Lost: But Making Good Time

Pastor Rod Thompson

Midland SDA Church

December 16, 2017

 

 

Tell story of 1991 Movie Ė City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal

 

You know friends, itís a scary thing to be lost.

In our scripture reading this morning it says that Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10)

Praise God for that

 

Read Luke 15:1-2††††††† Jesus is reaching out to the masses and it saysÖÖ.

 

The Pharisees were upset because Jesus seemed to be attracting those who had a bad reputation Ė they were sinners.† And they thought to themselves if Jesus were really a prophet He would know what kind of people these were and surely He would not associate with them.† The scribes and Pharisees were repulsed by those whom they considered sinners.† And they insinuated that if Jesus chose to associate with them, that because of their way of life, it must be agreeable with His as well.

 

Brothers and sisters you and I have the advantage of thousands of years of hind sight to see that Jesus loves sinners, but He hates sin.†

It was obvious that Jesus loved sinners, but His critics sought to make it appear that if He loved sinners than accordingly He must also love their sin.†

So Jesus tells them some parables.† A parable is a short story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual Lesson.

 

Read Luke 15:4-7

 

The raising of sheep was a very common thing in those days in Israel.† So the people would have been able to relate to the story that Jesus was telling them.† Perhaps many of them were remembering a time or two when they had gone after a lost sheep.†

But Jesus was giving this illustration as spiritual example of people who are lost.

 

Isaiah 53:6††††††††† All we like sheep have gone astray.† We have turned, everyone, to his own way.† ††

 

I want to talk here for just a little bit about some of the characteristics of sheep.†

 

First of all Ė sheep are not intelligent.† Sheep are not known to be smart or cunning animals when it comes to safety.† Rather they are susceptible and tend to wander away from the protection of the shepherd.†

 

Another characteristic Ė sheep are directionless.† Sheep get lost easily.† Sheep tend to wander away from the flock while they are grazing.† And if it wanders away from the herd it is going to be difficult for it to find its way back.† In fact it may be impossible, because sheep have no sense of direction.††

 

Sheep are symbolic of you and me.† When someone is outside of the Lord, they simply have no sense of spiritual direction and most people, in this condition, cannot find their way back to God by themselves.

 

Another characteristic about sheep Ė they are weak.† In an unsaved, depraved mind, we are weak, foolish and ignorant.† That is why sheep need someone to protect them.†

 

Have you ever gone to someoneís house that has a sign, usually on a fence, that says, ďbeware of dog.Ē††† What do you imagine when you see that sign?† Do you imagine a great big dog with big teeth, snarling at you, ready to attack.††††

Let me ask you another question.† Have you ever seen a sign like that on the house or fence that says, beware of sheep?†

 

Have you ever seen a wide eyed animal fleeing for its life with a bleating lamb chasing after it?† NO!

 

Sheep are not dangerous.† They are virtually defenseless.† All they can do when trouble comes their way is freeze in their tracks or at the very best run away.

 

Without claws, without sharp teeth, without a resounding roar to make their predator think twice before pouncing on them sheep are easy prey.† They canít scamper up a tree, they have no camouflage, they canít swim.† And when they sense danger all they can do is panic.†

 

I try to imagine how Jesusí disciples felt when He said to them, ďI send you out as sheep among the wolves.Ē† The same is true of us isnít it?†

 

When we are out of fellowship with God, when we are isolated from other Christians that is when we are most vulnerable.† We need the shepherds wisdom and strength to survive.† But we also need the comfort and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ.†

 

So in this parable Jesus says there is this sheep, representing people that are lost.† In this parable we should be able to see two stages of being lost.† First of all we are all we are all born lost and condemned.†

 

John 3:16† For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that who ever believes in Him should not parish but have ever lasting life.† But Jesus doesnít stop there.† He says in verse 17 that we are already condemned.†

 

Weíre lost.† So Christ came to seek and to save the lost.† He is reaching out to us and asking us to come to Him and be saved.† And praise God there are many that do.† They come into the fold and we rejoice with them.† But then life goes on and things sort of get in the way and we wander off and we are lost again.†

 

We didnít mean to get lost, it just happened.† And before we even knew what happened we are off going in our own direction, doing what seems right in our own eyes.†

 

So we see in this parable that we are lost, and we are continually getting lost.† Because we are like sheep that go astray.† We are prone to wander and prone to leave the God that we love.†

 

Read Luke 15:8-10

 

In the parable of the lost sheep the owner was moved by pity and compassion for that lost sheep and by their own financial interest.† If you think about you being a shepherd you care about that sheep your concerned about it wandering off and being attacked by a vicious animal so you go after that sheep.† The shepherd has a financial interest at stake.† If he loses that sheep he is losing part of his income.†

 

But in the story of the lost coin those two elements are missing.† The woman had only her own carelessness to blame for the lost coin and her desire to reclaim it was based exclusively in her personal interest for the coin.

 

In a sense, you could say that the sheep is responsible for its own getting lost.† It wandered off.† But in the parable of the coin you cannot blame the coin for loosing itself.

 

Question!†† In scripture, especially in prophecy, what does a woman represent?† A church!† So here we have a woman Ė here we have a church, that has a member who is a part of that church, but now this member is lost.† And its because of the carelessness of the woman, the carelessness of the church that this person is lost.†

 

And I wonder, brothers and sisters, how many of us are responsible for lost coins in the church.† How many of us are responsible for someone else leaving the church?† How many of us are responsible for someone no longer wanting to be involved in the church, Sabbath school, prayer meeting, potluck, vespers or any kind of outreach.†††

 

Perhaps it was a careless word, an untimely statement, a course reprimand.† I have heard stories of people leaving the church because someone made a comment about their hat, or dress, or blue jeans.†

 

And what would we say about that person?† Oh, their just thin skinned, they need to get over it and get back in the church.† Right?† Thatís what we might think in our carnal nature.† But according to the parable it was the woman that caused the coin to be lost.†

 

How many times have we wanted others to do it our way rather than just loving them where theyíre at?† Instead of loving and nurturing and teaching and helping them grow we push them aside and insist that itís my way or the highway.†

 

How many coins have been lost, and we are waiting for someone else to go and find them?† And the real reason is that we donít have a personal interest in the one that is lost.† The pastor will do it, itís his job right?

 

He will go and he will win them back, right?† Is that the way itís supposed to be.† Is that the way itís laid out in the parable?† No!

 

The one who lost the coin is the one who searches for it.† The one who said that untimely remark.† The one who offended the other is to go and win them back.† And they donít come back until they bring them with them.† And we could add a little to that couldnít we.† We could admit yes it was me, I said something to offend.† And I went to visit them and I tried to make it right and they wonít come, - could you dear brother, dear sister, could you go talk to them?†

 

And every person in the church should go if necessary.† Every person in the church.† And if we can bring them back then we can all rejoice together.†

 

And then there is the parable of the lost son in Luke 15: 11.† Iím not going to read this whole story.† Youíre familiar with it.† I just want to expound on it a little bit.† We have this son who is in his fatherís house.† He is the younger of two sonís.† So the eldest son would always get a double portion. So if you had two sons the oldest would get 2/3rd and the youngest would get 1/3rd.† And if you had more sons it would be divided even more.

 

But this son says to the father, give me my inheritance.† In other wordsÖ. I donít want to be in your house, I donít want to follow your rules, I donít want to do it your way, but just give me my inheritance and let me go my way.† So the father gives him what would have been his at the fatherís death.† And the son goes off and lives a wild life.† Spends all that was given to him on friends and wild living.†

 

But then he becomes in need.† The only thing he could do was get a job.† And the only thing he could find was feeding pigs.† He is longing to eat even what the pigs are getting.† And the story says that finally he came to his senses.† He says to himself, even my fatherís servants have it better off than I do.†

 

I will return to my father and ask him to make me one of his hired servants.† You know the story.† The son returns home.† The father sees him afar off and runs to him and accepts him back Ė not as a hired servant but as a son.†

 

Read Matthew 19:16

 

Notice that Jesus says to obey the commandments.† The young man says which ones.† Jesus gives him the last 6 commandments that have to do with our relationships with others.† He very boldly says I have done that, what else do I need to do?† Jesus says keep the first four Ė that have to do with your relationship with God.† (His wealth was his idol).† So he walked away sorrowful (vs 22).†

 

Notice that Jesus was pointing this young man to the way of life.† If you want to be saved, this is what you must do.† You are lost and if you want to be found, do this!

 

And is that what Jesus told us to do?† To go to the lost sheep and tell them they are lost and this is what they must do to be saved.† But I want you to notice something very important here.† Notice that when Jesus told him that, that the bible says that he went away sorrowful.† Now I want you to notice what it doesnít say.† It doesnít say that Jesus went running after him and said, hold on a minute, let me explain it another way.†

 

He doesnít compromise or soften the message in order to win this man to the truth.† He simply lets him go and make his own choice.† You see brothers and sisters that every person has been given the right by God to choose whether or not they want to remain lost.

 

Back to the story of the prodigal - †notice the fact that the son, at one time, was living in the fatherís house.† In other words this was someone who was a part of the family of God, part of the church.† But they chose of their own free will to leave or willfully disobedient.†

 

†††† Now there is a very powerful message that we need to see here in this story of this lost son.† You noticed that when the sheep was lost the shepherd went out and looked for it.† You notice that when the coin was lost the woman went and looked for it.† But when this son willfully, disobediently left the fatherís house no one went looking.† Because in this condition this person cannot be reasoned with.†

 

They will not be saved.† God had to bring that young man to a place where he realized that he was better off in the fatherís house, before he could come back.† And in this case the father waits for the son.† But when he saw him coming from afar off, he ran to him and received him back into the family.† And I thank God that he does.†

 

Through the circumstances that God has allowed in this prodigals life he finally realizes that his purposeful disobedience has been a detriment to him and he returns.† He has humbled himself and he is now on the right path.† He recognizes the value in living in the fatherís house, living under the fatherís rules, and he comes back Ė not to be served, not to be waited on.† But to appreciate even being a slave to his father.

 

Friends it is a terrible thing to be lost.† And sometimes we donít even know that we are lost.† You see the real tragedy of this story is the other brother, that didnít run away.† Here we have a child of God who is in the house of God, heís doing the work of the kingdom of God but he has no compassion for the lost.†

 

Do you see that in the story?† No compassion for the erring one and in reality this lost son is worse off than all the others that were lost.†††

 

If a sheep is lost you can go after it.† If a coin is lost you can search for it.† If an erring child willfully goes away and then they come to their senses you can receive them back into the fold.† But this person who is in the church, and doing the work, and just kind of going through the motions but doesnít have a compassion for the lost, doesnít know the fatherís heart is worse off than all the others.† You see this son is lost, but making good time†

 

And thatís the one who says, on the Day of Judgment, but Lord, Lord, I was in the church, I was coming to Sabbath school and prayer meeting and worship service.†† I even cast out demons in your name.† I was working for you.

 

You see brothers and sisters you and I may not realize it but the worst place of all to be lost is within the church.†

 

You can be a Christian, you can be a faithful member, paying a faithful tithe, going to prayer meeting, potluck, even fellowshipping with other believers but if you donít have a heart like the father you are still lost.

 

In this story the fatherís pleading with the elder son is heavenís tender appeal to us.†† ďAll that I have is yours.Ē† Not as wages, but as a gift.† Like the prodigal you can receive it only as the unmerited bestowal of the Fatherís love.†

 

Christís Object Lessons† p. 209

 

ďWhen you see yourself as sinners saved only by the love of your heavenly Father, you will have tender pity for others who are suffering in sin Ö When the ice of selfishness is melted from your hearts, you will be in sympathy with God, and will share His joy in the saving of the lost.Ē†

 

It is true that we all claim to be children of God.† But God is telling us today that if we are truly his sons and daughters we will have a heart like His.† We will have a heart like His only begotten son who came to seek and to save the lost.†

 

If you truly have a heart like the Father than the lost of this world will be bound to your heart, because God recognizes them as sons and daughters also.† Deny your relationship to those who are lost, and you show that you are but a hireling in the household, not a child in the family of God.†

 

Was the elder brother brought to see his own mean, ungrateful spirit? Did he come to see that though his brother had done wickedly, he was his brother still? Did the elder brother repent of his jealousy and hardheartedness? Concerning this, Christ was silent. For the parable was still enacting, and it rested with His hearers to determine what the outcome should be.

 

Brothers and sisters do you have a compassion for the lost?† It is a very serious question that we have to ask ourselves, because if we donít we ourselves are Lost but making good time.† And we are worse off than all the rest.†

 

What a powerful message that God has for us.† Do you have a hunger to reach the lost and being involved in the outreach opportunities of the church, or are you like that son whoís just sort of there but really doesnít have the heart of the father.

 

Friends Our Father is not willing that any should perish.† And he wants to use you for the salvation of others.† Are you willing to be used?† Do you have a heart for the lost? †