Be Vulnerable with Someone

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Not Where You Want to Go
When the prodigal son set off for the distant country, he probably never anticipated having to come home to his father with an empty wallet and empty stomach. His pride has been wounded and he has come to the tough realization that life away from his father is not what he had thought it would be. But for all his poor decision-making, he eventually comes to his senses and decides to return home. We are often just a hard-headed and stubborn; Jesus longs for you to come to your senses and realize that you don’t have things under control, and you being in charge of everything has not gotten you to a great place. Those steps take humility and they can be very difficult. There is going to have to be a turning point in your life though. This is called repentance. Repentance is saying, “I was living under the banner of my life, but now I'm going to put down that banner. That's about me, but I'm going to turn my life around and I want God’s plans for my life.” Repentance is the only way to step into what God has for you.  Luke 15:20 says, “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” So, he went to his father, the one person who can save him and the one person he can trust. The father tells his servants to bring the best robe and put it on his son. The father covers his shame. He put a ring on his finger, signifying that this son is not going to come back as a slave in my family, but instead is going to come back with authority immediately. The father starts a celebration and a feast! This is what your Heavenly Father wants to do for you. But first, you have to stop. You have to come to your senses. You have to get up and move to the Father. And then ultimately, you have to have a posture of humility. You have to receive his heart and his ways. Recognize that you’re his child again, that you’re forgiven again. That's who our God is. You just have to receive his impossible power today. Discussion/Reflection Question: Do you need to stop trying to do things under your own banner and surrender to God’s ways and heart?
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Harder to Come Back
Some of us are inherently optimists while some are natural pessimists when it comes to plans, whether they are our own or someone else’s. Oftentimes though, we are far more optimistic when it comes to something that we have dreamed up and planned out ourselves. We are willing to take more chances and be more patient for things to work out when it’s something that we really want or have invested a lot of time into preparing or waiting for. The prodigal son probably felt this same way. He had dreamed of living in the distant country with his own money and outside of his Father’s home and ways for quite a while, so he wasn’t ready to give up after the first bad investment or the first wrong turn. He was determined to see this through; it was going to work, it had to work in his mind! We can see in hindsight that the prodigal son stayed the course of his plan for far longer than he should have. We sit on the sidelines of this story and want to scream at him to get out of there and go home before he runs completely out of money and has nowhere to go. That’s where he finds himself in Luke 15:14-16, where Scripture says, “After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”  His plans away from his father have gone far different than he would have expected and now he is forced to be and work in a place that he never would have imagined. The reality of this forces him to return to his father’s home, although he is will have to swallow his pride and is unsure how he will be received. For us as well, the longer and farther you travel into the distant country, the harder it is to come back to God’s plans, his goodness, and his kindness.  Discussion/Reflection Question: When have you been too stubborn to realize that you needed to go back to your Father, even though it was clear your ways were not working? 
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Farther From the Father
The prodigal son certainly thought, when he asked his father for his share of the estate and set off on his own, that things would go differently in the distant country than they did. He probably had fantasies and dreams of what it would be like to live outside of his father’s rules and provisions. But he soon came face to face with the reality that things had turned out very differently than he would have anticipated, and he was in a much more difficult and darker place than he would have ever thought. We do this same thing in our own lives oftentimes. We see our Heavenly Father’s ways as restrictive, and we feel confident that out in the “distant country”, away from our Father, we can thrive and fulfill our desires. Many people specifically approach marriage this way, both in chasing it and navigating it. When neither a husband and wife are truly walking with the Lord or pursuing him, you've got two people both trying to pursue their individual happiness and trying to get together to go to a place that's undefined. And then, all of a sudden, you recognize that with each one there’s a lot of unreal expectations mixed with comparison of the people around you. Jesus would say that you're going to end up feeling like this younger brother in the parable; stuck, settling for what you never should settle for, lonely, and distant. So, what needs to happen to get marriages and the pursuit of marriage back on track? Pursuit of the Father’s ways and the Father’s plans! When we stray away from these, thinking our ways are better or we’ve outgrown our Father, we get ourselves farther and farther away from what we truly want and desire in our hearts.  Discussion/Reflection Question: When have you left the Father for a “distant country” only to realize that it was not what you thought?
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What Are You Settling For?
The story of the prodigal son is one that most of us are likely familiar with. This parable that Jesus told can be found in Luke 15:11-32. Verses 11 through 14 say: Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. In the beginning of this parable, the younger son is tired of living under the rules and reign of his father. And even though he knows where all his meals are going to come from, and his father has been great to him, he sees and wants another kind of life in a distant country. The distant country that he saw on the horizon was different than what was under his father's care. So, he heads to a place where his father's rule, his father's decisions, and his father's provision aren’t.  Then we read that this younger son squanders all his wealth in wild living. He made some bad investments. He put his money, his energy, and his time in places that didn't pan out and all of sudden hard times hit, and he steps into this season of lack. He's never experienced this before because he was under his father’s care and provision. In a moment of desperation, Luke 15:16 tells us that, “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”  In his father’s home, he never would have hungered or yearned for pods that were fed to pigs. He finds himself starting to long for things that he never ever, in his wildest dreams, would've ever, ever settled for when he was at his father’s house.  Discussion/Reflection Question: When have you found yourself yearning for something that you would have never settled for in the past?