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Sunday, September 26, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus on Money"

“Jesus on Money”  
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 26, 2010
Luke 16:1-13


We’ve just finished 3 weeks in Luke chapter 15 where we found out how Jesus feels about the lost.  Jesus loves lost people with a powerful, passionate love!  And He wants us to love lost people in the same way!

Now in chapter 16, Jesus is going to start talking about money.
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
We’re going to call this message, “Jesus on Money.”  Jesus on the subject of money.  But don’t forget what we’ve been learning about Jesus and the lost in chapter 15, because that’s going to figure into our understanding of this chapter, as well.

So, let this little green piggy bank also remind you of the lost son repentantly coming to his senses in the pig-pen of chapter 15, as we listen now to Jesus teaching us about what to do with money.

Jesus taught a lot about money.  Last Summer, we had an eight week sermon series that we called “In God What We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”  And we could go into a lot more detail than that, couldn’t we?!

This Spring, we had a message called, “Jesus and Our Stuff,” where the Lord taught us to be neither greedy nor worried about money and possessions.

Before this “Certain of Jesus” sermon series on Luke is done, we’re going to hear a lot more about money from the mouth of our Lord.

It’s an important topic. 

Today, we’re going to get three main applications from Jesus on money:

#1.  Be Shrewd.
#2.  Be Trustworthy.
#3.  Be Loyal.

The Lord Jesus was a master teacher.  He knew just how to get our attention.

In chapter 16, Jesus tells a startling story to capture our attention, surprise us with a twist and then drive home His point to our hearts.

It’s the story of the Shrewd Manager.  Or the Dishonest Steward.

It’s about a guy who looks ahead and then pulls a fast one.

Let’s look at it together.  Chapter 16, verse 1.

“Jesus told his disciples: ‘There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'” Now, stop there for a second so that we can get this story straight.

So far, there are two characters in this story that Jesus is telling.

A rich man and his employee, a manager.  That is, a man who manages (stewards) the financial dealings of the rich man.

The manager worked for the rich man managing his business.

But, the rich man has found out that the manager was “wasting his possessions.”  He was no good.

And so, in good Donald Trump fashion, he says, “You’re Fired!”

“What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.”

Clean out your desk.  Bring me an account of all of the financial records.  I’m going to do an audit, and you’re fired.

Now, getting fired has a wonderful way of focusing someone’s attention on the future.  (To say the least!)

All of a sudden, this guy has to do some quick thinking about his future.  V.3

“‘The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg–I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'”

And he hatches a plan.  V.5

“‘So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'  'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. ‘The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' [You can just imagine the look on that debtor’s face!]  Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' ‘'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. ‘He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'”

And I think that we’re supposed to assume that this was the pattern that he took with all of the “accounts receivable.”

You owe how much?  Well, let’s make it this amount...

Now, if you’re following the story, you can just imagine how the rich man is going to react to that!  V.8

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”

Huh?

Did I miss something?

Didn’t the master just get cheated out of a lot of revenue?

And he commends the “dishonest manager?”

This one is a puzzler!

Well, there are two main ways to interpret verse 8. One possible and another, I think, a little more probable. But both of them end up with the same application.

Be shrewd.

Let me share with you the possible interpretation of verse 8 that solves a little of the strangeness of the master’s reaction.

It’s this.  According to Jewish history, it was not unusual for a business manager like this one to have a good sized mark-up as his cut on a debt.

So, it’s possible that the steward, the money manager was lowering all of the debts by the amount of his own commission.

You see?

Before he had to turn in the books, he ran around town and slashed the amount owed with all of the accounts and that did two things.

One, it made all of the accounts happier with the rich master.  Because they didn’t owe so much.  And he was still in charge, so he could do that.  It was barely legal.

And Two, it made all of the debtors happier with the manager.  Because he had come through for them.

Very Sharp!
Strategic!
...Shrewd.

In this interpretation, the manager is using his own money to make friends and influence people.

I think that’s possible.  And it would make sense of why the owner commends him.

But Jesus doesn’t say all of that about commissions, and so forth.  So that might not be the way it worked.

I think it’s more probable, that this man was barely legally or illegally using the master’s money to make friends and influence people.

Jesus still calls him in verse 8, “the dishonest manager.”

He was strategically using the last of his authority to mark down debts so that those debtors would be friendly towards him.  Give him a job or at least a meal here and there.  It was a vicious way of networking!

I think that’s more likely.

So, why did Jesus’ fictitious rich master commend the dishonest manager?

Well, just because of what it says in v.8, “because he had acted shrewdly.”

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

It doesn’t say that the master liked it!

It doesn’t say that the master enjoyed having his revenues reduced!

It just says that he recognized shrewdness when he saw it.

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

“Well, you pulled a fast one on me.  But I’ll bet it works!  And you’re still fired!”

I think that’s more probable.

But either way, the point that Jesus is making is that we should be shrewd with money.  V.8 again.

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For [Jesus says,] the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”

I love that way of talking about us:  “The people of the light.”  That should be us.

And the people of the light should be shrewd with money.

But often, the people of the world are more shrewd than us.

#1. BE SHREWD.  USE MONEY STRATEGICALLY FOR THE KINGDOM.

Jesus has captured our attention with this story and it’s surprise ending. Now He drives His point home. V.9

“I tell you, use worldly wealth [KJV “the mammon of unrighteousness”] to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Be shrewd.

Now, do you think that v.9 means that we can buy our way into heaven?

I seriously doubt it.

That would be the opposite of what we’ve learned the last few weeks in chapter 15.

Heaven comes not by earning it or buying it (like the Older Brother might have thought) but by GRACE and GRACE ALONE.

You can’t buy your way in.

I think what it means is that we should use money strategically for the kingdom to reach the lost so that when we get to heaven, we have friends there that our generosity helped to reach with the gospel.

Let me say that again.

I think that v.9 is teaching that we should use money strategically (shrewdly) for the kingdom (eternal investments) to reach the lost so that when we get to heaven, we have friends there that our generosity helped to reach with the gospel.

You know that song, “Thank You, For Giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed?”  That’s what I think he’s talking about here.

He’s talking about the greetings we’ll get in the New Heavens and the New Earth when we meet people that are connected to those folks across the back of our auditorium.

When we meet people that Tim McIntosh led to the Lord.  And they say, “Thank you for giving to the McIntosh family.  That was strategic!  I’m here in now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling, because you gave!”

When we meet people that Henoc Lucien led to the Lord.  And they say, “Come in here and sit down.  Thank you for giving to the Lord through Henoc.  That was a shrewd use of your hard earned cash!  I’m here now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling because you gave!”

I think that’s what it’s talking about.

It’s actually talking about generosity.

Strategic generosity.

The kind that lasts forever.

The dishonest manager was thinking about the long haul.  He was thinking about the future.  And he used his money to profit the future, not just the present.

And Jesus says that the people of the light, you and I, need to think about the longest haul, the eternal rewards that come from strategic investments in eternity.

Won’t it be great to sit down with someone, maybe here today, in the New Earth who says, “Thank you for giving to Lanse Free Church because I was touched by the ministry there with the gospel, and that’s why I’m here.  That was a shewd use of your money.  I’m here now and we can have this fellowship in this eternal dwelling because you gave!”

“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone [and it will be gone!  Remember that.  The money will eventually run out!  When it is gone], you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Be shrewd.

#2. BE TRUSTWORTHY.  USE MONEY FAITHFULLY ON BEHALF OF THE KING.

Now, just in case anyone thought that Jesus was encouraging dishonesty with worldly wealth, He makes it clear in verses 10 through 12 that the people of the light are supposed to be very trustworthy with the money in our care.  V.10

‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?”

Be Trustworthy.

We’re not supposed to be like the dishonest manager in anyway except one: shrewdness, strategic forward thinking.  That’s it.

In every other way, we’re not supposed to be like him.  We’re supposed to be honest with money and trustworthy.

Here’s why.  All of it belongs to King Jesus.

We learned about this last Summer.  Jesus owns it all.

God owns it all. We are just stewards. 

The money in our pockets is His.
The money in our banks is His.
The money in our retirement accounts is His.

It all belongs to the King, and while it’s in our care, we are supposed to manage it faithfully.

Now, that’s hard to do.  It’s hard not to think of my money as mine.

But we have to get that perspective or our lives will be way out of balance.

We are just stewards.

But, we are stewards who can expect a reward for faithfulness.

Did you catch that in verses 10-12? Let’s read them again.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? [True riches?  A riches that are more true than all of the gold and silver and dollars and cents in this world?]  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?”

He’s talking about reward.  He’s saying it negatively, that if we aren’t trustworthy, then we won’t be trusted with more.

But the flip-side is true, as well, isn’t it?

If we ARE trustworthy with some, then we will be trusted with more, and not just with worldly wealth–with true riches!

Whatever that means!

I’m not sure what the rewards of heaven will be like, but Jesus assures us that they are worth it!

Let’s be trustworthy.  Right now, use money faithfully on behalf of the King.

What changes do you and I have to make to make that a reality?

It’s all his.  We need to be trustworthy stewards.

Here’s why.  Because WE belong to the King.

#3. BE LOYAL.  USE MONEY.  DON’T LET IT USE YOU!  SERVE THE KING.  V.13

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

We learned about this last Summer, too.

There is a law in the universe that you cannot serve both God and Money. 

You cannot serve both God and the god of money (Mammon).
               
You have to choose.

You can only be loyal to one.

We all know that money can become an idol.

That we are all prone to start serving it, instead of having it serve us.

When we get greedy.
When we get the wantsies.
When we get on the career track that makes earning more and more the be all and end all of our existence.

Money is good.  But all good things can become evil if we begin to serve them.

And the best way to fight this tendency is to be strategically generous.

To give more than we think we can.

To spend our cash on things that will last.

How is God working in your heart about your money right now?

Has the Holy Spirit been trying to tug at your purse strings to loosen them for kingdom purposes?

There is great reward for those who are found both shrewd and trustworthy because it shows where their true loyalties lie. [Bub’s testimony.]

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Which one are you serving?

We have all been disloyal in this way.

We have all sinned and selfishly hoarded money and begun to serve it at one point or another.

But Jesus died to free us from that slavery.

He died to free us from all sin–including greed.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for our disloyalty and to bring us to God.

To give us the power to be loyal through faith in Him and His precious promises.

To serve the King and to use money for His kingdom alone.

Trust Him and step out in faith being both shrewd and faithful and loyal.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Haggai with Johnathon Bowers


Just finished listening to a 2 part series on Haggai by a young preacher at Bethlehem Baptist, Johnathon Bowers.

It's very well done. Preachers should note Johnathon's use of images and figures of speech, especially similes, for great effect (without detracting from the text!).

There is a great blend of information and application, showing how to preach a strong message from an obscure Old Testament source. 

And I felt personally addressed by the text, too. Highly recommended listening.
 

CCEF Mini-Books


Excellent practical theology in a very readable, helpful form.

I recommend each and every one.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dancing with Dogs

This is my idea of a good music video.  Don't know what the song is about, but I love OK Go's choreography.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Lost: Part Three"

“Jesus and the Lost (Part Three)” 
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 19, 2010
Luke 15:25-32

This is the third and last message in Luke 15 that we’re calling, “Jesus and the Lost.”

In Luke 15, Jesus tells 3 parables, 3 stories with a similar pattern:

Something valuable is lost.
Someone conducts a desperate search.
And when it’s found, there is a celebration.

Lost, Search, Found, Party.
Lost, Search, Found, Party.
Lost, Search, Found, Party.

In the first story, it was a sheep.
In the second story, it was a coin.

In the third story, which we started last week, it was a SON that was lost.

We call him, “the Prodigal son.”

You remember the story. 

A man had two sons.  The younger one was greedy and mean and spiteful and would rather his father was dead.

So, he asked his father to give him his part of his inheritance and took off and squandered it in a far country with wild living.

And then when the money was all gone, he hit the very bottom.  A Jew among pigs.

And he repented.  He came to his senses and went home to ask for forgiveness and to become a hired hand.

But his Father had been searching all along and RAN (ran!) to the son and embraced him and threw a great big party.  The son was lost but now was found.

And this story tells us about God’s amazing grace and the Father’s love for the lost.

But the story doesn’t end in verse 24.  We stopped there last week, but the story goes on.

There is not just 1 son, there is 2.  It was the younger son who went away.

The older son had remained. And it is to this Older Son that we now turn today.

Let’s begin reading at verse 25.

[scripture reading, prayer]
                   
Now before we get into the details of this story, we have to remember something important. What is it?

Verses 1 and 2.

We’ve been learning that verses 1 and 2 of chapter 15 tell us whom Jesus was telling these stories to. And they tell us why Jesus was telling these particular stories about lost things being found.

Whom was Jesus talking to?  Let’s go back up and read verses 1 and 2 again.

“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. [Black hats, right?  These are the Trash, the Scum, the Despised. The Bad Guys.]  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law [Yeah, the White Hats!  The Good Guys, the Morally Upright, the Clean.] muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

Two groups.  The black hats and the white hats.

And this story was for both of them.

Because each was represented by a son.

What kind of hat did the younger son wear?  A black one, right?

He was the lost.  He was the sinner.  Despicable, reprehensible, ugly, mean, self-centered–bad.

The younger son was a bad guy.

What do you think that makes the other son?

He’s the good guy, right?  The white hat guy.

When the prodigal comes home, the older son is where?  V.25

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field.”

He was working!  Of course he was.  This was the good son. This was the son that didn’t leave. This was the son that worked hard for the Father.

He comes in from working and hears the party getting started.  V.25 again.

“When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.”

“Hey you, what is going on here?  What’s all the commotion?  Why the party?  I wasn’t told about any party.”  V.27

“'Your brother has come,' [the servant] replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'”

“It’s the greatest thing!  Your Dad is having a party for your brother.  He’s back!”

...Now, how would you have felt if you were that older brother?

I guess it depends on how much you have the heart of your father...

This son gets angry.  V.28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”

Isn’t that interesting?

He got angry and refused to join the party.

“No way. I’m not going to that party!”

And the son that had been an outsider is now an insider.

But the son that had supposedly been an insider is now outside.

Do you see that?

He’s angry.

And remember, he’s the white hat guy standing for the Pharisees and the Bible professors of verse 2.  They were angrily muttering, “This Jesus welcomes and sinners and eats with them.  Ugh.”

I’m sure that they could see themselves in Jesus’ story.  And they didn’t like what they were hearing.

Now, notice this.  The Father comes outside to talk with the son.  V.28 again.

“So his father went out and pleaded with him.”

I never noticed this before.  How many times have I read this stor, and I never noticed the Father taking the initiative to go out to the older brother.  There is another search going on here.  A search for the lost.

I’ve been amazed that the Father runs to the younger brother.  But I’ve never noticed that the Father loves the older brother, too, and goes out to him.

He has compassion on those who are OUTSIDE.  Because the Older Son is acting lost right now, too.

The Father comes out and pleads with the Older Son to come in.  “Join the party! Come on, Son. Join the party!”  V.29

“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.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'”

What do you hear?

I hear harsh anger.
I hear green-eyed jealousy.
I hear a great sense of injustice.

“This isn’t fair!  I’ve been a white hat. And this is thanks I get?  Haven’t I earned a little more respect?  Where is the justice?  This isn’t fair!”

Notice that this man has disowned his brother.  He calls him, “This son of yours,” not “this brother of mine.”

He’s killed him off in his own mind. 

“Where has all the money gone, Dad?  We once had a great thing going here, and this son of yours took off with 1/3 of all of it. And it’s gone.  It’s gone!

He spent it on women and who knows what?

This isn’t fair!”

The father responds in verse 31.

“‘'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  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.”

The father is as gentle as the son was harsh.

And he doesn’t deny that’s unfair.  But it’s got to be. Because it’s grace. And because it’s love.

No, it’s not fair.  It’s grace.  And it’s love!

“‘'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to [had to!] celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

And that’s the heart of the Father.

Now, what happened next?

What happened next in the story?

What does verse 33 say?

Made you look!  There is no verse 33.  This story is a cliffhanger.

We don’t know what happened next.

Why is that?

In verse 7 and in verse 10, Jesus gave us the point.

But in verse 32, he just leaves the story hanging there.

It’s a cliff hanger ending, and it forces the Pharisees and the teachers of the law to make a choice.

Will they come in and share the Father’s joy?
Will they celebrate with the Father when the lost are found?
Will they join the party?

Or will they just continue to mutter in anger?

This story also forces us to respond ourselves.

Let me give you three points of application to consider today.

I think they are all part of what the Father is calling us to do as he pleads with us to come inside and join the party.

#1.  TURN AWAY FROM TRUSTING IN YOUR OWN GOODNESS.

I think that’s the heart of the older son’s problem. 
It’s the Pharisees’ problem.
It’s the scribes’ problem.

It’s the problem of the legalist.

The white hats had gotten prideful at being white hats.

They were putting their confidence in their good works, good deeds, and clean living.

The Older brother was dutifully working in the fields.
The Older brother had (in his mind) “slaved” for the Father and never disobeyed his orders.

And he had begun to feel that the Father owed him.

That his works had earned him some favor with the Father.

But that’s not how it works.

If you are going to work for a wage, that’s a different kind of relationship than Father/Son.

And that’s not how Christianity works either.

Christianity is not about following the rules and earning God’s favor.

Hear this.  Christianity (at its heart) is not about being good.

It’s about being loved.

It’s not about impressing God with your obedience.

It’s not about earning God’s respect and goodwill.

It’s not about keeping your nose clean and living right.

Not at its heart.

At the heart of Christianity is a love relationship.

A Father/Son relationship.

Where we don’t trust in our goodness.

We trust in His love for us expressed in the gift of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We need to turn away from trusting in our own goodness and humble ourselves and turn to Jesus.

Humble yourself and turn to Jesus.

I think we all have this problem of trusting in our own goodness.

For some it issues into pride.

I would guess that a number of us here have that temptation.

Because we are pretty good people.  We come from good families.  We’re law abiding citizens.  We go to church regularly. [The older brother never missed church!] We don’t cheat on our taxes. We don’t go out and party.

We’re pretty good people.  Not like “those people.”  Not like the Muslims. Not like the illegal immigrants.  Not like the “druggies.”  Not like the Trash.

We’re pretty good people and God should be happy to have us on his team.

Now, we wouldn’t say that, but that’s what’s going on in our hearts when we get all huffy and judgmental and angry, isn’t it?

When we get to muttering.

Humble yourself and turn to Jesus.

Now, you might not be overly prideful and still have this temptation to trust in your own goodness.

I would imagine that a significant number of us are tempted to despair about this.

We’re tempted to think that God wants us to earn his favor by being good, and we’re failing at it.

That’s legalism, too.

A performance based relationship.

I came across this “Hymn of the Legalist” this week.

It’s called “Jesus Paid It Some.”

    I hear the Savior say,
    “You’re not doing enough;
    Work your fingers to the bone,
    I will save those who are tough.”
   
    Jesus paid it some
    I will do the rest
    Sin had left a crimson stain
    Now I will give my best
   
    For now indeed I’ll try
    To earn your love and grace
    I’ll add the works I have
    To complete the price you paid.
   
    REFRAIN
   
    And when before the throne
    I’ll give my deeds to you,
    I’ll hope I’ve done enough
    To make you let me through.
   
    REFRAIN (3x just to be sure)

Is that the way it works?

That’s how we are tempted to think.

But that’s not Christianity.

That’s legalism. That’s Pharisee-ism.  That’s not the gospel.

Humble yourself, turn from trusting in your own goodness and turn to Jesus and put your trust in Him.

That’s Christianity.

It will turn your life upside down.  It will make you want to be good!

It will turn your black hat white.  But you won’t be trusting in it.

You’ll be trusting that “Jesus Paid It All.”

“Sin had left a crimson stain, HE washed it white as snow.”

And that will humble us and change how we think about others.

We’ll realize what kind of grace we have been shown, and we’ll want to pass it on others.

And it will change our relationship with the Father so that we have great joy.

That’s point #2. 

#2.  REJOICE THAT YOU BELONG TO THE FATHER.


Notice in verse 31 how the Father pleads with the Older son.

He says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

And he thinks that that should convince the older son to join the party.

“You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

That is, if you are really my son.

This older son was beginning to look like outsider.  And was, perhaps, going to prove himself never to really have been a son.

Certainly most of the Pharisees were not really sons of God the Father, not in the ultimate sense.

But to those who are, this is everything.  Everything.

Remember: “Everything I have is yours!”

This is the Father speaking: “Everything I have is yours!”

For those who are sons and daughters of God, we have everything.

The Apostle Paul says it this way in Ephesians 1: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

“Everything I have is yours!”

And that changes everything.

When we realize that we don’t have to impress the Father with our hard work, we just have to trust in His and rest in His love, then we can rejoice and live new kinds of lives.

Grace brings joy.

I remember one time when I “got this” like had never gotten it before.

I was having a prayer time in my room at Moody Bible Institute, and the Holy Spirit gave me through prayer and time in the Word a real sense of His magnitude and His love.

And I was overwhelmed with this truth, and it emblazoned on my mind:

“God is real and big, and He loves me.”

“Everything I have is yours.”

That’s why this Older Son should join the party.

“C’mon in.  Everything I have is yours.  This party is yours, too.”

And even this other son of mine is yours.

Did you see that in verse 32?  The Father won’t let the older son disown his younger brother, “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.”

That’s point #3.

#3.  GET THE FATHER’S HEART FOR THE LOST.

Coming back into the party means sharing the heart of the Father for repentant sinners.

For returning sons.

Get the Father’s heart for the lost.

And that means, practically speaking, two things:

Search and Celebrate.

That’s what Jesus has been driving at with all 3 of these stories.

The joy of the Father is in the finding of the lost.

He “has” to celebrate.  That’s His very nature.

He is a searching Father.

He is a celebrating Father.

And if we want to be a part of what God is doing, we will search and celebrate, too.

Are you a part of the search party?

Who are you searching for?

Who are you praying for?

Who are you talking to about Jesus?

We can’t just stand on the sidelines and mutter.  We have to go after them.

Yesterday, a bunch of guys met at the Pumpkin House to plan men’s activities for the Fall.

Do you know why we do that?  Not because we just like to get guys together.

It’s because we are on a hunt for the Lost.

Our Father searches for the Lost and so do we.

Are you a part of the search party?

Are you a part of the celebration party?

Are you celebrating those who have been returned to the Father?

Are you joining with Jesus in the joy of the lost being found?

Or would you rather that some people just not get found, thank you very much?

Have you ever thought, “Boy, it would be really hard for that person to become a Christian.”

Harder than for you?

Because you’re a better person?

No, it was amazing that you and I were found.  Even if we didn’t seem like we had gone very far.  Even if we were the Older Brother.

God came out to us in Jesus and found us, and brought us in.

We need to join the party and do the same for others.

Search and Celebrate.
Search and Celebrate.
Search and Celebrate.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could celebrate with 10 baptisms in the next few months
 just because we’ve been faithful to search and then get to celebrate?

May we gain the Father’s heart for the Lost.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom

Jesus and the Lost: Part Two

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blessed

I have a church like this, and a wife like this.

What more could a guy ask for?

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Lost: Part Two"

“Jesus and the Lost (Part Two)”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 12, 2010
Luke 15:11-32


Last week, we started a mini-series within our “Certain of Jesus” sermon series called “Jesus and the Lost.”

Last week, in part one, we heard Jesus tell two very similar stories about lost things that got found.

What were they?  The lost...sheep. And the lost...coin.  Right.

And in each of these stories, there was pattern: something that was lost, there was a desperate search, and when the lost article was found, there was what?  A party.  A celebration.

Well, today, in part 2 (and there are going to be 3 parts), we’re going to start in on a third story from Jesus about something that is lost and then is found. 

But this time, it’s going to be a person.  It’s not just going to be a sheep or a coin or some other object.

It’s going to be a young man.

It’s going to be a son.

The lost son.

This is one of our Lord’s most famous stories.  We’ve all heard it.  It’s often called the parable of the “Prodigal Son.”

There are two parts to the story.  We’re just going to read the first part this week.  It’s verses 11 through 24 of Luke chapter 15.


Now, before we look at the first part of Jesus’ story, we have to remind ourselves about verses 1 and 2.

Remember verses 1 and 2?  Last week, we said that if you miss verses 1 and 2 then you can miss the whole point of what Jesus is trying to do here.

In verses 1 and 2, we found out that there are two groups of people who are listening to Jesus.

Who are they?  Vv.1-2.

“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

There are two groups.

The black hats and the white hats.

The black hats are the despised tax collectors (evil men) and the people labeled simply “sinners.”  These were the scum of the earth.

We might call them, the Trash.

The white hats were the clean ones.  The Pharisees (we might call them the “church going religious folk”) and the teachers of the law (the Bible professors).

These were the folks who did good and were morally upright.

And they were disgusted with Jesus for hanging around with the wrong people.

Remember that?

We’ve got to remember that to understand why Jesus tells this story.

It’s a story about a family.

A Father with 2 sons.   An older son and a younger son.  And the younger son is restless and greedy and selfish.  V.11

“Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.”

Now, that is a shocking sentence.

We don’t get that, because we don’t know much about this kind of a culture.  But that is a shocking thing for a younger son to say. Think about this.

When do you normally get your “share of an estate?”

When your dad dies, right?

This son is as good as saying, “I’d rather you were dead, Dad.”

What I really care about is the money.  Give it to me now.

Did the Father have to do this?

No.  He didn’t.  The Father lets this young man go his own way and he sends him off in style.

Typically, how much of an estate would a younger son of 2 sons get?  Does anyone know?

One third.  The older son typically got 2 shares and the younger one 1 share.  If there were 3 sons, it would be less than that.

What did this Father have to do to get 1/3 of his own estate liquidated to give to the younger son?  We aren’t told, but it was probably quite a sacrifice.

And the younger son goes off.

He gets lost.  V.13

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

We can just imagine this phase of his life.

He was living it up. It was pleasure.  It was people.  It was popularity.

And it was all squandered.

All of it.  V.14

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.”

Now, there are three things that I want to point out about this famous story today.  And here’s the first one.

#1.  THE DISGUSTING CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

Sin lies to us.

Sin deceives us.

Sin says, “Come here, this is good stuff!  You’ll love it!”

But read the fine print.

Sin always has consequences–and not just for the sinner!

This young man is supposed to disgust you.

Don’t feel sorry for this young man yet.

See him as a sinner.

He just told his dad that he wishes that he was dead and he’s run off and spent 1/3 of his dad’s money in a short amount of time in wild living.

That’s supposed to disgust us.

There is nothing pretty about this. 

It’s wrong. 

Remember who is listening to this story.

This is for the black hat people.

Jesus loves them, but He doesn’t love what they’ve done.

And there will be consequences for our sin.  V.14 again.

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.”

Ewww!

Now, I don’t know how you feel about pigs. I love to eat them, so someone needs to keep them!

But Jesus was a Jew telling this story to Jews.  The white hat guys hadn’t ever in their life had pork.  It was the ultimate in unclean.

And now in Jesus’ story this young man feeds the pigs.  And worse than that, he wishes he was one!  V.16

“He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”

The disgusting consequences of sin.

If you are pursuing sin right now, you might be living it up.  But there will be a time, it will be sooner or it will be later, when you regret what you have done.

We’ve all had that experience.

This young man hit the very bottom.

And he repented.  V.17

“‘When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'  So he got up and went to his father.”

Stop there for a second.

This young man faced up to what he had done.

He repented.

He swallowed his pride, humbled himself and set off to seek his father.

He plans in his heart a speech of repentance and asks, not to be reinstated as son, but merely to be pitied and included as a hired man.

He is repentant.

Now, we’ve all heard this story told many many many times.

But what happens in verse 20 is the shocking twist of the story.

We all love a story with a twist that changes everything, don’t we?

Have you ever seen a movie where you think this is what’s going on and then all of a sudden the story turns around and everything is different?

This father has been spurned and burned.

He’s been told that he’s only worth the money he can give to this son.

He’s been left in his old age.
He’s been offended and sinned against.

What do you think the black hats think that this father will do?

What do you think that the white hats will think that father will do?

Well, the first two stories might have gotten them somewhat ready for this.

There was something lost.

But, in the first two stories, there was desperate search. 

And there hasn’t really been a search in this one.  Or has there?
                               
Look at verse 20.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

His father saw him from a long way off.

I think that father searched the sky line every single day for his lost son.

I had a pastor once who said that this father would always say, “I’ll work the front 40 today.  You work the back 40. I want to watch for something.”

There was a search.

And it wasn’t for just a coin or something morally neutral that was lost.

It was for a rebel.  For an offending party.  For a prodigal.

And that’s not what would shock Jesus’ audience.

Do you know what would shock the audience the most?

The idea of this man running.

In the ancient Near East, the patriarch of the family never ran.

You came to him.  He didn’t come to you.

But this father ran.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Did you see the painting that Kathy Moore did of this scene?

Don’t leave today without checking it out in the foyer.

“[H]e ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

#2.  THE AMAZING GRACE OF GOD.

The father is the center of this story.

He accepts the son.

He loves the son.

He forgives the son.

He reinstates the son.

He hugs the son.

The very son who had offended him.

The Father in this story is an illustration of God.

The Father’s compassionate heart for the lost is a picture of God’s heart for the lost.

Lost people who repent find the amazing grace of God.

And this son is repentant.  He gives his prepared speech in verse 21.

“‘The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”

But the Father hardly even hears this confession.  V.22

“But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”

Amazing grace!

He is not only welcomed home, but treated as a son again.

Sinners need to know this.

God is amazingly gracious.

He loves to pour out grace on those who DO NOT DESERVE IT!

If you are not yet a believer in Jesus, run to Him and be saved.

You’ll find that He runs to you and wants to save you.

Repent!

And for all who do repent, they find amazing grace.

For all of us who are believers, we need to live lives full of thanksgiving, because we were this younger son.

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace!

Had this son paid for his sin?

No.

Sometimes, we think, well, this young man has suffered enough. He realizes the folly of his ways.  He had to eat the pig slop.

So, that’s payment enough.

No. Those were the consequences.

But the Father forgave the debt.

And we know how He could do that.  We know how God forgives our debt.

Not through our feeling miserable about our sins, but by the blood of Jesus which covers them.

Amazing grace!

And Amazing Joy!

#3.  THE JOY OF THE LOST BEING FOUND.

Same pattern we’ve seen all along.

Something was lost.
There was a desperate search.
And then there was a party!

V.22 again.

“The father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. [The one we’ve been getting ready for a party!]  Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”

The Kingdom of God is a party!

And the theme of the party is joy at the lost being found.

That’s how God feels about repentant sinner returning to Him.

Now, remember who was listening to this story.

White hats and black hats.

Which ones were finding the father’s joy?

The black hats.

The white hats are like the older brother.

There is more to this story, and we’ll study it together next week.  Verses 25-32.

That’s for the white hats.

But, right now, just think about the joy of the black hats at hearing this story.

The Father?

God the Father throws a party for us?

He sure does.

Let’s celebrate!

And let’s search. 

We’ve got to stay in the hunt for those who are lost and are not yet found.

Because without Jesus we are dead and we need to be made alive again.

Did you help with the search at all this week?

Who do you need to search for?

To pray for and to look for opportunities to talk about Jesus with?

Do you remember this fishbowl?

In the Fall of 2007, we put this fishbowl up front here to remind ourselves that we need to seek the lost. 

Many of us put names on little Fish cards of people who needed the Lord.

And we were going to pray for them every week throughout the Fall and some of us even fasted once a week for those names on the Fish Cards.

I put in a number of cards myself.

And on one of those cards, I put the name of a young man who seemed to have deep questions about God that showed that he had lost his way.

And three years ago, I prayed for him all Fall.

His name was John Hubler.

And today, you’ve heard his testimony of how God is at work in His life.

Let’s celebrate!

Let’s join the Father’s joy!

“This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prodigal Sons

Starting a 2 part series on the Prodigal Son tomorrow.

Modern Parables has an excellent short video modern version.

Enjoy.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Lost: Part One"

“Jesus and the Lost: Part One”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 5, 2010
Luke 15:1-10


Luke 15 is one of the greatest chapters in the whole Bible.  It’s one of the most famous, and for very good reasons.  So, we’re going to take at least 2 weeks to study Luke 15 together.

Today, we’re going to study the first 10 verses.  Jesus tells 3 stories in Luke 15, and today we’re going to study the first two.

All three stories are very similar, and they are all trying to make the same point.

We’ll notice a pattern:

Something becomes lost.
Someone conducts a desperate search for the lost item.
And when it’s found, there is a party.  There is a celebration.

Something becomes lost.
Someone searches.
Then there is a celebration.

And all of this is to show us how the Lord feels about the lost.

We’re going to call today’s message, “Jesus and the Lost: Part One.”
           
The lost sheep, the lost coin, and (next week) the lost son.

Awesome parables from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, the biggest mistake that people make when they are interpreting these parables is to miss verses 1 and 2.

Verses and 1 and 2 tell us who was present when Jesus told these stories.

And it’s easy to over look them.  I have just skimmed past them many times on my way to good stuff–the stories.

But verses 1 and 2 tell us not just who was present when Jesus told these stories, gave this teaching, but they tell us WHY Jesus told these parables.

Verses and 1 and 2 are very important. They set the stage for the whole chapter.

Let’s look at them again.

“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

Now, who was present at this moment?  There were two groups of people.

In the eyes of the culture of that day, there were the bad people and the good people.  The bad people and good people.  The black hats and the white hats.

Do you see that?  Who were the black hats?

The tax collectors and the sinners.  These were bad guys.

The tax collectors were basically the legalized thieves of the Roman world.  They turncoat Jews who were empowered by the Romans to not only take the legal taxes for the government, but to take as much more as they could get away with from every tax payer.

This was not the IRS. This was like the mob being deputized by the IRS to collect your taxes and look the other way while they took your money.

Nobody liked tax collectors. They were despised.

And the rest of the black hats were just called the “sinners.”  How would you like that name to describe you in public.  “There go the sinners!”

These folks were notorious for not following the Law.  Either Jewish law or Roman law.  They were unclean, they were rebellious, they were outsiders. They were considered scum.

But catch this–they were attracted to Jesus.

These tax collectors and “sinners” were attracted to Jesus.  They were all (v.1) “gathering around the hear him.”  And more than that, Jesus was attracted to them.

He ate with them. He had table fellowship with them.

Jesus seems to like them!

And that bothers the other group that’s here.  Who are they?

They are the guys with white hats.

The Pharisees–who separated themselves from everything that was unholy.

And the teachers of the Law.  That is the Bible professors.

These are supposed to be the good guys.  These are straight-laced guys who keep their noses clean. They are on the right side of the law.

Law abiding citizens.  The white hats.

And they scandalized by how Jesus is acting.  V.2

“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

They can’t even say, “sinners” without spitting, and Jesus is eating with them?  Yuck!  Eww!  With the scum of the Earth!

Now, remember that.  Remember who is listening as Jesus tells His three stories.

Got it?

The first story is the story of the lost sheep.  V.3

“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'” Stop there for a second.

Notice the pattern.

Something is becomes lost.  What is it?  It’s a sheep.

Is that valuable?  To this shepherd it is.  Valuable enough to go searching.

Someone conducts a search.  Who is that?  The shepherd.  He leaves the 99 where they should be safe in the open country and then goes to find the lost one.

What a great picture. Can you see him hunting that lost sheep in your mind’s eye?

Going all of the places where that sheep could possibly be.

Risky, sacrificing, searching to rescue that sheep.

And, then, he finds it. And he (v.5), “joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.”

That’s quite an image, too, isn’t it?  A happy shepherd with a found sheep over his shoulders.

What’s next?  Partay!  Right?  V.6

“Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'”

Let’s have a party! Let’s celebrate.

“Rejoice with me!  I’ve found my lost sheep.”

And then, Jesus gives us the point.  V.7

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Ding!

Remember whom Jesus is talking to.

Who is the shepherd like?  He’s like the Lord.

“There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (one lost sheep) “than over ninety-nine (unlost sheep, so-called) “righteous persons” who do not need to repent.”

Who is He talking about?

Who are these sinner-sheep?  They are the bad guys who are attracted to Jesus.

There will be a party in heaven if a bad guys repents.  If a black hat guy turns himself in.  Celebration!

More rejoicing than if a so called white hat guy doesn’t ever go anywhere.

Jesus doesn’t mean that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law didn’t really need repentance or were really righteous.  That’s just how they saw themselves.

And there is no rejoicing in heaven over self-righteousness.  Even when its cleaned up pretty good!

So, you want to know why I eat with sinners and welcome them?

It’s because that’s the priority of heaven.
That’s the passion of God’s heart.

The Lord loves the lost.

But, just in case they didn’t get it.  Jesus tells another story.  A very similar one.

The story of the lost coin.  V.8

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.”

Here’s the pattern again.

Something is lost. What is it?  A coin.

In Greek, it’s a drachma, about a day’s wages.  Here’s a picture of one with Tiberius Caesar on the front of it.

How many did this woman own?  She only owns 10. She loses 10% of her wealth.

So someone conducts a desperate search.

She turns the house upside down.

Have you ever lost anything like that?

I lost a piece of paper this week that I was working on, and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I was beginning to think that I’d lost my mind!  Where is that?

What if it were 10% of all of your possessions?

When we were on vacation, we went to a playground with some of my kids cousins and one their cousins lost a little toy that he’d just bought with his own money the day before.

It was a playground like ours out there except that it was full of little rocks, you know, like a beach of rocks, and he had buried his toy under the rocks for safe keeping!  And then forgotten where he’d put it.

Could we have found that toy if we tried hard enough.

Yeah, we could have. We would have had to turn over a lot of rocks, though.  It was lost.

But if we had been desperate enough, like this woman, we could have searched until it was found.  She goes to great lengths to find it.

And what happens when the item is found?  Party time!  V.9

“She calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’”

And then Jesus makes sure we get the point.  V.10

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I love that phrase, “in the presence of the angels of God.”

Does that mean that the angels are rejoicing over the repentant sinner?

The lost coin found?

I’m sure they are.  But I don’t think that’s what Jesus is saying.

Who is in the presence of the angels of God?

God Himself.

I think this is a way around way of saying that God rejoices over one sinner who repents.

There is a party in heaven over one sinner who repents.

Remember that we’ve said that chapters 14 and 15 are the party chapters of Luke?

The Kingdom is a party!

Well, the theme of that party is joy in repentant sinners.

That’s why Jesus welcomes them.

Because that’s the heart of God.

Now, we’re going to see this pattern again next week with the parable of the lost son (or is it sons?), but we’re going stop with these 2 stories today and apply them to our lives.

Here’s how we’re going to do it.

We’re going to put ourselves in these stories.

Where are you and I in these stories?

Three points of application.

#1.  REPENT.

Where are you in this story?

Well, we all start out as something that is lost.

We are the black-hats in this story.

We are the lost sheep.  We are the lost coin.

Because the Bible says that we are all sinners.

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

And God, in His mercy, has been searching for us.

He sent His own Son to seek and to save that which was lost.

That’s us.

And if we want to be found, we need to do what v.7 and v.10 says.

We need to repent.

To repent means to turn.

To turn in our hearts and with our lives away from sin and to the Savior.

To turn to Jesus and put our trust in Him.

Notice that sinners and the tax-collectors still needed to repent.

It’s not enough that they were attracted to Jesus and listening to Him.

They had to respond.

In our home, when each of our children made their first profession of faith in Jesus, we began to call them, “Found Sheep.”  And each one of them was given a little stuffed lamb to mark that response of their hearts to the gospel.

Jesus died for lost sheep.  And lost sheep are found when they repent.

Are you still a lost sheep?

Turn from your sin and put your trust in the Savior.

Repent.

It might be hard for you to identify yourself with the scum in this story.

You might see yourself as pretty good guy or a pretty gal.

But every one of us is a sinner and needs the Savior.

There will only be rejoicing in heaven for you if you repent.

I invite you to do it right now.

In your heart, pray to the Lord.  Tell Him that you need Him and that you are turning from your sin, asking for His forgiveness, and trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for you.

The Lord promises for all who come to Him, all who call upon the name of the Lord, they will be saved.

#2.  RECOVER.

And by this, I mean, help in the search for lost people.

Put yourself in the shoes of the white-hats for a second.

Did they care about those who were lost?

No, they only cared about themselves and their good works and their clean reputations.

Jesus told this story to both convict them and to change them.

He wants us to join the search party for lost people.

Do you and I care about lost people?

And I mean do we care about lost people?!

Not do we say we care about lost people, but do we do it?

Do we do anything about it?

This shepherd left the 99 and went after the lost sheep.

This woman lit the lamp and swept the house clean to find the lost coin.

God is recovering lost people.

Are we a part of that search or are we just standing on the sidelines?

Who are you helping to recover?

What lost people are you praying for?

What lost people are you talking to about Jesus?

Wally Kephart reminded me just a few weeks ago about what a great place the Ark Park is here to meet people–people who need Jesus.

Wally has recently met some folks right out here in the course of doing things around the church and talked with them about the Lord.

Maybe we should all take turns coming out here in the evening and just striking up conversations.

If you’ve taken the “How to Share Your Faith” class the last month, have you got up your courage and asked, “Can I show it to you?” to a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a relative?

Are we talking to the lost people about Jesus?

Or are we just content to mutter, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Do we eat with sinners?

I was saying a couple of weeks ago that I hear a lot of talk against Muslims and Mexicans in America.

Should Muslims be allowed to build a mosque near Ground Zero?

Should Mexicans who came here without the right documents be given a path to citizenship?

Those are fine questions to ask, and we need people to come up with good answers.

But I hear hate and fear in people’s voices when they talk about them.

I hear “muttering.”  And I don’t hear enough about this question:

How can we reach individual Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

How can we reach immigrants with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ?

Because they are lost without Him.

And what God cares about the most is not mosques or jobs for Americans or even the rule of law.

What God cares about most is finding lost people.

Are we a part of the God’s recovering search party?

Or are we just standing around muttering?

Let’s get personal for a second.

Who do you and I need to talk to this week?

Who do we need to pray for the next 7 days and then to bring up Jesus in coversation?

Who is the one sheep out of the 100 in our life that is lost that we need to care about?

Who is the one drachma that is lost in the house that we need to sweep for with the Lord?

Let’s go searching, friends.  Let’s go searching.

#3.  REJOICE!

You knew that would be point #3, didn’t you?

Let’s pretend that we’re the friends in this story.
We’re the neighbors.

What does the shepherd say, “Rejoice with me!”

What does the woman say, “Rejoice with me!”

What does God say, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents!”

Rejoice!

Every time a sinner comes in, we should rejoice.

Every time a sinner gets baptized, we should rejoice.

Every time a decision is made for Christ, we should rejoice.

And we should rejoice for ourselves that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life!

There is a party in heaven.

There should be one here, too.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hell is Real


Thank you, 9marks journal, for the important reminder.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Growth in Godliness

Dane Ortlund with a round-up of answers to the question:

What's the Key to Healthy Christian Growth in Godliness?