The Standard for Soul-Winners

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By Dennis Thurman

Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35)

I recall the first time my father put me on a bicycle. “I can’t do it!” I screamed. He continued to work with me, I fell several times, but at last I learned to ride. My father knew the ability was in me if I would develop it. When we are confronted with the responsibility of sharing our faith, we may become ashen white, and our knees begin to knock. We think, “I can’t do it!” Yet, we have the Holy Spirit within us to enable us—if we are willing to learn. Jesus sets the standard for soul-winning. In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, we can see how it is done.

Jesus had a passion for His mission. He was ever about doing His Father’s business of making disciples. Christ felt compelled to take a trip to Samaria (v.1-4). There was a thirsty soul there—waiting to drink of the Well of Salvation. Jews didn’t do this, however, as racial and religious prejudice were barriers to interchange with the Samaritans. Jesus was not going to yield to such sinful thinking. He was into building bridges rather than barricades. There are really only two kinds of people—those who are saved and those who need to be—and God has given His children the task of leading the lost to eternal life.

It was a long walk to Samaria. Jesus pressed on, for He had an appointment to keep (v.5-7). God gives us these divine appointments, if we are attentive. He brings us repeatedly into the intersection of testimony and opportunity. Today we may find ourselves in apparently random encounters with many different folks. These are not coincidental, but providential, if we will be conscious of our mission, and listen for the Spirit’s prompting to present the Gospel. Jesus saw in the woman who came to Jacob’s Well to draw water, a deeper spiritual thirst in her soul. People like this are everywhere. We see them every day. Do we look beyond the surface, however, and listen to the longing of their heart?

The Supreme Soul-winner engages her in conversation (v.10-14). His starts where she is and naturally turns the conversation to her spiritual need. There is an art to doing this, and we can learn how. Once the conversation turns to the Gospel, we must work to prevent it from being side-tracked. The woman, perhaps growing uncomfortable with the direction the discussion was taking, does what sinners often do, brings up religion and starts raising objections (v.15-20). She knew that her repeated marital failures and her current status of living with a man outside of marriage were wrong. Her conscience was convicted and she didn’t want to face it, so she brings up “denominational differences,” so to speak.

Jesus redirects the dialogue back to the central matter—belief in Him that would bring her salvation (v.21-27). One of the reasons we are often fearful of sharing our faith is the concern that others will raise all kinds of theological questions that we cannot answer. While we should be prepared to have these discussions, our real purpose is to bring people to the core issue—“What are you going to do with Jesus? Will you believe in Him?” The woman was transformed and becomes a soul-winner herself (v.28-42)! The result was a great harvest of souls.

*Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings

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Having a Heart For God

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This article was published in 30:1 Manhood, Overcoming The Odds.

By Matthew Fretwell

When you think of the phrase a “heart for God,” more than likely you think of king David ( 1 Kings 11:14; Acts 13:22). While David was not perfect, by any means, he did have a heart for God. Looking at David then as the prime example, having a heart for God is not measured by works and words, but by thoughts and soulful yearning to be with God. David was a man who had a burning desire to be in God’s presence. David writes in the Psalms:

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

David’s daily thoughts were centered upon being with God—the true Shepherd. David realized that he was a fallible person; a man who was susceptible to fear, anxiety, covetousness, adultery, murder, and sin—for he was surrounded by warriors.

Having a heart for God means that I understand when I mess up and fall into sin, that I allow the Holy Spirit to convict me and to do His purifying work within me. If the goal of our faith is to be more like Christ (Eph 5:1), then I must concede to God’s directing hand, whether in discipline or joy, both are steeped in His unconditional love. Sometimes, being in the presence of God breaks me and sometimes it yields unfathomable grace, which allows me to see a holy and righteous God, who is not finished with me yet. And that is something that I strive for daily. Having a heart for God desires His will and not my will. Having a heart for God desires His moment by moment presence in my life: His Spirit pumping the breath of life through my heart, reaching out and flowing into my veins—He’s a part of me.

Today’s Reflection

  • What’s holding you back from being in God’s presence? Is it knowingly that you’re holding onto some type of sin that you think is hidden? God sees everything and knows everything. There is no sin so secret that God cannot see it. If you desire a heart for God then you’ll yield your flesh and spirit to His.
  • How much time do you spend in prayer—in real communication with God? Do you begrudgingly enter prayer, as if a chore, or does the thought send waves of joy over you—knowing you’re entering into a relationship, a dialogue, a union of a holy Father and an earthly son? Think about it…

FullSizeRender-10Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood, 30:1 Marriage), pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia. Matt is the founder of Job 31 Ministries; an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization; the East Coast Coordinator for New Breed Church Planting; and co-founder of a church planting and revitalization initiative called Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt also writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate in Great Commission Leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Twitter: @w84harpazo

Ashley Madison—Deceived

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By Patrick Allen

 

Come out of her!

With the overwhelming numbers of people involved in the Ashley Madison cheater website exposure, I can’t help but thank God for this hacking event. You may say “why would you want so many families and marriages to be destroyed?” To which I would reply, “They destroyed themselves by choosing this path.” Sin is finally being revealed on a large scale and I thank God that it is. Finally some healing can begin, right? Yes, through repentance!

Some may say, “Maybe I’ll start going to church”…but wait, even the church is involved. 37 million men and women, Christian and non-Christian, straight and gay—all involved in the sexual sin of adultery!

“What about people who used Ashley Madison to engage in gay affairs? The website’s users were worldwide, and there are 79 countries where homosexuality is illegal. In Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the punishment is death.”[1]

The devil is an expert in deception.

Jesus called the devil “the father of lies”[2] and rightly so. Additionally, the devil has been deceiving mankind since the beginning, what makes us think we are smarter than he. The devil twisted the Word of God in the Garden with Eve, he twisted them to Jesus in the wilderness, and he is still twisting them to this day, but now he is mass communicating.

Sadly, the devil is communicating in churches as well, with twisted doctrines that lead people away from the narrow, difficult path that Jesus told us about (Matthew 7:14).

I saw a show that said mermaids are real!

While we walk around thinking we are the smartest society ever to walk the Earth. I can’t help but think how much the devil is laughing at us and our deception. We are likely the most gullible society, if anything. If we can find it on the internet or if it’s on a semi-reputable television station then it must be true. How many people bought into the mermaid existence after the Discovery channel aired that show about mermaids being real? Later to find out that it was a complete hoax. Additionally, the History Channel aired a show that used Scripture to paint Jesus Christ as an alien visitor. Really!? Millions of people watched these shows and bought into this corruption. Just like the discretion guaranteed by Ashley Madison, corruptible. As it is written:

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”[3]

All is “Coming to Light.”

In addition to the Ashley Madison hack list, we also are seeing through the medical façade of Planned Parenthood and their black market of human infant body parts. Both of these should bring anyone who has read the Old Testament and the idol worship of the ancient Israelites, to cringe. From the golden calf sexual orgy worship, to worship of Ashtoreth (Ishtar)or known as a fertility goddess or “queen of heaven” to the women of Judah, to the Moloch worship where babies were burned alive on a statue thinking it would bring their families prosperity and wealth. These modern versions of worship of sex, convenience, and wealth are all self-worship and ultimately, idolatry. Yes, just as the idolatrous Israelites, who were God’s chosen people, even those who profess Christ as Lord, still worship themselves. This is evident by the large numbers of Christians who are caught up in adultery, fornicating, homosexuality, pornography, lying, stealing, alcoholism, scamming for wealth, and yes even getting abortions. As it is written:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”[4]

Stupid is, as stupid does…that’s what momma always says.

Forrest’s mom was one smart cookie! Many in the media are pointing out the lack of intelligence with some folks involved in the Ashley Madison scandal:

“Some people were idiotic enough to sign up using company and government work email addresses, making them especially easy to positively identify. Our quick review found 6,904 addresses linked to the Canadian and American governments, plus another 7,239 in the U.S. Army, 3,531 in the Navy, 1,114 Marines and 628 in the Air Force”[5]

I can’t help but call it what it is—SIN! It is direct evidence of our innate sin nature. If you are involved, it’s not too late. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

The field is white for the harvest.

It should also be motivation for true followers of Christ to double, if triple our outreach into the community with the Gospel. Just like with the mass immigration of non-Christians into the US, this event should look like a HUGE open door for the kingdom to advance. True Disciples of Christ will view these events as God posturing people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the first church in Jerusalem sat idle and scared, God brought forth Saul of Tarsus and through his persecution of the saints, the church scattered and begins sharing the good news and thus planting churches.

Now hiring Disciples

After Jesus showed His Disciples the crowds of the harassed and helpless, He told them what to do. He said:

“Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”[6]

We must be in fervent prayer for the Lord to deliver missionaries that are willing to go into the streets where ever they are and began showing the love of God through merciful acts and then sharing the good news of the kingdom of God, just as James wrote:

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”[7]

People who are involved in these scandals may be contemplating suicide and that’s just what the devil wants. We have to stand for them and with them and help them through this storm by pointing them to our Savior, who pulled us through our own storms.

Let’s get to work…our mission is at hand…and our Commander has said “GO.”

Read Luke 6:46

What are you waiting for?


 

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/19/technology/ashley-madison-search/index.html

[2] John 8:44

[3]Luke 8:17English Standard Version (ESV)

[4] 1 Corinthians 6:9-10English Standard Version (ESV)

[5] http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/19/technology/ashley-madison-search/index.html

[6] Matthew 9:38English Standard Version (ESV)

[7] James 2:13 NIV

Patrick Allen is the Youth Pastor at Spotsylvania Baptist Church, he attends Liberty University working toward a B. S. of Religion. He’s married to the love of his life, Amy, and been married for over 10 years. They have 3 beautiful daughters: Madelyn Reese, 7; Ainslie Grace, 4 ; and Teagan Catherine, 2. Patrick is also a member of the Virginia Army National Guard (17 years of service). He’s a passionate believer in Jesus Christ and was also a fitness instructor. Connect with him on Twitter @PatrickAFT

The Person God Chooses

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By Dennis Thurman

“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)

It is a fact that the better looking you are, the greater your chances of opportunity to be successful. According to an article from Business Insider, “Studies have shown that attractive people are usually hired sooner, get promotions more quickly, and are paid more than their less-attractive coworkers.” One has to deliver results, but the door is opened wider for those with appealing features of face and form.

That is not how God chooses the person He uses, however. If that were true, then the first King of Israel would have been the greatest king, for Saul was Hollywood handsome. Scripture tells us that the people were eager to select him as their ruler for he towered over them. Sadly, his physical stature was not matched by his spiritual development—and with God that is what matters. Saul was disqualified from service because of his sinfulness, while David was chosen as, “a man after God’s own heart,” (1 Sam.13:14).

God would speak to His messenger, Samuel, who in turn would set David aside for divine service. God still does this. When He called me to preach, He did not speak to me in an audible voice, nor send an angel down with a word from heaven. Rather, as I listened to His men faithfully proclaim His Word, my heart was opened to His call. Are you listening?

Who would have thought that a shepherd boy would be a king? Seven sons of Jesse were summoned, yet none were chosen. In fact, when Samuel saw the eldest coming, he was impressed with his features and thought Eliab must be the one. That would have been the same mistake which elected the current failed leader, Saul. Here is the spiritual principle:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Cor.1:26-29)

I never cease to be amazed that God would call me to shepherd His flock—few would have seemed less qualified—but, when He chooses and uses one like me, then He receives all the glory.

The Spirit of God departed from Saul and rested on David. David’s anointing with oil was an outward representation of an inward reality. Spiritual work demands spiritual power. The work of God cannot be accomplished by human ingenuity and ability—not natural talent, but supernatural strength is required.

Are you a person God can use? Devote your heart fully to Him. Wherever you are and whatever you do, seek to please Him and labor for the Lord. Others may ignore you. God knows where you are and He can get you where you need to be. We do not have to promote ourselves. A sovereign God selects us. It is not our ability, but our availability that God is looking for—to anoint with His Spirit and appoint to His service. The key question is, “Do I have a heart for God?”

*Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings

3 Key Lessons to Avoid Occupational Burnout.

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By Matt Fretwell

And after [Jesus] had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone ~ Matthew 14:23

1.Learning to Say No

For a person like me, to take a week-long vacation from everything—to put everything down—that’s difficult to do. Not in the sense that I am so needed that people cannot do without me—no, but in the aspect of my type A personality. I was warned in seminary  to be aware of burnout and learn to say, “no.” If you’re like me, your brain is always in motion, always thinking about the next goal, the next vision, the next move forward. My wife laughs, but inwardly I must drive her insane at home. I cannot sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee without first sweeping the floor—and once I do, I sit down and notice a cobweb, or think of something I forgot to do outside.

Are you like this? Do you need to learn how to say “no” to yourself? Maybe you’re a “Martha”—someone who just fills there time with busyness? My brother is like this too, but much more intense, except he’s a guy who works with power tools—building, moving, fixing—straight up guy things—never taking time to relax. So, when I took vacation time with my wife, I left behind the family with grandparents and the church with a trusted pastor, but I still worried—it was embedded within me. I had to learn to concentrate on times of refreshing because burnout is real, even to the most focused and best of us. There are times when people will ask you to do things and expect you do them. But, for your sanity and well-being, in the most respectful way, learn to say “no.”

If people respect you, they will understand that you are human. You cannot do everything. You will inevitably let someone down, it happens. As well, one aspect of learning to say no is in understanding that you cannot be a people pleaser. Those of us who tend to be goal oriented and driven, sometimes fall prey to pleasing people, instead of focusing on our goals. You will let people down—so, learn to live with your choices, do the best that can, and then learn to let go.

2. Learning to Let Go

Thankfully, and praise God, I have finished my third book, Sanctificagious, but now I’m pursuing my doctorate and busier than ever. Sometimes I am in awe, reflecting on God’s blessings. But sometimes, and especially on vacation, I cannot stop my mind from thinking, “I need to be doing more, maybe I should be doing x. (whatever “x” may be)” This is good—right? Wrong. This is my problem, and I know many of you are like this—you bring your “work” or “work mentality” on vacation with you.

As a pastor I utilize the Scriptures to give me guidance, so I’m basing my need for rest upon them. So, I read that there are times when Jesus went up on a mountain all by himself to pray and to be alone. I think, “Really? The Son of God needed time alone?” Yes. As the Son of God, He was fully God and fully man and shows us the imperative to take time to be alone—to let go of life.

We need to heed this advice, to get away and to be alone—to learn to let go. Maybe some of you are thinking, “I wish I could take a vacation—aren’t you the lucky one”? Learning to let go isn’t necessarily about vacations, as much as it is about recognizing that burnout is entering the doorway of your life.

I am a very upbeat guy and love encouraging people—always smiling and laughing, so when someone asks me, “Hey, are you OK—you seem a little off”; well, that is my sign—the alarm goes off in my head—time to get with Jesus, time to get some alone time—time to reload.

Times of refreshing are short, periodical breaks—perhaps hours or even minutes long—find somewhere to be alone with God, be alone with your thoughts—alone in a quiet place. This is a hectic world with tons of noise—find a place of solace. As for prayer, the Celtic Christians used to say that they had “thin places” to go and pray. These were places where God and mad would meet. You can find your own thin place, wherever that may be—a closet, at a bedside, a closed office door, a park—wherever—but these times are imperative for the health of your soul. Make sure that you’re intentional about letting go of the world.

3. When to Get Away

Why a vacation? Here’s the reason; for several years, actually, make that almost ten years to be exact, I have taken times of refreshing instead of vacations. My wife and I take small weekend trips, when we can—even if only for the day. For the health of our marriage and our souls, this time is needed to take a small “sabbatical.” Everyone needs time of rejuvenation—a time of rest—time to slow everything down and listen to the soul.

For marriages, it is just as imperative to learn to say no (to work) and learn to let go (find time together) and to get away, as it is to love one another. One of the first things my wife and I look into about our vacations is where we will go and worship; for us—our rest is unified time together with God. Find that mutual love, together.

As well, all of us need vacation time when burnout is imminent—when the focus is gone, when the love for our occupation is gone—we’re of no value anyway. In ministry especially, pastors will continue to work and work and serve, perhaps even partaking in a martyr syndrome (i.e. “I’m doing it for Christ”). But when you can’t focus, or your nerves are biting back at people and it carries over into your home life—it’s time to get away.

Example: The 18th century preachers John Wesley and George Whitefield were good friends. It is well known that the evangelist Whitefield, noted that he would rather burnout and die preaching than to rest. Through letters, Wesley had advised him to take time off several times. Upon his refusal to do so, Whitefield gave his last sermon, went to bed and never awoke.  The notable point, Wesley outlived Whitefield and stayed in ministry for twenty one more years. While God is the author of life and knows our time—suffice it to say that He created the seventh day for rest, and Christ, the second Adam, had to show humanity by example—that times of refreshing and getting away are imperative for our souls, our relationship with God, and our relationships with others. Think about where you are right now. What do you need? A few hours, a few minutes, a few days, or even more—heed the advice.

FullSizeRender-10Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood, 30:1 Marriage), pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia), is the founder of Job 31 Ministries, an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization, the East Coast Coordinator for New Breed Church Planting, and co-founder of a church planting and revitalization initiative called Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt also writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate in Great Commission Leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Twitter: @w84harpazo

Storm Warning

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By Dennis Thurman

“I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.” (1 Samuel 12:17b)

When clouds gather, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and conditions are present for destructive storms, the National Weather Service will issue a storm warning. Data is collected and analyzed, as sensitive instruments indicate dangers that might otherwise catch people unprepared. Samuel was a man sensitive to the Spirit. In chapter twelve of 1 Samuel, he issues a storm warning. God sends a literal storm to confirm the message. Israel’s first king, Saul has led an impressive victory, but Samuel warns of a storm that is coming.

Samuel had been faithful—his life an inspiring example (v.1-5). There had been a remarkable consistency from the dawn of his childhood, the brilliant noonday of his ministry, and now as evening shadows of age gather around him, he will leave a legacy of devotion to God and His people. Will this be our testimony? Will we end well? God help us to be faithful!

The Lord is the ultimate model of faithfulness. Whereas, He has been faithful to His people, they had not been to Him (v.6-11). They forgot the Lord! Even so, God disciplined them and did not disown them—remaining devoted to them and delivering them. For the blessing of God to rest on them, they must fear Him and obey Him (v.12-15). Those are still the twin rails upon which God’s train of blessing runs—the old T & O: Trust and Obey!

God drives home the point rather dramatically (v.16-18). During the time of the wheat harvest, rain in rare in Palestine. God stirs up a storm to show them who is in charge. The people had demanded a king to reign over them. In so doing, they had rejected the Lord from being their ruler. God yielded to their request, but reminded them that their decision would not go well—and that a gnat may as well try to control a rhinoceros as for them to think they could depose God.

Their future prospects would be determined by the degree of their faithful performance (v.19-21). They confess their sin and cry out for mercy—which is always a good place to start. If we are off track, the first step to getting back online is to admit it—and that we need God’s help to do so. That confession is followed by a choice—to spurn the empty wells of this world and drink from God’s fountain that never runs dry. Our Father may reprove us, but He will not reject us; He may correct us, but will not cast us out (v.22). He did not choose Israel because they deserved it, but solely by grace. That is true of us, as well.

If we would stay in touch with God, then His power would deliver us, and His hand would direct us. Samuel had such a lifestyle of communion with the Almighty (v.23). To this example here is added the testimony of Ps.99:6 and Jer.15:1. If we never become faithful in prayer, we will never be faithful in anything else. How could we fail to delight in His presence and submit in obedience in view of all He has done for us? Samuel drives home the point (v.24-25).

If God is giving you a storm warning, it is time to drop to your knees and seek shelter in Him!

*Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings

The Worth of a Soul

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By Dennis Thurman

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)

The worth of something is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay for it. So, how much is one precious soul worth? What was God willing to pay for our redemption? It cost the blood of His darling Son. What is a soul worth to our church? How valuable is that one who is lost? Jesus drives home the point in Luke 15 because the religious crowd despised them and thought sinners were only fit to fuel the fires of hell (v.1-3). Jesus responds with one parable in three illustrations.

The worth of a soul is seen in the devotion of the shepherd in seeking for one lost sheep (v.4-7). Our question is, if one is valuable, then aren’t the ninety-nine others valuable also? Of course! It is a matter of priorities. The others are safe and sheltered in the fold. They are cared for…as well they should be. There is a crisis, however. One is lost and in a desperate condition. It is not like a dog whose homing instincts might lead it back home. It is not a cat that could claw or climb a tree. It is not a horse that could gallop away. It is a helpless, hopeless lamb. Unless it is sought, it perishes. Now, that would be sad. The reality behind the story is far worse. That sheep stands for the sinner, and death brings an eternity of despair. Therefore, the evangelizing of the lost must claim priority in every decision for the church. It is that urgent. It is the mission of Jesus (Luke 19:10). Is it ours?

The worth of a soul is seen in the diligence of the woman in seeking for one lost coin (v.8-10). What effort does this woman go through to find the lost coin? She turns the house upside down! Why? The coin was valuable…and she hoped recoverable! People mean so much to God—they should to us! We have to believe that our efforts can pay off. Diligence and perseverance are required. Jesus likened our work to fishing for men (Lk.5:10-11). Fish don’t typically flop into your boat—you go after them! The success of our search is related to effort and endurance.

The worth of a soul is seen in the compassion of the father in forgiving one lost son (v.11-32). The first two stories picture the devotion and diligence of a seeker. The seeker of course is not the sheep or the coin, but the shepherd and the sweeper! Having said that, there are others who will be rescued from sin only when they have become weary of the high cost of low living. You can and should warn them, but many won’t listen. This is when we wait and watch—in an attitude of compassion and the activity of intercession—always with the spirt of expectation that when the person has reached the bottom, they will seek a different life. This story is often referred to as the parable of the prodigal son, but it is more accurately the story of the Father’s heart. We shouldn’t focus on the sins of the son—which is what the elder brother did! Jesus focused on the forgiveness of the Father! The party he threw was extravagant. The self-righteous always have a reaction against reaching lost sinners. “Where’s my party?” is their self-centered concern.

*Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings