Love For The Lost
Love For The Lost
Sermon Notes- Ps. Jim White
Sunday 3rd January, 2021
I’m hoping that at least some of you may have come here this morning with an expectation of hearing something new and fresh as we start to look further into what may lie ahead for 2021.
I think all of us are keen to move on, and anything new and fresh would be a nice change.
We’ve been so overwhelmed with what’s happened this past year, that many of us I think are cautious and apprehensive about what might still be ahead.
Nevertheless, I believe that we need to set markers or stakes in the ground as we step into a new season of life together as Christ’s Church in 2021.
And that’s what I want to do this morning.
I get this picture of us taking hold of a handful of white tipped stakes and spiritually walking across the land that is ahead of us – and hammering those stakes firmly into place. And doing it with confidence and faith – knowing that the true church of Jesus Christ is only going to expand and increase as the days get closer to His return.
It reminds me of that scripture from:
Isaiah 54:2 New King James Version
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.”
I feel that even though in a natural sense, government health restrictions are continually changing – we need to maintain an uncompromising and steadfast vision for moving forward – not sparing – not holding back or retreating as the church in any way – but to actually lengthen the cords and firmly strengthen the stakes of our vision, our influence, and our spiritual territory.
In a sense, it’s saying – whatever this coming year holds – some things will remain non negotiable. Some things will never change. And that has more to do with who we are on the inside… and who we are called to be as God’s people together.
We have already proven this past year that we as the church are well able to stay connected and committed to one another even after months of physical separation.
There are many examples throughout history where the church actually thrives more during difficult times. Even persecution has been a great catalyst for church growth and revival.
This message may just happen to speak to some of you personally as well this morning – in your own life and family. You mightn’t see what the full picture ahead looks like – but you can at the very least get a vision for where to secure your stakes.
You and your family need secure and uncompromising boundaries – you need, as I do, to be clear about what you believe and what you stand for – and how that will be outworked in your every day life.
Venese and I have only ever built one house. It was a small place out in the country – down at Marom Creek. But I can still remember all the excavating and earth moving at the beginning – and then the placing of the stakes where the outer walls and the boundaries of our house would be going.
Your house in 2021 needs clear and firm God directed boundaries.
When Venese and I built our first home, we didn’t have a full vision in our own minds of what the the final building would look like, sitting on those foundations. The whole building thing was pretty new to us. But it was enough for us to know and to see that this mapped out block of land was ours – it was set out according to definite clear plans, and it was actually coming to pass.
That’s the feeling I get about 2021.
There’s not a lot to see just yet – but like with all good strong and secure buildings, the planning and the foundations are the most important part.
I have another introductory scripture this morning:
Proverbs 29:18 The Passion Translation
“When there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray.
But when you follow the revelation of the word, heaven’s bliss fills your soul.”
Proverbs 29:18 King James Version
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
I think this is speaking to us this year in two different but interconnected ways.
It firstly speaks to us as followers of Christ. We need a prophetic vision. A forward looking picture of what the future will hold. A God inspired picture.
And as the scripture says – it has a lot to do with following the revelation of the Word.
Together, as the church, we can do so much more than anything we could attempt to do on our own.
As Christians, the Word of God is always our foundation – and any vision we have will always be revealed through what God has already said. The Holy Spirit is the One who breathes on the Word in each new season, to bring it to life.
We have His heart for us already in His Word.
But I see this scripture speaking to those also who are yet to know Jesus.
They don’t have a prophetic vision revealed to them through the Word. They might have some kind of vision for their lives – and it might be for something good.
But God is calling them as well to a prophetic revelation because He has an amazing plan for their lives – a plan that was already set in place at the beginning of time.
The tragedy is – without Christ – and without a Christ centred vision – the scripture says – they will perish.
And this is where I believe our own hearts and our own vision are being drawn to for 2021. In fact – this vision should always be before us.
And it is simply this: we need to have and to nurture our “love for the lost.” To have the Father’s heart towards those who are perishing.
We have had to do our best to survive 2020 – and by the grace of God we have survived. We have remained the church of Jesus Christ through all the challenges of going online – the challenges of fulfilling government health requirements… Not meeting together physically…
And we are continuing to regain our strength as the body together.
But we haven’t been called to simply be a church that survives. We have been commissioned to save those who are lost.
As I was preparing this message I had in the back of my mind the reason we are called Seacoast Church.
Zephaniah 2:6 New King James Version
“The seacoast shall be pastures,
With shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks.”
And at the end of verse 7 it says:
“….For the Lord their God will intervene for them,
And return their captives.”
And for the first time in all these 20 years since God gave us these prophetic verses for this church – I made the connection with the moment in time when Jesus was confronted by the religious people of His day. And they were condemning Him because He spent too much time with sinners.
Listen to how He responds.
Luke 15:2-7. New King James Version
“And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 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.”
We are called the Seacoast.
The Seacoast is a place of pastures…. And the Seacoast is both a shelter for shepherds and a fold for flocks – for the sheep.
But do we really have the heart of a shepherd as we look out upon the community that we live in? We do for one another! There’s lots of shepherding going on within the body.
But what about out there? Because there are thousands upon thousands of lost sheep wandering in the wilderness.
And they are wandering dangerously close to the cliff face. They are getting stuck in muddy and boggy marshes. They have prowling wolves ready to pounce upon them at any moment.
And worst of all, they have an enemy that hates them with a passion. That enemy is the:
1 Peter 5:8. New King James Version
“…adversary the devil (who) walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
The sheep, whom God the Father loves with His whole heart – they are being held captive in a myriad of dangerous places and without God’s intervention they will perish.
I hate that word – “perish.” And we need to hate it. We need to hate what it represents when we are talking about people’s eternal lives.
Here is our vision…. It’s always been our vision – but maybe God is articulating it in a new and fresh way for us for 2021.
We are the shepherds who are called to step out of the comfort of being survivors ourselves – comfortably enjoying this place of gathering where we belong – and to begin looking outward to the lost sheep – the broken ones, the vulnerable ones, the hurting ones, the rebellious ones, the rejected ones…
This message dovetails into what I feel the Holy Spirit is saying about launching into a new type of ministry here at Seacoast. I don’t even know exactly what that looks like yet – but I can see the stakes being hammered into the ground – and they represent us reaching the lost sheep, feeding the hungry ones, healing the broken hearted, touching the lives of those who haven’t yet responded or even had the opportunity to respond to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Our main outreach has been through Mainly Music – for over ten years we connected with young families every week. Some weeks we’d have 40 or more little ones – all under school age – here on a Friday morning – plus the mums, some of the dads, grandparents – plus there were always another 30 or 40 families on the waiting list.
It was a wonderful way of connecting with unchurched and unsaved families.
But seasons change. Covid put an end to Mainly Music. There was no choice to be made. And now I don’t even know if we’ll ever get back to it.
But this year I’d like to see us launch into something new. A ministry that reaches into the lives of those who are perishing. Those without vision. Those without hope.
We have an extraordinary, life changing and life saving revelation to share with people.
Wouldn’t it be an interesting thing is people in Ballina started to say that Seacoast Church receives sinners and eats with them?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if Seacoast Church actually became a shelter for shepherds and a fold for flocks in every sense of the word – where God Himself intervenes in peoples lives and brings them out of captivity – captivity to poverty, captivity to destructive lifestyles, captivity to hurt, pain, rejection, and whatever else causes them to live in bondage.
You and I could never do it on our own. But we have a mighty, powerful, miracle working God. We are Anointed – because we carry the same spirit that Jesus carried, just as He quotes Isaiah’s words Himself:
Luke 4:18-19. New King James Version
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
If it’s good enough for Jesus – then it’s good enough for us!
Jesus was Anointed. We have the same Holy Spirit that He was anointed with. Of course Jesus is God – He is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
When He came to earth to be with us – to be one of us – He laid aside His Divine power. But when the Spirit of God descended upon Him at His baptism – it was the same as Holy Spirit that we have with us today.
This will be part of the unfolding of our vision for ourselves this year.
The same Spirit that came upon Jesus at His baptism is the same Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead.
And this is what the bible says in:
Romans 8:11. New King James Version
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
It’s really important that we get this – in fact, it’s vital that we understand that it is the Anointing working though us that will cause the lost to come to Christ.
If you’re sitting there thinking – Oh I just can’t do it. I know we’re called to save the lost and the perishing – but I it’s all too overwhelming a task to think about….
Well let me put you at ease. It is definitely a decision that you need to make – but you won’t get anywhere striving in your own strength and determination to do it. You need to be Anointed to save a person’s life.
So let me read it again from the Passion Translation:
Romans 8:11 The Passion Translation
“Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God’s Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!”
If you have given your life to Jesus Christ – and have asked the Holy Spirit to abide in you – then you already have resurrection life living on the inside. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is already in you and with you.
That’s Who will touch people’s lives and release them from their captivity. He will bring them to life.
He will do it – but our part is to give ourselves into His hands to be used. There will be a surrendering – there will be a giving over of ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading when all we might want to do is think about ourselves.
But it comes back to where I started. Do we have a love for the lost? Do we carry the Father’s heart for those who are perishing?
I believe we do – but I also believe we need to continually kindle the flame – let the Holy Spirit breathe upon the coals of our heart.
John 15:13 New King James Version
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
The Aramaic word for friends also means family and relatives.
And I think God is saying to us – start were you are. Start with the ones you love already – but refresh your love with the Father’s heart for them in relation to eternity.
And here’s the thing. The Father loves them even more than you do – and He will breathe upon them supernaturally if you will simply take the opportunities to speak resurrection life over them…
The Holy Spirit will give you the words. He will give you a check in the spirit when it’s the right moment to say something.
The love of God will not let you down. Don’t give up. Don’t be in despair. You are called to be a child of faith. Unbelief comes from only one place. Kick it out. Always remain in faith.
Just be the witness that you are called to be.
This morning – my main aim as I speak these things out – is not to give you strategies and specific goals – it’s to recapture your hearts with the heart of the Father for the lost who are perishing. It really has to be a burning desire within us to love people enough to desperately want to save them from perishing.
Perhaps though there are things you can do to stir that flame again.
Pray – ask God for His heart and passion – seek out the scriptures that speak into the churches mandate and commission to bring salvation to our world.
Build an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit – so that you know His voice – and you are quick to respond.
Spend time with an unsaved person. Who is the one – out of the other 99 – that is captive and needs to find freedom.
Always be exalting Christ over your loved ones lives – pray for His grace to be poured out over them.
Pray for conviction of the Spirit – both for yourself and for others.
John 16:8. New King James Version
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”
That’s the Holy Spirit’s job – convicting a persons heart of their sin. But the Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom and anointing to draw someone to that place.
I’m sure there are many other things you can do to prepare yourself – but the last one I want to mention is this:
Express the love of the Father to others.
Love people – don’t judge them. Truth be known, most people who are in captivity have already judged themselves and know how sinful they are.
Ephesians 5:2. New King James Version
“Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12 New King James Version
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,”
Love, love, love…. Love never fails….
It’s not just emotion – true love it’s expressed in action – through sacrifice – through serving…. It will cost you something.
Just one last thought.
I won’t read it now – but if you want to hear the cry of God’s heart for His people, as a shepherd loves and cares for His sheep, then have a read of Ezekiel 34.
I know it’s speaking to Israel – and calling a scattered and lost Israel back to their home pastures and lands…
But it’s the Father’s heart for those that He loves that I really want you to hear and to feel.
Because He also loves us – and He loves the people of Ballina and this whole region. They also are lost and scattered sheep. Many of them are perishing.
Capture the heart of God this morning. That’s all I’m asking. Pray for His Anointing. Surrender yourself into His hands. And He will lead you through the rest.