9-15-2020 Little Lost Lamb
1 When the publicans and sinners drew near to hear Him.
2 And the scribes and Pharisees murmured saying “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus spoke this parable to them saying
4 “Which of you having a hundred sheep and losing one, doesn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go looking for the one which is lost, until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, lays it on his shoulders and rejoices?
6 And when he gets back home, he calls his friends and neighbors and says rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I tell you, likewise, there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more so than over the ninety-nine persons who don’t need repentance.
Understand, the Old Testament was written to Israel so they could/would keep God’s standards. The New Testament is written to the Christian church, for the same reason with a clearer understanding.
So, today, I suggest that too many in the church have become like the little lost lamb. Maybe even worse! Perhaps more like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time!
How many would be offended if I said “God hates religion”? It is true. Yet I suspect many would be offended.
Jesus berated the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They sat in Moses’ seat because they directed the church in the ways it should go. Jesus says “Do what they tell you, but don’t do what they do for they don’t do that which they say, themselves.”
I worked with a man years ago who was very good at telling others to do, but he could not show us how, for He, himself couldn’t do it. The scribes and Pharisees were a bit different. They knew what and even how, they just plain didn’t want to do it. They were more interested in how they looked before people. They preferred the most honored seats and recognition at gatherings and they didn’t truly care about the people (Matt. 23:1-39), only how those people would see and receive them.
Have you seen those in the church who just have to be acknowledged or recognized for what they do? Hey! Look at what I am doing (or did). Ain’t I great! Give me a big pat on the back, puleeze! Do you notice some people just seem to always hang around the pastor or other church leaders – not really doing much. Just hanging round (it’s who you know and not what you know, right)? Do you know people who always seem to be busy “at” the church, but not necessarily “in”? They ‘do things’ but there is real commitment. Do you now people who “like” to show off their bible knowledge? Do they know what the words mean? Or just what they say?
Religion is practicing a particular set of rules, rites or rituals but does not require a personal commitment. Just do what we say and you’ll be OK. Does ‘works’ ring a bell?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knockin’ being active in the church. I realize the stages of our own spiritual growth. We ARE to encourage our brothers and sisters in the church and as we all seek to draw closer to the Lord, we will find ourselves doing things for and working with others – for God’s glory! I am challenging the reason some people have. Do we do things to get that ‘pat on the back or do we ‘do’ to please our heavenly Father? Jesus, Himself, recognized that, at times, people do the right things but for the wrong reasons. Their heart is far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Paul encountered the woman with a divining spirit who taunted him “These men are the servants of God who show the way of salvation!” Her intent was to create doubt in the people’s minds so even though she spoke the truth, she did it in a deriding way, as if to say “Yeah, right.” (Acts 16:17)
Religion is exercising rituals, etc. with no necessary commitment other than ‘to do’. However faith is doing things because of our commitment to the Lord. It come from our heart as we make decisions to follow Him.
We have one master and teacher and that’s Jesus. So we should do, as the early disciples did, share what Jesus gave them to edify others. He has also passed that on to us.
We should always remember that whatever we do (careers, chores, mixing with others) we should do as unto the Lord. That is, as if we were doing it ‘for’ God. Whatever we do, we do to glorify His name. To please Him. In pleasing Father, we automatically please those around us (bosses, coworkers, family, friends, etc.). We learn how and then live our lives as Father expects us to live – in His love.
There was a movement back in the 1990’s called WWJD (what would Jesus do). Especially today, we may do well to think about that before we do anything or even open our mouths. Of course, to follow the example, we have to learn what Jesus would have done.
When I worked at the Food and Drug Admin. (FDA), I started off in the Generic Drugs document room. I was part of the staff processing drug applications for ‘professional’ (scientific) review. We received original applications and then subsequent amendments until the drug was approved. Even once approved, companies were required to submit reports of annual distribution of the drug as well as all changes to the drug itself, its manufacturing procedures, manufacturing facilities, etc. for FDA approval.
The companies were required to have a ‘cover letter’ with any submission describing the purpose of the document. This is where things became interesting for us clerks. We had codes and definitions indicating how to code a document for proper routing to reviewers . However, at times, the companies weren’t so clear on a document’s purpose. There were a few companies that seemed to insist that all those cover letters had to say was “Please add this to our application. Thank you.” Needless to say, some documents were a snap to prepare and forward while others required considerable more effort to determine proper coding and routing.
I got to the point where I didn’t mind processing the easy documents, they were basically ‘in and out’, but the more involved documents? Well, . . . get the picture?
One day, sitting at my desk, I was grumbling, to myself, about the tough ones when I heard a voice within saying “Give Me the job!” Huh? I knew Who said it so I replied “OK, Lord, it’s Yours.” I gave Him my job and that was the day I quit working for the FDA and started working for God. Don’t misunderstand me, I was still at the FDA for about another twenty years, but it was with my decision, my attitude changed. I had a job to do and I would do it to the best of my ability, period. My good reputation grew and our job description was changed which gave us greater advancement possibilities. Within a few years, I was offered a position (still at FDA) teaching and monitoring ‘contractors’ to do the job I had been doing and again, more opportunities for advancement arose. Coincidence you say? I don’t think so.
Giving Father my job, I set myself aside and performed my duties as He would expect me to. No more grumbling but thanking Him for the opportunity or challenge.
The government pay scale had 18 GS pay levels, 1-18. The last five grades required college for either management or scientific skills. At OGD, I started as a GS4 & retired a GS 12. I say this to point out that when we do things for God, good things happen! After all, go-o-d is just an extension of God, right? I might add, in English, the opposite also works well – ‘evil comes from the devil’!
In the past, I was inclined to ‘fudge’ the truth pertaining to situations with which I didn’t want anyone else to realize my involvement. Just a ‘little white’ lie. Okay, there are no “little white” lies. An untruth is a lie. One day as I pondered why things didn’t always go the way I thought they should, the Holy Spirit convicted me of what I had been doing. God is truth. Jesus is God, therefore Jesus is truth. As a Christian, I’m supposed to reflect the values Jesus taught, right? Again, I had to change ‘my’ attitude. No hidden secrets. Speak truly.
In the parable, the sheep are the church (OT). The shepherd didn’t go out to see if he could find just any lamb out in the wilderness to add to his flock. This lamb had strayed from his flock. The ‘poor little’ lamb had strayed from the things it had been taught and, like the prodigal son, set out on his own – vulnerable to any predator out there. Unfortunately, the farther we stray, not only do we become more and more vulnerable, but we also begin to lose sight of our foundation and the things that protect us. Before, I thought the little sheep as a ‘lost’ soul who needed God. Partially right. But it was a soul which had been a part of the flock, then wandered from its foundation.
There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents and comes into the kingdom of God. How much greater then is that joy when a member of the ‘flock’ strays, repents and comes back?
As with the prodigal son, the little lamb reconnects with Father’s love and once again abides in His safe haven.
The father of the prodigal son welcomed his son back home, with open arms, restoring him back into the family. We don’t know why the little lamb strayed off but we do know that he, too was restored joyfully back into the flock.
Even though the little lost lamb can be applied to those who never knew God, it does more to show God’s love for those who may have strayed from Him and have been ‘found’ (brought back).
Jesus tells us that, in the church, there are souls devoted to Father. There are souls who are there simply because it’s a good place to be. As a youth, my mom told me I needed church to be a well-rounded person. And, yes, the enemy even sows tares into the church solely to cause disruption to hinder God’s kingdom.
As I said, the Old Testament was to guide Israel (the church, Israel) while the New Testament is for those who have accepted Jesus into their heart.
When we accept Christ, we don’t become instant Christians, but it is the first step in our growing journey with the Lord. Remember that should we stumble (sin), we confess, repent from our heart and renounce what we said or did, Father is faithful and true to forgive us (little lambs) our trespass then forget it. He puts it behind His back and restores us back into His fellowship (Isa. 38:17). I speak from experience.
When we stray from God, we are the little lost lamb, but lost only until we decide to come back into HIs fold.