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Lost Things

March 2nd, 2016

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV.

A lost soul is the worst and unrecoverable loss of all.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “lost things.”

Everyone misplaces something at some time. Eventually, you may even be unsure where or when it was lost. And if too much time passes before realizing your loss, that item is more likely to remain lost. Upon realizing you have lost something, you determine if the value of the absent item is worth the time and effort of replacing it or looking for it. Sometimes it is more than an item that was lost. Marriages and families are lost by distraction and inattention. Friendships are lost by neglect or busyness. Opportunities are forfeited by procrastination or aversion to risk and failure. At such times, inaction is costly.

Jesus was a great story-teller. The Gospels are replete with stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. His stories were practical and helpful, revealing truth and providing instruction to the wise. Among the best, most familiar, and beloved of those, Jesus told multiple stories about a single theme – lost things. Read Luke 15:1-31 NKJV. The theme is appropriate to the Savior who understood His calling and commission, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV. See John 3:17 NKJV. As is true with lost things, people can’t find themselves; they have to be found.

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ stories, a wandering sheep was lost, a valuable coin was lost, a prodigal son was lost, a valuable opportunity was lost, and importantly, irreplaceable years were lost. In all but one instance, Jesus’ stories conclude with festive celebration and rejoicing.

In the first example of the lost sheep, neither the neglect of the shepherd nor the intention of the sheep is at fault. That one sheep simply wandered, not knowing it was lost nor finding its way home. Endangered and defenseless, the sheep was dependent on the shepherd, who spared no time or effort in finding and returning the straying sheep to the safety of the fold and the company of the flock. Vs. 4-7.

In Jesus’ next story, a single coin of minimal value was misplaced. Though nine other coins remained, extensive effort was made to find an otherwise insignificant coin, yet valued by its owner. She made every effort, searching relentlessly until it was found. Vs. 8-10.

In the final story, something more valuable than sheep or coins was lost; a valuable inheritance was squandered by a young son. In that process, a cherished son was lost whose heart drew him far away from his home and family where he misused and lost all that he had been given. Vs. 11-16. Jesus’ question is haunting, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 NKJV. A lost soul is the greatest, unrecoverable loss of all.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. When the Prodigal came to his senses, he went home to his father. I love Jesus’ words, “While he was still a long way off . . his father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Vs. 20. I love the image of the Father running to meet and envelop the returning prodigal with loving, joyful embrace. His reception even exceeded the regret of the penitent son. I am reminded of Poet Robert Frost’s perceptive description of home. “Home is the place where when you go there they have to let you in.”  Ultimately, Jesus’ story is about coming home in humility and repentance where you will find forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and rejoicing. Vs. 17-24. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV.

But not to be overlooked, Jesus’ story is also about the immense loss a father suffered by the failure of both of his sons to understand and value their father’s immeasurable love and generosity. “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31 NIV. Our Heavenly Father’s heart remains unchanged, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to know the enduring love and faithful care of the Good Shepherd.

Christian Communications 2016
www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

EDL Welcoming Prodigal

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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