SPECIAL SUNDAY SERVICE WITH PASTOR (DR) MENSA OTABIL (GENERAL OVERSEER, INTERNATIONAL CENTRAL GOSPEL CHURCH (ICGC) CHRIST TEMPLE, ACCRA GHANA)
TOPIC: LOST AND FOUND – PART 1 (THE LOST SHEEP)
DATE: 22ND JANUARY 2023
BIBLE TEXT: LUKE 15: 1-7 (NKJV)
Let us rise up together as we make our “DECLARATION OF GATHERING” in this “YEAR OF GATHERING”.
Are you ready? Say with me:
I Proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. The Lord is the Shepherd of my Soul, my Shelter by Day, my Light by Night.
In His Name, we Plough our fields, by His Spirit we gather the Harvest, in His Light we seek and find.
In this Year of Gathering, the Lord of the Harvest has commanded: Launch Out into the Deep. At His Words, we cast our Nets, we gather in Souls and Substance for God’s Kingdom.
The Lord is our Reward; in this Season I received God’s Portion set aside for me: Full Measure, Pressed down, Shaking together and running over.
Nothing is Lost and Nothing is wasted in Jesus Name – Amen!
And let’s give the Lord Praise everybody and welcome to the House of the Lord.
This morning, I will commence with a Three (3) Parts Series Titled: “LOST AND FOUND”.
And today, we are going to talk about “The Lost Sheep” in the Part 1 of this Series!
If we take a look at our backdrop Design, we will see that the Center is the Shepherd who finds “The Lost Sheep” and on the sides, is the woman who found “The Lost Coin” (We will talk on the “Lost Coin” next week (29th January 2023 – Watch Out for it on the Label of DMC).
But today, we will focus on “The Lost Sheep” – Luke 15: 1-7 (NKJV).
Luke 15: 1-7 (NKJV)
1. Then all the Tax Collectors and the Sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
2. 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
Now, if you read Luke Chapter 14 (The latter Part of the this Preceeding Chapter of our Bible Text); Jesus Christ was calling People to be His Disciples and follow Him. And so, He was Preaching about what it means to follow Him, to leave everything behind and follow Him.
And so, we go to Chapter 15 and it tells us the response that People were giving to this Invitation.
Can you imagine Jesus Christ, the Son of God is Preaching – We wish we were there one of those times to hear Jesus Preaching and how He Preached. And just hear His Words and the Authority of His Words and the Majesty of His Words.
So, the two different reactions to the Preaching of Jesus Christ:
1. The first one, the Bible says the Tax Collectors and the Sinners came to hear Him – Pay attention to the word: “To hear Him”.
In the Gospel of Luke, Tax Collectors and Sinners were People who are Outcast and Immoral People. The Tax Collectors were hated and they were hated everywhere because Nobody liked to be taxed.
But in the days of Jesus Christ, Tax Collectors were hated more than the “GRA” of Ghana.
And the reason they were hated was because they were not collecting the money for the Jews, they were not collecting money for the use of the People but they were collecting money to take to Rome and they were “Special Contractors” who went to collect the money.
So People who decided to be a Tax Collector were given a Quota and they earn in Percentage to their Quota. And so they have to oppress their own People to collect money from them.
… So, they were very, very hated People!
The Sinners there were “Generally Bad People” “Immoral People” – Everybody today that we call a Sinner now was a Sinner then.
And the Bible says that: They (Tax Collectors and Sinners) came to hear Jesus Christ!
2. And the Second Reaction are the Pharisees and Scribes came to complained.
And it is very interesting – This is Jesus Christ speaking: Tax Collectors, Bad People are coming to hear Him and the “Supposedly Good People” are complaining.
The Pharisees were very interesting Group in the days of Jesus Christ – The Pharisees emerged in the History of Israel after the Babylonian Exile.
If you know your Bible very well – The People disobeyed God and they went into Captivity in Babylon. And after many years, they came back and thetr emerge Zerubbabel and so on and Israel.
And during that time of Return, the Group called “The Pharisees” came into being. And the Purpose of the Group is to ensure that Israel will live strict to God’s Law because they reasoned that is why they went into Captivity – They have disobeyed God.
So, the Pharisees is a Group that emerged to make sure that there is Strict Compliance to the Laws of Moses.
They are named “Itself” and this means “To be Separated” – They don’t mingle with People, they were “Separated People”, they were very Strict and they took the Laws of God Stricter than God Himself made it.
And so, by the time Jesus Christ came, the Pharisees had been in existence for at least three hundred (300) years.
In over three hundred (300) years, they have been coming up with New Laws and now, it has become very, very oppressive to the People of Israel – And that is why Jesus Christ has a lot of difficulties with the Pharisees.
They weren’t “Bad People” in that sense but they were “Ultra Religious” – People who are very Particular that the Laws must be kept. And that is why they criticised Jesus Christ and they came to complain.
DMC NOTES: “Ultra Religious” means Extremely Religious or Devout.
What is the Complaint about Jesus Christ? What were the Pharisees saying?
They lay two (2) Charges against Jesus Christ:
1. The first complaint was that He received Sinners – That means He accepts those who came to Him.
So, what the Pharisees were saying is that when Sinners come to Jesus Christ, He doesn’t sack them.
Even Tax Collectors come to Him – And infact one of His Disciples, Matthew was a Tax Collector and of course we know about Zacchaeus.
The Pharisees were saying that when Tax Collectors come to Jesus Christ, sack them.
If the Pharisees were the one running this Church; some of you won’t even step into this Church because they will see you at the door and say: Hey, go back! We don’t like your hairstyle.
They say: Jesus, we have a Problem with You. What is the Problem? You receive “Bad People”, You receive Sinners, You are not supposed to receive them but cast them out.
But of course, we know that Jesus Christ received Sinners not to Participate in their sins but to transform them.
But the Pharisees will not even give you the Chance to be Transformed – They will just say: You are a Sinner, don’t come close to us because their name means “Separation”.
2. The Second Charge was that He (Jesus Christ) eats with Sinners.
Now, just for your information: Eating with Sinners is deeper than receiving them. Because they say that He eats with Sinners, it means that when Sinners invite Him to their home, He goes.
Not only that He welcomes them; but He accepts Invitation from Sinners. And when Sinners invite you to their homes, you are going to meet a lot of Sinners.
Many of us don’t like the Pharisees. But many atimes, when we think about it, they seems to have a Point.
If Somebody is a “Bad Person”, you don’t want to associate with him – I mean if Somebody is in your Neighbourhood and everyone knows him that guy is bad; Nobody wants to talk to him. We all do that.
And then you see Somebody who comes in and say that he is a Pastor, who is talking to Somebody that everybody says don’t talk to and then when they invite him home, he goes there and even eat.
Now, why was that important to the Pharisees?
Because if you Study the Laws of Moses (The Jewish Laws); it is based on Purity and not getting contaminated.
So, there is a lot of separation – Righteous People are supposed to keep themselves Righteous.
The Pharisees believed that if you get close to Sinners, they will contaminate you. And that was why they doubted Jesus Christ.
They will say: If you are really the Son of God, why are you dealing with these guys because they are contaminating you?
But Jesus Christ believed that He was actually contaminating them and not they contaminating Him because after an Encounter between Jesus Christ and Sinners; the Sinners become Righteous and Jesus Christ becomes Sinful.
So, something about Jesus Christ rob off on the Sinner but the Sinner does not rob off on Jesus Christ.
You know that it is very easy for us to be like the Pharisees – Even with sincerity, you can be a Pharisees with a “Good Heart” not that you don’t like People but you don’t like “Bad People”.
You know in our world, when you get into trouble, everybody leaves you and the Pharisees were Master of that. Because under the Law, anything that was not Complete was sinful.
Even when Somebody has a body Part missing – Ear is chopped off, then you are not Clean; Somebody is fighting with you, hit your nose and your nose split, then you are not Clean; you have Leprosy, you are Lame, you are Unclean.
That is why one of the things that Jesus Christ did was also to heal the sick because the sick in those days were also part of the Unclean People.
And Jesus Christ took People who are not Complete and make them Complete. He took People who were not Perfect and make them Perfect.
… So, they complained that He receives Sinners and He eats with them.
If we are going to be a “Great Churrch” this Year (2023); we don’t have to be Pharisees but have to be like Jesus Christ!
It means that there are some People we are going to receive that they will say: Don’t talk to him Pastor? If you know his Records?
I am talking to him because I know the Records but more than knowing the Recordw, I also know the saving Power of the Lord Jesus Christ
You cannot win Sinners to Jesus Christ if you have a Pharisees’ Attitude.
Jesus Christ then talked to them about a Parable – The Parable is about a Shepherd.
And in the Parable, Jesus Christ talked about the Shepherd’s Attitude – That he cares for and Protect the sheep.
And Jesus Christ in this Parable is telling us how we should relate with People who are Lost!
So, the Picture here is that of a Shepherd watching over his sheep in the Desert.
Now normally in Israel, in the days of Jesus Christ and I think till date, you don’t rear sheep at home. You will take them to Open Fields and Wide Areas and you will take care of them.
And so the Shepherd if he is taking care of his sheep, will take them out of the City to the Open Fields. The Bible called them the Wilderness or Deserts.
So, Jesus Christ is talking about a Shepherd who takes his sheep to the Open Fields to feed. And He says that the sheep were one hundred (100) – A Number of Perfection.
And the Shepherd noticed that one of them is Lost.
Now, the Practice in those days was that the Shepherd will have a house base in the Wilderness and then take his sheep out to go and graze in a Mountainous Area to look for water, to look for grass and then at the end of the day, he will bring back his sheep back to his base.
And when he brings back his sheep to base, he has to count the sheep to ensure that the number that he took out, is the number he has brought in – So, this is what Jesus Christ has in Mind.
So, this noticing of the Lost Sheep does not take Place in the morning; it takes Place at the end of the day – The Shepherd has taken his sheep out, he has brought them in and now he has to account for them and so start counting them one by one and get to ninety nine (99) and realised that one (1) is gone.
At this time, it is late in the Evening and very soon, nightfall is going to come. And when nightfall comes, wild animals will come out – Lions, Birds etc and that sheep is going to be eaten up by the morning.
So the Shepherd has “Short-Opened Window” from late Evening – Probably around 5.00pm to nightfall – Probably around 6.00pm. So, he has one (1) hour to account for the sheep because if he doesn’t get the sheep within then, the sheep will be lost forever.
So he decides that: I’m going to do something about it.
You know that the Bible tells us that there is coming an hour when the end of all things are coming – We have between 5.00pm to 6.00pm in Human History.
And when People don’t get the Gospel now, they will be lost forever.
And that is the Open Door that the Shepherd has and he decides that I’m going to use this time to do something.
So, what does the Shepherd do?
The Bible says that he went after the “Lost Sheep” until he found it – I like the word “Until”.
Matthew account of the same Story says that the sheep has gone astray – In other words: The sheep is lost not because the Shepherd was careless but the sheep was wayward. It is the sheep’s fault and that is why it is lost.
Lost Sheep cannot find their way back home and so Somebody needs to go after them.
So the Shepherd decides – I leave this sheep and Pray; as its not going to find its way home. I can intercede for the sheep.
We need to Pray for Sinners because they don’t know the way home – Somebody must go to find them and bring them back home.
So, that is why Jesus Christ said: Pray for the Lord of Harvest to send Labourers to the Field. He didn’t say Pray for the Lord of Harvest to bring Harvest because Somebody must go and bring them. And the Shepherd decides that I’m going to be the one. And so he went after the Lost Sheep until he found it.
Two (2) things are important here:
The word “Until” means that he didn’t find the Lost Sheep the moment he started looking for it.
If you ever have a loved one that needed to be saved – Maybe a friend, brother, sister, husband or wife; Somebody that needed Christ to be saved; you realised that they didn’t get saved the first time they heard the Gospel!
You took them to Church many many times, they didn’t respond to Christ; Preached to them many many times, they didn’t respond; took them to several Christian Meetings many many times, they didn’t respond.
And sometimes, when People are like that, after some time we give up on them saying that I have tried my best.
Can you imagined if the Shepherd says I have tried my best, its getting to night and if I stay out too long, I myself will be in dangers – Lions will come after me, Bear will come and eat me up.
Because if you want to bring Somebody to Christ, its going to inconvenient you. Its not an easy thing to just say: Oh I invited him to Church but he didn’t come.
If you want to invite Somebody to Church, you have to Pursue them and you have to be Persistence.
You don’t stay at home and call them – You stand infront of their door and call and say: Hey, we are going to Church today. Oh, I’m not ready. You say I’m standing infront of your Gate and we are going today.
Persistence! Because believe you me, the devil is also Persistent.
People who want to get Young People on drugs, they are not lukewarm; they are very Persistent – They will give you free drugs and teach you how to do it: Nail it, Inject it, Smoke it, Inhale it, go with you to Places, make you feel Good until you get hooked.
If the devil does that for his People, you think that Christians should do less to get the Lost Sheep?
Each one of us are like that Shepherd – We have sheep to go out for.
You know, sometimes we forget that there is Hell and that there is Judgement. And that there is Somebody you loved so much they spend Eternity in Hell. Because these days, we feel very cool – Its okay, don’t bothered him too much. But if the Person is going to Hell, you have to bothered him.
At least this Year (2023); each one of us must have one sheep that we will Pursue and be Persistent about.
And you are going to ensure that this Person comes to Church, be a Follower of Christ, becomes a Disciple and grows well of course.
After going after this sheep for so long Persistently, he finds the Lost Sheep.
And what does he do?
The Bible says that he laid the Lost Sheep on his shoulder – He didn’t rebuke it, didn’t insult it, didn’t spank it but laid it on his shoulders.
Very similar to how we behave in Ghana – When we want to celebrate, say Somebody becomes a Chief, we carry him on our shoulders; Somebody becomes a Parliamentarian, we carry him on our shoulders; when Good Things happen to People, they lift them up and carry them on their shoulders. That is similar to the Culture of Jesus Christ.
But instead of putting Human Being on his shoulder, this Shepherd put the Lost Sheep there and calls the sheep: My sheep was lost and now I have found it.
That means that when People are brought into the House of God, we have to put them in a Place of Honour and Privilege and we have to treat them very well.
And two (2) that he did:
1. The first was that we see Celebrations – He rejoiced over the sheep.
2. The second is Presentation – He announced and Presented the sheep to his friends.
In other words, though the sheep comes, the Shepherd Presented him so that the People can rejoice with him. But not only that, so that People can received him.
And Jesus Christ told them a Parable – Verse 7 of the Bible Text and People were wondering what does He mean?
“There is more Joy in Heaven over one Sinner who repents over niney nine (99) People who don’t need Repentance.”
And this can be read in many ways:
1. Maybe the ninety nine (99) who do not need Repentance are “Self Righteous People” like the Pharisees.
So for them, Jesus Christ may be saying: This one sheep brings more Joy to God than to you.
2. But I didn’t think He means the Pharisees – He means those who are already saved in the House of God.
God rejoices over us His Children but He rejoices more over a Sinner who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ!
So this mornimg, I want to tell us that each one of us has to be a Good Shepherd!
The first thing that we want to gather is this Year of Gathering is Souls before we gather Substance!
I know that you want to gather the money from the Month of January. And the money will be gathered but let us get our Priority right.
The first thing that we want to gather is not money, not houses, not Properties, not Increase – I know that is what we wished we will gather.
But if we make what is God’s Joy our Joy, He will make what is our Joy His Joy also.
If bringing Souls to Christ gives God Joy, then God will give you the things that will give you Joy also – Which is money and all the other things that you want.
But let us fix our Hearts first where God’s Heart is – Let us be a Good Shepherd that goes out to Pursue Persistently until he finds that one sheep.
This morning, we want to Pray – And I want you to think: Is there one Person that you want tp Pray for this Year and Pursue and be Persistent until they come to Christ ?
1. Maybe he could be Somebody who is a Christian but has backslidened – He has left the Faith, he is back to his Old Ways,. And we say that we want to go back for that sheep and bring it back to the fold.
2. It could also be Somebody who is not saved at all, who needs to be saved.
We are gping to Pray that each Individual – And Probably you can note that in your Notebook; that one name, one Person that you are going to target this Year 2023 to bring to the Kingdom of God.
It could be a Relative, Friend, Old School Mates, Somebody in your Neighbourhood, you see all the times but haven’t talked to before.
And if you seek all things that bring Joy to the Lord, He will give us things that brings Joy to us too.
If we set our Hearts right, He will set things right for us.
And that is our First Major Assignment for Year 2023 – To be a Good Shepherd.
Pursue one Soul, Persistently, and bring that Person to Christ!
Let us bow our Heads in Prayers!
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Sometimes, the Lost Sheep are found in Church.
1. So, if you are here morning or reading now on the Label of DMC and you say: Pastor, I am a Lost Sheep, I want to give my Life to Christ, I want to live for Him, I want Jesus Christ in my Heart as my Lord and Saviour, I want to be Born Again. There are People who needs to make that Decision.
2. And there are others who say: Pastor, I need Help. I used to love God, I used to live for Him, I used to live in Righteousness but I have gone back to sinful behaviour and want to come back to the Lord.
If you are that Person too, this morning we are going to Pray for you.
So with every head bowed and every eyes closed, if you fit into any of these Categories – You say that I need my sins to be forgiven, I want Jesus Christ in my Life or I want to go back to Christ Jesus.
If that is yoir Prayer, lets begin this Year right with you reconnecting with your Shepherd Jesus Christ.
Just raise up your Right Hand.
And if you are that Person – You want to make Peace with God, you want to have a Right Relationship with God, you want your sins to be forgiven, you want to Return to the Lord, you want to come back to your Faith.
Those of you with your hand up, I will ask that you Stand Up wherever you are on your feet even those reading now on the Label of DMC. Put your hand on your Chest as we Pray together:
Say with me: Heavenly Father, I come to You today just as I am. I am a Sinner, I cannot save myself but I thank You Father that Jesus Christ came to look for me and now I surrender my whole Life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ: Receive me, forgive me of my sins, Change my Life, Change my Heart, make me a Brand New Person.
From today, I have decided to follow Jesus Christ and no Turning Back.
I Thank You for accepting me in Jesus Name – Amen!
And for the rest of us – The ninety nine (99) who didn’t Stand Up; we will now commit each one of us to go and look for one Soul for the Kingdom of God. And make it your Ambition this Year that you will get one Person reconciled to the Lord Jesus Christ.
And if you make the Lord happy, He will make you happy.
As we do what Pleases Him, He will do for us what Pleases us.
May the Lord use us Mightily for His Kingdom in Jesus Name – Amen!
Thank you so much for staying all through to read.