Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
If you passed by First Baptist after dark the week of October 21st you probably saw my office light on. You might ask “Why?” The answer is simple: because I love our Church, I love our community, and some things are just worth celebrating well.
You see, on October 21st we celebrated 150 years of worship, missions and ministry together as a Body. It was a BIG day! It was so much fun seeing friends and faces that we haven’t seen in a while. People drove and flew in from all over the country for this celebration. As the day got closer I began to get really emotional. It was almost impossible to keep my mind from thinking about the incredible generational faithfulness it must take for people to come from all over to celebrate with us. I was so moved by the celebratory atmosphere.
When was the last time you really celebrated? I am confident God has wrapped you up with gifts and given you many reasons to lift your hands heavenward in praise. When is the last time you did that?
Luke tells three stories in his gospel about heavenly celebrations. One has to do with a lost sheep come home. Another involves a lost coin that is discovered. The third story is built around a lost son that is found. Each story ends with an atmosphere of celebration. Some things are just worth celebrating well!
Here is the word: in each story God is inviting the lost, buried, and supposed dead to come home; to come inside. He has created a tailor made home and the party is ready to be fired up. He puts a deep desire in the hearts of the shepherds to go after the one lost sheep, even though 99 are still in the fold. He puts tenacity in the heart of the lady with ten coins minus one.
She searched for that precious coin until it was discovered. And then He placed an undying love in the heart of a father with two sons, minus one. We watch this father as he waits, almost desperately, for his lost son to show. As soon as his son appears a long way off we watch this dad unashamedly run to meet him. In each story a party is thrown for the found one. Jesus says an even bigger party is thrown in Heaven every time a lost part of the family comes home.
Jesus ends the stories with a twist. In the story of the lost son, the brother refuses to come inside. We don’t see this with the coins or the sheep, but with the son a disgruntled, accusing brother is standing on the outside looking in with bitterness in his heart. The father goes out to him and pleads with him to come in. The brother actually points an accusing finger in the father’s face! The dad’s answer is iconic. He looks intently at his son and addresses him endearingly, “Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.
We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” And the story ends there! We must assume the brother remained outside and the father went back in to celebrate.
The message is simple, dear Christian. Will we first, adopt the heart of the father for those who are outside? Will we pursue them with a tenacity that drove the shepherd and the woman to look until they found their prize? And second, will we choose to enter into the celebration that so naturally happens when one who is lost comes home? We are promised a celebration is happening.
It’s a guarantee! It was thrown in our honor when we came home and it is being thrown in honor of our newest family members as we speak. You are invited! Will you come in?
There is nothing like a good ole’ celebration to draw us home! Will you come to the party?