“Don’t tell me you lost them!”
“No, I didn’t lost them! I distinctly remember putting them right here in my bookbag. Just give me a second!”
“Well, please hurry. We’re almost to the ticket counter and our plane leaves in 45 minutes.”
Guess what? They were not there. No matter how hard I looked, they were not there. You see, these were not just any plane tickets. These were tickets to Jamaica. We were not going there for a little vacation— oh no! This was our honeymoon. I had one responsibility — to keep those tickets with me at all times. But they were not there.
Now, I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but I know a problem when I see one. So Cindy stayed at the counter while Wes, the Delta representative, sympathetically tried to help us out. I went to the phone and called the hotel, asking them to check our honeymoon suite to see if there were any tickets. Five minutes later, she told me there were on the nightstand. I told her, “I will pay you handsomely if you can get to Louisville International quickly.” I barely got the words out and she was off.
With 5 minutes to spare, she pulls up. I pay her, she gives me the tickets and I was OUTTA THERE. I made it there with seconds to spare. As Cindy and I sat in our seats, I looked at her and said, “Well, I guess things can only get better, right?” Then we had a good laugh.
Have you ever lost anything? All of us have. John Kramp, in his book Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes, says,
“A search always reveals your values. If we lose something and choose not to search for it, we essentially say we place little value on that item. Actions, not words, reveal our values.”
When we read Luke 15:1-7, we see who Jesus values.
Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that He came to “seek and to save those who were lost.” That must be our mission as well. Why?
1. The lost matter to God, they must matter to us!
Does this surprise you? Does it surprise you that you are of value to Him? If it surprises you, then maybe it is because we often place our own thoughts and ideas and prejudices upon God that think that He thinks and feels as we do! As we talked about last Sunday night, too often we believe that God accepts our worship when we go through the motions of worship and attend all the services and hear all the preaching and go to all the Sunday School times — yet if our hearts are not desiring to obey Him in reaching the lost, our worship comes up short of what God intends.
See in verse 1 that “all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.” This description described how the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, viewed those who were outside the Kingdom of God. They were considered unclean and unworthy to be loved and ministered to. And while even the religious folks turned away from these ‘lost sheep,’ Jesus presence and personality and compassion seemed to attract them to Him.
Edwin Markham wrote a poem which says:
Some draw a circle that shuts men out;
Race and position are what they flout;
But Christ in love seeks them to win,
He draws a circle that takes them in!
Vance Havner once said,
“Evangelism is to Christianity what veins are to our bodies. You can cut Christianity anywhere at it’ll bleed evangelism. Evangelism is vascular — it’s our business. Talk about majoring in evangelism, you might as well talk about a doctor majoring in healing. That’s our business.”
Few would disagree with Bro. Havner’s assessment. Evangelism is what Christianity is about. Evangelism, coming from the Greek word euaggelion which means “gospel, glad tidings or good news”, is the process of we as a Great Commission people performing the basic task that Christ purposed for us — to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Yet, the problem for many of us in the church is that we have been Christians for so long, that we have forgotten what it is like to be without Christ. I have noticed that those who are rather young in the faith are very zealous.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, whom do we represent? Are we like those Pharisees, who look down upon sinners and the unseemlies of the world
2. If you are lost, God searches for you.
Jesus tells His listeners, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NKJV).
To many of us, this seems rather strange. Why would someone risk their lives over one weak, feeble, lost sheep when they had ninety-nine strong ones that were able to keep up with the pack? In our day of “survival of the fittest,” we would just leave that weak sheep out with the elements and carry on.
I’m so glad that God does not operate the way we often do. The religious leaders of that day taught that God would receive sinners who sought His forgiveness earnestly enough. But this parable shows God being the One seeking the sinner. In the Middle East, the shepherd was responsible for every last sheep — none must be lost killed or injured.
Or if you subscribe to Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” The strongest survive because they have the tools to survive. The strength of a species depends on those who are strong to help carry it on. The weak hold our species back, won’t survive — so maybe they should be left behind.
Yet, look with me at 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:
 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Our world says, “You must be rich, be productive, be beautiful, be muscular, run fast, be popular.” Yet, in God is not calling those who are wise and powerful by the world’s standards — He actively sought out the foolish, the weak, the despised in order to advance His Kingdom. The people that Jesus hung around are the ones who will bring glory to God because they have nothing in this world to glory in.
And we who are Christians must be careful when we say, “I’m so glad I found God.” Yet, this story shows that we are too weak, too feeble to look for God. When we are lost, we are just that — lost, with no way to know how to get to God. Yet, this parable shows that the Good Shepherd searches us out. He takes the initiative. We have found him only because He first found us.
I’m thankful that God is not a Darwinist. If so, all those who are weak, no-account, lost, feeble, and worthless would be of no value to God. Yet, God’s Word says something far different. He puts out an A.P.B. to all of those who are lost, weak, and wounded in heart.
Do we have God’s heart? Thom Rainer did research on unchurched and recently unchurched individuals and found that 83% of those who were recently unchurched but are churched now came to church because someone invited them. Think of that! The harvest is ripe — will we go and be instruments of God’s use and search them out?
3. When you are found, God rejoices over you — and so must we!
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:5-7).
The Pharisees mumbled and grumbled when Jesus welcomed the unwantables in that society. Yet, God rejoices when those who are unwanted and lost come to heaven. It says that there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
How often do you hear folks say, “I am so glad I found God”? Yet this passage speaks volumes in showing that it is not the sheep who find the shepherd, but it is the shepherd who finds the sheep! The sheep that was left behind was weak, unable to keep up, had lost his way.
If you are without Jesus Christ, do you feel as if God doesn’t nor couldn’t ever love you? Not only do you matter to Him; not only does He conduct an all-out search for you; but God throws a party for you. Think about it: the party is not for those religious leaders. That party is not for the Billy Grahams or the Charles Stanleys of the world who preach to millions of folks. That party is for a sinner who was an enemy of God in open rebellion before Him who has been found by the Great Shepherd and brought into the fold.
Now, right now, you may be sitting there in your seat feeling something going on in your heart and in your gut— as if someone is drawing you to God. That is the Holy Spirit. God is ready to throw a party for you and to embrace you as the father did the prodigal son later in Luke 15. All the heavenly host will rejoice over you if you will turn from your sin and self and trust in Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd who has searched for you and will bring you into the sheepfold of His Kingdom.
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden
Lost and ruined by the fall
If you tarry ‘til you’re better
You will never come at all.
Will you arise and go to Jesus;
He will embrace you in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior
O there are ten thousand charms.