The one

Jesus was a storyteller. He liked to get his message across using stories that related to people where they were at. In Luke 15, he tells three stories one after the other. Since most of our Bibles have headings before each story, we have a tendency to pull them apart and use them as stand-alone tales. But I think Jesus told them together for a reason.

The first story is of the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine who are safe and accounted for to find the one which was lost.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over the one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15:7 (NIV)

The next story is of a woman who has ten coins, but loses one. She turns her house upside down to find that one lost coin.

And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Luke 15:9-10 (NIV)

The last story is perhaps the most referenced parable Jesus ever told—that of the prodigal son. A son asks his father for his inheritance and gets it. Immediately, he leaves his father’s house and squanders all of his money on debauchery. He returns home in utter humiliation.

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:22-24 (NIV)

There are three types of people Jesus addresses with these three stories.

  1. The wanderer. This person is completely unaware of their drifting. One moment they are with the flock and the next, lost and alone. They wander away not knowing any better. But God still chases after the one.
  2. The neglectful. This person, like the coin, is lost through neglect or carelessness. They stop paying attention to where they are going and, like the sheep in the previous story, find themselves lost and nowhere near the rest of the group. But God still chases after the one.
  3. The prodigal. This person knows exactly what they’re doing, and they leave anyway. They’ve made themselves to believe that life is better on the other side and they squander the riches they’ve been given. But God still chases after the one.

I’m not sure that Jesus could have reached any more people with a fourth story. In one way or another, we can all find ourselves in at least one, if not all, of these parables.

Maybe you’ve wandered away because your faith is still new and you just don’t know any better or your roots weren’t deep enough to keep you close to God. Maybe you’ve neglected your faith and have found yourself out of touch with the Lord. Or maybe you made the choice to walk away. But no matter what situation you may find yourself in, God wants you back. He always wants you back. To Him you are the one.

Read: 1 Samuel 17-18, Luke 15:1-10

Fear

As a kid, I often heard that I should fear the Lord. It was a difficult concept to reconcile. Wasn’t God my Father? Loving and kind? Why should I be afraid of Him?

Then I learned to differentiate the fear of God from being afraid of God. Fear of God is a holy reverence. Honour. Respect.

OK. I know the difference now. But how do I do that?

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and love many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:11-14 (ESV)

Of all people to speak on the fear of the Lord, I trust David.

We try to make things so complicated when it comes to fearing God, but this breaks it down into simple actions: watch what you say, turn away from bad things and toward good and peaceful things. Really, how hard is that?

Fearing God is not just knowing Him, it is pursuing Him. David, above all, knew what that looked like. He is forever known as the man who chased after God’s heart. That’s what the fear of God is – pursing an intimate knowledge of Him. And when we know Him, we will be more like Him.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 34-35; Acts 22

Persistence

How long will you chase after someone who does not want to be chased? An hour or so? A day? A week? How about centuries? Millennia?

If you’ve been following along in your Bible, you will have noted long ago that Israel and Judah couldn’t make up their minds about whether or not they wanted to serve God. One king would do right in the eyes of the Lord and another evil. One would rebuild the temple another would tear it down. One king followed the law another made his own law.

Yet through it all, God still held on to His promise.

The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.

2 Chronicles 36:15 (ESV)

When God has chosen someone – whether it be a group of people or an individual – He is persistent in His pursuit. No matter how many times you turn away, He will always want you back. When the world scoffed at Him, He sent His only Son as a sacrifice.

His compassion far outweighs your sin.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22

Your God

When you think about God, in what terms do you think of Him? Is He all around you? Is He far away? Is He off in the far reaches of the universe? Or is He at your side? Is He the God of your mother and father? Or is He yours?

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

1 Samuel 30:6b (ESV)

God is personal. He wants to be personal to you. He doesn’t just want to be the God of your parents. He wants to be your God.

David was known to be the man who chased after God’s heart.Was he without flaw? Goodness, no! David was just as faulty as the rest of us – if not more so. But if you read through the Psalms of David, there are countless lines where he calls out to “my God”. Unlike other accounts where God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David makes God personal.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

Song of Solomon 6:3 (NKJV)

If God has seen fit to make us His, how much more should we make Him ours? In our imperfections, guilt, and shame, God still claims us. In his perfection and righteousness, why wouldn’t we want claim Him for ourselves? Why would we leave God to be the God of our ancestors rather than making Him our God.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 30-31; Luke 17:20-37

One

How important is one thing to you? The one thing of many that you would leave behind the rest to chase after?

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. If a man has one hundred sheep and one gets lost, does he not leave the ninety nine to go look for the one?

In church, I’ve seen people chase after church-hoppers harder than they chase after the unsaved. Well, the unsaved get chased, but it’s more like running them off the property and hoping they never come back rather than going after them to bring them back in for a cup of coffee.

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:7 (ESV)

Which one will you chase after? The one who slept in the church stairwell to stay dry last night or the one who drove across town in their luxury car because they were mad at someone in the church they usually attend?

Do we want our rejoicing to be greater over extra money in the offering plate or over another soul ransomed into the kingdom of Heaven?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 17-18; Luke 15:1-10