Summary: Seeking the lost and leading them back

Weekend Message/Devotion

September 15, 2019

Are You Lost OR Just Lost SOMETHING?

Luke 15:1-10

Sermon Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I stand before Your people, to deliver Your message. Though the words are mine and I prepared this message, I pray that this message is Your message in its entirety. I pray your blessing and anointing on the message, its delivery, its reception - and most of all, its application in our lives.” Amen

Weekend Message/Devotion

“And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’”. (V2)

Simon Peter reminds us that God shows no preference, partiality or variant level of love to any.

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.’” (Acts 10:34)

We all should know this. If so, why are we always making comparisons and qualifying just who we will minister to and who we will not?

When my church in Vermont raised almost $200,000 for Hurricane Irene relief, we did establish a committee to administer the funding to those suffering losses in our town. I was very distressed when one of our church board members attempted to intervene in the process and wanted to disqualify one recipient because of her reputation and stated that this person wasn’t trustworthy and was not deserving of help. My immediate response was that she suffered a loss and the funds were established to aid in the recovery of losses due to the storm and there were no qualifiers nor disqualifiers beyond being a victim with identifiable losses.

Because Jesus very clearly (at least to me) stated that there are different kinds of losses. Why would He even mention more than just being physically lost? Again, to me, His message is there are more than one type of loss but there is only One God and that God ministers to all types of losses.

Type 1 – The Lost Sheep – our reading doesn’t say HOW the sheep got lost, did it? There is no qualifier for the shepherd beyond his love and HIS love for the lost sheep. It doesn’t matter that the sheep wandered from the flock nibbling on grasses along the way. How many times have we wandered from the “fold” looking for greener grasses to nibble on? Many of those lost sheep in our midst are too ashamed (not wanting to admit it) to seek help in returning. Yep, that thing called pride does sneak in here and there, doesn’t it? Others just don’t know how to go about it, so they just float out there, relying on little nibbles here and there like television church and such, which lack the interaction of fellowship and one on one discipleship.

Type 2 – Property Loss – One of the most frustrating things that I experience is losing something important or valuable. Yes, there are times when a loss is due to theft or vandalism! That’s where our faith and our attitude towards forgiveness comes in. Always remember that it is not wrong that we seek justice, but it is wrong to harbor unforgiveness.

Much of what I have lost through the years is the result of pure out and out carelessness. One quick example is expensive eyeglasses. I have lost eyeglasses which I carelessly put in a shirt pocket while working outside. As sure as the sun comes up, I must have bent over for some reason and they simply slipped out in the grass or some unknown location. Trying to retrace my steps, even on my hands and knees, never proved fruitful. Pure Negligence!

So, just how does a lost person find their way back? According to Jesus, it is the love of the shepherd that locates the lost sheep and returns him to the fold.

“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices, and when he comes home, he calls his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’. Vs 15:5-6

That doesn’t sound like the wayward sheep is ostracized or shamed, it sounds like he is a cause for celebration and expressions of love and acceptance. This is the response that we are all called to live out. I don’t think I need to revisit the “Prodigal Son”, do I? It is a parallel parable with the very same message.

The following exchange is with a family that we recently ministered to with an act of outreach:

LOST: “Oh my goodness are you serious? I’m at a total loss for words right now and have tears in my eyes. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t been into a church in many years because the last church I attended seemed all about money and not God’s word. So, I have spent my time at home reading my passages and sticking to my faith but you sir have touched me. And I would love to speak more with you for information on visiting your church and finding my new church home “:

FOUND: NAME, we appreciate remaining as anonymous as possible. It isn’t about us. It is about serving and sharing God’s love and resources. We are here to help you. We are no longer a “traditional” church. We will help you find the church that you will be comfortable in worship and discipleship.

This example is exactly what the parables are trying to teach us. Let me close with the following quote:

“The church has nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work” John Wesley (founder of Methodism)

Let us now go forth to LOVE and SERVE God by loving and serving each other – ALL OTHERS!

Let us pray.

I humbly and sincerely ask for your prayers![HG1]

Note: It is the practice of this church to preach straight from the bible. We follow the lectionary assigned readings from which the sermon/messages are derived.