June 29, 2011
Just for the record, we need to preach to the Greeks. America was once a nation where we were like the Jews of Pentecost who knew to the Law and could be convicted by preaching the Word. Now, we are the Greeks on Mars Hill who want to hear every new thing and the God of the Bible is the unknown God in a land saturated with churches. It is very sad, but true!
June 12, 2011
Today I will be preaching from Matthew 18:11-20 and the first part of the section speaks of one sheep straying from the fold and the Shepherd leaving to go find it. The word leave in the Greek indicates he did not just leave in a leisurely fashion or as being angry. He indicates an intense desire to leave and a willingness to seek everywhere to save that sheep and bring it back to the fold.
We often think of the unsaved or unbelievers as the lost that Jesus came to save, but we know that the lost are given the imagery of a goat. It is when they are saved that they become a sheep. We know Jesus told His disciples that he had sheep in a different fold and indeed many more of the Gentiles went from goats to sheep than lost sheep returned to the fold.
Matt 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. KJV
True, there were many goats as well as wolves in sheep’s clothing within the house of Israel and also do we have such in the Church. Yet, many in Israel were seeking God and some had lost hope of seeking God because they found no peace in the rituals and man made rules and regulations of the Pharisees or in the despairing Liberal theology of the Sadducees who had no hope of life after death and had no hope from the God of no miracles who had no ministering angels that they preached to the people. They were kept out of the green pastures and the sheepfold of God by men who refused to enter in themselves.
Some left the fold because they felt their sins could not be forgiven and thus lived lives of despair adding sin unto sin. It was these that the Lord was first sent to save. By virtue of their being Jews the offer for salvation was open to even the goats and the wolves. Praise be to His name some did repent and become true sheep of His fold but many more refused and deceived some of the sheep as well until after the Resurrection. The Shepherd had preached to them on the mountains high and steep and had now traveled through the valley of death and conquered it and Hell. There was now no mountain high enough, no valley low enough or wall impossible to tear down to keep them from being found and returned if they would just hear the Shepherd’s voice and accept their rescue.
I am thinking today of a friend that went to college with me and even started a church in a town that I thoroughly believe is overcome by darkness and is a den of demons. Yet something happened and my friend left the fold. He became involved with drugs and immorality. He tried to fake a suicide attempt in jail and failed for it became real and he died. I know the Shepherd sought it and called him, but for whatever reasons he did not heed and while he may not have committed the sin unto death his sin did kill him.
Unfortunately, I was twelve hundred miles away from him. Still, I wonder if I did enough to try to bring him back. Should I have called him until he would no longer answer the phone? Should I have written him even though he may have thrown the letters away? I was in the comfort of my fold and did not leave it to hunt for him in the mountain of his arrogance or the valley of his despair.
Oh, how I would have rejoiced if he had returned to fold but I was too busy and allowed the wolves to trap him in the valley and they devoured him and then pushed his ravaged carcass over the edge. I could have at least prayed more for him and I did not. I was more concerned about the righteous sheep that I taught every Sunday than that one lost sheep that would have involved too much time and effort to seek and to rescue.
What about you, fellow pastor and fellow Christian? Are you too wrapped up in the comfort of the fold and the fellowship of the ninety and nine without time or compassion to seek that one who has gone astray? Surely, there are goats in your community who need to be transformed into sheep, but are they too smelly and hard to look at for you to give a damn about their damned souls? Do their tats and piercings offend you or their lives too complicated and messy to tear you away from your praise and worship? Do you only care for your genetic family? We are all one blood and one family. Some are close kin and some are saved while others are distant cousins and damned? Why not care for all the family?
Besides the goats I suspect that all of you know at least one person who used to come to church and now no longer attends anywhere. Their lifestyle may have literally went to Hell! Do you care? Have you sought them out? You may get dirty or scratched by sharp rocks trying to climb whatever mountain they are on. It may get dark and hot in the valley wherein they have wandered. Will you get out of your comfort zone and seek them or are you more concerned about this preacher using the word damn than you are about the damned or the sheep being abused by damnable things of this life? Get off your high horse and come out of your ivory tower. The wolves have multiplied both within and without the Church. Grab your staff and sling! Battle wolves, lions and bears, but fight for the lost sheep of the House of Christ as well as transform some goats! This is where true praise and worship happens. It is out on the battlefield that God wants to hear your praise and see your worship! You have fed at the table long enough! It is past time to put on the armor and engage the enemy of the flock’s soul and that which leads astray the sheep and abandoning them lost, bleating and yea often bleeding! Quit being asleep in the light! How can you be so numb?
( http://www.songlyrics.com/keith-green/asleep-in-the-light-lyrics/ )
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. KJV
When is that last time you came into His presence and into the presence of the congregation rejoicing over finding a lost sheep? Church, we must fight for our wandering sheep on the spiritual battleground, but we must also seek them on the earthly plane! May we find them soon and bind their wounds in the Words of the Master with the oil of the Holy Spirit! Hurry! The time is short! Even so, come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!!!