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Summary: Prodigals still exist. These individuals rebel, stepping away from God’s blessings, indulging in reckless living and ruining their lives. But God runs to meet those who are at the point of total desperation and who are willing to repent and return home.

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He set out to be free, but he soon became enslaved to his own sinful appetites. When you run away from God and live a life of sinful disobedience, you may think you’re free, but you are a slave to your own sin. Raynald III was an obscure duke in the 14th Century. He reigned in the area we now call Belgium. Raynald had one terrible vice–he loved to eat, and he was extremely obese. There was a revolt in the area led by Raynald’s younger brother. The younger brother captured Raynald and had a prison cell built around him. It had no bars on the windows, and no locks on the door, but Raynald was too large to fit through the normal sized door. The younger brother told Raynald when he went on a self-enforced diet and lost enough weight to walk out the door, he would be restored to his wealth and would receive his crown back. But every day, the younger brother had sumptuous meals delivered to the prison room, and Raynald continued to eat. History records Raynald died in the prison cell, a prisoner not of lock and key, but a prisoner to his own appetite. That’s how sin ruins you–you become a slave to it. That which had pleasure at the first soon becomes a prison cell at the last.

There is an immutable law of God that says if you sow sin and disobedience you will reap a bumper crop of suffering. Galatians 6:7 says, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he WILL harvest.”

Through the years, I’ve known hundreds of Prodigals. They are teenagers and adults who had a loving relationship with God, but they allowed restlessness, and reckless living to enter their lives. They walked away from God’s blessings and they end up a mess. Some of them are still there, others have come back home to their Father. That’s the good news: you can come back home. You don’t have to wait until you reach the pig pen either. At any time, you can decide to return to the blessing and fellowship with your Heavenly Father. Here’s how.

II. STEPS TO RETURN HOME TO GOD

If you have wandered away from God and allowed sin to take control of your life, it’s not hopeless. The son took three specific steps to return to his father and these are the same three steps you need to take to return to your heavenly Father.

1. The first step is to realize!

In verse 17 Jesus said, He came to his senses.” This is the turning point of the parable. Before you can return to God, you must first realize you are in a mess without Him. Let’s climb down in the pig pen with our boy for a minute. Excuse me Porky, oh, hi, Babe–loved your movie. There’s our boy–covered with the slimy mud and mess of the pig pen. He is so hungry he is tempted to eat the pig food, but he can’t even eat, because the owner of the pigs won’t allow it. He is being treated worse than the pigs. Finally, when he is about as low as you can get, a light bulb comes on in his head. “Click!” Suddenly he looks around and sees himself for who he really is. He looks down and is repulsed by his own filth and dirt. Sin had blinded his eyes, but once the light bulb of realization came on, he could see his life was a real mess. He reached the P.O.T.D. That’s the Point of Total Desperation. He says, “I don’t belong here. I’m made for something better than this. I’m tired of sin, I’m tired of slop; I’m tired of these chains. I want to go home. I want to see my daddy. I miss my mamma’s food. I want to go home.”

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