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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Matt Hagee » Matt Hagee - The Love of the Father

Matt Hagee - The Love of the Father

Matt Hagee - The Love of the Father
TOPICS: Storyteller

In Luke 15, we meet a scandalous Savior. Jesus is having lunch, and tax collectors and sinners come to him. Tax collectors worked for Rome. They were hated amongst the Jews, because they were Jewish in their heritage, Jewish in their citizenship, but loyal to a foreign government. The way that they collected taxes is that they would assess how much tax you could pay. They gave Rome what Rome wanted and they got to keep the rest. And the Bible says, not only did tax collectors come to eat with him, but sinners came to eat with him.

Now these sinners were typically individuals that you didn't want to hang around because they had poor reputations. Most of them with prostitutes. Tax collectors had money but they didn't have friends, so they paid people to hang out with them. And the pharisees, seeing the kind of company that Jesus is keeping, they turn their nose up, and they say, "This man cannot be a religious man. He cannot be a righteous man. Look who he's eating with". And so Jesus begins to tell them a series of three stories in an attempt to demonstrate to them that God, our father in heaven, loves everyone that he has created just the same.

And so Jesus begins to tell parables, three of them. In each of them, he increases the measure of what was lost just to show how much heaven celebrates those who are lost being found. He begins with the story of the lost sheep. And percentage wise, he says that there's a man who has a hundred sheep and he loses one. So we've lost 1% of our whole flock. And the pharisees, they kind of go, "Yeah, okay. One percent of the sheep, they're going to have another lamb. You're going to get more sheep. Don't worry about it. It's not that big a deal". But Jesus says, "If you were a shepherd and you lost 1% of your flock, wouldn't you leave ninety and nine, and go out and find the one"?

And when you find the one, you'd come back and tell all your friends, "Look, I found the sheep. Let's celebrate, because what was lost has been found". And Jesus says, "If you're not the kind of person who goes and looks for one, let me tell you something, all of heaven will rejoice more over the one who comes into the fold than the ninety and nine who are already there". So Jesus turns up the stakes. He says, "Which one of you, if you had ten coins and lost one", we went from losing 1% to losing 10%. "Which one of you, having 10% of your wealth missing, wouldn't go looking for it"? And he tells a story of a lady who has ten coins and she loses one coin. And she turns the house upside down looking for it. And when she finds it, she calls all of her friends and says, "Hey, let's rejoice. What was lost has been found".

And again, he says, "All of the angels in heaven, they don't need 10% of the sinners to get saved. If one of them comes home, if one of them is found, all of the angels rejoice". And the pharisees kind of roll their eyes. And now he's got them set up, because he's going to tell a third story. The story of the prodigal son is not isolated. It's the conclusion to the setup that Jesus gives them with the sheep and the coin. And he says, "If 10% wasn't enough loss, let me tell you a story about a certain man who had two sons". And now we've gone from losing 1% to 10% to 50%. And everybody draws in. He says, "A certain man had two sons".

This father with his two boys, they're not old enough that we look at them like they should be out of the house. But they're not so young that they couldn't do a few things on their own. They're kind of at that stage where they're starting to feel like adults but they still act like kids. You know I'm 18 after all. Cool. Pay your own taxes and we're good. The younger brother soon comes to the father in verse 12. And he says, "Father, give me the portion of the goods that fall to me".

Now in ancient Hebrew culture, the father would take all that he had and he would divide it two-thirds and one-third. The elder son would get two-thirds, and the younger son would get one-third, because it was considered the eldest son's responsibility to take care of all of the father's family. So what this younger brother is saying is, "Dad, I know that I'm not supposed to get this inheritance until you die, but I can't wait that long. Give it to me now. I'm done with you. I want your possessions but I don't want a relationship. I value what's in the bank account, but I don't value you at all. I want your wealth. I just don't want the responsibility of a relationship. Give me what's mine. I'm gone".

Now when Jesus tells this story to the audience that he's speaking of, they realize that in the ancient Hebrew culture, if your son dishonored you like that, you were to physically drive him out of the house. So whenever they say, "Dad, give me the inheritance," everybody in the audience goes, "Ooh, he gonna get slapped". And then in the next verse, Jesus says, "So the father divided it up and gave them his livelihood". Now why do we need to understand he gave it to them? One son asked for it. Both sons got it. We point the finger at the younger brother. You prodigal, you asked dad for the inheritance. But dad divided it up and gave two-thirds to the elder and one-third to the younger.

When he shows up with two-thirds of his fortune and hands it to the older brother, the older brother doesn't go, "Oh, dad, no. Don't do this. This is wrong". He goes, "Well, thanks dad. See you later, bro". They both received, at an inappropriate time, "The father's livelihood". The thing that I take away from this is that in these conversations that must have happened as one son asks and both sons received, nobody takes up for dad. Nobody says, "Hey, wait a minute. This isn't how you deserve to be treated". No one was offended by anyone's behavior, because everyone was getting what they wanted except for dad. No one said, "Dad, I don't need your money. I just need you".

You see, one of the things that men face in the world today is the feeling that they're not valued because of who they are: they're only valued because of what they provide. This is one of the reasons why, when men get together, they'll tell you their name. But immediately after their name, they'll tell you what they do. "Hi, my name is..." fill in the blank. "And I'm a contractor," "I'm a salesman," "I'm an attorney," "I'm a banker," "I'm a businessman," "I'm an executive". One of my favorites is, "I'm a life coach". Cool. Who's on your team? And what was your win/loss record?

I'm an architect. I'm a stockbroker. They'll fill in the blank with anything, because men have been trained in this world that's driven by materialism that if you have the ability to produce it, you're valuable. Men, let me give you this encouragement today. Don't get caught up in this rat race, pulling away from what's important because you're under the pressure to provide bigger, better, faster and more. Realize that you are valuable because of who you are. You are a father to your children. You are a husband to your wife and you are a child of God to the king of all kings. And before we get down on these two boys taking dad for granted, how many of God's kids are the exact same way?

We take God for granted. God knows what it's like to be a father. He knows what it's like to provide for his children and be overlooked. The boys didn't value the father, but the father still loved his sons. We may take God for granted, but his love is all-encompassing. You know one of the truest signs of immaturity is a lack of appreciation. And it's one thing when it's from an infant. Never seen an infant child come out of the womb and thank mom and dad for bringing them here. "Wow! This is great". You don't expect it because the child is so immature. But when the child gets to be of age, you expect appreciation. They should say, "Please" and they should say, "Thank you". And if they don't, you need to teach them how to. And if they don't, then they don't get what they're asking for. Because if it can be fed, it can be trained.

So in just a few verses, we have a father with two sons and he loses one. Fifty percent of his legacy is now in the far country. Verse 13 says that he went to the far country and he wasted his possessions... Say that with me. "He wasted his possessions". "...With prodigal living". The Bible doesn't say that he spent it. The Bible said he wasted it. He might as well put a match to it and burned it up, because the lifestyle he was living didn't leave him with anything to show for it. He didn't even get the been-there-done-that-and-bought-the-t-shirt. He didn't have no shirt. It was as if he never received a dime from his dad, because when you're done with prodigal living, everything you took with you is gone.

Now the Bible says that he went to the far country with prodigal living. But what you need to know is that prodigal living doesn't have to happen in the far country. Prodigal living is a state of mind. Prodigal living is a pattern of behavior when you begin to live like God your father doesn't exist. Prodigal living is rooted in pride, the arrogance and pride of I'm going to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, like I want to do it. And yet the Bible says, "The Lord resists the proud".

A prodigal state of mind pretends like God's rules don't apply to you, like God's principles and God's word and God's teaching aren't for you. You're the exception to the rule. You've got a prodigal state of mind. But what we see in this story is not just a son who wasted his possessions with prodigal living, but we see a father who is anxiously awaiting to restore the son that was lost. The boy is in a far country. The boy has wasted all of his possessions. He's now eating with the pigs in the pen. How do you know things didn't turn out like you hoped? When you wake up and your fighting at the breakfast bar with a sow, you've got a problem. He's eating in the pen with the pigs.

And verse 17 says, "He came to himself". That means he got back in his right mind. And the thing that I think is beautiful in this picture is that the moment that he gets back in his right mind, the first thought that he has is not about the shower or the bed that he left at his house. The first thought that he has is about his father. It says when he comes to himself, he asks this question, "How many of my father's servants have bread enough to spare", he didn't even think, you know dad loves me and dad's missing me. And if I go home, dad will let me back in. He said, "How many of my father's servants", the message is I know a father who loves everybody, not just me. He loves everybody that works for him. He loves everybody that's in his house.

This prodigal son's father is so anxious to restore him that he spends his days watching and waiting. How do you know? Read verse 20. It says, "He arose and he came to his father. And when he (the son) was still a great way off, the father saw him", and the Bible says, "One day he gets up and he's making his rounds, and he looks down the path, and he says, 'hey, that's my boy. That's him. I know it's him. He's walked like that since he was a kid. You can't tell me that's not him. I know he doesn't look like he looked whenever he left, but that's my boy'". And the Bible says, "He ran to him".

Now the thing about a father in this time in history, running, it's a dishonoring thing because when you're wearing a robe, you've got to hike up your skirt if you're going to make the jog. But what Jesus was telling his audience is that God, your father, is so deeply in love with you: he doesn't care what it looks like. When you start making your way to him, he'll cover all the rest of the way just to get to you. Jesus paints a beautiful picture. The father falls on the prodigal's neck and he covers him with kisses. He doesn't care what he looks like. He doesn't care what he smells like. He doesn't care what he's been through. He looks over his shoulder and he tells the servants, as he's holding his boy, he says, "Go bring the best robe".

He didn't say, "Bring the boy's robe". He said, "Bring the best robe". The best robe would have been hanging in dad's closet for a special occasion. It wasn't his everyday clothes. It was his good clothes. It was his Christmas and Easter clothes. And he says, "Bring me a ring," because in ancient Israel, the father's signet ring was his symbol of authority. And if you took that ring with you and you went in to buy or sell or make a trade, you could take that ring and press it into wax, and the emblem of that ring meant dad will cover the charges. The ring meant that he's now back with El Shaddai.

Everything is going to be covered. The shoes, bring me some shoes. Servants and slaves weren't allowed to wear shoes. But a son got to wear shoes. And the prodigal does something that's very powerful. As he's falling in his father's arms and he's being covered by kisses, and he's hearing about a robe, and he's hearing about a ring, and he's hearing about shoes, he doesn't make up a story. He doesn't come home with an excuse and an explanation. He simply tells his father the truth. "I sinned. I was wrong. I didn't do this right. I not only sinned against God in heaven but I sinned against you, and I'm not worthy".

You see, before you have the ability to be restored by the father, you have to make a truthful confession about yourself. Many of us are wondering why we're not receiving the restoration that comes from God's amazing grace. And the reason is, is because we're trying to come up with an explanation and an excuse for our sin, rather than just confessing the fact that we have sinned, we have fallen short of the glory of God. And when we do, God will forgive. 1 John 1:9: "If we confess and forsake our sin, then he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Don't make your sin somebody else's fault. Have the courage to confess it and forsake it, and see what wonderful things God, your father, will do. The servants bring the father the best robe. He puts the robe on the boy. He doesn't look like the pigpen he was in. He now looks like the dad. The servants bring him the ring. He's got authority. The servants bring him the shoes. He's got relationship. And in this moment of restoration, dad and the fallen son are headed back to the house. And dad is whistling and hollering and cheering. And he's telling his friends, "Hey, party at my house tonight! We're going to kill the calf"! Everybody started shouting, "They're going to kill the calf"!

In ancient Israel, if you had meat, you were rich. And the meat you had would typically be a goat. But if you were really fancy, you would have a calf, not a whole herd of cows, just a calf. And you'd feed him until he was rolly polly fat. And then when he got fat enough, you would kill him and invite all your friends over to show off your prosperity. And right now, we would think, hey, dad lost 50% of his sons and he got them all back. No. Dad got one son back just as the other was leaving. Why? Because the elder brother, the pharisee of the family, sees the tax collector coming back from the far country. And he doesn't go to the father and say, "Dad, could we talk? I need to ask you some things. I mean, what's going to change now that Charlie's home"?

He walks up to the father, and he says, "This son of yours". He didn't go in there and say, "Hey dad". He went in there and said, "Hey you". Now I don't know about you, but as far as I have been told, there is never an appropriate time to address your father as "Hey, you". Just making sure we're still on planet earth. I mean, those are the kinds of words that you say whenever you duck, "Hey, you". He walks in, and he says, "This son of yours, he squandered your money". He's accusing the younger brother of doing the same thing he's doing. He's got two-thirds of dad's money. This kid's got one-third of it, and the one-third is gone. He said, "He squandered your money with this prodigal and riotous living, and now that he's back, you're going to kill the calf"!

What's made the elder brother mad is not the fact that the brother's back. What's made him mad is what they're having for dinner. "We're going to barbecue for him"? "I've been with you all this time, and you wouldn't even give me a goat". And still this boy doesn't value the relationship with the father. He's mad about the money. And what does dad do? At this point, if I'm dad, I'd be like, "I am tired of both of y'all". But that ain't the dad in this story. He looks at him, and he says, "Son". He still loves him. He doesn't correct him and reprimand him. He says, "Son, you've always been with me, and everything I have, it's yours. If you wanted it, all you had to do was ask for it". "But it is right that your brother that was lost, your brother that was dead is home. And it is right that when he comes home, we should rejoice".

And then Jesus does something that frustrated me forever until I finally figured it out. He never finishes the story. He's talking to his audience about these two boys, and he doesn't ever get to the point of telling us whether or not the elder brother got over himself and went back inside. He never tells us whether or not the family was restored around the same table, rejoicing in the good things that God had done for all of them. It's a cliffhanger, to be continued.

And then I realized that the reason that Jesus doesn't finish the story is because for Jesus, the story is about the love of the father. And whether or not the family is unified isn't up to the father: it's up to the sons. It's not up to Jesus to bring the family together. It's up to us to get together. It's up to us, as his children, to value each other enough that we won't judge one another by what we've done wrong. We'll judge one another by what God has done in us.

Would you stand to your feet? This being father's day, I want you to take a moment and I want you to ask yourself, "What can you, as a child of God, your father in heaven, give him this father's day, not corporately as a church: personally, as his child"? Have you been taking God for granted and you need to give him more appreciation for his goodness and his blessings in your life? Have you been treating your brothers and sisters in Christ with judgment and condemnation, rather than celebrating the grace of God on their life and the grace of God in your life? Do you have a prodigal state of mind where you live like God doesn't exist? You act like the words that he's written in his book aren't for you? You're the exception to the rule?

I want you to know, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what you've done, the father is looking for you. And if you have the courage to just come home to him, he'll finish the race and come meet you. Whatever it is that you can give God, your father in heaven, today, I want you to do it. Because I promise you, there is nothing as wonderful as receiving the love of God, our father. Give him a handclap of praise.
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