Luke 15:11, “And He said a certain man had two sons.” This is a well-known parable, it doesn’t say it is a parable, it could have been a true life experience. The Lord was using it as an illustration of the story we call the parable of the prodigal son. The first time I ever spoke in a meeting as a worker at a gospel meeting. I felt I should talk about my own story, so I spoke about the story of the prodigal son. I like the story because it tells of some of us that were wayward and the help that is held out to those outside.
The principal person in this story is not the prodigal son. It is the father, a certain man had two sons. We would not have this story if it wasn’t for the prodigal that was willing to turn back and repent. We certainly wouldn’t have this story if it wasn’t for the father and what he was like. As we read through this story, virtually every verse tells us about the character of the father.
Sometimes people ask us about our belief. At school one time, a boy asked me about my parents and why they were different. I said there are a lot of things we can’t have and there are a lot of places we can’t go and a lot of things we can’t see. He said that doesn’t sound very good. That is often the way we thought about it when we were growing up. It came like limiting, limiting things. May be the things we didn’t have in the father’s house. Maybe we thought it would be nice to have those things.
As we get older, we see there are a lot of things in the Father’s house that we would never have had, had we not said, “Yes,” to Him. In fact, the richest people in this world are those that live in the Father’s house and become His children. We don’t want to lose sight of that. This peace of God we have received in our heart and this settleness we have within our souls and human being, man and woman, they would love to have that. The enemy of our soul is very keen to show us we can get it some other way. This sense of fulfilment and the sense of rest and a sense of need. We are so thankful today, in the Father’s house, we can have these things.
The day I came back to meetings and I had been out in the world for several years. Knowing this was the truth and knowing I did not have the truth. I felt sorry for people who went to meeting for I felt they were deprived. I knew they were right. The day I came back to the convention ground and the Lord pulled back the curtain, He showed me these people have what you are looking for. I had never seen that before. We never want to despise this treasure that we have. We see it is something worth living for.
A certain man had two sons. What is the father like? The son said, “Give me the portions of goods that falleth to me.” What did the Father do? Have you ever had that question when things aren’t going so good in certain parts of the world, “Why doesn’t God stop that?” When you think of God and He has power over everything on the earth, why wouldn’t He stop them? We may see someone do something or say something, and we feel they shouldn’t do that and we know they should not do that, and God knows they shouldn’t do that. Why doesn’t God stop them?
Then we can turn to ourselves. When we want to do something, do we want God to stop us? No. I would like you to stop the others but not me. That is what our Father is like. He gives a choice to every person that is living. We may not agree with them doing that but that is what he is like. It is a wonderful thing to understand this and to be learning as we are going through life, the way the Father is that is the right way. Some people might get to judging God, the time will come when every tongue will confess and every knee will bow, that God was always right.
When the son requested that, he just gave it to him. We need to be careful what we ask for. We would not have to be very careful if God only gave us the right things. Remember in the Old Testament when the people were tired of the manna. They said, “It would be nice to have some flesh to eat,” and they asked for that. God gave them that and sent leanness into their soul. It is a lovely thing when we get to know the Father and getting to know what He likes. What do we need to be like to be in the Father’s house? We need to be like Him, don’t we. We used to go to school and I loved all the different teachers and we would love to know what the teachers knew and that is how we would pass an exam. Sometimes, we would move onto the next grade and get a new teacher. Of all the teachers I had, there was never a teacher that I wanted to be like that teacher.
The thing with our relationship with Jesus, it is not knowing what He knows is important, it is good to know as much as we can but it is being like Him. We all need to be like Jesus. That is what is going to enable us to pass the final exam. What is Jesus like? He is like the Father. That They might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. Why do we have to know Jesus and why do we have the know God? it is because we have to be like Them to pass the final exam. When Paul was writing to Timothy I, write these things so you know how to behave yourselves in the house of God. The right behaviour in the house of God is when we are like Jesus and when we are like the Father, and to do the things like the way He would do it. When we are kind to each other and show compassion to each other, etc.
A certain man had two sons and I don’t know if it was always a way. They were not behaving themselves and what happens when we don’t behave ourselves in the house of God? We find ourselves outside the house of God. The older brother found himself out in the field and he got to the place he didn’t know what was happening in the Fathers house anymore. The younger brother ended up in the far country. We are very thankful for the times when we can come together like this, and God touches our soul and talks about our behaviour. The way we act and the way we react and the way we talk and the way we walk and we like to have the behaviour that would be becoming to the house of God.
I just feel I would like to have more of the Godly qualities in my life. Sometimes we feel like we should do something and we should speak to someone about a certain quality. Would God in this situation? Would He do anything? It is good if we could be patient with that. I don’t think the younger son ever had the feeling that his father agreed with what he was doing. Yet, the father never stopped him. I remember very much my parents and my mother, especially those years that I was outside. The kindly interest they took in things that I was doing that they would not do. Just interested in me and showing that love and showing that care.
Verse 14, “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land and he began to be in want.” That was because in the far country, things were different than in the father’s house. It also says he wasted his substance and that is what happens with natural substance and we all understand that. The more we spend, the less we have, money or energy or whatever. When he ended up spending all, he had nothing. With the substance of the Father’s house, it is the other way round – the more we spend, the more we have. When it comes to the place where we have spent all, we have everything. That is not speaking about a natural substance but an enduring substance. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. You cannot draw a picture of faith, you cannot weight it, and it has no taste. It is an eternal substance and it will exist long after this world is destroyed.
One thing with heavenly substance – faith, hope, and charity – you cannot take it outside the house. He went into a far country and he still knew his father’s house, and he knew what was right. That is something we got to understand in order to call this substance ours – we must stay in the house and learning how to spend it in the house. I hope we think our faith is small and if our faith is more, what will we do with it? If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed. A mustard seed you can barely see it, if you keep it in your hand, or put it away in a box, it will remain small. If you sow it and spend it, it will become big. That is the way faith is and that is the way love is and that is the way things are in the father’s house. When we feel some of these things are small and we have the feeling we should go and visit our poor soul in a nursing home, “No one goes to see them and they don’t know who I am and I really should go and visit them.” Then I realise I got more from that visit then they did. That is a picture of how we spend the qualities of the Father and how we multiply and that is how we behave in the Father’s house.
It says he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country. There was a young lady who was not professing, keeping company with another young man that was not professing but he knew what the truth was. They planned to get married. Things didn’t go according to that plan and then they went their separate ways and the man came to the meetings and he professed. The young lady said, “I have decided I am going to join your church.” He said, “You just cannot join this church, you can’t just join the Father’s house.” He joined himself to the citizen of the country and that is how it is done in the world. The only way we can become part of the Father’s house is to go there and we are thankful for the provision we have been given to become obedient to the Father. To be born again and receive of His nature. Sometimes, you realise it is difficult to be like He is and to do things the way He does things and it is because we do not have enough of His nature. God never expected us with human nature to do His will. In fact, He knew we could not do that. Even if we put our very best intentions and our very best efforts into doing His will, we would come short.
Paul was possibly the closest in doing God’s will in his own strength. I put my best strength into it and there were some things I was supposed to do and I didn’t do it and other things I was supposed to do and I couldn’t make myself do it. Oh, wretched man that I am. Then Paul received salvation and received the salvation of the family and he received the spirit of Jesus, and the spirit of God. Then he could stop doing the things he wasn’t supposed to do. It is not a matter of sitting down and obeying the rules and we receive His spirit and it enabled us to do those things. Before a meeting like this, we think of the word and we think of a line and the most important thing that God by His spirit will enable us and it is a spirit that will feed and help us.
Verse 16, “And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat and no man gave unto him.” Why was that? No man gave unto him. When this story started, he uttered those words, “Give me,” and when he looked around, he discovered that everyone was like he was. Everyone was saying, “Give me.” Where were all the people that were giving? They were all back at the Father’s house. The Almighty giver is God and He is the one that has given the most and He gave His only begotten Son. We can learn to pick up and have some of that nature in us, the spirit of giving. Outside the father’s house, everyone was giving and everyone was saying, “Give me,” and everyone was getting poor. In the father’s house, everyone was giving and everyone was getting richer. The spirit of giving is not giving natural gifts but giving ourselves. We think of God servants giving up their life for the help of the Kingdom. We think of God’s people giving their homes, so God’s people can meet together. There are so many forms of how we can learn to give. That is right behaviour and it is only right when we do it the way God has planned. Giving of what God has given to us.
Verse 17, “And when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’” We felt sorry when we felt those in God’s house had nothing and were missing out and it seemed so unexciting and all the things they didn’t have and that was our view of it. We are thankful for the day we realised they have something that no one else has. How many servants in my father’s house have bread and to spare and I am hungry? Serving in the father’s house, it is hard for us to see it is a privilege. It was hard for Esau to see serving was a privilege. His father told him, “If you serve your brother, you will have the dew of Heaven, and the fatness of the earth,” and Esau couldn’t see that it was a privilege and he saw being served was a great privilege. You know why Esau felt that way because we all have that nature.
We have snow machines and they are quite an attraction for little boys. Some brother workers came to this home and there was a little boy just four years old and he was so proud his dad had just got a snow machine. He said, “Why don’t you and I go on the snow machine? I will run it.” That is our nature – I will run it, this is my life. What am I going to do with my time? What am I going to do with my life? Paul said, “Don’t you realise you are not your own.” We are thankful for the day coming when we realise serving is a privilege. It is the right we have if we are born in the house of God, born into His Kingdom, we have the right to serve. That younger son saw that it was an activity in the father’s house and it was a wonderful activity. We think of those in the kingdom and those we look to and we wonder what a certain person would do, we look to a childlike person. It is a childlike spirit that leads the children of God.
Then he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” There was no question about where the father was. That was a thought that came to my mind when I came back to the truth. A person gets weary with the changing world. I went to the college and went to the city, I didn’t know many friends in that city. There was nothing in that city that was God-like and it was very worldly, a lot of opportunities for worldly things. Then I got right with God and I found out there was a meeting in that city. I remember walking into the meeting the first Sunday and I couldn’t believe there was a meeting in that city. It was a same truth in the same fellowship and people walked the same as I had ever known when I was back home. We never need to worry about the truth of God ever changing and God will make sure it doesn’t. People might change and they may do things differently and God will make sure the way is perfect until the very end. It is a wonderful confidence when we get up every morning and I can walk in the truth today and there is nothing that needs to hinder that. God has made it that there is a perfect way for you and I to walk in. The enemy of our souls tells us we can’t walk in that. God wants us to understand the truth is open unto us every day.
He said, “I will go to my father.” That tells us another quality about our Father. No matter what happens, we always have access to our Father. Have we ever felt that because of failure in our lives, God will not listen to us? We are very thankful no matter what our past has been, we always have access to the Father. He could have wondered if the father still would know him and who is this coming. When he was a great way off, his father saw him. How did his father see him when he was a great way off? Our Father is looking down that road every day and looking for the time when we will return, that would be the hope he would have in his heart. It says his father had compassion. The failures of the son had not changed how the father was, had not changed the father’s love, or the father’s compassion.
Then the father ran and kissed him. There is so much about the Father and it seems we are learning more and more about him. It would be good if we could have it in our souls, that we want to be more like him. The hope and the compassion God shows to us that we would show to others and that is all He is asking.
Verse 19, “And am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants.” Serving is something we learn in the father’s house. It is not a matter of doing something for the Father, before we can serve we got to be made into a servant. How do we get made into a servant? God said about His Son, “Behold the servant who I uphold, Jesus, One who is the chief servant in the house.” Jesus, all through His life, lived as a servant, “I am your Lord and Master, but I am among you as One who serves.” When we think of those who serve in the kingdom and God uses each one of us to be servant one to another. We all have need of things from the Father and God uses the servants.
His father said to the servants, “Bring forth the best robe.” Who puts the robe on so we can be clothed again? It is God but He uses His servants. The father could have done that, but he uses his servants. “Put shoes on his feet.” It seems a lovely picture of gathering together for a meeting and the Father has things we need. We come to a meeting and we feel we need to be clothed again. Each one has a part in the meeting, may be an older person or a child, by their word we feel clothed again. The thing about walking in Jesus’ footsteps, we cannot do it unless we have shoes on our feet. The preparation of the gospel is peace. There are some places we cannot walk unless we have shoes on.
There was a step I should have taken once and that was to go into the work. First of all, I felt I could not do that. I knew it would be wonderful to be in the work and I felt I could not do it. I was asking God to help me get rid of that thought. I thought God would know I couldn’t do it. When we first look at something, we look at our own strength. I remember a worker helping me with that, this call is not of yours, but it is God’s call. If God is calling us to do something, He will never fail to give us the strength to do it. When we are in the meeting, it is good to listen to each one and we don’t know which one in the meeting God has chosen to be our servant that day.
One time, I was called upon to stand beside a man when he was getting married and it is called the best man. There was going to be a ring given to the bride. There was a certain time I was to present that ring and then I was to go and sit down. He gave me this ring and I put it in my pocket and I do not know how many times I checked my pocket, as I was fearful that time would come when the ring was needed and I would not have it. I have asked myself how many times I have lost the ring or gift that my brother so badly needed and I failed to give it. It seems to bring quite a responsibility to be servants in the house, the Father is entrusting things to us and that we would take it and share it with our brothers and sisters.
There were three things the servants had to put on him and that was the robe, the ring, and the shoes. That is what servants are entrusted with and it is a great responsibility for us to be behaving correctly in the father’s house. That we would have shoes to put on someone’s faith and the ring on the hand is wonderful and it tells us something more about the Father. The son may have had a ring on his hand and he may have sold that when he ran out of food in the far country. As long as you had that ring on his hand, people would know who we belong to and they would know who his father was. Sometimes, you would wonder if the Father would admit that we belong to Him. The Father in Heaven loves His children. The thing that brings the most pleasure to God on this earth, the fruit that has been begotten in our lives. God wants the whole world to understand we are His children, and that He is our Father. Jesus manifested that always. We should not be ashamed to call Him our Father. He is the only one in the family that has never failed and yet He is not ashamed to call us brethren. Would we would be ashamed to call Jesus our brother, and would we would we ever be ashamed to call God our Father? The ring on our finger is simply the Holy Spirit, “By this shall all men know you are My disciples.” As we are manifesting His Spirit, we show we belong to our Father.
Then he said, “Bring the fatted calf.” It mentions two animals here and he was in the far country and he was with the swine. At that time, swine represented things that should not be fed and the calf represented what should be fed. There are only three animals that should ever go on the altar. It was always God’s order that those bullocks that went on the altar would be in good condition. If they weren’t in good condition, they never went on the altar. That is one of the activities in the father’s house – feeding that which is right, feeding on the life of Christ. We are sorry at times when we feed on the wrong things. We realise it would have been a little weaker have we not fed it so much. Outside the house, we feed the wrong things, our human nature and our rights, stand up for what you think is right. In the house of God, it teaches us to feed the right things. Those servants would be getting up of a morning and feeding the calf and wondering what it was all about. You take a little time each day to read your Bible and meditate. Sometimes, we may be reading, get nothing out of it, and we wonder what it is all about. When the son came home and the father said, “Bring the fatted calf,” they would have realised they did what they could when they could. There was everything to put on the table.
Speaking of the elder son, there is not too much to say about him. This story of the elder brother comes out a wonderful story about the Father. The elder brother was so upset this was going on and he was feeling sorry for himself and said, “I have served you for many years.” We could be having a wonderful time in this gathering and there is someone outside feeling sorry for themselves and they start to wonder about this and that and we would think just leave them, that is not good behaviour. We cannot grasp the hope and the compassion our Father has, our Father will have hope for no one else except our souls.
One thing that is nice about this story – it does not end. The father went out and intreated the elder son and the father said the last words there, “All I have is thine and thou art ever with me.” I wonder how the older brother responded to that and we don’t know. It would be nice to know how the story turned out. May be the older son did respond and it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what others do with the father’s entreaty and what matters is what do I do. We are very thankful the Father, He approaches us personally, and the whole thing that counts is what do I do. I can do the right thing. Amen.