I started a series on “Am I my brother’s keeper” and I left it half way through. I’ve been getting pestered by everyone to finish the series and the Lord has released me to complete it.
In Luke chapter 15 one of the strong themes is “Lost”. We have the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and then the lost son. I want to dwell on the lost son today. Verses 11-32.
In the story of the lost sheep, it was the shepherd who went after the sheep. In the lost money it was the woman who looked out and went searching for the money. But in Luke 15 from 11 onwards when the son said “I want to go”, we don’t see the father going to look for him.
Now there are two mindsets in the house of the Lord. One mindset says “I want to be a risk taker, I want to walk by faith, I want to walk in grace”. There is also the presumption that you can live anyhow under grace, but then comes the realisation that grace abounds only under the Father’s care. When you leave the house you are out of the confines of grace and you meet famine.
The young son said “Give me that which is mine. I’m going out of grace, out of the zone of your care of grace. I’m going to find things out for myself.” But do you know what? Unless the Lord is the one watching the house, unless the Lord is doing the building, you are building in vain.
The Bible says “Thank God he came to his senses”. There are certain areas of our lives where we have decided we want to go and explore for ourselves. This story of the lost son is about two children in the house. So God is not talking about somebody out there. Sometimes there are certain areas of our life where we say to daddy “My money, my financial affairs, are my own. When it comes to my health. I believe you for signs and wonders, for good health but I want to walk on my own with my finances.” God says “I won’t come chasing you.”
The Bible said when the son set out it looked good. This is one of the tricks of the enemy – he makes it look good. The story is told about this wonderful toad which when you put it in a particular temperature, it adjust itself to that temperature. You keep increasing the temperature and the toad says “Oh it is so warm, it’s so nice”. Until one day, the temperature becomes too high and all of a sudden, poof! It dies. Likewise the devil does the same. He comes to you and he touches certain areas of your life. You say “Oh no, not me. I won’t do that” but then he touches another area and you say “Oh it’s nothing. Oh it’s just a little thing. Everybody does it.” He takes you into the area of “everybody does it.”
You have heard there were some MPs in this country who were “all doing it” concerning their expenses claims. So, because everybody was doing it, some people engaged in it but they were found out. At the time it looked good. Until the bubble burst. So when there are things like this going on, like Joseph you will say “the time of good harvest will come” but know at the back of your mind that there is a bubble bursting, a time of famine will follow.
I’m doing some studies in certain areas and it’s interesting how history repeats itself. When are we ever going to learn from history? When they had the first depression it was called the “Long Depression”. After that came the “Great Depression”. The one we are going through at the moment is maybe a little bit above that. The regulators rushed in and said “Oh we will put this in place so we don’t have to go back into this sort of situation again”. So they put things in place. There was all this wonderful Bretton Woods establishment to make sure that financial regulations were in place. Until, later on, wonderful good friends, some of them in the banks said “Oh, you know what. Hey. We can make some very good money for you”. They said “Is that true?”. The financiers said “Yes”. “How?” “Look, you give me £20 and in a matter of weeks I will multiply it for you up to a £100”. Then they got greedy. They wanted even more profit. Could it be done? Retailing banks moved to being investment banks. They engaged in very tricky investments. They put pension money in etc. Even our own borough engaged in making money through trickery. Then one day the bubble burst. We then entered a double dip recession.
History repeats itself. Luke 15 is telling you, “The bubble doesn’t go on for ever, so be ready for the bubble bursting”.
In the son’s time of famine he was hungry. When you pray and fast you are hungry for the right reason. Matthew 5 says they who hunger and thirst shall be blessed. When we decide to be hungry for the Lord, he will fill you up. Prayer and fasting says “I’m emptying myself of self so that you will fill me up”.
The son in the parable comes back to the house of grace. He begs his father to do things for him. The father says “We don’t talk servant talk like ‘oh Lord I’m not worthy’”. The father says “Shut up” and tells the servants to bring him new clothes. Do you think that when you pray and use this sort of talk it makes you humble? The father says “shut up”. When you are outside grace, that’s how you pray. When you are under grace – you are the son of a king. You talk like a prince. Don’t talk like a servant. The servants in the house under grace are better off than those who are outside the house.
John the Baptist was greater than Moses, Elijah etc. John was one foot in the Old Testament and one in the New. He stood at the junction of “grace” and “outside grace”. Jesus said the least in the kingdom is greater than John Baptist. See yourself as the child of a king. Don’t come and talk begging talk. God’s wondering where you learnt this language. This sort of language isn’t talked in this house.
Check your language. When we are in the house of the Lord people will ask “How are you?” You reply “I’m well. Things are good”. Then somebody calls you at home and you say “Oh things are bad all year”. In church – everything is okay. Outside church – that which you haven’t got rid of comes out of you. When we speak to the Father, we must learn to speak his language. He doesn’t understand some talk. Heb 11: 6 says
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
In the house of the father we speak by faith and know that God is a rewarder and God is good and doesn’t change.
That’s why the son could go back because he knew “my father doesn’t change”. When I was in the house, my dad did me good.
The dad said “Let him know is identity – change his clothes”. Clothes are your identity. The day he met Pharaoh, Moses changed clothes. God says he will change our garment of mourning into a garment of praise. The garment of mourning does not belong in church.
When you come under grace he clothes you with righteousness not because of what you have done but because of what Jesus has done.
So am I my brother’s keeper? The older son in the parable calls his brother “your son”. His philosophy was “the more I work, the more my dad should do something for me”. He is in the house but doesn’t have a grace mentality. Like the Pharisees, he believes in rules, regulations and works.
The older son asks when did his father gave him a banquet? The father tells him that everything belongs to him so whenever he is ready he can eat. This son’s mindset was “I’ve got to work and then you will give me something”. The father says “All along, without that work, you would still have had enough to eat”.
Big brother has the mindset of a commandment keeper – “By works I shall be recognised.” But all along everything was his and not dependent on his works.
So there are people who come into the house of the Lord. Pastor says we need to do prayer and fasting for 3 hours. You pray and then you ask “where is the answer?” Father says you didn’t need 3 hours of prayer to get an answer. Yes prayer is good but you come with monologues. You pray and pray and pray. Prayer is meant to be a dialogue of love and intimacy because it is out of intimacy that your lover will reveal secrets. In Song of Songs, he says “I looked for my beloved. When my beloved found me he took me into his chambers and told me secrets”. In other words we learn secrets outside. In order to get secrets you need intimacy. If not, you can’t get access to what is yours. All is available to you. It’s not because God doesn’t want to do it, it’s because he’s already done it. Rom 8:32. “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God….” God does not change. God is a rewarder. He is forever good.
As I close, note the two mindsets
Grace says yes I may have come last but God decided to pay me first and with the same wages.
I may have come last but my daddy has said favour has found me out – the same amount as those who came before me and who have been labouring. God is saying all is yours. Don’t just pray for it. Decree it and establish it. Say “Let it be established”.
The older brother could not rejoice when others were successful. Learn to be grateful. If he can do it for others, he can do it for you. God has no favourites. God is good. He does not change. What He has said he will do, he will do it.