Summary: An introduction to Matthew 5:3 which emphasizes that only those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy will enter the kingdom of heaven.

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(Luke 15:1 NIV) Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him.

(Luke 15:2 NIV) But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

(Luke 15:25 NIV) "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.

(Luke 15:26 NIV) So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.

(Luke 15:27 NIV) ’Your brother has come,’ he replied, ’and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

(Luke 15:28 NIV) "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.

(Luke 15:29 NIV) But he answered his father, ’Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.

(Luke 15:30 NIV) But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

(Luke 15:31 NIV) "’My son,’ the father said, ’you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

(Luke 15:32 NIV) But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’"

Last Sunday night some teenagers and a few middle-aged people were jumping up and down for joy in the Fellowship Hall. Do you know why? The team they were rooting for to win the Super Bowl had just scored a touchdown or made a good play. For some of these people the joy was short-lived. This morning I want to challenge people of my generation and older to show these younger people what really brings true joy on earth and in heaven. The greatest joy in all the world is when lost people are found by the Good Shepherd. I want to challenge people of my generation and older to set the pace for young people in winning the lost to Jesus Christ. I want us to set the pace for these young people in praying that the Lord of the harvest will raise up laborers for the harvest. I really don=t think there are too many of us who want to sit around quibbling about whether we want a pianist and/or an organist. Whether we decide on one or both, let us get on with the job of winning the lost.

Let us not think that we have to take sides about how large a stage should be, when there are billions on the stage of life who are lost without Christ. Grumbling and murmuring and complaining bring sadness to God and to people. My wife told me recently that one of the senior men of our church, while waiting in line in the Fellowship Hall, said: ALet the good times roll.@

And I say, Amen. Let the good times of winning the lost and rejoicing in their salvation roll. Let us bring joy to God and joy to one another by making the winning of souls our top priority.

Turn now please to Matthew 20:1, the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.

The story of the laborers in the vineyard is another version of the self-centered, self-righteous, Pharisaic older brother.

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