Tag Archives: lost

Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 15, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, prayer is our conversation with the Creator of the universe. However I often wonder not only what should I pray for but whom should I pray for as well. Now there are few of us who would not think it beneficial to pray for politicians but this is what I mean; we are faced with the conundrum of what we should pray! Now Jesus never suggested who we should or should not pray for but rather his encouragement was that we simply pray as often as we should.

Paul faced a lot of harassment for his faith. There were his old Jewish cronies who wanted to see him simply to shut up about his faith and then there were the kings, potentates, and pundits of his day that wanted him silenced as well. Yet Paul could not be quiet because he realized that the gospel message of Jesus was for all people everywhere. Paul however did not have the luxury of deciding who he should or shouldn’t pray for because he knew he was commanded to pray for all people. Let’s discover what he writes Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

A few months ago, a Regent graduate asked people to send her prayers for President Donald Trump and they poured in from all over the world, enough to fill a book titled “Prayers for the President.” With that in common, about five dozen of these prayer warriors felt it’d be a good idea to gather in Washington and actually meet each other in person and pray for the President. They called the event “Tea at Trump’s” which took place in the new Trump International Hotel. Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

I. Pray for potentates and politicians! (Vv. 1-4)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1. Because Paul knew believers could be easily swayed from following the truth by those they had looked up to in life and that there were those like “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [he had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”, he realized the importance of prayer. So he writes Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”! Some have seen a difference between each of what Paul listed here and have tried to say that this is a inventory of examples of prayer. “Requests” are supplications or pleas, “prayers” is literally the “breath” of the petitioner to God, “intercession” is the entreaty of the one praying, and “thanksgiving” is the gratitude expressed by the one praying to God. Therefore the believer is to plead, cry out, intercede, and thank God “for kings and all those in authority”! Say, what? Everyone means everyone including those who are our national leaders. The Christian, Paul writes, is to pray for those in charge “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”! So is Paul asking Timothy to remember to pray for those in charge so we might enjoy their non-interference in our lives or is he asking Timothy to pray for them that the nation we live in would enjoy peace and quiet? Both work for me. Who wants any politician, whether a king or an elected official prying into one’s affairs? However our attitude about praying for those over us reflects in our spiritual condition as well: “in all godliness and holiness”! But shouldn’t believers desire that those in charge do a good job of leading? Yes but more than that, Paul wanted all people to come to a knowledge of Jesus and he writes that “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” When we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

EXAMPLE: When asked to pray during a local veterans meeting for their Congressmen one old gentleman stood up, leaned on his cane, and prayed, “Lord, give us strength, compassion, and patience but especially with those in Congress. Let them stop being such nincompoops who go on TV spouting all kinds of nonsense and promises they will never keep until you just want to smack them across the head with a bag full of quarters – which by the way is change I can believe in!” I’m not sure this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote what he did to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

When a lady who was a known prayer warrior was asked if it was hard for her to pray for people she did not necessarily like, she responded, “I just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church: ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’” (Romans 12:12 NIV) Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

II. Pray for the wayward of the world! (Vv. 5-7)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1. Now one might ask “Why should we pray for those who ruin our lives, enslave us through governmental regulation, and generally make our lives miserable?” — meaning of course politicians. Yet our prayers are to be made for “everyone” including and especially for those who rule over us! Whether you voted for an Obama or a Trump you should be in prayer for both! They need Jesus too! But we must never lose sight of what our message is, namely that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”! Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem the undeniable truth that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV) Not Buddha, Mohammed, or Joseph Smith can save any man, only Jesus can save, because Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men”! The “testimony” of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “given in its proper time”. Paul would marvel that “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV) Even politicians! Paul would remind Timothy that “for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle”. Paul was not like those who wanted to lure or lie to new believers in order to confuse them about their faith but in fact he was “telling the truth” and he was “not lying” to them like others had done. Paul was “a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” and to all people! Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

EXAMPLE: There are few folks who absolutely knew what they wanted to be when growing up. For those who did it has always kind of mystified me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized God was calling me into the ministry. If you would have asked me when I was younger I did not have a clue what I wanted to be and I tried several different things. The reason I mention this is that the world at large often does not realize its need for a Savior. While many may profess some kind of belief in God, few can relate to you what that means. This is why we are told to go into all the world teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus. It is also why Paul related to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

Conclusion:

Pray for potentates and politicians! Pray for the wayward of the world!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

The Disciples Get Schooled! — John 4:27-42

The Disciples Get Schooled! — John 4:27-42
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 30, 2014

The Get Schooled Foundation (also Get Schooled or getschooled.com) is a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of media, technology and popular culture to motivate and inspire young people, their families and teachers to improve high school graduation rates and college-going rates. Get Schooled combines powerful national content and programming (on-air, on-line and on the ground), with school-based engagement strategies to ensure both a broad reach and a measurable impact. Sounds good doesn’t it, yet we learn it is founded and funded by Viacom and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with significant support from AT&T. Why is this important? Before receiving assistance in getting kids to learn parents and guardians need to be aware of the social and political philosophies some of these organizations have and how they use programs like these to reprogram your children.

Getting schooled is an old term which often meant the person was on the receiving end of someone else who knew their stuff whether in sports, education, or politics. Here in John’s gospel we find Jesus’ disciples getting schooled, so-to-speak, by Jesus about what and who the gospel message is and meant. Let’s discover how the disciples get schooled…

READ: John 4:27-42

We discover here that…

I. People get schooled when they are spiritually clueless! (Vv. 27-38)

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

1. Jesus’ disciples were spiritually clueless because their focus was wrong. They are more concerned about Jesus eating something and making sure he doesn’t eat with the woman he was talking to! Interestingly they go into the very town the woman goes to but each of them comes away with something quite different!  The disciples return just as she is leaving. They “were surprised to find him talking with a woman.” However, none of them ask Jesus, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Instead they immediately urge Jesus to eat something! Folks can get so concerned for themselves or the world and become spiritually clueless. They were supposed to be Jesus’ disciples. Jesus who came to seek and save the lost but they were more concerned for food and societal restrictions. Jesus begins to try to bring them back to what they need to focus on by telling them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Instead of asking Jesus about what he meant by his statement, they wonder, “Could someone have brought him food?” Here is a teachable moment. Jesus responds by telling them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” God had begun a wonderful plan to rescue mankind and now Jesus would complete the task by his death and resurrection. Jesus did not want them to continue to be so spiritually myopic. Being Jewish they only thought God had come for them but Jesus came to finish God’s work! “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!” They had been so caught up in asking God for deliverance they could not see it right in front of them! But more than that, God had provided a way for the whole world to be saved! The harvest was now! Jesus instructs them, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages; even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” The disciples had received the blessings of God because they were Hebrews, but they personally had done nothing to earn it. The woman would shortly return from telling everyone she met, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” She was busy harvesting while the disciples were busybodies. Because of her testimony many in the town “made their way toward” Jesus. People get schooled when they are spiritually clueless!

EXAMPLE: The movie Clueless was a 1995 American comedy loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma. Charlotte “Cher” Horowitz is a good-natured but superficial girl who is attractive, popular, and extremely wealthy. A few months shy of her sixteenth birthday, she has risen to the top of the high-school social scene, and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. When she can’t get a teacher to give her a better grade, she and friend match him up with another teacher to make him happier and perhaps laxer on his grading. When a girl named Tai transfers to Cher’s school, she gives her a makeover and attempts to find her a boyfriend. Cher soon realizes that she wants a boyfriend herself, but no one seems right. She goes through a superficial “spiritual” makeover and realizes that there’s more to life than clothes and popularity before she finds the boy of her dreams. It exemplifies how spiritually clueless many Americans are today. Like the disciples with the woman at the well, many on our day and age get schooled when they are spiritually clueless.

We also discover that…

II. The unsaved get schooled when they finally accept Christ! (Vv. 39-42)

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

1. Jesus’ testimony becomes the woman’s testimony. Here’s what I mean, we wonderfully discover that “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” Now Jesus did not necessarily tell her everything she did however she learned that Jesus could not be fooled. Most folks who know Christ often can’t be fooled by those who claim Christ but who do not truly have a relationship with him. The reason goes back to what Jesus shared with her earlier when he told her that “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24 NIV)” Those who do not have personal relationship with Jesus cannot worship him in spirit and in truth because the Spirit does not live in them and they do not know the truth! She now knew who Jesus was and she now knew that he knew her as well! It is because of this relationship that she was changed enough that the folks in the village who once had perhaps shunned her now “urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.” I am certain Jesus’ disciples were shocked at first when Jesus related they would be staying in Samaria to teach the folks there about the kingdom of God. “And because of his words many more became believers.” This is the beautiful truth of the gospel message. The simple truth is that it is all about Jesus. I am sure Jesus had to go over some of the teachings of the prophets because the Samaritans did not use anything but the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentuach. Now the old schooled get reschooled about the Messiah and who he is. In fact, we learn that they now tell the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” The unsaved get schooled when they finally accept Christ!

EXAMPLE: There are those who think they know God but who actually have no understanding of who God is and how he works within his creation. There are those who think God loves them no matter what they do or think. There are those who think God is not actually involved on our world today. Some say there is no God while others think God is in everything. Then there are those who assert that God the Father “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” and that as we are God once was and we can become gods ourselves. Some think God has evolved along with man and was once more primitive then grew into a more evolved ideal of Jesus. These ideas are as convoluted as what the Samaritans thought or what the Hebrews held to during Jesus’ day. I have discovered that when someone does not have the spirit of God living in them it is very difficult for them to understand who God is. Like the townspeople, the unsaved get school when they finally accept Christ!

Conclusion:

People get schooled when they are spiritually clueless! And, we discover that the unsaved get schooled when they finally accept Christ!

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes

Luke 19:28-44 – Honoring Christ!

Luke 19:28-44 – Honoring Christ!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 25, 2012 AM

The 82nd Airborne Division returned from Desert Storm. Their transport planes landed at Pope Air Force Base in front of a gathered crowd. Upon disembarking their aircraft, the troops marched before their commanding general. It was an impressive scene. The general spoke briefly. In essence he praised the troops for courageously facing the enemy and bringing a victory. Through bravery in battle, they had honored both their country and their commander. Theirs was a job well done.

In the Bible verses before us, Christ was on His way to Jerusalem to face the difficult circumstances that awaited Him there. He was following the Father’s direction in coming to the place of His rejection and crucifixion. Jesus lived a life of dedication that He was inviting His followers to live. We honor Him by following in His footsteps. As faithful Christian soldiers, we obey Jesus as Lord, praise Him as King, and share His concern regardless of life’s circumstances. Ours is a life of honoring Christ! Let’s discover how…

READ: Luke 19:28-44

The text begins with Jesus at the very gates of Jerusalem. Several times He had made reference to what awaited Him there—rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection. Jesus knew it was God’s will for Him to head toward the cross. His approach to the city was deliberate because His mission was essential. In spite of Jesus’ repeated teachings, however, the disciples remained clueless, yet we find two disciples ready and willing to do what their Master asked of them. Through their actions we discover that in honoring Christ, we are to…

I. Obey Jesus as our Lord! (Luke 19:28-32)
1. Defiance takes the easy path, obedience walks the rough road! — Leeferism
1) At this point, approximately two miles from Jerusalem, Jesus sends a committee of two unknown disciples to find a young donkey in the village ahead. The unique detail about the donkey was that it was one “which no one has ever ridden.” The donkey’s uniqueness shows that the animal was reserved for special use. Upon finding the animal, the disciples were to untie it and bring it to Jesus. Jesus added that if someone asks “Why are you untying it?” the two disciples were to respond saying “The Lord needs it.” This statement was an authoritative claim. Jesus had a right to ride the animal because of whom He was. An unusual command was to be obeyed. It’s also important to know that the Mastermind of the universe knows the hairs on our heads, the sparrows that fall, and the location of a tied-up donkey. He pays attention to the little details and is never caught off guard. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is overlooked. Those who were sent followed Jesus’ instructions and accomplished their assignment. “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.” The disciples went to the town, found the young donkey tied where it was supposed to be, and proceeded to untie it. When questioned about their actions, they gave the answer Jesus had given them. They then brought the young donkey to Jesus. Mission accomplished! In honoring Christ, we are to obey Jesus as our Lord!
EXAMPLE: Five-year-old Jenna was not having a good start to her day. Every attempt to arrange the world according to her liking was having the opposite result. Arguing didn’t work. Pouting didn’t work. Crying didn’t work. Finally her mother reminded her of the Bible verse she had been learning: “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) Apparently Jenna had been thinking about this verse, because she was quick to answer: “But Mom, it doesn’t say that I won’t sin; it says that I might not sin.” Often our willingness to obey God is like that, we look for the loophole whenever there is a command we do not want to obey. Have you done that lately? In honoring Christ, we are to obey Jesus as our Lord!

Genuine praise comes from the heart. Such praise filled the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Excited feelings flowed freely. His was not the typical warhorse approach of earthly kings but the humble donkey approach of the Heavenly King. There would be a future time of the King of kings’ arrival as the conquering ruler, but for this time Jesus was the suffering Messiah. In previous situations, Jesus had silenced His disciples. However, Jesus went along with their enthusiasm and allowed the demonstration. In these actions we learn that in honoring Christ, we are to…

II. Praise Jesus as our King! (Luke 19:35-40)
1. The more time spent praising God is less time centered on self! — Leeferism
1) Matthew recorded the Zechariah 9:9 prophecy that declared Israel’s King arriving on a donkey (Matthew 21:5). The disciples went into action. They threw their robes on the donkey and lifted the Lord up on its back. Just a few days later Jesus’ executioners would lift Him up on the cross. Luke tells us, “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” And in fact that, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen!” To the crowds, Jesus was “the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” The kind of King Jesus was would bring “Peace in heaven and (our praise) glory in the highest!” It is the glory of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection that brings peace that surpasses all our understanding! Matthew and Mark record the throwing of branches cut from the trees and fields (Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8), and the Gospel of John records the palm branches (John 12:13). The red carpet greeting had all the trappings of Israel’s historical kings as they had made their way into Jerusalem. The coronation event was spontaneously coming together, and Jesus was not issuing any restraint. The people proclaimed that Jesus was the promised King, in the line of David, who had God’s authority and approval. But not all were pleased, the Pharisees were indignant and tell Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” Jesus replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Jesus was publically presenting Himself to the nation, and God was determined this fact would be acknowledged. If the people didn’t acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, the stones would! In honoring Christ, we are to praise Jesus as our King!
EXAMPLE: Les Lamborn, for Our Daily Bread, wrote, “I used to view the worship service in church as a time for entertainment. Speaking of folks like me, Sören Kierkegaard said that we tend to think of church as a kind of theater: We sit in the audience, attentively watching the actors onstage. If we are sufficiently entertained, we show our gratitude with applause. Church, though, should be the opposite of the theater. God is the audience for our worship. What matters most takes place within the hearts of the congregation—not onstage. We should leave a worship service asking ourselves not ‘What did I get out of it?’ but rather ‘Was God pleased with what happened?’” Our praise, I think, should reflect the same kind of attitude. In honoring Christ, we are to praise Jesus as our King!

This coronation doesn’t end as it should. Jesus was not enthroned but crucified. The rejection, the suffering, the crucifixion and the resurrection came as predicted. One day He will return, and it will be a day of glory and honor. Yet, at this moment, we see Jesus approaching the city of Jerusalem and His emotions get the better of Him. Why? Jesus was never apathetic. He never said, “I don’t care.” His heart always reached out to people with love. His eyes saw what was there as well as what was going to be. In this poignant moment we realize that in honoring Christ, we are to…

III. Share Jesus’ concern! (Luke 19:41-44)
1. The ultimate fate of folks around you should give you pause! — Leeferism
1) An overwhelming sadness stirred Christ’s emotions. Jesus saw a city so blinded by sin that it refused to receive the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus wept, is an action meaning “He burst into tears.” Surrounded by the praise of the disciples, Jesus cried. The fate of those who rejected Him broke His heart. Jesus’ words were given between sobs! “If you, even you, had only known” is a conditional statement left hanging. Jerusalem wrote Jesus off as its King and therefore forfeited its opportunity of peace with God, or salvation. In its unbelief, the city dismissed the Messiah, and its moment of salvation had come and gone. Now it was hidden from their eyes. When Jerusalem wrote Jesus off, it sealed its doom. Without the peace of God the judgment of sin does its work. In prophetic language—“the days will come upon you”—Jesus painted images of military conquest. His foresight was a product of His divine insight. The first future picture involved enemies building an embankment against Jerusalem. In a siege, embankments served as both a protection and a base of operation. The reference is to the palisade the Romans later would build around the city. The word surround denoted the wall the Romans would build around the city that would completely cut off all escape routes. That the attackers would hem the city in on every side refers to the relentless pressure of attacks. “They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” What started as a battlefield would degenerate into a crime scene. The devastation would be so complete that Jerusalem would be leveled. Those who rejected Jesus would suffer the consequences of their actions! All of this occurred in A.D. 70 when Titus and his Roman legions laid Jerusalem to waste. This is why Jesus wept! In honoring Christ we are to share Jesus’ concern for those who reject Him!
EXAMPLE: I confess I like my self-made comfort zones. There is a certain security in the familiar; however, this can be dangerous in the life of the Christian. Longfellow wrote, “The vine still clings to the moldering wall, but at every gust the dead leaves fall.” Like that vine, many churches today cling to the crumbling wall of traditional programs, losing members like dead leaves carried away by the biting winds of our times. To put it another way: We refuse to leave our comfort zones. We like to stick to the familiar, the predictable, and the usual. It is time we honored Jesus more than our own personal comfort! In honoring Christ we are to share Jesus’ concern for those who reject Him!

Conclusion:
In honoring Christ, we are to obey Jesus as our Lord! In honoring Christ, we are to praise Jesus as our King! In honoring Christ we are to share Jesus’ concern for those who reject Him! How are you honoring Christ?

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sermon Notes

Luke 15:1-7, 11-13, 22-24, 28-32 – When folks come to Christ!

Luke 15:1-7, 11-13, 22-24, 28-32 – When folks come to Christ!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 18, 2012 AM

The meeting grew quiet. Tension filled the air. The pastor had just shared his concern for the lost of the community. A deacon stood. “Pastor, if they want to come to our church, they know where it is. We need to take care of our own. I’m not sure they are our kind of people anyway.” The pastor took that deacon visiting, and he experienced the joy of seeing someone saved. The deacon now leads witnessing teams to experience what he has experienced. He changed from hindering evangelism to promoting and leading it in his church. Evangelism is taught, but it is also caught.

Salvation is a joy like no other. The point of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15 is to teach us to invite people to Christ and welcome all who come to Him. Jesus’ stories should inflame our hearts for outreach and turn skeptics into joyful participants

READ: Luke 15:1-7, 11-13, 22-24, 28-32

In our Lord’s eyes, everyone is someone who matters. To Christ, there is no insignificant person. Red, yellow, black, or white, each one is precious in His sight. The parable of the lost sheep expresses Jesus’ concern. His compassion for lost people shows itself in heartfelt action. The shepherd goes on a search-and-find mission that should be the mission of every disciple. Shepherds search for lost sheep; believers search for lost people. When folks come to Christ believers should…

I. Manifest Compassion (Luke 15:1-7)
1. Compassion comes when we sacrifice our safety for the security of others! — Leeferism
1) In response to the religious leaders’ attitude toward His actions, Jesus gave a package of three parables all designed to show how wrong the leaders were and how right He was. His defense began in the form of a question that suggested an agreeable answer, “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?” Jesus described the sheep as lost from the flock, a word that portrays a life-threatening situation for a sheep. The number of safe sheep does not justify the shepherd ignoring the missing one. The right decision was to go after the lost one on a rescue mission! It became the highest priority even to the point of leaving the 99 in the open field! Certain risks and obstacles would have to be faced to mount the rescue! The “go after” mind-set of the shepherd is worth noting. In this case, the searching shepherd refuses to quit until he finds the one lost sheep. To go after … until he finds should be the focus of every Christian. Lost people are a priority with a loving God. Whatever risks there are to bear, the disciple should never allow taking care of the “found” to replace exhaustive efforts to reach the “lost.” Notice what occurs after the one lost sheep is found, “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!’” This parable ended with Jesus’ words, “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.” Heaven rejoices when the lost are found! God manifested His compassion on us “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Believers manifest compassion when they seek and win the lost!
EXAMPLE: I shook from fear the first time I shared my faith. Yet after I had shared with the young mother, she accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord! Her husband later was saved and served as a deacon. She is still active in her church and all her children are saved as well. The adventure of outreach is a risky adventure. It will push a Christian to the edge of his or her courage. What is sacrificed in shrinking back from going out is the finder’s joy of seeing the lost coming in. This heavenly delight is more experienced than explained. To see a lost person receive Christ because of your witness is to experience the Father’s joy.

Jesus was facing religious experts who had more of an accusing finger and less of a forgiving heart. We can understand it by the misbehavior of the “tax collectors and the sinners” of His world. One ripped off honest people to line their pockets while the other led trashy lives. It was not a wholesome crowd. When it comes to forgiveness, however, all of us are in the category of “tax collectors and the sinners”. Too often, our Christian voice is raised more in accusation than in celebration. What should drive us more is the response of heaven—a chorus of hallelujahs! When folks are saved we should…

II. Celebrate Forgiveness (Luke 15:11-13, 22-24)
1. We will either hardly party or party hardy when someone comes to Christ! — Leeferism
1) A man had two sons. The younger son approached the father with an arrogant attitude: “Father, give me my share of the estate.” What should have been a request was a demand. How often do we “demand” from our loving Father our “fair share” right now? The son was not patient enough to wait for his father’s death but wanted his share of the estate immediately. Jewish law would award the younger son a third of the estate at his father’s death (Deut. 21:17). The son, however, succumbed to his greed. We learn that “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” The younger son wasted no time he took his share and split. A rich son quickly became a broke son and another thrill ride came to a miserable end. He spends all he has and to make matters worse, there is a severe famine. In desperation the son has to hire himself out to a pig farmer, a disgrace to a Hebrew, and had to eat the pig’s food! In the midst of his misery he comes to his senses and decides to head home and ask his father for forgiveness. In the other parables, the shepherd searched, the woman searched, but here the father waited. Will the father forgive him? Will he love him again? After the son confesses that father’s response are orders to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” This celebration spared no expense and restoration would not be complete without a major celebration. “So they began to celebrate.” We should always celebrate forgiveness!
EXAMPLE: Too many evangelical churches have stopped having a response time at the end of their worship. The excuse is so they do not embarrass those who need to make a decision. Is it any wonder that the percentage of folks coming to Christ has diminished? The response time not only follows Jesus’ public asking his disciples to “come and follow me” and it is also a time of public congregational rejoicing! The body of Christ is to celebrate together when someone comes to Christ! Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest provision. The joy of our receiving it is only exceeded by God’s joy in giving it. The prodigal reminds us of how gracious God has been to all forgiven sinners. Regardless of the depth of sin, every Christian is a product of amazing grace. Therefore, as we join the forgiveness celebration we rejoice with the forgiven, but we also delight in the Forgiver. Join the party. When folks are forgiven, we are to celebrate!

Not all is happiness in the family, however. The older brother is the poster child of self-righteousness. He reflects the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day and sadly some believers today. The eldest son had been off stage while the younger brother had been restored. Coming in from the fields, he heard the music and asked for an explanation. The news of his brother’s return and the fattened calf being slaughtered stopped him in his tracks. In all three parables of chapter 15 everybody experienced joy except the elder brother. We learn that when folks are forgiven we must…

III. Reject Self-Righteousness (Luke 15:28-32)
1. We can be right, we can be correct, and yet be oh so wrong! — Leeferism
1) The news about his brother’s return and the ongoing party made the older son angry. You would think he would be happy not resentful and sullen. Anger for the wrong reasons can be destructive. He refused to be part of the celebration; he didn’t want to go, not even to speak to his brother. So the father had to take the initiative to restore the relationship. He went to his son. The father’s discussion with his firstborn was not an in-your-face speech. He “pleaded” with him repeatedly in an effort to change his attitude. The son accuses, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” It all seemed so unfair! Perhaps the father had preferred the arrogant younger brother. The elder blames his father, “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” The father responds in the only way he can, in love, “My son.”  The father gently reminds him, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours!” The acceptance and forgiveness of the younger brother did not mean the rejection and dismissal of the elder brother. The father loved them both! The father desired his son reject his self-righteousness, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” The older brother just didn’t get it. The issue was not him, not his father, not even his brother. The issue was that his brother had been dead and lost to them but now was found! When folks are forgiven we are to reject self-righteousness.
EXAMPLE: “You don’t know him like I do!” he declared to me. He was angry that his friend who had betrayed him with a girlfriend had just accepted Christ. I reminded him, “That is true, but God knows him even better than both of us. Do not allow your anger to get in the way of what God has done.” When folks are forgiven we are to reject self-righteousness. The parable ends on an open-ended note. We are left not knowing the response of the elder brother. The appeal, however, moves beyond the parable occasion to reach out to the self-righteous of every age. Each of us is challenged to break the gridlock of our own elder brother attitude. Rejoicing with the Father is far better than nursing the coldness of self-righteousness. It is the difference between stagnation and celebration. When folks are forgiven we are to reject self-righteousness!

Conclusion:
When folks come to Christ believers should manifest compassion, celebrate forgiveness, and reject their own self-righteousness! What about you? What do you do when folks come to Christ?

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sermon Notes