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Summary: Lessons from the parable of the lost sheep.

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*Intro> A man telephone his business associate’s home and was greeted with a child’s whispered, “Hello?” The man asked, “Is your daddy home?” “Yes,” was the whispered reply. “May I talk with him?” “No,” the child replied. The man was surprised, but wanting to talk to an adult, he then asked, “Is your mommy home?” “Yes,” whispered the child. “May I walk with her?” Again, “No,” was the answer. Knowing it was highly unlikely that the young child was at home alone, the man decided he would try to leave a message with whomever the person was who was watching over the child. So, he asked, “Is there anyone else there besides you?” “Yes,” the child whispered, “a policeman.” Wondering what could be going on, the man asked, “May I speak with the policeman?” “No, he’s busy,” came the reply. “Busy doing what?,” the man asked. The child explained, “He’s talking to mommy and daddy and the fireman.” The man became very concerned now, then began hearing what sounded like a helicopter through the earpiece of the phone. “What is that noise?,” he asked. “It’s a hello-copper.” “What’s going on there?,” the man asked, now becoming nearly panicky. The child answered in a hushed tone, “The search team just landed the hello-copper.” “What are they searching for?,” he asked. The child answered, “Me.”

Two weeks ago we looked at the story of the Prodigal Son...a man who had become lost as a result of his desires and desperately wanted to come home.

--Last week we looked at the story of the Good Samaritan, about a man who was beaten up and couldn’t come home because of what others had done to him.

--This week we look at the parable of the Lost Sheep...lost because of his desires and distractions leading him away from his shepherd...and who was also in serious danger of being taken advantage of by the world and its evil elements.

----This time, the sheep wanted to come home but didn’t know how to get there, and was incapable of helping himself.

In each story, whether a prodigal, a man beaten up by thieves, or a lost sheep, there is a common denominator: the compassion of our heavenly Father.

--Presented as the father to the prodigal, as the Good Samaritan to the man beaten up, and now as the good shepherd to the lost sheep, He cares each time “for the least of these,” and seeks to save those who are lost.

I invite you to open a Bible this time to Matthew 18.

--We read earlier from Luke 15, which is our main text, but the parallel text for the same story is found in Matthew 18, and we need to put both passages together in order to get the full picture of what’s going on.

---Matthew 18:12-13 -- “What do you think? If any man (came to have) a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

--Luke 15 tells us the shepherd has lost one of his sheep. Matthew 18 tells us how...the sheep strayed away.

--Luke 15 tells us the shepherd left the ninety-nine in an open pasture. Matthew 18 tells us that pasture was on a mountain.

--Luke 15 tells us the shepherd has a hundred sheep. Matthew 18 tells us he came to have them...it didn’t happen overnight.

--Luke 15 tells us the shepherd rejoices as he comes home. Matthew 18 tells us why...because it’s not God’s will that any of these little ones perish.

--The Bible tells us that one of the “I Am” statements / identifications of Jesus was, “I am the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep.”

--We’re all familiar with Psalm 23 -- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack anything.

----It’s a beautiful Psalm written by another good shepherd, David, spoken/sung as though he were a sheep singing to his shepherd.

----I highly recommend Phillip Keller’s book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. It presents some wonderful insights about sheep and the meaning of Psalm 23.

--And we’re probably all familiar with the paintings of Jesus carrying sheep on His shoulder, wrapped around His neck.

---Those pictures are based on the truths in today’s story...the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

It’s a story we need to look at in 3 parts: Its context, its content, and its applications to our lives today.

1) THE CONTEXT

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