Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 10, 2016

"So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

The other day I got a new insight on what it means to be lost. Being lost means being unable to receive God's love.

God's love is a constant. God can't love you more than He already loves you. He cannot do anything more than He has already done to show His love. But love is a gift and as a gift must be received.

God IS love. In order to receive His love we must receive Him. You can't have love and not have God. But you can't have God when you are living sinfully. And when you can't have God - you are lost.

That is all the more reason why those who do know the love of God, should feel compelled to help their friends find the love of God, too. How can you know the love of God and not want people you love to also come to know His love?

In Luke 15, there are at least three examples of people who are lost because they weren't able to receive the love of God.

The religious leaders were unable to receive the love of God. They had trapped themselves in a joyless routine of religious rules and rituals. Somehow they had managed to create a religious system where love wasn't even required. They were lost in their own self-righteousness.

How were they lost? They were lost in the pride trap. As long as they kept their rules and maintained their rituals and lived by their laws, what's love got to do with it?

Love is hard and demanding. I have to love back. That's risky!

Pride is easy and rules are predictable. Plus, we make the rules! So, if they get too hard to keep we can just change them! And, if I honor all the laws and commands and do all the rituals God will have to love me!

Pride trumps love every time - and is proud of it!

God couldn't reach them with His love. Jesus couldn't put a dent in them.

Are there still lost people like that today? Uh, uh.

Where do I find someone like that?

Maybe in the mirror? 

Are there any hints of self-righteousness? 

Any private sin you are harboring? 

Any questionable behavior you're excusing? 

Any impure thinking that you are allowing? 

Any unhealthy attitude you are tolerating?

Take a hard look.

September 9, 2016

"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!" Luke 15:17

Parables are very effective in giving the big picture concepts but can break down a bit in the details. These three stories do a great job of illustrating God's heart for lost people, but one important truth that is lost in the details is this - we don't GET lost, we are BORN lost. By lost, I mean we are sinful, separated from God, morally bankrupt, corrupt in our thinking and deceived in out mind.

That self-righteousness that caused the religious leaders to be lost in their faith? That is a manifestation of their spiritual lostness. It didn't get them lost but it caused them to remain in their lostness and prevented them from reaching other lost people.

The self-indulgence that led the sheep away from the flock and away from the shepherd. That was the evidence of his selfish nature, his sinful heart that motivated him to be more interested in his appetite than his safety. It cut him off from fellowship and put him at serious risk.

Her loss of focus due to self-satisfaction, that is what caused the carelessness that led to a lost coin. Again, that is a result of a fatal self-absorption that IS our sin nature. The lost coin happened because she was lost! She lost her focus on the coin because she was so focused on her own comfort and well being. It is how sin is oriented.

And the self-interest that prompted the son to dishonor his father, shame his family and put Himself into bondage. That is because of the sin nature he was born with - we are born with. He got lost because he was lost.

So, the big truth in these three riveting stories is that we get more lost because we are lost. We remain lost until we are found. BUT - JESUS CAME TO "SEEK and SAVE THAT WHICH IS LOST".

The only thing that prevents us from being found is understanding and admitting that we are lost. Only as we get honest about our lostness can we develop a desire to be found. That is what happened to the lost son! That was his turning point. "He came to his senses". There always comes a point where your sin does you in. Ultimately pain pushes the change button in your mind. Every sinful play day brings a painful payday. The price of your sin will always exceed the pleasure. That is where this son was. He was confronted with the ugly truth about who he was and what he had done. He had dishonored his father. He had shamed his family and wasted their wealth. He had sold himself into bondage.

Thankfully, because God wants us to be found, He wired us with a conscience - a spiritual GPS to direct us back to Him. It is always operational. When programmed by the Spirit of God, it keeps us locked into to path of holiness pursuing God. But when it is ignored or programmed by the sinful nature, it leads to the path of destruction.

Jesus points to that crucial moment that everyone of needs to have in order to get from "lostness" to "foundness". We must "come to our senses" and listen to the voice of truth. We must honestly admit we are lost and confess a desire to be found. That was the turning point for the lost son. It was for me and it will be for you.

By this one act of humbly acknowledging the truth and heading home to the father, was the beginning of an amazing transformation. He went from starvation to celebration! He went from the pigpen to the palace! He went from loneliness and lostness to lavish love!

The bottom-line - sin is senseless! Come to your senses and live in celebration, plenty, and lavish love! Have you "come to your senses"? Are you ready for a change? Will you let today be your turning point?