Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What does it mean to be born Again?

Read John 3.

Not all Jewish religious leaders were hardened against Jesus.  Nicodemus is given to us as an example of one whose heart was open.  He concluded that "no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him" (v.2).  Jesus knew of the national stature of Nicodemus, calling him "the teacher of Israel" (v.10).  Typical of Jesus, He did not respond to Nicodemus' words but seemingly changed the subject.  Making such a personal and penetrating statement is how Jesus also dealt with the woman at the well and the rich, young ruler.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (v.3)

The term born again was foreign to Nicodemus.  Literally, the translation is "born from above."  This speaks directly against a system of belief to a personal experience that results in a new life.  It is a transformation of the person.  Once they were not born and now they are.  This teaching is not isolated to John 3.  Being "born again," "born of God," "born of the Spirit" is taught by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4, by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2, and by John again in every chapter of 1 John except chapter one.

1. The Contrast. (v.6a)
John 1:12-13 says "....children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."  
"Blood"-Jesus made it clear that being born into one's earthly family is not enough to get to heaven. Parental decisions have no bearing.
"Will of the flesh"-Others cannot make this decision for you.
"Will of man"-All of our good works will not allow us to be a part of God family.
"But of God"-This is a spiritual birth that the Spirit of God enacts at the moment a person receives Jesus as their personal Savior.

2. The Comparison (v.8)
Since this is a spiritual birth, it has nothing to do with any external doings on our part.  Jesus compared it to a blowing wind.  We do not see the movement of air, but when it moves the results are evident.  When one experiences the new birth, their life change becomes obvious to everyone around them.  They are no longer the same.

3. The Condemnation (v.18)
There is an natural place in every one's conscience that one day there will be a eternal judgment of each life.  Just notice how often unbelievers use the word hell, the place of eternal torment.  The problem with the thinking of so many is that any condemnation by God happens later.  Jesus clearly said that "whoever does not believe is condemned already."  That statement alone should strike fear in every unbelieving heart.  First, a person must realize their peril and their need of God's forgiveness now, in this life.  Then, there must be an acknowledgement that Jesus is their only hope.  The reason Jesus came the first time to earth was "in order that the world might be saved through him" (v.17).  He is the one and only Savior (v.16).  The good news of faith in Jesus is "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

4. The Condition. 
How can one be born again into God's family?  Jesus said regarding Himself, "...whoever believes in him may have eternal life" (v.15).  Note that this is not a religion but a relationship.  It is not faith in a philosophy but a person.  This is not a belief of content but a believing, or trusting, in Jesus that transforms a person from the inside out.  "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (v.36)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The purpose of the Signs

Read John 2.

There are no less than 35 recorded miracles of Jesus.  Turning water into wine was the first one.  Yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, verse 11 uses a different Greek word and refers to them as "signs" instead "miracles."  John's Gospel is organized around seven signs and seven claims of Jesus, proving that He is the Messiah.

When Jesus performed a miracle, it was done with intent.  He never used His power to gather a crowd or to put on a show.  Indeed, it appears that He never did a miracle in the same way twice.  What was the intent, then, of displaying such ability?  Verse 11 goes on to state that these signs "manifested his glory."  Our focus then should not be on the deed but on Jesus.  As John wrote in 1:14, "...and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from  the Father, full of grace and truth."  God, the Father, has glory.  Jesus, the only Son of God, has His own glory.

In verse 18, the Jews wanted Jesus to do a sign for them to prove Himself to them.  This reminds one of Satan's direct temptations of Christ to misuse His power.  Jesus' response was that "this temple" would be destroyed and then raised in three days.  The inquirers took that to mean the Temple.  Jesus was speaking of His own body.  This is the first reference in John of the coming resurrection.

At the Passover in Jerusalem (v.23), Jesus did other signs not recorded by John, resulting in many believing in Him.  But, their faith was in what they saw.  As Edwin Blum wrote, "They believed He was a great Healer, but not necessarily a great Savior from sin." (BKC, NT, p.280)  The reason we know this to be true is found in the last two verses.  He knew their hearts, whether their trust in Him was for forgiveness and eternal life, or not.  In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."  In other words, lip service and compliance will not suffice.

A whole-hearted response of trust in Him is what He looks for.  A relationship with Jesus is a trust.  When we fully commit our lives to Him, He entrusts us with eternal salvation, with His name, with His reputation, with His Word, with His life, with the Gospel, and all forms of resources for our stewardship.

May we humbly grow today in our trustworthiness.

Monday, December 28, 2015

18 identifiers of who Jesus Is

Read John 1.

The Bible is the written Word of God.  Jesus is the Living Word of God.  The descriptions of the Living Word are clearly presented in the written Word.
1. He was "in the beginning." (v.1)  What does this say to those who deny the eternality of Jesus?

2. He is "with God." (v.1)  What does this say to those who think Jesus was just a good man?

3. He "was God." (v.1)  What does this say to those who deny the deity of Jesus?

3. He made "all things." (v.3)  What does this say to those who hold other ideas about origins?

4. He is "life." (v.4).  What does this say about other philosophies of how to live?

5. He is "light." (v.4)  What does this say to the eastern mystics who pursue enlightenment?

6. He gives "the right to become children of God." (v.12)  What does this say to the universalists and those who think everyone is a child of God?

7. He "became flesh." (v.14)  What does this say to those who believe Jesus was only a spirit?

8. He "dwelt among us." (v.14  What does this say to those who think God is an impersonal being?

9. He is "full of grace and truth." (v.14)  What does this say to the legalists on one hand and to the truth seekers of the other?

10. He is "Jesus Christ." (v.17)  What does this say to those looking for the Messiah and all those in need of a Savior from sin?

11. He "has made (God) known." (v.18)  What does this say to those who those think we cannot know God with certainty?

12. He is "the Lamb of God." (v.29)  What does this say to those who think they can atone for their sins in some other way?

13. He is "the Son of God." (v.34)  What does this say to those who deny the Trinity?

14. He is the "Rabbi (which means Teacher)."  What does this say to those who have not learned what Jesus taught?

15. He is "the Messiah." (v.41)  What does this say to Jews today?

16. He is "whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote." (v.46)  What does this say to those who have never studied the Old Testament?

17. He is "King of Israel." (v.49)  What does this say to those who do not believe in a future earthly reign of Christ?

18. He is "the Son of Man." (v.51)  What does this say to those who deny the humanity of Jesus?

The Holy Spirit moved upon John to write these things, not for debate, but "that all might believe through him" (v.7).

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A time to remember and Respond

Read Luke 24.

We are notoriously forgetful creatures.  With the busyness of work and life, our true priorities-the things that will matter long after work and life have ended-can get pushed away in our memories.  Tragic events so easily cause us to self-focus and become emotionally stuck on the temporal loss, losing sight of the eternal perspective.  It is important, therefore, to take some intentional time to remember God's word.

Despite the fact that Jesus often spoke of His suffering, death and resurrection, those closest to Him seem to have forgotten.  Indeed, there was an epidemic of disbelief.  Yet, it was written down in the pages of the Old Testament all along.  They just did not understand and remember what they had been taught.  That is, until Jesus appeared.

This chapter contains "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3 KJV) of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
He walked.  He talked.  He ate.  He offered to be touched, having "flesh and bones" (v.39).  Even then, it was hard for His followers to believe what they were seeing.

Why was it so difficult for them?

1. The condition of the Heart. (vv.25-32)
Jesus identified the problem as He walked with the two on the road to Emmaus.  They were still in some shock.  Their emotions were stunned and disappointed by the death of Jesus.  Going home from the Passover celebration, they shuffled along with their hopes dashed (v.21).   He stated that they were "slow of heart to believe."

When Jesus began to review the Scriptures and teach them, their hearts began to "burn within" (v.32).  They understood the meaning of God's word.  They were regaining confidence in their faith.  Feeling inspired, they wanted more, even inviting Jesus to stay with them.

2. The position of the  Mind. (vv.44-49)
Nothing enters a closed door.  If one closes their thinking to the truth of God's word, they shut off the only source there is to lasting hope.  Even as Jesus stood in front of them, the disciples struggled with belief.  "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (v.45).

The content of Luke 24 begs us to ask ourselves some personal questions.
Are my emotions focused on selfish temporal stuff or the eternal hope in Christ?

Is my mind open to receive the truth of God's Holy Word?

Have I experienced "repentance and forgiveness of sins"?

Am I involved in proclaiming this good news "in his name to all nations"?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The non-sense of hating Jesus

Read Luke 23.

It is nearly impossible to make any human sense of the hatred of the religious rulers in Israel.  These who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation were plotting how to murder an innocent man.  His crime?  Jesus simply and consistently revealed His true identity as the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  The last straw came in Luke 22:67-71.  His accusers understood clearly that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh.

Because they had no power of capital punishment, the "whole company of them arose and brought him to Pilate."  The Jewish leaders hated the Romans also, but they were more than willing to use the government to achieve their ungodly goal.  Notice the intensity of their emotions toward Jesus.

v. 5-"They were urgent."
v.10- They "stood by, vehemently accusing him."
v.18- "They all cried out together, 'Away with this man..."
v.21- "They kept shouting, 'Crucify, crucify him!"
v.23- "They were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified."
v.35- "The rulers scoffed at him."

Little did they realize then how they were being controlled by Satan himself.  From Genesis 3:15 on, the Evil One had made one attempt after another to stop the line of Messiah.  Satan is a defeated foe and now can only can stir up those who reject God's word for their own selfish goals in life.  The cross for some brief hours seemed a victory for Satan and his religious minions.  But, what the Devil planned for evil, God had planned all along for our redemption.

Those who reject Jesus today fall into the same hate-filled crowd of Luke 23.  Though some may have been hurt and disillusioned, their rejection of Jesus makes no human sense.  Some will hide behind religion, as the self-righteous rulers in this chapter.  Some will attempt to lay blame on something or someone.  However, the truth remains.  There is no alternative for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

Devout Jews had been praying for and looking for the coming Messiah.  Simeon was such a man in Luke 2:25-32.  When the Holy Spirit revealed the true identity of Jesus, He broke out in praise and a prayer of thanksgiving.

"O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"

Monday, December 21, 2015

Jesus fulfilling Scripture

Read Luke 22.

Though a seeming tragedy for the moment, the trials and crucifixion of Jesus was the plan of God all along and took place right on time.  The case for a suffering and sacrificial Messiah begins in Genesis 3:15.  It continues with the atonement offerings of a blood sacrifice from Genesis into the Gospels.  Passages such as Isaiah 53 are graphic prophecies of the experiences of Jesus,  The angel told Joseph that the baby would be called "Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

That payment for sins would require His death by shedding of blood.  Throughout His ministry, Jesus spoke of the time when He would suffer and die in Jerusalem.  "The chief priests and scribes were seeking how to put him to death." (v.2)  Jesus knew all along of the coming betrayal by Judas (John 13:27) and the denials of Peter (vv.31-32).

It was time to celebrate the Passover.  This is a memorial meal, remembering God's deliverance of Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  Jesus, in His omniscience, had the place for the gathering.  Here, His statements become even more clear as to what will take place in the hours to come.  He even gave references to that future kingdom of God when He will rule and shepherd Israel.  The second half of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 will be fulfilled then.

1. "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (v.16)

2. "For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (v.16)

3. "...I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (v.18)

4. "For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined." (v.22)

5. "...that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (v.30)

6. "For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me." (v.37)

7. "For what was written about me has its fulfillment." (v.37)

8. "But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God." (v.69)

In the meantime, the followers of Jesus were given two admonitions:
Serve-"Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." (v.26)
Pray-"Pray that you may not enter into temptation." (v.40)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

8 signs of the return of Christ

Read Luke 21.

As God in the flesh, Jesus revealed His omniscience.  He watched the offering and knew if people gave God a tip, a tithe, or sacrificially.  Jesus also let the disciples know that He knows the future.  This chapter parallels Matthew 24 and 25.

While His followers were struck by the beauty of the Temple, Jesus saw it as a teachable moment.  First, He stirred their curiosity with a statement regarding the Temple's destruction.  They responded with two questions: 1) When will this happen? and 2) What will be the indicators of that time?  He answered them in reverse order.  His prophetic teaching concerned Christ's return to establish His earthly kingdom, but the message, too, urged some immediate behaviors.

Jerusalem's destruction, along with Solomon's Temple, took place in 586 B.C. at the hands of the Babylonians.  Though this rebuilt Temple during Jesus' day was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., it is obvious from this chapter and the rest of Scripture that Jesus had much more in mind.  The descriptions here all point to the Great Tribulation period just prior to our Lord's return.  Many of these signs have always been present in the world, but the time Jesus spoke of here will be unprecedented.  "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no and never will be." (Matthew 24:21)

1. Political Wars. (v.10)

2. Natural Disasters. (v.11)

3. Agricultural Devastation. (v.11)

4. Astronomical Omens. (v.11)

5. Theological Persecutions. (v.12)

6. Relational Divisions. (v.16)

7. Geographical Convergence. (v.20)

8. Celestial Upheavals. (v.25)

Jerusalem will be surrounded by Gentile nations "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  The Apostle Paul used this same phrase to write that at that time "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25-26).  See Zechariah 14:1-2.

"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."  See Revelation 19.
-Who will see Him at His appearance?  "All who dwell on the face of the earth" (v.35)  This is how we know Jesus was not just referring to the Roman destruction.
-Why is Jesus returning to earth?  To set up His earthly kingdom of God (v.31), as the prophets and Revelation 20 foretell.
-Why did Jesus say these things to His followers?  "Watch yourselves."  "Stay awake at all times, praying..."  Because "that day...will come upon you suddenly."

Friday, December 18, 2015

6 signs of false Workers

Read Luke 20.

The authority of Jesus was challenged again.  The religious leaders of the day thought they were in charge because of their training and position.  They forgot without a heart for the LORD none of that matters.  Though Jesus did not answer their direct question, He did address the issue in a parable.

In the story, there is an owner who entrusted the care of his property to tenant workers.  The owner's full expectation was that they were to be working for him and that there would be fruit given to him as a result of their work.  But in time the true character of these workers was revealed.  This is a very thinly disguised rebuke to these self-righteous inquisitors concerning God, as the Owner, and their role as stewards of God's work.

They had been given a responsibility to oversee and expand the work of God.  Instead, they assumed it as their own and did what pleased them.  This led ultimately to their part in the crucifixion of God's Son.  The LORD wants profitable ministry in the lives of His people.  Jesus made it clear that there is coming a severe judgment upon false workers in the kingdom of God.

Here are at least a half dozen signs of these false workers in this parable.
1. A false worker behaves as if he is the owner.

2. A false worker rejects the notion of accountability to God.

3. A false worker dismisses the authority of God's word.

4. A false worker thinks it is all about them and other people.

5. A false worker will experience eternal judgment.

6. A false worker is not a steward of God's work  but a usurper.

These same warnings may apply to all of us today.  God has entrusted life, resources, and opportunities to every person on earth to know and serve Him fruitfully.  Our hearts desire should be to please the Owner all day, every day.

Monday, December 14, 2015

An unmistakably changed Life

Read Luke 19.

In chapter 15, Jesus taught three parables in succession on the value of one person and the importance of individual repentance.  This same theme is unmistakable in the opening of chapter 19.  With a crowd of people desiring to see Jesus, He turned His attention to the one whose heart was spiritually open.

This meeting with Zacchaeus and the subsequent parable falls within a string of Jesus' teaching about money.  The religious leaders of the day loved money and saw it as a sign of God's pleasure, except if the person was a tax collector.  These were Jews who gained authority from the Roman government to do this work.  The tax collector could then charge whatever and whenever he wanted.  The abuses resulted in great personal wealth but hatred from his countrymen.

Do not miss the two main outcomes of this encounter.  The man knew he had a need that only Jesus could meet.  Admitting that need was the first step in receiving forgiveness and eternal salvation.  It is for such people that Jesus came.  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."  Second, a changed eternal destiny resulted in a changed behavior.  A changed life is the real proof of genuine faith.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Few things in life demonstrate our faith in God like our attitudes toward money and generosity.  The first response of Zacchaeus' new life was to make financial restitution and to demonstrate radical generosity.  A godly person is a giver, not just a tither.

The first lesson we must all acknowledge, sooner or later, is that God owns it all (Psalm 24:1).  The demonstration of faithful stewardship is found in our giving records.

One day there will come a reckoning of what we did with what the Lord allowed us to use during this life.  That accounting is foretold in the parable of the Ten Minas.  He expects us to use our God-given resources for "gain by doing business" (v.15) in this life on His behalf.  His reward is not only in receiving His pleasure but also in responsibility in that future earthly kingdom.

The question is this: Does my giving record show my life has changed and that I am practicing generosity?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

4 reasons to Pray

Read Luke 18.

Life is not fair.  We live in a world of injustices.  People are taken advantage of everyday.  Many times the instigator of the injustice appears to get away with it, whether that be a person, an organization, or a government.  Victims look to legal authorities to right the wrongs.  But, the very ones empowered to enact law and order, justice and right, often become part of the problem.

This can be so discouraging that some see no hope for the future.  What is a person to do?  Jesus told His followers a parable in verses 1-8 "that they ought to always to pray and not lose heart."

The Choice.
The decision is this: do we pray and seek God's help or do we become discouraged and give up?  "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you." (Psalm 55:22)  The more we express our dependence upon God, the more we will experience His sustaining grace in our lives.

The Contrast.
A common misconception is that Jesus was comparing God to the unjust judge and we should be persistent in prayer until God gives in to our requests.  Such a view paints the God of heaven as uncaring and unwilling and only gives in to get rid of us.  In great contrast, God like the unjust judge at all and He is not reluctant to hear our prayers and answer us.  There is a difference between persistence in prayer and mere repetition of the same words over and over.  "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears are open toward their cry." (Psalm 34:15)

The Confidence.
Jesus closed the story with a question.  "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
This query directly relates to the parable of the widow's faith in ultimate justice and Jesus encouragement to His followers to be faithful in prayer.

"Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:7)  Bringing our needs to God in prayer is not for His benefit.  It is for ours.  Someone once said, "When we ask God to do something for us, He generally does something in us."

1. Praying reminds us of our dependence.
2. Praying reminds us who really is in control.
3. Praying reminds us of God's perspective on our lives.
4. Praying allows us to see God's power at work.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

4 characteristics of true Servants

Read Luke 17.

"If you think you have a servant's heart, how do you feel when you are treated like one?"  That has become a common quotation regarding humility and servant-hood.

In that day, many of the religious leaders expected gain from their "service" financially or positionally.  Not so with the followers of Jesus.  The true gain for those who are committed to Christ is the opportunity to serve and help others in His name.

Jesus taught on the subject of humility and service many times, as well as did the Apostles.  Jesus exemplified it as no one else could.  Though He was God, He laid aside His rights as God, "humbled him by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross." (Philippians 2:8)
Here are four things that characterize true servants from verses 7-10.

1. Servants work.
They are not spectators, otherwise they would be fired!  True servants of Jesus Christ are gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve God effectively.  He then opens doors of opportunity to employ that giftedness to further His kingdom.  One of the hallmarks of a healthy congregation is to see themselves as a ministry employment agency for every person who attends.

2. Servants never stop serving.
When one job is over, there is always something more to do.  Some may not be physically able to do what they once did, but the greatest prayer-warriors in most churches are senior adults.  Dr. Crawford Loritts once said, "We get tired in the work but not tired of the work."  We who love Jesus enjoy being involved and look for ways of doing more.

3. Servants listen to and obey their master.
When God called him in 1 Samuel 3, young Samuel responded, "Speak, LORD, for your servant hears."  It is with such eager anticipation that servants of God arise each day.  We live and do what God wants done, not what is self-pleasing.

4. Servants are faithful with their responsibilities.
A servant trusts his master will take care of basic needs and resources.  If the master did not, the servant would not have shelter, clothing and food to do his job.  That is the master's responsibility.  The servant's responsibility is to be faithful with the given assignments.  The true servant of Jesus feels a constant sense of unworthiness to be used of God and, yet, eternally grateful for the privilege.  It is then that we may honestly say, "We have only done what was our duty."

There is great gain awaiting for such servants when the work is ultimately over.  Jesus taught in Matthew 6:19-20 that we may store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  And, in addition, we will get to hear those wonderful words of welcome, "Well, done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master."  (Matthew 25:21)

Friday, December 4, 2015

5 lessons from Hell

Read Luke 16.

Jesus taught more about the subject of money that, perhaps, any other subject.  The story recounted here would have perked up the ears of the Pharisees, "who were lovers of money" (v.14).  But the conclusion Jesus made caused them to "ridicule him."  Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and money." (v.13).

Hearing their remarks, Jesus told the next story to teach a proper evaluation of this life and to put eternal life into a correct perspective.  All money and material gain will one day be left behind.  Our few short years here are nothing in comparison with eternity.  Therefore, judging a person's worth by the amount of one's possessions or position is short-sighted and foolish to say the least.  This is why Jesus taught on two separate occasions that "many who are the first will be last, and the last first."  (Matthew 19 and 20).

Immediately upon one's death, the spirit separates from the physical body and enters eternity.  Hell is real.  It is not a joking matter, nor a word to be used for profanity.  Several times Jesus taught this same description of the judgment for those who reject Him.
1. It is a place of eternal torment. (v.23)
2. It is a place of eternal thirst and unbearable flaming heat. (v.24)
3. It is a  place of eternal loneliness and anguish. (v.25)
4. It is a place of eternal separation from God. (v.26)
5. It is a place of eternal regret. (vv.27-28)

In great contrast, the one who had nothing in this life but believed God's message experienced great comfort.  He enjoyed fellowship with God and others.

Everyone will spend eternity somewhere.  The decision of where is made in this life.  What most people do not realize is that God's judgment is already upon us.  Only faith in Jesus saves us.  "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  (John 3:36)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The importance of One

Read Luke 15.

Seeing Jesus being friendly with and even eating with "sinners" annoyed the religious leaders.  They thought, first of all, that being born a Jew automatically made them part of God's family.  Second, they believed that maintaining outward practices, many of them man-made, caused them to be accepted by God.

Jesus was aware of their misunderstandings and their grumblings.  He took full advantage to teach those who would listen.  The parables are earthly stories filled with heavenly truth.  These three contain the same core elements.
-Something or someone valuable was lost.
-Then, it was found.
-The owner or father rejoiced.
-There was a public celebration.
The first two conclude that there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.  The third illustrates that truth.

1. One in a Hundred. (vv.3-7)
He first appealed to their culture and work.  No shepherd wants to lose an animal.  He will go after it until he finds it.

2. One in Ten. (vv.8-10)
Losing ten percent of one's savings would have gotten their attention.  Everyone would seek diligently until they found the missing one.

3. One in Two. (vv.11-32)
Now that He has gained their attention, Jesus delivered the third.  The first two parables merely set the stage for this most personal application.  This was not a animal or an asset.  This was a son who went his own way to the displeasure of the father.  Rejoicing took place only after the wayward one turned around, renouncing his lifestyle and coming home.  There he found a waiting father ready to celebrate.

No matter the family or group we are in, whether it is one in a hundred, one in ten, or one in two, we all must turn from of our sin as individuals.  Then, we will find a waiting heavenly Father ready to receive us with open arms of forgiveness and acceptance.