LISTEN TO THE MUSIC SERMON SERIES
I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
SEPTEMBER 7, 1997
Now and then while driving around the metroplex I will turn to my wife, Lisa, and say the words that guys hate to say the most, “I’m lost.” Guys, we despise those words, don’t we, because we are saying we are clueless, out of control, have no sense of where we are going. Usually after a period of driving around in my lostness, my sweet wife will turn to me and smile and say, “Honey, why don’t we stop and ask for directions?” I will grab the wheel and reply, “No, I can find the way. Surely I will know where I am going after awhile. Just be quiet for a bit.” And I continue to linger in my lostness. I will admit it right here on this stage; I am a directionally-challenged male. I really am.
You know Jesus Christ, Himself, talked a lot about sin. But He talked even more about a subject that most people rarely teach about or discuss. He talked more about lostness then He did sinfulness. Now all of us will admit that we are sinners. We say that we have committed moral turnovers, messed up, fallen short of God’s standard of goodness. But few of us will come clean and admit that we are lost. In Luke 15 Jesus told three stories in rapid-fire succession about our lostness. Before we get into these stories which are profound and phenomenal in their depth, let’s look at the context of this exciting chapter. If you have your Bibles, turn to Luke 15:1-2. If you don’t, just listen to me and I think you will find the context extremely provoking. Luke 15:1. “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The Pharisees and the Scribes were the religious intelligentsia of the day. They called the people who didn’t follow the law, the people of the land. The Bible refers to them as tax gatherers and sinners. The Pharisees had erected this big barrier between themselves and the people of the land. They couldn’t eat with them. They couldn’t hang out with them. They couldn’t do business with them. They couldn’t tell them a secret and they couldn’t use any of their words in a testimony. They totally shut them down. And here Jesus came along and said that He loved these people. He said that they mattered to Him.
The Pharisees were taken aback because Jesus, Himself, welcomed them and He ate with them. Why were the disenfranchised, the depressed, the unchurched, the irreligious, these people of the land drawn to Jesus? Why did they want to hear what He had to say? Why?
Well, let’s put it in another light. What if Jesus was walking around the metroplex right now? What would draw a lot of the people living on the edge to Him? Why would the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the depressed, the irreligious, the unchurched come to hear Christ? I will tell you why. First of all because Jesus has a supernatural power about Him. What if we heard about a young man walking through Baylor and Presbyterian Hospitals and healing everybody who was sick; the cancer patients, the AIDS patients and all those who had heart problems? And what if we heard about that same young man attended some kind of a wedding reception at Timmeron Country Club and changing the water into wine, from Mountain Valley to Napa Valley just like that? We would want to check that out, wouldn’t we? I would want to see that guy. I would want to hear him. Christ’s supernatural power would draw us to Him.
The second reason why we would come to hear Christ is because He has His eyes set on the eternal. Everyone is always interested in life after the grave. Jesus talked on and on about this very subject. In a couple of weeks we will talk about a man called the rich, young ruler. This affluent young man had all the cars, the clothes, the corner office, the toys, the trinkets. He walked up to Christ and he said, “Jesus, I still have a hole in my heart. I want eternal life.” We would come to hear Christ because He talked about how to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Another reason we would come to hear Christ is because He speaks words of truth. A lot of us are swimming in the seas of relativity and we are looking for truth. There are a lot of self-proclaimed Messiahs running around, glassy-eyed gurus saying this and that. Jesus cuts to the chase and says that He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life and that no one gets to God except by Him.
Now many of us here are believers. We are Christians. We are born again. If you are, I want you to think back to the time in your life before you became a Christian, that season of seeking. Don’t you remember when you heard a message or a Christian song or read a Bible passage that sounded right to you? Maybe you heard Jesus’ own words when He said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul.” Even those here who are not Christians would say that that kind of makes sense. He said, “Do you want to become great? Become a servant.” We say that really makes sense. Christ spoke in words of truth and that would draw us to Him.
He also was a man who lived by love. He lived with a supernatural love, a love on another level. He loved all people no matter what their skin color, their background, or where they came from. He welcomed them. The Bible says that he welcomed the prostitutes, the tax collectors, those in the bars, those who were totally pushed away by others. Christ said for them to come, He welcomed them, loved them.
Let’s now put another spin on the question. Yes, the irreligious and the unchurched were attracted to Christ. But are the irreligious and the unchurched attracted to you? Are they attracted to you? I had to ask myself this question as I studied for this message. Are they attracted to me? Think about it. Do they see a supernatural power in your life and mine? When those pressure situations happen at work, and people are waiting to see how we will react, do we cuss the party out like everyone else? Do we blow up? Or do we tap into this power source that gives us a peace that passes all comprehension? Do people see a supernatural power operative in our lives? Are they drawn to us because of that? Do they see someone who has their eyes set on the eternal? Or do they see someone who views others as rungs on the ladder that they can step on to get to the top?
Every time we lock eyes with someone, we are locking eyes with someone who matters to God, someone who will live for eternity in one of two places. When the irreligious and the unchurched look at you do they see someone who deals in truth? The Bible says that we are to speak the truth in love, that we are to reconcile relationships regularly. Do they see that?
It happened again this week. Someone told me about a man who goes by the label of being a Christian. He talks the talk. But I was told that when this guy is under pressure, he lies just like anybody else. That is sad, isn’t it? Do they see love in your life? Do they see a person who loves others without any pretenses or suppositions? Are people drawn to you? Are people drawn to me? It is a sobering question, isn’t it?
You see it is against this backdrop that Christ was talking. The Scribes and Pharisees were on his case. They were accusing Him of spending time with these people and Christ was responding to them. In essence, Christ was saying, “OK, guys, I see that you don’t understand where I am coming from. Let me give you my mission statement. It is to find what I am looking for.”
Today I am beginning a brand new series called “Listen To The Music”. I want you to look at the U2 blockbuster hit through the eyes of God. God is saying, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I find you and you and you and you and even you.” Jesus tells some stories about our lostness that pretty much say He is a God who is trying to find what He is looking for. We will only deal with two of these stories this morning.
The first story that Christ told was one that all the guys can identify with. It was a story about a shepherd who had lost a sheep. Back in Biblical times a shepherd did not spend time leaning on his staff in a starched robe with a nice tan, smoking a Camel. That is not the picture. A shepherd was a tough and intense and focused man. A shepherd was weather-beaten. He was often sleepless. He was an expert at tracking game. The shepherds back then did not have much pasture. If you know anything about the Judean countryside, there was a plateau of about two miles and that was it. On either side there were cliffs and caves and a devastating desert. A good shepherd would commonly risk his life for a lost sheep. The sheep that he tended were not sheep that he owned necessarily. For the most part, they were sheep owned by the little community in which he resided. So when a sheep was lost, the shepherd would find him, bring him back and the entire village would throw a party.
So Christ says to picture a shepherd who had 100 sheep. Ninety-nine of the sheep were safe in the sheepfold. One was missing. The good shepherd would leave the 99, not saying that they are insignificant or didn’t matter, but he would leave them safe and go to search for the one lost sheep. Now put yourself in the shepherd’s sandals for a second. Here is a shepherd looking for a lost sheep. He was looking under rocks, behind bushes, in caves. Maybe the shepherd was saying, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I find the lost sheep.” And finally he finds it and he puts the sheep on his shoulders and rescues the lost sheep. The sheep has been found. The Christ says that there was rejoicing going on, kind of like when a lost sinner is found and all heaven rejoices. The Pharisees were rocked to the core when they heard this. They couldn’t believe what Christ was saying. The Pharisees had no problem with a God who would accept a repentant sinner crawling back to Him. They could see a God like that but they couldn’t see a searching, seeking and initiative-taking God. They couldn’t get it. They couldn’t believe that God would search, God would seek, God would say, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I find you and you and you and you.” They couldn’t really get it.
I want you to notice the four-fold joy of someone who is found. When someone becomes a Christian, they are joyful. But also the person doing the finding is joyful. The people around the person who accepts the Lord are joyful. And then God, Himself, and the angels have a heavenly hoe-down. They are joyful. They have joy, joy, joy, joy, joy. They have a joy jam going on.
Next Christ talked about a situation with which the women can connect. Christ talked next about a woman and a coin, specifically a wedding coin. Christ said the woman had lost her wedding coin. When a Jewish girl would get married, a headband was given to her that had ten silver coins on it indicating that she was married. Jesus said that this young Jewish girl lost one of the coins. Now how many of you women have unintentionally lost your wedding ring before? Raise your hands. Unintentionally? OK, just kidding.
When this Jewish girl lost her coin, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Palestinian houses were dark. There would be just a little candle in the middle of the room. The floors were dirt with dried reeds on them. Can you imagine looking for a coin? Maybe she began to search all over the house while saying, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I have found the coin.” When she finds the coin, she calls her friends up and there is a celebration. Jesus said again that that is what happens when a lost sinner is found. God is a seeking God; He is a searching God.
Lostness. What does it mean to be lost? It means two things. To be lost means to be misplaced. You see, the sheep belongs with the shepherd. The coin belongs in the headband. A lost sinner belongs with Jesus. If I am lost, I am misplaced. To be lost also means that I am minused. What good is a sheep away from the flock? What good is a coin away from a wedding headband? What good is a human being who matters to God away from Him? That is what it means to be lost.
What does it mean to be found then? To be found means to be put in place. I am reconciled to God. It means to be put to use, to discover God’s plans and purposes for my life. It means that I am out of danger. What if you were the sheep? Out in the middle of nowhere and suddenly the shepherd finds you and you are haaaaaapy. He saved you, you are out of danger, everything is great. The lost sheep and the lost coin. We serve a God who says, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I find you and you and you and you.”
That is pretty good, isn’t it? But let’s ask ourselves this question. So what? So what? Great that Luke 15 talks about lostness. Great that we serve a God who takes the initiative but what does it have to do with my life in 1997? I want to share with you four things you need to do because of Luke 15.
First, you need to understand the reality that we have a God who is an initiative-taking God. You need to accept that fact. Remember back in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned. They rebelled against God and the Bible says that they suddenly realized they were naked. So they ran and they began to hide from God. They covered themselves up with leaves. The Bible says that God was coming through the garden and called to Adam and Eve and asked them where they were. This was not some cosmic game of hide and seek. They called to Him that they were hiding because they were naked. God knew where they were. It is like when I play hide and seek with our twins who are three. They hide in the same place every time, always under the stairs. “Laurie and Landra, where are you? Oh, you are under the steps. That is incredible. You are so smart.” God knows where we are and yet we think we can elude Him, we think that we can get away from Him. We serve a God who is an initiative-taking God, a God who searches and says, “I still haven’t found what I am looking for until I find you and even you.”
Here is what David said in Psalm 139. “Where can I go from your spirit, where can I flee from your presence. If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
As a kid growing up in the mountains of western North Carolina, we had a dog named Barney who happened to be a beagle. Barney was a hound. When Barney would get on the track of a rabbit, he would go ballistic. I can still hear his bark to this day. He would track those rabbits and once he got on their trail, it was history for the rabbits. I believe that in a real way Jesus is the hound of heaven. He is on your track and he is on my track. He is after us. He is seeking us. He is searching. That is the kind of God we serve.
Why? Why is God an initiative-taking God? Why is God the hound of heaven? Why is God like this U2 song? Why? Because He wants you and me to experience His supernatural power. He wants you and me to live life eternal. He wants us to experience truth which will set us free. He wants us to life a life full of love. That is the why behind it. Isn’t God great?
The second thing you are to do is join the search party. Join the search party. In Matthew 28, Jesus talked about joining the search party. It is known as the great commission. Jesus said, “Go….”, not yo,
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” What is a disciple? A disciple is a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Translated literally it says as we are going, as we are living, as we are working, as we are playing, as we are carpooling, as we are shopping, as we are doing whatever we do, we are to go and make disciples of everyone. Have you joined God’s search party? You see, one day I will be held accountable for those people in my life that God put in my path. He will ask me if I joined His search party to communicate the gospel to them. Did I help find them? And God will just kind of reveal the names to me. About some of them I will answer yes, but others, sadly, I will have to answer no, that I missed it. How about you? All those people that God has put in your life, the person who sits next to you at work, the person who is taking that class with you, the person in your apartment complex, the person you see at the coffee shop, have you joined His search party regarding them? This is only for those of us who are Christian. If you are not a Christian, you don’t have to worry about it right now.
If you missed last weekend, Labor Day weekend, please pick up the tape. We had a guy who sat right here named Michael. A couple of weeks ago Michael committed his life to Jesus Christ. And Michael is growing in faith. We had a person in our church stand up who had joined God’s search team, had built a relationship of integrity with Michael. Because of that Michael, a lost sheep, was found. Michael, a lost coin, was found. There was rejoicing. Tears were shed by me. Tears were shed by others because we saw this great event. If you have never been a part of God’s search party, do it. I see so many of you who are involved and I see the thrill and joy that you have in being a part of His search party. Join, you will be so happy you did.
Thirdly, if you are not yet in the family of God, notice the signs that God has put in your life to tell you that He is searching for you. Remember old Jonah? Jonah was the quintessential running man. God said, “Jonah, go this way.” Jonah went the other way. God put signs in Jonah’s life that He was seeking him. Into Jonah’s life He put the boat, the sailors, the rough seas, the whale, the digestive juices of the whale all over Jonah’s body. He had the whale cough Jonah up on dry land and finally Jonah said, “I got the picture. I see all the signs. I want to respond to the signs. Now I am ready to go your way, God.” Maybe the situation or the event or the sign or the person that God has put in your life is occurring right now. May the person is seated right next to you. Maybe it is the person who invited you to this church. Maybe you need to engage that person in conversation. Maybe you need to step back and say, “Now I see, God, why you let me go through this or that event. It was to allow me to be found, to become a part of Your flock.” Shake hands with those signs. God has put them there for a reason.
Now I would love to say that God will always search for lost things. I wish I could say that, that God will never stop searching, that He will always be saying, “I still haven’t found, haven’t found, haven’t found, what I am looking for.” But one day He is going to stop. And that is the fourth thing that we have got to understand. One day the search will end. Jesus will say that it is the end of the hunt. I wish I didn’t have to tell you these words, but I have got to because the Bible says them.
Listen to Christ’s scary and chilling words in Luke 13:25. “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door saying, ‘Lord, open up to us.’, then he will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from’.” What a horrible picture! In other words we can’t become a Christian any time we want. We only have certain opportunities to turn to the Lord.
There was a man in the Bible by the name of Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar. One afternoon Christ was walking through the streets of Jericho and Bartimaeus heard the crowd and the clamor. He began to scream, “Jesus, have mercy on me. Jesus, heal me. Jesus, save me.” And Jesus turned to him and healed him and saved him. What if Bartimaeus had decided to wait until Christ returned to Jericho? Well, that was the last time Jesus ever walked through Jericho because He was on His way to the cross. Right now, Jesus, Himself, is walking up and down these aisles. He is right there next to you. Are you going to be like Bartimaeus and ask Jesus to have mercy on you? Will you say that you want to follow Him? Will you say that you know He is a seeking God and that you want to be found? Because Jesus wants to say to you today, “I have found what I am looking for because I found you.”