Lost And Found – Lost Sheep And The Great Shepherd

This article is part 4 of 11 in the series Lost And Found

    They came from all over the country to see Jesus. People were even seen to be
climbing trees to get a view! I don’t blame them… I would too! Jesus wasn’t
ashamed to be seen talking and eating with them, (Luke 5:27-32; 19:1-10),his
mission, was/is to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), not to impress the
powers that be. As usual, “The Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Personally I think that interpretation is weak… I think they said (under their breath) “This is no man of God! He hob nobs with people WE would not even speak to!” 
   Now let me introduce to you two different types of people… First: those who think they
are ok. These are the ones who believe they just need to keep the commandments
and that’s enough. These think they are good enough and don’t need to change, and
certainly don’t need grace. They are good ‘law-keepers’ and expect the same
from others. These maintain the religious status quo, keep the traditions, and
think grace is unfair. These people prefer not to be around ‘sinners’, and have
a hard time with Jesus for this reason. Second:  those who don’t think they have a chance with God.
   They know their actions are not and never will be good enough. They are like
the tax collector in Luke 18:10-14, who cry out for mercy and simply lean on
His grace. Now it is important to notice that the listeners, the ones referred
to in this chapter are the Jews, the children of God. 
   Jesus is seen here in the company of these sinners, tax collectors and Pharisees and teachers of the law (of Moses). One group looked down on the other. Surely we don’t do this today. Not in church… not Christians. Surely we don’t see God’s grace and forgiveness to sinners as unfair… or do we?  
   Jesus says, I want to tell you a story… “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 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.’ 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” (Luke
   This story is not so much about the sheep, as it is about the shepherd. He has 100
sheep, and one gets lost. Sheep stray off, it’s just what they do. They get
distracted by something and off they go. Eating the grass as they go, then they
are lost, stuck… needing the shepherd’s help. Sheep do not dislike other sheep,
they don’t hate the shepherd, nor do they intend to get lost… they just get
lost. It’s stupid, I know, but sheep stray and get lost just the same. 
   How can one be so important? Why not be satisfied with the 99 he has? The shepherd, goes after this one and doesn’t stop till he finds it. Here is a lesson in true ‘shepherding’, caring, loving…to the ones who should have known all about it.  

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Lost And Found – Tax Collectors And Sinners

This article is part 3 of 11 in the series Lost And Found

   Amazing grace how sweet the sound, First we will be looking at a couple of things which are lost and the desperate search to find them. Then we will come to the heart of this chapter… the story of the Prodigal Son. These other stories lead up to the one about the son… All of them are found in Luke 15, the principles are found throughout the Bible. The stories of LOST AND FOUND are King David’s (2 Samuel 11-12), the apostle Peter’s (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; John 21:15-19), the immoral man mentioned in I Corinthians 5 (and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). It is my story, and the story of every ‘son’ who found himself once again in the ‘pig pen’ of sin and just wanted to go ‘home’ and just be a servant, but receives so much more. It may be your story or part of it, depending on ‘where you are’ in it. The really good news is the story has a marvelous ending! 
      First… a little bit about Parables. Often Jesus taught with parables (stories), which
were taken from everyday life but carried a ‘life lesson’ or eternal spiritual
principle. He was the Master of communicating and illustrating. He used
parables for at least three reasons. 1.) To conceal truth from those who were
really not interested in it. 2.) To reveal truth in a way which a ‘truth
seeker’ would forever remember. To this person, the principles which Jesus
taught would come to mind when they saw something similar in their everyday
life. 3.) To ‘embalm’ and preserve his teachings for generations to come, since
these stories would be passed down by word of mouth as well as by letters
    These 3 parables are some of the most famous which Jesus told. People have heard them, read them, pondered over them, and lived them to some extent. Preachers have taught lessons, written books and articles on these stories. Souls have been saved, scoffers have laughed, while the saved continue to rejoice in the grace of God ‘embalmed’ in these stories. These are stories about life, with its joys, tears, disappointments, frustrations and yes, its celebrations. These stories have become so familiar, that the temptation to read quickly and move on, must be fought. Some sadly,  when they read this chapter, will never see themselves, thus they miss the marvelous power of God’s wonderful grace, and love for them, and, in the story of the lost son… they miss the way back home.   
   Jesus didn’t mind sitting and eating with the hated tax collectors (Luke 15:1-2), who took more than they were supposed to. What about the “sinners”? What kind of sins had they committed? Stealing? Lying? Adultery? Divorce, (for ‘un-scriptural reasons’)? Gossip? It doesn’t say, it really doesn’t matter with Jesus! Sinners gathered around Jesus, to hear him. They saw a need in their lives and only Jesus could fill it. The “religious leaders” had not filled the emptiness, the hurt of sins committed… cold traditional worship, had not satisfied the thirst. They wanted to hear Jesus! Today, many are turned off with “CHURCH”… they simply but not with JESUS! He did not turn them away then… He will not turn them away now. Praise God!!! “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”.

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Lost And Found – Introduction

This article is part 1 of 11 in the series Lost And Found

   With this article we introduce a series on GRACE, taken from Luke 15… because that is what this chapter is all about. For the legalistic Christian, this study may be labeled as a dangerous study. To many Christians as well as non-Christians hopefully this study will be like an oasis in the desert of religious traditionalism and law keeping. God’s love, and His grace are far beyond our complete understanding.  Some say, ”UNFAIR!” As those in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).  Yet GOD’S grace is His to give, not ours to limit. Limitations come from the Giver not the recipient.
   To describe His grace like an ‘oasis’ says something, but not all… it is just this writers attempt at describing this wonderful gift. It is truly amazing in it’s scope and application. What Paul says about “the peace of God” which comes as a result of His grace, love and forgiveness, can be said about grace itself… it “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Yet we will try to not only understand it through this simple story, but apply it and thus glean from it, the blessings offered by the God that runs.

When our lives are filled with sin
And we give no thought to God at all,
Will God still own us as His own?
Does He love us when we fall?

When our backs on Him are turned
And we seek to go our selfish way,
Will god forgive us of it all?
Does He care when we go astray?

No matter how wicked we may be,
God loves us with love unfeigned,
He loves us in spite of all we do,
Even though He’s deeply grieved and pained.

No matter how far we choose to go,
He looks and waits for our return.
He patiently waits with outstretched arm,
For our well being is His concern.

He’s ever willing to receive us back
Regardless of the things we’ve done.
He watches down that lonesome road,
Eager to exclaim, “Welcome home, my son!”

We scarce can understand it all –
How loving and forgiving God can be!
But his amazing grace is always there
That we His forgiveness might receive.

Amazing grace! How wonderful it is
To have a Father who loves us so.
He’ll claim us as His very own,
If only back to Him we’ll go!

He loves us more than we can ever know,
And once that trip back home’s begun,
He’ll rush to greet us on our way.
He will even run. Yes, God will even run!

Claudine Miley
March 1965

   So, we begin a wonderful journey, from the grand house of the father who has not only riches and possessions, but servants, and two sons, to the far away country and the awful pig pen, and back home.  
   (Special thanks to my dear friend, CHARLES HODGE, Jr. who wrote “Will God Run” for permission to use this poem, as well as some other thoughts from his book, in this little series on the marvelous subject of God’s Grace.)

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