Jesus Mingled with People

Jesus Mingled with People

Scripture: Luke 15:1-2, Matthew 1:22-23, Luke 15:3-24
Date: 08/06/2016  Lesson: 6
"Have you ever avoided witnessing to a person who would likely not fit well in your church? What would it take for you and your church to find sufficient grace to embrace those 'sinners'?"

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White
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Hello friends, welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very warm welcome to our friends joining us once again, across the country and around the world, our extended Sabbath school class and also to the members here at the Granite Bay church and those who are visiting - a very warm welcome to you as well. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly entitled the role of the church in the community and I hope all of you here have a copy of the lesson quarterly. If you don't, you can just get ahold of one of our deacons following Sabbath school and they'll be able to get you a lesson so you can study along with us. And for our friends joining us, if you don't have a copy of this quarter of the lessons, you can go to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.

org and you can download today's lesson and you can study along with us. We have a free offer that goes along with our study today, it's a book written by Joe Crews entitled alone in the crowd and we'll be happy to send this to anybody in North America that gives us a call. The phone number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #714. Well, before we get to our lesson today, we always like to begin by lifting our voices in praise, so I'd like to invite jolyne and emma and they'll lead us as we sing together. Thank you, Pastor Ross.

You know, worship is not composed of just listening to sermons or reading the Bible, it's also singing, which is one of my favorite parts of worship, and we know by the letters that we get and the e-mails that we get, that that's part of your favorite also. So I invite you here in the studio, those of you that are at home, pull out your hymnals and we're going to sing about God's greatness today - hymn #21 - immortal, invisible, God only wise. Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days, almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise. Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might; thy justice like mountains high soaring above thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love. Great father of glory, pure father of light, thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight; all laud we would render: o help us to see 'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

Hymn #6 - o worship the Lord - in the beauty of holiness. Bow down before him, his glory proclaim. I pray that those are Your Words on your heart as we sing hymn #6 - o worship the Lord - the first, the second, and the last verses. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, bow down before him, his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness, kneel and adore him; the Lord is his name. Low at his feet lay thy burden of carefulness; high on his heart he will bear it for thee, comfort thy sorrows and answer thy prayerfulness, guiding thy steps as may best for thee be.

These, though we bring them in trembling and fearfulness, he will accept for the name that is dear; mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness, trust for our trembling, and hope for our fear. We pray that you will have a blessed week, before we come and join and sing together again. At this time, Pastor Ross will lead us in prayer. Thank you, ladies. Before we begin our study, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege, once again, to open up the Bible and to study together - to look at the example of Jesus in sharing with others the good news of salvation. And so, father, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and just lead us into a clearer understanding and impress upon us what we can do in that great work of sharing good news to others, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Good morning. Good morning.

How's everybody? Good. I want to wish you a Happy Sabbath. I want to greet those who are watching via television or the internet and we have some regular class members around the world - greetings - we also have some of our extended family that are part of the granite bay church - some of our online members - I want to welcome you as well. We are continuing our study dealing with the role of the church in the community and we probably could take a whole year and talk about 'what is the work of the church?'. Today's lesson is lesson #6.

It's titled Jesus mingled with people - I almost said 'jingle' - Jesus mingled with people. And we have a memory verse and the memory verse is from Luke 15, verses 1 and 2 - and I've got it here in the new king James version and I'd appreciate it if you want to say it along with me. Are you ready? Luke 15:1 and 2, "then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him. And the pharisees and scribes complained, saying, 'this man receives sinners and eats with them.'" Now this is going to come up again a little later in our study today. Now, the lessons that we're going to study about the church and community in the next oh, I guess, about four weeks or so, are going to be based on an outline of a quote that you find in the Spirit of prophecy and it's from the book ministry of healing - this was written by Ellen white - p.

143. Now, let me make it very clear, our studies are based on the Bible, but this quote from Ellen white makes a great outline as a study guide for the role of the church. And here's what the quote says - it's ministry of healing p. , "Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good.

He showed his sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. He then bade them, 'follow me.'" So there's a step of - there's some steps of progression in 'how do you reach out?' First of all, what is our mission as a church? What's our mission statement? What's our role? We are to bring people to Christ. We are to be a light in the world. We are to be a salt in the community for good. We are to go and to preach and to teach and to baptize and to bring people from being lost to being found, from death to life, from darkness to light.

The church is - we are a nation of Kings and priests. We - the priest's job was to make atonement - that means at-one-ment - people are separated from God. The church is to bring them to God. So we are Christ's representatives. We're his ambassadors - this is our work.

And so, one of the ways you do that - how do you reach people? Churches should not be fortresses where we just sort of cloister ourselves and say, 'we're part of this club and we just get together and enjoy each other's company.' We're not doing our work. Unless we're reaching out, we're not doing our job as the church. We are to be growing. And I'm very thankful for the - the wonderful ministries we have here at Granite Bay - and this is - may sound like a shameless promotion or bragging for the people that are watching, but I do think the Lord has blessed this church. Those of you who were part of the church plant - what? - About eight years ago with twelve people and now we'll have some Sabbaths with 500 people - 600.

Very rarely do you have an adventist church that has more in attendance that it has members. Usually you've got, you know, a thousand people on the books - actually show up, or something like that. We're the other way around because we are reaching out and this church has got, you know, there's homeless ministry, there are people here who are doing prison ministry, there's health ministry and different kinds of community things and so we're trying to reach out. This is great. This is the role of the church - doing evangelistic ministry.

And so, we've got to get out of the comfort zone of just thinking, 'I've put in my time. I went to church.' That's not what we're about. First of all, you will not be close to Jesus unless you're engaged in bringing others to Jesus. Amen. You will dry up and die spiritually unless you are using your gifts to do the work of Christ in the church.

We need to be involved. And so, sometimes, we wonder what brings on the Lukewarm condition. Well, that's one thing, saying we're rich and increased with goods - we're comfortable where we are and we don't do anything - it dies at that point. So the statement we just read - "Christ's method alone" - I'm going to read it one more time - "Christ's method" - not some method - "Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good, he showed his sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, won their confidence, and then he bade them, 'follow me.

'" Now, there are like five points the lesson breaks up. You'll notice on your first page of this quote. This is going to be an outline for a study for several weeks. We're going to specifically focus on point #1 today, which is Jesus mingled with people as one that desired their good. And we'll look at Scriptures on that outline point.

First of all, why do we need to go out and bring people to God? Because we're separated from God - sin separates. Now, someone is going to read for me in a moment, Genesis 3:8. Okay, sam, you'll have that? Let me read something to you from Isaiah 59, verses 1 and 2, "behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." Now, it's not that God is being arbitrary or vindictive in saying, 'look, you sinned and so I'm going to run from you.' It's really that, if God did not shield himself from our sight - and from Mount Sinai, when he gave the law, why did he veil himself in darkness? To just try to be obscure? Or was it because he knew that if - the nation could barely stand to have God speak to them. Matter of fact, they finally said, 'don't speak to us anymore, speak to Moses and then let him talk to us.

' And Moses was a mediator because they could not handle the direct glory of God. God is partially separated from us because it would destroy us and he loves us and he knows we can't handle it. But we have been separated because of our sin. Go ahead, read please, the verse I gave you. "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

" This is important to remember - who ran from whom first. God came looking for man; man ran from God. I've heard it said before that the first question that God asks in the old testament is 'where are you?' The first question man asks in the new testament is 'where is he?' The Bible talks about a great separation and the purpose of the plan of salvation is to restore. God himself will be with us - to restore God. Now, after man confessed of his sin and that was revealed, then - you can read in Genesis 3:23, it says, "therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

" So man was basically evicted from God's garden. He was expelled from his paradise home and the whole purpose of the plan of salvation is to get man back in the garden again. So you see the Tree of Life there - man could no longer eat from the Tree of Life. He was told to leave the garden. In Revelation we see the Tree of Life is restored.

Man, again, lives forever, he's in the presence of God. And between Genesis and Revelation, you've got the story of sin and salvation and how to be reconciled and get back to God. Just a few more verses to illustrate what has happened. There's a problem: God has given the church the mandate to help resolve this problem. Here's the problem - Deuteronomy 31:17 and verse 18, God says, "then my anger shall be aroused against them.

..and they will be devoured" - I'm sorry - "and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles will befall them and they will say in that day, 'have not these evils come upon us because God is not among us?' And I'll surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil which they have done and which they have turned to other Gods." Because of the evil that we've done, we are separated. 'I'll hide my face from them.' See how the problem works? The book of Micah 3, verse 4, "then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not hear them; he will even hide his face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds." Now some people think, 'isn't this a conflict? Doesn't the Bible say you can't hide from God?' Is there anywhere you can run from his presence? Did Jonah try to hide from the presence of the Lord? So when God says, 'I'll hide my face from them' he's talking about communication. It's not that God doesn't know something - that you could play, you know, peek-a-boo with the Lord and he doesn't see you, God sees everything all the time, but he hides his favor - he hides his presence from us and the blessings, because of our sins. We become separated from God, who is the source of all blessing.

Now that's the problem. What's the answer? Restoration comes through who? Through Jesus. Matthew 18:12, Jesus says, "what do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?" Christ came into the world to seek and to save the lost. In Ephesians chapter 2, verses 16 through 18, "and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

For through him we both have access by one spirit to The Father." Through Christ we're restored. We have access, again, to God. Someone's going to read for me 1 Peter 3:18 - okay, just get you ready. What is the purpose of an ambassador? You know, every now and then we're hearing about some of the turmoil in other countries and, at the time of this recording, they were putting down a military coup in turkey and, you know, the u.s., When that happens, they'll often send out a message to their embassies in these countries and they'll recall - they'll say, 'look, things are out of control. You need to get out of there.

' But embassies are supposed to be protected and the purpose of an embassy is to represent one country within the territory of another country. And it's like a haven - it's like - it's a - it's a mini microcosm of that country. I was in cameroon, africa and in the hotel I got on the elevator and in stepped a marine wearing his uniform - his blues. Our son Daniel was in the marines and so we quickly identified that and said, 'hi, you know, what brings you here?' He said, 'well, I'm part of the embassy.' And it was an American holiday and he says, 'we're here to celebrate the holiday.' I said, 'oh.' He said, 'yeah, we treat the embassy like it's an extension of the United States and, you know, we're here to represent the United States in this country.' And so they were having their own - I don't know what it was - fourth of July or thanksgiving - it may have been thanksgiving - I forget. But when you are going into another country, the embassy, while they're representing the United States, they understand the customs of the country they're in - because it's hard to communicate - it's hard to mediate - if you don't know something about them.

So they'll study their dress. They'll understand something about their food and their diet, their customs, their language - so they can commune with them. But the people in the embassy, they wear their native clothing, they speak their native language, they eat their native food. Go to Washington d.c. You will see a lot of embassies from the world in Washington.

If you - matter of fact, there's one row - I forget what street it is, but on the right and left there's all these high security buildings. They call it, like, embassy row - and you'll see they've got the embassy of saudi arabia - very nice - and then they've got the embassy of, you know, south africa, and they've got the embassy of all these different countries there. Once you go within the walls of that, they are following the practices of their country and they are under the laws and the constitutions of their countries. Well, as Christians in the church, we're something like an embassy, but we need to know how to reach the people. We are to commune with the people in these other - in, basically, a foreign land - because we're pilgrims.

So, Christ's mission is to bring us together. Let me give you another example and then I'll have you read Peter. 2 Corinthians 5:19, "that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." Pastors that do marriage counseling often are involved in reconciliation. You're trying to work with two people that have animosity or there's some division and bring them back into a oneness and harmony. It might happen with two people - two sisters in the church - two brothers in the church, where you try to say, 'look, there's been some division.

' You want them to be reconciled together. We are separated from God. Christ is reconciling us, as our mediator, to The Father. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." So the work that Jesus did, of reconciliation, he commits to us that we might work to reconcile the world to God. Well, you've got to get out where they are to do that.

Go ahead, read for us, please, 1 Peter 3:18. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." Jesus came why? That he might bring us to God because we've been separated from God. And what Jesus did for us, he wants us to do for the world. He wants us to bring people back to God. Well, you can't really do that if you don't spend time with people if you don't go to where the people are.

You need to develop relationships. Now, God was in Christ - it's called the incarnation. Look, for instance, and this is in your lesson - Matthew 1:22 and 23. Matthew is quoting a prophecy in Isaiah and he said, "so all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet," - the prophet Isaiah - "saying: 'behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'" Well, how often do virgins have children? Not very often. You know, one of the things that the world really questions about the Christian faith is the virgin birth.

They say, 'oh, come on now. That's not scientific. That couldn't happen.' I was - I'm studying for another series of sermons. I was reading up about islam and, you know, islam believes in the virgin birth of Jesus. They just don't believe he died on the cross.

But they just, you know, evidently, felt it was in the - it was in the records where it was confirmed. So the incarnation is God with us - immanuel - God himself being with us. Another verse that explains this - the Gospel of John 1 - 1 chapter of John, verse 14, "and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of The Father, full of grace and truth." Remember, John said, in that other verse in 1 John, 'our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, our hands have touched' - that's why John, when he writes in the book of Revelation, he says, 'i, John, do testify what I've seen. This is true. I know it's going to be hard to believe' - that's why he emphasizes that - 'but it's true.

It really did happen. I really saw these things.' And so, God came, in Christ, to reconcile the word. Now that work has been given to the church. Now we're going to spend the next few minutes talking about Luke 15. There's a series of 3 very famous parables that Jesus shares.

If you go to Luke 15 - someone's going to read for me verses - I think it's just verses 1 and 2 - and you'll be doing that and we'll get ready for that and then verses 1 and 2 explain why Jesus gives the next three famous parables. Those parables are the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Alright, go ahead, read for us please Luke 15:1 and 2. Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him. And the pharisees and scribes complained, saying, 'this man receives sinners and eats with them.

" The tax collectors and the sinners, now, you know, it's sometimes hard for us in our culture to understand 'tax collector' because we think tax collector, we think it's - you know, we may not be happy when the tax collector visits or sends us a letter, but it's, you know, certainly a respectable position, because we understand the importance of taxes to keep things running, but 'tax collector' in Bible times was more like gang members and mafia - it was organized crime. They got contracts from the Romans to extract taxes from their own people. They often did this by roughing them up. And they would extort extra money. They'd get underhanded deals to charge them less taxes but they'd get kickbacks.

I mean, it was a very corrupt business. So 'tax collector,' 'publican,' - you've got to think mafia - just crooked - the underworld, sort of, group, okay? And then, of course, tax collectors were often mentioned with prostitutes and sinners and harlots. And so, you see, that's - those people that were considered the offscouring of society were drawn to Jesus because they recognized that they were sinners and they needed help. Well, when the scribes and the pharisees - these were the church folk - church leaders - when they saw all of these sinful people surrounding Jesus and Christ receiving them and them receiving Christ into their homes, they thought, 'oh, this is despicable. What a bad example.

Why would he be with people like this?' And he was basically saying, 'this is why I'm here. It's the sick that need a physician, not those that are well. So he then goes on and he shares these next three parables. I'll read the first parable of the lost sheep - and this begins with verse 3 in Luke 15, "so he spoke this parable to them, saying: 'what man of you, having a hundred sheep,'" - now I read you a verse earlier from Matthew - this is the one in Luke - "'if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it,'" - meaning he searches until he finds it. He doesn't say 'if he finds it' - "'when he has found it he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he comes home, he calls'" - he doesn't scold the sheep and say, 'you dumb sheep', he doesn't drag it by its neck, he puts it on his shoulders because it's had a rough day and - he's had a rough day too, but he cares about the sheep - when he comes home, he calls together his friends and he says, 'you know that sheep I lost?' - He's rejoicing - "'he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.'" Now, in these stories, it talks about not just losing a sheep - if I had ninety-nine sheep - if I had a hundred sheep and I lost one, I'd say, 'well, I got -percent; that's not too bad.' But this shepherd loves his sheep and he's risking his life - he's going out in the wilderness for this sheep. This is what Jesus did when he came to this world. It's dangerous. And then he tells another parable of a lost coin. Now, a sheep knows it's lost, eventually, but it doesn't know how to get back.

A lot of animals - you know, monarch butterflies can find their way 2,000 miles to the woods in Mexico. These green sea turtles and leatherback turtles, they can find their way 2,000 - 5,000 miles across a trackless ocean to this little bitty island where they breed and then they take off again for years. They find it. Sheep don't have that migration gps in their head like other animals. We have bred that out of them where they are pretty dumb and they make great wool and maybe milk and whatever else we need from them, but we've bred out a lot of the natural survival ability.

And, you've heard the expression before, dumb sheep? There's a reason for that. It's because they get lost. I've heard stories of dogs and cats that are 2,000 miles from their home - they get lost at a rest stop - and they find their way home. How many of you have heard these stories? You never hear about a sheep that got left out there 2,000 miles from home and found its way home. It doesn't know it's - how to get back, it just knows it's lost.

It needs someone to find it. Then there's a coin. The coin doesn't know it's lost. Now, you notice just the Numbers here too. It says that there's a man with a hundred sheep, a lady with ten coins, and a man with two sons.

So the Numbers are going down - and the fewer you've got, the more precious it gets. That one son is worth more than ten coins or a hundred sheep. If you've got enough coins, you can buy sheep, but who's going to trade their son for coins or sheep? See what Jesus is doing in the story is he's bringing it in to the things that are the most precious. Then he tells about this woman - ten silver coins. These were often coins that were given, maybe, as wedding gifts or momentos and so they're precious.

And she loses one coin. She doesn't shrug and say, 'I've got, you know, ten percent - or ninety percent. She lights a lamp - they didn't have artificial light, you had to light a lamp. She gets out a broom. She decides to just clean and sweep every corner and she searches carefully until - she knows it's in the house.

It doesn't know it's lost. She won't give up until she finds it. And then she goes and tells her neighbors, 'rejoice with me!' If you came and knocked on my door and said, 'come on over, we're having a party.' I'd say, 'well, what's the occasion?' 'I lost one of my coins.' I'd say, 'okay, any good reason to celebrate.' But, you know, if you love someone, you rejoice with those that rejoice. That's what Jesus said. "Likewise," - he tells us - "there is joy in heaven in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents.

" Just one sinner who repents. When someone comes to the Lord, the angels are rejoicing. They're all involved in saving somebody here in this world. And then, he finally - before I leave the point of the coin, I just heard a pastor illustrate one time, 'what else comes in denominations of ten? Well, you've got ten lepers and one came back to thank the Lord. You've got Ten Commandments - was one lost for a millennia? And what does a woman represent in Bible analogies or metaphors? A church.

So you've got a woman - and what does a lamp represent? Word of God - 'thy word is a lamp unto my feet' - right? Isn't that what it says? So here she loses one of something inanimate, but precious. The commandments of God are not human, but they're precious. And she lights a lamp and she takes out the broom of diligence and faith and she searches until she finds it, and when she finds it she says, 'oh bummer, a new law.' That's not what she says. She rejoices. The commandments of God in the Bible are always presented as something that is precious.

I always thought that was an interesting spiritual approach to that parable about finding a missing commandment and rejoicing. And then you've got a missing son. Now, we're going to look at this together and we still have some other points to cover so I'll try to pace myself. And you go to Luke 11, "a certain man had" - Luke - I'm sorry, 15, verse 11 - "a certain man had two sons." It kind of talks about the two roads in the Kingdom - straight gate - broad way to destruction - "and the younger of them said to his father, 'father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son.

..journeyed to a far country'" - gets as far away from his father - see, he knows where he's going. It's deliberate - "and there wasted his possessions with prodigal" - or riotous - "living. But when he had spent all," - you notice he spent it pretty quick - an inheritance that is gotten hastily is often lost quickly too. When you work for your money for years and you save it, you're more careful how you spend it. When people come into money quickly and easily, they're often reckless in spending it.

Have you all heard the stories about people that somehow win the lottery and what their lives are like a year later? Some amazing stories of just dissipation and squandering it and being robbed by other family and they're more miserable and, sometimes, even in debt deeper a year after winning the lottery - millions of dollars - than they were before. So this young man gets this money and he squanders it and after he squanders it with wild living, then he spends all - "there arose a severe famine" - to make matters worse - "in that land," - this far country - "and he began to be in want." - Missing the basic necessities. And he finally, in desperation, he joins himself to a citizen of that country - the only work he can find - they had no government programs you could apply for - he sends him into his field to feed pigs. Now remember, Jesus is sharing this story in - to a Jewish audience and just the very worst thing you could to is to be - what do they call it in german? A schweineherde - a piggard - take care of pigs - and - and - sends him into the fields to feed the pigs these seed pods "and he gladly would have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything." He had a lot of friends when he had money. Now he's all alone.

He's lost. He's separated from his father, but he comes to himself. The Holy Spirit begins to work on him and he reasons and he says, 'how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough to spare and I perish with hunger?' - He's rejected his father's bread and now he wants that bread. "And I perish" - Jesus said he came that we might not perish - "I will arise" - he needs to do something on his own - "and go to my father, and will say to him, 'father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.

'" He thought, 'I'm much better off being a servant of my Father's house than taking care of these pigs.' - "And he arose and came to his father." - He's come from a far country - "but when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck" - he wondered if his father would accept him. The Bible says 'draw near to God, he will draw near to you.' As soon as The Father saw him drawing near, he runs to meet him. As soon as we recognize that we've drifted from God and we make our way back, the Lord comes to us. Amen. He came to his father and his father ran - he had compassion - he fell on his neck and he kissed him - he's so happy that he's come home - happier than the woman who found the coin or the shepherd that found the sheep.

This man has found his son. And he begins - the boy begins to make his speech of repentance. "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But The Father said to his servants, 'bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.'" - Cover up the rags that he's wearing. Give him a royal robe. Kind of what Jacob did for Joseph - "'and bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;'" - let's celebrate - let's have a feast - "'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

'" - Now who does that son represent? You know what's different about this parable, from some of the others? Is there is a boy who is evidently in The Father's house when he starts, but he doesn't appreciate it and he leaves. People grow up in the church, they think maybe the world's more attractive, they get bored with The Father's bread, they get bored with The Father's rules and think it'll be a lot more interesting out there in the world and they leave the church. They leave their family's religion and they find out that the hard way, often, and after some scars and bad lessons - there's no peace for the wicked. There's no rest for the wicked. And they start saying, 'what in the world was I thinking?' Sometimes it takes years.

You know that promise: 'train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.' Sometimes it's when they're old. Now there's no reason for anyone to do that. The wise thing to do is to remember the Lord in the days of your youth, amen? Amen. And don't go down that road. But he comes to his senses, the father celebrates, and they begin to make merry.

Now, when the older son - he's never left home - he's in the field and he comes and he draws near - he's been out working in the fields - working for The Father - he hears the music and dancing and he calls one of the servants. He doesn't go in and find out; he wants to find out before he goes in, what's going on. He asks a servant: he said, "'your brother has come, and because he received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said.

..'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came,'" - you notice he doesn't say, 'my brother'? - "'Who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.'" - He said, "'son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'" Now who - Jesus is telling this parable to the scribes and the pharisees that are saying, 'why does The Son of man mingle and hang out with sinners? And Jesus is trying to explain to them, with this series of parables, that we should love the lost and there's two categories of lost people that Jesus is speaking about here. One is the jews - they're jews, but they're publicans and they're harlots and they've wandered from God. They're not religious and they've just been written off as lost.

The other are the gentiles who were considered totally foreign to God. And, in this series of parables, Jesus is talking about reaching both. But, you know, when we talk about reaching the lost, there's two groups: you've got backslidden believers and you've got unbelievers - isn't that right? What other group is there? There's people that don't know. There's people that once knew and they wandered - and we should have compassion for both. But here this boy who stays home - he works for The Father - somehow he thinks he's earning his salvation.

He doesn't realize it's based on grace. Alright, let's keep moving here. So, eating with sinners - now, this story - this is a good segue into one of the ways that we reach the people. We've got to mingle with them. And you can read some examples of this - Matthew 9, verse 10 - and it says here, "now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house," - this is in the house of Matthew - after he calls Matthew, Matthew walks away from his tax booth - "many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down" - all of Matthew's friends were invited and what did they do? They're tax collectors and sinners.

And they sat with "his disciples and when the pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples" - they don't say it to Jesus - "'why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard that he said to them, "those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." During our camp out - I think I mentioned to you that the last day - now, most of the guys that we were out camping with are members of our church - all believers in God - and there's no beer, no smoking, no dirty stories - we had a lot of fun - so it's a good, clean group. Not all campers and hunters are like that. And the last night we were there, some headlights came on - we had a great campsite - someone else pulled up with their quad - one guy - and their camper and said, 'how long you guys going to be here?' We said, 'well, we're pulling out in the morning.' He said, 'well, I'll go off and I'll come back.' I said, 'no, no, you come' - we said, 'you come join us.' We said, 'just hang out with us and when we're gone you'll have more space. And he was so happy to talk with us.

He obviously was not a believer and he was talking about drinking and he was telling some sordid stories and he was talking about how big his steaks and pork chops were and we invited him for breakfast and he wanted to know if we'd have bacon and (laughs) - we said, 'no, it may not be that elaborate.' But, you know, you've got to know how to - all of my friends, they keyed right in, they said, 'we're going to make a friend out of this guy.' And we were so nice and so welcoming - and that's how you reach people. We didn't say, 'bacon, we don't eat bacon.' He kind of figured that out the next morning. (Laughter) 'haven't you heard - they're unclean!' You can't share everything with everybody all at once, you know what I'm saying? First you've got to what? You've got to make friends with them and mingle with them. And, of course, as I left I said, 'now, if you're riding around up in the desert and you find a backpack - and I wrote my home number on my business card, hoping that he'll check out the website. And so, you know, even stuff like that, it's evangelistic.

But you've got to meet people where they are. Now there's a - it pushes your - it sometimes pushes Christians in their comfort zone a little bit because you need to just know how to make friends with people who are talking about things that you - you know, he was telling us all about all his hunting. We said, 'well, we're not really doing any hunting, we're just' - I mean, we had a couple of pistols because there are rattlesnakes out there, but we didn't do any hunting, that's not what our purpose was. We were just enjoying the scenery and riding around. But you've got to know how to make friends with people without offending them or acting like, 'I'm more righteous than thou' and show that you value them.

And this is the method that Jesus used. Jesus then said - when the pharisees were giving him a hard time - he said, 'those who are well do not need a physician but those who are sick. But go learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.' Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6. the Lord wants people who are poor in spirit. He's looking for people.

It doesn't matter how sinful we are. If there's a contrition, he calls it. It doesn't matter if you're somebody like nicodemus, who was a religious leader, or you're mary magdalene. King David said in psalm 51, verse 17, "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these, o God, you will not despise." 'Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out.' It doesn't matter whether you are a truly converted repenting religious person or if you have been a sinner that doesn't know the first thing about how to find your way around in the Bible. You know, one of the stories in the Bible that always kind of struck me is about David and his mighty men - his army.

Have you read that when he first attracted this army - how they were composed? It says, "David therefore departed, he escaped to the cave of adullam. So when his brothers and all his Father's house heard it, they went down there to him." - David's running for his life, he's living in a cave - "and everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt," - these people not paying their credit cards - "and everyone who was discontented gathered to him." So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him. All kinds of strange characters gathered around David and he turned them into a formidable army by mingling with them, by his example - he taught them how to pray, he taught them how to trust God, he taught them, you know, how to order their lives - he was a leader for a very strange group, but he disciplined them - but he welcomed them. It doesn't say he rejected any of them and said, 'you're in debt.

' 'You're a grumbler.' 'You're a complainer.' 'You're a rebel.' They all gathered to him. They were attracted to him - and he turned them into the leaders of the Kingdom. It's like Jesus with the apostles. Have you ever looked at what they were made of? There were fishermen and shepherds and tax collectors and scribes and just a little bit of everything. But he brought them together.

We have one more verse I'd like you to read and that's Luke 19 - this was our memory verse, but I thought it'd be a good place to share. Go ahead, why don't you read that? Luke 19:5-7. "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, 'zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.' So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, 'he has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.'" Going to eat at the house of zacchaeus - that bothered them - but Jesus said, 'this is why I came.' the Lord wants to be in their homes. If you want to win people to the Lord you need to go into the homes of people who may not believe and learn how to interact with them in a winsome way and win their hearts.

Now there's a balance in mingling wisely. You need to know how to be in the world without the world being in you. Samson might have argued he was doing missionary work among the philistines, but instead of winning the philistines, the philistines won him. Instead of reaching them, they trapped him. And so, you've got to be very careful.

There is a balance and maybe we'll talk more about that next week and - how do you draw that line so you know that you're reaching out into the community, mingling among people who are lost, without them affecting you and reaching you? It's one thing to go out in the ocean and to catch fish, but if you get too far in the water, the fish could catch you. Someone said the church is supposed to be like a boat in the ocean. A boat on dry land looks useless, doesn't it? And in the same way - but, if the ocean gets in the boat you have a problem, right? And so you've got to maintain that separation. Alright, well, we're out of time and I'll maybe cover some of these other points next week. I want to remind those who are watching, we do have the free offer.

You may have missed that at the beginning, it's called alone in the crowd - great book by Joe Crews - ask for offer #714 when you call 866-788-3966 - that's simply 866-study-more. We'll send it to you. You can also download it for free online. God bless 'til we study his word together again next week. On Christmas eve 1971, 17-year-old juliane koepcke boarded lansa flight #508 with her mother in lima, peru.

They intended to join her father for Christmas at his research station in the amazon rain forest. After crossing the andes at about 21,000 feet, their aircraft was enveloped by large, dark thunderclouds and it encountered severe turbulence. Lightning was flashing everywhere and the plane was shaken violently, which naturally terrified the passengers. Then, a bolt of lightning struck the plane's engine and tore off a wing. As the doomed airliner hurtled towards the earth, the cabin came apart and the next thing she knew, juliane found herself strapped alone to a row of seats falling and spinning silently from over 10,000 feet above the rain forest.

She plummeted through the jungle canopy and slammed on the forest floor. When she awoke the next day, juliane was amazed to realize she had survived the two-mile fall with just a broken collarbone and a bad gash in her arm. After failing to find any other survivors, juliane relied on what her father had taught her: that walking downstream will always lead to civilization. So, with a bag of candy that had fallen from the plane and one sandal, she started walking. For ten days juliane hobbled, swam, or floated downstream.

Her wounds became infected and she was plagued by maggots while having to dodge crocodiles, piranhas, and relentless insects. Eventually she came to a shack where she slept and she was soon discovered by peruvian loggers. Eventually juliane was united with her amazed father. It's hard to imagine a 17-year-old girl surviving such a fall and then hiking alone out of the world's largest rainforest. You know, the Bible talks about some who survived an even greater fall than juliane.

In fact, according to the Scriptures, when adam and eve fell in the Garden of Eden, it brought the whole human race down. But Jesus came to redeem the world from sin. Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, 'well, that's okay for the world, but I've fallen too far.' Well, if the Lord can save juliane, God can save you. You've not gone farther than Moses, who was guilty of murder, or David, who was guilty of adultery, or Peter, who denied Jesus - and all of them were saved and restored from their fall. Or maybe you're thinking, 'I've fallen too many times.

' Be of good courage. It says in Proverbs chapter 24, verse 16, "for a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again" - and Jesus cast seven devils out of mary magdalene. So don't get discouraged, friend, if you've fallen, get back up again. The same way that he could save juliane - lead her from that lost condition in the rainforest and restore her to her father, Jesus can lead you from your lost condition and restore you to your Heavenly Father. Amazing Facts changed lives.

When I was 15 I bought my first bag of marijuana out of curiosity and from the age of 15 on to 23 it was a constant experimentation with different substances. By the time I was 23 there was not a drug I had not tried. I had worn myself out searching for happiness and one day I came home, tired as usual, and I started drinking. And, as usual, after I started drinking, I started looking for a higher buzz. Someone came by with some xanax.

Someone also came by with something else that I liked and that was cocaine. But this time, not thinking, I took the whole thing. So I went to bed about five in the afternoon. My roommate went off to work that night; when he came back from work the next day though, he noticed something was wrong because I was still in bed in the same position. He tried to wake me up and he couldn't wake me up.

And when my parents found me, they found me curled up in the fetal position in my hospital room unconscious still. And I stayed unconscious in this coma-like state for the next week. I stayed the next month in the hospital, slowly getting better to where I could sit up in bed and I had to learn to walk again. But my parents found this one facility out in the hills of tennessee. I had to admit that I liked the place, but they were Christian - and even worse than that, I said 'yes' when they asked me if I wanted to go to church that week.

Before the pastor said the benediction I was so excited because I was planning my escape. And so, after everybody was all in bed that night, I made sure that they were snoring and that they were asleep. I went into the kitchen and stole a few bananas, got my backpack ready - I figured I could get sober on my own. My favorite song was 'I did it my way'. Of course, my definition of sober was a nice supply of marijuana each day and alcohol on the weekends.

And, of course, if I had a bad hangover, I might need some of those relaxing pills to take, but other than that, that would be it. So here I am, stranded on the street in the big city of houston, my bag of clothes is gone. My cell phone is gone - my wallet, my bus ticket's gone. I don't have anything but the shirt on my back. It's at that point that this man comes up to me - this mysterious man - he's actually very short and appears to be homeless and he led me to some food and even a place to stay that night.

Looking back, it is my firm conclusion that that was an angel. So my dad was able to come down to houston and pick me up and take me back up to the health retreat at wildwood in tennessee. They had a satellite. On this channel there was a man named Doug Batchelor. I liked what I heard.

I liked the way he explained the Bible - it was so simple. And he also had an experience similar to mine and I talked to lou about them and they happened to have a whole set of cassette tapes. I would wake up at 4:00 in the morning sometimes and I would get up and I would watch two of those videos before breakfast. I would sit this close to the tv, watching what Doug Batchelor was saying - just eating up every word of it. I was so tired of hearing lies and even believing my own lies, that it was so wonderful to find something that was solid and that I could rely on.

And so, when I got home from rehab, in my local church, eric flickinger from Amazing Facts was holding an evangelistic series. They solidified my conviction and it was then I made the absolute decision to follow Jesus. I praise the Lord Jesus Christ for Amazing Facts. I praise God for Amazing Facts because they are so Bible based. They send out evangelists who are willing to teach the truth to people.

I'm thankful that they're preaching right now all over the world, changing lives just as they changed mine. Together, we have spread the Gospel much father than ever before. Thank you for your support. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at 'aftv.org'. At 'aftv.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'aftv.org'. For life-changing Christian resources visit afbookstore.com.

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