Summary: This is the fourth sermon in a series of five to help my congregation become more outward focused. It is based on the church outreach program titled - "Outflow". God wants us to seek the lost, rejoice when the lost are found, and keep looking.
Finding The Lost – Overflowing Outreach
Over the past few weeks we have been looking at how God wants to give us an overflowing life – an abundant life. A life so full of His joy, His peace, and His love – that it spills over into the lives of those who are around us. In John ten – ten it says:
“I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10 (HCSB)
The word picture that the Greek paints for “abundance” actually means – an overflowing abundance. Not that your cup is full – but that it is flowing over the rim. The cup is so full that it is spilling out into the saucer. God wants our lives overflowing with is His love, His joy and His peace. He wants our lives so affected by all the gifts He has to give to us – that it overflows into the lives of other people around us. That’s called outflow.
If you were to picture your influence for Christ as a fountain it would look something like a four tiered fountain. God fills us up – that is the first level - the top tier. He fills you so full that you spill over into the next level – the second tier - and you have an influence on those who are closest to you – that would be your family and friends. The third tier that we are going to be looking at today is our community. God wants us to have an impact on – not just our family and friends – but also on our community. Today we want to talk about the people who live around you – your community.
Have you ever lost anything? I’m sure you have. The times I get the most frustrated are when I loose something and I have not moved one inch. I think you know what I am talking about. Your working on a project such as fixing the lawn mower – you have just taken something apart – you are ready to put it back together and you can’t find the screwdriver. You know you just had it because the screw in your hand didn’t come out without it. But you look around you and it’s not there. You feel all your pockets and you just can’t find it. So in desperation you go to the tool chest and get out another one – only to return to the lawn mower and see the screwdriver sitting in plain sight. You have found that which is lost.
I don’t think I am alone when it comes to loosing things. In fact I looked up on the internet and found that people can loose some interesting items. Here is a list of some items lost on subways and busses.
In New York City some of the most common items are: backpacks, books and cell phones. Gloves, keys and eyewear are also pretty common. Some of the more interesting items lost include: dentures, a bowling ball, undergarments, and a prosthetic leg. In Chicago one person lost their last will and testament, another lost a set of x-rays. In Los Angeles someone lost a human jawbone. (It seems it was a dental student.) In Sydney people have lost fishing rods, spear guns, a refrigerator and a life size blow up doll of Elvis.
New York City takes in around 11,000 lost items a year while Los Angles takes in about 12,000. All this is to say is that – people loose things. As Christians need to be concerned about lost items too – we need to be concerned about the people who are around us who are lost. Jesus said,
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)
In Luke chapter fifteen we find three parables. Each parable talks of a lost item. In Luke chapter fifteen we have:
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
The Parable of the Lost Coin
The Parable of the Lost Son
We want to get a key point out of each of these parables to help us in seeking the lost. Let’s start out with:
THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ’Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7 (NKJV)