1 Timothy 1:12-17 and Luke 15:1-10
You know, it’s sad when anything is lost and is never reclaimed. That is especially true when what’s lost is a human being. Many of you are familiar with the legendary Country and Western singer, Hank Williams. Back in 1948 Hank Williams wrote a familiar Gospel song titled “I Saw the Light.” We sang the song this morning.
“I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin; I wouldn’t let my Dear Savior in.Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night; Praise the Lord, I saw the light!”
The first line in the stanza was a fitting description of the life Hank Williams lived. He spent a life tormented by disease, drugs, and alcohol.
It is said that near the end of his life, while doing a concert in San Diego, he was so drunk or drugged, that he stumbled off the stage after only two songs. Legendary country star Minnie Pearl, who was on the playbill with Williams, and the show’s promoter drove him around town trying to sober him up enough to do the second show. It is said Minnie Pearl and the promoter began singing with Williams his song, “I Saw the Light.” They had sung only the first stanza when Williams said, “Minnie, I don’t see light. There ain’t no light.” Hank Williams died in the back of his Cadillac somewhere in West Virginia, on January 31, 1952 at the young age of 29. *
One of the sad truths of life is that there are millions of people in this world who don’t see any light. They are truly lost. Think about the teenagers and adults who commit suicide. Those people do not see the light of God. They feel hopeless and helpless to change their life.
A friend of mine told me about a man in his congregation who was a real saint. He was generous and loving. He was a real prayer warrior. One day he and my friend were chatting and sharing some of their past experiences. My friend said he was shocked to hear the man’s testimony. It included alcoholism and abusive behavior. It was a story of a family torn apart and marital infidelity. Then one day everything changed. The man met Christ at a revival meeting and he quit drinking, got a handle on his temper and his tongue, and started rebuilding his life. Every day now, the man says, “Thank God I’m not the man I used to be.”
Jesus understood about the tragedy of being lost. In the fifteenth chapter of Luke we read two parables–about a lost sheep, a lost coin. Jesus tells us in Luke 15:8-10, “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The two parables of the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep teach us that God is interested in the lost, and God rejoices when a lost person comes to know Him. This means people matter to God. Each of us matters to God. If we matter to Him, then other people do too. The truth is that each and every one matters to God, and we need to make it our mission to bring others to Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Last week Jeni talked about how words can either build up or tear down. Please use words that build up. The words we speak to others matter.
Put what God values, first in your life, and the success that really matters, will be added to your life.
Many people today are experiencing a faith crisis. We have lost faith in other people, we have lost faith in our universities and our government, we have lost faith in God. Many people feel lost.
The book of Acts depicts barbaric things Paul did. He persecuted members of the early church. He held everybody’s jackets when they stoned Stephen. He hauled off men and women to prison. In Acts, Paul was an angry control freak.
Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy these words in 1Timothy 1:12, 15, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”
Look all about you at the miracle of creation. Look at the loving hand of God at work in every tiny leaf on every tree. Look within your own soul. Look at the way you have been wonderfully made. Ask yourself if a creature with your yearnings, your dreams, your aspirations could have simply happened. Does anyone care about your lostness? Yes, God cares. He really cares. You are the crowning work of His creation. You are His masterpiece. What you make out of yourself and your world is of infinite importance to God.
Is there a cure for our lostness? Obviously, there is or Jesus would not have told these parables. There can be no rejoicing woman, and no rejoicing shepherd, if the lost cannot be found.
Joanie Yoder has worked for many years with drug-addicted youth. It can be frustrating work. Yet Joanie says she was never tempted to give up on anyone, until she started to work with a young man named Sam. Sam had what she called peculiar problems and was extremely rebellious. Without realizing it, she began to pull away from this young man whose attitude was such a stumbling block. Then, she says, God alerted her to the mistake she was making.
She was staying overnight with friends when she lost a ring that was very important to her. She hunted frantically for it. She even pulled the bed apart and remade it, but still no ring. Finally, she decided that her search was consuming too much of her time. She asked God for help.
She knelt by her bed. She opened her Bible to Luke 15 and began reading about the woman who hunted diligently for her lost coin. When she thought about the parable, it seemed as if God was saying, “You’ve given a lot of effort looking for your lost ring. Are you willing to work that hard seeking after Sam?” And she realized how important Sam was to God. With closed eyes, she earnestly answered, “Yes, Lord, I am!” **
Where are we with our sinfulness today? Are we denying it, bottling it up? Are we only too aware of some sin and guilt that won’t let us go? Are we feeling lost? God is patient with us. God can give us the courage to face what is inside of us. God is stronger than our sin and the causes behind it. God can release us, cleanse us, strengthen us, and enable us to move forward. God can get us over the hump if we are held back by our sins. Let us accept God’s mercy; let us celebrate God’s patience. God is seeking out each one of us; to forgive and to bring us back to Him.
The lost sheep and the lost coin are more than the prized possessions of their owners; they are also parts of a whole. The sheep belongs to the flock and the coin to the purse; without them the whole is not complete. The search, then, is a quest for restoration and wholeness. In this sense, all of us who are part of God’s creation should be just as anxious as God until the lost are restored and we are made whole again by their presence. Then, with brooms in hand, we can answer God’s call, “Rejoice with me.”
References: * Ken Trivett https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-outlines
** “Lost and Found” by Our Daily Bread, https://odb.org/2001/10/26/lost-and-