It's no fun being lost. Have you ever had the experience of being turned around somewhere to the point that you didn't know where you were or how to get out of your predicament? I remember being lost at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto as a young boy. We had gone there as a family for a day of fun which included going through the Better Living building with its latest technologies on display and the Food building at a time when most of the vendors offered free samples of their specialties, which I took full advantage of. During the afternoon the crowds of people increased to the point that it was shoulder to shoulder everywhere you walked. At some point, when I was standing in line on my own for a giveaway of some sort, I got separated from my parents and brothers. I thought they were close by until I started searching for them and couldn't see them anywhere. As the minutes passed by my heart started pounding and my mind started spinning in its quest to figure out what to do next.
It was probably an hour later, having left the building that I had started out in and then returning to it, that I saw the most welcomed sight possible - my dad and mom standing at the entry way with my brothers scanning the crowd looking for their son. When our eyes met I felt a sense of relief and joy that is hard to describe. I knew at that moment that I had been found. And ask me if I remembered that experience many times after that and made sure that I would always stay found from then on.
Jesus cares a lot about lost people. Not just those like me who have gotten their directions mixed up and need help to find their way out and back on the right path but those who are spiritually lost. Lost people usually look for direction for their lives in ways that can't really help them and the emptiness they feel inside continues. Only when they are found by Jesus' love and grace do they know the indescribable joy that brings. And like me, after I was found at the exhibition grounds, they never want to be lost again.
Jesus said that his mission in coming to earth as a human being two thousand years ago was to seek and save lost people, those who were far from God relationally. In Luke 15 Jesus illustrates his love for the lost by telling stories about a shepherd finding his lost sheep, a woman finding her lost coin and a father finding his lost son. All of these lost things represent people who are separated from God because of their sin. They become found by acknowledging their sin and accepting God's love through faith in Jesus. Every single time that happens heaven explodes in joy. "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10) Lost people really do matter to God. His will is that every person repents of their sin and turns their life to him. That's a lot of people and that's where we come into the picture.
Continuing our focus on breakthrough prayer, I am speaking this Sunday about reaching lost people for Christ including how prayer plays an integral part in the lost being found.
To prepare for Sunday I'd like you to think through these questions:
Do the people you know that are without Christ know they are lost? Why or why not?
How open do you think they are to hearing the gospel and talking about it? Why is that?
What will have to change for them to start following Jesus? How can that happen?
What would it take for you to introduce them to the gospel and lead them to faith?
What part do you see the Holy Spirit playing in using our church family to reach the lost
in our community, particularly those who already have a connection with us?
I hope to have some time at the end of my message for questions and comments. I'm looking forward to seeing you Sunday for another amazing time of worship.