From A Series Called “Bring Me Back” – Thoughts About Prodigal Things.
It may seem an odd thing to rejoice in the return of a wayward more than in rejoicing over those who have seemingly always walked the straight and narrow road, but that is what redemption is about. It is about lifting the fallen and re-setting the broken bones. Bones that were never broken need not a cast, but those whose bones have been healed or restored, know that the restored limb is now stronger than ever before. The scars and the scar tissue are reminders of their folly, but they are also testimonies of the new life or second chance given by the hands of the healer or rescuer. Experienced grace creates grateful hearts. Grateful hearts tell their stories to others and other wanderers come home and find their own healing.
It brings me to this next prodigal tale. What things, precious to you, if they had become lost, would you do anything to find?
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
What, to you and I, is a soul worth? This woman had lost what might be to us, like losing an entire paycheck. But is this story about your paycheck? Its about much more than that. Its about her entire savings. She had worked so hard to save it – all of it, so all of it had become precious to her. So it is with the souls of Gods elect. They are, every single one of them, precious in His sight. He intends to lose none of them. If we wander, He turns over the tables, seeks through the mountain sides, sweeps every floor, until, at last he finds you where you are, even though you had become lost, and He places you back with the others. With Him. Lost no more.
Do we care for souls the way that Our Father does? Who is worthy and who is not worthy of our care and seeking and love? That is not for us to decide. As He seeks and saves those lost or wandering, so we too should pray for the rebel, the lost, those who have become burdens or eye sores, until they are brought back into the blessing of the beautiful life and light of eternity that we so enjoy.
The older I get, the more Gods love in me and through me is tested. It is so easy to be selective with the love I have to offer, want to offer. When I was younger, my enemies were few or nil. And now that I am aging, so are the relationships in my life. Old friends and companions have now become oppressors or those who stand in opposition. Some who I used to fellowship with, now fellowship with no one, not even with God. Some have walked away from the faith and now seek to discourage and divide. Do we have love for these? Do we, like Christ, seek to love our enemies? Do we recognize that we were the lost coin? We were the lost sheep. We were the enemies of God, and we can still become the backsliders. Does God still have love for us? I know that He does. He is seeking and saving and loving and redeeming, day and night, those who we would have counted as down for the count, but still he pursues for His name sake and for His glory. Why? Because God so loves the world. We must enjoy that love and not squander it to ourselves but allow God’s love to be a transformative love that is extended to the least, the last and the lost. We need to love the unlovable and seek their good. It is what God has done for us, may we do the same for others. Found people finding love for all, that more might be found until all the coins have been brought back to the treasure chest of eternity. Together, we who were lost are together found in Him. Every single one of us. Praise be to God!
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From A Series Called “Bring Me Back” – Thoughts About Prodigal Things.
We have been invited. To us, the call has been made – to sit with the Savior. The amazing thing is that He has chosen to sit with us. The Savior pursues sinners. He sits with us, eats with us, teaches us and welcomes us to learn from Him. If Christ does not receive sinners, than none of us shall be received.
“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
It has almost always been this way for us as humans. We have always found ourselves found and pursued by God. First as the magnum opus (the master-work) of created things – the wonder and fascination of the angels, and then as the paragon (the prize) of Christ as our savior. You see, we once enjoyed unbroken and unstained fellowship with God – no sin involved. We walked and talked, dined and learned from the omniscient one. It was His joy and His choice to include us in His love and awesome presence. We were created by Him and made to enjoy being with Him. Later, we chose to be apart from Him, and as a result we suffered. With Him, as we were designed to be, we thrived. Apart, we suffered in so many ways. In order to be restored to that place of togetherness and intimacy, He had to once again choose us to be united together with Himself. Sin broke us, salvation restores us. He must pursue, or we will never be found.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you..”
Thats what I mean when I say that we went from magnum opus to paragon. We were fine, and then we were fined. Sin broke us and we had no currency worthy to pay the debt for our sin. We owed a debt that could not be paid. Who can pay such a ransom? How to you fix something that is fundamentally and physiologically broken. How do you fix a broken soul when no man can manufacture such a remedy? Sin broke us, and broken things don’t fix themselves. It must come by the masters own hands. He made this battle His own and paid the price through Christ Jesus on the cross. Pure and holy blood to cover polluted and sinful hearts. His blood, purified impure hearts. He won. He gets the prize. Because He chose to do so.
Thats what makes passages like this one found in Luke 15 and John 15 so awesome. It doesn’t say that the sinners ate with Jesus, it says that Jesus ate with them – with tax collectors and sinners. He chose where to dine, and who to dine with. To the religious and wise, these people were the scum of the earth, and yet to Jesus, they were the prize – the trophy Christ had come to win. God gets what God wants, and if He wants you, then He has you. Welcome to the table – His table.
To Him it is a victory, to us it is a battle. We flail, but He fights, and when He fights, He wins. Some of us need to hear this today. He fights for you. He loves His kids – His creation and prize. We wander, and when sheep wander, they get lost. Lost people hurt themselves. Jesus finds lost sheep, and when He finds them, He heals them and welcomes them back with rejoicing. To Him, this love for you is natural – it is who He is for you and toward you. Listen:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that 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 his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
So if others think that you have failed, that you are unworthy or if satan and your own mind have made you think that you suck. You may have done sucky things, but that is not what Christ hangs over your head. The banner over your head is Christ and His victory over your sin. Satan calls you worthless and unworthy – a tax collector and sinner! But God … He called and calls you “Saint!”, not sinner. To your Father in heaven, you are the lost one, pursued and found by Jesus Christ – purposefully.
Are you hurt or hurting? Are you lost?
What sin have you wandered into?
How far are you from where you want to be?
Maybe your not where you should be or how you should be?
How do we get back to where we belong?
Look! There He is. He is coming! With joy on His lips and singing in His heart to pour over you as He lifts you up from that place of refuse, and places you on His shoulders. He has come to bring you back, oh wanderer!
It is never too late to come back to God, in Christ!
Sin called you lost, but repentance sets you free.
Sin will keep you far from Him, repentance will place you on His shoulders, and He will nurse you back to health and bring you safely back into fellowship with the Father and His holy people, now and forever.
Can you say it? “Bring me back to You!”
The consequences of our sin have been felt and that road is rough, but the healer can make us whole again. We have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. His blood is a river that covers all sin and never runs out. Deep deep blood, it covers all your sin… all…your … sin.
It is always ok to come back.
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Sin caused us to go from unashamed to filled with shame. From peace with God to fear of God. “I was afraid,” said Adam. In his nakedness, Adam realized that what he was now feeling, was not in God. He had become something else. He had become sinful and this was something he had never experienced with God. God was not this new thing. The contrast was obvious to Adam. God was pure and man was stained. There had been no shame with God… but now, with sin, He was scared with God. Scared of God, His Creator and friend. God, in the garden with man as a sinner, was a scary thing to Adam. He recognized the Holiness of God in contrast to the sinfulness in his own heart and mind. His consciousness was no longer at ease but it was bothered. “Hide! Hide Adam!” That was the new thought in his mind. Because he recognized that He would be judged as unholy in contrast to the perfect creator before him. He was now a broken vessel. The pieces were scattered across the floor. And the thought of standing before His first love – God, and accepting this fact was too much to bare… and so he hid himself.
But God was not scared. He was not afraid of these consequences. He pursued his broken man and woman. His masterpiece was not beyond repair. Even from the first, God was ready to put the pieces back together. Man was about to find out what love is, and what love can do. It can forgive the greatest and gravest of failures and mistakes. It can heal the wounded and most broken of hearts. It can calm the storms and fears that we all feel. We recognize the failure and He provides the reconciliation. He takes it upon Himself to cover the shame we all feel and He covers it by His blood. He sacrificed His own creation and clothed Adam and Eve in the skin of an animal for the first time. He created the covering that would ease their shame until Christ would come to cover us forever! We are the broken and He is the saving grace. Let that comfort you in your pain and help you to look at Him once again, as loving creator of all things. Your gracious and loving creator, friend, and God. The broken things can and have been restored.
From the Sermon: Remembering His Great Love – a survey of Gods Love through the book of John
Text (BLOG) Below:
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
“16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
The purpose of this exhortation this morning is simple. It is to encourage our hearts in the love of God.
Often times, we question whether we are loved by God or others. And, sometimes, we cannot find it in ourselves to love others or even ourselves, and so the question’s arise within ourselves from time to time, “Are we loved?” “How are we loved?” “Does God Love Me?” “Can I love myself and others?”
These questions do indeed come with answers if we listen to the right sources. If you want the answer – need the answer, go to the source. The source of Love has spoken and given the answers that comfort even the most distraught and hurting hearts. When we are broken or doubting in the area and need for love, it is comfort that we are in need of. It is really a deep question and enquiry of purpose and belonging.
What is my purpose if love is not some part of it? To be loved and to give love. We all want it. We all need it. And sometimes we need to be reminded of it. To be comforted by it, by the source itself. To be comforted by the love of God for us as His creatures and kids.
How are we comforted by God? We are comforted by his great love.
He gives it, He shows it, and He promises it eternally.
The comfort He gives is an eternal comfort and good hope, freely given – through His generous grace.
I want to answer a couple of questions this morning about the love of God toward us and for us.
1. Does God love us?
(take a moment and allow several scriptures to remind you of Gods love)
“39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should
lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up
on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that
everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him
should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the
The will of God is to bring all who look upon Him andbelieve into eternal life with Jesus – receiving the samereward: eternal life.
God has compelled Himself in love to save the otherwiseun-savable.
Does God love us? The answer is a simple yetresounding YES! Because He willingly decided to act upon His love for us by saving those who believe in Him.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish
but have eternal life.”
The Simple answer to this question is yes.
God loves us and has set His desire to save us and glorify His Son and Himself by doing so.
Amazing isn’t it!?
Its incredible that being the object and recipient of Gods love can, in and of itself bring Glory to God, and in doing so give our lives and our love meaning and purpose.
But, how can this be? How does this happen?
21 “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
To love someone is to set your affections upon that person, and to be full of good-will toward that person.
The closest relationship I can think of, to give as an example of this sort of love, is that love between a parent toward a child.
It a pure love, wishing only good upon its recipient. No evil is wished upon the other, only good things and pleasant thoughts are extended toward your child.
The Love is reciprocated. It is received, recognized and aimed back at its originator. We call this Love, and it becomes worship for those who believe. As a result of receiving this love, we want to obey and respond in kind. We want to be like God was and is toward us – loving and lovely.
How is it that love exists in our hearts and in this world?
1 John 4:18-19
19 “We love because he first loved us.”
It exists because God, among many other attributes, is a loving God who loves us as His own.
This is the agape love of the father extended to us – now made his children through faith, because of His reconciling us to Himself through Jesus, His son.
And so, does God love us?
2. How has God loved us? (How has He comforted us?) (How has He given us Hope?)
He has loved us by sending His Son into the world, specifically to fulfill the will of the Father in saving us and giving us eternal life with His beloved son.
The eternal curse of sin was deservedly upon us as trespassers and law breakers. And yet the penalty of that curse was undeservedly placed upon Himself in the flesh upon the cross.
Gods righteous judgement declared all sin to be punishable by death. It (sin) did not belong. Not with God, not in His presence and not in eternity.
Who could settle and satisfy Gods wrath and righteous judgement?
What propitiation could be made, allowing us to escape the wrath of God to come upon the sins of the world?
A solution to the problem did not exist. It does not exist outside of the One who can accomplish the impossible.
Unless God acts within Himself to remove our sins, they cannot be removed. Within our lives as unforgiven sinners, we were missing the best of Love… Gods love, and so we were missing the best of life… eternal life.
He could not simply remove the punishment.
That would not make Him just.
Simply, justice would not be served.
He also, could not declare righteous what had been tainted by sin.
That would not be right.
Justice had to be imposed.
But how could sin be removed and punished at the same time?
The penalty was death.
How do you cure death?
God took it upon Himself… (selah)
The Father of all creation, compelled by His own love toward those who would believe, made Himself to become the sacrifice that would appease His own wrath.
Rather than letting us face the eternal consequence of our own sin, He became sin for us and stood in our place before the Judgement seat of God, as the Son, paying the price for our sin, dying, though He had been eternal life Himself, and there, feeling the pain that should have been ours, allowed Himself to be tortured and executed as a slaughtered lamb at the hands of those whom He created, and who were corrupted by sin, and He was nailed, hands and feet to a splintery wood cross, and there the eternal wrath of God was thrust upon Jesus Christ, once and for all satisfying Gods wrath and delivering justice on the offenders who would look to Christ Jesus for salvation.
He did what could not be done by anyone else. He took our sin’s upon Himself – all of them, and then rose in victory – sin could not keep Him in the grave because it was not His sin that caused His death, it was ours!
What was impossible for man, was made possible by God Himself.
1 John 3:1:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
We could not inherit the eternal spiritual life because in our sin we had become spirituality dead, and yet God in His love moved Himself to act on our behalf, sending us the promised rescuer, Himself, in Christ as Savior.
Does God Love you? You tell me…
1 Corinthians 15:50-55
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
How has God loved us?
He has loved us by sending us His Son as Savior and by doing for us what only He could do – dying in our place and sharing with us His eternal reward – eternal life.
3. How has and does He show us His love? (What does Gods Love look like/Act Like?)
In John 1
Verse 38-39, 42
Jesus invites us to follow him, and receive a new identity in him. Like Peter, to go from a man led by the impulses of his flesh, to become a man led by and standing firm in Faith, proclaiming the truth that changes our hearts and minds and saves us for heaven, by the grace of God through Christ.
In John 2
Jesus defends and preserves His house, His presence, and His church and a place to meet and talk with God. In love, by grace we are invited as His children, to pray with Him. He preserves His house as a house of prayer, casting out those who would stand in the way of you and the Father. Christ has brought us to the Father, now and forever.
In John 3
Jesus reasons with us, offering us His salvation and the new life, causing us to be “born again” into an eternal spiritual life, and declares Gods love: “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In John 4
Jesus speaks with the outcasts and marginalized – sitting down with and drinking water from the cup of the samaritan woman – an adulterous woman rejected by the jews, yet accepted and pursued by God, here at a well, found by her Savior. She had been looking for peace, but not until Jesus found her did she know it. Here, with love extended by God in the flesh, her life was now made whole.
Gods love shows itself in His love for those hurting and the outcast, as He healed many who were hurt, lame, diseased, blind, poor and even the demon possessed.
In John 6
With great compassion for those hungry, who followed Him, He twice, miraculously fed them with fish and bread, to satisfy their physical hunger, simply because He cares for them and He cares for you. It may just be that simple, that God takes care of you because He Loves you. He Loves you now and into eternity.
Do you trust Him? Do you trust that He Loves you?
26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor
gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by
being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the
lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass
of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into
the oven, will he not much more clothe you…?”
And not only does He satisfy us with physical bread for our bodily hunger, but He becomes our very sustenance and life, being “the bread of Life”:
35″ Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever
comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me
shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me
and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will
come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will
but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him
who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has
given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will
of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and
believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him
up on the last day.”
He is also the Living Water (John 7:37), providing not only for our physical hunger, but satisfying our spiritual thirst eternally. He has given us His Spirit – inside us, to give us life and keep us for God eternally.
In John 8
God comes to the defense of a women caught in the very act of adultery, and forgives her of her sins. He is not ashamed to humble Himself in coming to our rescue. The woman would have been stoned otherwise, if Jesus had not intervened.
What sin is so big or so condemning in your life, that Jesus would not stoop to the ground and lift you up from your mess?
Just as He did for the Women caught in the very act of adultery, He has done for you. He has and will come to your rescue.
38 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor
rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will
be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus
No sin is too great, no one has become so backslidden or gone too far into the darkness that Christ cannot redeem or rescue you by shining His very light of forgiveness into your life to bring you back into His glory and grace. For that is His mission – Gods mission – a rescue mission.
In John 8
He is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the very light of life.
Do you need to walk into the light? He loves you, for that is why He came, and comes to your rescue.
In John 10
God reassures His love for and eternal protection over His sheep, even laying down His very life to win you back to Himself – dying to protect you from the enemy of your soul.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came
that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the
good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for
the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd,
who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and
leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and
scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and
cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I
know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father
knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for
the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So
there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the
Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take
it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of
my own accord.
In what other ways has God and does God express His Love for us?
In John 11
Jesus weeps with those who have lost a loved one (Lazarus). Not only does he weep over our lack of and lapses of faith, but he takes it upon Himself to increase our faith through miraculous acts of His grace upon our life. Here, He raises a dead man, Lazarus, not only restoring life, but increasing our faith.
He walks on water and calms storms, He makes wine for celebrations, He washes the feet of His followers, He defends His disciples against the attack of the legalistic pharisees, He promises His Spirit as the keeper and sustainer of our salvation, bringing us home to heaven. He fulfills His promise to us, by laying down his life for us on the cross, and pleasing His Father, and finishing His mission.
He forgives those who persecuted Him, and He forgives and restores Peter, who betrays Him 3 times. . .
Does God Love You?
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Does He Love you? Are you loved?
The answer is a resounding YES! Y.E.S!
Look at what great lengths He has gone to, to show you His great love for you, and in doing so, Jesus has completed and satisfied the will of His Father, giving God glory.
And finally, in Love, He redeems our praise and brings us into worship. Our Response is to Love as He has loved us. To forgive others. To be instruments of His Love, Mercy and Grace.
6 “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give Him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me,
“Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Be reminded now, and make no mistake, that you are eternally loved, oh child of God, and blessed forever.