Sunday School Material 4-24-16: Tested Faith

(Luke 15:11-24; 4/24/16)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that a younger son strayed away but was reconciled. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on staying right with God and celebrating the reconciliation of those who come back to Him

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Read Luke 15:11-16

I. The Fall. In ourSunday School material Jesus shares a parable about a man with two sons. The younger son asked for his portion of the estate early. The father divided the estate among his sons. 

The younger son went off and wasted his inheritance on wild living. He is pictured as not only feeding pigs but longing to eat what the pigs were eating. 

Applications –

- God’s concern for sinners. Notice in vs. 11 Jesus’ primary purpose for sharing this parable seems to be aimed at addressing the concern with His being so friendly with sinners (see Lk. 15:1-2). 

The idea seems to be that as a shepherd is concerned with finding a lost sheep, a woman is concerned with finding a lost coin, and a father is concerned with finding/receiving a lost son, so Jesus is concerned with the salvation of sinners. 

First, we should be very excited about God’s love of sinners, because all of us have and continue to sin. Second, we should not be like the religious leaders who thought that Jesus was too friendly with sinners. The church is a place where the worse can come and be transformed into new creatures. 

Third, as those who seek to be right with God, we should make sure that we keep our attention focused on God and not simply “religious” people. Let’s work on appreciating God’s concern with the salvation of sinners and ministering to those who respond to the invitation to “come to Jesus.” 

- Parental stewardship. Notice in vs. 12 that the father had an inheritance to give to his sons. First, we should strive to be wise stewards of the finances that God has placed in our trusts. A part of our stewardship should be estate planning, which includes who will have charge of our wealth, after we die. 

Second, we should give diligence to training our young people to be able to handle the inheritance that we leave. The reason why some people put their money in a trust is so young people cannot spend it all at one time. Let’s work on being wise stewards of our resources and passing them on to responsible young people.

- Stewardship of our inheritance. Notice in vss. 13-16 of our Sunday School material that the younger son asked for his inheritance, received it, wasted it, and found himself in a desperate situation. 

First, as noted above, every believer should strive to be a wise steward. A part of being a wise steward is making sure that we don’t waste our resources on “wild living.” Think about how this applies to people who waste so much money buying stuff to impress people who never seem to be impressed enough for long enough. 

Think about how much money is spent on hair and nail products, cloths, jewelry, and cars, instead of on the purchase of homes, mutual funds, and business opportunities. Second, being a wise steward can help us avoid some desperate situations. 

A part of stewardship is having an emergency fund because famines are known to come at some of the worse times. Let’s work on being wise stewards who have emergency funds, instead of simply being people who waste all that we get. 

Read Luke 15:17-20a

II. The Breaking Point. The younger son came to himself in our Sunday School material. He reasoned that he should go home and ask his father to accept him as a servant. His father’s servants were doing better than he was doing. So he went back to his father. 

Applications –

- Coming to ourselves and doing the right thing. Notice in vss. 17-20a that the younger son came to himself, thought it out, and went home. First, in order to come to himself, he had to have a self to come to. 

This is similar to how, in order for the Holy Spirit to bring things back to our memory, we have to have something in our memory to remember. We should work on prayerfully studying and sharing the word of God, so we can have something to come back to. 

Second, when we think about the pros and cons of doing God’s will verses doing our own thing, God’s way just make sense. But when we simply do what we “feel,” there is no telling where we will come out. We should work on meditating on the benefits of living for the Lord. 

Third, we have to actually obey. Thinking about obeying and actually obeying are two different things. Let’s work on prayerfully studying, meditating on, and obeying God’s will. 

- Humility and responsibility. Notice in vss. 18-20 that the younger son has humility and takes responsibility. 

First, there are too many people who would be further along, but they have so little humility. There is a chance that people will help you, when you are humble. But when you act as if someone owes you, people have a way of leaving you out there. 

Second, instead of being a victim of what we cannot change, we should take responsibility for the things that we can change. For example, we may not be able to cure our diabetes, but we can take responsibility for eating and exercising to the best of our ability. Let’s work on our humility and taking responsibility. 

Read Luke 15:20b-24

III. The Homecoming. As the younger son made his way home, his father saw him and rushed out to meet him. In spite of the boy’s confession of sin, the father treats him as a resurrected son. In fact, he talks about how the son was dead but is now alive. In our Sunday School material there is a great celebration. 

Applications –

- Compassion and grace. Notice in vss. 20b-24 that the father is known for his compassion and grace towards his son. In like manner, God is compassionate and gracious towards those who repent and come to Him. 

On one hand, we should praise God for His compassion and grace. And on the other hand, we should make sure that we have repented and turned to Him, in every area of our lives. 

Notice that sometimes compassion stays and wait for people to repent, instead of going to compel them to repent. Let’s work on being right with our compassionate and gracious God. 

- Celebrating reconciliation. Notice in vs. 24 that there is a celebration of the younger son coming home. In like manner, when people are reconciled with God, there should be a spirit of celebration. 

First, we should celebrate that brothers and sisters are reconciled. There are all kinds of blessings attached to being right with God. 

Second, we should celebrate that if we ever stray away and make it back, God is willing to accept us back. Let’s work on celebrating the reconciliation of people to God. For example, when people join the church and/or get baptized there should be a spirit of celebration. 

Conclusion: Let’s work on staying right with God and celebrating the reconciliation of those who come back to God. God has much for those who obey His will.

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