You know, sometimes people get all hung up with the cares and concerns of “life,” that they forget that it wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross, but rather, it was His love for us. Oh sure, you have heard that before, but sometimes, well, sometimes we need to hear it again and again.
I remember a story Jesus told to illustrate His love for us:
“Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it? When he finds it, he’s happy. He puts that sheep on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep!(Luke 15:4-6).
I realize that many interpret this story as about Christ’s love for anyone who is lost and needing his care, but frankly, I see it as representing someone who is already a member of Christ’s flock, someone who has been well fed and led by a loving shepherd. But somehow, for some reason, this sheep has gotten lost, so the shepherd has gone out to look for it.
But notice that it says that the shepherd goes out to “. . . look for the lost sheep until he finds it?” Our Father never gives up on anyone who belongs to Him and has gone astray. Instead, He goes out to find that sheep, embraces it and brings it back into the fold.
I can confess and testify that this is exactly what He did in my own life. I had been a true disciple, but lost sight of His love and care; no longer spent time in prayer; quit studying the Scriptures and most importantly, ceased any connection to my brothers in Christ — the very ones who had previously held me accountable and stood with me with encouragement and support.
I can’t say that I had gone so far into sin that I came to very brink of hell, but maybe. However, even if I had, He was still anxiously pursuing me. David understood this:
“. . . If I make my bed in hell, you are there” (Psalm 139:8).
I am sure all of us have heard the expression “hell on earth.” I can tell you now, that is what life is like for anyone who runs from their God and Father. Their “bed in hell” is an awful, terrible condition. It is being absolutely captivated by sin, drifting so far from the Lord that you eventually fall into a lifeless slumber. This slumber is accompanied by a nagging fear that whispers, “Son, where are you? You are sinking, but know that I love you. Come back to me, son.”
If you understand what I am saying, know this: your Father is reaching His arms out to you and saying, “You may have made your bed in sin and rebellion, but you are not too deep for Me to reach you and receive you with open arms.”
In that passage above, when the shepherd found the lost sheep,it may have been injured, so he carried the wounded creature into his house. Then he calls all his friends and neighbors together, shouting, “Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep!” (Luke 15:6). Hallelujah! I can assure you that there is no greater joy!
“I can guarantee that there will be more happiness in heaven over one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts than over 99 people who already have turned to God and have his approval.” (Luke 15:7).
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