Yesterday I lost something that was something precious to me. It was my billfold. While the contents are important, the billfold itself meant more because it was Robert Jackson’s. I will keep searching high and low for it and hope it turns up. Just recently I thought about putting it up lest something like this happen, but thought, “No, Robert would want me to use it.” It reminds me that things we hold precious can be lost. Sometimes we find what is lost and sometimes we don’t. I hope my billfold turns up, but I must continue to search for it or it will remain lost. It reminds of three parables Jesus told in Luke 15.
Jesus talked about the lost sheep the lost coin, and the lost son. First, Jesus spoke about the lost sheep. There was a shepherd that had one hundred sheep until one came up missing. Someone else may have thought, “What difference does one make? He still has ninety-nine. That one won’t make or break him financially.” However, this man had a shepherd’s heart and the thought of the sheep being lost and alone touched the shepherd’s heart; so, he left the ninety and nine and searched for that one lost sheep. To him that sheep was precious; it had value. When he found it, he called his friends to come and rejoice with him over the lost sheep he found. Now it was possible that shepherd could have searched high and low and never found the lost sheep. Imagine how pained he would be to search and never find his lost sheep.
Then Jesus told of a woman who had ten coins and lost one. She swept her house and looked high and low until she found her lost coin. Now she still had nine coins, but that one coin had value. That woman called for her friends to come and rejoice with her for finding her coin. Now there was the chance the woman may have never found the coin and imagine her disappointment.
Then Jesus ups the ante; He talks about a lost son. To the father whose son was lost the sheep and coin may seem minor. He watched for his lost son to come to his senses and come home from the far country. The difference between the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son is that the son had a freewill to choose whether to come home or not. Imagine how the father felt day in and day out. His words are very telling in vs.24 when the son came home: “For this my son was DEAD and IS ALIVE AGAIN; he WAS LOST and IS FOUND…” However, some lost sons and daughters do not come home. No matter how much we want them to, they have a freewill and so often we blame ourselves when in reality they have decided on their own to live in a lost condition. I feel for parents who look out and even though they know where their children are physically, they know they are lost spiritually. What does one do when is looking for their lost child to come home? I don’t know all the answers; my boys are still young and I don’t know what they may do as they get older, but let us look what the father did.
(i)He didn’t condone the sinful ways of his son! It might have been easy to condone the sin just so his son would not heave home and go into the far country. I find it interesting the son knew if he was going to live in sin he wasn’t going to do it in his father’s house. In fact, he left the country and went into the far country. As difficult as it is we cannot condone the sin of our children. That will only make it easier for them to continue in the sin. Love doesn’t ignore sin, love deals with it. I don’t think that means we are always on them and nag them to death, but we let them know that we love them and are concerned about their soul when given the THE EASTSIDE ENCOURAGER A publication of the Eastside church of Christ Shelbyville, TN 1803 Madison St. Shelbyville, TN 37160 www.churchateastside.com January 7, 2018 opportunity.
(ii )He was always ready for the son to come home! He was watching and waiting for the day his son would come home. As long as he was in the far country he was lost. Not only did the father not know where he was, but he was spiritually lost. The father didn’t know if the son was dead or alive, but he did know that spiritually he was dead. However, the father never gave up. He kept watching and looking (vs.20) so when his son was a great way off the father saw him and ran to him. Had the son never came home the father would have still kept looking until he died.
(iii) He did not let his children lead him astray! In our grief over a lost child, we must be careful not to let such sorrow cause us to lose our faith. We may feel helpless, hopeless, and broken over the lostness of our child. We may say, “What’s the use? I can’t reach them!” and in our distress, we lose our faith. We need to remember that we cannot trade our soul for theirs and that each one is accountable to God for their own soul. While our heartbreaks over a lost child, why would we want to break our Heavenly Father’s heart by leaving the faith? We can’t quit serving God just because they did and we are heartbroken.
(iv) He kept looking! I’ m going to keep looking for my billfold. I fear I may have tossed it out with some trash. I may go to the dump and look. Why you ask? Because it’s precious to me. If something is precious to you, you keep looking. When one precious child is lost, keep on looking for ways to encourage them to come home to the Lord. When one returns call your friends together and rejoice!
‘Tis the season for giving. My family and I have always celebrated this time of year as a family holiday, not a religious holy day. I enjoy the decorations, the weather, and the music of this season. But I especially enjoy the gifts. Somewhere along the way, probably about the time my children were born, I started to learn why it is more blessed to give than to receive. There is something special about watching someone open a gift that you carefully picked out for them. And there’s an even greater joy of hearing those three cherished words from the recipient: “Is that all?” It’s easy during this season to become so focused on what we are giving to others that we neglect giving to the Lord. When we do that, we rob ourselves of one of the greatest joys of life, regardless of the time of year. This giving is for every season. Both Mark and Luke record an event in the life of Jesus that would have been easy to overlook. It is only four verses in each gospel account, but Mark says that Jesus called His disciples to Him to point out what He saw. It involved “a poor widow” (Mark 12:42) and her gift that she put into the treasury. Through her mighty example, she still speaks about the joy of giving to the Lord. Giving is not just about the amount of money. Money is involved of course because money is a gift from God. He blesses us with jobs so that we can earn wages to support our families and provide the necessities of life. These funds also enable us to “have something to share with him who has need” (Eph. 4:28). When we return a portion of our money to the Lord, we are recognizing that “every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). But what if you don’t have a lot of money to give? Does that exclude you from this great joy? God forbid! Jesus saw “many rich people” putting in “large sums” of money into the treasury. He did not condemn them for doing such. But He also saw a poor widow put in “two small copper coins, which amount to a cent” (Mark 12:42). This coin, the Greek leptos, was the smallest denomination of money used by the Romans. Yet, Jesus said “she put in more than all the contributors” (12:43). It is not necessarily the monetary value of your gift that matters to God but the measure of your faith in Him. Giving is something everyone can do. In Jesus’ day, to be a widow was to be neglected. Just the verse before, the Lord warned about the scribes “who devour widows’ houses” (Mark 12:40). Most of them had no one to protect them or to represent them in court. And if you think being a widow was bad, what about a poor widow? What could she possibly have to offer? Still, Jesus said that she gave “out of her poverty” (Mark 12:44). From the youngest to the oldest, from the newborn babe in Christ to the seasoned saint, everyone has something they can contribute. You can give a handshake or hug. You can give an encouraging word. You can give a smile. You can give a warm welcome. You can give your time. You can give a lot. And when we THE EASTSIDE ENCOURAGER A publication of the Eastside church of Christ Shelbyville, TN 1803 Madison St. Shelbyville, TN 37160 www.churchateastside.com Dec, 31, 2017 do such things for one another, Jesus said, “to the extent you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). Giving to your brethren is a way you give to the Lord. Giving involves the greatest gift of all: yourself. Jesus saw a difference in the rich people who were putting in large sums of money and the poor widow who put in two small copper coins. She “put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). The selfish keep what they have from themselves. The selfless give it up for a higher purpose. When we needed God the most, do you know what He gave? Himself. He so loved the world that He “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). The Father did not withhold Him who was beloved and precious to Him. When we give to the Lord, we should not choose out of a pile of things we were going to get rid of anyway. We should not select from a surplus that we didn’t need in the first place. We should give the most valuable thing we possess: our whole heart and soul. Such is the response of those who first give “themselves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5). Give to God what He wants most. It’s the only time you won’t have to worry with a gift receipt. ARE YOU FAITHFUL? As another year is approaching, it is a good time to stop and consider your spiritual condition. Why not be determined now to be a better servant of God in the future than you’ve been in the past? If God grants us a New Year may we strive to be better disciples here at Eastside in 2018 than we were in 2017. (MDR)