Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Lost or Found – Where Are We?”

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, I Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10

                                                          September 12, 2010                              

by James Greene

 

           Sometimes, we feel lost and over whelmed with the problems of just living in the everydayness of everyday.  The things that we have to do, grossly out number, the time we have to do them.  There are days that we truly know, in our hearts, that there is a God, and He does watch over us, and we are found in His Grace.  We have no other explanation for the miracles in our lives, and the Spirit filled knowledge that God does take care of us.

The title of today’s sermon is “Lost or Found - Where are We?”

 

When Betty and I were traveling from San Antonio to Jacksonville, North Carolina, we drove into the west side of Birmingham, Alabama on the interstate.  After awhile the interstate came to an end and we were suddenly, at an intersection, in the middle of a neighborhood and there were no signs for the Interstate, or any highways. 

We were lost. 

This was before GPS navigators, and all we had was a map of the South East US, and a general map of Birmingham.  We knew where we came into town, but that was it.  We could see the airport on the map, in the North East part of the city.  We stopped and asked directions, several times, but found that the directions didn’t help us get to the Interstate on the East side of the city.

So we started driving in a general NE direction.  You could see airplanes flying, and we just navigated on any street in that general direction.  It was interesting. 

We didn’t cross any major streets, or any Highway signs (US or Alabama).  After a while we were along side of the airport, and finally found a major road that led us to the East side of Birmingham! 

We had found our way through the maze. It was a relief to know where we were.    

 

I  Lost State    Israel/Jacob – Jerimiah

 

In Jeremiah, we see the Illustration of God’s people in their lost state, and how  God as the divine warrior, comes against his own people because of their evil and their foolishness.  He promises judgment because of their lost state, and abandoning God.  The land has become “formless and empty” and reflects the chaos of the lost state of the people.  The heavens reflect the darkness that has fallen upon the land and the earth mourns because of the chaos.  God has decided to bring judgment, and will not give up or turn back from his path.  He (as The Shepherd of Israel) comes in justice and judgment, to sift out the willful: those who denied and turned from God.  

God comes to find, and to save His people.  He is their refuge in their lost state, and their salvation.  He restores them in their fortunes

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II  What does Lost look like to God?                      Jeremiah/Psalm

 

           In Psalm 14, like Jeremiah we see the lost state, much like our present culture that says “there is no God”.  We don’t have to worry about being condemned because there is no divine standard that calls, or requires us to behave.  Much like the call of Fredrich Nietzsche of the late 1800’s who declared: “God is Dead”.  Our “modern culture” still reflects variations of that theme.  In the middle 1900’s we had Jean Paul Sartre who’s paper “Being and Nothingness” reflected that the only structure in the chaos around us, is the framework we put into it, we create God – if he exists at all. We create our own reality.  God only exists if we believed that there was a God.    

We remember, in the humor and satire of the buttons that were popular in the 1960’s. statement: “God is dead – Nietzsche,    Nietzsche is dead –God”,

or “Socrates eats hemlock”.

 Out of the chaos, God does come, bringing salvation out of Zion, with the coming of the Messiah, The Christ, that restores the lost.

 

III How we go from Lost to Found in Paul’s        Timothy

 

           In I Timothy we see God’s grace to Paul.  It is a reflection of the Mercy that God shows to those who are lost (like Paul) and the Grace that God that, pours out on and extends to, those who turn to Him, and follow The Christ.  It is Paul’s illustration of how God can take someone who was lost to God’s ways, and call them to salvation.  It was in the Word that Paul understood and found God’s design for our lives in that Word. 

           The words of benediction, written by Paul, (and sung in our hymn this morning) sum up what he found as a follower of the Christ: “Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible the only God be honor glory forever and ever. A-men”

           It is the result and the realization of one who was lost in the values of the world, and found in the call of Christ and the realization of the salvation of God offered freely to us in our lost state.     

 

IV Sheep and Coins we see the imagery of Lost or Found  -  Matthew/Luke

 

           In Luke we see Jesus eating with, and speaking with, tax collectors and sinners: the lost in the society.   He is teaching in two parables about the significance of lost and found.     

In The parable of the lost sheepthe shepherd cares about and loves, the lost, - both physically, and spiritually.  The Sheppard, in going after the one lost sheep, demonstrates the love of God for the people:- all of the people.  It is not just because the sheep is an asset, but because the shepherd cares about the sheep:-  All of the sheep.  The lost lamb is a living thing, that touches, the tender heart of God.  It is God’s intent and Will that not one should perish.  He seeks us out, in our lost state, and rescues us and brings us home to the fellowship of the flock.

The lost sheep is the care that God takes for the preservation of the lost. 

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He earnestly seeks them.  We see the joy of God and the angles with the return of the lost. 

How much are we like the lost sheep?  We wander off, get distracted, and we are lost:  lost to God, and lost to the flock.  We cannot find for ourselves The Way back to God, or the flock.  So we cry out in our lost state, in our weariness, and in our despair.  God sends His Son, The Good Shepherd, to seek and to save those who have become lost.  He is sent looking in hope and finding in joy.  He bears them on his shoulders (just as Christ bears us on his shoulders on the cross) rejoicing in the saving of the lost sheep.  God claims his own, even the lost, because while there is life there is hope. This is the joy over the sheep that is found.

 

In The parable of the lost cointhe woman’s coins, in that culture, were a part of her dowry.  It was the essence of her identity, as a married woman.  It was her identity of who she was and to whom she belonged to, both to her husband and to her family.  In losing the coin, she has lost a part of her inheritance, and her identity in the society.  Just as with the lost sheep, there is great rejoicing, in finding the coin, because she has found her identity in the congregation.  She is re-established in her identity, and her relationship in the society.      

 

Just as we have our identity as the people of God, and as a child of God, when we find our identity that has been lost, that is a part of our core being.  It is the heart of who we are.  There is great rejoicing, because we are living into what God has intended for us - as His people.

 

V Lost or Found – Where Are We?

           Christ is "The Word" that calls us to God, and it is Christ who seeks us out, and finds us, when we are lost, and shows us the heart of God, and how much God cares for us in our return to God. 

Where are we?  Are we lost, wandering in the wilderness of this life, or are we found, in the Christ who seeks us (like Paul), or in the identity that is truly ours (like the lost coin)?  Are we changing hearts, and becoming the followers of Christ, and God's intent and example for our lives?  It is Christ, The Good Shepherd, who calls us and finds us, carries us, and gently brings us, back to the fold. 

We must remember that it is He who calls us, in The Word, and that we are His. We are the sheep of His pasture….. who were lost,    who now are found….

And there is great rejoicing… because we are home in the fold…

 

                      In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

 

 

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