Tree of Life
Luke 15:11-24 (The Parable of the Prodigal Son)
1. Importance of daily personal time with God
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
To benefit from healthy eating, you have to practice it every day consistently. You can’t eat 20 apples in one go and make up for poor eating habits.
The same goes for spiritual food – “A Scripture a day keeps the devil away.”
Christian life is about seeking God in daily life, and through our time spent with God, we receive the right perception of ourselves as children of God.
God’s word: spiritual mirror. You reflect on your spiritual well-being and if there’s any misalignment with God’s heart / commandment, you need to adjust spiritually.
During a church planting conference, what they found was that key to church planters’ (including pastors) success was their daily commitment to their own personal time with God.
If you don’t have enough nourishment from God, you can’t give to others.
If we try to depend on our own strength to do ministry work without spending personal time with God, we are in danger of burning out.
The moment you wake up in the morning, what do you do? Only get to your phone after you spend time with God, so that God has the first voice to speak into your day.
2. Illustration of 3 trees
Before Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, they had a perfect communion and fellowship with God, being nourished by the fruits of the tree of life daily. “Low-hanging fruit” on the tree: God’s presence was always readily available.
Eventually Adam and Eve ate a fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Doubts were planted in their head that God does not give us the best, so we have to go find what’s better for ourselves. This caused the eternal separation of humanity from God.
People try to climb the tree to be good, and make it right with God with works – a religious spirit. In the process you look down on others like the Pharisees and make others feel like they are less of themselves / worse Christians.
3rd tree: the cross
Jesus dying on the cross to save us from sins and bridging the gap in our broken relationship with God, restoring our true sense of worth as children of God.
3. Restoration of our relationship with God for healing in human relationships
From Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, “How people grow”:
Behavioral change is hard but the shift only occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of making changes - when you realize the harmful effect of your current habits.
Our broken relationship / separation from God, is the source of all men’s brokenness.
Marriage issues - you need to first get right with God and God will speak to you about your marriage.
When you need healing in your relationships, you need to restore your relationship with God first rather than pointing to the others to restore their relationship with God.
4. The Parable of the Prodigal Son
At some point the younger son felt like he wanted to call the shots. He wanted to have the authority to decide and determine how the family estate is spent.
Loose living – he did whatever he wanted. Then the younger son squanders all his inheritance and has nothing left. Then the younger son realizes that he is better off in God’s house,
No matter how bad things get, when you get to the place where you desperately need God, that’s God calling you to pull you out of the rut, not just you calling God for help.
Conversation between the elder son and father:
When the younger son came back home, the elder son was out working and when he got home, he was wondering what the commotion was about. The servant told him his brother came back and there’s a celebration. The elder son didn’t want to join the celebration - this is a religious spirit.
Inheritance is only available after the father passes way. In essence when the younger son demanded his share of inheritance, he was counting the father as “dead” and he just wants the money and doesn’t want a relationship with the father.
When something that is “non-negotiable” is taken away from us, we could have the same heart as the elder son.
The elder son said, “I worked so hard you never paid me for anything” – working for favor. The father says, “Everything I have is yours. “
5. Danger of Spiritual Activities
Over a period of time if you are not careful to check your heart, you begin to sink into “spiritual activities”.
Why do we do this? We lean on / rely on spiritual activities to help us feel close to God. Somewhere down the line our fellowship with God was damaged. A series of compromises / thin layers of negativity slowly build a callous in our heart. If we feel nothing during worship, it’s a warning sign that our heart is hardened toward God.
6. God’s laws
The main message in the bible is God loves you and wants intimacy with you.
Rules and regulations are good for us. If we had no traffic rules we would have no safety on the road. Regulations in different industries are in place to protect the market, families, society etc.
God’s laws are not to harm you, they are there to protect you because God loves you.
P Hyunsu’s story of buying and waiting eagerly for delivery of a sous vide machine shipped from the US for so long and right after plugging it in to power, it blew up because the different voltage in China. We should not live our life like this, looking for something we don’t have and being disillusioned when it doesn’t satisfy us / dissipates.
This mind set of “I have something better in mind than God. God withholds things from me because He is not good” – classic lies from the devil.
P Sam’s family has a reward system of collecting stars for good behavior and you get a reward of iPad time. He doesn’t want his children to feel entitled and teach them to help and be considerate to others.
One child had an issue with the reward system and challenged P Sam, complaining that “You created this rule because you hate us”.
Father’s heart: Don’t you know that I love you? My child doesn’t understand my intentions. Not trusting that father is good and only wants good things for the children.
The son stopped doing all the good activities to earn stars because he felt bitter against the reward system - Breakdown of communication with father.
To close the gap in communication between us and God, Christ came as a carnal man and died for our sins to save us.
6. Jesus as the model elder son
We are all like the elder son in the Prodigal Son story. Your heart has become so bitter that you wouldn’t even help your brother to come back home.
Jesus is the better elder brother who went out of His way to save the younger brother who is lost.
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”
This verse is about Jesus. Meditate on Him every morning.