Mature Class Study, teacher Leslie Crain.

Leslie said there was a time near Christmas when she was very anxious and concerned for her child to come home. She asked God what to do and he said, wait on the porch. God cares for all the lost sheep and that’s why Jesus came. We all have lost sheep in our families. We were lost sheep once and God had mercy on us. Jesus welcomed sinners and was eating with them. He only saw the soul and was there to reach out to them. Have we turned away from or avoided lost sheep?

Luke 15:1-6 (Amplified Classic) Now the tax collectors and [notorious and especially wicked] sinners were all coming near to [Jesus] to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes kept muttering and indignantly complaining, saying, This man accepts and receives and welcomes [preeminently wicked] sinners and eats with them. So He told them this parable: What man of you, if he has a hundred sheep and should lose one…does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness (desert) and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his [own] shoulders, rejoicing. And…gets home, he summons…[his] friends and [his] neighbors…Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep which was lost.

Jesus continued to refer to the lost sheep when he talked about the lost coin and the prodigal son. The prodigal son may have been older than a young person. He may have been curious to see things in the world he heard about. His father was rich and gave his son half of his goods. When the son left he may have taken his horse, maybe a buggy, perhaps a chest of coin, or a stuffed bear that his mother made for him. The son was excited to go and didn’t see anything bad ahead.

Luke 15:11-13 And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.

The father sat on his porch, always praying and watching for his son. It was a special time of waiting. Maybe the father had been waiting for a long time. One day as he sat on the porch, he saw his son a long way off and ran to kiss him.

Luke 15:20-23 So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. And the son said… Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight…[I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the…(the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and…a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat] fattened calf and kill it; and…revel and feast and be happy and make merry,

In Leslie’s time of waiting, she looked all around at the porch and driveway to see if there was anything she could do while she waited. Were there any weeds or poison oak in the way? Sometimes we don’t do things like we should so we need to fix that. Are we willing to forgive all the hurt and betrayal? If we don’t completely forgive, it will show up in our words by sarcasm or little digs. Our words won’t be full of love, mercy, and kindness. Unforgiveness: unwilling or unable to forgive someone for hurting, betraying, breaking your trust, or causing you intense emotional pain. God is ready to forgive.

Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Go delights in mercy and doesn’t hang on to any hurt we did to him. We can’t hold onto anything and have to let go of our pain and anger to completely forgive and follow Jesus’ example. God wants us to forgive and forget as much as we humanly can about the hurts people have done to us. Jesus warned us, “if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). In the Amplified Bible, it says “if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

Micah 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Leslie had to make sure her foundation was just God’s truth – not her ideas, thoughts, or attitudes. When Leslie was in a sudden panic to do something, she stayed on the precious, tried stone. We have to build gold, silver, and precious stones on the sure foundation. We build the silver of longsuffering on the foundation, not wood, hay, or stubble. (I Corinthians 3:12-13).

Isaiah 28:16…says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation…a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation…who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not…give way or hasten away [in sudden panic].

Leslie had made sure her windows were clean – that her vision was clear and not clouded by her own ideas and plans.

Jeremiah 23:16 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.

At the transfiguration of Jesus, the apostles only saw Jesus when the vision cleared. That was what Leslie needed to see and be willing that was enough. Leslie kept the steps de-iced with the warmth of forgiveness and compassion. God doesn’t want people slipping on anything as they return home. We need to hold onto the warmth of compassion and love.

Matthew 17:7-8…Jesus…said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus…

God doesn’t change but he’s the one who can change things. He knows what’s in our dark times and has light for the way.

Daniel 2:20-22 Daniel answered…Blessed be the name of God for ever…for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep…things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

King Jehoshaphat didn’t know what to do about the great army coming against him, he prayed and kept his eyes on God.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance…

Praying and waiting. God doesn’t belittle us when we come to him for help. He knows we’re human and is there to help us.

Psalm 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Leslie washed the porch with her tears. Even our tears are precious to God. Jesus wept with those that were sorrowing.

Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Psalm 56:8-9 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

Even when she was busy, Leslie was keeping a constant watch just like the prodigal’s father.

Psalm 126:5-6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

We must wait and watch without losing hope or letting cobwebs collect. Leslie had to sweep down cobwebs of regret and discouragement on the porch because of the times she misunderstood or didn’t respond in God’s way.

Proverbs 8:32-34 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

She was listening carefully for a knock. Jesus was listening and waiting for the Jews to respond but they wouldn’t answer.

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Everything happens for a purpose and reason (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). The enemy tries to get us to stop praying when we keep praying for the same things over and over. God wants to hear our repetitions. He cares for what we care about. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. Even if we don’t see with our eyes, if we look back we can see God’s glory and mercy.

John 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Lift up your eyes to God. His waiting time is perfect. He knocks and waits, listens and waits, and meets us where we are. Then we celebrate when the prodigal finally comes home. We must wait for God’s time and way.

Isaiah 40:26-31 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, …My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?…hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.