Deadly Distractions and Drift

Scripture: Luke 15:4-10
It is very easy to get distracted by life and drift away from our relationship with God.
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Dogs generally have a tremendous sense of direction. One family that was driving across Indiana lost track of their dog by a rest stop. Six months later it showed up miles away back at home in Oregon. But sometimes dogs lose track of where they are. One family in Virginia in 2003 lost their dog - a little terrier named petunia - it was three years old.

Can you imagine their amazement when eight years later they got a call from a Sacramento animal shelter that had identified their dog from the computer chip under its skin. It had managed somehow to get miles - 2500 miles away. You know, sometimes even Christians lose their sense of direction and they can wander from their church families. Some of you watching might be in that category and these meetings would be a great opportunity for you to Reclaim Your Faith. I grew up in a church-going family.

I mean, we were at every meeting, I sang in four of the choirs there, I directed three - very involved, very active. It almost seemed like busy work sometimes, you know, I went to Sunday school, I knew about God, I knew about Jesus, but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My senior year in high school I got the news my father had been murdered. Now, I played it off well. No one really saw that I was struggling with it.

It just really felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled and I tried to fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with partying. After college I just stopped going to church altogether. One day, on a Sunday, because I didn't feel like going to church with my mom, I thought, you know, I should get a little bit of the word. And there I am high off cocaine, with my Bible in hand, trying to do a Bible study. And I heard an audible voice, 'just look at yourself.

' And I did and I was like, 'what am I doing?' And I got on my knees and I said, 'Lord, if you do not take this away from me now, I'm going to kill myself.' I was going to continue this lifestyle and I was going to end up overdosing, having a heart attack, whatever it was. 'You have to take this away. All of it.' And that day he lifted all of the weight. It was all gone. When God does something in your life, he does it complete.

My name is edmond gibbs and I reclaimed my faith. Amen. Well, welcome once again, friends, to Reclaim Your Faith. There are two great statements of Jesus that he makes in the Bible that really help us to calibrate what the purpose of life is. In Matthew chapter 11, Jesus says, 'come unto me.

' And then in Matthew 28 he says, 'go and tell the world.' The two great priorities of life are coming to Jesus and then going for Jesus. It's really coming to him - this love relationship and then going for him - this love relationship. And everything else is secondary to seeking first God's kingdom and his righteousness. But the devil has a thousand distractions to keep us from making it to God's kingdom - to keep us from making it to that home he's prepared for everybody here. the Lord has prepared a place for you and the devil wants to get you sidelined - distracted - where you lose your bearings and you start becoming preoccupied with the cares of life.

You know, I'm fascinated with animal migration and how some of these creatures are managed to cover thousands of miles, like these arctic terns go 12,000 miles twice a year. I think they're one of the farthest. Monarch butterflies - miles - a butterfly! From Canada to Mexico. And then homing pigeons are amazing - how they can transport them to some remote part of the planet, let them go, and they might circle once and then they make a beeline to their homes. I think one of the records was a pigeon that was released in arrecife, France and it managed to go 7,200 miles in 24 days to its home in saigon, vietnam.

Made a straight line. But, you know, even some of these animals that you think would have a wired ability to find their way home, they get lost. I think one of the most severe examples of this happened in when they had some pigeon - homing pigeon race, where all these people in england, they took their birds to France, south France, they released ,000 homing pigeons. Somewhere over the english channel 20,000 of them got confused or distracted or lost - they don't know what happened - it's never happened like this before - and they never made it back to their homes in england - they're lost. And, by the way, that represented about $600,000.

00 worth of pigeons that got sidetracked along the way. Sometimes God's sheep get sidetracked. Jesus tells a parable about that. By the way, you know, I love the parables that you find Christ sharing - and we're going to talk - tomorrow evening about the one about The Son, but you've got a sheep, you've got a coin, you've got a son and they all start out in the right place, but then something happens and they end up getting lost. But there is great rejoicing when they're found.

And all of them, whether it's the lost coin or the lost son, or the lost sheep, all of them are sought. Well, you know, friends, if you've wandered from Jesus, there is someone who is seeking for you. God wants us to find our way back home. Let me read this parable to you. We're going to talk about tonight dealing with deadly distractions - Luke 15, and I'll start with verse 4.

Luke 15, verse 4. Jesus asks, "what man of you having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after that one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing, and when he comes home he calls his friends together and his neighbors and he says to them, 'rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' I say to you that likewise, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance." Jesus tells us a similar parable in Matthew chapter 18, if you want to turn there quickly, where he talks about that lost sheep. "For The Son of man" - and this is verse 11 , Matthew 18 - "for The Son of man has come to seek that which was lost. What do you think? A man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray; does he not leave the ninety and nine and go into the mountains to seek that one that is straying. And should he find it, assuredly I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety and nine that did not go astray.

Even so, it is not the will" - this is what Matthew says that is unique from Luke - "even so, it is not the will of your father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. God does not want to lose one. God is not willing that any should be lost. And that would include some of you who think that you've wandered too far. Now, in the three parables that you find there in Luke - you've got the lost coin - it sort of doesn't even know it's lost - and there are some people like that, that they think they're okay and they don't realize they need to be sought.

And then you've got the lost sheep that it realizes that it's been misplaced, but it doesn't know how to get home. It needs someone to go after it, it needs some direction. How does a sheep get lost? Does that sheep conspire? It looks around one day, it packs it bags, it waits until the shepherd is not watching and says, 'I'm going to make a run for it. See if I can escape.' Sheep, typically, aren't thinking that way. What happens is they're out nibbling and, you know, sheep kind of keep their heads down and they just sort of go from one tuft of grass to another tuft of grass and while they're eating this grass, they're eyeing where they're going to go next.

They say, 'that one looks pretty good.' And they go over to this piece of grass, 'mmm, that was really good. Hey, that over the fence looks better' - because we all know the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? And he sticks his head and one foot through the fence and nibbles on that and then nibbles and nibbles and nibbles and just like a dot-to-dot drawing it nibbles its way into being lost. You know, a lot of people are wandering from Jesus and it starts by making small compromises. 'Well, yeah, I know I'm not supposed to be drinking anymore, I gave that up but, you know, it's a special occasion. And my friends, they're just going to pass around one little glass of champagne and we're just going to toast this one person and then it's over with - I mean, what's wrong with that?' And then they try to find that verse there in John chapter 2 and say, 'after all, Jesus turned the water into wine.

And it's not what goes in your mouth that defiles you but it's what comes out.' And they find something - and they drink a little bit. Well that makes it a lot easier when they get together with their friends who may not be churchgoing friends at the football game and they start passing around the beer. And then it becomes two, and then it becomes once every weekend and then it becomes once every day. And they nibble their way into being lost. And it's not always drugs - as we've heard in some testimonies.

Sometimes people can actually get distracted with education. They say, 'well, you know, the Lord understands - I've got to get my career set. And I know I'm going to be on this secular campus and there'll be some things happening but, you know, I'm just going to really put my education first during these years.' - And some people make those little nibbles while they're at school and they nibble their way right out of the fold and one day they wake up and they say, 'I have no idea where the other sheep are. I have no idea where the shepherd is. How did I get here? There's a lot of distractions that the devil's got out there.

He's got a thousand things to take away our attention, especially in this media-crazed world that we're living in. You can't look anywhere - just driving down the road there are messages that are blaring and flashing - you're being asSaulted continually with a blizzard of information and the devil has so many other things to occupy your mind that it's easy for us to forget what the really important thing is - seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. And now we've got all of it at our fingertips with our phones now. You know, it's funny, when alexander graham bell was told that the telephone - when he first invented the telephone - he took it to the telegraph company - you'd think at&t would say, 'yeah, it's a great idea.' He took it to the telegraph company and they said it was a novelty with no real practical use. You know, according to the national - pardon me, I just - you can visit with each other for a moment, I'll be right with you here.

Hello. (Muffled voice) oh, Pastor Ross was checking to make sure I turned my phone off. I've been wanting to do that for years. Do you know how many times my sermon has been interrupted by a cell phone? This is my chance to get even. Now I'm going to turn it off.

You know it is true. One of the leading causes of traffic accidents are distractions that are going on within the car. I mean it's - alcohol, of course, is a big cause, but the national health transportation safety association did a study and some of the principal actions that caused distracted driving and lead to crashes are: cell phone use, reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle, - you ever have that bottle of water rolling around by your feet and it gets lodged underneath the - you know you slow down it rolls off the seat underneath your brake pedal or something. Don't ask me how I know that. - Looking for an object or event outside the vehicle that has nothing to do with the car in front of you, - I actually saw an accident last week - I came up to the intersection right near bonnie's house and I stopped - an ambulance started coming through - I was already stopped and as it came and it made its way around the corner, some other people that were turning, they stopped because it's an ambulance - the people behind them were, I think, painting their toenails, or something, in the car and they just watched them plow into the back.

It was, you know, a fender bender - I don't think anyone was seriously injured, but they were distracted. And you'd be surprised what people do while they're driving. Texting! I can't text when it's got 100% of my attention. My big old stubby fingers - I always dial like three or four letters around the one I'm trying to hit. Trying to do it while I'm driving is really reckless.

Reading? I know people that are driving down the road and they are reading. Applying make-up - I've seen it - have you seen that before? I've seen it - don't point at anybody. We might have a camera on you at that moment. But I have, I've pulled up at an intersection on my way to work and I'll see the people powdering themselves or men have got their electric razors out and they're shaving as they go down the road and some kids are playing video games while they're driving - on their phones. I know some that put dvd players on their dash and they drive down the road and they're watching a movie.

And these - these distractions, obviously, can be deadly. Well, you know, the devil has a thousand deadly distractions for us that can get us to just kind of nibble our way right out of the fold. Jesus warns us about that. You know in both Luke 17 and Luke 21 he talks about the end of the world. Listen to Luke 17, verse 30 - "even thus shall it be in the day when The Son of man is revealed.

In that day, he that is on his housetop and has stuff in the house, let him not come down and take it away. And he that is in the field, don't let him return back." And then Jesus, one of the shortest verses in the Bible - you know what it is? 'Remember lot's wife.' There was a time when God said you need to turn and run for your life and do not become distracted and do not say, 'oh, but I forgot this and I forgot that, and I've got to make sure and pack.' He said, 'you just run for your life.' How many of you have heard of the book 'pilgrim's progress'? The book begins with this pilgrim who gets a message from evangelist and he says, 'arise and flee from the city of destruction. Flee from the wrath to come.' And he tries to dilly dally and spend time trying to do other things and bring people with him, and he says, 'look, you've got to flee.' That's what lot did. The angels finally had to take him and drag him out of the city. And like lot's wife, we're always tempted to be looking everywhere but straight ahead - going back for something else.

I heard about a man during the tsunami in japan last year - there in one of the towns - I don't remember the name of the town, but you probably saw the story and he and his wife heard the alarms that told him to run for cover and they actually were leaving the house and they would have made it - and they thought, you know, we probably have time to get some of our valuables - and they turned back into the house and they were overtaken. And he and his wife held onto each other for a while - the house disintegrated - they were separated. Nine days after the tsunami he was found out in the ocean by the japanese coast guard on his roof. What was left of his roof. Do some of you remember that story? And he will forever regret that they went back - got distracted.

What deserves more of your attention than Jesus and eternal life? What in this world is more important than that? Luke 21 - Jesus tells us there again - speaking of the last days - "but take heed to yourself lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing and drunkenness and the cares of this life." Now, we know about carousing and drunkenness - that's bad behavior - but the cares of this life - anyone have cares of this life? That sort of encompasses everybody. We can become so distracted with even good things that we forget the most important crucial thing - "lest that day come upon you unexpectedly for it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the earth." Now, I read here a moment ago in the Bible 'the Lord is not willing that even one should perish.' Will the majority be saved or lost? You know, it just breaks my heart to say it, but Jesus said, 'straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.' Broad is the way that leads to destruction but God is not willing that even one should be lost. So what does that mean? It means that the people choose to do other things. How sad. the Lord is desperate for everybody to be saved.

He paid a great price for you to be saved specifically - not just the whole world. He would have done it just for you. To waste that investment of God's own life is such a tragedy - especially when you consider nobody needs to be lost and it is true you are happier in Christ even in this life, not to mention eternity. It's so much better for the Christian even in this life. I'm a lot happier now as a Christian than I was when I was out there in the world.

You still have problems, but you don't go to sleep hung over and wake up guilty - no, wake up hung over, go to sleep guilty. I've probably done both. Mark 4 - you know, the parable of the different soils Jesus shares. And the Gospel seed is spread on all the different ground - there's only one kind of ground that really brings forth fruit but, in particular, he talks about - in verse 19 - "and these are those who are sown among the thorns such as they hear the word and they spring up, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things" - it can even be materialism that can become a distraction - just owning a little bit of everything. We can become so burdened with possessions that you can become a slave to credit card debt and the devil is capturing a lot of people with those kind of distractions.

The lust of other things enters in and it chokes the word and it becomes unfruitful. Now, you might be thinking, 'Pastor Doug, that's me. I guess I'm just bad soil. I'm the thorny ground - what am I to do?' Well, it tells us in the word that soil can be changed. You read in Jeremiah 4:3, "thus says the Lord, break up your fallow ground.

" Pray and the Holy Spirit will bring his rototiller across your life and fertilize your heart and you can have good soil. We need to pray that God will give us that new beginning. Now, here's something I think needed to be said. One reason that some people stop going to church - they're distracted by blessings. Things are too good.

We always think that, you know, the devil sends the hard times - sometimes the devil sends the good times. I think it was Benjamin franklin who said, 'more people are destroyed by abundance than want.' Let me read you a verse - Deuteronomy 6, verse 10 - here's the context. Deuteronomy is Moses' last sermon before the children of Israel cross over into the promised land and he is going to give them victory over their enemies, but the promised land is possessed by seven other nations, and he says, 'you know, you're going to move into these nations where they've already got things built and established and I want to give you a warning - Deuteronomy 6, verse 10 - "so it shall be when the Lord your God brings you into a land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities that you didn't build; houses full of all good things that you did not fill, hewn out wells that you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant." Brings them into a land flowing with milk and honey - "and when you have eaten and you are full then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage." Translation - if God blesses you - you get the good education, you get the good job, you get the nice car, you get the nice house, you're healthy and wealthy and wise and you've got friends, you take vacations, and you can automatically assume that you're on the road to heaven because you're blessed. And you can be self-deceived - you can be lost and not even know it, if you don't have Christ at the center of your life. It says, 'beware that you forget the Lord who brought you out of Egypt.

' That means who saved you from your slavery to sin. So, we need to ask God to also help us know what our state is because it's not always governed by good times and bad times. You know, one of the things a person can do to keep from nibbling their ways out of the church? Get involved. One of the greatest things is for people to go and just sit. If they go week after week and just sit and sort of take it in - we are, let's face it, living in a generation that is being programmed like we're spectators all the time.

The apostles were not spectators of Christianity. The early disciples all felt ownership of getting this message out. They all had a passion that they were involved. They needed to do something great. Abraham lincoln, one time, was riding home after a sermon in his carriage and he was with his secretary and the secretary said, 'mr.

President, how did you enjoy the message today?' And lincoln, in his very straight way said, 'I didn't care for it.' And the secretary said, 'well, I thought it was very eloquent.' He said, 'well, he was eloquent but he didn't ask me to do anything great.' People want to be challenged with a purpose that is bigger than their own lives. Something that is worth not only living for, but something worth dying for. I remember reading an ad that was in a london paper - I didn't read it, it was years ago, I read about it. This is what it said, "men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

" The ad was signed by the arctic explorer sir ernest shackleton. Right after the ad ran, thousands of people instantly responded - people that wanted to do something great. They wanted to have a purpose. Jesus has called you with the greatest message and the greatest mission in the world - to save people who are perishing and help them live. What's greater than that? And to go as far as you can go - the whole world - and to live a life that is a contradiction of the accusations of the devil - to live a new life as a new creature - to be holy.

Well that's a challenge - that's an adventure. Talk about an adventure, live like Christ. We've got to get involved. People seldom lose their religion by blow out, they usually lose it by a slow leak - little by little. And then, sometimes it's being faithful right where you're at at the moment - staying involved.

I think it was c.s. Lewis who said, "a glimpse of the next three feet of road is more important and useful than a view of the horizon. Are you being faithful where you are right now? Do something. Don't just wait for something later down the road, but what can you do now? You ask what is the will of God? Well, here's the answer true. The nearest thing that should be done that he can do through you.

" All of us have been called by the Lord. Some get distracted by money - the making of money. Now, money is not evil, it's the love of money that is the root of all evil, but Jesus was pretty clear. He said 'a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses and it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.' There are exceptions in the Bible, but what worries me is everybody I meet wants to be the exception. Yeah, there are some holy, Godly rich people but they were the exceptions.

Abundance, as I said, it can be very dangerous. You know, for other people it's not just education or their career or their work, sometimes it's entertainment becomes a distraction - or sports. People can actually make a religion out of sports. I've traveled to some part of the world that they ought to really have altars to soccer - or what they call football. It's like a religion and if their team wins they storm the field and riot.

If their team loses they storm the field and riot. And it's just - how many of you know what I'm talking about? Now, we're a little more self-possessed maybe here in North America, but it's a religion nonetheless, for others. Some, every Sunday, worship at the altar of their favorite sporting event - and now they've got, you know, ten sports channels on cable, all lined up next to each other. In high definition they can worship their Gods. Somebody once made a comparison between worshiping sports and worshiping God.

And it's talking about 'why I gave up sports' - here are the reasons that they gave up sports and - see what would happen if we applied this to church. "Every time I went they asked for money. So I gave up sports. The people I sat next to didn't seem friendly. The seats were too hard and not at all comfortable.

' Some people stop going to church for those reasons. 'I went to many games, but the coach never came to visit me. The referees made decisions I just couldn't agree with. The game went into overtime and I was late getting home.' Ever complained because church went into overtime? 'The band played new songs that weren't my style. It seems that games were always scheduled when I had other things to do.

I realized I was sitting next to some hypocrites during the game, they came to talk to their friends and weren't paying attention. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.' These are the same things people say about church - you realize that? 'I hate to wait in the traffic jam in the parking lot after the game.' If you don't have enough faith to get you to church, friends, are you going to have enough to get you to heaven? And yet these are the kind of things that people say about church, but you never hear people say this about why they gave up sports. They endure all kinds of bad behavior and misconduct because they love it. When we love the Lord, when we love His Word, when we love Jesus, what's going to keep us away? You know, there are people through history that have died on their way to church and they knew that their lives might be threatened if they went. But it was so important to them that they went.

And some have become distracted. I saw another one - I may as well read these together. 'Excuses that people give for why they don't go to church.' What if they applied those excuses to food? How important is that? I never eat anymore because I was forced to eat as a child. People that eat all the time are hypocrites, they're not really hungry. There are so many different kinds of food I couldn't decide what to eat, so I quit.

I used to eat but I got bored eating the same thing, so I just stopped eating. I only eat on special occasions like Christmas and easter and weddings. None of my friends will eat with me. Some people don't go to church because they have no one to go with them. I'll start eating when I get older - I'll fast while I'm young.

I don't really have time to eat. Some don't. I don't believe that eating really does anybody any good - it's just a crutch for weak people. The restaurants and grocery stores are only after your money. Now, the reason I share that with you is, how important is church in our Christian life for our health? Jesus said, 'man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

' the Lord says, 'I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.' Well, I started out talking about a wandering sheep and I've wandered a little bit just dealing with some of the distractions that get these sheep off track - talking about some of the back sliding that takes place. Well, let's go back to our sheep again. Why would a shepherd go look for one sheep? Now, you know that the Bible begins and ends with sheep? You can read in Genesis 'abel was a keeper of sheep.' It goes all the way back. You go to the last chapter of the Bible and you are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb. The Bible talks about Jesus as the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.

And all the way from Genesis to Revelation it's talking about shepherds so it's probably good for us to consider this for just a moment because Jesus compares us sometimes to wandering sheep and he is the great shepherd. Why would a shepherd notice that one sheep is missing if he had a hundred. You know, if you had a hundred sheep up on a green hill, can you just look up there and look down and say, 'oh, I spot one's missing'? They all kind of look a dingy white color and they kind of meld together and if one sheep's in front of another it would be pretty hard to notice that one is missing unless you counted. You know how a lot of people end up missing from our churches? Because we don't ever count. We say, 'well that's proud to count.

' Oh, a good shepherd counts his sheep - how else are you going to know one is missing. That's when you run them through that sheep gate. You say, 'one, two, three.' Bringing them back into the fold at the end of the day, the shepherd counts them and says, 'wait a second, let's count again, one is missing. And so the shepherd says, 'well, out of 100, that's not bad and I can report to the ceos that we've got 99% accuracy. Any of you ever go to walmart with five kids and come out with four and say, 'well, you know, four out of five isn't bad.

' Would we think that way? Do you love your children more than the Lord loves his sheep? Now, I'm going to ask you a question - be honest. Those of you who are parents - have you ever at least temporarily misplaced a child in some public spot? Notice my hand is going up. Matter of fact, it's probably true that at some point - and it might just be the nature of their genes they inherited - I misplaced all of them somewhere along the way. Have you ever noticed that frantic feeling when you turned around and you looked up one or two aisles in this store and you didn't spot them right away? And you look a little harder and you say, 'you know, I' - especially if they're little - you know? And they're just so active and they run and they somehow manage to slip away and you start going up and down the aisles and your pace gets a little faster and your heart starts beating a little faster and then it comes into your mind all the weird people that are out there and you can start getting into a virtual panic. I was in a mall one day and I saw this lady trying to manage a very active little girl - she must have been two or three years old - and she kept running off, she'd come and get her, she'd run off, she'd come and get her - kept a pretty good eye on her and then she got involved in a conversation with a friend.

I was sitting there eating at one of these mall courts just watching. And the little girl took off and by the time the mother turned to look she - and it was a very busy mall during a holiday - people's feet and legs everywhere. That little girl just - I mean - she didn't even look back. She was just so excited at all the pretty things to look at she just took off like a shot and disappeared in a sea of humanity and I saw that mother - she just - she ran around. She came around the corner and she thought that her little girl had come back and she didn't and her whole expression turned to desperation very quickly.

With all those people and anything that could happen. Does the Lord love his children less than we love ours? How anxious is he that his sheep come home? How anxious is he that you come home? How much did he pay to redeem and to reclaim us? Well, so, one sheep is important. You notice he's got 99 but one is missing. Notice the value of even one. It tells us that, you know, I just remembered a story in the Bible.

How many of you remember when king David got into his forbidden escapade with bathsheba? I know you weren't there, but you remember the story in the Bible. You remember reading this. And God didn't say anything to him right away. David really wandered big time - and David used to be a shepherd. So many of the Bible heroes were - Moses was a keeper of sheep.

Joseph was a keeper of sheep. And David kept his father's flocks. Killed his best friend to take his one wife and David had a harem. God let several months go by - long enough for the baby to be born and probably under a year of age. Finally, the prophet nathan comes in and he says to David, 'you know, you're sitting as judge today I've got a case I'd like to bring before you.

There's a man in the Kingdom and he had many flocks and herds - he was very wealthy - and he had a poor neighbor that shared a fence with him - very poor family, lived in a shack and they had one ewe lamb and it was like a child - they bought it when it was little and they raised it up and they nursed it by hand and it even slept in the house with them. It was like a daughter to them. And a visitor came to see the wealthy rancher next door and, you know, as the custom sometimes when you had an important visitor, you would kill the fatted calf or the fatted mutton and have a feast. And instead of taking one of his own sheep, he took the one lamb of his neighbor - that precious lamb - and he slaughtered his poor neighbor's one family pet when he had flocks and herds.' And when David heard that he was so outraged that probably the veins stood out in his neck and in fury he said to nathan the prophet 'the man that did this will die!' David was thinking back to how much he sacrificed to save his father's sheep and nathan said, 'you're the man.' Have we sometimes forgotten the value of one? Jesus would lay down his life for one. You know, I marvel at the story when David went before king Saul and he wanted to fight with Goliath and king Saul said, 'you're just a youth and he's been a soldier ever since his youth.

What makes you think that you can take on this giant?' And he said, 'well, when I took care of my father's flocks, one day a bear came and took one lamb and I went after that bear and I fought the bear' - now, you know what it says? It doesn't say he killed it with a sling - some storybooks show it that way and we illustrate it that way - that's not what it says. It says, 'I took him by the beard' - I don't know where a bear's beard is but he got ahold of it and it says, 'I smote him' - as if that wasn't enough to put you in the papers - it says, 'and then a lion came and I went after the lion. And I not only rescued' - I mean, I might try and scare it off with some pepper spray but he killed the lion to rescue one lamb. And I always marvel when I hear that story. Maybe some of you heard me share this story before, but it was very vivid for me because our family used to have goats and we actually had a couple of goats and had a little baby and finally we got down where we had one goat and I woke up about five in the morning and our whole house shook because the goats actually slept under the house - I lived in a ranch back in the hills - the whole house just went 'bang!' And the whole house shook - five in the morning - it's still dark out.

I woke up and then I heard libby, our goat, screaming. It wasn't complaining for food, it was a desperate 'aaah! Aaah!' And it kept going on and I woke up and, you know, you're discombobulated when you first wake up and you're going, 'what is going on?' And then I realized a lion or a bear or something - we have mountain lions up there in northern California - was dragging libby off. Now all I had for defense was a .22 rifle that was out behind the seat in my broken down nissan pickup. And I'll be honest with you friends, I was so shaken by what was happening I thought to myself, 'am I going out there in the dark?' I had - I didn't have electric lights up there, I was way up in the hills - 'am I going out there in the dark to try and find my .22 to shoot a bear with a .22?' And you know what, I didn't go outside. I'm always ashamed to tell that story, but you had to be there.

Don't - you don't know what you would have done. It's probably too much information, but I may as well tell you that at that same time we used an outhouse and knowing that bear was out there at night really caused problems for our family. And then I turned and I read in the Bible David not only rescued the lamb, but killed the bear and the lion. And I always felt a little better when I realized, of course, that was for a sheep and mine was a goat and, you know, goats are all lost anyway. You know what the Bible says about separating the sheep and the goats? Goats aren't going to make it Anyway so why die? But the Lord would do all that for one lamb.

How much would he pay for you? Does the shepherd care? And you know it's a beautiful story then. The Bible tells us he probably goes out at night and he's roaming - because at the end of the day - you pasture the sheep during the day, they're not nocturnal animals - at the end of the day you bring them back. The sun's going down you bring them to the fold, you count, you've got 99 - count again, - fluffy's missing. And the shepherd leaves them in the fold, probably with an attendant - it took more than one man to take care of a hundred sheep in Bible times. Maybe they had some sheep dogs to help watch them.

He says, 'I better go find fluffy.' And he takes off in this rugged, rocky terrain that they had there in the land of Israel, where they had ravines and they had wild jackals and wolves - and you read about wolves in the Bible - they had bears and they had lions back then - and he goes to danger - all that in the dark, for one - and he searches and he searches and it's cold and it's inconvenient and he's stumbling around but finally he finds it and he rejoices. And you know what it says? He scolds the sheep and says, 'you dumb sheep!' Is that what he does? Or is he happy? Some people are afraid to come back because they think, 'you know, everyone's going to remind me of what I did wrong.' And, by the way, if you see someone show up in the church and they haven't been there in a while, please don't say to them, 'where have you been? You know what I heard about you? Is it true that you've been at the bar?' Be loving and compassionate and rejoice when they come back. When that missing son is found, when that missing sheep is found, when that missing coin is found, there is rejoicing. Amen? He comes back and is rejoicing so much he calls all his neighbors together - you know, if I found a missing goat, I wouldn't bring all my neighbors together and have a feast, but that was how they felt back then about one sheep. And how does heaven feel about one of God's wandering children that comes back to the fold of the church? In 2005 there were some boy scouts camping in the wilderness of Utah - some pretty rugged country out there - and one boy, brennan hawkins got separated from his buddy - he had a buddy and he was getting out of his climbing gear and as he was going back to the camp he took a wrong turn.

You know, you can get disoriented in the woods - and backtracked the wrong way and just went from bad to worse until he was plain lost. Called - tried to find his way back to camp - he couldn't. Eventually they noticed that he was missing and they started looking for him and when they realized that they couldn't find him, they contacted the authorities and they contacted the parents and a desperate search ensued for brennan, who was 11 years old. The temperatures got cold, mountain lions in the area, cold creeks, dangerous waterfalls, a lot of people have been lost and died in this wilderness. And they've got 1400 people searching the hillside for that boy.

The sun went down -all night long no - they couldn't find him. Called. Next day another whole day of searching - couldn't find him. The parents were absolutely desperate wondering how it was going to end. Three days go by and they couldn't find him - searching, calling, 1400 people combing the hills and now they're starting to lose hope because - based on past records of what had happened to others that got lost.

After four days one of the searchers going down a trail with an atv spotted a very haggard-looking 11-year-old who came out from behind some bushes and it was brennan and he managed to survive. He had curled up at night under his sweatshirt, leaned against a tree, cried himself to sleep looking at the moon, drank out of the creeks and ate some leaves - and other than being a little dehydrated and cold, he was fine. When he came riding into camp with this missing boy, how do you think the search party behaved? How do you think his parents rejoiced? How do you think the Lord feels when his wandering sheep come back? You know, years ago the famous singing evangelist, ira d. Sankey found a beautiful poem in a newspaper in scotland. He was doing meetings with dwight l.

Moody and he thought this was a beautiful poem and he put it in his pocket. After the evangelistic meeting that night in edinburgh, scotland, moody, without warning sankey, his singing evangelist, he said, 'now I'd like to make an appeal - I feel impressed and brother sankey is going to sing a song for you right now and I want you to pray and make your decision to come to Jesus.' Sankey had no song - he didn't know moody was going to do that. I've done that to my singing evangelist before. And then he remembered the words of the poem and he pulled them out of his pocket. He went to the pump organ, he set down the words, and he just began to play and started making up a song and singing - that must take talent - singing the poem that he heard.

The poem was called - it's an old song - it's called the ninety and nine. I'm going to ask brother henri to sing this song right now and I want you to be praying in your hearts - are you one of those wandering sheep? Isn't that a beautiful song? It's amazing to me that he was able to just sit down and God gave him this melody and he began to sing about those wandering sheep out there. You know, I suspect that there are some, perhaps here, that you may be on the edge of nibbling your way out - or maybe you already have and God's speaking to you. And I know that there are some who are watching and you have been missing from the fold of God. How much did our shepherd brave in the wilderness that he might find you? He left the portals of glory where everyone was safe - where he was worshiped as God and he came to this dark forbiding world - surrounded by enemies - possessed by the devil.

To recover the lost sheep. If you're lost it won't be because God doesn't love you. It will be because you chose not to allow the shepherd to take you in his arms and to bring you back to the fold. You must make a decision to submit to him. I'd like to invite you to pray about that decision.

Brother, sing another verse of that song for us. Amen. You know, I heard a remarkable story last year about three boys that got distracted. They lived down near figi and they wanted to go from one island to another, without telling their parents, looking for girls - two 14-year-olds and one 15-year-old - and they disappeared out in the vastness of the pacific. After weeks of their being gone, the parents actually conducted their funerals, said all the memorials.

50 Days after they had disappeared they were found out in a very remote, desolate part of the pacific ocean by a tuna boat. Somehow they had managed to survive and the parents who thought they were all dead and gone - can you imagine the rejoicing of those islands when they brought those boys home? Other than being dehydrated, they were alive. What kind of rejoicing is there in heaven when you come back? And I trust there'll be rejoicing in the church when you come back, friends. What are you waiting for? Jesus has shown you how much he loves you. He has paid the ultimate price, giving his own life to save you, pouring out his blood, living a life of perfection as your example that we might all claim his righteous merits.

He's provided everything we need to have everlasting life and he wants you to come. Have you become distracted with the cares of this life? You can have an accident if you don't pay attention to eternity and seek ye first the Kingdom of God. Why don't you submit to him now? Is that your desire? Is that your prayer? Can I pray with you, friends? Father in Heaven, Lord, we're thankful for the love and the determination of the shepherd to reach us. And Lord, I pray that you will bless each of these people. Bless those who are watching - some of those wandering sheep out there - I pray they will recognize your voice in this message calling them home again.

That you're wanting to take them on your shoulders and bring them safely back to the fold. I pray that we'll all submit to our shepherd, Jesus. We pray in his name, amen. God bless you friends who are watching. Remember, the program is not over.

We have another presentation tomorrow evening. We invite you to join us. God bless you.

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