READ: Luke 15:11-32
THINK: Have you ever lost something really valuable or important? Perhaps it lost you--like a runaway pet. How did you feel when you realized it was missing and what did you do? Get mad? Cry? Panic? Did you enlist others to help find the lost item? If and when you found it, how did you respond? If losing things is a miserable feeling, imagine losing track of someone you love. Then imagine reuniting with the person. The joy and excitement of that reunion would not even compare with the rejoicing of Jesus and all heaven over one person who turns from sin and comes home to God.
RESPOND: What does the parable of the lost son reveal about the eventual consequences of sin (i.e., going our own way and defying God)? (See 15:13 note.) In what ways do people demonstrate a desire to do as they please, "free" of God's constraints? What happens when people separate themselves from God and His purposes? What did the lost son need to realize before he was ready to change (cf. v. 21)? What does it often take for people to come to their senses spiritually? (See 15:17 note.) What does it mean to be spiritually "lost"? (See 15:24 note.) What does this parable reveal about God's attitude toward spiritually lost people? (See 15:20 second note.) How should this affect your attitude? (See 15:20 first note.) In what way does the older son represent some Christians? (See 15:28 note.) In what way is the older son like people who appear to live for God but don't really know Him or His purposes?
PRAY: Pray for a friend, family member or someone you know who once knew God, or was near to knowing Him, but is currently away from God and doing their own thing. Pray that the person will come to his or her senses, recognizing their need for God and returning to Him.
ACT: Contact the person you prayed for. Ask how he or she is doing and to let him or her know that you're thinking of them. Don't feel the need to press him or her about spiritual issues unless they seem open and you feel God directing you to do so. However, let the person know that you're praying for them.
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