The pages in my Bible where Matthew 18 falls are well worn and include my handwritten notes, expressing thanks and praise to the Lord. Two parables in Matthew 18 read like a prophetic word when I study them. Fullfilled prophecy. Though I am not proud of it, I am eternally grateful.
Matthew 18 is my testimony.
There are many, many days when I want to shout it from the mountain tops and tell everyone, but when I open my mouth, I inhale fear and exhale the watered down version.
What a shame, because God has done a miraculous work in my life, and I want everyone to know what He is capable of.
To save a wretch like me.
Why do I fear? I know what God’s Word says.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe.
I trust in the Lord, and I trust that when He brings the person to me who needs to hear the good, bad, and ugly of my story, He will tell me. So, when this beautiful masterpiece Mama came to me and asked if I would share with you, I jumped at the chance. There is someone reading who needs to hear this: a college aged someone, a mom, a spouse, a father, a Christian who has become entangled in a briar patch. If you are that person, just know that your sin is not bigger than my God. You have not gone too far to return to your first love. And there is no place where the Lord cannot find you and meet you where you are. No, He doesn’t want to see you there … and He will move mountains to bring you home.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? An d if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
I grew up in a Christian home with a very active Christian family. As a “tween”, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I jumped in feet first and I served fervently.
“You’re a Christian now … Jump right in!”
I don’t recall hearing that said back then, but when I hear people say it now, I cringe. It’s dangerous water to tread. You cannot throw a child into the ocean and expect him/her to swim, at least not for long.
Zeal without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
I attended corporate Bible Study weekly (on Sunday and Wednesday) and continued to serve, yet my relationship with the Lord became one that reflected malnutrition and neglect. In my years of serving and singing and praising, I had still only been taking the “food” I was fed in the form of a sermon or a group Bible Study; and I failed to move on to the real meat: a personal, true, deep relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Recently, I read something on Tony Evan’s Facebook page that stuck with me. Truth that went something like this: “Don’t become so wrapped up in serving that you forget the God whom you serve.”
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
1 Corinthians 3:2-3
We have so much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still and infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
When this sheep left home- away from the flock of believers, family and friends, I could not stand alone. I was severely malnourished. That time was dark in more ways than one. There were places that I shouldn’t have been, things I shouldn’t have done, regrets too numerous to count, and stories that are just shameful.
The real shame of it is that I dragged Jesus with me. I made compromise after compromise, until I was neck deep in mud and mire. In hindsight, I could draw a map for you that includes all of the pits and traps to avoid, but it would be a tangled mess of distraction and sin. There are so many warnings I could give, but, the most glaring would be these; use God as your standard, not others. And know the Lord; really know Him and His Word. And, seek Him daily.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.
1 Corinthians 15:33
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I night not sin against you.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5/Matthew 22:37
It would be easy (a cop out really) to say that I was never saved to begin with. It would be easier to say that I slid to such depths because I was still lost, but that isn’t the truth.
I was saved.
I AM saved.
I had not fully surrendered. For a decade and a half, I wandered and floundered. In my mid-thirties, I came crawling back like the prodigal son did when he was reduced to eating pig food. In through the church doors I came. I visited various churches and found one where the Holy Spirit had an obvious presence. Each sermon spoke to me as I sat, seemingly alone. Later, I had a Josiah moment.
How in the world did I get so far from the truth?
I surrendered in the pew that day and all of the chatter of the past melted away. I felt His presence … Rejoicing as this battered little lamb returned to the flock.
There is a song by Amy Grant called Arms of Love. I couldn’t sing the first few lines of the song without completely breaking down for over a year.
“Lord, I’m really glad You’re here. I hope You feel the same when You see all my fear and how I’ve failed. I fail sometimes. It’s hard to walk in shifting sand. I missed the rock and found I’ve nowhere left to stand. And start to cry. Please help me. Raise my hands so You can pick me up. Hold me close. Hold me tighter …”
Over and over again, I attempted to sing that song, but I couldn’t finish. Two years of prayer, confession and repentance followed with a flood of tears. But it doesn’t end there.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) Part 2
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