Growing up, I always faced consequences when I disobeyed my parents. The most common consequence I received was being sent to my room. My parents did not punish me for the sake of punishing me. They wanted me to become a good person who honors God in everything I do. The same is true with God. Like a loving parent, He wants us to learn how to live in a way that honors Him. He is also waiting with open arms for us to come back to Him and obey whenever we disobey. For people to understand this truth about God, Jesus told a story in Luke 15 about a father and son. We are going to look at that story today and discover that God always has our best in mind and obedience is always the best response to Him. We will also see that He will always welcome us back when we return to Him.
What did you get in trouble for the most as a kid? (Talking in class, leaving your room in a mess, speaking disrespectfully to your parents, etc.?)
1. Why is it important for us to face consequences for our disobedient actions?
2. Read Luke 15:11-16. What was the significance of this young man's request to his father?
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his 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. 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.
3. If you had been that man's father, how would you have responded to his request?
4. Why do you think this young man made such a request? Has there been a time in your life when you could relate to him (maybe that time is now)?
5. Have you, like this prodigal son, ever experienced great pain in your life because you ignored God and lived for yourself instead?
6. Read Luke 15:17-24. What was the significance of the young man's father running to him when he returned home? What does this response tell you about God?
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘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, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. 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. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
7. Is there any rebellion or disobedience toward God that you need to repent, or turn away, from? If so, what would repentance look like in your own life?
The father in this story found in Luke 15 waited for his son to return and ran toward him when he saw him walking back home. He even threw a party to celebrate this son's return. Is there someone in your life who is running away from God who you are waiting to see them turn back to Him? Think about one way you can reach out to this person today, and tell your group about your plan so that you can hold each other accountable.
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The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.