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WHAT MATTERS TO GOD? v5

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Luke 15:1–7 NLT
1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:1-
WHAT MATTERS TO GOD? | /
Luke 15:1–11 NIV
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
Scripture Reading:
If we were to ask God, “What matters to You? What do you really care about? What’s really important to you? —What do you think He would say?
As we study the Bible, we discover God is searching for two groups of people. But he’s not casually searching. He is intense about finding these two groups of people.
In fact, if we classified all the people on Earth into groups, we would discover there are actually only four different groups. However, of the four, God is specifically searches for just two of them.
Are you curious yet?
My hope is before the morning is over, you will discover which group you are in, and which one you want to be in.
Let’s take a look…

The first group of people God is searching for are the fully committed.

For background, let me share this story which every Jewish child learned by the age of 10. This background would have been part of the Jewish leaders training as they grew up, and one verse from 2 Chronicles in particular, was memorized.
In the Old Testament, a king of Israel named Asa came under attack from the neighbor to his north. Asa was a seasoned king who had been at war several times before, and in those previous battles, Asa’s strategy was to do the best he could to deploy his troops tactically, and then pray that God would fight for them— and God always did. In fact, Asa never lost a battle!
One time, Asa was attacked by a vastly superior force from Ethiopia. So he deployed his troops and then prayed. Let me read you the actual account from 2 Chronicles:
2 Chronicles 14:9–11 NLT
Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 Chronicles 14:9–10 NLT
Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.
2chron
That’s what Asa prayed; now look at verse 12 to see what happened:
2 Chronicles 14:11 NLT
Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
2 chron
Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of a million men
and three hundred chariots. They advanced to the city of Mareshah, so Asa
2 Chronicles 14:12 NLT
So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.
deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. ()
2 CHron
Then Asa cried out to the Lord His God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the
Several years later, King Asa is older and more established. So when this king from the north attacks him, Asa’s reluctant to go into battle, because now he’s got more to lose than when he was just a young king starting out.
powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you
alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord,
“So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled” ().
you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” ()
This time Asa is more conservative. Instead of deploying his troops and praying, Asa takes money from his treasury and pays the king of Syria to attack his rival from his eastern flank. That way Asa risks nothing. He let someone else fight his battle and ignores God.
That’s what Asa prayed. Here’s what happened:“So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled” ().
BUT GOD WAS WATCHING! He knows about the hostile king on Asa’s northern border. And God is disappointed when Asa takes the comfortable way out, so God sends a prophet to Asa, whose name is Hanani. tells us what happened.
That’s background for what I want to share with you now: Several years later, King Asa is older and more established. So when this king from the north attacks him, Asa’s reluctant to go into battle, because now he’s got more to lose than he used to when he was just a young king starting out. So this time, in his conservative days, instead of going to battle, he takes money from his treasury and pays the king of Syria to attack his rival from his eastern flank. That way Asa risks nothing.
2 Chronicles 16:7–8 NLT
At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you.
2 CHron 16:
Now look at closely at verse 9, it’s verse every Jewish child memorized:
He lets somebody else do his fighting for him. But, God is watching, like he always does. He knows all about the hostile king of Asa’s northern border. And he is so disappointed when Asa takes the comfortable way out that he sends a prophet to Asa, whose name is Hanani.
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
Here’s what happened: Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Syria instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians… and their vast army? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them all over to you? ()
Now look carefully at verse 9:
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been!” ()
Do you see what happened? God knew the predicament Asa was in. It was a chance for Asa to do good and express faith. To be fully committed and prove it.
God knew the predicament Asa was in. It was a chance for Asa to do good and express faith. To be fully committed and prove it.
I can almost hear God saying, “O Asa! I have been searching for someone who I could use. Someone who would do my bidding. Someone who would trust me and be committed to saving my people from their enemy. And, Asa, you ducked! You chumped out. Asa, what a fool you have been!”
God is on an all-out search for two kinds of people in this world. The first kind is the kind he can use; fully committed people. Is that you?
has three parables—stories that all have a common theme… explains why God is searching for fully committed people.
The stories all have people who take risks…people who leave their comfort zone and reach out to get something that was lost. Jesus tells stories about: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
explains why God is searching for fully committed people. is the story that reminded me God wants His people to take the risks He provides!
Jesus tells stories about: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
ILLUSTRATION: Margaret and Africa
is the record of Jesus telling three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the wayward son.
When you read the parables of Jesus, you discover when He tells a story, he then goes on to explain its meaning BEFORE telling another story. However in , Jesus doesn’t pause to explain. He just launches right into the next story, and then the next.
Why?
To understand, we need to remember the introduction we read just a few minutes ago. Let’s read it again:
Luke 15:1–3 NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story:
[Read verses 1–3.]
NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
Then Jesus tells the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son… These stories are carefully woven o teach a central truth—let’s look closer...
—These stories are carefully woven o teach a central truth—let’s look closer...
them all the way for you this week, so come back next week. Next week we’ll
learn all about the prodigal father in the last story, who lifted his robes and ran.
In our translation of the Bible, the story of the lost sheep begins this way:
Luke 15:1 NIV
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.
Luke 15:4 NIV
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
about these two groups God is searching for, and what matters to him. In our translation of the Bible, the story of the lost sheep begins this way:
“Suppose one of you…?” Literally, this should be translated “which of you, being a shepherd…?”
“Suppose one of you…?” Literally, this should be translated “which of you, being a shepherd…?”
Remember, Jesus is delivering this story to a group of devoutly religious leaders, upper-class Orthodox Jews.
upper-class Orthodox Jews. In their minds, in their day, being a shepherd was a
lowly trade. Shepherds were lower-class citizens.
Jesus knows, these men think of shepherds as second-class citizens, so he
In their minds, in their day, being a shepherd was a lowly trade. Shepherds were lower-class citizens. Jesus knows, these men think of shepherds as second-class citizens, so he chooses to tell a story about a shepherd to get their attention.
chooses to tell a story about a shepherd to get their attention. He makes up a
story about a shepherd. He asks them a question about doing something they
would never do. When he says, “Which of you, being a shepherd…” immediately
Shepherds were lower-class citizens. Jesus knows, these men think of shepherds as second-class citizens, so he chooses to tell a story about a shepherd to get their attention. He makes up a story about a shepherd. He asks them a question about doing something they would never do. When he says, “Which of you, being a shepherd…” immediately all of them know the answer, “None of us would do whatever you’re driving at, because none of us would ever become shepherds. If we had sheep, we’d hire someone to watch them for us.” Jesus gets their attention quickly. While they’re all thinking about what a despicable trade sheep-herding is, he tells them about a shepherd who loves sheep.
all of them know the answer, “None of us would do whatever you’re driving at,
because none of us would ever become shepherds. If we had sheep, we’d hire
He makes up a story about a shepherd. He asks them a question about doing something they would never do.
someone to watch them for us.”
Jesus gets their attention quickly. While they’re all thinking about what a
When he says, “Which of you, being a shepherd…” immediately all of them know the answer, “None of us would do whatever you’re driving at, because none of us would ever become shepherds. If we had sheep, we’d hire someone to watch them for us.”
despicable trade sheep-herding is, he tells them about a shepherd who loves
Jesus gets their attention quickly. While they’re all thinking about what a despicable trade sheep-herding is, he tells them about a shepherd who loves sheep.
sheep.
The second shock comes to them when this shepherd admits actually losing a sheep!
responsibility of actually losing a sheep. Look at verse 4. “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them?”
Look at verse 4: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them?”
In Middle Eastern cultures, saving face is important. If you were describing a sheep that had strayed, you would never say, “suppose the shepherd loses one of them…” To help save face, you’d say, “suppose one of them wandered off.”
It’s like in Spanish. How many of you speak Spanish? In Spanish, if I’m eating dinner and I accidentally bump my plate so that it falls
In Spanish, if I’m eating dinner and I accidentally bump my plate so that it falls
on the floor and breaks, what do I say? “Se rompio.” It broke itself! A Spanish speaker never says, “I broke the plate,” unless he is specifically wanting to indict himself and point the finger at his own foolishness.
A Spanish speaker never says, “I broke the plate,” unless he is specifically wanting to indict himself and point the finger at his own foolishness.
In English we’d say, “I broke the plate.” But in Spanish we’d say, “The plate broke itself.”
itself.” Same in most Middle Eastern languages.
Same in most Middle Eastern languages. You would NOT say, “I lost the sheep.” You say, “The sheep got lost.”
It’s the same in most Middle Eastern languages. You would NOT say, “I lost the sheep.” You say, “The sheep got lost.”
You would not say, “I lost the sheep.” You say, “The sheep got lost.”
Jesus says, “the shepherd loses one of them.” So this is a shepherd no Pharisee would want to imitate.
Now, I’m going to ask you a series of questions, and I need you to follow me, so keep your text open and concentrate for the next few minutes.
keep your text open and concentrate for the next few minutes.
In the story, how many sheep does the shepherd have? One hundred.
And what happens to them? One wanders off. One gets lost. He leaves the other ninety-nine in the open country. He doesn’t even bring them back to the city and corral them for the night. He leaves them in potential danger to go and find the one that’s lost.
ninety-nine in the open country. He doesn’t even bring them back to the city and
corral them for the night. He leaves them in potential danger to go and find the
one that’s lost.
When he finds the sheep, what does he do? Puts it on his shoulders and brings it home.
home.
And what does he say to his friends? “Rejoice with me.” Why? Because he’s happy. So happy, he throws a party to celebrate.
Why? Because he’s happy. So happy, he throws a party to celebrate.
Who’s the star of the second parable? A woman.
Who’s Jesus talking to as he tells this parable? Men. Pharisaic men.
How did Pharisaic men feel about women? They thought they were third-class citizens.
citizens.
And what does the woman have that’s of value to her? Ten coins.
How many sheep did the shepherd have? One hundred.
How many coins did the woman have? Ten.
Jesus is reducing the proportions...
Coins were very rare in agrarian cultures. Most trade was carried out by bartering. Any cash you had would be used only for emergencies, only to buy things you couldn’t get any other way.
Some scholars think this woman’s coins represent her dowry, her bride-price. Many tell us that a woman who had coins back then would probably make jewelry out of them, stringing them on a cord to make a necklace.
So when this woman lost her coin, it was noticeable! It wasn’t just that she was down one coin; she was also wearing jewelry that had one of its decorations missing. This panics the woman, so she searches the house until she finds it.
What does she do when she finds it? She throws a party.
Why? Because she’s happy.
Jesus then tells his third story… [We didn’t read it this week, but we will next week. It’s the story of a father who has two sons]
We didn’t read it this week, but we will next week. It’s the story of a father who has two sons.
Notice the progression: one hundred sheep, ten coins, two sons. He’s lowering the proportions.
One of the two sons gets lost, but eventually turns up again.
his father runs to him, something no Middle Eastern landowner would do, because to run in his robe meant he would have to lift the robe, and lifting the
And when he does, his father runs to him, something no Middle Eastern landowner would do, because to run in his robe meant he would have to lift the robe, and lifting the robe meant he would exposes his ankles, and exposing his ankles was undignified. He would lose face in front of the whole village for doing such a thing.
robe meant he would expose his ankles, and exposing his ankles was undignified.
Look at the third story about the lost son. We have a hero that no Pharisee would want to identify with. When the son is found, the father throws the mother of all parties to celebrate his return.
He would lose face in front of the whole village for doing such a thing. A third
time, we have a hero that no Pharisee would want to identify with. When the son is found, the father throws the mother of all parties to celebrate his return.
Why? Because he’s happy.
Those are the three stories. Let’s summarize the stories so and see why Jesus tells them.
I wish we had time to go over them each in detail, but I will go over the third one in detail next week. Believe me, it will be one of the most exciting stories you’ve ever heard.
Right now, let’s summarize the stories so that you see why Jesus tells them.
Four things to note:
In each of the stories, the plot line involves something lost. A sheep is lost, a coin is lost, a son wanders off from his father.
2. In each story, what is lost really matters to the primary person of the story. The shepherd is so concerned about the loss of one sheep, that he risks the other ninety-nine to find him. The woman is so distraught over the loss of one coin that she cancels all her plans and scours the entire house. The father is so broken-hearted his son has wandered away, he endures the scorn of the entire village by running to him when he finally heads for home.
In each story, what is lost really matters to the primary person of the story. The shepherd is so concerned about the loss of one sheep, that he risks the other ninety-nine to find him. The woman is so distraught over the loss of one coin that she cancels all her plans and scours the entire house. The father is so broken-hearted his son has wandered away, he endures the scorn of the entire village by running to him when he finally heads for home.
In each case, what is lost matters so much to the one who lost it that it warrants and all-out search!
In the stories, when what was lost is found, the the person is so happy, and they express their joy by celebrating.
In each one, the hero is someone NOT ADMIRED by most religious leaders.
The first hero is a shepherd, a second-class citizen. The second is a woman, a third-class citizen. The third is a father. A potentially admirable figure, until he does the unthinkable and lifts his robes in order to run and save his son from humiliation and shame.
No Pharisee would admire the individuals Jesus highlights in the stories!

Put those four things together, and what do you have?

You have Jesus standing in front of a group of religious leaders who think they have figured out what really matters to God.
They’ve read ; they would have memorized it by the time they were 10 years old. They see themselves as fully committed to God.
They’ve memorized by the time they were 10 years old. They see themselves as fully committed to God! AND in THEIR minds,THEY matter most to God!
In their minds,THEY matter most to God!
And when they see Jesus talking with the outcasts of society, they’re angered because they believe he, being a rabbi, is diminishing God’s name and dignity by associating with such lowlife people.
BUT JESUS IS SO DISTURBED BY THEIR SELF-RIGHTEOUS OPINION OF THEMSELVES, He tells them not one, not two, but three parables, back-to-back!
It’s as He says, “Your perception of who matters to God and who doesn’t is so far off that I am going to clear this up once and for all. So repeats the same truth 3 times in 3 different stories!
JESUS REMINDS US there are TWO GROUPS of people that God longs for and searches for:
searches for:
1. The fully committed.
2. Those who are lost.
I said earlier we can break the world into four groups! Here they are:
The fully committed believer in Jesus and the casual believer
The lost who are ready to be found and those who will never care—until it’s too late!
Jesus reveals to them the fully committed are not the proud, self-conscious, religious types who think that the most important thing is their religious life. The FULLY COMMITTED are those who join with God on mission to find the lost!
Then Jesus reveals to them the fully committed are not the proud, self-conscious, religious types who think that the most important thing is their religious life. He reveals:
LOST PEOPLE matter to the Lord so much, He longs for us to put our lives in order, so we can hang with sinners and even eat with them, without succumbing to sin.
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
NLTTax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
NLT
2 Chronicles 14:9 NLT
Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah,
First, lost people matter to God so much that he’s on an all-out search to find them. And every time a lost person is found, all of heaven rejoices!
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 chron
Secondly, the fully committed are those who understand this, join God in the search, and rejoice with God when he finds what is lost.
Can you see why God says in 2 Chronicles, “My eyes are searching the earth to find every person who is fully committed to me”? It’s because God so loves those who have wandered from Him and He longs to bring them safely home!
Believers today, fall into two groups. The casual and the committed.
Which group are you in, and which group do you want to be in?
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