July 13 “Lost”

Lost

To the human soul, being lost in the woods is a most terrifying experience.
Nothing is at it appears to be. Familiar things appear strange. The path out of the woods is full of uncertain turns and blind passages. There is no horizon to go by and strange noises assail your ears and distort all your senses of direction. With quickened breath you fight off a sense of panic.

One of the terms we use to describe the person without God is, “lost.” It is descriptive and revealing. Every turn you makes could be the wrong turn. Every voice you hear is a questionable one—who knows whom to trust? You do the best you can with the information you have but you cannot escape the feeling that you are just getting deeper into the woods.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep
In a strange turn of events a group of tax collectors and other notorious sinners gathered to Jesus. We are not told why. It could be that the teaching of Jesus and His obvious power from God convinced them that they were lost and He could show them the way out of their woods. Perhaps in their world of dishonest dealings and routine wickedness they saw true virtue in Jesus and His men. This was a company of men who told and lived the truth. They were certainly not rich but they had something valuable, something the wicked men had lost or never even had.

For whatever reason, they came to Jesus and He responded, having dinner at one of their homes. Predictably, the Pharisees complained.

“This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”

We are not told how this accusation was made so let’s imagine that a delegation of Pharisees invaded the home of their enemies. Jesus answered them with a Parable.

He placed each of the Pharisees into the lead role of man with 100 sheep safely grazing in the wilderness, no doubt in the care of professional shepherds. An emergency arises—one of the sheep is lost! A lamb has wandered away from its mother. The owner takes matters into his own hands, leaves the 99 with his shepherds, and begins a thorough search for the lost lamb.

Eventually it is found and there is great rejoicing, extending beyond the man and his hired shepherds to his neighbors.

A lovely story, but what did it mean? Jesus sprang His trap:

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Even the thick-skulled Pharisees got the point. Jesus went on.

The Parable of the Lost Coin
Jesus shifted genders to tell the story of a woman with 10 silver coins who had misplaced one of them. She did not count her losses and soldier on—she ransacked her house until the lost coin was found. She also called on her friends to celebrate with her!

‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’

Meaning? The focus of heaven is not simply on those safe within the fold—heaven searches for the lost lamb and scours the whole house until the lost coin is recovered.

A Party in Heaven
When a sinner comes home, there is a party in Heaven! When a lost treasure is found, Heaven pulls out all the stops! Why? The whole point of the Jesus Story is this: to find the lost ones and bring them home!

Scriptures:
Luke: 15:1-10

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for finding me when I was lost! I know You love the 99 but You also love those who are lost and You seek them out. Your love is amazing! Help those who are lost in the woods, confused by the terror of being lost. Speak clearly to their hearts, Lord. Help them to know Your voice, that still, small, voice of peace. Let them sense the wooing of Your Holy Spirit. Help them see that You are their only hope! Save them, Lord!

Song:
A New Name Written Down in Glory

Word and Music: C. Austin Miles

1. I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord.
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.

Refrain:
There’s a new name Written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
And the white-robed Angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for heaven,
Nevermore to roam.

2. I was humbly kneeling at the cross,
Fearing naught but God’s angry frown,
When the heavens opened and I saw
That my name was written down.

Refrain

3. In the Book ’tis written, “Saved by grace.”
Oh the joy that came to my soul!
Now I am forgiven, and I know
By the blood I am made whole.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

May 8 “Lost”

Lost

Losses do not have to be permanent. Jesus deals in finding what is lost and saving it.
The book of Revelation indicates that Heaven keeps books. Things do not get lost in the cracks for there are none. No life is overlooked. Wrongs are noted as are deeds of mercy and kindness. Prayers are collected for all eternity.

Jesus was concerned about the children He saw every day. He saw parents who were too busy to care for their children. He saw children working in the fields and in the shops at too early an age. Life was hard for the little ones but it served to prepare the survivors for adult life. He pronounced a most solemn warning on anyone who harmed them and He held all adults responsible for their welfare. Far from despised, children should be cared for by adults. Each one has an angel in direct contact with God Almighty.

The Mission
In this context of love for children, Jesus articulated His mission:

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”

The pronoun “that” is not specific. What was lost that Jesus came to seek and to save? The answer is a many-fold one.

  • People were lost. More than once, He was moved with compassion toward the people because they were leaderless, “like sheep without a shepherd,” He described them. He was the Good Shepherd who would seek people and save them.
  • The nation was lost. These were supposed to be the People of God yet their history was full of apostasy and idolatry. They had failed time and again to live up to their covenant with God. Now they sought to serve God in a Roman context, a hopeless endeavor.
  • The world was lost. Israel was supposed to be a witness to the world of a loving Creator God who had spoken His love to the World. The world paid little attention to this pale light and continued on in darkness.
  • Innocence was lost. It happened long before any of them or even the patriarchs were born. It happened in the Garden of Eden. Sin replaced fellowship with God. Pain supplanted pleasure. Work became a burden and joy was displaced by loneliness. An angel with a flaming sword blocked any hope of a return to innocence.

Jesus came to change all of this. To seek the lost one, the lonely one, the exhausted one, and give him/her hope again. A second Adam had come to undo what the first Adam did. A new Eve would emerge from those rescued by Jesus, the Church, the Mother of all Living in Christ and the beloved Bride of Christ.

There was much yet to be done to complete the Mission. Already, Jesus was searching for the lost sheep who were ready to return to the fold. He would leave the ninety and nine in the care of the under-shepherds and scour the mountain passages and deep valleys calling to the lost ones to come to Him.

And He finds us! He found you; perhaps as a lost adult or perhaps like He found me, as one of His precious children. When He found us, a party broke out in Heaven. Angels danced and sang, making the doorposts shake. Lighting the whole party was the broad smile on the Father’s face.

Scriptures:
Matthew 18:10-14
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Romans 5:12-17 NKJV
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned — (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Revelation 22:17 NKJV
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You came and found me! You saved me from a life of sin! Now I am a part of the Ninety and nine, the Church. Lead me Lord! Help me love the children of my church, my town, my nation, the world! Send Your workers, Lord, into dangerous places in this world where children are held in poverty, hunger, peril, and hopelessness. Speak to Your Church to support those whom You have called to go. Lord, help us join You in the search for that which is lost so we can soon join in the heavenly celebration. Amen.

Song:
A New Name in Glory
Words and Music: C. Austin Miles

1. I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord.
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.

Refrain:
There’s a new name Written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
And the white-robed Angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for heaven,
Nevermore to roam.

2. I was humbly kneeling at the cross,
Fearing naught but God’s angry frown,
When the heavens opened and I saw
That my name was written down.

Refrain

3 In the Book ’tis written, “Saved by grace.”
Oh the joy that came to my soul!
Now I am forgiven, and I know
By the blood I am made whole.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved