God is compassionate and forgiving and rejoices with His angels when people repent of their sins and return to Him.
If God and His heavenly hosts rejoice when people repent and return to Him, should not we repent of our sins, return to Him, and encourage others to do the same?
Heavenly Father, as we study today’s Scripture, may the Holy Spirit illuminate its meaning and encourage us to repent of our sins and return to You, the Author and Finisher of our faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
1. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Luke 15:1-7 (NASB)
1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He told them this parable, saying, 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be morejoy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
- It may seem foolish for the shepherd to leave 99 sheep to go search for just one. But the shepherd knew that the 99 would be safe in the sheepfold, whereas the lost sheep was in danger.
- Because each sheep was of high value, the shepherd knew that it was worthwhile to search diligently for the lost one.
- God’s love for each individual is so great that He seeks each one out and rejoices when he or she is “found.”
- Jesus associated with sinners because He wanted to bring the lost sheep – people considered beyond hope – the gospel of God’s kingdom.
- Before you were a believer, God sought you; and His love is still seeking those who are yet lost.
- We may be able to understand a God who would forgive sinners who come to Him for mercy.
- But a God who tenderly searches for sinners and then joyfully forgives them must possess an extraordinary love!
- This is the kind of love that prompted Jesus to come to earth to search for lost people and save them.
- This is the kind of extraordinary love that God has for you.
- If you feel far from God, don’t despair.
- He is searching for you.
2. The Parable of the Lost Coin
Luke 15:8-10 (NASB)
8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 “When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
- Palestinian women received ten silver coins as a wedding gift.
- Besides their monetary value, these coins held sentimental value like that of a wedding ring, and to lose one would be extremely distressing.
- Just as a woman would rejoice at finding her lost coin or ring, so the angels would rejoice over a repentant sinner.
- Each individual is precious to God.
- He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever one of His children is found and brought into the kingdom.
- Perhaps we would have more joy in our churches if we shared Jesus’ love and concern for the lost.
3. The Parable of the Lost Son
Luke 15:11-32 (NASB)
11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”‘ 20 “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and waslost and has been found.’ “
- According to Moses’ law, pigs were unclean animals.
- This meant that pigs could not be eaten or used for sacrifices.
- To protect themselves from defilement, Jews would not even touch pigs.
- For a Jew to stoop to feeding pigs was a great humiliation.
- For this young man to eat food that the pigs had touched was to be degraded beyond belief.
- The younger son had truly sunk to the depths.
- Like many who are rebellious and immature, he wanted to be free to live as he pleased.
- He had to hit bottom before he came to his senses.
- It often takes great sorrow and tragedy to cause people to look to the only One Who can help them.
- Are you trying to live life your own way, selfishly pushing aside any responsibility or commitment that gets in your way?
- Stop and look before you hit bottom.
- You will save yourself and your family much grief.
- In the two preceding stories, the seeker actively looked for the coin and the sheep, which could not return by themselves.
- In this story, the father watched and waited.
- He was dealing with a human being with a will of his own, but he was ready to greet his son if he returned.
- In the same way, God’s love is constant and patient and welcoming.
- He will search for us and give us opportunities to respond, but He will not force us to come to Him.
- Like the father in this story, God waits patiently for us to come to our senses.
- The sheep was lost because it may have foolishly wandered away.
- The coin was lost through no fault of its own.
- The son left out of selfishness.
- God’s great love reaches out and finds sinners no matter why or how they become lost.
- It was hard for the older brother to accept his younger brother when he returned, and it is just as difficult to accept “younger brothers” today.
- People who repent after leading notoriously sinful lives are often held in suspicion.
- Churches are sometimes unwilling to admit them to membership.
- Instead, we should rejoice like the angels in heaven when an unbeliever repents and turns to God.
- Like the father, accept repentant sinners wholeheartedly and give them the support and encouragement that they need to grow in Christ.
- In the story of the lost son, the father’s response is contrasted with the older brother’s.
- The father forgave because he was filled with love.
- The son refused to forgive because he was bitter about the injustice of it all.
- His resentment rendered him just as lost to the father’s love as his younger brother had been.
- Don’t let anything keep you from forgiving others.
- If you are refusing to forgive people, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to experience joy and share it with others.
- Make your joy grow: forgive somebody who has hurt you.
- In Jesus’ story, the older brother represented the Pharisees, who were angry and resentful that sinners were being welcomed into God’s kingdom.
- After all, the Pharisees must have thought, we have sacrificed and done so much for God.
- How easy it is to resent God’s gracious forgiveness of others whom we consider to be far worse sinners than ourselves.
- But when our self-righteousness gets in the way of rejoicing when others come to Jesus, we are no better than the Pharisees.
God is compassionate and forgiving and rejoices with His angels when people repent of their sins and return to Him; therefore, we should repent or our sins and return to Him.
Isaiah 55 (NASB)
1 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. 2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. 3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. 4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” 6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 12 “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the Lord, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
Likewise, we should encourage others to repent of their sins and return to Him.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NASB)
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much that You rejoice when we return to You. Please convict us through the Holy Spirit to repent of our sins, turn our hearts and minds back towards You, and encourage others to do the same. We love You Lord and it is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:
James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.
John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
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1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
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Praise the Lord.
- In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:
Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
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James 5:16 (NASB)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
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