This morning I want to invite you
to join me on a little journey.
We are going to read
the following four verses,
very slowly and very intently,
and we are going to ask
the Holy Spirit to teach us
what the message of Jesus is.
“Take heed -
that you do not despise
one of these little ones,
for I say to you that in heaven
their angels always see
the face of My Father
who is in heaven.
For the Son of Man has come
to save that which was lost.
“What do you think?
If a man has a hundred sheep,
and one of them goes astray,
does he not leave the ninety-nine
and go to the mountains
to seek the one that is straying?
And if he should find it,
assuredly, I say to you,
he rejoices more over that sheep
than over the ninety-nine
that did not go astray.
Even so it is not the will
of your Father who is in heaven
that one of these little ones should perish.”
Take a deep breath.
And read it again.
Attune your ear and listen closely
to the Word of God.
every verse has to be understood
in the context of which it is being used.
Now, let's go back to the message
that comes prior to this passage.
Matthew 18 begins with Jesus
answering the disciples question,
“Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus then called a little child to Him,
set him in the midst of them, and said,
“Assuredly, I say to you,
unless you are converted
and become as little children,
you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven."
So there is the answer to
“Who are the lost sheep?”
The lost sheep are "the little children"
humans whose hearts have been converted.
The lost sheep are faithful followers of Christ
and the Holy Spirit.
They know and respond to the Voice of the Father,
but they have gotten lost, they've lost their direction.
The lost sheep
are people who have gone astray
because they have wandered
too far away from God.
BUT when the Lord is a good, good Father.
He uses his rod and his staff to pull them back,
And when they enter again, into the flock,
it's as if they were never gone.
Lost Sheep do not intentionally bring harm!
Lost sheep know their Shepherd,
and when He speaks they respond to His Voice.
Lost Sheep are different than Wolves.
Sheep and wolves
are made from very different seed.
Unfortunately, this land is filled with both.
“Behold, I am sending you out
as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
“Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep's clothing
but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Do you see?
I know - it's almost impossible to believe
that the seed of the Serpent
and the Seed of the woman
This is why it is so important
to read God's Word
under the direction of the Holy Spirit!
Many people who read the Bible
according to the flesh instead of the Spirit,
twist the Word of God, without even knowing it!
For instance, they might teach
that lost sheep are wolves,
and the other way around.
They might think a lost sheep
is anyone who does not go to church.
But that is such a surface approach.
Ugh! I could go on and on,
about twisted truth,
but let me get back into the verse.
The second thing
the Holy Spirit highlighted to me was this,
“for I say to you that in heaven
their angels always see the face of My Father
who is in heaven.”
I had to read that verse over and over again,
to make sure I was really understanding what it said.
It appears “the little ones” who believe in Christ,
and faithfully follow the Father’s voice,
have angels in Heaven watching over them.
The angels intercede on the sheep’s behalf
and have permanent access to God.
What are angels anyway?
Well the author of Hebrews puts it this way,
“Are they not all ministering spirits
sent forth to minister for those
who will inherit salvation?”
Wouldn't that mean that angels are spirits,
Sons of God who belong to the spirit realm
who are sent forth by their Father,
to serve God's children in the earthly realm
until they inherit salvation?
Do you remember what Jesus said
in the Parable of the Tares?
“He who sows the good seed
is the Son of Man.
The field is the world,
the good seeds are
the sons of the kingdom,
but the tares are
the sons of the wicked one.
The enemy who sowed them
is the devil,
the harvest is the end of the age,
and the reapers are the angels.
Therefore as the tares
are gathered and burned in the fire,
so it will be at the end of this age.
The Son of Man
will send out His angels,
and they will gather out of His kingdom
all things that offend,
and those who practice lawlessness,
and will cast them into the furnace of fire.
There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
So, do you have ears to hear?
Did you understand what you just read?
The Word of God is so good!
Every verse tastes so delicious
that I never want to stop chewing on it!
Let me assure you,
It hasn’t always been this easy.
When I first starting reading scripture at age 23,
I had no idea what I was reading,
and none of it made sense to me.
But I continued to dig in,
because I was being led by the Holy Spirit.
But, I read from a flesh perspective,
for 23 long years!
I believed in the scripture when I agreed with It,
and excused it when I did not.
What I mean is,
I was very progressive in my thought.
But, I quickly learned
that God’s Word never changes
and it does not ever return void.
Despite what we think
and what our culture says,
God's Word always remains the same.
When I was 46 years old,
the Lord decided to open my eyes
and He did it through
a GREAT humbling spirit!
He allowed Satan to attack my very life!
For a whole year, I fell into a depression,
as I experienced personal trial and tribulation.
I felt a lot like Job.
I fell into a pit,
and I could not get out on my own.
The Lord let me sit until I was able to admit
that He alone is God!
That is when I came to full repentance.
Then, as if He had known all along,
exactly where I was,
He sent Jesus to drop the rope of hope down.
I literally could see His face,
as He extended His right hand to me.
He lifted me from the swamp
and brought me up to Him,
and held me
when I could not stand on my own.
This whole experience
was captured in a poem called The Boardwalk Vision.
I was completely transformed into the spirit,
when Jesus opened the door to God.
For some reason,
the Lord allowed me to see a glimpse of Him.
my eyes have been opened
and my ears have been broken.
And it was not something I magically did on my own.
All the glory goes to God.
Now, I’m His instrument,
and I love to play music for Him.
I finally know my purpose!
It's to spread the Good News
and reconcile men back to God.
I’m an open vessel to be used by God
for the advancement of His Kingdom.
I now know that Jesus is sovereign,
and I am not.
I am just a human who believes that
Jesus is the Son of God -
who came to shed his blood for us.
Jesus is the reason
“the little ones” - “the lost sheep”
don't have to experience eternal death.
He is the Lamb of God,
as shown in the Revelation that was given to John.
See Revelation Chapter 5
I believe that while our flesh will die,
our spirits will rise
to be judged by the Father,
and He will examine
the thoughts of our heart
to make a final decision
about our ultimate consequence.
Some will live with Him in Heaven,
but many will not.
That is why we are told not to judge!
Because we are not the Father above.
When we try to take on the role of God,
we are idolizing ourselves and not Him.
In our ignorance, many people believe
that we have the authority
to determine the heart of another person.
And that is not good,
because we can’t even determine
what is right in our own.
What if other people are just lost sheep,
who have gone astray?
How happy would God be
if we decided to condemn them?
I wonder if God would say,
"Those without sin should cast the first stone."
What would you do?