• on June 12, 2017

Hope: For the Lost

by Daniel Burton

Everyone has someone in their life that they are concerned about their faith.  God places people in our life that we either are concerned about their salvation or eagerly seeking to see the evidence of their faith lived out.  Many times, these are the people that God has given us for the long haul.  The story won’t be that a testimony was shared one time and then everything became fine.  This will be a longstanding, persistent relationship where the affect of God is felt overtime, even though it may not be seen immediately.

For some people, this may be a family member like a mom or dad, son or daughter, brother or sister.  For others, this will be a friend or person you have been called to mentor.  Still, for others, it will be someone you look up to.  Whoever the person may be, there will be ups and downs and times when it feels like there is no hope.  During those times, it is important to cling to hope ever more because the God we serve does not forget the lost.

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:3-7, NIV

Usually, these verses are used to empower and encourage people to go and seek the lost at all costs and to be persistent in our reaching out to those who need to hear the Gospel.  This is not a bad thing, but there is a depth to the story that is often overlooked.  At one point, we were the lost sheep and God spent a magnanimous amount of effort and energy to find us and bring us home.  Now, in the safety of the flock, God is still pursuing those who are lost.  We are not the shepherd in this parable, rather, we are the sheep.  Furthermore, God will not rest until His flock has returned.

Remember The Pursuit of God In Your Life

At the crux of our hope in the mission of Jesus Christ to reach those God has placed in our path is our story.In our lostness, God pursued us with a fervent passion, paving a way for us to come home through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.We were once the sheep that had strayed off into places we should not be and gotten stuck in things we should have avoided. In our lostness, God pursued us with a fervent passion, paving a way for us to come home through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Through Christ’s crucifixion, the hope of our future was restored.

Although people come to Christ through the influence of another person, we must not forget that it is God who has been stirring  in our hearts long beforehand.  Do not mistake what I am saying, I am in no way diminishing the importance of evangelism. Rather, for purposes of keeping our hope on a firm foundation, it is God who saves. Just as he was unrelenting with us, he is unrelenting with our friends, family, and those in our community as well.

Put Hope In God’s Unveiling Story

The story of God is unfolding throughout human history and the clarion call to return home has been sounded loudly through the cross.  For those who are lost, we often have this sense that we should be doing more than just praying.  The timing of God is not our own timing, but it is His timing and it is perfect.Our own strength and ability can bring a person to salvation.  This misses the point and over extends our role in the process.  We do not save.  We do not turn hearts.  Only the great King of Heaven can do to those things. Ours is merely to serve as a witness and evidence to the transformative nature of a redeemer life.

Relenting and putting our hope in God to save the lost is difficult.  Hope is fueled by faith.  We can hope that God has not abandoned the lost because we were once lost but are not found.  This did not happen in our time, but in God’s timing.  There were countless people laying foundations of faith and tilling the soil of our hearts.  In our prayers for the lost, this is not merely doing nothing, but giving the ones we love and care about into the hands of the only person capable of carrying them.  The timing of God is not our own timing, but it is His timing and it is perfect. We can rest assured that God is still seeking the lost, stirring the hearts, and working miracles.

Talk It Out

Read Like 15:1-32, NIV

  1. Who are we in the parable of the Lost Sheep?  Who are we in the parable of the Prodigal Son?  What role does the shepherd and the Father play in these parables?
  2. Describe a time when you felt that what you were going through was insurmountable.  How does God react to the insurmountable?
  3. How does Jesus’ intervention in our story give us hope for those around us?  In what way does understanding Jesus’ rescue of us help to show that hope to the world around us?
  4. Once we have come into the safety of home and back under the shepherd, what is our role?
  5. The message of the Gospel is one of hope.  For however lost those around us may be, what can we do on a regular basis to put our trust and hope in Jesus Christ? How do we represent that hope to those around us?

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