A lost sheep – ‘Lost’ Chapter 2

If you want to get to sleep counting sheep can help. But most of us don’t lose sleep over a wandering sheep! In Jesus’ day, though, a story about lost sheep resonated with those listening and certainly they clearly understood the metaphor.

The metaphor of a lost sheep

sheepIn Matthew 12:11 Jesus used the lost sheep metaphor to make the point that saving human life is more important than keeping to rules:

Matthew 12:11 “And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

Later on in Matthew 18 he repeats the analogy with the story of another rescue – if we didn’t know better, we might have thought the Jesus was a shepherd (well, he was, of course) – the Good Shepherd!

Matthew 18:12 “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?”

We go astray – just like sheep

The point of all this is that as fallen, sinful human beings we are just like sheep in our behaviour: we constantly stray and do stupid things!

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:25 “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

We do the same sinful things over and over again even when we get the same negative results – insane!

Example: crazy tortoise!

This reminds me of when I was young and had a pet tortoise. It had nice enclosure with a chicken wire fence, plenty of grass, and even a little wooden house to live in. Every day the tortoise did three things: it ate, it slept and every other waking moment it spent climbing the fence trying to escape!

Surprisingly, tortoises are very good climbers but unfortunately they have no common-sense. In fact they have no sense at all, so that, when this one arrived at the top of the wire he just kept going and inevitably fell off onto his back. Ingeniously, he would then put his back legs up against the fence to push himself upright and get out of this scrape. Amazingly, he never learned the lesson – give up – but would begin the whole process again. He didn’t live long and I do wonder whether he died of concussion!

What’s the point?

So, what’s the point of this story? What can we learn? How does my crazy tortoise relate to us? If there hadn’t been sheep in biblical times, might the Bible have used the tortoise as an example?

“All we like tortoises have gone astray (very slowly!).”

Jesus, therefore, is the ultimate pastor or shepherd and his mission is to rescue dumb sheep – or tortoises – out of the mess they get themselves into! Our designation is lost – resistance is futile!

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Parable of the lost sheep of – Luke 15

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

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

Who are the lost sheep?

As we see in the above passage Jesus further expands and clarifies the parable of lost sheep as told in Matthew 18, intimating clearly, that he views the listening tax-gathers and sinners as the lost sheep! I don’t expect they were hearing this message in their local synagogue – if they attended at all!

This parable is basically saying that Jesus isn’t interested in faithful church-goers -the religious. No, he’s after the black-sheep of the family: the guy who sells crack cocaine; the prostitute; the pervert. It’s these people he’s prepared to risk life and limb for. This shepherd is scouring the outback in search of just one sheep because even sinners, broken and lost have value!

Zaccheus gets found!

This parable is played out in real-life later on in Luke 19 when a real ‘live’ wandering sheep by the name of Zaccheus is ‘found’ hiding in the branches of a tree!

Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

A party!

Therefore, just as Zaccheus cannot believe his luck on being asked by Jesus to put on a party; the shepherd in the parable is so delirious with the success of his mission, that he invites his neighbours around for a knees up – over a sheep! A little crazy perhaps ? Might God be a little more into partying than we thought was decent?

Luke 15:7 “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”

What about repentance, though? – I hear the religious intone. If repentance means saying sorry for your sins – how does a sheep do that? I mean all it does is bleat, right! Of course, Zaccheus showed the fruits of repentance in the over-the-top restitution he made – but how could a sheep?

What is repentance?

I think the answer might lie in understanding that the sinful human condition separates us from God – in other words, we are lost! The moment that sin entered the world, Adam and Eve became wandering sheep and their first instinct was to hide amongst the trees and ‘cover up’ with fig leaves.

Indeed, religion is really an exercise in covering up nakedness and making us feel comfortable with our alienation and separation from God.

Colossians 1:21 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”

Separated from God?

This separation, though, is a virtual one. What do I mean? Well, it’s all in the mind; all in our thinking. God isn’t avoiding us. We are avoiding him!

Romans 1:25 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”

Ephesians 4:17 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,”

Ephesians 2:3 “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

As you can see from these scriptures, sinful thinking leads to sinful behaviour. Might repentance, be not so much about what we do – but rather about a change of mindset? Is it that, when we encounter the pure love of God as we are laid on the good shepherd’s shoulders, we change our minds (repent) and a whole load of sinful thinking that has alienated us from the life of God falls away? Hopefully, the poor sheep learned the lesson: that wandering off equals a night in the dark and a near-death experience!

Chapter 1 – Lost

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Help I’m lost – ‘Lost’ Chapter 1

helpChapter 1    Help I’m lost!

I don’t know about you but I really enjoyed the enigmatic TV series  ‘Lost’. I’m not sure I understood it all – it lost me at times! However, it was a good title as ‘lost’ accurately describes the precarious situation the survivors of the air-crash find themselves in, trapped on a strange island.

Of course, in these days of satellite navigation systems and Google Maps it’s actually a lot harder to get lost. If you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation, all you have to do is resort to asking for help from a passer by: “Please can you help me – I’m lost!”

Losing something or someone

Rather than being lost though, it’s losing something important like a wallet or phone which is more our modern-day experience. Or in these days of computers, it might be accidentally deleting an important file or the hard-disk crashing losing all your work. You just pray that you backed up the file so that it can be recovered later!

And, all these kind of losses pale into insignificance when compared to the personal loss of losing a loved one.

Bible definition

The Gospels cover this full range of human experience of ‘lostness’: we have the loss and recovery of sheep, coins, eyesight, health and even the people who are dead only to be restored to life!

What the Bible means by the word ‘lost’, though, is broader than this: the Greek word translated lost in the New Testament is apollymi and it means not only ‘lost’ but also ‘destroyed’, ‘spoiled’, ‘perished’, ‘ruined’ or simply ‘broken’.

The human condition – lost

The Bible describes our fallen sinful human condition as being lost. Indeed, there are only two camps: you are either lost or you are saved!

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that (lost) perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

But the good news is that Jesus came to save the lost! He came to rescue people who are perishing and broken. Of course, being saved is the exact opposite of this: it’s being healed, restored, forgiven, repaired, and safe!

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Moreover, God has absolutely no desire to see any one of us perish or be lost but rather to come to repentance, or a ‘change of mind’.

Perishing repentance

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

This last verse is interesting, because the parable we’re going to look at in Luke 15, and what this book is mostly about, is remarkably about precisely those two concepts.

Lost – Chapter 2

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Inspired NOW available for download and streaming!

Inspired is available for download and streaming!

www.paulnoblecomposer.com

streamingI’m really excited to announce, that the full and expanded version of my very first Piano album of neo-classical music compositions are now available on all the major digital music download platforms like: Spotify, Amazon, iTunes etc.

Ten tracks of pure and original Piano tunes – a total of 48 minutes of music performed by yours truly!

Please help me!

So how can you help? Please, please listen to the music, buy and download and – above all enjoy it!

Please, like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paulnoblecomposer.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: You Tube Channel 

Write a review

Please, write a great review on Amazon or iTunes; I would love to hear what the music makes you feel and think because certainly – I believe that the creator of the universe ‘Inspired’ me to write these tracks to inspire and encourage you!

How do you find me?

To find me, search with: ‘Inspired Paul Noble’  on all the digital download platforms. If your an Amazon Prime member then you can listen to me for FREE.

If your not sure you like my music? Well it is only for those with good taste – only joking! Below, are a couple of videos I’ve put together of a flavour of the music. More on the YouTube  channel.

Prelude in G:

Sonata in F Minor Spring

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Winter – Piano Sonata

winterPiano Sonata in C minor Winter

I’ve re-recorded this piano piece. Have a listen.

This was the first complete classical Piano piece I ever wrote; started writing this in 2009 – its taken a while!

New Piano music – Meditation in C minor

Here is a piano piece I’ve written recently. This will probably the last piece on my expanded version of my Inspired Piano Album – coming soon!

Please, if you like music and would like to receive updates on all my new music then why not join my Facebook page Paul Noble Composer. Even better write me a review!

Additionally, please visit my You Tube Channel and comment. Thank you.

Sonata in F Minor Spring

Minuet in F Major

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Just do it!

just do itFaith – “Just do it?”

“Just do it” is a popular slogan you will see emblazoned across many a teenagers T-shirt. Is it really sensible advice however?

Driving analogy

As a professional driving instructor, I don’t think I’ll be advising pupils approaching a roundabout to ‘just do it’! Indeed, that would be incredibly stupid! No, I teach them to use their brains and think through what they are doing. A good decision, a safe decision, is one in which the pupil uses the well worn driving acronym: LOOK, ASSESS, DECIDE, ACT. A good decision therefore, is based on having all the information available and giving yourself time. A rushed decision is often a dangerous one!

Hesitation

Of course, a pupil can go to the opposite extreme: taking too long to make the decision whether to go or not – which becomes hesitation and this can cause problems also – not the least irritating other drivers! If though, we mean by: “just do it” not to procrastinate, then I whole-heartedly agree with that. Get a move on!

For example: as a teenager I remember spending all afternoon working up the courage to dive off the top diving board at the swimming pool. No amount of peering over the edge and worrying what it would feel like if i hit the water with a stupendous belly flop helped! All it did was increase the fear! In the end, I did just do it: I closed my eyes and dived –  successfully I might add! After that it was easy.

Faith = Risk

In the spiritual realm, many equate faith with acting without thought or without thinking things through. Indeed, I believe the term: “blind faith” is an oxymoron. Yes, faith does involve risk but it is not reckless or blind! In fact, I believe that faith is the clearest form of seeing there is. Faith sees into the unseen realm; as these two scriptures articulate:

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off

Walking on water.

In Matthew 14, the disciples of Jesus are having a bad day, or more accurately – a sleepless night in a storm tossed boat in the middle of the lake! To further compound their distress, they see a strange distant man walking on the water and logically come to the conclusion – it’s a ghost!

Often, in life we find ourselves in these ‘out of control’ situations’ where like the disciples we are crying out in fear because we don’t understand what’s going on. Often It seems, that Jesus isn’t in our boat ( circumstances) but is out there on the water (very remote); his presence doesn’t seem that real (like a ghost).

The fact is, life, like driving (or diving), cannot be lived without danger or risk. Jesus though, this ghostlike man on the water, basically says: be happy and don’t be afraid. Today that’s what he would say to you and I in any difficult situation that we face.

Is it a ghost?

What is interesting though, is that Peter goes one step further. He basically issues Jesus a test. If it’s really you Lord then ask me to do something impossible and walk on the water like you are doing. I’m not sure I understand the logic of this: if Jesus is a ghost then he’s going to drown! Maybe, he’s pretty certain it’s Jesus and as they are already half-drowned, why not push the boat out a little further – excuse the pun!

Look/assess

Was he one hundred percent sure it was Jesus out there skipping on the waves? No. But, that’s often how faith feels. It’s an inner knowing; a strong hunch. The first step of faith therefore, is to look before you leap! Ask yourself, can you imagine Jesus in these future different circumstances that you think God is calling you to walk into? If you can, in other words you can only succeed through faith and the supernatural ability of Jesus- then it’s probably God!

All through the bible you have these crisis of faith. The Israelites trapped by the Red Sea. A country threatened by a giant. A man thrown in a den of lions. And a messiah who was put to death on a cross to the bewilderment of his disciples.

Decide

At some point however, you have to make a decision. Faith is a decision. You have to make a decision to trust. Maybe your driving on the way to the airport and an hour into the journey you can’t remember whether you shut the front door properly. What do you do? Maybe you decide to trust God and carry on? Of course this doesn’t mean you ignore the natural. You might ring your neighbour to make sure for example. Unbelief however, is a decision not to trust God.

Act

Faith without works is dead. In other words, faith that doesn’t result in action is not faith. Peter didn’t talk about it he actually stepped out of the boat onto the water. He was the only man other than Jesus who accomplished this feat! The other disciples, looking on, may have envied Peter, maybe even believed that they could do it too. However, the difference was: they didn’t act. Therefore they didn’t have faith to walk on water.

Just to finish, I wonder if maybe a large proportion of Christians today are sitting in the boat rather than walking out to Jesus on the waves?

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New Piano music

My new Kindle Book!

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New Piano music

New Piano music – Meditation in C minor

Here is a piano piece I’ve written recently. This will probably the last piece on my expanded version of my Inspired Piano Album

Please, if you like music and would like to receive updates on all my new music then why not join my Facebook page Paul Noble Composer. Even better write me a review!

Additionally, please visit my You Tube Channel and comment. Thank you.

Sonata in F Minor Spring

Minuet in F Major

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The threat of Hell!

Some Arminian preachers claim that you need the threat of Hell to save people. In other words, you scare them to love and believe in God in order to make that ‘correct’ choice! Then, you continue to threaten them to keep them saved!

Is Calvinism fair?

Calvinists on the other hand, believe that God only purposes to save a select bunch – who miraculously seem to live in only certain parts of the world and at certain times in history. Odd that, you would have thought God could have been a bit more even handed – rather than be accused of racism! Indeed, most people have no choice, it doesn’t matter how wicked they are, they will respond because God wills so – according to the Calvinist? Unfortunately, the rest get to be eternally tortured in the flames of Hell. Sounds just like what Jesus would do to me!

In support of Calvinist theology though, the Apostle Paul seems to be a good example of unconditional election and grace as he lies in the dirt face down staring up into the face of the resurrected Jesus (who he didn’t believe in). At that point though, what choice did he have – really?

So, I get Calvinism as far as grace goes. When I was born of physical parents I didn’t  decide to get born. Likewise in the new birth; the decision wasn’t mine. Indeed, no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. That’s called grace.

God has a quota of saved souls?

What doesn’t make any sense though, is that a god of love and infinite power would decide to cap the quota of saved people at a few million in a few nations of the world. In other words, God is like Donald Trump building walls to keep people out of the kingdom! Therefore, rather than us choosing God – as Arminians believe – God chooses to reject most!

Dare I hope?

What if then, the Gospel (Good News) isn’t about saving people from Hell but saving them from a hellish life NOW! Jesus came to deliver us from this present evil age or (eternity) aeon. He delivers us from sin; he forgives all our sins; he fills us with the Holy Spirit; he heals us; he showers his gifts upon us. He wants relationship with us now! That is what (eternal) or life pertaining the age is!

Therefore, people don’t need a threat of Hell to be reconciled to God; they need to taste his infinite love!

What if, dare I believe it or hope, that Jesus does win in the end; that he is in fact the saviour of all men especially those who believe; that he will draw all men to himself and that the coming age will be one full of righteousness when all shall know the Lord? Scripture specifically says he wants to save all so why is it such a stretch to believe that he might get his way in the end? Or, is the devil too powerful and man so wicked, that no matter what God does, all he can do eventually – is whisk a few fortunate souls away in a rapture!

FREE book: Christ in You!

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Previous related post on the topic of Hell:

The first person to preach Hell?

Love never fails (Part 1)

Gods brilliant plan (Part 2)

How big are God’s plans? (Part 3)

God is a universalist (Part 4)

Jesus is God’s plan (Part 5)

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