#2054 – The Greatest Miracle of All– 19 July 2009

The Message

Pastor Walt Kallestad  

Special Guest

Stacy Rebecca Cook

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
Take My Life/Spirit of the Living God

Hear Me, Redeemer

Solo:Matthew West
The Motions
All the Broken Pieces
Only Grace

The Message

Good morning. It is so fantastic to be back here at the Crystal Cathedral. And I have a question for you here in this place, Dr. Schuller prayed for a miracle for our family and God answered the prayer and gave our family a miracle that was able to save our son’s life. And I know many of you here today are crying out for a miracle. Many people watching on television are crying out to God for a miracle. And I believe in miracles because I believe in God. And today we’re going to be talking about the greatest miracle of all. Do you know what that is? The greatest miracle of all is the forgiveness of our sins. Our God can take, as Matthew West said, our broken pieces and put our lives back together again.

Today we’re going to be sharing some stories about miracles. The bible is filled with stories of miracles and particularly today in Luke the fifteenth chapter we’re going to be taking a look at the prodigal son. The chapter talks about the lost sheep that when the sheep is found that the father leaves the ninety-nine and searches for the one. You may be the one today, you may feel that you are lost this day and lost-ness my friends is being self centered instead of Jesus Christ centered. That’s what it means. You may experience a lost coin. There maybe some dear, dear possession, you may have lost a job or lost a friend but today we’re going to be looking at the story of the prodigal son, the prodigal child that went away from home and discovered, had this massive encounter. In fact he was assaulted with grace. God’s grace just came upon him and transformed his life and the greatest miracle of all, which is the forgiveness of sins, took place.

To illustrate the point further Jesus told them this story. A man had two sons. A younger son told his father I want my share of your estate before you die. So his father agreed to divide his wealth between them. What a humiliating request. You never, never did that and his father’s response, instead of a bitter angry response, he loved his son and responded this way; he gave him his inheritance.

And a few days later this younger son packed all his belongings, moved to a distant land and there he wasted all his money in wild living. Living for yourself. He was on a self-discovery adventure. He really believed in self-salvation. It was all about him. And so he went on his way and he ended up destroying his life. About that time the money ran out, a great famine swept over the land and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. Pigs were forbidden in that culture. In this man’s life it was the lowliest. You couldn’t get more degraded then what he experienced. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. His life collapsed in a pigsty.

And I don’t know those here listening today if your life has collapsed in a pigsty but I want you to know that because of the Lord Jesus Christ there is hope for you today. You can be set free. A miracle is awaiting you. And when he finally came to his senses, he said at home even the hired servants have food enough to spare and here I am dying of hunger. I will go home to my father and say father I have sinned against both heaven and you. The sin, my friends that should break our hearts is not because we got caught, not because we got embarrassed or humiliated, but we have sinned against our Heavenly Father. Not only have we sinned against our Heavenly Father, our lives of brokenness, the broken pieces impact and destroy people in our lives that we may love. And so I am no longer worthy of being called your son, he said. Please take me on as a hired servant.

So he returned home to his father and while he was still a long way off his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. Instead of the resentment that could have been building up in his heart or retaliation, his father humbled himself even more and ran to meet his son, his son and he said to him father I have sinned against both heaven and you and I’m no longer worthy of being your son. Friends this was one of the most powerful responses that any human being could have and that is repentance.

SMC: When I was reading this story I could only imagine, imagine how that son was. It says that he was so hungry he would have even eaten the corncobs in the pig slop and that he was so filthy and so dirty. I can only imagine being in that place so scared you don’t know where to go, you don’t know where to turn, but you think okay well even being help for my father I can do that.

So he turned from where he was going with his life and he turned around to go to his dad and work for his dad. Now that’s a lot like repentance, that’s what repentance is. Repentance is getting to that place where you make a decision and you say you know what God I am no longer going to go this way, but I am going to turn around and put the Heavenly Father, Jesus as the center of my life. That is repentance. Not just confession, not just saying I’m sorry and then continuing to do it but actually stopping in your tracks and saying Lord all I have, all I am, it’s Yours. And that’s what that son did. Now not only was he covered in this filth but now he has his dad, who’s running off in the distance to meet him. And that’s how I kind of picture my Heavenly Father. You know like Becca, I was there too. I’m sure we all have our stories. But I was there and in the midst of my ugliness my Heavenly Father reached down and He said I love you for who you are. Come back to Me.

WK: He had an older brother, however, and the story goes on to talk about the elder brother. When his father said to the servants quick bring the finest robe into the house and put it on him. Get a ring and put it on his finger and sandals for his feet and kill the fatted calf. We must celebrate with a feast for this son of mine was dead. As Jim and Carol shared about their daughter they knew that any day they would get a phone call that she was dead. But now he has returned to life. He was lost and now he is found so let the party begin. What do you think the response.. wouldn’t anybody want to celebrate? Wouldn’t any good Christian or good human being be excited, ecstatic that someone’s life was transformed but it didn’t happen that way, did it?

SMC: No the older brother became angry and refused to go in. His father went out and pleaded with him but he answered his father, look all these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him. Anger, anger rose up in him; jealousy, rage. 

Unfortunately, today a lot of churches are like that. Unfortunately today there are many wounded prodigal sons and daughters who have been wounded and they are out there seeking somewhere to go and unfortunately it’s the anger and it’s that bitterness that they are greeted with rather than the father’s love. And that has to change. And unfortunately it is that time and I love the father’s response. His father said son you don’t understand. You don’t understand. He loves each and every one of us where we are. It’s not about your works, it’s not about what you can do; it’s about your heart. Is your heart right with God? That’s what it’s about.

WK: Let’s be honest if he had.. the younger son had met the elder brother first; he would have been turned away. And what happens when people come to church they meet Christians and I’ve been told that if it weren’t for Christians more people would go to church. Sometimes we’re judgmental and critical and condemning and we need to repent; I need to repent as a follower of Jesus Christ. There are times that I feel superior to someone who has sinned worse than I have and that pride and that superiority is a form of lost-ness, friends. The elder brother was as lost as the son in the far away country because he was away from the father’s heart. And he needed to come back to the father and the father wanted him not for what he could give him, but he wanted to love his son unconditionally, non-judgmentally and pray that his son woke up to the fact that his father welcomed him with all that he owned, all that was in the kingdom of heaven was his and that is true for the family of God. Everything that belongs to God we become an inheritor of all the riches of the kingdom of God.

And so this very day I believe that we need to pray together and we’re going to take a time of response today. We’re going to invite those who are gathered here to come and we have a prayer team that will assemble. We want to pray for miracles to take place; Miracles of transformation and deliverance and forgiveness and for God’s love to fill and that compelling, that ambush of grace, of God’s grace would take place in your life. And if you’re watching on television we want to pray together with you as well and what we want to do today is we are going to ask God together to do what He promised that He would do. He told us that there is nothing we could do to make Him love us anymore and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any less and He welcomes as the father welcomed his sons. He welcomes you this day.

SMC: One of the things that God has really been speaking to me and at the last service I made mention of it, but today right here I want to personally say I’m sorry for how other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have treated you. I want to say from the depths of my heart although you may never hear it from them, I am truly, deeply sorry and I ask for your forgiveness because God wants to heal you. He wants to heal you and if that bitterness and that resentment stays inside of you it is going to fester and it is going to grow and that anger turns into a murderous spirit it says. And God doesn’t want that in you. He wants to fill you with His love so on behalf of that person, if you have ever been hurt, if anyone has ever done you wrong as a Christian in the name of Jesus I ask for your forgiveness. He wants to heal you. He loves you just who you are. And just where you are today and if that has been you today, if you have been hurt, I encourage you to come up and get prayer. I encourage you to come up and get prayer for deliverance. I encourage you to come up and just be before the Lord your God and say God I am so sorry. I have wandered so far or I thought I had it all in order but I am sorry and I just want to give You my life. I want to give it to You today. Because trust me He does a far better job then we do.

WK: So today what we’re going to do is if you’re able to stand, we’re going to invite you to stand. We want to pray for one another. If you need a touch of healing in your life today, if your life is dead ended in a pig sty and you know it and you know you’re far from God today, we want to welcome you home, know that the father’s arms are extended to you. We want to pray for you. If you’ve been hurt by a Christian, a sister or brother in Christ, it’s time to let it go. It’s time to let that healing come into your life and if there is a need for healing, mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually maybe you need a touch of physical healing. Maybe you need a touch of emotional healing. Whatever you want God to do in your life, if you’re seeking for a miracle we believe the power of God is being unleashed in this place this very day and so we want to pray together and then we’re going to worship.

So Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, we say thank You. Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit that is being unleashed right now in this place. Thank You that the grace, that amazing grace is going to pour out among us as we call upon You. And Lord Jesus we thank You that those who are in lost-ness, who are self-centered, who are seeking to save themselves and they know they can’t, God that they would come and invite You to be Lord and Savior, that You would be in charge of their life, that they would surrender. And Lord this very day as we seek deliverance, there may be those addicted to drugs or sex or alcohol or the things that destroy our lives, God in the name of Jesus set us free by sending miracles so we say thank You. Thank You Father for what You have done, what You are doing and what You will continue to do. So we pray all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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