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Summary: This sermon relates the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Silver to those who have drifted or cooled in their relationship with God

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Luke 15:1-10 – Lost and Found

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that 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 his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

40 years ago, Muynak was a thriving fishing port on the Aral Sea. But today Muynak sits on the edge of a bitter, salty desert. Sand dunes are strewn with the rusted hulls of a fishing fleet that once sailed high above on the surface of what was called Central Asia's “fountain of life.”

Once the world's fourth-largest inland sea spanning an area of over 26,000 square miles, things began changing in the 60’s when the Soviet Union launched a plan to divert the Aral's water source to irrigate the world's largest cotton belt.

No one, however, envisioned the environmental disaster that would result.

The sea is now one tenth its former size - Weather has become more extreme, the growing season has been shortened by 2 months, and 80 percent of the region's farmland has been ruined by salt storms that sweep in off the dry seabed.

The drinking water is contaminated – and those living in the region have lost all means of earning a living. The water that remains in the sea is so polluted it cannot sustain life.

So, what began as a decision to stimulate growth, actually produced death.

Decisions can be like that. Sometimes, a decision we THINK will bring blessing, turns out to be a curse.

Any of us who have lived very long have made our fair share of bad decisions… where we’ve acted on what we thought was a “good idea”at the time, but turned out to bring many regrets.

Maybe it was a business investment that seemed like a sure thing

a relationship decision where we went against better judgment

a job move that didn’t produce the desired results.

Even when it comes to our relationship with God, we OFTEN forfeit God’s best to satisfy short-term desire.

Decisions ⇒ can bring blessing or cursing.

BUT - as far as GOD is concerned, BAD DECISIONS don’t have to be final!

That’s why I love this story and the pictures from everyday life Jesus uses to teach us.

Seated around Him and hanging on His every word that day, were people on the fringe of society who had made MANY bad decisions. Verse 1 tells us how “tax collectors and sinners” were drawn to Him.

And --- He RECEIVED --- them according to verse 2. He gave them HOPE.

Oh YES, there were those who didn’t approve of His choice in followers. But Jesus didn’t care – for as He explained in chapter 19 and verse 10 – His whole purpose for coming was “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus was well aware of the fact that His reputation would take a hit in the religious community by reaching out to outcasts – but He was more than willing to risk His public image with the self righteousness in order to give hope to the hopeless.

To address their hardened hearts, Jesus told the religious leaders a story. Three stories actually – the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Silver, and the Lost Son. Though the cast is different in each story, the message is essentially the same:

something of great value was lost

AND

someone went to great lengths in order to find and restore that which was lost.

In the parable of the Lost Sheep, you see something lost through its own willful choices – a sheep finds a hole in the fence and out it goes. It had everything to gain by staying NEAR its Shepherd, and everything to lose by wandering away. But in the end, its appetite overpowered its sensibilities and it slipped through the fence. Now it is unable to find its way back to the Shepherd and the protection of the fold.

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