Summary: A sermon to the person who has drifted away from God.

Seven Steps Upward

St. Luke 15: 17-24

The story of the prodigal son has been preached on hundreds of times.

It is a story of a young man who had everything anyone could ever need.

It certainly appears he had the security of a good home, a good father, and even an inheritance that would take care of him when his father passed on.

But for some reason this young man decided he wanted his inheritance early. He couldn’t wait until his father died.

That could be a long time, and besides he wasn’t getting any younger himself.

He was under the shelter and security of home, but he was also under the government of his father.

I somehow think he wanted out. I think he was tired of his father’s rules, tired of being told what to do, and tired of being dependant upon his father.

He wanted his own rules, he wanted to do what he wanted to do for a change, and he wanted independence.

He asked his father for his inheritance. I think reluctantly his father handed over the money, and the son headed out into a new world.

But the Bible says in verse 13, not many days after he received his inheritance, he gathered his stuff together and went into a far country, and there he wasted all his inheritance on an unrestrained lifestyle.

He was living it up! Nobody to tell him what to do! Partied all night and slept all day! Boy, this was the life!

In verse 14, something happened he hadn’t expected!

There came a famine in the land. What he didn’t waste on parties and good times, he was now spending just to survive.

Then it happened! He spent his last dollar!

If he was renting from someone, I would imagine he got kicked out.

He had no where to go! He had too much pride to return home.

What would they say? What would his father say? “I told you so!”

What would his brother say? “You’re a big failure!”

There he sat homeless, hungry, no money, no friends, no job, a famine in the land and a famine in his soul.

He had come to the end of his rope.

How sad when a person gets so far from God they lose all.

They lose their joy, they lose their peace, they lose their satisfaction, and they lose their close relationship with God the Father.

I’ve known many people who at one time knew what it was to live in the presence of God the Father.

They experienced such peace and joy and lived a life of fulfillment and happiness.

But for some reason they allowed Satan to lure them away from God.

For some living for God was too hard. They didn’t realize the grace of God was sufficient for them.

Some were tempted by the things of this world and like Demas, the co-worker of Paul, forsake the Lord having loved this present world.

Some lost their relationship with God because of bitterness, or animosity, or because they got their eyes on people, or because they got angry at some situation or circumstance.

Now they are away from God. Spiritually hungry, empty, void of the presence of God, miserable and lonely.

They are like the prodigal son, they have too much pride to come back home, so they just hang out in the hog pens of this world, existing on things that doesn’t satisfy or bring contentment.

This is where the prodigal son ended up!

Notice verse 15. He got a job feeding hogs! There he was, standing in a pig pen, feeding a bunch of starving pigs. He was so hungry he ate the husks the pigs were feeding on.

These husks refers to the pods of the carob (ka-rob) tree or locust tree still common in Palestine and around the Mediterranean, so called from the shape of the pods like little horns.

When a person walks away from God, he can never find the joy, peace and satisfaction he or she experienced while living for God.

There will always be an emptiness and void in their life.

Listen, you don’t belong in the pig pen, you belong around the Father’s table!

Notice the first step this young man took on his way back to recovery.

1. Awareness- He became aware of his situation. He began to realize the condition he was in.

He wasn’t in denial; he knew he was at the very bottom.

If you are away from God today, you must not be in denial about it.

You know more than anyone where you are.

Are you in the hog pen? Have you lost all your joy, peace, contentment, happiness? Are you empty and void?

You must realize where you are!

Listen, this prodigal son came to a realization. My Father has bread enough and to spare, and here I stand starving to death.

My Father’s servants even have bread on their table, and I perish with hunger.

That must be what the backslider comes to realize. Here I sit, starving to death, unhappy, no joy, no peace, lonely, feeling dejected, and my Father has it all!

Step 2. He made a decision. “I will arise and go back to my father, and I will say unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.’”

Or, I have sinned against God, and you!

The backslider must make the decision to arise and return to the Father.

No one else can make that decision for you. If you are away from God, you must make the decision to return to God.

You are the one who made the decision to walk away from God, and it must be your decision to return.

Step 3. He demonstrated repentance. Verse 18 and 19.

Once it was, "Any place rather than home." Now, "Oh, if I could just see that home!

Could I but dare to hope that the door of it would not be closed against me.”

His repentance began, “Oh father, I have sinned against you. I have sinned against God. I’m not even worthy to be called your son.

I am willing just be a hired servant, to take the lowest place in the household, just let me come back home!”

You must repent of your sins. Going back home doesn’t end with just a decision. Your decision must be followed by repentance.

You have sinned against God. You have sinned against your family. You have sinned against your neighbor.

Going back home requires repentance not reformation.

Step 4. Verse 20. Revert or return. He arose and went back to the father.

First, awareness, then decision, then repentance, and then return.

Backslider, you must return to God. You must go back where you started, where you belong.

The prodigal son started on his long journey home. He knew the way. He knew the direction of home.

He didn’t try new directions; he didn’t try new ways to get there.

He knew the way home.

“While he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.”

Makes me wonder if the father looked for him since the day he left.

It makes me wonder if this gentleman stood in the road each day trying to get a glimpse of that wayward son coming home.

God is looking for you today! He is watching patiently for your return.

But you must make that decision!

Step 5 is reconciliation. This loving father saw him before he ever reached home, and ran to him and fell upon his neck and kissed him.

The words kissed taken from the Greek means, “much kissing.” Or he kissed him much!

What a great reconciliation! What a reunion!

When a backslider comes home, God is there waiting for his arrival!

He will welcome you with open arms. He will welcome you with great jubilation.

This son must have been filthy. His clothes must have been hanging off his body. He must have stunk to high heaven!

But it didn’t matter to the father. For his son that was lost is now found.

Step 6 New clothing Verse 22

The first thing the father does is clean him up and give him some new clothes to wear.

He took off those filthy garments. He cleaned away the dirt and filth.

He must have smelled like a pig pen, but he cleaned away all reminders of the pig pen!

Oh, that’s just like God! When a backslider comes home, God will replace that old tattered garment with a robe of righteousness.

He will clean away all those sins. He will restore that ole backslider to the household of faith, with a place around the table of God blessings and provisions.

Isaiah 61:10 ¶ “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”

Step 7 Rejoicing After the son was cleaned up and received his new clothes, the father called for the servants, “Bring forth the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry.

Verse 24, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”

Praise God! Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Not only did the father rejoice because his son had come home, but the son rejoiced that he was received by the father with no repercussions.

The son was restored! He was given back his position, not has a hired servant, but as a son! (verse 24)

And as a son, he was given the full benefits of a son.

If you are away from the Father today, it’s time to back that long journey back home.

Oh, it want take long to get there. Just realize where you are, make a determined decision to go back home, repent of your sins, and God will bring reconciliation and will forgive you and restore you back into God’s presence.

Altar service-

Song- Coming Home