WORSHIP GUIDE |

June

18

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June

19

,

2022

Transitioning Home: The Prodigal Son's Story

A message from
Pastor Josh Laxton
Read more about 
Pastor Josh Laxton

Luke 15:11-32(NIV)

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Luke 15:11-32(NIV)

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided the property between them.

13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' 20 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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 'Your brother has come,' he replied,' and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 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. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

Worship Focus

Today, we worship God as our Father. He welcomes each of His children back when we stray from Him and envelops us with His love.

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study

DIG DEEPER HERE +

Transitions: Transitioning Home: The Prodigal Son's Story

Last week, we looked at Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth. We thought about how we, like Naomi, can transition from the losses we experience in our lives and receive the gains that God has in store. This week, we’ll return to the New Testament and take a look at one of the most famous stories that Jesus taught in the Bible: the prodigal son. Of the three characters in the story: the father, the prodigal, and his older brother, which do you think you’ll relate to the most?

How to Use This Guide 

Thank you for taking the time to do this Bible study. When we dig deeper into God’s word, He promises to bless us. We follow in the footsteps of King David, who wrote in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

This guide will provide a weekly framework for spiritual conversations with friends or family. We encourage you to reach out to a friend or two, pick a time to get together each week, and work through this guide together. This Bible study can also be a good tool for families, perhaps coordinated with mealtimes.

What does the Bible say?

We will focus on the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15. But, as we begin, it is important to observe the context in which Luke places this story. Each tale tells a different story about what is lost and found. In the first story, a shepherd loses and then finds a sheep. In the second story, a woman loses and then finds a coin. And in the final story, a father loses a son and then is reunited with him.  

Read Luke 15

In verse 1, Luke tells us who was in the audience as Jesus spoke. These are two groups with very different attitudes. Who was gathering around to hear Jesus in verse 1? Who is in the other group in verse 2, and what was their attitude toward Jesus?

The first two stories in Luke 15:4-7 and 15:8-10 are short and to the point. They are parables, which are stories designed to teach a lesson. We can already see that part of the crowd listening to Jesus was open to His teaching, but the religious leaders were not. The Pharisees and scribes had hard hearts and refused to repent of their pride. They criticized all that Jesus did and the people associated with Him. Jesus did not meet their Messianic expectations, and so they rejected Him. 

The first two parables that Jesus tells were likely agreeable to both groups. Most people could imagine losing something important and then rejoicing when it was found. But, they may have wondered what Jesus meant by the closing words of these two parables. In both, the shepherd and the woman find what they lost and gather their friends and neighbors together to rejoice. Jesus then gives the lesson in his own words, and it’s the same: there is rejoicing in heaven when even one sinner repents of their sin. The joy of finding something that was lost is similar to the joy of heaven when a sinner repents. How do you feel when you finally find something you have lost? Now imagine that kind of experience in heaven.

The third story about a father and his two sons begins to hit closer to home for both groups in Jesus’ audience. The tax collectors and sinners likely related to the prodigal son. As you read through the story, try and hear it through the eyes of those who had made mistakes and were sorry. Do you personally relate to the prodigal son? How so? In Jewish thought, a sinner was an impure person. This is why the Pharisees had many rules about hand washing and diet, all meant to keep the people pure in God’s sight. But, Jesus preached about being clean on the inside, in the heart (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7). This teaching would be fulfilled at the advent of the Holy Spirit, who makes us clean from the inside out. But, in order to receive Him, we must admit we were wrong, as the prodigal did, and ask for forgiveness. Have you received forgiveness from our good Father?

Let’s look at the prodigal son’s transition back home and note his steps. What was his first decision in Luke 15:12? What did he do next in 15:13? The next few verses describe how this young man hit rock bottom. What happened to him, and what were his realizations in 15:17? What did he determine to do next, and what were the three things he planned to say upon arriving home (15:18-20)? 

Have you ever hit rock bottom like the prodigal son? If you are there now, it is not too late to come home to those who love you. We can learn from the prodigal who returned to his father, humbled himself, and asked forgiveness. We can also follow this process as we return to God, our Father, and humbly ask for His forgiveness. Read 1 John 1:9. In this verse, we, the ones who have been unfaithful, are the ones who confess. Our Father is the one who is faithful, and He forgives. 

We next hear again from the father in the story. What was his response when he saw his son return in 15:20-24? How is the celebration similar to the endings of the other two stories in this chapter? 

Who was not present when the prodigal son returned home and where was he, according to Luke 15:25? When the older brother heard what had happened in Luke 15:26-27, what was his response in 15:28-30? 

In Jesus’ story, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law are reflected in the prodigal son’s older brother. It is clear that the prodigal son was a sinner in the eyes of all who heard the parable. But the sinner could be found again, and the rejoicing could begin. The older brother would not join in, and this was his loss. What is the father’s response to his oldest son’s hard heart in Luke 15:31-32? 

Do you see yourself in the older sibling? There is nothing wrong with living a pure life. But, sometimes, rules and regulations can make us feel self-righteous. We can then convince ourselves that we are better than others, especially those whose lives have been, let’s say, more colorful than ours. In Jesus’ story, both brothers were in need of forgiveness, but only one humbled himself and received it. 

The father had two very different sons. Do you relate to the stark differences in the siblings, either as their parent or as a brother or sister, very different than you? Did you have a loving and receptive father like these two brothers did? The point of the story is to show that God joyfully welcomes us back from the places where we stray. Our poor decisions can take us further and further away from God in our selfishness, whether this means straying from Him physically or staying “close” to God, but being hypocritical and judgmental toward others. We should all rejoice when someone returns to God from their wayward ways. Why couldn’t the older brother accept his younger brother’s return with happiness? 

It is important to remember that the position of the Pharisees and scribes should not lead us to condemn Judaism or the Jewish people. These men devoted themselves to the Jewish writings and strived to keep them alive and relevant in each generation. Most importantly, they believed in Yahweh as both holy and loving. We have records of a couple of Pharisees who chose to follow Jesus: Nicodemus (John 3; cf. John 19:38-42) and the apostle Paul. Jesus did not ask either of these men to leave Judaism behind but to recognize Him as the promised Messiah and rightfully worship Him as the Son of God. Both were willing to do this, and it made all the difference. We do not know if any religious leaders who heard the story of the prodigal took the lesson to heart and repented. However, we know that even if one of them did so, there was tremendous rejoicing in heaven. 

This story should make us think about how we would have responded to Jesus if he had come in the 21st century. What do you think you would have done? Who are the tax collectors and sinners in our society today? Perhaps, if Jesus were to come today, He might spend time with prostitutes, the homeless, crooked politicians, and other unsavory characters? Would you be surprised to find Him enjoying Himself amongst the LBGTQ+ community? Jesus said, over and over, that He had come to seek and save the lost. The lost are all around us and come from all walks of life. Even so-called religious people can be lost if they harden their hearts toward Jesus and refuse to submit their lives to Him. We can learn from the beautiful welcome that the father had for his wayward son upon his return. Who can you welcome today? 

The master painter Rembrandt was so struck with this Bible story that he painted a beautiful depiction of it. Northland has a copy of this work in our foyer. Take some time to look at and meditate upon this piece the next time you are at church. There is also a wonderful book by Henri Nouwen called The Return of the Prodigal Son. This book puts you in the place of each of the three figures in the story. It would be well worth your time to read it.

Prayer: Lord, when I hear the story of the prodigal son, I am grateful to You for receiving me back when I have strayed away from You. I also repent of the times when I have been judgmental toward others’ stories and questioned why You would be good to them and welcome them back to Yourself when it seems obvious that they don’t deserve it. Help me remember that none of us deserve Your grace and favor, but You give it freely when we repent from our rebellious ways. May I want to join in the rejoicing when the lost are found. Help me do my part to be part of that heavenly celebration. Amen.

About This Sermon Series

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

READ MORE +

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

After experiencing a change and transition, we can look back and see that we were changed—or better yet transformed. And who you became, the kind of transformation that occurred in that transition was the direct result of how you processed or didn’t process the change.

In this series, Transitions, we will take you on a journey through Scripture looking at various transitions in the life God’s people as well as various passages that deal with how we should process changes in our life. Our hope and prayer in this series is that you will learn how to process the various changes in life and allow the Holy Spirit to use transitions to conform you more into the image of Jesus.

Upcoming Weekends

» June 25-26
TRANSITIONS | Transitions and Burnout: Elijah's Story |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» July 2-3
TRANSITIONS | Transitions Amidst the Seasons of Life |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

Upcoming Worship Services

» June 25-26
TRANSITIONS | Transitions and Burnout: Elijah's Story |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» July 2-3
TRANSITIONS | Transitions Amidst the Seasons of Life |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

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What's Current

Essential Guide to Becoming a Disciple

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What does it mean to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? Join us as we go through the book, Essential Guide to Becoming a Disciple where we'll learn the basics of discipleship.

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Stewardship Update

Budget for Fiscal (7/1/21-6/30/22) : $7.5M
If you'd like to learn more or have questions related to finances at Northland, contact our finance team at FinanceTeam@NorthlandChurch.net.
GIVE NOW

Northlanders, we celebrate you and what God has done—and is doing—through your giving and generosity. 

As you know, we held our “Raise the Roof” giving weekend last week.


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Northlanders, we celebrate you and what God has done—and is doing—through your giving and generosity. 

As you know, we held our “Raise the Roof” giving weekend last week. So far, we have seen God provide $681,455! Oh my-lanta! I cannot tell you how amazing this is! 

We have heard stories about how some of our teenagers gave towards “Raise the Roof.” When their parents asked them what they were doing, they responded, “We want to be a part of what God is doing.” We have had people give some of their possession towards “Raise the Roof,” like jewelry and gold. We have had people who gave for the first time. And we expect more giving to come in over the next two weeks as we communicated the “Raise the Roof” giving opportunity will be open until the end of June. 

But there’s more! In addition to “Raise the Roof,” Northland, you are tracking to not only meet our June giving budget but to exceed it! 

Northland, I do not take for granted what God is doing in our midst and through your generosity. It is an honor to serve and lead such a generous and expectant people! 

Pastor Josh 

Stewardship report by:

Josh Laxton

Stewardship Update

Northland Tithes & Offerings
Need for Fiscal (7/1/20-6/30/21) $9.5M
As of 6/15/2022
If you'd like to learn more or have questions related to finances at Northland, contact our finance team at FinanceTeam@NorthlandChurch.net.
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