In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it. The high point of creation: humankind. He gave us free will. We chose sin. The plan of salvation was set in motion for God to bring about a way for people to be reconciled to God. The promise was given that a savior would be sent, the hope of salvation that God would one day send the Messiah, to restore God’s people to a right relationship with Him. This is His-story.
- Then comes Jesus.//// Then Jesus died. On the cross. And the world changed. The death of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins.
- Then the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The empty tomb. And the world changed. Jesus Christ is alive.
The best description I have ever heard describing the times in which we live:
ALREADY Jesus Christ has come, he has died, he has risen from the dead, he is ascended to heaven and the NEW PROMISE in Jesus Christ is that Jesus Christ is coming back again. And then comes the end. For us who are alive today, we have a clarity that was not available before Christ, we know he died on the cross, we know he rose from the dead. For those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior and ask for the forgiveness of sins, we are living with the full knowledge that Jesus Christ is alive. Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. Every day is Resurrection day. Every moment is resurrection moment.
BUT NOT YET. We live in HOPE because the promises from the beginning are NOT YET complete. The HOPE of complete restoration with God is still alive because we are still waiting for the fullness of God to come of eternity with Jesus Christ. Did you notice we are not yet living in a perfect world? Our problems individually and in the world are overwhelming at times. HOPE in God is still alive and the promises are real.
We are living at a time in His-story that is inbetween the times: already but not yet. Eternity has ALREADY begun in Christ but until Jesus Christ returns it is NOT YET here in fullness. ALREADY, BUT NOT YET!
Today’s scripture: the Lost Coin. I believe one way to understand this story is a picture of what it means to be living in an ALREADY, BUT NOT YET times. One of the things I love about the lost and found stories in Luke 15 is that there is more than one way to apply the story…. Last week was the story of the Lost Sheep, which is often applied to the need for us to share the gospel with those that have never given their heart to Jesus Christ; the story fits even better for people who are already Christians but then nibble their way to lostness. One of you told me about a time you got immersed in work, survived for 3-4 years on a few hours of sleep a night, and came to a realization of the need for a spiritual renewal to connect with God and God’s people once again. That’s lostness.
Today is the story of a woman who has ten coins and loses one of them. How do we apply the story? I think this story, like the lost sheep, is a reminder for us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the lost. It can also apply the same way I spoke of last week, those who know Christ that carelessly forsake their first love have a need to be found. The audience is the same as last week. READ Luke 15:1-2. The tax collectors and sinners (compromisers and losers) are the ones that are sitting at the feet of Jesus, they are NOT lost. It is the religious leaders that are grumbling. They have drawn a circle of who is in and who is out and put Jesus himself on the other side of the line.
For the story of the lost coins, today I focus on another application. This story wonderfully speaks to what it is like to live in a world of ALREADY BUT NOT YET. We who are living inbetween the times ALREADY knowing our sins are forgiven and he is ALIVE but still waiting for the great HOPE of eternal life with Jesus Christ when he returns.
One big difference between a coin and a sheep: each sheep is individual. The good shepherd cares about each sheep and knows each one. With coins, if I have ten quarters and one is gone, it does not matter which one. They are all the same. In fact, if you pick up my quarter off the ground and give me one out of your pocket, it makes no difference. A woman loses a coin and Jesus makes a point of saying she sweeps the house and searches carefully until she finds it. We all know what it’s like to misplace a wallet, a ticket, a piece of jewelry, anything of value, you know it’s somewhere in the house, you look in the obvious places, you go back half a dozen times to the most obvious dresser top where you always keep it and you’re sure it’s there, but its not. (any of you go on a search this week of something lost?) Have you ever noticed the thing you misplaced is ALWAYS in the last place you look? The tenth quarter restores the full value.
We are living between the times, already Christ has come, died on the cross, risen to new life, but we are still waiting for the fullness of eternal life when Jesus Christ comes again. Christ is here, living in me, but we are still waiting. ALREADY BUT NOT YET. A completion but incomplete. To walk with the Lord is awesome, yet we are all too aware of living in a fallen world. I have nine coins in my pocket, but I’m missing that tenth one. I have money in my pocket, but one coin is missing.
Ten years ago, I had a God experience where only God could orchestrate the chain of events. I was called to officiate at a funeral of a woman I had never met, made arrangements to meet in her apartment in Bellingham with her two grown daughters. My first choice is always to meet in the home of the person that has died because I can learn a lot about them from their home: photographs, possessions, books, what was important to them, a bit of their story….I have never before seen such an apartment. I walked in and every surface was covered with the woman’s collection of Precious Moments figurines ~ there had to be thousands of them, a dozen or more bookcases loaded with Precious Moments. The two daughters were there. We talked. I listened. We got on the same page for the memorial service. Then the older daughter left and I was there with the younger daughter, in her 40s. This daughter wanted to talk heart to heart. She loved her mother, but they were estranged. She desired reconciliation. The loss of her mother meant the loss of an opportunity to reconcile [I want to write that book so bad]. The woman described herself as lost, floundering in life, uncertain, searching….
The memorial service came and went. The family was appreciative. Fast forward a year: Another call from the funeral home. The younger daughter had taken her life. She left a note saying she was empty. As I prepared for that service I was troubled ~ in the short time I’d know her she opened her heart. I tried to remember details of our conversation, could I have said more… As I began to write the service, it’s tough with a suicide to know what scripture to share, I asked the Lord for a scripture and message. I came across this scripture of the lost coin, and I knew, I knew, this was it. One line stood out that I still carry with me. Here are the words from the service (I changed her name):
“The reason I have chosen [Luke 15:8-10] is because I think it speaks a little bit for Carrie. I met with Carrie a year ago when her mother died, and what I remember is a woman that loved and appreciated her mother, but there was a bit of her that craved a bit more reconciliation. [From] her father ______, …. I heard about a daughter that he loved, that he listened to, that he did his best to make a difference in her life, yet a daughter that was searching, looking, desiring more in her life…Carrie found peace and contentment for periods of her life, but at other times she was searching… Here’s the good news. The woman in this story had nine coins that were not lost. Carrie may have been searching for a bit more, yet all of you can think of many qualities about her that you appreciate, her joy, her smile, her delight, family. And here’s the better news…this is NOT the end of the story…as we will state very clearly at the end of this service, Carrie is now in the Lord’s hands, and he knows the end of the story. Even as we do not fully understand, even as all of you would give anything for Carrie to be living today on this earth, we can have confidence that God is the author of the end of the story. May Carrie have now found that lost coin…”
Nine Coins that were not lost. That thought has helped me many times the past ten years as I have tried to make sense of the times that we live. ALREADY we are enriched by the Lord Jesus Christ. Already he is here. Already we are living as people that are forgiven. Already we are sitting at the feet of a Savior that is ALIVE, Jesus Christ. Live for Jesus, glorify his name, serve Him with gladness, delight in prayer, delight in the world he has given, delight in His love for you. There are nine coins…
But the fullness of eternal life He promised is NOT YET. one coin is missing. I still got nine, but one is missing. Life is very good, but something is missing. The day is coming when Jesus Christ will return, and then we will be complete, then we will know the fullness of life with Christ.
This scripture delares the angels know how to throw a great party. This past week Manny and I stopped to see Mike F. at Pioneer Storage. Mike rents out tables and chairs for events. He told us about an out of state couple getting married in Bellingham, flying in 450 guests, buying all new chairs so they can have the right color and all new tables with built in illuminating lights, spending 100’s of 1000’s of dollars. I’m sure it will be an awesome party. But the party the angels throw is better. That’ the party I don’t want to miss! It is good and right for this world be colored by the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus, that day when the Lord returns and we celebrate at the great party in heaven, a party like only the angels can throw. READ Luke 15:10. The lost coin will finally be found. Nine coins is pretty good on this earth, we already have great joy because Jesus Christ loves us, but the fullness of life is still coming when that tenth coin will be found and we will be in eternity with Jesus Christ.
ALREADY BUT NOT YET is the character of the times we are living. We are living in a time when nine coins are NOT LOST. The Lord is good, the Lord is amazing, we are rich in Him. Yet One coin is missing, it’s important, keep looking, keep hoping, keep expecting, keep imagining, keep on keeping on…. But you still got nine coins in your pocket while you are searching and waiting. Already God has given us Jesus Christ, but the fullness of eternal life is not YET.