Summary: stressing the importance of asking God for everything.
A small Oklahoma town had two churches and one distillery. Members of both churches complained that the distillery was giving the community a bad image. And to make matters worse, the owner of the distillery was an out-spoken atheist. He didn’t believe in God one bit. The church people tried unsuccessfully for years to shut down the distillery. So finally they decided to hold a joint Saturday night prayer meeting. They were going to ask God to intervene and settle the matter. The church folks gathered on Saturday night and there was a horrible thunderstorm raging outside and to the delight of the church members, lightening hit the distillery and it burned to the ground. The next morning the sermons in both churches were on the power of prayer. The insurance adjusters notified the distillery owner that they were not going to pay for the damages because the fire was an act of God and that was an exclusion in the policy. The distillery owner was furious and sued both churches claiming that they had conspired with God to destroy his business. But the churches denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire. The presiding judge opened the trial with theses words: “I find one thing in this cause most perplexing-we have a situation here where the plaintiff, an atheist, is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants, all faithful church members, are denying that very same power.”
Last week, Pastor Connie Rench talked a little bit about the older brother in the Prodigal Son story. This morning I want to focus on him and key in on a part of the story that is seldom talked about but is an important point in the story.
Before I begin, I want to ask you what ‘prodigal’ means? Now, before I tell you, I want you to know that I didn’t have the right meaning in my head either. ‘Prodigal’ means to spend money wantonly. It means to be excessively wasteful with your finances. I always thought that it meant someone that had gone astray and had returned to the fold, but that wasn’t right at all.
Let me first tell you that I do not believe in the ‘prosperity Gospel’ that many televangelists teach. I believe that the ones that truly prosper from their teachings are them. However, this sermon is going to be the closest I will ever get to that type of teaching.
Now, I think that this story is one of the greatest stories of reconciliation and redemption that has ever been told. However, we are going to focus on that older brother. He was the diligent, faithful one. We find this story in Luke 15: 25-31
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’”
I believe that the last part of this passage is one of the most under-used parts of scripture. Because of its implications for evangelism and restoration, we always focus on that foolish brother that misspent his entire inheritance. I want us, instead to focus on the father’s reply to the older brother. I can actually hear the father’s voice when he tells the son: “oh son, everything that I have is yours.”
You see, the older brother, let’s call him Ted so that I don’t have to keep calling him the older brother. Ted had not grasped the fact that everything that his father owned was already his. So the first thing that I would like to tell you is:
1. Everything your Father owns in already yours
I believe that one of the things that most of us tend to do is to forget who our Father is. If we do not consistently remember that God is our Father and that He owns everything He created, we are doomed to live below our means.
Your first thought might be, ‘but Pastor, that sounds an awful lot like prosperity Gospel.’ Here’s the difference. Just because the Father owns it, doesn’t mean that you will receive it until the time is right. Think of it like this: Stevie might ask me for the keys to the car so that he could go to the store. He might ask, but should I give them to him? Of course not! He’s too young to drive. He could hurt someone else and we would both get arrested. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus tells us: