Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three Found Treasures



When I was six, I traveled with my parents to Houston, where we visited Neiman Marcus, a fancy department store. I remember being entranced by so many beautiful shiny things! Sparkling crystal, baubles encrusted with glass jewels, golden plates, and gowns shimmering in sequins and beads all caught my eye.

Before I knew it, I had wandered off from my parents, and they were nowhere to be found! I ran around frantically, calling out for them, but there was no answer. Devastated, I broke into uncontrollable sobbing. A kindly woman approached me and asked what was wrong.

“I’ve lost my parents!” I exclaimed.

“What do they look like?” she asked.

“Don’t worry,” I reassured her. “I’ll know them when I see them.”

All is well that ends well, and my parents were just around the corner, apparently caught up in some treasure hunting of their own. But that was long before the days of children being kidnapped in malls or the need to be paranoid every moment they are out of sight.

Remembering this story made me realize that to be found, three things must happen. We must first realize that we are lost; we must want to be found; and we must recognize the person who will find us.

God is a Triune Being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that nature is reflected in patterns of threes found throughout His Word. Salvation is the central theme of Scripture, so it is not surprising that Jesus spoke three parables about salvation in which a lost animal, object or person is found (Luke 15).

The chapter opens with Jesus teaching the publicans and sinners, namely those thought by society to be wicked beyond help. But many of them realized their own sorry state, and therefore came near Jesus to hear His words of wisdom, comfort, and healing (v. 1).

This ministry grouping of three is diametrically opposed by a judgmental grouping of three: the Pharisees and scribes criticize Jesus for associating with the baser element of society. The religious leaders of that day, who should have been most receptive to Jesus as the Son of God, instead were gossiping about Him, accusing Him of receiving sinners and of defiling Himself by eating with them (v. 2).

Jesus then teaches three parables aimed at the repentant sinners, the religious leaders trusting in their own self-righteousness, and all readers of the Gospel thereafter. Each of these parables has three elements: the lost treasure; those not considered lost; and the One Who finds the lost.

Jesus later describes Himself as the Son of man Who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). In three verses He states that He came to call not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32). Until we know that we are lost in our sins to the point of death (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13); that we have no righteousness of our own (Isaiah 64:6), and that we  need to repent (Acts 3:19; 5:31), we cannot be saved.

The first parable tells of a shepherd whose priorities seem somewhat unusual by worldly standards. He leaves the bulk of his flock – 99 of 100 sheep – to fend for themselves in the wilderness, while he goes looking for one lost sheep until he finds it (Luke 15:3-4). An earthly shepherd who did this would be considered somewhat daft, as he would leave most of his livelihood vulnerable to being eaten by predators, falling down a cliff, or wandering away from the flock.

But thankfully, Jesus is the Good, Great and Chief Shepherd (John 10:11-18; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4) Who is everywhere to save His flock from danger, and Who will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)

Like sheep, people are also vulnerable to three types of danger. In spiritual terms, these are being devoured by the devil (1 Peter 5:8), falling into temptation because of our sinful flesh (1 Corinthians 10:12), and wandering away when we are lured by worldly pleasures (James 1:14-15; 2 Timothy 4:10), namely the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Sadly, we are unaware of our exposure to these dangers until we are saved, and we can’t be saved until we know we are lost. In the parable, therefore, the Shepherd, Who is Christ Himself (Psalm 23) makes the lost sheep His highest priority, not resting until He can safely place it across His shoulders Luke 15:5).

Praise God that He goes to such great lengths to seek us out once we want to be found (James 4:8; Ezekiel 34:11), to work on our heart, and to save us through His grace! (Ephesians 2 8-9) But He does this only if we come to the end of ourselves (Psalm 40:2), know we can’t make it to Heaven on our own (Habakkuk 3:19), and realize we need the Saviour! (1 Timothy 1:15) Then He saves us by our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven.

Once the lost sheep in the parable is found, there is great rejoicing by the Shepherd, His friends and neighbors (Luke 15:5-6).Jesus explains the parallel to the joy in heaven over one sinner that repents of his sin and knows that he needs the righteousness of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 1:11; 3:9). Those who rely on their own good deeds to get to Heaven far outnumber (in the parable, 99 to 1) those who trust only in the Saviour (Matthew 7:13).

But these “good” people bring little joy to heaven even if they appear to lead moral and just lives on earth (Luke 15:7). Anyone who relies on keeping the law to get to heaven is doomed to failure, because all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and whoever has broken the smallest part of the law is considered guilty of transgressing all of it (James 2:10). Any joy over their “good” deeds is short-lived, for their destiny is eternal separation from God in hell (John 3:18) unless they realize they are lost so they can be born again (John 3:3-8).

In the second parable, Jesus tells of a woman who drops everything she is doing to find one silver coin she has lost from her stash of ten. She lights a candle, sweeps the house, and seeks diligently until she finds the missing treasure (Luke 15:8). I believe this parable gives further clues to God’s loving and thorough process in saving the lost sinner.

God gave us His Word as a light for our path (Psalm 119:105), for saving faith can only come by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Often, part of the process of our realizing how lost, helpless, and needy we are involves God sweeping away the clutter that hinders our dependence on Him. These weights (Hebrews 12:1) may be idols of money, power, health, relationships, and even family, for if these give us too much satisfaction, we may not realize we need God (Matthew 19:24).

Which brings me back to my childhood anecdote – I knew I was lost, I wanted to be found, and I knew whom I was seeking. I had no worries that I would fail to recognize my parents. But when I grew up, I spent much of life feeling miserably lost and wanting to find truth, peace and joy, yet not knowing the only One Who could save me. Like so many, I was a “seeker,” looking for truth in all the wrong idols, philosophies and false teachings (2 Peter 2) until the only Way found me (Acts 17:26-27).

In the parable, there was great rejoicing by the woman who found her lost coin, and by her friends and neighbors, just as there is by the angels in heaven (Luke 15:9-10) every time a lost soul is found! We shall also see this next week in the third parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).


 © 2015 Laurie Collett

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30 comments:

  1. Lovely post...it is a treasure.

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    1. Thank you, Betty, for your very kind words! May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  2. Dear Laurie,
    For a young child, I can imagine what a frightening experience it must have been to lose sight of your parents in a department store, especially if it has more than one floor. And how more frightening it is now when it's considered too risky to let go of your child's hand in the present day. This goes to show how the prophecy of Jesus had began to be fulfilled - that the wickedness in society continues to grow until all trust is eroded away - a reminiscent of Matthew chapter 24:9-13.
    But we can thank the Lord that in his mercy, he seeks out the lost in his characteristic Triune fashion, as you so explicitly detail.
    God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      So true -- times have changed so much that the freedoms that my contemporaries and I enjoyed while growing up would be dangerous and foolish today. From the time my friends and I were small children, we played outside or in one another's houses all day, and rode our bikes all around the neighborhood. No cell phones, yet we safely stayed out of trouble without causing our parents any worry. Once I entered 7th grade, I used to take the train, by myself, to the town where my school was, then take the train after school to where my ballet class was, then return home the same way in the evening. Nowadays only a lunatic or derelict would allow their children to do that. Surely as wickedness increases every day in these End Times, we can look forward to His soon return! Yet every day He tarries, more may be saved.
      Thanks as always for your thoughtful comment.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  3. Such good teaching - your thesis: "We must first realize that we are lost; we must want to be found; and we must recognize the person who will find us" - you explain it so perfectly, so succinctly! - it has helped me clarify how I need to pray for someone. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of confirmation! I am so blessed to hear that this post was a help to you. May God continue to bless you and your ministry of writing, which is such an encouragement to me and I know to all your readers.
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  4. Lovely post Laurie,
    I always knew there was something missing in my life before I became born again of God's Spirit. Part of it, I believe, was due to the fact that my dad had died when I was eleven. My mother was a beautiful mother, but it was through my father that I had experienced the teachings of the Bible, and even a divine healing when he had prayed. I went totally astray for some time after but the more I went astray the more I went into spiritual darkness. Then the 'LIGHT' came into that darkness. Praise our lovely Lord
    God bless you Laurie

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    1. Amen, Brenda! God created us to seek Him and to be fulfilled only when He saves us. Praise God that He shines His light into the darkness so that we can see and desire His glory!
      Thanks as always for your encouraging and uplifting comment.
      God bless you too!
      Laurie

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  5. Stopping by from Spiritual Sundays, and happy to find your blog with this great, uplifting post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Michele, for your visit and lovely comment! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  6. Laurie,
    That reminds me of "I was lost, now I'm found". That's what happened to me too. It's so great to be found.
    Blessings,
    Janis

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    1. Amen, Janis -- it is the greatest blessing ever to be found by Him!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  7. Very interesting post. Food for thought for me, as I had never thought of some of many of the things the way you said it. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks so much, Candy! I'm so blessed to hear that you enjoyed the post!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  8. This is beautiful. How lovely that God seeks us and wants us. He wants us to come back. He rejoices over us. That is the best thing.
    http://sweetmidlife.com

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    1. Thank you, Lynne, for your encouraging comment! Praise God that He created us for fellowship with Him, seeks us, and rejoices over us with great joy when we are found!
      May you have a blessed weekend,
      Laurie

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  9. Jesus is our ultimate treasure...thanks for sharing Him with the Thursday Blog Hop! Beautiful post.

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    1. Amen, Pam -- Jesus is our ultimate treasure, the Pearl of great price! Thanks for hosting and for your lovely comment!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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    1. Awesome! Thanks so much, Linda! Have a blessed weekend!
      Laurie

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  11. Thank you so much for your touching post. I am so pleased with our good Shepherd. No problem is too big for him. Your story, sweet ah ... Fortunately, you found your parents back.

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    1. Amen, Ariella -- our good Shepherd is the best! Thank you for your lovely comment -- I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  12. Thanks for sharing this great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment & for hosting! God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. A very thoughtful post. I've pinned it...thanks for sharing at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup ...hope to see you again this week!

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    1. Thanks so much, Betsy, for pinning it, for hosting, and for your encouraging comment!
      May you have a blessed weekend,
      Laurie

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  14. Thanks for sharing on Booknificent Thursday! Always great to have you!
    Tina

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    1. Thanks, Tina, for your lovely comment and for hosting!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  15. So inspirational. Pinned and tweeted! Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Hope you join us again this week.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sherry, for pinning & tweeting this! I'm blessed and honored! Thanks for your lovely comment and for hosting Funtastic Friday -- looking forward to this week's linkup!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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