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  • Parable of the Lost Son (Part 1) by Pat Gates
  • Parable of the Lost Son (Part 2) by Pat Gates
  • Parable of the Lost Son (Part 3) by Pat Gates
  • Who's the Boss? by Jason Jackson
  • Stronger Tomorrow  by Ralph Marston
  • Should We Tell Others About Our Child's Unfaithfulness?  by Pat Gates

LESSONS FROM THE
PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
 (Part 1)
Pat Gates

 

A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me." So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all...Luke 15:11-14b

The son was in the father's care, but he chose to live far away from his father. The son thought he could live apart from the father and survive with the blessings his father gave him, but he ended up wasting the blessings until he no longer possessed his inheritance.

Whose fault was it the son left? The father's? The older brother? It is important for us to remember the younger son CHOSE to leave; it was his doing. The father had supplied the needed care and love for his son.

This is such a common scenario Jesus uses to teach; that of a child wanting independence, without the father's rules. While the desire for independence is normal and good, independence without boundaries is detrimental. Let's never have the attitude that it is normal and good for a child to "sow his/her wild oats" (gets it out of his system). I've seen this attitude among some Christians and instead of comforting the grieving parents they shrug it off and tell them, "They're young, it's normal, be patient, they'll get it out of them and come back."

All sin is selfishness (putting self before the Father) and, at the moment, the unfaithful child is fulfilling his/her desires, but like the prodigal son, he will soon find out he can not leave the Father and still keep His blessings. Giving a good foundation of God's law for our children to stand on, will continually help them in life. If they leave the Lord, they have this firm foundation to compare to the sinking sand they are presently standing on.

With that said, we need to remember not to judge the father by the son's actions. Yes, there are some parents who do not teach their children and it is no surprise the children easily get caught up in the world, but there are children who have been taught by godly parents and turn their back on their teaching by being enticed by the world. After all, we have a perfect, holy Father who teaches His children, but unfortunately there have been some who have turned aside to the enticements of the world.

"For surely in the blind deep-buried roots of all men's souls today,
a secret quiver shoots."


The saying above fits our lesson this month on the prodigal son; when he hit "rock bottom" that "quiver" deep in his soul once again came alive from the depths of despair and degradation. Moms, keep the "quiver" alive in you as well, and keeping praying for the awareness to once again blossom in your child. Pray for their humbleness, but be aware that sometimes learning to be humble and recognize their need for God sometimes means going through a painful experience. Don't fret, it could bring them back to their Heavenly Father and to you.


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LESSONS FROM THE
PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
 (Part 2)
Pat Gates

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." Luke 15:14-19

THE PROGRESSION OF PROBLEMS

As I mentioned in lesson one sin involves selfishness and because of this selfishness wrong decisions are made when one leaves the Lord. This brings on one problem on top of another. Notice how the prodigal son's life grew progressively worse:

The son "wasted his possessions with prodigal living." There was no appreciation of his inheritance, only selfishness, and he continued his lifestyle until "he had spent all."

Dependence on world turned out to be futile.

"There arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want." With a famine, jobs aren't so easy to find, but find one he did: "He went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine."

Dependence on his decisions turned out to his degradation.

"And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything."

Dependence on man was futile. I wonder how many friends he had when he was living it up in verse 13? Many, I'm sure.

THE PROGRESSION OF HEALING

"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, "Father I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father." (vss 17-20a)

AWARENESS! He saw his need for his father.

CONFIDENCE! He knew his father would take him back.

REPENTANCE! He recognized he sinned against heaven and before his father.

HUMBLENESS! He was willing to become a servant.

NO HESITATION! He knew he had to take action to fulfill his needs and he did so immediately. Second thoughts are from Satan.

RENEWED HOPE! He's about to go home.

Moms, take courage in this lesson. Sometimes the self-awareness may not take place for many years, but one thing you know for sure. The Father wants your child to come back home and He is hearing your plea and your desire is His. He knows that a "famine" sometimes causes man to hunger for spiritual things and a relationship with God, for it is during these famines a man can come to himself and see there is no one and nothing to depend on, but God.

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LESSONS FROM THE
PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
 (Part 3)
Pat Gates

 

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. Luke 15:20-24

Never had I appreciated the gift of the blood of the Son of God more than when my child rose from death into spiritual life once again. I remember one Sunday he was sitting a couple of pews in front of me and during the Lord's supper, tears of joy would fall knowing my son it was because of Christ's shed blood that my son was forgiven. When I thought how the Father gave His Son so my son could live, overwhelmed me with gratitude. And through the shed blood, God has given us all the means to rise out of the pit of spiritual death into the awaiting arms of our Lord.

As the father saw, in the distance, his wayward son returning home, with joy he ran out to meet him. There was no anger, no bitterness, no vengeance, but rather complete compassion. (Luke 15:20 The father pitied him. Saw his condition-his poverty and his wretched appearance-and was moved with compassion and love. Barnes' Notes), He did not have plans for his son to have to work his way back up, but immediately he reassured the young man that he was his son, by providing needed clothing, as well as representatives of kinship and honor only a son can receive. And the meaning of all these images is the same-"that God will treat those who return to him with kindness and affection."

Luke 15:20: Threw his arms around his neck and embraced him.

This must at once have dissipated every doubt of the son about the willingness of his father to forgive and receive him. This is evidently designed to denote the "readiness of God" to pity and pardon returning sinners. In this verse of inimitable beauty is contained the point of the parable, which was uttered by the Saviour to vindicate "his own conduct" in receiving sinners kindly. Who could "blame" this father for thus receiving his repenting son? Not even a Pharisee could blame him; and our Saviour thus showed them, so that "they" could not resist it, that "God" received returning sinners, and that it was right for "him" also to receive them and treat them with attention. (from Barnes' Notes).

Our unfaithful children, when they "come to themselves" needs to know, without doubt, they will be accepted home once again. Not only do they need to understand you will forgive them, but most of all, they need to understand their heavenly Father awaits them with open arms, not only willing to forgive, but ready to claim them as His own with all honor as a child of God. The stench of the world is immediately removed and the Father will clothe them with all spiritual blessings in the kingdom of His love.

Our Lord guarantees His mercy in the verses we quote so often in Isaiah:

Our unfaithful children, when they "come to themselves" needs to know, without doubt, they will be accepted home once again. Not only do they need to understand you will forgive them, but most of all, they need to understand their heavenly Father awaits them with open arms, not only willing to forgive, but ready to claim them as His own with all honor as a child of God. The stench of the world is immediately removed and the Father will clothe them with all spiritual blessings in the kingdom of His love.

Our Lord guarantees His mercy in the verses we quote so often in Isaiah:

Isa 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts

 

The Lord is not speaking of just His greater knowledge and wisdom than man's, as we so often use this verse; He is speaking of His mercy and His abundant pardon that is so much greater than mankind's. Not only is He willing to forgive even the most vile sinner, but He bestows honor on the one forgiven. Unlike man, who so often will not forgive, or requires steps for the "sinner" to go through before he will accept him back, God, in His mercy that far exceeds man's, "abundantly pardons" those who forsake their wickedness and unrighteous thoughts.

"But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? Ezek 18:21-23

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. Isa 43:25

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COMMENTS FROM READERS:

"Don't think it can't happen to you. It can. I used to think the same thing when I was younger. I train my child right, my child is a Christian, no, my child will never fall away. Then she did. The hurt that is felt is worse than anything else. It's worse than a death."

"Happened upon your website from brethren-on-line - finally with our 3 unfaithful children robbing us of joy, we cast all our care upon him who careth for you. Our prayer is that they return during our lifetime & if not, during theirs. We are in our mid sixties & I preached the gospel for 30 years.....best to you & this online edification."

"I have three children and those children are all unfaithful. One daughter became a Mormon (how could she do that!!) I pray all the time for them to come back to the Lord."

"I have experienced having an unfaithful child. I also have a nonbelieving child. The pain of knowing that they are lost is worse than any physical pain that I have endured. We immediately blame ourselves. Maybe we deserve blame. I know that I could have been a more spiritual person while my children were growing up. I know however, that I did the very best that I knew to do. I pray that is good enough when I stand before God. The thought of my babies living in torment because of my failure is such a great burden. I pray for that mom who wrote and for every mother who grieves for a lost child."

"After we've done everything we can do in training, nurturing, correcting, warning, being the best example we know how . . . and our child is still being willfully disobedient to God, we have to realize, in the end it is a matter between our child and God. We must learn to let go and leave the outcome in God's hands. We can't always protect our children from sin and its consequences, much as we desperately want to. Turn the problem over to God and pray, pray, pray!"

"I understand how mothers sometimes begin to wonder if they might be responsible in some way for how their child turned out. I do know better, but have found myself trying to look back and figure out what I could or should have done differently. We did the best we knew how to do with our children. One died unfaithful, and the other has fluctuated back and forth over the years, and is currently unfaithful, and totally uninterested in the Lord's church, or the consequence of sin. Yes, I wish we had done some things differently - but raising children is an on-the-job training assignment. And what works for child #1 may not work for child #2. And it does no good to dwell on what has passed, because it cannot be changed now. I hurt inside, for my child who has fallen away from God. But nothing we do seems to help or cause any change of heart. I hurt even more for the one who died, unprepared for eternity, because there is no time left for changing things. I read Psalms 34:17-19 often, and it comforts me. I pray that my child's heart will soften before it is too late."

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The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears: they cannot utter the one, nor will they utter the other.

Mother – that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.

"I’d like to be the ideal mother, but I’m too busy raising my kids."

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.


 

If your child is 2 or 20... If your child is faithful or unfaithful... Always teach Who the ultimate Authority is.

Show, by your life, you handle trials with faith. Your unfaithful child will see the end result in your life and will, hopefully, desire the same peace as you have found in obeying God's will.


 

"Our children observe us as we resolve conflicts and deal with failures. What do they learn? That the loudest wins? That failure is demoralizing? Our children are affected by these shaping influences."

"They are not, however, blank slates upon which we carve their personalities with absolute control. They have hearts. They make decisions. We must, therefore, teach them to react to life – to its shaping experiences – in a godly manner."

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Who’s the Boss?
by Jason Jackson


Two boys were working on a go-cart in the garage. Their sister went out to call them in for dinner. “It’s time to come in and get cleaned up for dinner,” she demanded. They didn’t budge, much less acknowledge her presence. In a few minutes, she returned. “Mom said it’s time for dinner.” Suddenly, they paid attention (Tedd Tripp. Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, Penn: Shepherd Press, 1995, p. 28). We live in a world where authority is minimized. It is evident in the public school system, the home, in the workplace, and even in the church. Many people do not like to submit to authority of any kind.

When it is adopted by parents, this mentality makes scriptural parenting impossible. Christian parents are required to “be the parents.” But in order to be effective parents, we must remember “who’s the boss?” – God is. We cannot say what we want to say, tell our children whatever we desire, demand of them our every whim, or let them “discover” themselves by rearing themselves.

God gives parents a few years wherein they are to control the shaping influences of their child’s heart and teach them how to react to life in a godly way. God demands that we bring children up in the Lord’s discipline and instruction (Eph. 6:4). We must, therefore, consider how the structure of the family, the values of the family, and the roles within the family will shape the thinking and behavior of our children.

Our children observe us as we resolve conflicts and deal with failures. What do they learn? That the loudest wins? That failure is demoralizing? Our children are affected by these shaping influences.

They are not, however, blank slates upon which we carve their personalities with absolute control. They have hearts. They make decisions. We must, therefore, teach them to react to life – to its shaping experiences – in a godly manner.

When we instruct as we walk, talk, play, and rest (Dt. 6:7), our children will learn how to live with an eternal perspective – if that is the perspective from which we live.

On the other hand, if we are more upset about grass stains on new jeans than disobedience, what message will they ultimately get? If they are managing their own time, and they know more about cartoons than the Bible – where is their interest going to be as they grow?

God is the boss! And parents need to be obedient by providing what children need the most – Christian parents who will nurture in them a love for God, our heavenly Father, and a love for his word – the Bible – every day.


© 1998 - 2006 by Christian Courier Publications.
http://www.christiancourier.com used with permission

 
"And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4 (Moms, don't provoke your children with irrational guilt, irrational nagging, irrational displays of emotion, and irrational disappointment in them.)

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Some good preventative medicine to give our children:

Stronger Tomorrow
(Ralph Marston)


You can hide things about yourself from just about anyone, but
you can't really hide them from yourself. You know what you're up
to, and that's important.

Because the person you are to become tomorrow is always watching
the person you are today.

How can you live this day so that your future self will find
strength and inspiration? What can you do that will make the
person you'll be tomorrow proud to have been the person you are
today?

You know who you are right now, you know what you're doing, what
your motivations are, what kind of attitude you maintain.

You know and control the real you. Let the person you are today
push you forward, positively into the future.

Soon you'll look back on today, and what you see can either give
you strength or bring you regret.

Choose your actions so that what you do today will truly make you
stronger tomorrow.

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SHOULD WE TELL OTHERS ABOUT OUR CHILD'S UNFAITHFULNESS?
• Will it make our family look bad?
• Will our child ever be respected again after he/she repents? 
                                          
                                                 by Pat Gates


Will it make our family look bad?

Feelings of shame are natural; we wonder where we went wrong and sometimes we wonder if others are wondering. When our children were young, we knew we would never have to face them being unfaithful because we were bringing them up "in the training and admonition of the Lord." We saw other families having this problem, and concluded they just weren't teaching their children as they should. Time goes on, our children become teenagers or adults and we are shocked to find out, we have become one of those families; our child is unfaithful.

Will there be some who look at us, as we looked at others when we were younger, wondering where we went wrong? Perhaps, but I believe they are in the minority. The reason I say that is because if every Christian confessed right now if they were unfaithful when they were young, or if they have experienced having an unfaithful child, we would quickly find out we weren't alone. I'm not talking about the families we think are spiritually weak, I'm talking about the "pillars" of the congregation; I'm talking about families whose name may be easily recognized. Also, we all realize we can raise children to a certain point and as they grow into adulthood, they begin to make their own decisions, based on their thoughts and desires.

The experience of having an unfaithful child is most humbling and that, right there, can be a blessing. Like all trials in life, in Christ, we can gain through these trials and in this experience we can learn to help others in their weakness for we now can empathize and understand how Satan can touch us all. Our family's name may be tarnished by some who are quick to judge, but overall, we will be understood, prayed for, and we will soon learn we aren't alone.

Now I do want to say that we women must always respect our husband's wishes in this. If our husbands tell us not to let others know, then we need to be in subjection to our husbands and remain silent. So far, the notes for this page have been private or anonymous and there's good reason for that; we have our children to be concerned about and we want the best for them. And with that said, for the sake of my children, they are both faithful, even though I'm sounding like I presently have a child who is unfaithful.

WILL OUR CHILD EVER BE RESPECTED AGAIN AFTER HE/SHE REPENTS?

There are several outcomes after a Christian returns to the fold, that I have witnessed:

(1) He was respected before he went astray and after his return, there is rejoicing and as long as he remains faithful, his respect from others usually remains.

(2) While there is rejoicing, there is an air of "wait and see." Let's see if he is going to remain faithful. Complete trust is not there, but it is willing to grow as long as the one who has returned continues to grow spiritually. After a while, the respect returns.

(3) All rejoice, and he gains respect at the time (or later) by most Christians, but there are a few who will always remember his time of living in sin and they will never forget it and never fully trust in the one who returned. (I have also seen the flock completely forgive and forget, but family members don't.)

Not all Christians see things alike and we can expect different reactions. This is not only true in regards to our unfaithful children, but it will be true in every aspect of our lives. Christians are at different levels of spiritual maturity, as well as opinions vary according to experience or lack thereof. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not speaking in regards to doctrine - no deviation should be accepted, I'm just saying we need to accept the reality that all Christians will not react in ways we would like them to, nor will all Christians react in ways they should for "not all have faith."

On the other hand, there are many humble, understanding brothers and sisters who are a strength and comfort. More than you know have experienced the same thing. While it is true some may not know and may not want to hear about it, others will pray and look for opportunities to help. What I have learned about many things in life is to share with those who I know to be trustworthy and to keep silent with those who are not.

Suggestions:

(1) So #1 suggestion: Accept the fact there may be various reactions to your child's return, but that is true in everything we experience in life. It is a part of life, right or wrong. I myself have seen the majority rejoice, forgive and forget.

(2)There may be some who never forget as I gave examples above, but are we depriving the unfaithful child, as well as the grieving family, some needed comfort, admonition and spiritual strength? Quite often it is a Christian outside the family who helps bring the one back to Christ.

(3) In some cases, it may be good not to tell all that the unfaithful child is involved in. In other cases, it may be best to tell. Situations are different and each situation must be dealt with according to wisdom, discretion and love.

(4) In all cases I believe we need to stay focused and use self-control for the sake of our child. If we get angry and emotional and tell all the terrible things our child is doing to himself and us, we will regret that later. During times of high emotion (and there will be times like that) it's best to share that time with our spouse, and that's within limits. We wouldn't want to overdo and be the cause of marital strain. Just as men should understand women need to let emotions out, women should understand men do not need constant emotion from us.

(5) Go to God in prayer. Our God is always near. We can always share our fears, our sadness and tears. We can tell our Father every feeling that is in us. Who better understands the feelings of having an unfaithful child more than our God? And no one can help as He can.

Let's try to keep the following scriptures balanced in our lives, for our lives are a continual balance of wisdom, knowledge and discretion. "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

  • Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you. Prov 2:11
  • Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint. Prov. 25:19
  • A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17
  • Confess your trespasses to one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervant prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16
  • Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20