May 7, 2017Luke 15Relationships 


   As you look at this whole chapter together it is very interesting.  There is the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.  In each case, there is something that was connected and then disconnected.  In each parable when there was a reuniting it brought great joy.  Each thing was important.  The sheep was important and the coin was important and of course the lost son.  There was a connection to each item.  There was a relationship with each item and so there was great joy when each was back in the presence of the one to whom they were valuable.  I want to share about relationships today.  Relationships are very important. 

     We are reminded that in the beginning God said it is not good for man to dwell alone and so God created Eve for Adam.  God uses people today to build character in our life.  God uses marriage to help us learn how to love others.   God uses marriage today to help us learn to be servants.  God uses marriage and families today to help us not be so self-centered.   Some people may become more self-centered from having a family or marriage but that is not God’s intent.  Husbands and wives both need to learn submission, serving, understanding and compassion.

  There should be a connection of support and love.   Positive relationships are powerful.  Joy and strength are given and received.  The basis of those relationships is communication or fellowship.  We see the word fellowship used twice in the old testament and more in the New Testament.  In I John 1, the word is used 4 times in the KJ translation.  There is the fellowship of the spirit with the Father and with one another.  What is fellowship of or with the spirit?   In the church we use the word fellowship.   What is church fellowship?   I suppose that many people think it is a church gathering.   Many would say church fellowship is a church dinner.  Perhaps some think it is it is talking about the weather with someone at a church gathering.     Real biblical fellowship is the when the Holy spirit flows from one person to another.  That is when real life and power flows from one person to another.  That kind of fellowship or connectedness is what we need. 

    According to John Ortberg an academic journal called the Journal of Happiness publishes studies using tools of research to identify what makes human life flourish.  Researchers look at what distinguishes quite happy people from those who are less happy.  There is one factor that shows up consistently and it is not how much money you have or your security or IQ or career success.  The factor that makes people happy is the presence of deep joy producing life changing personal relationships.  We get an opposite picture of joy when two married people are not getting along or who are divorcing.  Spending meaningful time with people who care about us is critical element for people to flourish.  Meaningful relationships, being connected and fellowship are important for each person.

    Prisoners are punished with solitary confinement.  Just being around people does not provide many with meaningful relationships.  Joyce Meyers said she ministered to many pastors who are lonely.  Children in school may have a number of friends and may not get the support or feel the connection that they need.  Jesus had crowds around him but at times sought the fellowship with the father.  Social researcher Robert Putman writes the single most common finding from a half century of research concerning life satisfaction not only from the U.S. but around the world is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s connections.  Again, that is not by knowing a lot of people.  People can be very draining.  People can take resources from you just ask a health care professional or a counselor. 

   God made us to be connected.  God said it is not good for man to be alone.  In Hebrews, we read do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.  There is a number of verses in the bible that says one another.  Love one another, stir up one another, consider one another and pray for one another.   Paul writes about the church being members of one another and we are brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Satan will do everything he can to attack that.  Satan will do everything he can to keep people out of church and out of fellowship and disconnected.  We all know people who should be in church but they choose not to be in fellowship.   They choose not to be connected and they hurt themselves and they hurt the church.  It is not wise to listen to the counsel of Satan. 

    When a fellow Christian who likes you comes up to you and says hi and smiles at you life is being transferred.  Two ladies get together to discuss a situation with a child or how to cook something life can be transferred between them.  Two men who care about each other talk about a problem at work and fellowship happens.  Two people pray and life happens.  When genuine caring takes place then souls are nourished. 

    A British scientist Donald Winnicott found that children who play in close proximity with their mother are more creative than children playing at a distance from her.  Winnicott found children are naturally inventive curious and more likely to take risks in what might be called the circle of connectedness.  When they are in that circle the show more energy and if they fall down they are more likely to get back up and they laugh more than children out side of that circle.  It is not because the mother is doing anything for them but she is present.   Love is present and it releases life into that child.  That child is stronger and bolder and more creative.  I suspect at times mom you think you are not making a difference but in reality you are making all the difference in the world.    As the child grows that circle gets bigger.  If that son or daughter is in the service and on the other side of the world that circle can be as strong as ever.  They can feel it. 

   Loving people give life.  For God so loved the world he gave his only son.  God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world would be saved.  Love heals and love gives and love lifts us.  A person who experiences love should become better.   Husbands and wives and parents are you listening?   Husbands love your wife.  Older women teach the younger women to do what?   Teach them to love their husbands.  Loving people are successful.  They may not be rich but they are successful.  There is hope for all of us.  Loving people give.  They give life.  They are a blessing even as God blesses and he is a blessing. 

   John Ortberg writes that emotionally isolated people are more prone to depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, substance abuse, sexual addiction and difficulties with eating and sleeping.  He writes the destructive aspects of isolation are powerful.  Even animals that are isolated experience more extensive arterial sclerosis than animals that are not isolated.   He said he had a friend who had a cat and a dog.  The dog and the cat fought for 10 years.  Then one year the cat died and the dog quit eating.   Day after day the dog would not eat until 6 weeks later the dog died.  There was a connection between that dog and cat.  I certainly do not suggest that you fight but connection is so important.  Most spousal fighting is destructive in my opinion.  Where would you be without family?  How important is your family and church family to you?   

    Do you have a couple of people you can connect with?   Do you have a couple of people you can trust?   Do you have a couple of people you are free to share with and you meet with consistently?   Do you have someone you can share your fears, joys, and temptations with?  Do you have a friend or two that watches out for you and may sneak over and wash your car or give you a present or meet with you in a time of need?   We need to be connected.  

     We need to be connected to the living God. Connect with the things that God wants you connected with.   Jesus said without me you can do nothing.  He is our source of joy. He is the living water.   He is the bread of life.  He sustains and gives joy in tough times.    Paul was in a Philippian jail and was worshipping God at midnight.  That is tough I agree but it has its rewards.  God provides.  There is joy when you are connected to God.  There is joy when you are submitted to God. 

    In Luke 15 we see that tax collectors and sinners were flocking around Jesus and the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were complaining and said this man welcomes sinners and he even eats with them.  That is pretty profound.  That was different and in their eyes terrible.  Jesus said as the owner of a lost sheep rejoices when the lost sheep is found so heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.  Heaven rejoices over repentance.  What a profound thought.  Heaven delights even rejoices when the lost are saved when the lost is found.  Heaven rejoices when man gets right.  Heaven is watching you and me.  Is heaven rejoicing over you today? 

    Then there is the woman with the lost coin.  This must be a very precious coin because she diligently seeks to find the coin.  She lights a lamp and sweeps the house until she finds it and when she finds it she calls her friends and tells them come over to my house and rejoice with me because I found the coin.  She had great joy.  Something that met a lot to her was lost and then she found it.  Jesus said in the same way the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents.  Heaven is excited and rejoices when one comes to God.  The church should rejoice when a sinner comes to God.  The Christians should rejoice when a person gets right with God. 

    And Jesus shares the familiar story of the prodigal son who asks for his inheritance and he goes into a far land far from his father and his family and he wastes his life.   He lives like those in the world.  He wastes his money and his life.  He lives in riotous and selfish living.   To the father it is like that he is dead.   The son comes home and the father sees him afar off.     The father is watching.   This son is not sneaking up on the father.  The father’s heart is broken.   Things were not right in the circle of love.  The bond has been broken. Yes, he was still his son but outside of the connection.   The son is out of fellowship.  It is really tough on the father when the son is out of fellowship.   It is really tough on the son when they are out of fellowship.  It is tough on the church member when he is out of fellowship with the church.  The world can crush us if we are not doing the right thing.  The spirit is life and we walk in life when we walk in the spirit.  We reap what we sow.  The father does not bend his rules if we sin.  The father stays holy.  The father stays just.   

    I get the sense today that Christians think they can do just about anything and it is OK because God is a compassionate God and a God who is merciful.   He is compassionate and merciful but God hates sin.   God wants to be connected to his children.  Satan is the one who whispers in our ear it is OK to not read the bible to not pray to not minister to others.  It is OK to spend hours watching TV and movies.  It is OK to take the second look at that girl or go to this web site.  It is OK to not support your church or go to church.  I say you are listening to the devil.  Do you think you are going to win?  Good luck with that.  God wants to be connected to you.  God wants to be the leader in your life.  I think a lot of Christians are saying God does not correct and God does not punish his children.  That is not biblical. 

    We read in II Corinthians 6 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.   Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.   Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”    And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”     Think of a large wire with small wires in it. Each wire has a current in it.  For the machine to run properly all wires are needed.  Those little wires represent areas of your life that are not turned over to the Lord.   Lord this is mine and you can’t have it.  Think about the power you cut out of your life as you withhold from God.  I think the church today is trying to get up Mount Washington with a V8 engine and we are running on 2 or 2 & 1/2 cylinders.   God wants to be closely connected to his people.  He does not want any sin or hiding between him and his people.