Sept 23, 2018

WHAT MATTERS TO GOD?  Luke 15:1-11

Have you ever asked yourself: “What’s really important to God?”

If you study the Bible you’ll soon figure out that it says God is on an all-out search for two kinds of people. All of us fit into one of these two categories. 

The first category of people that God is searching for: The fully committed.  God is searching for those who are willing to lay everything aside to chase after Him. Those who will do anything/go anywhere for just a chance  to serve Him as Lord.

The second kind of people God is searching for: The kind of people we read about in Luke 15

READ: Luke 15: 1-11

Luke 15 is the record of Jesus telling 3 stories; The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.

If you read Jesus’ parables you’ll see that normally, when He tells a parable. He tells the story and then explains i before telling another parable. But Luke 15 is different. Jesus doesn’t pause to explain. He launches right into the next parable and then the next. Why? Look at Vs 1–3 again, Jesus tells 3...lost sheep/lost coin/lost son. These stories are so rich and carefully woven that we don’t have time to unpack them all the way this week.

In story one, how many sheep does the shepherd have? One hundred. And what happens to them? One wanders off. One gets lost. He leaves the other 99 in the open country. He doesn’t corral them for the night. He leaves them in potential danger to go and find the one that’s lost. When he finds the sheep, what does he do?Puts it on his shoulders and brings it home. What does he say to his friends?  “Rejoice with me.” Why? Because he’s happy. So happy he throws a party to celebrate.

Who’s the star of the second parable? A woman. Who’s Jesus talking to as he tells this parable? Men. Pharisees. How did Pharisees feel about women? They thought they were third-class citizens. What does the woman have that’s of value to her? Ten coins. How many sheep did the shepherd have? One hundred. How many coins did the woman have? Ten Jesus is reducing the proportions isn’t he? This woman has 10 silver coins. She loses one and she panics. She scours the house until she finds it. What does she do when she finds it? She throws a party. Why? Because she’s happy.

Jesus then tells His 3rd story. (We didn’t read it this week but we will next week). It’s the story of a father who has two sons. Notice the progression:  100 sheep, 10 coins, 2 sons.  He’s lowering the proportions. One of the 2 sons gets lost but eventually turns up again. When he does his father runs to him. When the son is found the father throws the party of all parties to celebrate his return. Why? Because he’s happy.

For now, let’s just summarize the first 2 stories.

Let’s look at 4 key points.

(1) In each of the stories it involves something lost. A sheep is lost -a lost coin -lost son.

(2) In each of the stories what is lost really matters to the hero of the story.

(3)  In each of the stories when what was lost is found, the hero is so happy he or she throws a party.

(4) In each of the stories the hero is someone who wouldn’t really be admired by most religious leaders.

The 1st hero is a shepherd, a 2nd class citizen. The 2nd is a woman, a 3rd class citizen. The 3rd is a father. A father who lifts his robes in order to run and save his son.

Put those 4 things together and what do you have? You have Jesus, standing in front of a group of religious men who think they have figured out what really matters to God. They see themselves as the fully committed. So in their mind and thinking they (and only they) matter to God.

Jesus is so upset with their thinking that He tells them not one, not two but three parables back-to-back, as if to say, “Your idea of who matters to God and who doesn’t is so far off that I am going to clear this up for you once and for all.

What he’s saying to them: There are 2 kinds of people that God longs for and searches for:

1. The fully committed.

2. Those who are lost.

The fully committed are not proud self-conscious or religious types who think that the most important thing is their religious life. He’s really saying 2 things.

1st: Lost people matter to God so much that He’s on an all out search to find them. Every time a lost person is found all of heaven rejoices...God rejoices.

2ndly: The fully committed are those who understand this and rejoice with God when He finds what is lost so much so that they join in the search as well.

•Only the fully committed change their spending habits so they can pay their tithe and fund ministries that reach lost people.

•Only the fully committed stay up late, dreaming of ways to reach out to their lost friends and neighbors.

•Only the fully committed look out of eyes that see as God does, thinking first about others and then about themselves.

•Only the fully committed…

The hard part about this story for us many times is that we think we are fully committed. We want to be, Right. The problem we think we are serving him fully. But are we really? Are we really willing to follow Him where ever He leads? To follow Him into the homes of the broken. To follow Him into lives that have never known him.

I pray you’ll decide -to build relationships with your neighbors and coworkers praying for them  and watching for openings to invite them to church. I pray that you will see God as a God who is on an all-out search for those who are outside of his family. Will you do those things?

There are 2 types of Christians in the world today. The casual and the committed. Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

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