Deeper relationships. Don’t know if roots make that kind of a sound when they grow deeper, but I love the effect. And it’s ’cause I want that to be what it feels like for you as you build deeper relationships in all three important dimensions up with God. A passionate, spiritual relationship with the living God and of committed love toward one another. And today, a heart that burns with, with a zeal and a, a, a motivation to search for the loss that they would be found by God. And know Jesus Christ as their savior searching. Have, have you ever had to put a search on to find something? I mean, I think we all have. You know? And, and how did you feel when you were searching and, and, and how did you feel when you found it? I remember one time using a note, a notepad and a pencil. This actually happened to me, you know, had to step away for a bit. Came back who took my pencil? It was right here. It wasn’t there. And I’m looking around and can’t find it under anything. I’m scratching my head. Oh, here it was behind my ear. Has that ever happened to you? You know, one time I remember driving away from a restaurant, uh, my wife and I were in Minneapolis and on the drive home I’m like, oh, something felt a little different. My left rear pocket didn’t have my wallet in it. Do you ever do that at a restaurant? Spin back around, go back and ask, and actually this time they said no. No one’s turned anything in. We go, look at where we sat. It wasn’t there. I start tracing my steps from the front door, you know, out to the parking lot, not there where might have fallen outta my pocket or in the, it wasn’t there. I even was driving a few streets around just going, ah, where could it be? And the longer it went on, the more anxious I got about it. Finally went back to the restaurant and uh, you know, it’s still nothing had been turned in, went back to where we’d sat and there back in the dark corner, under the table was that wallet. And wow. Was I relieved? You know, the more important something is. When it’s lost, it does something to you, doesn’t it?
I have a vague childhood memory. It was about six or seven. We were on a vacation, family vacation in Florida, visiting our grandparents. Don’t remember a whole lot, but I remember visiting Kennedy Space Center and my brother got lost in the gift shop and I, I remember my parents just, you know, kinda almost gripped by fear. And any of you parents or grandparents, if you’ve lost a child or grandchild in a public place, I mean, you know that kind of anxiety you have, it just grabs your soul. And then he was found and what relief and I, that’s one of my burning memories from that family vacation. In our gospel text today, Jesus tells two stories about something which is lost and is very precious. And matters. And we’re gonna be looking at, uh, from this text three main dynamics that lost people matter to God and their worth. An all out search. And he’s done it in Christ Jesus. And once found, There’s great rejoicing. So if you have your Bibles, open them up to Luke chapter 15 or your devices, or you can follow along as I read the first 10 verses. Now, the tax collectors and sinners were all gathered around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered this man welcomes sinners and eats with them. Then Jesus told them this parable. Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, doesn’t he leave the 99 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 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent. Or suppose a woman has 10 silver coins and loses one I. Doesn’t she 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’s rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents the word of the Lord God, join me in prayer.
Father in heaven, your heart is so large for your creation. We praise you for your love and grace shown to us in Jesus Christ. In Jesus, you were willing to come and search for us and find us by giving your life so by your Holy Spirit. Now enliven our hearts to know your great love. To know the security of being found by you and then being swept up in your heart for the world that we would see the world as you do as well, and be engaged in seeking the lost. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Dear friends, grace and peace to you from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Did my stories prompt at all in you, a memory of something precious and the anxious feelings you had when you were searching for it and, and how you felt when you found it? And have you noticed that the more important that item is, the more anxiety you have when you’re searching, and the greater the relief and the joy, the eventual joy when it’s found. I lost my dog Jazz on a cold wintry night. Here she is a black lab out. We were living in Minneapolis and on this particular night, um, we didn’t have a fenced yard in the back. Should have really remedied that. But I’d sent her out for business and then got busy myself in the house and left her out there. Forgot about her. Finally remembered and go to look and, and she was nowhere to be found. We were right in the heart of the city street upon street in South Minneapolis. It was already dark and um, to make matters worse, it was a cold night even by Minnesota standards. 20 below raw temp. I mean, come on, you, you don’t survive long in that kind of weather. And my, my soul shivered, not so much ’cause of the air temp, but because of my heartbeat from the dog that I, you know, my carelessness had forgotten her, and she’s wandered off. And as I’ve been preparing this service, and even reflecting on this story with jazz, I’ve asked myself, does my heart. Shutter and shiver for the lost people in the world near me and around the world. Do do I care. Do you care sincerely about the condition of your neighbor or a world near and far that is lost? When without Christ and our hearts, uh, my prayer is that they will be compelled to care for the loss because the first point lost people matter to God. They do in Jesus two parables. It makes us paramount. The two parables saying the same story, that one lost sheep. Is of such care and concern that the shepherd would leave the 99 remaining in the flock and go out and search for that one lost sheep. Or the woman, the one coin would light a candle, sweep the entire house until she found that coin lost.
People matter to God. And secondly, they’re worth an all out search. Lost people are worth an all out search. Back to my, my dog, jazz. Once I realized she was lost in a great risk because of the bitterly cold night, I put on an all out search, recruited my wife and my son, and, and we, we fanned out from the house walking the alleyways in the streets and expanding circles, calling her name, looking. To no avail, and as the scene unfolded, we searched for more than a couple hours calling her name repeatedly, many times. I finally got in my car and went for wider circles, stopping at streets, calling her name with the, the cold air just blowing in, and I’m losing hope as each minute ticks on stopping in alleyways, looking for ways that we had walked, gone on walks, or that I knew she was prone to wander to no avail. And as I became increasingly desperate. After a few hours, we came to the hard place of putting a stop to the search. Three hours out in minus 20 below. The dog’s not gonna survive that. And my heart’s just breaking, thinking. She probably despaired, laid down and froze to death somewhere. I had lost hope, got in the house. I had one last play to make and so I got on social media, work on our neighborhood channels. I. Of the plea that, Hey, we lost our dog. Anyone find her? And in the Lord’s mercy, someone responded, yes, they had found our dog letting me know that she was safe and sound and that I could come and get her. Here’s a picture of her when I picked her up. Warming up on a blanket and I cannot express to you, I mean, you know, the, the relief of all this anxiety and adrenaline and, and concern, uh, just filled with joy on my way to pick her up, let alone when I finally got her back and gave her a big hug and brought her home and, and babied her like never before. Which brings me to my final point. That Jesus is making lost people matter to God. They’re worth an all out search. And when found, there’s great rejoicing. Great rejoicing. Here’s my dog when I finally got her home content happy looking for the next treat already. And any of you dog note lovers know the joy I felt. Well, in our text, Jesus paints this beautiful picture of the joy that the shepherd has when he finds the lost sheep. Jesus says, when the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his neighbors and friends together and says, rejoice with me for, I’ve found. My lost sheep. The woman also Jesus says, calls her neighbors and says, join me and rejoice. I found that which was lost. And you know what? My dear friend, that’s the joy that God has when and as he finds you, God has a heart for you and will seek you out and find you. And save you and then rejoice over you.
I mean, here’s kind of a, a question we talked about in our text study as we looked at this passage, this earlier this week. Are, are you the shepherd or are you the sheep? Are you the woman or are you the coin? And the reality is that you’re probably both. Because you see, apart from Christ, every single one of us is that lost sheep that lost coin. Apart from Christ Jesus, we are lost. Now the good news is that you matter to God. You do, and maybe someone needs to hear that today. You matter to God deeply. Oh, and. Peter writes about it this way in a second. Epistle, the Lord is not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, meaning God’s not gonna leave you lost. He wants you to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And so secondly, God’s put an all out search for you. He’s worked things in your life that you might be called to the gospel and come to a living faith in Christ and become a child of God. God has put this all out search on for you and actually at great cost to himself, his one and only son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus who gave his life for you that you might be saved. The prophet Isaiah writes about this. The costliness of the search God has put on for you this way in chapter 53, surely he a prophetic word about Jesus. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed and get this. Isaiah writes, we all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us is turned to our own way. And what’s the remedy? The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Yeah, you matter to God. And he’s motivated to do an all at search, but you gotta know it was that great costume him and he still did it. Now, the good news is, My sense is you’re here at Victory. You’re, you’ve been found, you’ve been found by Christ Jesus and get this once found, God rejoices over you. Have you ever felt about the pleasure God has? All of us in Christ of rejoicing over you. Uh, you’re a child of the king now, you’re his child. Zephaniah. The prophet writes about it this way. The Lord your God is with you. The mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you, in his love. He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Dear Saint, in Christ Jesus, God rejoices over you in song from his heart. Isn’t that great news? Yes it is. And in Christ then you are that lost sheep and that lost coin that’s found, but then once found, you also then are are like the shepherd or the woman engaged in finding the lost. And you know, I think if you want your heart to be enlarged for the lost in the world around us near and far, I think one of the surest ways to see your own heart enlarge is then by reflecting on God’s great saving work in your own life as we’ve just been talking about. Kathy read for in the epistle text today, words that talk about how God has saved you and then his call upon you to be about him saving others.
Listen verses 16 through 20 and two Corinthians five. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, The new creation has come. The old is gone. The new is here. That’s being found. Paul writes, all this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and then get this and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. And what is this reconciliation That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And here comes the commission to you and he is committed to us. The message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors. As though God we’re making his appeal through us, we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. That’s the message we bring to the lost around us and through victory. That’s the message we bring to a lost world near and far. ’cause you see, once found by Christ, you’re then commissioned as his ambassador, meaning you, you carry the words of God to people. As you share with them the good news seeking and seeing the least, and the last and the lost among us, and sharing with them the good news of salvation in Christ and letting God save them. So I suppose if there’s one thing I’d want you to take from today’s message, if anything, it’d be this. Let God’s loving search for you, compel you in a loving search for the lost. Through your life in God’s world, you know, that’s what we are about here at Victory. We are about knowing God, loving each other and having a heart to make a difference in the world for the sake of Christ Jesus. God has given us a heart for the lost here at Victory, and it compels us to be involved in a saving work and ministry. In just a few minutes, we get to bless these quilts and there’s more than two. Alright. These are symbolic, uh, quilts that are given to, especially to homeless women in need and, and through a victory right here, right in the East Valley, at the Navajo Nation, and through Lutheran Social Services, down as far away as Tucson and around the whole region here, and get this. This last year. So women come here to the church often throughout the year, and they even do more work at home and come together. And last year, through their efforts, we were able to distribute 175 quilts to people in need, A tangible way. And this is through kinda Lutheran Social Services. Those, those who graduate from the I Help program, which is a mission partnership we are a part of here at Victory where twice a month we get to host, uh, women with housing insecurity overnight. I mean, come have you do you know of, of other churches that have homeless people come and stay on site.
That’s what we get to do here at Victory. Right. And just this week, We’re, we’re doubling our efforts. We’re gonna go to two nights, twice a week, so Wednesday and Thursday nights. So now the women can come, they get to come here, they’re fed, they’re safe. They get to shower. Uh, they get to rest, and, and then, and we actually, we have their laundry done for them, and now they’ll be able to be here for two nights in a row. And be able to leave their, their, all their worldly possessions here safe, uh, overnight for a another whole day. I mean, it’s a, it’s a way that we get to be involved in reaching out to the lost and the last and the least among us twice a year. Now, we are hosting homeless families overnight here all week long, twice a year. Um, we have a mission partnership with the Navajo Lutheran mission. We get to help them bringing gospel and teaching and food relief and, and, and especially the development of, of young children into adulthood. A holistic ministry get to be involved with them there. We, we have a partner in South Africa called Orchard Africa that we get to help them reach out to orphans. And to the most vulnerable in that part of the country, through over a hundred pastors and 700 churches, boots on the ground 24 7 mission to reach the lost. We get to partner with them in this. And you know what Age doesn’t hinder us. Uh, as we get older and are even less able-bodied, we can still be involved. Listen, uh, this last November we were packing Orchard, or not Orchard operation, Christmas child boxes. Do you know what they are? It’s a partnership through Samaritan’s Purse. We get to give Christmas gifts to children who may not receive any other kind of Christmas gifts. And with that then comes the message of Christ. And, um, we had a packing party here. And just blast my socks off. Here’s a dear 94 year old saint, packing the boxes to go to these children. Smile beaming across her face. She’s involved in Christ’s mission to the Lost I. At 94. All right. She can do it. I can do that. You can as well. And even if we’re not as able-bodied to be involved as you want to, we as a church are generous in our financial support of the mission that we get to be a part of here locally and regionally, nationally and internationally. In four weeks, you’re gonna hear more about that. We’re gonna have a mission fair. After, uh, the weekend services, you can find out more firsthand of how we are involved as a church. Now I’m gonna wrap up with this. You know, God has placed you in this time and this world, in this nook and cranny where he is got you in the A network and a neighborhood of relationships. It’s in your family. It’s in where you live, it’s where you work. It’s, it’s, uh, with whom you have friends. And it’s even then in people, strangers that you meet. God has prepared in advance good things for you to walk into. And part of that is people to which he’s sending you as an ambassador. Keep your eyes open and ask God to help you to see those that he’s bringing to you, and then to give you the words to say. We’re gonna talk about that more also in the, in the messages that weekend. And then I just wanna affirm you and encourage you be involved in the mission partnerships that we have here at Victory. Part of, I mean, victory is here. Primarily to help you to build into you so that you can live life to the fullest up with God in, in committed Christian community and out in it with a mission heart for the world.
So ask God maybe in all these three dimensions, where is it that you need to be putting some focus and attention in your life? Is it in your relationship with God? There are ways that we can be a part of strengthening that. Is it in community with one another or being a Christian friend and even family member to maybe those who aren’t always easy to befriend, or it might be in being involved in God’s mission in the world. What’s the spirit of God drawing to your heart, even right now as an, as a kind of a renewed season in your life? That you might live into deeper relationships with God, God’s people, and God’s world. Hmm. And may Jesus be glorified through us all. Let’s pray. Father in heaven, thank you for your saving grace and your unending search for us. And Lord, for anyone here that is feeling lost from you. Lost in life. May they know these words, that Christ has searched for them and died for them, and offers them forgiveness and freedom and a new life now. And Lord grip the hearts of all of us that we might see. You know, the risk of people who are lost with a christless eternity. And give us the motivation and then the discernment and, and passion given by your Holy Spirit to know how we can be involved in your mission. I ask this to the glory of your name, Jesus. Amen.