Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 18’

 

Lost but Found

© Image Created by Ross Cochrane – Lost but Found (Seek and you will find the words Lost and Found)

Matthew 18:11-14 – DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

The owner/shepherd still has the ninety-nine. Does it really matter to lose one sheep? I guess it matters to the lost sheep. Then again sometimes a lost sheep won’t even realise it is lost until it is too late. Sheep can be stupid at times.

But who are those who wander away in this parable? Isaiah 53:6 (NIV) answers that question by saying “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”  What was I saying about being stupid?

In the context of Matthew 18, the Lost Sheep is someone who has become positive to the things of God and is a new follower of Christ. Jesus says not to look down on them or despise them, because they are loved by God. They are part of His flock. They wandered away but now they are found.

It’s not so unusual to think of God as an Owner/Shepherd. The profile fits Him well.

  1. HE IS AWARE OF THOSE WHO ARE LOST

Most owner/shepherds in the time when this was written in Israel knew their sheep by name, so they were aware of which one was missing. They knew each characteristic of their sheep. The sheep also knew the voice of the Shepherd and followed.

  1. HE CARES FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST

This is a parable. The key theme – God cares for, knows and seeks for His lost sheep. He seeks every person individually, patiently and relentlessly.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord … does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

God loves the world (John 3:16) but He also loves us individually. One sheep in the flock. One face in the crowd. God wants to have a relationship with each one of us. He knows each sheep and seeks each sheep that strays.

The Shepherd doesn’t wait for us to be ready to come home. He makes the first move. 1 John 4:19 (KJV) says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”   

  1. HE TRACKS AND PROTECTS LOST SHEEP

In Israel when this parable was told, sheep could easily get lost in the rugged terrain and shepherds became experts at tracking lost sheep, protecting them from wild animals such as wolves or lions, and caring for the wounded wanderers. Each sheep was important.

We were all designed to be part of God’s flock, and having wandered off, it is good to know that there is the potential to be found by Him.

Being positive to the message of Christ leaves tracks for God to follow, but if you listen, you will hear the voice of the Shepherd.

In John 10:27-30 (NLT) Jesus says, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

  1. HE DOES NOT PUNISH THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

This shows the difference between Jesus and the spiritual leaders of Israel. The Scribes and Pharisees didn’t care for their people. If someone wandered away spiritually or morally, they were condemned, punished or expelled, rather than brought back into the fold and cared for.

If God’s lost sheep are found, there are no beatings. No punishments. He seeks us out and does everything to bring us back to the fold.

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Being lost is a punishment in itself until we are saved.

  1. HE SAVES AND CELEBRATES THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

Matthew 18:14 ends by emphasizing being found. It is not God’s will that anyone be lost but that all who have become positive to God are saved from certain destruction. Being lost carries with it implications of being injured, wounded or of certain disaster if they were not saved, and so it is used to describe death and hell or eternity without God. God cares. Christ saves, and all of heaven celebrates when those who were lost are now found (Luke 15:10).

If there are ninety-nine who are saved, does it really matter that one is lost? It matters to the sheep and fortunately also to the Shepherd. He seeks you and calls your name.

Pastor Ross

 

Lost and Found4.jpg

© Lost and Found. Image Created by Ross Cochrane (Look for the words Lost, Found)

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST

Jesus came to save those who are LOST (Matthew 18:11, Luke 19:10) whatever that means. A man in his 90’s recently asked me “Who are those who are lost? Save them from what?” Because whatever lost means, Jesus came to save them from it, so it must be important. It’s a good question.

What does it mean to be lost and for that matter what does it mean to be found?

  1. LOST FRIENDSHIP

I am lost when I do not have a relationship with God. Romans 5:10-11 (NLT) says “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”  

  1. LOST LIFE

I am lost when I am unable to enjoy what life offers. Jesus said, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

  1. LOST BATTLE

I am lost when I am overcome by the battles of life. 1 John 5:4 (NIV) says “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”  

  1. LOST TIME

I am lost when I am wasting time and have no real meaning in my life. Romans 8:28 (NLT) “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity (or redeem the time) in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

  1. LOST SOUL

I am lost when my mind, emotions and will do not line up with God’s purpose for my life. In Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

  1. LOST CAUSE

I am lost when I am fighting for a lost cause without God and clearly need to change allegiances. Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

  1. LOST IN MY OWN WORLD

I am lost when I neglect all other influence in my life; lost in the foci of my own pursuits. The Bible encourages us not to be so absorbed in our own pursuits that we miss God’s purposes for us. Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) says to run the race “by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

  1. LOST IN A CROWD

I am lost when I feel so small in the world that I am unnoticed and my contribution seems insignificant. Jesus wants to show you that you are valued by God and can make an eternal difference. John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

  1. LOST IN A FOG

I am lost when there’s a fog that clouds my thinking and a darkness that makes it hard to find my way in life. In John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” And in John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

  1. LOST GENERATION

I am lost when I am part of a generation that is disillusioned by the world and without hope for the future. Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT) says “we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

  1. LOST AT SEA

I am lost when I have a sense of sinking in life or being overwhelmed. In Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT) God promises to those who believe “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, … your Savior.”

  1. LOST THE RACE

I am lost when I feel I am last in the contest or competition of life’s race. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT) says “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step …”

  1. LOST LIVELIHOOD

I am lost when I am sitting in the ashes of a burnt-out life. In Isaiah 61:3-4 (NLT), God’s promise to His people is that “… He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair …” 

  1. LOST FOOTING

I am lost when I have lost my footing spiritually. Romans 3:10-31 (NLT) says “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one … For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. … God declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.”

The lost person is described by the Bible as being dead spiritually, separate from God. That person is in danger of being lost to an eternity without God. But that is not what God desires for our lives. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

  1. SURE FOUND-ATION

In the context of Matthew 18 and Luke 19 we are not to look down on them or despise those who have found faith in Christ because God loves them enough to send His own Son to die on a Cross for their sins so that they can be forgiven and live as God intended, here and in eternity. They had lost their footing but now they have a strong found-ation on which to stand in Christ.

Pastor Ross

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© Wings – Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 18:10 – CALLING ALL ANGELS

He contends with constant pressure from the local neighbours to renounce his Christian faith. Yesterday he was threatened by a group of young Muslims who told him he will “regret it” if he does not forsake his belief in Christ.

“I might be expelled from my village. I could be beaten, but Jesus went through it all. If my Lord faced persecution, who am I not to expect the same treatment?” Muhammed is willing to die for his newfound beliefs. (Name changed)

To be a follower of Christ in North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya and Yemen and many other countries in the world today is dangerous. Christians are abducted, arrested, enslaved, isolated, beaten, tortured, raped and murdered (Open doors).

Jesus is direct to all of us concerning new followers of Christ. “Beware that you don’t look down on (or despise) any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father” (Matthew 18:10 NLT).  

Jesus: “Take care of my child.”

Angel: “But he is not a child, Lord. He has wrinkles around his eyes and he walks slowly. He has a body that is dying, like all humankind. And his human spirit … Oh, I see what you mean! He IS a child.”

Many people look at Matthew 18:10 and think it is talking about looking down on or despising little children. It is not. I have no doubt that children who have not reached an age of accountability also have angels watching over them, but in the context of Matthew 18, it is clear that this verse is about those who become like little children and who have believed and trusted in Christ.

Jesus: “Yes, he is My child. His spirit has awakened and he has received new birth, and we have all welcomed him into My family. I am assigning you to watch over him and care for his spiritual growth. His neighbours will not be as welcoming.”

“We understand Lord. He has responded to You with a childlike faith as a new follower. Don’t his neighbours realise that if they welcome him, they are welcoming You?”

“No, not yet. They don’t realise that demeaning him and looking down on him is like demeaning and looking down on God Himself. Their consciences have been seared and scar tissue has formed over their hearts” (1 Timothy 4:2). The angels looked horrified. It was incredulous to them that anyone would choose to do this.

Hebrews 1:14 (NLT) makes an amazing statement. “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”

Angel: “If someone looks down on and despises this new follower of Yours who has become humbly obedient to Your message, Lord, we will destroy them with the sword of justice!” The angels looked serious but a little unsure.

Jesus: “No. He will be despised and demeaned during his time on earth but he will have an opportunity to be my witness to his persecutors and others will respond to My message. He has My favour and love. You are to guard what is happening to his human spirit. Leave his human will intact and provide opportunities for him to grow as my follower. Use everything he goes through to make him stronger in his faith.”

Angel: “We will care for him, Lord, throughout his life, and witness what it is that You want to do through him.”

In Matthew 18:10, Jesus is saying in effect that God doesn’t look down on or despise new followers of Christ. He invites us strongly to respond to what He is saying. This has implications for those who would persecute, despise or demean those who respond to others who respond to the message of Christ.

Jesus makes it clear that to cause a new follower of Christ to stumble in their faith and lead them to sin by tempting them or despising them is to go against God Himself. Yet He leaves a way open for even the vilest of persecutors to repent and to follow Him.

The Bible indicates that if you have responded to Christ’s invitation and have been humbly obedient in trusting Him, you will be in the presence of God also one day, “… Absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV). You are valued by God. You will one day have free access into His presence and who knows, perhaps meet personally the angelic beings who have guarded your journey.

Pastor Ross