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21 July 2024:           Finding The Lost Sheep:  Lk 15      

 

Lk 15:1,2  “Now the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.   Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’  

The parable of the lost sheep is being told because the religious leaders were complaining about how Jesus was spending His time - eating and mingling with tax collectors and other various sinners. If you remember last week’s lesson regarding the talents given to the servants – they went out and produced for the Master = unless they didn’t. And for that, the one talent servant was condemned. Now we see religious leaders complaining about Jesus’ meal companions were of the lower social caste. Because of these negative evaluations Jesus explains why He is spending His time and His energy with these broken and sinful people:

Lk 15:3-7  “So He told them this parable, saying, ‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!  So, what happens in this parable?

  1. One of the shepherd’s sheep gets lost and the shepherd goes looking for it.       Why is this critical? Why is the shepherd concerned? One reason is because the sheep loses the protection of the shepherd. John 10:11  “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”   I John 3:8  “. . . The Son of God appeared for this purpose: TO DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL.”     John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life”    Mt 6:32,33 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

When a sheep becomes separated from the shepherd it no longer knows which way to go to get what it needs. Isn’t that the example we see when the seed falls into the thorns. God is not able to direct and lead those individuals in their lives and because they have gotten caught up in the cares and concerns of this world and become like the one talent servant – unproductive. If they remain in this state – they will eventually find themselves condemned. When we are separate from Jesus, we are alone and vulnerable to all the schemes of the devil.  That is why Paul discusses the armor of God in Eph 6. Why does the shepherd look for the lost sheep – because he cares about his sheep. (J 3:16)  

  1. When he finds the sheep, he places it on his shoulders. You will notice that he doesn’t take his rod and punish the wandering sheep. Nor does he take his staff and guide the sheep back to the fold.  HE CARRYS IT home. What does Rom 8:28 say?
    God causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him. God causes…                Consider these verses:
    I Jhn 3:16 say?  “We know love by this – that He laid down His life for us”        Heb 2:9  “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death
    crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. When the shepherd places the sheep on his shoulders he is accepting complete responsibility. Isn't that EXACTLY what happened when the cross was placed on the back of Jesus???   Jesus accepted the burdens of our sins and carried off of our backs and onto His. He lifted the punishment for our sins off of us!
  2. When the shepherd comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’”   Lk 15:7  “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  

What was the response of the father when the prodigal son returned?  Lk 15:22-24  “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Isn't that what the cross did for us? It restored our relationship with the heavenly Father. I Peter 5:4  “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. John 6:40  “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” 

NOW, HERE IS OUR question:  Do we see ourselves in these verses????    Do we understand how we are that lost sheep that has been found and brought into the fold – under the care and blessings of the shepherd. When we look at our lives - does it reflect in our attitude and in the way we live? Does our lives reflect that we believe that we have a life cared for, guided, and protected by the Lord?   John 10:2,3,4 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”  Are we following Jesus in the lifestyle that we live?   In Mtt 7 Jesus rejects those who cast out demons in His name because He does not know them. Does Jesus know our names?     Do we see ourselves as one of His flock and are we coming to Him for the Words Of Life?  

1. Are we continually devoting our focus to the Word?      Acts 2:42  “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teachings and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.” 

2. Is fellowshipping with the saints of primary importance? Do we sincerely desire spending time in worship with one another or do we look for something wrong, inappropriate or any excuse for not worshipping with the Saints?       Heb 10:24,25 “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  

3. Do we look for opportunities to do God’s work in the lives of those around us or are we content to just show up and pretend that we care?  Mt 13:22  “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and becomes unfruitful.” John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   

LOST SHEEP SUMMARY: 

  1. God watches over each and every one of us and cares about us – our lives and our souls.
  2. He has searched for us, reached down to us and provides for us.
  3. He rejoices over our life with Him and promises to extend that life with Him throughout eternity and into His eternal Home.
  4. They, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ARE our Good Shepherd which we can rejoice and be thankful for.

 

14 July 2024: WELL DONE GOOD and FAITHFUL SERVANT!

Mt 25:14-30

 

We would all like to hear these wonderful words. In what occasion do they appear in the New Testament?

Mt 25:14-30  (paraphrased)  Five, Two and One Talent was given to servants to use while the Master was gone for a lengthy period of time. The five talent servants went and traded with them and gained five more; the two likewise gained two more talents and the one buried it out of fear of losing it. The Master replied to the five and two talent servants: 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' The single talent servant received condemnation and destruction, not for loss or waste but because he buried it and did not use it for anything.  Those gracious words were uttered to two servants who produced for the Master. They were subsequently rewarded for their efforts. The one talent man was cast out into outer darkness for his failure.

Lk 14:34,35 (In a similar judgement Jesus has this to say):  Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”

  1. So, for what purpose are we to use our talents?   OUR PURPOSE is to bring glory to God: 
  1. Mt 5:16 “ Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
  2. I P 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may - because of your good deeds - glorify God in the day of visitation.
  3. 2 Cor 5:18,20,21 (modified) “Now all these things are from God, who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, so that we might become the righteousness of God”.
  4. 2 Cor 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
  1. Col 3:10 “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”    Eph 4:24 “And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

We HAVE a purpose in our lives – to become more like our Father in heaven so that we reflect and bring glory to Him so that others may see Him IN US!   

  1. OUR PURPOSE is to be an example for those around us.
    1. I Tim 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
    2. Titus 2:7  “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds . . .”.
    3. Eph 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    4. I Tim 5:9,10  A widow is to be put on the list only if . . . she has a reputation for good works; if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

If an older woman is expected to be doing these acts of service in order to be taken care of by the church – do you think there is anything less expected of the rest of us.

    1. Mt 25: 34,35  “Then the King will say to those on His right – ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”              Guess who had these words given to them – the sheep. Guess why the goats are condemned – Mt 25:45,46  “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Can you imagine the fate of the priest and Levite in the Good Samaritan parable who passed by on the other side of the road when they saw the broken man???

  1. OUR PURPOSE is to do the will of the Father - attend to the needs of the moment.
    1. Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”      Luke 5:30-32 “The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” If we are going to be imitators of Christ, and if we are going to become more like the image and being of the Father – then we too are going to feel the call to bring the gospel message of salvation to the lost.
    2. Esther 4:14   Mordecai replies to Esther – “for if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Mordecai is telling Esther that she has a chance to act on behalf of God’s people – and she may have very well been placed in the position she is in – just for this purpose.   I know the “Good Samaritan” is a parable, but is it not “probable” that this parable was fabricated because it was a very real possibility and therefore, can we not ask – was he coming down this path at this time for this purpose of saving the man?  Are we at times put in places at times in which we can help those less fortunate?
    3. I Tim 6:18 Instruct them (those that are rich) to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share - storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.   1 Peter 4:10,11 “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. 11 Are you called to preach? Then preach as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy   (and resources)   that God supplies so that God will be glorified through Jesus Christ—to Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”                                             Isn't it probable that the riches of the wealthy are theirs so that they can provide for those in need.
    4. 2 Tim 2:24,25  The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.   Correcting a brother is yet ANOTHER way in which we can help those around us.
    5. John 13:15  Foot Washing: “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

THE RESULT OF OUR FAITHFULNESS AND TALENT USAGE:

Eph 6:8 “ Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.”       The faithful 5 & 2 talent servants were blessed/rewarded for their service.

Rev 2:10 “. . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the Crown of Life.”

1 Peter 5:4  “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the Crown of Glory that does not fade away.”

Jas 1:12  “Blessed is the man who perseveres – he will receive the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Mt 25:34  “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

We will be just like the sheep if we are living according to the two Great Commandments – we are living a life of love to and for the Father and for our neighbor.

 

 

 

 

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