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If it is OK, I’m going to do a devotion before I preach this sermon.  What I have to say is a carry-over from last week. Last Sunday we looked at the first of three parables that Jesus told in Luke 15.  It was the Parable of the Lost sheep.  A shepherd with 100 sheep realized that 1 was missing.  He left the 99 to find “the one.” When the shepherd found “the one” he picked it up and put it on his shoulders and carried it back to the flock.  The shepherd didn’t want that sheep wandering off again.  The shepherd didn’t assume the little sheep would follow him all the way back to the flock where it could be cared for.  If he didn’t pick it up and carry it to ensure it came back to the fold, it could soon be lost again.  It could still be vulnerable to attack.  It could still be left out on its own without the proper nourishment and protection. Disconnected from the flock, a sheep could be easily lost forever.

Church, just because a lost person gets found, just because someone gets saved, doesn’t mean they will know how to get connected to the Shepherd and stay with the flock.  The shepherd in this story, models an additional role for us as believers.  In addition to going after the one who is lost, we who are part of the 99 must carry those newly found souls on our shoulders.  We must bear their burdens.  We must walk them into the middle of the flock and teach them to hear the voice of the shepherd. We must hold on to them. We have to nurture them. We have to check on them. If we don’t there is danger of them getting disconnected quickly.  We have got to carry people through the discipleship process until they are mature enough to stay close to the Shepherd on their own.

And just to give credit where it is due, that nugget was brought to you by Pastor Thom.

The second story in Luke 15 deals with a lost coin. 

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

We learn right out of the chute here that the coin that the woman is looking for is a silver coin. The word for silver coin is the Greek word, “drachma.” The value of a drachma was about the same as a day’s wages. It was no small amount.  I sweat it when I lose a $20.00 bill or a gift card that I was looking forward to using. A day’s wages would be a lot to lose.  I would be looking with diligence.

So, we know the coin was valuable, but theologians assert that it had another importance.  Back in that day, the mark of a married woman was a head-dress made of ten silver coins linked together by a silver chain.  My wedding ring is the sign that I am “off the market,” but back in that day, it was this head-dress made of ten silver coins that told everyone a woman was taken. Any ladies here ever lost a wedding ring? It is heart-stopping, isn’t it? It’s interesting that Jesus is specific in this story about the number of coins being ten.  It is likely part of her wedding head-dress and has more than monetary value, although the money was a real concern.  It took years for a woman’s family to scrape together those ten coins.  Once it was acquired, it was so inalienably hers that it could not even be taken from her for a debt collection. It was part of her dowry, and it was forever hers, but something that is forever yours that is also lost makes it hard to utilize or profit from if needed.  So, she searched for it as any woman would search if she lost her wedding ring.

Notice the texts says that she lights a lamp.  She can’t see without additional light. Jewish homes didn’t have windows, so she had to do some illuminating to facilitate the lost becoming found.  Not only does she light a lamp, but she goes to work.  She gets a broom and starts sweeping in hopes of sweeping it into view. The floors in those Jewish homes were made of dirt and straw, so the straw had to be swept up and sifted through to see where the coin might be.  The woman in the story also searches carefully.  This is a multi-step and thorough process. 

The woman in the story represents God.  He places inestimable value on us. It mattered to Him that we were missing, that we were lost. He had to illuminate our darkness. He had to send a Light.  He sent Jesus, the Light of the World, to seek and save those who were lost.  The Bible says that the people who had been walking in darkness saw a great light with the coming of Jesus, Isaiah 9:2.

Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 He went all out, giving His very life to bring us in.  He worked carefully to do the Father’s will.  He was thorough, following the instructions of the Father to the “T” because that which was lost needed to be found.  Look at John 6:38-39: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me…”

God doesn’t want lost things to stay lost. God wants lost things to become found.  Remember, Jesus told these stories about lost things because the religious leaders were criticizing Jesus for hanging out with tax collectors and sinners.  Sinners were the priority of His time, and He took great care to seek them out.  This is God’s way of operating. 

We see it in the very beginning.  Adam and Eve messed up. They were the first sinners.  They violated God’s command.  They disobeyed. They tried to cover up what they had done, but they realized it was of no use.  They couldn’t cover their sin.  When they couldn’t cover it, they tried to hide from God.  God came looking for them.  He couldn’t have those that He had created to be in relationship with Him living lost. You aren’t truly living when you are living lost.  You truly live when you live found! 

God is still looking for sinners.  He is still searching for people in hiding.  He is searching for people who are living in shame.  He is searching for those who are broken.  He is looking to bring sinners to repentance.  God can’t help Himself.  He can’t not look for those who have been scarred by sin.  He doesn’t want us to live scared and scarred by sin, but He wants us to be safe inside His love.

Honestly, the stories Jesus tells in Luke 15 should have put the Scribes and Pharisees on their knees.  Talk about a “come to Jesus meeting.” They had no concern for sinners.  They had no concern for the lost.  They put forth no effort to help people understand the love of God.  As Jesus was telling these stories, he was exposing their dark, misguided, self-centered hearts. They should have laid at His feet after hearing His words or at least tucked their tails between their legs and gone home.  For they should have been doing what He had been doing.  They should have been searching for those who needed to be in a relationship with God.

Just like the Parable of the Lost Sheep, in the Parable of the Lost Coin, there was great rejoicing when the lost item was found. Look at Luke 15:8-9,  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Scribes and Pharisees weren’t what anyone could accuse of being joyful. When you were making a party list, your first thought wasn’t, “How many Pharisees can we invite?” The idea that God would rejoice over a sinner coming home was completely foreign to them. To think that all of Heaven parties when a sinner comes home wasn’t even in the realm of possibility for the Scribes and Pharisees.  Not one of them had ever dreamed of a God like that. They didn’t know a God like that. This was new information. This would be mind-blowing.  The idea that God searched for men and rejoiced when He found them was incomprehensible. Those religious leaders may have agreed that if a man came on his hands and knees, begging to God for mercy that God might take their request into consideration, but they wouldn’t have conceived of a God who goes out looking for people to love!   Aren’t you thankful for the way God loves us?  You don’t have to jump through one hoop to be able to experience the love of God! 

Let me make this point about the coin that was lost in this story.  Unlike the sheep in the first story in Luke 15 that wandered off, this item, this coin, was lost at home.  The sheep that wandered off didn’t mean to do so.  Sheep don’t live very intentionally. They are easily distracted. That sheep just strayed, just got lost from the pack, and the shepherd went looking for it. 

But the coin didn’t wander.  The coin couldn’t wander.  It’s understandable when you lose something on a trip, when you leave something behind somewhere and you’ve made so many pitstops along the way that you have no clue where you left something, but you don’t really expect to lose stuff in your house, right?  But we know it happens.  It happens to me…a lot. 

I lost my cell phone in the house about two months ago, and I searched and searched and finally found it in a closet where I store sheets and blankets!  How many of you have ever lost your cell phone and found it in the refrigerator?  It’s hard to find that missing cell phone when it is on silent or when it is in the fridge!  It happens, but my point is that we don’t expect to lose stuff at home.  And don’t you love the “mom” question that gets asked when you can’t find something… “Where was the last place you had it?” Y’all, if we knew where the last place was that we had the missing item, it wouldn’t be lost!  If you aren’t frustrated that you can’t find something at home, you will be after hearing that question!

If we lose something at home, it is usually the result of a careless mistake.  It’s an accident.  It isn’t intentional. Sometimes you can lose multiple things in a day. When looking for something else, you might set your glasses down, SO THAT YOU CAN “SEE BETTER,” and when you find what you are looking for, you go on about your business, only to realize two hours later that you can’t find your glasses! It can be a never-ending cycle.  The woman in this story didn’t realize that something was lost when it became lost. At the moment of “lostness” she was unaware of it happening. If she had seen the coin fall off her head-dress, she would have picked it up quickly and would have secured it back onto the head-dress.  She didn’t know when it fell off.  She wasn’t aware that it was missing until…she was.

I say she didn’t know it was missing because when she discovered that it was indeed missing, she got busy to find it.  Do you think this was a next-level consideration for the Scribes and Pharisees? Do you think Jesus wanted to hit them a little closer to home? Do you think He wanted them to consider their own status? Even though they considered themselves “at home” with God due to their religious status, do you think He wanted them to consider that they were indeed those who were lost?  Even though they were religious, they weren’t righteous.  Even though the Scribes and Pharisees were religious, they weren’t right with God.  They were lost at home.

Oh Church, do we have something lost at home?  Do we have someone lost at home? Remember, the point of the three Luke 15 stories is to highlight God’s love and concern for lost people.  This coin story isn’t about coins at all. It’s about people. And sometimes God’s people go missing because of carelessness, and they don’t realize for a while that they are missing until they or someone else wakes up to the fact that someone who used to be safe in the Father’s house, is now not where they are supposed to be.

We cannot assume that because a child raises their hand for salvation or expresses a desire to be baptized that they simply get into a Christian stream and will be carried along by being exposed to the things of faith.  We want to make sure that as we raise our children, we are diligent to make sure they don’t go missing at home. We need to make sure they are attached to more than Church attendance. We need to make sure they are growing a relationship with Jesus which will outlast their time in our homes. It’s easy to get distracted with running our homes, with making a living, with overseeing a child’s education, with having a social life. It’s easy to get careless and forget our primary responsibility is to raise our children to know Jesus. It’s easy for people to go missing when we are overloaded with activities, when we are living too hurried of a pace, when there is just too much to keep track of. Ask yourself, “Has someone gone missing in my home?” If the answer is, “Yes,” make every effort to get the light on. Get some Jesus talk going.  Get some aggressive praying happening.  Anoint bedroom doors and front doors and back doors and windows.  Plead the blood over the flock in your house.  Ask your family members how their hearts are. Make every effort to make a diligent search to find the person who has gone missing. We know that even the most diligent Christian parenting doesn’t mean that children will simply become faith-filled Christians, but let’s do our part to get that light on and to live a diligent, faithful life in front of them.

Last week, I challenged you to be thinking about “the one” you could go after.  Who is it that needs the light turned on for them?  II Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

People are still searching for hope and peace and satisfaction, but because of their blindness they don’t always look in the right direction.  Sometimes they look to the things of this world to give them hope, and sometimes they look in even darker directions.  Paganism and Witchcraft and Satanism are on the rise.  There is an event coming to Putnam County at Valley Park on Saturday, September 16th that is dedicated to teaching all three. It’s an all-day event.  Oh, it starts with a “Suicide Prevention” conference and moves from there to an “Intro to Atheistic Satanism” class, to Paganism 101 and to an Intro to Divination.  Evil is disguised here as helpful with the Suicide Prevention class at the start of the day. Satan wants to lure people in with the idea of being helpful.  I mean, who isn’t supported of suicide prevention? But talking about preventing the death of an earthly life and then leading into topics that will create eternal death is the definition of hypocrisy, lunacy and evil.

We need to get the light on.  That is why we will be doing a “Prayer in the Park” night on Friday, September 15th at 7 pm. We will pray that the powers of darkness will be exposed and rendered powerless and that the blinders will come off people’s eyes, that they will become savvy to the Devil’s schemes as we have become, II Corinthians 2:11.  Someone who is seeking spiritual help told me recently that they were afraid of Divine intervention. That reply sent a shiver down my spine. I explained to them that Satan obviously had the upper hand in their life because there is no fear in God, and that if they were afraid of Divine intervention, it was because Satan had taken hold of some facet of their life.  I had to turn the light on. Believers, we need to get the light on.

Like that coin was lost in that dirt floor and lost its usefulness, lost its purpose, lost its significance and was now being trampled underfoot, people are much the same.  They are living in the dirt.  They are living below their purpose and potential. 

You realize that coins are stamped with images on them, right?  Those drachma would have been stamped with the image of the ruler of the day.  Sitting in the dirt, under the hay, the image of that ruler would have been obscured, hidden from view.  The same is true with lost people.  We have been created in the image of God.  Every person, whether sinner or redeemed has been made in His image.  When we live in the dirt of sin, the image of God is covered up.  Lost people need to be found so that the image of God can be seen, so that it can be restored, and so that they can utilize their purpose and potential.

I will also say that lost people are everywhere.  Yes, this is a story about a coin that is lost at home, but how many of you have found a coin in the Walmart parking lot or an airport or a community park?  You can find lost coins anywhere.  The point is, lost people are everywhere.  There are lost people sitting in churches every Sunday.  Glory to God.  That is a great place for a lost person to be!

Teays Valley Church of God, people are living in the dirt and muck and mire of sin.  They are being trampled underfoot by Satan and demonic spirits.  They are living below their potential.  They can’t see the God who is waiting to transform their life.  Let’s flood this valley with the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let’s make a careful search.  Let’s look everywhere.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s certainly make sure nothing is lost at home.

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