Lost and Found March 20-24
When the religious crowd of Jesus’ day complained that He was spending too much time with the sinners of society, Jesus told a few redemption stories. He started with the story of a lost sheep, then of a lost coin, and ended with the story of a lost son—all of which were redeemed. Jesus’ application to the religious crowd was that when precious things (sinners) are lost, they need to be found. There is rejoicing in heaven over their salvation. Whether it’s a sheep, a coin, or a child, Jesus uses these stories to illustrate truths found in every story of redemption. God tells us that we are valuable, known and loved just as we are. And we are worth celebrating when we return to Him.
Day 1 Luke 15:1-10
Reflect: Jesus’ opponents said that He “welcomes” sinners, but based on the parables, what did He really do for sinners? What is the common element in both stories?
Apply: Do you still have significant friendships with those who don’t know God, or have you isolated yourself from nonbelievers? With whom can you tell your lost and found story?
Pray: Jesus, I praise You as the One who never leaves the one behind. Help me show Your love and care to others who have gone astray and to those who have yet to listen. I want to share in the joy of heaven over each sinner that repents.
Day 2 Luke 15:11-32
Reflect: How would we describe the behavior of the younger son in the story? The father? The elder son? Who do they each represent? What point is Jesus trying to make and to whom?
Apply: What means the most to you about this story? When you read it, who comes to mind? How do you see yourself in the characters in the story? Who do you need to celebrate?
Pray: Father, help me keep my heart fixed on Your love. Don’t let me be distracted by sinful desires or a false image of myself. Help me to grow in Your image and to remember that You are always running toward me!
Day 3 Ephesians 1:7-14
Reflect: What comes to your mind when you hear you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ? What are spiritual blessings that God has lavished on us?
Apply: What are you doing with your redeemed life? Let the image of Jesus reaching out to you with His wounded hands remind you of His love and be your motivation to bring Him glory.
Pray: Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit of promise as a pledge of Your faithfulness. Help me to remember that I have been bought with a price and to live worthy of my calling.
Day 4 Hosea 14:1-9
Reflect: God’s call to return is a call to repentance. What is the relationship between redemption and repentance? What does God’s forgiveness look like and what does it produce?
Apply: True forgiveness always follows true repentance. How have you experienced this truth? What have you turned away from? Do you still stumble with rebellion?
Pray: Father God, help me to understand the seriousness of sin and the beauty of a relationship with You. Your forgiveness through Christ, washes away my sin and guilt. Help me to walk in Your ways, to flourish and grow, to bear fruit that honors You.
Day 5 Isaiah 55:1-7
Reflect: How would you describe the Lord’s message in this passage? How do you see the call for repentance and redemption in? The call to evangelism?
Apply: Based on the text, why would someone turn down what the Lord offers in exchange for things that don’t satisfy? What appeals to you about God’s invitation through Isaiah?
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You that the precious invitation of pardon and salvation is given freely to whosoever will come and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Only the Bread of Life and Living Water can satisfy me.
Put It Into Practice!
Lent is the Christian season of repentance and renewal. This year we are focusing on and studying the ways God accomplishes His redeeming work in and through us. The suggested “Put It Into Practice” exercises for this series are practices of spiritual devotion fitting for this sacred period of cleansing, contemplation, and renewal. Try them all, a few, or just choose one to practice this Lenten season.
Reflect – The ancient practice of reflection is a tool for looking back at your day and noticing where God has been present and at work, as well as to recognize things about yourself that may need to be reshaped by the Potter. During this time, spend a few moments in gratitude for the gifts and blessings of the day. Ask God to enlighten you about where His presence in your day. Examine the moments of your day, noticing your reactions to what has led to consolation and what has led to desolation. Seek forgiveness for the times when you have acted, spoken or thought contrary to God’s grace and calling for you. Resolve to change. Decide what in your behavior or attitude you will try to improve tomorrow.
Practice generosity – Just as Boaz, be generous with your money, food, time and talents to those in need. Carefully examine what motivates you to be generous under the shadow of the Cross, for almsgiving is of little value if we give only to relieve our conscience but remain indifferent to those in need.
Strengthen relationships – Help your family and strive to sacrifice of yourself for their benefit. Go the extra mile to maintain communication, to heal old wounds, and mend broken bridges. Learn to apologize and to put yourself in others’ shoes. Reach beyond your comfort zone by engaging with people who are different than you. Seek out the best in others and give the best that is in yourself. Remember Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the loving Father, and the elder son.
Fast – Intentionally withhold something you would normally partake in for the purpose of creating space in your life to feast on the presence of Jesus “directly.” Fast from foods associated with “feasting”—chocolate, desserts, coffee/caffeine, alcohol, etc. Fast from media or entertainment: cell phone, TV, streaming video, radio, music, email, computers, video games, etc. Fast from habits and comforts—shopping, looking in the mirror, makeup, elevators, parking in a spot close to the store, finding the shortest checkout line, reading online, following sports, etc.
Confession – Allow the spiritual discipline of confession which leads to forgiveness, to be part of your daily practice. Before we can experience the full grace, healing and redemption made available through Jesus, we must turn from our sins and confess them to God. Dig deep. What sins of unfaithfulness to God do you need to confess?
Rejoice in the Lord— Let the joy of the Lord be your strength! On Sundays, if what you have sacrificed through fasting increases the joy of this wonderful day, then sacrifice it. If it does not, then do not. The joy of the Lord must be your strength!