Friday, July 3, 2020

Giving All for the Sheep

Giving All for the Sheep

A Brazilian evangelist, Pastor Veloso, was in the middle of what could have been his most successful evangelistic series. It was in a stadium, and thousands were attending. Hundreds had already made decisions to get baptized. And, they expected hundreds more to do so, possibly topping the thousand mark. This man had had an incredible track record. Thousands had come to the church due to his preaching.

But, it had come at a cost. The news came to Pastor Veloso in the morning. His son, Chico, had been picked up by government authorities. Chico was hospitalized and found with high levels of heroin in his system. To make matters worse, Chico also had a couple of grams of heroin in his pant pockets. The plans were to clean Chico up and send him to jail. But, out of courtesy for Pastor Veloso, they delayed deciding until contacting him. The authorities had high regard for Pastor Veloso.

Pastor Veloso called for an emergency meeting with his staff and organizers. They all agreed that a scandal like this could hinder his ministry. How should they handle it? Some suggested asking the authorities to quietly put Junior in a rehab center, citing that God's work must go on. Others, suggested, to hold a press conference, come
out in the open, that way, the scandal is minimized, and the ministry hindered less.

A young pastor opened up his Bible and read from Luke 15: 4 – 24. This passage tells the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. These are very familiar parables. They describe how something that was lost was found and recovered; spiritually, how God found and recovered each one of us.

After the young Pastor finished reading, he then asked Pastor Veloso, "The people you preach to, what are they: lost sheep, the lost coins, or the prodigal children? How about your son?" Pastor Veloso started to cry. All the men in the room were dumbfounded, then they looked at
the young Pastor and yelled at him, "Look at what you've done."

Pastor Veloso then said with a loud voice, "Let him be. He's right. If I went to reach lost sheep, I did not secure the one I had to find the others. If I went to find lost coins, I have been cleaning everybody else's home, but mine. Now, if my son is a prodigal son, he needs to know that I am waiting for him, and I need to wait for him." Pastor Veloso resigned that same day, to save his son.

Pastor Veloso's son eventually cleaned up, gave up drugs, and gave his life to Christ. He said, "My Dad gave up everything for me, just as Christ gave up everything for us. Just the thought of that and that heaven rejoiced when I gave myself to Christ makes me rejoice.  I wonder if heaven also rejoiced when my Dad chose to give up all for me."

The Bible revelation of the character of God is: Jesus says, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost" (Luke 19:10). The story of the prodigal son emphasizes the seeking love of the Father—the lost boy would never have said, "I will arise and go to my
father" unless the seeking love of the Father had drawn him ( John 12:32, 33).

We must not give our children and youth the idea that God is like a doctor deep in his inner office, hard to find! The seeking love of the Father and the self-emptying love of Christ must be made plain early and through their teen years. An outward profession based on fear is
empty; it's the heart that must be won by the truth of His love.

Our current "offer" view of God's forgiveness forces us to see the prodigal son differently. If the son is "under condemnation" until he takes the initiative to come home, he cannot be a family member, a son; he is a stranger. But the biblical view sees the prodigal as still being
a son even while he was rioting and then in the pigsty—a son, indeed, although a lost one. Did the father "make" him a son only when he came home?

The Bible view tells the prodigal, You are a child of God "in Christ" by virtue of His sacrifice as the second Adam, and He has elected you since He gave Himself for you on His cross. But you have wandered away and sold your birthright. Now, realize and appreciate your actual status
in Him. Let His love draw you home where you belong, by virtue of His already adopting you "in Christ."

God does not regard unconverted people as wolves to be shot down as soon as possible; no, but He sees them as sheep, not in the fold, to be sure, but still sheep— lost sheep. They need to be converted, to be born again, yes, but all the while God considers them to be heirs to His estate because He sent forth His Son to be "made of a woman" as we are all "made of a woman." He has adopted the human race "in Christ."

You are not to think of yourself as an outsider, says Paul. Because of Christ's sacrifice, you are now "in the family," adopted (Eph. 1:5), loved all the while as the prodigal son was loved. But you didn't know it; you felt ostracized, estranged, alienated, lost, rejected, but God did not regard you as estranged or alienated. He reconciled you to Himself "in Christ." Now, says Paul, "be ye reconciled to God." The proof that He has reconciled you? Gal. 3:6, "God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your heart, crying, Abba, Father." What a beautiful, powerful, illustration of Good News "in Christ," and now you can see it for yourself because your human heart is crying "Father... !"

The prodigal son's expression to his Father: "I have sinned against you," lets you know that the prodigal son finally understood the grief he caused to his Father. The greatest motivation to make changes in our lives is the desire to no longer break the heart of the one who
loves us so much. When the boy was wallowing around in the mud with the pigs, the Father suffered more than his son. Revival occurs when God's love breaks our hearts. Reformation occurs when we choose to
respond to a love that will not let us go. It happens when we no longer want to do anything to break God's heart. It takes place when we make the difficult choices to give up those attitudes, habits, thoughts, and feelings that separate us from Him and hence, break His heart.

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