Lost & Found

“The Lord is not slow about His promise…
but is patient toward you,
not wishing for any to perish
but for all to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9

So, how lost IS lost?

Driving down the lonely highway, out in the middle of the nowhere. You haven’t seen a crossroads in more than 100 miles, much less a gas station. Your cell phone is dead and the map flew out the window hours ago. Now you come to a fork in the road and you have no clue which way to go.  Are you lost? …oh yeah. Would you be willing to stop and ask for help if you could find it, even if you’re a guy? Definitely.

What does it mean to be lost?  Have you ever felt “lost” in your life? No hope for survival, desperate to find an escape, exhausted by trying to find a rope to hang on to?  Wait!  Life is not over, you can look for a solution, you can find hope that will get you back on track. But one thing for sure: for things to get resolved, you need to know how lost you are!

The Pharisees didn’t know how lost they were. And they didn’t care about those around them who were truly lost. The parables in Luke 15 help us to get the Savior’s perspective of understanding our lost condition, and what to do about it.

1. How lost is lost?

  • Can you be just a “little lost”?  In everyday experience, perhaps yes.  However, from the Truth of the Bible, God has shown us that “lost” is an IN or OUT proposition.  Either you are completely lost, with no ability to find or be found, or you are “Found” according to God’s Word.  Romans 1 and 3 make it clear that each of us are desperately lost in our sin, wandering in darkness, never able to return to the perfect state Adam knew in the Garden to enjoy God’s holy presence.

2.  Completely Lost

  • Every once in a while we see a story in the news about someone losing there way and getting lost never to be found.  Always a tragic story, we shudder to think it might happen to one of our loved ones, or to us.  How tragic it would be to find yourself erratically trying to find your way back to home, getting exhausted, hungry, becoming despondent, not able to proceed, caving in to your lostness with no hope of being found.
  • God describes that scenario in the Bible as He describes the downward plummet of man into sin.  Read Romans 1:18-32, and slowly work through the cycles of rebellion man has shown against God.  Although aware that He exists (Rom. 1:19-21), their hearts were in the dark, refusing to acknowledge Him.  They chose to make their own handmade images, idols, “little gods” that they could control to replace the One True God(23).  What did God do? He gave them up (24), literally turned them loose to run away with their gods and lusts – they traded God’s Truth for human lies (25).  Keep reading and see that “God gave them up” three times in this passage (verses 24, 26, 28) to deeper and deeper rebellion and sin – man is completely and hopelessly lost, with no hope of ever finding a way home!  Romans 3:10-12 quotes Psalm 14 to say there is not a single righteous man on the earth, none seek God, they have all turned away from Him. Wow!  That’s Lost!

3. Luke 15 – The Lost & Found Department

    • Jesus spent the last three years of His life on earth ministering and teaching His disciples and the thousands of followers that gathered around Him.  He often taught using parables, stories with a truth to learn. He wanted His listeners to understand that He was there to provide redemption to every person in the world.  Luke 15 has three parables that illustrate God’s work of redemption through His son.
    • Lu. 15:4-7 – The Lost Sheep
      • God is compassionate, and is always ready to leave the bunch to go after the one.
      • Rejoice with me! God is personally delighted when a lamb (picturing a person on earth) is rescued.
      • “More joy in heaven…” Imagine! Jesus underscores the joy in God’s heart by describing the rejoicing throughout heaven when one person chooses to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior.
    • Lu. 15:8-10 – The Lost Coin
      • This woman was desperate; she lit a lamp, swept the house, searched every corner of the dark, dirty floor carefully. When she found the coin, her heart burst with joy.  Joy expressed again over the lost being found.
      • Once more, there is joy among the angels in heaven over one sinner who repents.
      • The Greek drachma coin was commonly equivalent to a day’s wage; one custom of the time was a headdress of 10 coins woven together and worn by Jewish women as symbol of marriage.  This could have been the lost coin.
      • the lamp needed because there probably were no windows and the floor was normally packed dirt
    • Lu. 15:11-32 – The Lost Son
      • Independence is an important virtue in our culture.  This wayward son was called a “prodigal”, rebellious, bent on self-indulgence.
      • How are we being independent?
        • Selfishness
        • Our priorities are wrong
        • Cling to the immediate or pleasurable
      • Why do I insist on being independent from God?
        • We might doubt His existence or Who He is
        • Or we can doubt the goodness of God
        • Or we might not understand God’s perspective
      • “Dad, I wish you were dead!”
        • That’s really what the Prodigal was saying; he was asking for an inheritance that wasn’t intended to be his until his father died.
        • These acts should have completely ostracized the son, and probably embarrassed the father in the community.
        • But! The father let him go
          • he insists on loving the son, relationship with no obligation
          • he knew his son would fail yet he anxiously awaits the son’s return
          • then he runs to greet him when he does return – that day’s culture considered it undignified for an older man to run, he would lose face; he probably hadn’t run for 20 years, and he would have to gather up his robe, showing his boney legs – but he ran!
      • What we learn from this parable
        • Jesus chose to be humbled for us
        • Note the tremendous contrast between our rebellion and God’s forgiveness
        • The turning point is verse 17, the wayward son came to his senses! – probably as slowly walked towards home, he was broken and repented of his rebellion. He picked himself up and got himself going. Maybe he wasn’t planning on grace right away, maybe trying to think of how to explain himself to his dad – but by the time he was home he was ready to bow and ask forgiveness.
        • When he fell into his father’s arms, he realized that his father had never stopped loving him, he was overcome by grace.  He was rescued, lost but now found. Home.

4.  What to do when you realize you are really lost

  • Look for someone to rescue you – if your lost on a desert island and a boat shows up, get their attention and plead for their help.
  • Do what they say, take what they offer.  Hear what God has to say in the Bible, understand the free gift of salvation that is offered to you.
  • Realize that you were going to die! you were hopelessly lost, now you are found.
  • But wait!  You are hopelessly lost (point 2 above), and your sin obligates you to being sentenced, lost in hell for eternity.  But Jesus Christ died on the Cross, the Son of God took your sin on Himself and paid your penalty.
  • He offers to rescue you from your lost condition and redeem you, give you eternal life rejoicing in God’s presence.
  • Do what He says, take what He offers.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 

Romans 10:9-10

  • The Rebellious Son In The Key Of F
    Feeling footloose and frisky, a foolish fellow forced his father to fork over his fourth of the family farthings and flew far to a foreign field where he fast frittered his fathers fortune feasting foolishly with faithless friends. Fleeced by his fellows and folly, and facing famine he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farm. Flushed and fairly famished he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from farm fodder.“My father’s flunkies fair far finer.” The frazzled fugitive forlornly fumbled. Frustrated and filled with foreboding, he fled forthwith to his father. Falling to his father’s feet he forlornly fumbled, “Father, I have flunked and frugalessly forfeited family favor.” The fugitive’s, faultfinding brother frowned on fickle forgiveness, but the faithful father figure filled with fidelity, cried, “The fugitive is found. What forbids further festivities. Let the flags unfurl and the fanfares flare.” Father flagged a flunky who fetched a fatling from the flock and fixed a feast.The moral of the story is: The father’s forgiveness formed a foundation for the fugitive’s future fortitude.  (from Hampton Keathley, www.bible.org)