Tuesday, May 27, 2008

LOST 5 (end)

We come to the end of our LOST series. We've learned that the lost are dead in sin, walking away from God and objects of God's wrath. It's a terrible picture of people who do not know Jesus... not just knowing about Jesus but really knowing him in an intimate, dynamic relationship. The thing that gets me is how Jesus related to the LOST. It would seem he does so in a completely different manner than many Christians do today.

Look at Luke 19:1-10. I've found these few more characteristics of LOSTness.

The LOST are outsiders.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Tax collectors extorted money from citizens by making a profit off regular taxing. Tax collectors were placed in the same category as prostitutes (Matt 21:32) and other sinners. It is often the case that lost people hide behind labels because it brings them security. But it is a false security that never really fulfills. This is why Zacchaeus is climbing a tree.

The LOST are open to Jesus.
Zacchaeus climbed a tree so he could see Jesus. He was interested in this man. Sinners were attracted to Jesus. In fact, Jesus spent lots of time with sinners. Sinners were different from society but they sensed Jesus was different too. Jesus was different because he really cared about people. He didn’t judge, condemn or label people. He just cared by listening to life stories and then offering acceptance pointing them towards real hope and forgiveness in God.

I also cannot help but think why no one in the crowd tried to speak with Zacchaeus. It would seem that lost people are interested in similar questions that Jesus followers have but Jesus followers are too often caught up with their own concerns than to reach out to others. Are any lost people attracted to you or I like they were to Jesus?

The LOST are one.
Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life. Zacchaeus experienced so much of Jesus’ forgiveness that he wanted to share it with others. He did so by repaying those from whom he stole.
Zacchaeus was one conversation away from knowing Jesus, one decision from a change in his life to love God and love others. Christians must begin to have Jesus' view for LOST people - "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (19:10).

Will you be the one difference in the life of a person that is LOST?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The last couple weeks we have been discussing what it means to be LOST. This week we will discuss a third element is that a lost person is a child of wrath. To be lost means you are dead in sin, walking away from God and therefore a follower of Satan, and to be an object of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

But the question is, is God really wrathful? This is a provocative question in today’s society. Some popular Christian personalities have seen the cause of natural disasters or even terrorist acts as actions of God’s wrath. Personally, I do not agree with most of those views. However, I do believe that God’s wrath is a valid quality to his nature and to be seen at some point in time.

Paul says the nature of a lost person is to be a child of wrath. People without Christ live under the future judgment under God’s wrath. They stand condemned (John 3:18) because they are guilty of sin. However, every person has the opportunity to be forgiven and free from judgment by becoming a child of grace. Notice that becoming a child of grace is not any work you do accept believing on the work of God. God has “great love for us”, is “rich in mercy”, “made us alive”, “raised us up” and “seated us with him”. Paul says that if it was by works then we could boast in comparison of how saved we are to others. Yet, it is by grace so that no one can boast. A child of grace is completely dependent upon the Father’s mercy.

Which child are you? Child of wrath or child of grace?

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:12

Monday, May 12, 2008


On November 17th this past year, Zach Dunlap was riding his ATV with his friends. While popping a wheelie at a very high speed, his ATV raced up behind one of his friends. As he lowered the front of his machine he realized it was too late – he was about to crash into his friend. He swerved to avoid his pal, but the ATV flipped over, and his head and face went smashing into the ground. 911 was called, he was rushed to the hospital, and to the horror of his parents, 21-year-old Zach was pronounced brain-dead. His parents were faced with the decision of when to pull the plug. This is where the story takes a sharp turn. Mike Celizic from the Todayshow.com writes, “Zack Dunlap doesn’t remember much from the day he died, but he does remember hearing a doctor declare him brain-dead. And he remembers being incredibly ticked off. “I’m glad I couldn’t get up and do what I wanted to do,” the strapping Oklahoman said in a soft drawl in an exclusive appearance on Monday on TODAY in New York.1

Wow! Could you imagine hearing yourself being pronounced dead?

Last week we discussed that one of the things it means to be LOST is that you are DEAD in sin. This week we will discuss a further aspect in that a LOST person is a follower of evil. Those who are dead are evil. It sounds too s
implistic and quite judgmental but it comes straight from the text. Paul’s point is not to chastise the unbeliever but to emphasize the work God does to those who do believe – God makes alive the dead and to those who are evil God raises up to sit together with Christ. In other words, God completely transforms your destiny

The LOST walk away from God (Ephesians 2:2-3)
At the heart of what it means to be LOST is that the person “walks” [lives] in the opposite direction of God. Paul says they walk according to the course of the world, which is under Satan’s power. Rather than finding fulfillment and identity “in Christ” they find fulfillment in the ways of the world.

The way of the world is lust of flesh. Lust is an insatiable desire for something or someone that controls one’s thinking and actions. Its goal is to conquer, yet ironically once attain it never truly fulfills. Listen to what another person says regarding lust:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 Notice that love of the world and lust is fleeting, it passes away while finding fulfillment in God abides forever.

Illustration: If you have been to Washington D.C. before you know it is an extraordinary city with lots to see and do. The monuments and museums are pretty awe inspiring. There is one place in particular that is interesting... it's the Washington Monument. It stands 555' 5 1/8" tall, an enormous feature along the national mall. However, as giant of a statue this is there is a place you can stand 20' away from the monument and not even see it. Yep, that's right just twenty feet away and you'll completely miss it. It's with your back turned away from it! Likewise, you can completely miss God, His unconditional love in Christ and the purpose of your life because you are walking away from Him with your back turned. Christ is calling you to turn around.

Illustration: When two or more persons get in a disagreement if they are unwilling to work it out what typically happens is one of the parties walks away. Likewise, a person who is an unbeliever is walking away from God in their life because they are not in agreement. The key to restoring the relationship is turning around to reconcile. This is called repentance.

The FOUND walk with God (Ephesians 2:4-6).
As mentioned in the last session, being in Christ is relational. Christianity is an invitation to live for AND more importantly, live WITH Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Paul says, God raised us up and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ. A believer is inseparably linked to Jesus, what happens to Him happens to the believer.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

John 14:17-18 “The world cannot accept [the Spirit of truth], because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Illus: One of the most favorite things friends do is taking walks. Sometimes there is a destination while other times there is none. The point is walking together symbolizes a close relationship. Do you walk with God?

· Could you imagine hearing yourself being pronounced dead? How would you respond? What spiritual significance does this have?
· Why is walking away from God equated with walking with Satan?
· What lust do you struggle with? Why is lust equated with love of the world?
· How can you tell when a person is walking with God?

1 Story from an email devotional written by a friend, Jacques Rancourt

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Are you lost?

Most of the time when people are lost they do not even know it, and when they realize it do not want to admit it. This is true especially of the male species. Men hate such admission that they do not know where they are going or where they are. One of the main reasons this is true is because of pride. To admit lostness means to admit fault and some level of personal incompetence. Men like to keep moving and exerting energy regardless if their activity is productive and going the right direction.
A personal story happened when I was in college and a group of friends went on a canoe trip. My roommate Kaleb planned the whole outing. He got the canoes for free from some environmental organization by saying we would collect garbage along the water. The most important part Kaleb did was mapping where one group of our friends would park the cars at the end site so when the group started down the river we could all ride back together. Well, after a couple hours on our canoe journey Kaleb seemed a bit perplexed navigating our direction. We were all so tired that we were forced to stop for directions. As you might guess, we were on the wrong river that was supposed to lead to our end site. Needless to say, it was a canoe trip that we never forgot considering it lasted over 8 hours.

The Bible says that every person is lost. Every person is in need of changing directions and being found by God. This series will explore a few descriptions with what it means to be lost… and found!

One of the foundational teachings of the Bible and Christianity is the doctrine of sin. The effects of sin are far more reaching than many realize. Genesis 3 describes the Fall of humanity and indeed the fall is steep. Sin and the Fall has given us death and this is certainly not a pleasant gift. Death is painful and extremely sad and unfortunately everyone must face it. Paul says each person is “dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Death is definite to everyone (Eph 2:1-3).
As a result of the Fall, every person will “surely die” (Gen 2:17). It is a reality that cannot be denied. In an odd way, our culture has somewhat of a thirst for death. Horror movies top the list for most popular and watched, violence is celebrated through video games and internet youtube videos. And if these are not enough, the murder of over a million unborn children each year is passionately defended throughout society. Death is a definite reality in our culture. These same physical descriptions are also true in the spiritual world. Every person will physically die and be judged according to their deeds. The problem with this is no person can measure enough good deeds to please God’s standard. The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10). Therefore, the definiteness of death is a dark picture of despair.
Sin and death are inherent in each person from the beginning of their existence.
[1] “Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Even the Psalmist said, “my sin is always before me… Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (51:3, 5). David is overwhelmed by the reality of his sinful nature. He realizes that he needs resuscitation – a new heart/life/spirit (51:10).

What do you do when you are lost?
Despite modern communications and equipment, more people than ever are getting lost in the wilderness. Cellular and satellite phones and global positioning systems (GPSs) make the world seem smaller, but the reality is, there's still a lot of emptiness out there and it can be easy to get lost. Here are a few tips that spiritually relate to becoming found. This will lead to Paul’s answer of linking to Jesus.
1) Stop moving. Rescue crews will find you faster if you stay in one spot. Further, moving without direction is wasted energy.
· Admit your lost and dead in sin. This admission begins the process of becoming saved. Bible calls this repentance.
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
2) Become visible. Rescue crews will find you easier if you have clear markings of your position.
·Pursue God by making yourself available to Him and His word.
·James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
3) Find nourishment and protection. It will be hard for your body to maintain proper temperature and energy if you are not staying hydrated, eating and staying protected.
·Spiritually refreshment comes through intentional intake of God’s word, prayer and Christian fellowship.
·Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.”

Life is linking to Jesus (Eph 2:4-7).
Paul transitions from describing the unbeliever to God’s work upon those who believe. The focus is on God’s work and grace rather than man’s believing and doing. God made alive together with Christ. Apart from linking to Jesus there is no life nor grace (no grace = object of wrath 2:3).
The phrase “in Christ” appears over 172 times in the writings of Paul. Paul uses this phrase to describe what it means to be a believer and having eternal life. The union is not to a system but to a Savior, it’s relational.

Students need relationships. We need to show them that living for Jesus is living with Jesus. He calls you to be with him (Mark 3:14) and by being with him comes the transformation in a person’s life, character and behavior.

So, if you are lost stop where you are and get some directions. Might I suggest the way is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the way (John 14:6).

· Have you ever been lost? Share the story.
· What does it mean to be lost spiritually?
· Do you think it is fair that all person’s are guilty of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12)?
· Do you think it is fair that all person’s have opportunity to Jesus’ life (Romans 5:19, 21)?
· Review the steps for “What do you do when you are lost?”. How are these helpful in moving a person from an unbeliever to a believer in Jesus Christ?
· How is linking to Jesus different from other religious systems?
· According to Ephesians 2:4-5, why does God make you alive?
· What stands out to you in reading Ephesians 2:1-5? Discuss.

[1] Other phrases to describe this reality are “Inherited Sin”, “Original Sin/Guilt” and perhaps “Total Depravity”. The point is that sin is not only a choice it is part of your nature. Humans are guilty not only because they sin but because their identity is as a sinner. Some passages to examine: Psalm 51:3,5; Psalm 58:3; Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 2:14-15, 3:9-10, 23, 5:12-21, 7:18; Ephesians 2:1-5, Titus 1:15.
[2] From http://www.ehow.com/how_136351_survive-lost.html

Thursday, May 1, 2008


LOST - our new series for our Sunday night Youth Ministry. LOST has become one of my "have to" watch television shows each week. For some reason it just has me hooked. Likewise, Christians should become hooked on understanding how God has saved them from being LOST to FOUND IN CHRIST. God offers such a profoundly intriguing exchange of our selfish life destined to Hell to His fulfilling life destined for Heaven. God's graceful exchange brings forgiveness of sin and brings our identity from being lost to found as one of His children (1 John 3:1-3).

Well... I hope you are hooked on this series as much as I am.