father is not easily angered. And Father keeps no record of wrongs. Father does not delight in evil, but He rejoices with the truth. He always protects. He always trusts. He always hopes. He always perseveres. Father never fails.” I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like home to me.

That sounds like a place of rest. That sounds like a place where I can finally stop wandering and stop having to perform and stop trying to achieve and stop feeling rejection, and stop living as an orphan. That’s the Father’s heart and that’s the only place we’ll ever be home. And the only way to the Father’s heart is through Jesus Christ. See, 2000 years ago Jesus came from the Father’s heart, the Bible says, to this earth. He walked for 33 years on this earth to live a perfect, sinless life. He has been through it all. He knows your hardships and your heartache. He knows temptation. He knows what it’s like to be in a broken world with all kinds of brokenness around him. And then he got all the way to the cross, and they crucified him. And they gave him this horrendous crucifixion to take all of our sin, and he took our shame and our burdens and our punishment and our wounds. Jesus got everything we deserved, so we could get everything that he deserved. After he died they buried him in a tomb, and three days later he rose again.

And one of the first things Jesus does when he rises again from the grave is, he goes to his disciples and John 20 – ready? – he says, “Go tell my brothers that I am going to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” In other words, after the resurrection Jesus says, “It’s time to go home.” “It’s time to go home. You can finally go back to the Father’s heart. I’ve come to make way. I’ve come to take care of all the brokenness and sin and shame, that you can finally go home and rest in a loving father’s heart.” That’s home. 1st John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” How great is the love, how recklessly extravagant, to give and spend lavishly, is the Father’s love that we should be called children of God.

He is the prodigal Father, because He gave us Jesus Christ, recklessly extravagant. He gave us His only son, the most important thing to Him, so that we might become sons and daughters, so that we could come back home. And that’s what Easter is really all about. So you close your eyes and bow your heads with me. I’m not really sure where you are today. I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I know this. We all want to go home. We all want a good Father, a father who tells us every day that He is well pleased in us, not because of what we did or what we do or what we achieve, but because of who we are in Christ Jesus. And if you’re here today and you feel like you’ve been living by yourself, you’ve been lonely, you’ve been hurt and broken, that you’ve never placed your faith or your trust in Jesus Christ, today is the day. Pray a prayer like this in your heart and just say, “God, I’m ready to come back home.”

“In fact, Jesus, I want to put my faith and my trust in you. I give you all my sin and my brokenness, and I receive all of your righteousness and I receive that by you I’m going to be adopted into the family of God. And so I want you to be the Lord and savior of my life. I will trust in you. I will follow you the rest of my days.” The Bible says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.” That if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. The Father sent his one and only son, reckless extravagance, so that we all could become the children of God. And maybe you’re here and you think, “Hey, I’ve been a Christian for a while. I’ve been walking with God.”

Well, my encouragement to you tonight is to say, “Father, I’m ready to have a deeper relationship with you as my father. Would you help me live as a son or a daughter, that I might live home.” Bible says, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children.” There something about us living as sons and daughters. Some of you might be here and some are grandpa. I’m a dad. I do the father thing. I know all that, but God still always wants us to be His son, where we rest in Him. And so as the worship team now sings this song, here is what I want to ask you to do. You just sit for a moment. Will you listen to these words and will you receive everything the Holy Spirit wants to say to you? When Jesus hung on the cross he said, “It is finished”, and he wasn’t kidding. It’s finished. No more guilt. No more shame. No more condemnation. No more striving. No more trying to win the Father’s approval. Jesus came to bring us back home, and the Father demonstrated and showed us that He was a good Father by recklessly extravagantly giving us His son, Jesus Christ.

He gave and spent lavishly everything He had on us, that we might become sons and daughters of the greatest father who has ever lived. If you’re here today and you need prayer for anything, we’re going to have people up here to pray for you. Maybe you want to start a relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe you want to know more about God as Father. Maybe you want to find some healing for some father wounds you’ve been carrying around in your life. Come up and let these people pray for you. Otherwise, I’m so glad you’re here. Thanks for being with us this Easter at Valley Creek Church, and may you go resting in the Father’s love. Blessings.

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