A Loving Father
Waiting Patiently
Luke 15:1-3,11-32

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, March 27, 2022
1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3And he spake this parable unto them, saying, / 11...A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 
31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. 
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 KJV


We began the Lenten Season on the first Sunday with the temptation of Jesus which sets the stage for the understanding how Jesus’ faith tradition prepared him to manage life’s temptations with words to live by. We are to realign our appetites, readjust our ambitions and reassess our allegiances. 

On the second Sunday in Lent we focused on the promise of our possibility to the fulfillment of our potential. We were made aware that too often we neglect to see what God is doing in our lives because we are focusing on what is missing in our lives. The Lord asks us to get up, step out and look up to continue to trust the Lord to fulfill the promise of our potential.

On the third Sunday we were made aware that the Lord’s mercy, like water,
is available and abundant; it's necessary for life, it regulates life; it is constant and found in the way you need to make of life what it has the capacity to become.  

Consider how you have benefited from the first three Sundays of the Lenten Season of the Christian Calendar Year with the responses
you have made to the presentations for the week.  
Monday, March 28, 2022
On the fourth Sunday we have a parable of Jesus about a description of a loving father depicting the Lord as waiting for us to come home. 

The parable of the prodigal son is one of the best known parables in the Bible. Some refer to it as the parable of the lost son in keeping with the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin that precede it. Still others refer to it as the parable of the loving father reflecting both the opening words of the parable itself (there was a man who had two sons) and the dominant motif of the father’s generosity to his sons. Whatever title you use, the parable concerns three persons: a father who has two male children all of whom are involved in matters of recognition. This is the last of three stories about divine grace. The first one is about lost property. The second one is about a lost coin. And the final one is about two lost children, one in the home and one outside the home. 

These parables are precipitated by persons of faith murmuring because Jesus receives those persons who are considered to be less than desirable. Derogatory language is used to depict their undesirability. It is ironic that faith has been used in some awful ways. Faith is intended to produce a good crop. However, it is clear that some disgusting and dreadful harvests have come from those who profess to have faith. History well documents the heinous activity attributed to individuals and groups who use their faith in such atrocious and scandalous ways. Strange that what is suppose to bring out the best in people instead often brings out the worst. Rather than a positive outcome there is a negative result. Jesus addresses that issue with these parables. Faith at its best, braces and steadies people as it informs them with discernment and insights that fortify them to face life. 

Consider the meaning of finding what is lost - whether property,
money or relationships.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
The younger child initiates the action in the parable. For reasons that are not stated, this child asks his father to give him the property he stands to inherit when his father dies. And he wants it now while his father is still alive. The father accedes to the child’s request. And not many days after the son leaves for a distant country. Listen to the description as Jesus shares it. 

13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

The child squanders his inheritance. Jesus says that he was engaged in dissolute (degenerate, depraved, self-indulgent, immoral) living, which simply refers to inappropriate and undisciplined habits. The elder brother later accuses him of spending the father’s money with prostitutes (a charge which would be viewed with suspicion sense he was a scarce observer of his brother’s habits). In order to provide for himself, the child joins himself to one who gives him a task of feeding swine, an utterly abhorrent position. 

Then verse 17 marks the turning point. “He came to himself” and decides to head home. The father’s recognition stems not from seeing the lost son once more. The father has been absent from the story since verse 12. Now he becomes the primary focus as the story continues. “The father sees the son a far off, is filled with compassion, runs, embraces and kisses the son.” Notice the father went to him and embraced him with compassion before the child could share what he rehearsed as a confession.

The child begins to share the confession he had no doubt rehearsed on the way home. The father calls for the best clothing and food and initiates a magnificent celebration. There is a sense of the relief of the son and the joy of the father that are both rewardingly captivating. The father has acted with exuberance that would merit scorn from his neighbors. The wise and dignified patriarch ought not to run to meet anyone. He should inquire about the child’s behavior and find out about his intent and listen to his confession before forgiving him.  

Now we catch a glimpse of the elder child, who has also been absent since verse 11. He is out in the field. As he drew near to the house he heard the music and dancing. He inquired about what was going on from one of the servants. He was angry and would not participate in the celebration. The father takes the initiative to find him. The elder son makes his case. I have been here and you never so much offered to do this for me. The lost son of yours has been rewarded for coming home when he had no other choice. The father merely lavishes generosity with the child who was lost at home as he did on the child who was lost outside of the home when he returned. The father’s love knows no limitations. Bear in mind, if you missed it, that the father divided unto them his living.

Consider what it means to ask for what you feel entitled to have and to do
with it what you want, as you want, and how you want.  
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Consider a few of the implications of this parable for each of us. 

Firstly, selfish independence leads to willful alienation is learned from the younger child. Look at what happened. "Give me what is mine" is the request. It separates what is mine from what is the father’s. There is a willful disassociation from the source of all that you have and will be given. He rejects association with the father. He distances himself from the confines of a nurturing environment. He spends and wastes the substance of his life foolishly. He makes himself a beggar. 

He wants to live life on his own. His life, his resources, and all that he is comes from the father from whom he wants to disconnect. This is the story about human life and what we do. 

There is no way we can make it by ourselves. There is no substitute for the comfort of a nurturing environment, the management of a loving hand and the security of being loved.

Look at what happened. (a) He rejected the control, the discipline, the guidance and the management of the hand that provided all that he had. (b) He distanced himself from the confines of a nurturing environment. (c) He spent what he has foolishly. (d) He wasted himself uselessly. (e) He makes himself a beggar. 

Consider how selfishness independence leads to willful alienation,
deliberate isolation, and subsequently foolish subjection. 
Thursday, March 31, 2022
Secondly, honest recognition leads to proper awareness. He came to himself. The Greek word that is used here is a medical term. When he came to his senses after fainting, the implication is that he knew he has been asleep. He was wallowing in the pigsty with the swine. How abhorrent for a person of his background. He had lost himself. He was acting out of character. This is not who you really are nor is it what you intended when you left. He wasted his substance on wild and riotous living.  When he had spent all he had, there arose a famine in the land. Famine is nature’s way of reminding us of our limitations and vulnerabilities. Want always follows waste. Honest recognition led him to see more clearly.  

He went from willful waste to being disgraced, from riotous living to being a hired hand, from careless self-sufficiency to regretful need and want. 

When he considered his father’s house and compared it to his current condition, he came to himself.  As he pondered his current predicament he remembered what life was like with the father. You know I have been foolish. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. This does not make any sense that I am in this predicament. There is something better than this. 

Thirdly, proper awareness leads to a positive decision. In coming to himself, he said “I will arise and go to my father and say, father I have sinned against heaven and before you and am no more worthy to be called your son: make me one of your hired servants.” He resolved to return with a different attitude, demeanor and spirit. He went back a changed individual having been winnowed in the crucible of the consequences of a near fatal choice. He left saying, give me. He returns saying, make me. He left asking for what he considered to be an entitlement. He returns confessing that whatever is available in your place is better than what is provided any other place. 

Consider what it means to come to yourself after the realization that
you have not been who you have the ability and capacity to be.  
Friday, April 1, 2022
Fourthly, bitter selfishness leads to sour discontent. The elder child refuses to share in the joy of the father. He was lost at home. He consulted an improper source when he came in from the fields and heard the noises of the celebration. He acted in an inappropriate manner. He became embittered doing the right thing and felt cheated. It was as though he envied the choice of the younger sibling; it is as though he found his brother’s choice more attractive than his. Someone has suggested a title to capture this as, Attractive Sinners and Stale Saints. Verse 12 says,
And he divided unto them his living.

The sad thing was that the child who was lost at home was not aware of all that was available to him. Remember in verse 12 ,“And he divided unto them his living.” How sad it is to allow the consistency of God’s kindness, the regularity of God’s graciousness and the abundance of God's gifts to hide our hearts from the fact that we are blessed in large measure. 

Listen to what the father says, “All that I have is yours.” The one feast granted to your brother cannot compare to what you have received day-by-day during his absence. Think of all to which he was privileged. You have your inheritance to do with what you please. You mean you would deny your brother the privilege of receiving a robe, a ring, some shoes and a banquet? Look at what you have had. 

Consider what it means that someone’s positive decision causes
someone else to come to sour discontent.  
Saturday, April 2, 2022

Here is a story about a loving father who waits patiently for children (the child away from home and the child at home, both who are lost) who squander their inheritance emotionally, mentally, psychologically and physically whether far or near. 

Don’t squander your inheritance. Consider what you have been bequeathed from loving parents, teachers, friends, ancestors far and near, those who have sacrificed to pass on those who come after them a benefit they never had. Whether you left home or stayed home, you run the risk of squandering the privilege of the opportunity of the choice that you make to be close or distant.  
Let me remind you that Biblical Faith and Religion are not synonymous. We have our rituals, rites, celebrations, festivals, observances and man-made systems and structures. In the Bible we are introduced to a God who condemns religion as idolatrous attempts to control and manipulate deity. Biblical faith depicts God pursuing us. Alfred Tennyson has presented an unforgettable verse
Our little systems have their day / They have their day and cease to be
They are but broken lights of Thee / And Thou, O Lord, art more than they.
Jesus gives us the description of what God is like and what God expects of his children made in his image and fashioned in his likeness. 

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, / Take all my guilt away,
Oh, let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart,
My zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, / Oh, may my love to Thee
Pure, warm, and changeless be, A living fire!
While life’s dark maze I tread, / And griefs around me spread,
Be Thou my guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, / Wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray
From Thee aside.
When ends life’s transient dream, / When death’s cold, sullen stream
Shall o’er me roll; Blest Savior, then in love,
Fear and distrust remove; Oh, bear me safe above,
A ransomed soul!

Consider what it means to embrace the Lord’s
privilege that you receive whether near or far.  

He Ran To Me
Phillips, Craig and Dean

2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318