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It’s time to come home: A sermon on Luke 15

It’s Time to Come Home

Luke 15:1-10

In Jesus Name

 May the grace, the incredible love, mercy, and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you confidence and desire to let Him joyfully carry you home!


You are the One:

When you compare the epistle and the gospel lessons this morning, there is a conclusion you can draw that is pretty simple.

Paul didn’t see himself as one of the 99.

He saw himself as the one, the one who wasn’t just lost, but in the process of being destroyed.

He saw himself as the one who was as notorious a sinner as any, yet he realized the incredible patience of God, who searched for him, and found him.

The challenge isn’t thinking we are the ones who get to celebrate Paul’s return, but the fact that we, like Paul, needed to be rescued.  For we like Paul, find ourselves broken, lost and in need of a savior.

And when we trust Jesus, and He joyfully carries us home… then there is a party like none we’ve ever seen.

To get there – there are a few challenges

It’s not “them.”

The first challenge is realizing who we are.  There are two groups mentioned in the gospel.  The first group who work and sincerely dedicate their entire lives to following God’s law – to living as He commanded.  The second group is our group – the group that is notorious sinners.

Now I need to let you know what a notorious sinner is.  It’s not as bad as it sounds…

It’s actually kind of worse.

One of the ways the word is defined in Greek is one who falls off the path, one who can’t stay on it.  We understand that the path is narrow, but I don’t think we realize it is a bridge like this one, with ditches that are about 1000 feet deep to each side.

Sort of like this path in China that they call the glass path.

Here’s another view.

Sin is simply deviating from the path.  It doesn’t matter whether it is using God’s name in the wrong way, murder, adultery or gossip.  It is sin, and you and I fall into it, far too often.

Even as the Pharisees stand there, judging the tax collectors and notorious sinners, they are sinning, denying the very grace of God, the grace they were entrusted with, the grace that should have inspired them to help others come to hear Jesus.

Jesus realizes this, and there is a gentle jab at the Pharisees when he says the shepherd leaves the 99 in the wilderness – for he identifies that all are in the wilderness,

The wilderness – the place of nothingness, the place without any blessing from God.

The ones who determined they are holy enough, that they are truly dedicated to God, find themselves outside… while the sheep who lay dying, is brought home…

And brought home Scripture says – joyfully.

Guess it pays off to admit we need His mercy, that we need God to find us. Doesn’t that sound strange?  That those who depend on their strength are left behind, while those needy are brought to safety and celebration?

There is joy in your transformation

This is the second challenge.  We need to recognize the joy that Jesus has bringing us home and the fact that the work brings more joy to God than the 99 who are righteous. Of course, we know that none are righteous, but even so, the picture of Jesus is one with a grin on his face!

Dad, I’ve brought another one home!

Now imagine him saying it on the cross – it’s finished – Tom’s home, Al’s home, you’ve been brought home.

Remember, the letter to the Hebrews tells us that it was this very joy of getting us into the kingdom of God, bringing us to where we should be, that Jesus endured the cross.

What an amazing thing!

To think that what brings God the greatest joy – and all of heaven with Him is when we trust Him enough to cleanse us, heal us, and bring us into the presence of the Father.

That is what brings God joy, for us to become His children, for us to become His people, for us to realize, and trust the fact that He is our God, our heavenly father.

I don’t know if we understand that all too well.  That when we realize God’s grace, when we have an aha moment when His grace transforms our lives and that is seen, the joy it brings Him and all heaven is greater than our awe, and our joy!

The Feast.

It is so great – that Jesus’s parable mentions a great feast – a great party full of joy, inviting everyone to rejoice with Him.  The same for the lady who finds the reward for her work, that was for a moment – thought lost. They both throw a feast – as they recover something quite precious to them.

I often wondered- for the man who owned the sheep – what did they feast on?  What was the main course?

I mean, it would be a little odd to throw a feast like that and serve lamb chops!

I bring the sermon to a close with this; the man gave his life to bring us home, to carry us with him in His death and resurrection,

and so for this feast- celebrating our homecoming, celebrating our repentant, transformed life, is a feast where the host serves the very best – where He gives His all to us.

His broken body, the blood poured out so that we could be brought home… and this feast is on of great joy, as it celebrates this,

Alleluia! He is Risen indeed
He is Risen!  Indeed!  Alleluia

And therefore,

We are risen alleluia indeed!
And He has brought us home….

The First Sunday in Advent: He Will Do What is Promised

This sermon can be heard at https://youtu.be/8DWDeB6_GYY

He Will Do What is Promised (Faith)

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Jesus, Son, Savior

 May the grace of God, that incredible mercy, and peace that resides in you because of the Holy Spirit, sustain you until His imminent return!

The Time Is Close

You wondered with every passing car, whether the guests arrived.  A car door closed and you rushed to the door, disappointed that it was the neighbor’s guests that arrived.

Perhaps you were even jealous.

You had worked so hard, to make your house a welcoming place, a place where everyone felt at home.  Where people were able to set aside life, and enjoy each other.  It is one thing for sure, to have a clean, beautifully decorated home, with great comfort food.

It takes a bit more preparation for the façade to be matched by a sense of peace, and the blessing of being a place where everyone knows they are loved.  That is God’s desire for heaven as well, and He will make it happen!

That is the preparation of Advent, the adventure that we travel until we find ourselves at home with God.

Our Advent journey is preparation for His coming, preparing for our being drawn into His presence.

For it takes a bit of work to understand that He’s waited expectantly for the day of Christ’s second coming, that He is awaiting us, His family to come home!

The Wearied Wait..

I want to go back for a moment, to that time when you are glancing out the window.  When you are expecting your company, friends or family you dearly love, who you have missed,

It is in that last hour, before their arrival, time seems to slow down. That every noise, whether it be a car door, a phone ringing causes your level of anticipation to race.  You wonder if the food will be enough, or be good enough.  You wonder if they will be comfortable as you rearrange the pillows on the couch for the thirtieth time.

That last hour seems to take a week.

Have you ever thought about God waiting for the fulfillment of time in that manner?

He knows the timing, so He doesn’t worry like we do, but can you see Him waiting expectantly for your arrival?

You need to be able to, for we aren’t the only ones who plan for the future and then wait with expectation.

Think about it, Jesus is described as the Bridegroom, the Father as the one who throws the wedding feast for His Son.

The Father, who awaits his prodigal son, the one finding the coin or the lost sheep throw feast when they find that which was lost.

Hear Jeremiah’s words again,

14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

It is one of our challenges that we struggle to see God’s anticipation, a challenge caused by the guilt and shame we struggle with daily.

It is why we are uncomfortable with the silence during confession and absolution if it goes more than 15 seconds…. Yet how many of us need to take more than that time, to realize how much God frees us from?

The expectation of God blessing us in the way He promises is the nature of our Advent journey.  Looking forward to His completing that which He all the good He has promised us, His refining us, gathering us, leading us home.

Back to the first promise, the one that when it came true at the cross, made the rest possible.

The Promises Coming True

Hear Jeremiah’s words once again,

I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

15 “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 16 In that day Judah will be saved,

Judah and Israel, the divided kingdom of God’s people, back together.  Those who stayed dedicated to God and the prodigal brothers who have finally come back home.

It represents the people of God, in its entirety, those who have known God all their lives, and those who come back at the end of time.

In that day, because of One who was completely righteous, completely without sin, and His sense of what it just and good, and to use the old word from the liturgy, salutary, because of the Righteous one’s benevolent love, because of the sinless One’s actions done in love, the people of God will be saved.

Have been saved.

Are saved.

For the last sentence of Jeremiah’s promise, of this prophecy says it all.

The Lord is our Righteousness.

He became everything we would need, that we would be able to come home to God.  On the cross, He took care of every sin, and then in the resurrection, He brought us back to life.

He became our Righteousness.  He recreated us, made us His own people.

Why the promise?

One last thought….

Look at the passage again, Look for the phrase that keeps occurring.

The day will come…

In those days…

In that day…..

That day has come, you have been saved… and are on the way home, sure to get there, because we will be refined, gathered, and led there, for we live in Christ Jesus.

Home to a feast beyond imagination.

Not because of the cleanliness of heaven.

Not because of the magnitude of the feast.

But because of the love, that which God promised us.

Until that day, the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, which is at work in you, that same power will keep you in the peace of God our Father.  AMEN!.

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