Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

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Lord I'm Coming Home

8 Apr 2006, Dr Barry Wright

(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)


Set within a divine framework, the Hebrew Bible shows the good and ideal environment from which we have originally come. We are told in its pages that God, in His supreme act of creating Man, gave him more than any other living creature.

The book of Genesis, the book of beginnings, makes very clear that even when Man wandered away, God continued to love and seek his return. This unconditional love reaches across the huge gulf created by sin in its search to bring man back into the Creator's loving arms.

This morning we need to understand that this divine seeking of the lost continues with you and me today.

2 Peter 3: 9 tells us that 'The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.' NIV

While the Old Testament Scriptures outline the evil consequences of the choices made in this early period of Earth's history, these ancient records also tell us that God begins the work of repair. This work of restoration was to commence with a very special promise of prophetic hope to Adam and Eve when God announced that He would put enmity between the serpent and the woman, between his seed and her seed. This extraordinary promise was to eventually climax in the victorious appearance of God's only Son through the woman's seed and while He would deliver a deadly blow to the head of Satan, the Devil would only bruise His heel.

This is why Jesus Christ came into the world

Luke 19: 10 tells us that 'The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.'

Adam and Eve gained hope from this wonderful Messianic promise lifting the gloom from which their lives had fallen. It was to be a hope that would transform their very existence and would give promise, not only of a renewed relationship with God, but also of His grace and mercy, His forgiveness and salvation.

In order to achieve His objectives God initiated a number of Old Testament covenants or agreements with Man from the time of Noah through to David.  Eventually these arrangements were to encompass the whole nation of Israel. This on-going situation would also embrace God's prophets who took responsibility for inviting the people to return to the close relationship that God had with our first parents in their Eden home.

This covenant idea is summed up in the promise given in Jer 7: 23 where God says: 'I will be your God, and you shall be my people.' The depth of this love was to be seen time and time again in His absolute refusal to give up on people or individuals, even when they were to reject Him.

What is it that causes people to forget God's faithfulness so quickly?

Our Scripture reading this morning gives some clues.

Deut 8: 10-20 warns us that when we have all the food we need, when we have built fine houses and all our silver and gold is multiplied, you beware in your plenty that you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey His commands. It is easy to take credit for our own prosperity and become proud that our own hard work and cleverness have made us rich.

It is easy to get so busy collecting and managing wealth that we push God right out of our life. Pride can make us forget that it is God who gives us everything we have.

DEUT 8: 19 further tells us how the people prostituted themselves and bowed down to other gods. In Judges 2: 16-19 we are told they refused to listen to God's representatives in the person of the Judges and the Prophets. This unwillingness to obey was to spell disaster for the corporate spiritual life of the nation.

The Canaanite religion that surrounded them was not only attractive to the sensual nature, but it also meant that people could remain selfish while still fulfilling their religious obligations. They could do almost anything they wanted and yet still be obedient to the myriad of Gods being worshipped.

It would seem our faith in the one true god is not able to offer us those short-term benefits that appeal to the sinful human nature.

In Mark 4: 18-19 Jesus makes clear to us that the thorny ground in HIS parable of the Sower represents those who hear and accept the Good News. However, all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for good things. Hence, we find no crop is produced.

Worldly worries, the false sense of security brought on by prosperity, and the desire for material things were to be the same distractions plaguing the first-century disciples. A life packed with materialistic pursuits overcrowding our daily routines can deafen us to God's Word. It may do us well to follow the counsel given by the Psalmist in Ps 46: 10 where he says: 'Be still and know that I am God.'

In summary, materialism, pride, selfishness, worldly worries and distractions can be the factors that easily cause us to forget God. In a modern world that is becoming even more complex we need to be ever on our guard.

Consequently, we need to seek the help of Jesus every day.

Important lessons can be learnt from the life of one young man who would have turned the world upside down had he remained faithful to God throughout the latter years of his life. His name was Jedidiah, which means 'beloved of the Lord'. He was the third King to come to the throne of Israel at the young age of 20 and was to rule for 40 long years from 970-930 BC. During this period Solomon, as we more commonly know him, expanded the kingdom until it covered about 50,000 square miles from Egypt in the south, Syria to the north and Mesopotamia in the East.

One of his earliest acts as King was to go to the high place at Gibeon, and there, to sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings to God. The following night the Lord was to appear to him in a dream and it was here that God asked Solomon what He could give to him.

1 Kings 3: 5-14 tells us that Solomon was to ask for an understanding heart and the ability to know good from evil. We are further told that God not only granted this request for wisdom, but also promised riches and honour if he would walk in the steps of his father, David (Lockyer, 1986: 1000, 1001).

Solomon was quick to secure his power and his list of accomplishments throughout this early period of his life was to reflect his wisdom and devotion to God.  As part of his strategy for good government, he brought the twelve tribes of Israel together, dividing the entire country into twelve districts. Each district was, in turn, to pay for the King's court for one month each year. The system was accepted as fair in that it distributed the tax burden over the entire country. However, it eventually resulted in a standard of luxury at Solomon's court never before seen in Israel's history (Ibid: 1001).

His trade with other nations, his wisdom and integrity in business matters, the magnificent building and public works projects he constructed, including God's temple, won the admiration and homage of those pagan kings and queens ruling the then known world.

God's name at this time was being honoured.

Even the Queen of Sheba came to see and hear if the reports of Solomon's fame and wisdom were true. After viewing all he had in Jerusalem and hearing his wisdom, she blessed the Lord God of Israel for raising up such a wise person to sit upon the throne (1 Kings 10: 1). Solomon's influence for good at this time of his life would have been difficult to measure.

However, after such a morning of great promise, the Scripture record that Solomon's life was now to become darkened by his disloyalty to God.

What happened to bring about this dramatic turn of events in his life?

How could Jedidiah - 'Beloved of the Lord', who had been honoured by God's remarkable gifts of divine favour, suddenly turn from Him and bow before the idols of the heathen. How could one, who was known by the then known world as one of the wisest and most merciful of rulers, degenerate into despotism and tyranny (White, 1943: 55, 56).

We need to recognise that whenever pride and ambition raise its ugly head, it closes the heart against the infinite blessings of heaven. Also in the midst of prosperity lurks danger. It would seem that humility and spirituality are to be at the peril of riches and honour (Ibid: 59, 60).

However, Solomon's worst blunder was through his unholy alliances with the nations around him. This was seen particularly in those contracts sealed by his marriage to heathen princesses. It was in this area that Solomon was to venture upon forbidden ground. Thinking he could influence these women to worship the true God, they, instead prevailed upon him to worship idols.

God had previously warned and cautioned Israel's Kings in Deut 17: 17 not to multiply wives or silver and gold to themselves and Solomon was all too familiar with these instructions. The constant influx of foreign wives and concubines into his court along with their heathen worship practices eventually saw him consent to the building of an idol to whom living children were offered as sacrifices

(1 Kings 11: 7). This was to be the detestable idol of Molech.

Solomon's apostasy was so gradual that before he became aware of it, he had wandered far away from God,

In turning away from God, his heart had become so hardened that his case seemed well nigh hopeless.

However, the Lord had not forgotten him and in his old age we find Solomon retracing his steps and acknowledging the one who is higher than the highest (Ecc. 5: 8). However, while Solomon's repentance was sincere, the harm brought about by his poor example could never be undone.

Till time is no more there will always be those who depart from God. We often think that when we reach the mature years of our lives our characters will be firmly established. Solomon's life is a lesson to us all, because this is not always so. At the time when his strength should have been at the firmest, he was found to be at his weakest. However, the Scriptures make abundantly clear that while men and women in their sunset years may turn from God there is still hope if they repent and turn back to Him. Is 55: 7 tells us to '…let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon'.

A man called John Kirkpatrick discovered this in his own life and, as a consequence, wrote the words of this old hymn just after the turn of the 19th century. Listen to his words

I've wandered far away from God,
The paths of sin too long I've trod;
Lord I'm coming home

I've wasted many precious years,
I now repent with bitter tears;
Lord I'm coming home

I'm tired of sin and straying Lord,
I'll trust thy love, believe Thy word;

My only hope, my only plea,
That Jesus died, and died for me

I need His cleansing blood I know,
O wash me whiter than the snow;

Coming home, coming home, Never more to roam;
Open wide Thine arms of love; Lord I'm coming home.

In Hosea 14: 4 God says that 'I will heal their backsliding…I will love them freely' and in talking further to the Israelites He says in Amos 5: 4 '…come back to me and live.'

Jesus, himself, was to illustrate God's desire to save those lost in sin when he shared three parables with the mixed multitude that had gathered around Him. We read these in Luke 15 where He tells us about 'The Lost Sheep', 'The Lost Coin' and 'The Lost or Prodigal Son'.

In the first two illustrations Jesus compares God to a shepherd and to a woman. We need to remember that these were people in His society that had no civil rights and were looked down upon by the Pharisees and Rulers. He was to remind His listeners that no matter what station in life we hold, all are the property of God (White, 1941: 187).

The Parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15: 3-7 is a reminder of the value God places on each one of us. The sheep knows it is lost and in this situation it is the most helpless of all creatures. Unless divine love was to come to the rescue he could never find his way to God. This parable teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God as much as His seeking after us (Ibid). We do not repent in order that God may love us as the Pharisees believed, but He reveals to us His love in order that we might repent. Oft times when the sheep are brought back from wandering far in sin they encounter criticism and distrust from the very ones who should be their greatest support. Let me tell you that the people who do this are not doing the work of God, but the work of the accuser. However, the most important point to remember in this parable is that if the sheep is not brought back to the fold, it will wander until it perishes. If we turn from them, it may be the time that they are in the greatest need of our compassion.

Let me share with you a poem that extends our thoughts on this story a little further. It is called:

The Sheep Astray

'Twas a sheep, not a lamb, that went astray.
In the parable Jesus told;
Twas a grown-up sheep that wandered away
From the ninety and nine and the fold.
And out on the hilltops and out in the cold,
'Twas a sheep that the Good Shepherd sought,
And back to the flock and back to the fold
'Twas a sheep that the Good Shepherd brought.

Now why should the sheep be so carefully fed,
And cared for even today;
Because there is danger if they go wrong,
They will lead the lambs astray.
For the lambs will follow the sheep you know,
Wherever they wander, wherever they go.
If the sheep go wrong, it will not be long,
Till the lambs are as wrong as they.

So still with the sheep must we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today.
If the lambs are lost, what a terrible cost
some sheep will have to pay.

We need to remember that it '...was a sheep not a lamb that went astray
in the parable Jesus told:
'Twas a grown-up sheep that wandered away
From the ninety and nine and the fold.

It is important to note that it did not run - it slowly wandered away

And out in the hilltops and out in the cold,

We need to know that the world can be a desperate and lonely place

'Twas a sheep that the good shepherd sought,
and back to the flock and back to the fold
'Twas a sheep that the good shepherd brought.

Now why should the sheep be so carefully fed,
And cared for even today

Why do our people need the word of God
Why do they need to be so carefully fed?

Because there is a danger if they go wrong,
They will lead the lambs astray.
For the Lambs will follow the sheep you know,
Wherever they wander wherever they go.
If the sheep go wrong, it will not be long,
Till the Lambs are as wrong as they.

So still with the sheep must we earnestly plead
For the sake of the Lambs today.
If the Lambs are lost, what a terrible cost
some sheep will have to pay.

Ezek 34: 11,12 tells us that 'The Sovereign Lord says: 'I myself will search for my sheep and look after them…I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness' NIV

What a wonderful God we serve.

The second parable of 'The Lost Coin', like the lost sheep, sets forth to show the loss of something that with proper searching may also be recovered. Its successful recovery is once again attended with great joy and celebration (Luke 15: 8-10).

However, there is a marked difference between the two stories. The lost sheep knows that it is lost through its own foolishness. The lost coin does not have any sense of its condition. Those represented here, are separated from God, but do not realise it. They have become indifferent.

Jesus was to make it clear that they were still to be sought and brought back to God.

The silver coin was lost in the house. It was close at hand, but required even more diligent searching to find it. While lying somewhere in the dust and the rubbish of this Palestinian home, this coin was still seen as valuable.

This parable has a particular lesson for our families. We cannot afford to be careless with the lives entrusted to our care.

Just as the woman in the parable searches painstakingly for the one lost coin and will not cease until it is found we are not to rest in our search and recovery of those family members who have become indifferent to the things of God.

We must remember that all the resources of heaven are placed at the command of those who are seeking to save the lost. We just need to use them. We just need to call on them.

The third story that Jesus tells in Luke 15: 11-32 describes a father's compassionate behaviour towards a foolish son who does things no proper Jewish boy would ever do. This parable is all about the father's forgiveness of a boy who deliberately went lost. It also tells me that God's love can defeat the deliberate rebellion of the heart and can be more merciful than our fellowman can ever be. When we separate from God and live 'life in the far country' serving ourselves, our lives are being squandered and wasted and eventually leads to a bankrupting of ourselves for eternity (White, 1941: 201). We should not forget that it was the father's love that was to ultimately draw this boy home and it will be our Father's love that will ultimately draw us home.

God hates sin, but he loves the sinner.

We all need to learn the lesson that our only safeguards are to be found through daily watchfulness, obedience to God's word, and prayer (Matt 26: 41; 1 Pet 1: 14; 1 Cor. 10: 13).

'If Charles Wendell Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.' This was a press statement released in 1973 by the 'Boston Globe' Newspaper in the United States of America. After the news of Chuck Colson's conversion to Christianity was leaked to the Press, there were many who found it difficult to believe.

Who was this man that created so much interest in the public arena?

Colson was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts in 1931, the only child of a working class family, and grew up during the Great Depression where he watched people stand in the daily bread lines just to survive. This made him all the more determined to get a good education so he would never find himself in a similar situation. He was brought up in the Episcopalian Church (Church of England) that, he says, gave him no understanding of saving grace. However, he credits his father for instilling in him the protestant work ethic and the 'Puritan sense of right and wrong.'

After successfully completing preparatory high school where he became captain of the debating team, editor of the school newspaper, president of student affairs and a top-sporting athlete, he won a scholarship to Harvard University. He turned this opportunity down in favour of Brown University, just because it made him feel good.

After graduating from there with a BA honours degree in 1953 at the age of 22 he promptly joined the US Marines during the period of the Korean War. Within two years he had not only risen to the rank of Captain, but was employed by the Navy Department in Washington while attending law school at night at George Washington University. This was the beginning of his ascent to the places of power. He served as aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for two years, completed law school in 1959 earning a Doctorate in Law, and then joined the prominent law firm of Gadsby and Hannah. It was not long before he went into politics becoming one of the youngest administrative assistants in the United States Senate. He had just turned 29 years of age. Political dirty tricks, involving phoney mailings, planting stories in the press and voting tombstones became part of the arsenal of hardball politics and he became a master at it.

At the age of 39 the President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon invited Colson to join the White House staff to serve him in the capacity of his special counsel. This incredible appointment was to lead him into one of the most powerful positions in the world. Colson became known as Nixon's White House 'hatchet man' and was feared by even the most powerful politicians during his four-term of service. He was once quoted as saying he would'…walk over his own grandmother to re-elect President Nixon. The media of the mid-1970s described him as the toughest of Nixon's tough guys and as one who was 'incapable of humanitarian thought'. He was also known within the Nixon Administration as the 'evil genius' (

Curiously enough, even though he had Admirals and Generals saluting him, limousines waiting for him and seemingly had everything a person could ever want, Colson admitted that this became the first time in his life that he felt empty inside (

The God of heaven was beginning his search for Charles Wendell Colson.

His dramatic conversion in 1973 was to begin with a visit to the home of a friend and colleague by the name of Tom Phillips, who was previously converted at a Billy Graeme Crusade. With a great need to fill the empty space in his heart Colson, confronted by Phillips with the Gospel Story, accepted the fact that he needed a Saviour. He never forgot the words quoted to him from C. S. Lewis's book 'Mere Christianity' - Words that were to stay with for the rest of his life. 'A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.' Colson, who cried out to God with the words, 'Take me as I am', was truly converted that summer. Charles Colson was getting a second chance. However, his many enemies, and even those who knew him well, found it difficult to accept that he had become a born-again Christian (Zoba, 2001: 28).

In 1974, twelve months after this dramatic event, Colson was to enter a plea of guilty to Watergate-related charges. While not implicated in the burglary, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Daniel Ellsberg Case. This involved a scheme to defame and destroy this man and to impede and influence the outcome of his trial (Ibid).

Colson entered Alabama State Prison in 1974 to serve a three-year term and was to become known as prisoner 23226. He entered this terrible place as a new Christian and became the first member of the Nixon Administration to be incarcerated as a result of the Watergate scandal (Ibid).

From the mountain highs of worldly success and power, Colson was to plummet to the depths of the valleys and experience the lows of prison life.

It was here among dope pushers, car thieves and swindlers that this former special counsel to the President of the United States of America, discovered where the true power in life really is. After getting down on his knees in prayer for these men he saw their lives changed and transformed by the power of the living God. A turning point in Colson's life came when he read a passage in J. B. Phillips New Testament which says: 'For the one who makes men holy and the men who are made holy share a common humanity, so that he is not ashamed to call them his brothers' (Heb 2: 11). This was to begin a 30-year ministry reaching out to prison inmates and attempting to reform the US prison system after being released seven months into his prison term (Ibid).

Today, Colson thanks God for Watergate. He says, 'It taught me the greatest lesson of my life, the paradox of power: that he who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Jesus sake shall find it' (

Dear friend, God loves you and wants you in the kingdom.

God hates sin but loves the sinner.

We must remember that all the resources of heaven are placed at the command of those who are seeking to save the lost. We just need to use them. We just need to call on them.

We all need to learn the lesson that our only safeguards are to be found through daily watchfulness, obedience to god's word and prayer (Matt 26: 41; 1 Pet 1: 14; 1 Cor. 10: 13).

God is searching for you as he outlined in the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and that of the rebellious son, and he will do everything possible to have you return to him.

Let's pray that we can say in the words of William Kirkpatrick

I've wandered far away from God,
The paths of sin too long I've trod;
Lord I'm coming home

I've wasted many precious years,
I now repent with bitter tears;
Lord I'm coming home



Lockyer, Sr. H. (1986)  Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers

White, E. G. (1941)  Christ Object Lessons. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association

White, E. G.  (1943)  Prophets and Kings. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association.

Zoba, W. M.   (2001)  'The Legacy of Prisoner 23226'  Christianity Today. July 9, Vol. 45, No. 9, p. 28-.

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