Lost Sheep, Lost Coins, Lost Sons

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I was up into the late-night hours last night working on a paper for my grad class. When I hit submit I thought, “I doubt it’s an “A” paper, but it’s a paper.”  I was studying the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32 Jesus’ story of a father and his two sons. The younger son asked his father for his share of the inheritance of his father’s estate. He took that money and blew it on “wild living” (13) then found himself starving and in the humiliating position of feeding pigs.  He decided to go home and ask to just be a hired hand for his father. “But,” Jesus said, “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” (20). Before the boy could get his repentant speech out, the father had called for the best robe, ring, and sandals for his son. This, he declared was cause for a celebration, so a feast was prepared in the young man’s honor.

If this parable stood alone in the Scriptures the church will still have a wonderful story expressing the heart of God the Father to welcome repentant sinners back into a full relationship. But Jesus added a couple of other stories that broaden the picture.

Jump back to the beginning of chapter 15 – there are the parables of the lost sheep (3-7) and the lost coin (8-10), where a shepherd and a woman search diligently until their lost things are found. Then in both cases, the seekers rejoice and call for a celebration. Jesus ended both parables by stating that heaven also rejoices when one sinner repents.

The point of all three parables is that God the Father values the lost and it delights His heart when they are found. That’s why Jesus came “to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Beloved, are you lost today? Not geographically, but spiritually – separated from God. The heavenly Father sent His own Son to seek you from the high vantage point of the cross and bring you back. Do you love someone who is lost? Keep praying dear friend, God is actively searching for them, scanning the horizon to bring them home to Himself. God loves and values lost souls. Like you.

Finding My Way Back

“In their distress they turned to the Lord and sought Him and He was found by them” 2 Chronicles 15:4.

Wrong wayI am notorious for getting lost on the road. Well, the truth is, I can get lost in the mall too and I’ve wandered the halls of many of hospital in bewilderment. So, I’m not very good at finding my way around. I was so thankful when my husband got me a GPS. Even if I don’t exactly know where I’m at, I just tell it where I want to go and my little friend sets a route right from where I am and leads me by the hand all the way.

I remember getting lost as I was coming home from a meeting at a church in a part of town I rarely go to. I had been to this same church when a friend drove who knew the area well and she had taken a backroad that bypassed all the heavy traffic. So I thought I would give it a try. Big mistake. I got out of the parking lot okay and onto the exit road, but from there – did she turn left or right? I decided she went left and so I did the same.   I knew there was a turn ahead, but I thought it was sooner than this. Still I kept on driving, looking for the turn and beginning to question myself. Ah, this must be it – blinker on and I turned and drove for a few blocks to find a dead end. Well that couldn’t be the right road so I turned back and kept driving. Eventually, I realized I was lost. I had no clue where I was or what to do – and now it was dark. Mind you, this was before I had a cell phone so I couldn’t call my husband who always knew his way around. Tears started falling as I drove and prayed. “God I’m scared. I made a wrong turn and now I’m lost and it’s dark and I don’t know where I am or how to get home. Please help me.” And as I continued to drive, I followed this sense of “Turn here” and I began to see familiar things – I remember that house, I remember seeing that big oak tree and there’s the church again! Relief and thankfulness flooded my heart as the lights of the main road came into view and I knew I was safely on my way home.

Getting lost doesn’t just happen on the road – or in the mall. We can get lost spiritually too. We set off on our way and everything seems fine. Then we decide to turn left when we should have turned right. We think we know which way to go, but the truth is we’re headed in the wrong direction and we don’t even realize it. We keep getting farther and farther away from where we need to be, taking more wrong turns and going deeper into unknown territory. We hit one dead end after another, trying to turn ourselves around and get back where we belong, but nothing looks familiar, in fact it looks more and more foreboding as the light begins to wane and the night sets in around us. Darkness distorts everything, and fear begins to grip our hearts. We realize we have gone too far and have no idea how to get back to the safety of home.

At this point we have one of two choices – we can either keep going in our stubbornness and pride heading deeper and deeper into darkness, or we can cry out to God from wherever we are and He will come to us and lead us back home. Our God is the rescuer of the lost. His heart is attuned to His children as He strains His ears to hear even the faintest cry and searches us out with tenderness and love. That is the beautiful image we have as Jesus declared Himself “the good shepherd” (John 10:11) – He is the one who “leaves the ninety-nine [sheep] in the open country and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:4). And He doesn’t stop looking until “he finds it and joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:5-6). That is His mission, “The Son of Man came to seek and save [the] lost” (Luke 19:10).

Do you find yourself today far from the safety of home?

You may be a believer in Christ who has wandered away from your Shepherd and far from His good pasture. You may not be able to even see the Shepherd, but be assured, His eye has never left you. Stop where you are and call out to Him – “God, I am sorry, I made a wrong turn and now I’m lost and it’s dark and I don’t know where I am or how to get home. Please help me.” Jesus will come to you and lead you back to safety.

Perhaps you have never placed yourself under the Shepherd’s care, but you realize that where you are is dark and lonely and foreboding. You want to be in the warmth and joy of God’s light and under the loving care of Jesus. Stop going the wrong way and tell Jesus, “I know that I am lost without You. I cannot find my way. You are the only one who can help me. I am turning to You Jesus, please come and save me.” He will seek you and find you. Luke 15: 6-7 says that He will rejoice over you and all of heaven will celebrate your coming to Jesus.

Today can be the day you go from wandering in the wilderness to the safety of home. Today can be the day you go from lost to found. Today can be a new beginning with a new life and a glorious new future. Please don’t wait another day, another moment. Come to Jesus. Come home.

Jesus, Savior, Good Shepherd, Finder of the lost and weary, we have wandered far from you and the way is hidden in darkness. We are helpless to find our way home without You. Please do what You came to do: seek us and find us and bring us safely home. Amen.

What Are You Searching For?

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6

 I was studying at my desk when my husband began searching for something.  He looked through cabinets and drawers.  He even cleaned out his van trying to find an important tool. As he came back into the house I asked “Did you find it?” “Nope.” He said, followed quickly by “Yep.”  The tool he was looking for was sitting on his dresser all along.

It occurred to me that we live in a world that is searching.  People are searching for meaning, searching for hope, searching for peace, searching for truth, and searching for love.  Just as my husband spent more than an hour looking for a tool that was in plain sight – all the world’s frantic searching can be resolved by looking to God.

God has been speaking to me lately about what I am looking for-and where I am looking.

In Psalm 27:8 we read, “You have said to my heart, ‘Seek My face.’  Your face Lord I will seek.”  The prophet Jeremiah records my life-verse, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)  While we are running here and there searching for all that makes life worthwhile, God has issued us a beautiful invitation.  “Seek Me.  I will make Myself available to you.”   He promises in Isaiah 45:19 that He is not calling us to seek Him in vain-Jeremiah 29:14 says: “I will be found by you.”

Psalm 34:10 promises, “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  God honors those who seek Him.  This is not a casual glance in God’s direction, nor is it only done on Sunday mornings.  Seeking God is a life-long, daily, determined pursuit.  It is making time every day for Bible study, prayer and meditating on Him, His character and His Word.  It is allowing nothing to distract us or disrupt our heart’s mission – to know God.

What will we gain when we seek God?  So much more than you could ever image.

In our society, the pursuit of “success” consumes so many people.  2 Chronicles 26 tells of Uzziah, king of Judah.  Under the ministry of Zechariah, verse 5 says, “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”  Seek God and look for Him to bless your efforts.

Are you searching for release from fear?  David said in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”   The one who seeks God is delivered from fear and anxiety.

Psalm 70:4 says, “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You.”  Those who seek the Lord will find joy and gladness. Even in the most trying circumstances, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Perhaps today, you are searching for rest – you are weary and worn out.  The struggles of life have taken their toll on you.  2 Chronicles 14:7 is your promise today – “We have sought the Lord our God; and He has given us rest.”  Rest comes in the presence of God.  Psalm 23:1 & 2 tell us “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  The weary are refreshed with His  living water (John 4:14).

Here is one more beautiful truth about this subject of seeking and I hope it blesses your heart like it blessed mine.  God sought you out.  God pursued you.  Jesus declared in John 19:10 – “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  Imagine that with me – God; the God of heaven, the Creator of all things, the great and holy I AM, sought you and me to be His own.  Before He called you to seek Him, He had been on a search for you.

Maybe you have wandered from God, and are lost in a wilderness of your own choices.  I’ve been there, and it is a scary place to be.  Jesus promises that, as the Good Shepherd, He will go on a “search and rescue” mission to find you and bring you back.  John 15:4-7 tells the parable of the lost sheep.  Jesus said, “Does [the shepherd] not…go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (vs. 4,5).  My friend, Jesus is not angry with you for wandering off – in His great love, he is seeking you to restore you and bring you back to Himself.  See how he promises to joyfully carry you home on His shoulders?  Don’t try to run and hide from Him any longer.  Seek Him.  Pursue Him.  He will find you, and He will rejoice with you all the way home.

What are you looking for today?  Peace? Joy? Rest? Where are you searching? In busyness, in addiction, a computer screen, or money?  It’s not there.  Your search is only fulfilled when you find Jesus Christ.  He has made Himself available to you – seek Him and know what life can be when your frantic search is over.

 

Holy Father, You have promised that I will find You when I seek You with all my heart.  And You have promised to search for me when I lose my way, and bring me back home.  Lord, I will seek You – and You will find me.  Amen