Lost and Found

LOST and FOUND Luke 15

When I was young we had family holidays on a farm in Devon with Farmer Pugsley and Mrs Pugsley. At Easter of 1963 it snowed – and we were snowed in. It was lambing time and there were still lambs being born out in the fields but a few of the mothers did not survive the births. So in the evenings we children were invited into the farmers’ living room in front of the log fire to help feed these tiny lambs from bottles. Lost orphan lambs.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.

LOST

How lost people are

Treasures in heaven or treasures on earth – people are realizing that the god of shopping and the god of entertainment have nothing to offer them. Realising that the things they have worked for and chased after all their lives are empty and worthless.

Created for a relationship with God. But human beings have lost their way. Sin is a short word with “I” in the middle. Anybody who puts themselves in the centre of their lives, worships that unholy trinity of “me, myself and I” cuts themselves off from God.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No-one calls for justice; no-one pleads his case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
…… 7 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads; no-one who walks in them will know peace.
9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.
LOST without God

We live in a lost world. So many people lost without God – facing death and the judgment throne of God with no hope whatsoever – and going to a lost eternity without God.

But God has not given up on all these people!

FOUND

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “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?

Elizabeth Cecelia Clephane, 1868
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills far away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
2. Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?
But the Shepherd made answer: This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.
3. But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die.
4. Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track?
They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.
Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.
5. But all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven,
Rejoice! I have found My sheep!
And the angels echoed around the throne,
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

God has not given up on all these people who are lost without Him. He has set out to find his lost sheep!

5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours 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.

God cares about lost sinners. God cared enough to give his only son so that whoever believes in Him should not die but have eternal life. God offers all the blessings of salvation – forgiveness, new life, Holy Spirit living inside us giving us strength to face the day, happy certainty of heaven. Plenty to rejoice about there!

“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.
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.’
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. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Do you remember what it was like to be lost? Do you remember that time when God found you? And brought you home rejoicing? When you first knew that you were a sinner and wept with that godly sorrow which brings repentance and leads to salvation? That time when you first knew that God had forgiven your sins and given you the gift of eternal life. That time when you first knew for certain you will be going to heaven? That time when all the angels and all the saints in heaven were rejoicing because YOU had been saved!

We can forget the joy we experienced when God first saved us. We can lose our first love for the Good Shepherd who searched and searched and searched for us until He found us!

AMAZING GRACE, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found – was blind but now I see.

There is so much to rejoice about when a sinner comes back to God! When a sinner truly repents. When they acknowledge how lost they are without God and turn back to Him. When they confess their sins and show their repentance by letting God change their lives.

Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST

Too many churches have embraced the little bo peep theology.
“Little Bo Peep, she lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them.”

God isn’t just sitting around waiting for lost people to come home to Him – God is the good Shepherd who goes out to search the countryside for those who are lost. And he calls US who he has saved to share in this work of seeking and saving the lost.

But there is more and more pressures on us as Christians to stay silent. To enjoy our own salvation but not to tell anybody else about it.

Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended for offering to pray for a patient’s recovery. Community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, says she asked an elderly woman patient during a home visit if she wanted her to say a prayer for her. The patient complained to the health trust about Mrs Petrie who follows the Baptist faith. She was suspended, without pay, on 17 December and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting next week.

Radio 2 12-2 Friday – should Christians be allowed to talk about their faith in the workplace? Nurse and clients – anybody and colleagues. People are allowed to talk about anything – politics, football, all kinds of details about their private lives – except Christians arent allowed to share their faith.
Postmodernism- the only thing we are sure of is that we can’t be sure about anything. Everybody’s opinions are supposed to be as valid and as valued as anybody else’s. So the one thing which is not allowed is a truth which claims to make other ideas false. Jesus said “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” But it is no longer acceptable to say that. Moslems are allowed to say “there is no God but Allah”, but Christians aren’t allowed to say Jesus is the only way to God. Christians aren’t allowed to say that all the broad roads lead to destruction and only the narrow way leads to life, and few find it! We can’t say that because that would offend people who don’t agree with us, all the people on the broad roads who don’t like to be told that they are heading straight for hell.

But we cannot stay silent! We dare not! If our salvation brings us joy and peace. If knowing Jesus is the most important thing in our lives, we cannot stay silent! If we really care about our neighbours and friends who are lost without Christ, we will NOT stay silent!

Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

God calls US to have compassion on our friends and neighbours and colleagues – they ARE harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. God calls US to be the workers in His harvest field.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

God calls US to go out and seek and save the lost.

Parable of the wedding banquet
Luke 14:21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.

Christians are not called to be a happy club just sitting around enjoying the blessings of salvation – we are called to be lifeboatmen and mountain rescuers and firemen – to go out into the streets and alleys and the country lanes to seek and save the lost.

Have you ever lost anything and had to search for it? I have never lost any sheep. Mercifully we have never lost any of our children for more than a few minutes. We did lose our dog once. In the New Forest our first dog Tara ran off chasing a deer. We called and whistled but she didn’t come back so we began to search for her. It was a very distressing time. We would have stayed in the Forest searching all night if she had not eventually reappeared. But our desperate concern to find our lost dog was only a faint shadow of the concern which Jesus the Good Shepherd has for his Lost Sheep.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

‘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.

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