17th Sunday after Pentecost
Love Looks for the Lost
Text: Luke 15:1-10
It was one of the most horrible, awful, terrifying experiences of my life. Not many things in this world could compare to the tragedy I experienced. I couldn’t believe it. I was completely devastated. I had lost my Milwaukee Brewers Starter jacket.
This wasn’t any old coat. This was a nice one. It was made out of a durasheen material so it was nice and shiny. It was warm and comfortable. It was soft to the touch. It was more expensive than a normal coat, not the kind of coat I would wear outside at school for recess. And of course, it was a Milwaukee Brewers coat!
I couldn’t believe I lost it! We searched high and low in the house. Then we realized what happened. I forgot it at the house of my great-grandmother who lived an hour away. Great-grandma Wahl knew the urgency for an impressionable young kid. Rather than wait for our next visit, she put the coat in a box and mailed it to us.
The joy of opening that box was perhaps even greater than receiving the coat in the first place. My coat! I had it back! It was gone but now it was mine again! It was lost but now it was found! There was much rejoicing. Read the rest of this entry
4th Sunday in Lent
Lost in Sin . . . Found in Grace
Text: Judges 10:6-16
After all that God had done for his people! If you read the Bible books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua straight through, you will be impressed with a time period when God miraculously intervened more than any other time in Israel’s history. The accounts of God’s interactions with the Israelites during the days of Moses and Joshua are truly amazing.
You may be able to do a quick survey of stories in your head. First God sent the 10 Plagues on Egypt so that Pharaoh would let his people go. Then he led two million people out of Egypt and through the middle of the Red Sea on dry ground—the same sea he used to destroy their enemies.
While in the desert the Israelites whined and complained and moaned and groaned. Yet God provided water for them, sometimes miraculously turning bitter water sweet or bursting water out of a rock for them. He dropped bread called manna and birds called quail out of the heavens for them to eat every day. He revealed his glory and might on Mt. Sinai. He defeated countless enemies. He brought them to the Promised Land of Canaan that did not belong to them and defeated all those enemies. He made the impenetrable walls of Jericho fall down when Israel marched around them and even made the sun stand still for a day so general Joshua and Israel had more time to rout the enemy. Read the rest of this entry
5th Sunday of Easter
Looking for Guidance? Consider Your Good Shepherd’s Resume!
Text: John 10:11-18
The young man’s heart was racing. Alone and lost in an unfamiliar city this young teen was tense. It would soon be dark which would make it harder to navigate by the landmarks he had seen for the first time that morning.
“I don’t remember seeing that building” he thought to himself… “I don’t remember being on this street for this long, did I miss a turn… am I even on the right street… what do I do when it gets dark…”
He breaks out in a nervous sweat despite the cool of the evening, his heart continues to race, his footsteps become quicker, almost at a jog his eyes dart back and forth desperately hoping to see something familiar, something that will help him get his bearings. He can’t stop and ask for directions, not because he’s male, but because everyone around him speaks Ukrainian and he knows all of 5 words in Ukrainian. And even if there were street signs he couldn’t read them, he doesn’t know the Cyrillic alphabet! This young man was experiencing what it was like to be lost, and I mean really lost with no idea where he was or where he had to go. This 16 year old young man was me, lost in Kamyanets Podilsky Ukraine…
Being lost is not a fun thing. As humans we love to feel that we are in control of our lives and when we are lost we feel that control start to slip through our fingertips. We enter the land of the unknown where we lose the ability to predict with any degree of certainty what will happen next and stress and panic and worry and doubt begin to fill our minds.
The fear that I experienced in the Ukraine was simply a fear of the unknown, control was out of my hands and I was terrified. Fear of the unknown is something that all humans feel to one degree or another. Fear of the unknown is what drives us to surround ourselves with gadgets and gizmos that give us the delusion that we are in control. Smart phones, GPS’, state of the art cars and security systems make us feel safe. In this crazy, confusing, messed up, unpredictable world proper guidance is an imperative.
Surprise, surprise, the God who created us knows that we need guidance, and he offers it. Are you looking for a GPS for life? Are you looking for someone to guide you through the peaks and valleys of this human existence? Consider for a moment Jesus’ resume, consider the Good Shepherd’s credentials. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Psalm 25
Suppose you were lost in the woods. You’ve been wandering for hours. The sun is setting. Your heart begins to hammer as panic sets in. Suddenly you come across a park ranger. Dressed in full uniform, well equipped in materials and knowledge, he offers to guide you out. He warns you that the going will get tough at times but if you stick with him, he will get you home. What do you do? Do you follow his guidance or do you continue to struggle to find your own way out?
The answer is obvious. You follow the park ranger because he knows what he is doing and you don’t. You follow the park ranger because if you don’t you probably will die.
Now suppose you were lost in your sins. You’ve been wandering for years. Judgment day is coming. Your heart begins to hammer as panic sets in. Suddenly you come across the LORD. Taken on human flesh and named Jesus, well equipped with forgiveness and love, he offers to guide you out. He warns you that the going will be tough and you will stumble and fall at times, but if you stick with him, he will get you home. What do you do? Do you follow his guidance or do you continue to struggle to find your own way out?
The answer is obvious. You follow Jesus because he died to forgive all the sins you couldn’t escape. You follow Jesus because if you don’t you will die and go to hell. You follow Jesus because he loves you so much that it would be foolish to follow anyone else.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a tremendous blessing it is that we can lay claim to forgiveness. You loved us even when we rebelled against you. You offer us heaven and give us the means to get there. You give us the Bible to guide us as we live on this earth so that we may strive to live in your love. Show us your ways, O LORD, and teach us your paths. Amen.