Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pentecost 17 - Proper 19

Proper 19
September 11, 2016
Luke 15:1–10

Jesus - the Good Shepherd of His Sheep

The factors of forgiveness are simple. There is simply our need. We stand in need of forgiveness. There is, of course, means, which lead toward forgiveness. There must also be a response.

The response to forgiveness; is repentance.  Mark the Scripture well. “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent…I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”

1. Jesus seeks the lost.
A.            The lost are sought in the parable. A poor woman loses a coin. It’s something precious to her. The loss of a single coin is serious. It’s all she has. Without it, she has nothing!

A sheep goes missing. In that condition, it becomes the prey of wild animals. Yet 99 are safe. Isn’t that one solitary sheep expendable? Why the anxiety? After all, isn’t this fuss and bother rather superfluous? Is it all necessary? Why not simply cut your losses?

That is the point of the parable! All are necessary! All are important! Let no one think you are beyond the reach of Jesus’ love. Let no one think you are unnecessary, helpless, or hopeless. How good it is that Jesus has found you!

The Pharisees, they too were lost. But they couldn’t accept it. Their sin was pride. Evidenced in their smugness and disdain for sinners and for Jesus. “Two men went up to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed this prayer, “O God, I thank You that I’m not like everyone else. I’m not greedy, dishonest, or living in sexual sin, like this tax collector. I always fast twice a week. I always give You a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector stood some distance away, and wouldn’t even look into heaven. He pounded his chest and said, God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this tax collector went home justified but the Pharisee was not.”[1] ~ Luke 18:10-13 These Pharisees and all the self-righteous find themselves in the same lost condition because of boastful, selfish, pride and arrogance.

B.            Jesus continues to seek the ones missing from the Father’s table. He could have left us to wallow in our filth. He could have left this world of sinners to their doom. He could have left us to flounder after we had stumbled, fumbled, flopped and fell. He could have said, “Depart from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” - Matthew 25:41

Instead, He determined to redeem and save us. He demonstrated the Father’s mercy and love when He came into this world to fulfill God’s law for us and to pay the world’s debt of sin. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –Matthew 20:28; “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” -Galatians 4:4-5

2. What is repentance? It has been boiled down to four simple steps.
A. I take responsibility for my actions.
B. I feel remorse. I experience Godly sorrow for what I have done. I am truly heart sorry.
C. I attempt to repair what I have broken to the best of my ability. The serenity prayer helps in this respect, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can the ability to know the difference.”
D. I repeat not! I do not have license to go back and visit sin.

Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger. She’s a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is still missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns us from following rules to establishing a bond with the Father Himself.

E. The 5th step necessary: I receive redemption or reconciliation through Jesus Christ my Savior.

Inside of me -
          Where exactly, I do not know -
Live three voices.

The first voice roars:
          Produce. Do. Achieve.
          You need to attend this meeting.
          Policies and procedures need to be revised.
          There are deadlines to meet and
               reports that need to be completed.
          Budget variances should be corrected.
          Goals for the new fiscal year are due.
          Job descriptions should be re-written.
          Performance evaluations need to take place.
          All is of ultimate importance so
               Don’t forget anything.
          Your worth as a person depends on this.
          Don't make any mistakes.
          Produce more. Do more. Achieve more.

The middle voice sneers and mocks:
          You fraud.
          You know you will be found out -
                    Then what?
          You cannot do this work.
          You are a sham, an impostor.
          Shame on you;
                    You always make mistakes.
          What do you think you are?

The lower voice just whispers:
          You are forgiven.
          There is mercy.
          All shall be well.[2]

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the loss of the twin towers in New York City. We face the twin dangers of going astray by toying with sin or by wicked pride. We need to live in daily repentance over both. Learn from Jesus. The friend of sinners. Join the angels praising God. Both, for your own salvation. And, for the progress of the Gospel in the world.

Words – 1,000
Passive Sentences –4%
Reading Ease –79.1
Reading Level – 4.2

[1] A New Accurate Translation of the Greek New Testament into simple Everyday American English © Julian Anderson Naples, FL
[2] Three Voices  by Logan C Jones

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