There is a quote attributed to a theologian in which a student asked him…
<<“Sir, don’t you think that God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?”
To this, the theologian responded:
“No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his Son.”
-attributed to Karl Barth>>
Of all the “gods” worshiped worldwide, only the God of the Bible actively pursues man.
And He IS the
“Seeker of the Lost” or
It may not be politically correct to refer to people as lost,
…but political correctness never saved anyone.
God cares about all who are living today and throughout time.
According to the Bible, God is the One who
- warns and then
- searches for Man.
God called out to Adam…
<<“Where are you?” Genesis 3:9>>
And He calls to Christians and non-Christians, alike.
God sought man…and in Revelation 21, we see a time in the future when …
<<“…the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:3>>
As we considered “Emmanuel,” last week, we know that God created man for fellowship with Him.
God is the pursuer of man, and so, man, pursues God, but unless there is Revelation, man will imprint himself onto a substitute.
Why are there so many religions?
Man seeks God; Yet, sin skew’s mankind’s pursuit, and our own pleasures and plans take over.
God sees us as “sheep:”
have gone astray,
each of us has turned
to his own way;
Today, let’s read two parables that show God as the “LOST-SEEKER” and the head cheerleader when we are found!
<< 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 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.
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Jesus has been portrayed in many ways in art, for example, as the “Good Shepherd.”
This photo reveals something more than just the obvious story.
It reminds me of my childhood in church.
We used to sit in very old pews, with long dusty cushions.
There was no Air conditioning in the church other than using a paper fan.
They had handles that looked like wide popsicle sticks.
And there would be a nice picture like this one of Jesus the good shepherd on one side of the fan.
Here are two I found on the internet:
One has photograph of a typical American church building in Autumn and the other is Jesus knocking at the door of our hearts.
So, imagine me, a very thin, small boy, or five or six, laying on the cushion of the old church pew, fanning myself, yet trying to stay awake… listening to a “boring” sermon… stopping to look at the fan… remember the one side had a picture of Jesus, ….but on the other side of the fan and was an advertisement…
Does anyone know what would be advertised on the other side of those fans?
And I must say, I felt welcome!
- God Doesn’t Only Welcome Sinners
OK, I know that throws you a bit, since the Bible states:
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
But all do not know that they are sinners.
All do not realize that they need God.
And God welcomes them, too!
There are those who don’t realize that they need a savior.
There are those who don’t realize that they are sinners.
And these are the ones who don’t realize that the funeral home is not all that awaits them when they die.
Remember the fans.
But remember the other side of the fans, too!
Jesus knocking at the Door.
<<Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20>>
This statement of Jesus was originally to the Church,
And, of course, it can be applied to those who don’t yet belong to the Church, too.
Jesus loves all, and he was accused of improper friendships with the world.
He was hard on those who claimed to know the way of God, and yet hated their neighbor.
By our actions and inactions we scatter our young people and prevent the non-Christian from hearing the gospel.
We need to get with God’s plan, for
God is the “Seeker” not the “Scatterer.”
We should be seeking the lost rather than scattering them and other Christians along with them.
A. God Welcomes All
Jesus is interested in all:
He wants to reach the rich and the poor,
the crippled and the whole,
the blind and those who see.
God welcomes all to be with Him
Not only those who know they are sinners, but also those who don’t know this!
God loves the whole world (John 3:16).
And He wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4)
B. God Loves All
Jesus was critical of those in his day who were the Keepers of God’s Word…the Religious People…
And yet they made rules that blocked “Sinners” from finding God.
We need to be careful that we are not blocking people from the gift of God by our actions and inaction.
By our Facebook posts, and by our gossip.
There are people whom we fear…some people fear those who ride motorcycles….So, should we ignore those?
Some fear those who have been in prison…so should we ignore those?
What we fear is the unknown and unfamiliar.
- How Can We Love those Whom We Fear?
- Recognize God’s Word (God loves all)
- Pray according to His Word (God calls us to live in a manner that draws others to Him)
- Look for opportunities to express God’s Love (Jesus said that if we love one another the world will know that we are His Disciples)
We need to live in perfect love, which casts away all fear.
II. God Pursues Man
- Yes, the same God who doesn’t always seem present when there is a tragedy…
people ask, “where is God?”
- The same God who seems impersonal with His laws
- The same God who seems so old fashion with His brand of Morals
- The same God who was declared “dead” by so-called experts, who have since died.
He pursues Man
In the parables, we see God as a shepherd.
Elsewhere in Scripture God is described this way.
But, as well, a Woman is used as an illustration of God in a parable. And God is elsewhere described as motherly in Scripture.
- Shepherd’s Pursuit
- The shepherd leaves the 99 sheep alone while he pursued the 1
- In the parable, the Shepherd leaves the 99, and yet in reality,
God is always “Emmanuel”… God with us.
- But when the lost sheep is found, it is as though God only sees him.
- When he finds the lost sheep, he puts it on his shoulders
- No one is too heavy for God’s shoulders.
- I used to love to put my kids on my shoulders (I still remember being on my father’s shoulders)…
- What a very nice place to be when you are reuniting with your master.
- The Woman’s Pursuit
- She loses a coin…1 out of 10. While this may not seem that much (only 10%)…but as a whole these 9 coins were not worth as much, as only 9, but when the 10th was included, the other 9 were worth more.
LET US NOT FORGET THAT EACH OF US IS PRECIOUS TO GOD…AND WE SHOULD BE PRECIOUS TO EACH OTHER
- It could be that this coin was part of a headdress, and to be missing one would mean she would look odd, with only 9 coins…perhaps it would reflect on her character.
- She lights a lamp and sweeps the floor, and looks for the coin…and she most likely bends down and kneels looking for the lost coin
- This is a picture of humility, as this woman, who represents God in this story, does the work of a servant—lighting a lamp—sweeping the floor—searching…perhaps on her hands and knees…in search of the lost Coin.
- Elsewhere, the Scriptures describe the humility of God reaching out to man
In Psalm 18, David called to God in his distress, and described God in his power coming down from heaven to help…
<<He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:16, 19b>>
God is the one who reaches down to find us.
He PURSUES us!
Jesus made Himself nothing to reach out to us.
- He was born into a poor family
- He washed his disciples’ feet as a servant.
- He hung on a cross looking like a criminal.
- He welcomed sinners, tax-collectors, people who were dangerous for National Security, as well,
The woman seeking a lost coin illustrates how God is not only the Lost-Seeker, But He is the Lost-Finder!
III. The Joy of Finding the Lost
Aren’t you happy when you find something that you have lost?
When you are looking for something dear and precious, and cannot find it, it is really amazing and wonderful when you do.
I still remember as a child I we were visiting Williamsburg (suburbs) and I went for a walk.
And while I was walking, I got lost. I didn’t know what to do, but I looked and looked.
Eventually, I saw my dad looking for me in his car.
I was so glad to be found, and I hope my dad was glad, too.
‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep
Said the Shepherd
‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’
Said the woman
Let’s be people who rejoice as God finds those who are far from Him.
In the parable that follows these two is about the prodigal son and his brother.
- leaves home
- blows his inheritance shamefully,
- while the other stays at home and continues to serve.
When the bad son repents and returns home, the father rejoices and throws a party,
…but the other son is unwilling to celebrate.
Let us be people who rejoice with God!
How do we feel when someone repents and becomes a believer?
If we admired the person before they repented, then we are often excited;
but if we held a grudge against that person,
and then see them experiencing Eternal Life, now,
Some people would rather judge that person away from us.
I recall speaking with a man who had repented of his homosexual lifestyle.
He said, “It is so important that I turned away from my sin, but even more important that I have turned to Jesus.”
If we cannot rejoice when the Lost are hearing the gospel, then we, too, need to turn to Jesus.
We are not a dumb coin on a string
or a dumb lamb that wandered from the flock.
Note the fact that the rescuers in these stories kept the “dumb” objects close to them…
the coin would have been part of jewelry that would have been worn on the body (you can’t get much closer than that)
and the sheep on the shoulders of the shepherd for a period of time, until the sheep learned obedience.
Yet, we have a part in this and can stick close to our rescuer, as well.
It would be a complete waste of the grace that God has extended toward us
to just ignore the voice of God after we have repented, and to say,
“I’ve already heard you, Lord…don’t bother me anymore.”
Heaven rejoices whenever someone repents!
The angels join with God in celebrating our repentance.
The Shepherd and the Woman called their friends, neighbors and family together and said,
Rejoice with me!
When we come together as a church, it is our way of declaring publicly,
“rejoice with me!”
Let us remember that God revealed Himself in Jesus and is the LOST-SEEKER who
- Welcomes All
- Pursues All
- Rejoices when we come to Him
Let us learn to welcome, even those with whom we disagree…
Let us grow closer to the Lord and become transformed by His love, His Word and His Spirit.
Let us partner with God in pursuing the lost…
let us take joy when people repent!
Let us keep God revealed before the world!
Let us keep close to God, to His Word, to His Spirit.
(Note: This is a reworked version of a previous sermon entitled, “The Lost Seeker.”)