Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

04/09/2017A.M.

 

SEEKING & SAVING THE LOSt

I Once Was Lost– But Now I’m Found

Luke 15.1-32

 

This morning… I draw your attention to Luke chapter fifteen…

Here we find four down-to-earth stories that happen every day… Good… Honest… Sincere… Christian people… becoming…lost… Backsliding… Going astray…

• Some like sheep…

• Some like the coin…

• Others like the prodigal...

• Some like the elder brother.

 

You see… We are the principle characters in these four parables… This is our story.

Prodigals are everywhere!!!

 

Each one of us here this morning have been a prodigal at one time or another… We have played our part in one of these stories at some time in our life.

 

We have prodigals in our family… Prodigals in the church… This church.

The Bible is filled with prodigals.

• Cain was a prodigal…

• Abraham was a prodigal as was Lot, Jacob, Moses, Jonah, Peter, & Paul.

The gospel is for prodigals.

God is calling prodigals home.

Jesus came to save prodigals.

God's grace is for prodigals…

 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I am found,

Was blind but now I see.”

 

Luke 15 is not only about being lost…

• It’s about finding and returning the lost to their rightful place.

• It’s about forgiveness and restoration…

Subjects that we should all be interested in.

 

We can apply this lesson in two ways…

 

• First and foremost to ourselves….How to maintain our own salvation…

 

• Secondly… How to aid and assist those who are struggling spiritually.

 

Access a Worship Bulletin… And let’s see what we can learn….

 

First - The Lost Sheep - Verses 3-7.

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.'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.

 

How do you think this sheep became lost?... It’s easy!... There were no fences in Palestine.

The sheep simply nibbled his way out of the fold... A little green grass here… Some over there… He just wanders off... Unintentionally.

 

We’re like sheep… We just wander off... Unintentionally.

• There is no reason for it.

• We didn't start out to break the rules or go beyond the limits.

• We just wandered away from the fold... Away from the church... Away from the tender shepherd's care.

 

The first thing you know… We look up and…

• The flock isgone...

• The surroundings are unfamiliar…

• We can’t see the Shepherd...

We're lost!!

 

We’re lost… Not so much by deliberate choice as much as being… Weak Willed… Careless…Heedless…. Just not paying attention to what we're doing... Not thinking.  Not one of us intends to drift away from the church... But sometimes we do.

 

You see… Satan works his way into our lives through the natural progression of sin.

Four progressive steps that go like this…

• Horror at the thought!... I would never do that!... Have an affair…Steal someone’s property.

 

• Rationalization… Well… Once never hurt… After all Scripture says moderation in all things… One drink… One joint.. One R-rated movie… One time at a porn website… One time cheating on taxes… One unethical business arrangement… Or a thousand other one time sins.

 

• The next step is I did it and nothing happened… I had an affair… I gossiped… I lied… I cheated in business… And the sun still shines... Lightning didn't strike... My wife and kids still love me.

 

Almost unconsciously… We drift into practices that war against our spirituality until the sense of God's presence has slipped out of our lives.

 

No wonder the Hebrews writer gives us this warning… We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard... Lest we let them slip... Lest we drift away from them.

 

• The final step is no guilt... Total acceptance… We've come to the point that we can involve ourselves in that sin that we once thought we would never do and not feel any guilt whatsoever... NOW… Satan has won.

 

Here’s something we need to note… This shepherd has a hundred sheep and… one… one… becomes lost. He leaves the 99 unprotected in the open country and searches for the lost until he finds him. He places the sheep on his shoulders and carries him safely back to the fold.

 

God is calling prodigals… He wants prodigals to come home… He’s ready to forgive and restore.

 

Isn’t it time we stop being concerned with silly brotherhood issues… And become searchers and savers of the lost.

 

When Judgment Day comes… most of our issues will not matter. What will matter is our concern for the lost… For one another… Our response to God’s command thatIf someone is caught in a sin… You who are spiritual should restore him gently… But watch yourself… Or you also may be tempted… Carry each other’s burdens and you will fulfill the law of Christ.

 

Secondly… Some become lost like a coin… Look at verses 8-10.

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

 

Jesus says this lady had ten coins and one was lost.

Oriental ladies of first century Palestine worked hard to accumulate ten coins. Then they would string them together and wear them as a necklace to show their marital status.  The law stated that once a lady accumulated all ten coins and strung them no one could take them… Not even to pay a debt.

 

It’s similar to our bankruptcy law… The court can’t take your home… Your primary residency.

 

However… If a lady had only 7… 8… 9...Coins… They were just considered money.

 

Jesus is saying that some people are lost because of the carelessness of others.

Coins don’t lose themselves… This coin didn't wander off like the sheep.

The lady let it lay… Misplaced it… Perhaps dropped it on the floor.

 

What a sobering thought… That others are lost today due to our own carelessness.

• Perhaps an inappropriate word…

• A behavior that looked like we were not concerned; or that we were shunning them…

• Perhaps they have witnessed some sin in our life.

 

Church… This places a tremendous responsibility upon our shoulders… Upon… Elders, Bible Teachers… Preachers…Parents… Each of us as individual Christians.

 

The Bible teaches that we are responsible for one another.

Cain was not excused when he asked… Am I my brother’s keeper?

Judgment will hold us responsible for those lost that we could have saved… Rescued.

“When in that better land…

Before the bar we stand…

How deeply grieved our soul may be…

When some lost one there…

Should cry indeep despair…

You never mentioned Him to me.”

 

We don’t sing that song anymore… Is it because it indicts us?!!

May God help us save those who are in our reach daily… amen?

 

Next… Jesus tells of a lost boy... A prodigal son— Verses 11-24.

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

 

From this prodigal we learn that We sin in thought before we sin in action.

We dream… We plan… Scheme… Fantasize… And then we act… Every man is tempted when he is drawn away… HOW… By his own lust... His own evil desires… and enticed.

 

• Jesus said… He that thinks evil... Has evil in his heart against his brother… He that looks on a woman to lust after her has already sinned… For out of the heart comes the issues of life.

 

  Solomon tells us… What we think WE ARE!

 

We can stay out of the far country by stopping sin in its beginning… In the… Heart... Mind... Thoughts.

 

We learn that sin begins with…A selfish… Give-me… Attitude… Father… Give me my share of the estate.

 

Scripture tells us that… The love of money… The love of things… Materialism… Is the root… Is the basis… For all kinds of evil… Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 

Question… Is our journeyinto the far country prompted by our love of this world and its things?

 

We learn that the far country encourages our sin nature.

Satan knows that he always has the advantage if he can get us…

• Away from home...

• Away from the church...

• Away from family…

And into the far country.

 

I am good when I am with you… You exert a tremendous pressure on me to behave myself.  I don’t want… you… my children and grandchildren… friends… to see my sin.  As long as I stay close… I have a much better chance… of not becoming a prodigal… amen?

 

Also… We learn that sin is a waste of life.

 

This prodigal wasted his substance in riotous living… The NIV says… He squandered his wealth.

 

What is our substance?... What is our wealth?...What has the Father given us?... Five things…

• Time…

• Talent…

• Treasure…

• Energy…

• Truth.

Church… Scripture tells us we were not created to waste this substance by living as we want.

 

Listen to Solomon… Now… When all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments… For this is the whole duty of man.

 

Listen to Paul… For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

And to Jesus… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and,‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Church… Prodigal living is a waste of life… A waste of our substance…God’s wealth given us.

 

Well… We’ve gotta talk about the older brother.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. 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. `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 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!' "`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.

 

Here…We learn that we must have a genuine concern for others… All Others… Especially the lost… Those who have wandered from the fold… Those who may have been offended by us.

 

One Sunday Morning… Those coming into the church building saw a beggar… unshaven… ragged clothes… dirty… with a hat pulled down over his face. He leaned up against the church building asking those who entered for money. No one gave… Most tried to ignore him. They certainly didn’t want to make eye contact.

 

After the song service he entered the building… made his way down the center aisle toward the pulpit. The audience held their breath.

• Who was this?

• What was he going to do?

• How embarrassing?

As the beggar stepped to the pulpit… He pulled the hat from his face. It was their preacher. He said… I guess you know what I am preaching on this morning.

 

Jesus said… As often as you do it to the least of these you do it to Me.

The Hebrew’s writer tells us that some have entertained angels unaware.

Do we care?… Do we really?… About our brother… The lost… The backslidden… Those who have wandered from the fold?

 

The Elder Brother teaches us about self-righteousness.

Verse 29 has the elder son saying… I've kept your law perfectly; I've never disobeyed your orders.

 

This is hard to believe… Isn't it?...That he lived a sinless… Absolutely perfect life?

This elder brother refused to see himself as a sinner.

He could see his brother's sins... But not his own… It’s called self-righteousness!

 

I John 1. 8-9 address the subject… If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us… But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

Well… Did you notice what was common to each of these Jesus stories?... That which was lost was found!!

• Lost sheep returned to the fold…

• A lost coin was found….

• And a lost prodigal returned to the father's house.

 

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I'm found

Was blind, but now I see.

 

If you need to become a child of God, we await your coming in… Faith… Confession of Jesus… Repentance… We will assist you in being born again in New Testament baptism.

 

If you have strayed from the Father… as a prodigal… Heaven and the church… This church… are ready to forgive you and rejoice at your return.

 

If this lesson has touched your heart…Come to Jesus… Come home to the Father’s house… As we stand and sing together.