Good morning. It’s a blessing to be here with you guys, and thank you, Saylorville Church, for your prayers, your support over the years. God is doing an amazing work in Lima, Peru, and so much of that is because of churches just like you guys who are faithfully invested in praying for our family and so many other missionaries.
I wanted to share a little bit about this last term. This last term in Peru, two and a half years, was probably our most enjoyable term ever… most fruit for sure. And it was a term where our two oldest kids are married and they were part of our church plant. And Joseph and Kimberly doing a soccer ministry in connection with the church and then our daughter, Jessica, married a professional soccer player there in Peru. They were both part of our church and so the joy of having them there and then Janessa and Jordan here that are going to Faith [Baptist Bible College] and were a huge part of our ministry there. And Justin, our middle child, he lives here in Ankeny and goes to here at Saylorville. The privilege of God for us to have adult children serving the Lord with us on the mission field is just incredible! And then God even took it a step further and allowed us to have our grandchildren with us on the mission field. Kelley and I know that we can’t take that for granted. We don’t know how long that’ll be. So we definitely desire to enjoy every minute of having our kids and our grandkids there.
But this last term, as we said before, it was such a blessing to see people getting saved at least every month, and people within our church leading other people to Jesus Christ is such a joy! This last term, the Holy Spirit was working in so many different ways. One of them was a young man named Esteban. About a year and a half ago, Esteban came up to me after church and [in Spanish] he said, “Steve, do you remember me?” and it was one of those moments where you want to say ‘yes…’ but you can’t! And so Esteban began to tell me how when he was a little kid, his dad abandoned the family… very difficult childhood. And… kind of out of the blue, Pastor Carlos Frerichs, my dad, (Chuck Frerichs)… My parents were missionaries in Peru for 33 years. They arrived in 1968. And so Dad would reach out to little Esteban when he was eight or nine years old, take Esteban to run errands, and my dad would let Esteban wash his car to give him pocket change and just invested in Esteban’s life. By the time Esteban was 18 years old, Esteban feels God is leading him into full-time ministry. He wants to go to “Word of Life” in Argentina to study ministry. He asks his pastor and his pastor says, “You know, first of all, you should go to college, get a degree, and then move forward.” The next 18 years of Esteban’s life, he completely walked away from God, was involved in all the sins of the world and started his own business. He made a lot of money, and then COVID hit, and COVID really destroyed his company, his business. He just started losing everything. And it was in this time of desperation, of losing so much, he hears from a friend that there is a Pastor Frerichs in the area. And he’s thinking, “Well, how many Frerichses can there be in Peru?” right? And so he came to seek us out. By God’s grace, his wife, Pamela, is saved, and they’re going to our church! They’re in our small group, and we praise God for them.
But then I stop and I reflect on the power of our testimonies. My parents, Mom and Dad, they’ve been gone for years, but their testimony lives on. Esteban ended up at our church, not because of something Kelley and I did, but because of what Mom and Dad did in his life decades ago. And it’s a powerful and important question to us. What is our testimony today? What do people know or think about us? What will our testimony be when we are not here?
Several months later, the same thing happened. Rosita came up to me after church and she said [in Spanish] “Do you remember me?” “Ahhh… No.” And she says, “When I was 16 years old, I got pregnant and I ran away from home and I ended up at your parents’ house. Your parents took me in for a few months. I was reconciled with my parents, but for a few months, your parents were there.” And I’m thinking, “Ah, I do kind of remember when I was in high school, some girl was living with us, and I wasn’t really sure why,” and now she and her two boys go to our church, Joseph and Beto. And Beto and I are really good friends. I was invited to speak at a camp in Peru and took him with me. God’s grace is amazing, isn’t it?
I just praise God for the privilege it is for Kelley and I to serve Jesus in Peru. And to see the evidence of God’s grace in so many different places. Really, Kelley’s and my heartbeat is that God would allow us to see a church planting movement that would sustain a mission sending movement around the world. That’s what our hearts’ desire is. That’s what Kelley and I pray for, that we could see happen in our lifetime. So we invite you to pray for us that way.
And as we dive into God’s words this morning, we’re going to be looking to Luke 15. So if you brought a copy of God’s word, open your Bibles to Luke 15.
We’re going to start with a picture here of myself with a question: Steve is ________? Any comments? Okay, just trying to create a little bit of an awkward moment here. Am I being successful? Okay, very good! Okay, we’re going to leave that. We’ll come back to that. (You can take that picture down as quickly as possible!)
In Luke 15, Jesus is going to share three parables, and most of you are probably very familiar with them: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. And they all represent the spiritually lost who need Jesus. And that’s a big focus here. The lost need Jesus.
God, thank you so much for the privilege it is to know Jesus and to be known by Jesus. Father, maybe there is somebody here this morning that is in the process of searching for Jesus. Oh God, maybe today would be the day of their salvation. And Father, for your Saylorville Church, we pray your blessing upon them. And God, as we go into a new year tomorrow, 2024, may our hearts be in tune with You for the need of the lost needing Jesus. May your Holy Spirit lead and guide us now as we open Your word. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
We’ll be looking at just a few verses in Luke 15, but you can kind of break down the book of Luke into three different categories. The first 10 chapters of Luke are all about the birth of Jesus and His ministry in Galilee. Then the next 10 chapters are about Jesus’ ministry in Judea. And then, the last four or five chapters are about Jesus’ death and resurrection. So right in the middle of the book, 10 to 20, Jesus is preaching to the crowds, healing people, showing mercy, asking people to repent. You guys know the religious leaders, (What were their titles?) the Pharisees, the scribes and the Sadducees. They all knew the Old Testament, right? They knew all the rituals, the traditions, the Law. They had it all up in their heads. And Jesus is going on this simple message of recognizing your sin and repenting. And the religious leaders, those who knew so much about the Word, they are hating Jesus! They’re making comments to Jesus. They’re trying to trap Jesus in some form that they could kill him. And so Jesus in Luke 15 is going to share these three parables. In the process of sharing these three parables about heaven, about salvation, He’s going to focus on that those who are in Christ, those who are saved. There is joy in being a part of Jesus’ family. And He’s going to be looking at the Pharisees and saying, ‘You guys have all this knowledge, but you have no joy.’
Boy, what an impact in our lives. How often, maybe, is it easy for us to be believers, but to not have very much joy in our lives? The big idea is God wants me to love the lost. Therefore, number one, The lost are worth searching for. Follow along as we read verse eight.
Luke 15:8, “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?”
That word, “coin,” was a drachma. It was a day’s wage. It wasn’t just a quarter or a nickel. It was a day’s wage, so $100, $200, $300. I don’t know what a day’s wage in the Des Moines area is, but it’s a decent amount of money. Many theologians believe that these 10 coins were a wedding gift or her inheritance, so something of extreme value.
Kelley and I love walking together in the mornings. We love getting out. She runs more than I do, and so she’ll run and I’ll try and run after her. And then we’ll spend some time walking together. One morning, we were out walking, and I see her, out of the blue, she was feeling her ears. I’m thinking, “What are you doing?” She noticed that she was missing one of her diamond earrings. Well, that kind of puts a damper on life, but I said, “Kelley, let’s just keep going.” We kept walking the mile lap, but now all of a sudden, my head is down, and I’m scanning the sidewalk, looking for a little sparkle, looking for that little diamond, and we walked the whole mile… Nothing. Kind of came to the end of our walk together. We’re crossing the street and I’m scanning the street, looking for that little sparkle. We’re living with Kelly’s mom and we get to her garage. I walk in the garage. I’m scanning the garage, looking for the sparkle… Nothing. Open the door, walking into the living room, Kelley’s mom was sitting there. I’m like, “Hey Mom,” and she must be thinking, “What’s this guy doing?” I’m scanning, and I get to our bedroom. I open the door and I’m thinking, “This is it, it’s either here or it’s gone.” The house… has carpet, and I’m thinking, “Oh, it could have been easily tucked away, stepped on in the carpet… not going to be able to find it.” I open the door and there it is… right on the carpet! Kelley and I are all excited! Why? because that diamond earring was of great value to Kelley and to me.
What is of value to you, because God says “The lost are valuable to Me”? Who are the lost? Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So many people come to church that believe that God exists, but it’s all external. They don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have never said, ‘Oh God, I believe that I am a sinner. I believe that my sin separates me from God because God is holy and my sin offends God. I understand from God’s word that I, in my sin, I cannot save myself, and I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Oh God, forgive me for my sin, and I put all my faith only in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins.’ if you have not done that this morning, then God’s word says that you are lost. You are spiritually lost before Jesus. What we’re seeing here in Luke 15 is that God says, “the lost are valuable to Me.”
And what about us? Are the lost valuable to us? Do we pray for the lost? Do we seek after the lost? Do we make time for the lost? In the busy-ness of our work, of our regular schedule, do we befriend the lost? Do we intentionally seek after them? What did this widow do? She turned on her lamp, which involved spending her money, her resources. She swept her floor, which meant spending energy, and she searched. She spends her time. So many things that are so dear and valuable to us… our money, our energy, our time… This search was a diligent, intense search that she did. And if I have a love for the lost, it will manifest itself in how intensely I seek after them. What are ways that you and I can search for the lost today?
Where Kelley and I live, a few blocks away, there’s a little street called Samoa with little shops. We would get our kids and our grandkids and just walk up there, get the kids ice cream so it was a win, and just get to know our community, get to know our people, trying to make friendships. Do you guys like to play tennis? Nobody? A couple… All right, very good. Okay. A couple blocks away from our house, there are some tennis courts, and we love playing tennis. It’s good exercise, but it’s also, a way to get to know people. Our girls have played tennis for years at those tennis courts. There are families in our church today that we met through playing tennis. There is one family, they are all believers in Jesus Christ today. You will meet them in heaven because one of our daughters, while playing tennis, turned around to one of the kids behind her, Santiago, and invited him to church. Their whole family ended up going to church and getting saved… through tennis. Now it looks like when we go back in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be taking pickleball paddles. You guys play pickleball? I’ve enjoyed learning to play pickleball here at Saylorville. It’s been a lot of fun! (They beat up on me really well!) But we’re hoping that when Joseph is doing soccer with the kids on one side, I’m hoping to have more fun with the parents playing pickleball. So the kids are like, ‘What’s going on? They’re having more fun than we are!’ But… whatever. But, pickleball…! How about coffee? Do you guys like coffee? So often, I try and get out to a coffee shop in our community when I have to study. One time during COVID, it was a time when everybody was afraid to cough. One of the guys working at the coffee shop, Diego, was working, and he had a sore throat. He was trying to hold back a cough, and I offered him a Hall’s [cough drop]. We got to talking and became friends. I found out he was a believer, but he had gotten busy in life. He walked away from church and from God. Through our friendship, he started coming to our church and was baptized! [Commenting on pictures being shown] You see him there, and then, I don’t know if you recognize the group down there on the right corner, the missions team from Saylorville that went down. He joined up on one of the mission trips. Diego is growing in the Lord!
I want to share a little bit with you guys about what God has been doing in Diego’s life. Little by little, we got to know more of his family. In one occasion, about a year and a half ago, his whole family came to our church on a Sunday morning. After the service, they came up to me and they’re like, “Pastor, Pastor… “Can you pray for my grandma? She’s dying.” And I’m thinking, “Well, what’s my prayer going to do? I can’t pray her into heaven.” At that moment, it was like God was saying, “Steve, pray the gospel.” So right there on the soccer court, I started praying the gospel. “Oh God, thank you so much for loving us. And even though we cannot save ourselves, thank you that you sent Jesus to die on the cross, and Jesus died for our sin. You were pleased with His sacrifice. You rose Him from the dead, and Jesus is not still on the cross! But He rose again, and He is at your side preparing a place for us.” And as I’m praying the gospel, I hear something, and I kinda lean in, and I hear… “I believe! I believe!” I don’t know if that grandma got saved that morning, but two weeks later she died. I had the privilege of going and preaching at her funeral, and preached to their whole family! Part of the package for the funeral was a priest, so the family comes up to me, like, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t know there was going to be a priest!” I said, “Oh, that’s okay.” So they go up to the priest and they say, “Hey, we don’t need you, you can leave.” [showing a picture] I’m pretending to take a selfie, but I’m taking a picture of the priest walking away! He stuck around to hear what this white guy was going to talk about, so he heard the gospel!
A couple of weeks later… Over the last few years, Kelley has started a “Rejoice” event in our church in Peru. At last year’s Rejoice, a lady got saved that Saturday night, and then one of Diego’s aunts was there Saturday night. She came back the next Sunday morning, then was there in church Sunday night… and then she got saved that Sunday night! Here’s a picture of another one of Diego’s aunts and uncles. They grew up going to church, but never heard the gospel. And then this year, his other aunt Chelsea put her faith in Jesus Christ! A couple weeks later, their older daughter Priscilla, she put her faith in Jesus! A couple weeks later, one of their younger boys, Valentino, put his faith in Jesus Christ! And I say, “God, what are you doing?!” One by one, family members are getting saved! And I go all the way back to that day that I got out into our community, and when somebody was coughing, (those of you who know me well, my flesh wanted to kind of turn and hide from the germs, but…) I offered him a Hall’s.. Nothing special, nothing amazing, just getting out into our community for the love for the lost.
God would have us ask this morning, ‘What am I doing? Am I searching for anybody? Do I have a list of people that I am praying for? Am I aware of the Holy Spirit at work in somebody’s life?’ because if the lost are valuable to Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives. Amen, church?
Number one, the lost are worth searching for. And number two, the lost are worth rejoicing over. Verse nine.
Luke 15:9, “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’”
There’s a human joy over a lost person coming to Jesus. For this woman, she stopped everything. She invited her dearest friends to come together. She sacrificed an animal. She made a feast, a celebration, out of it!
A great moment of conviction in my life was actually at a soccer game. Joseph and I were invited with some friends to go, and we’re at this game and all of a sudden, our team scores! We all jump up, we’re celebrating, we’re excited! We’re hugging each other, and we’re hugging random strangers! All of a sudden, I’m jumping up and down and I’m… hugging this police officer! And at that moment, the Holy Spirit convicted me saying, “Steve, why does the church not get this excited over Jesus?” Because this woman did. This woman got so excited over one lost person who came to Jesus Christ, and it’s so convicting for us.
I want to share a little bit about Shelley, our daughter’s friend. She’s actually our neighbor. She’s at Pensacola right now. But your team, a missions team from Saylorville, was down there in Peru, and Kyhl was sharing his testimony. Edgar was translating for Kyhl and started struggling with the translation, and so Shelley, (in the back with the white shirt) jumped in and started translating for Kyhl who was sharing how he grew up in a Christian home that was really strict, and he struggled with understanding the grace of God. He struggled with seeing classmates in a Christian school that were just not living the Christian life. And all those things together just pushed him away from the church, from God, into the world. And when Kyhl comes back to God, he shares with his parents, and he tells his parents that he’d been lying to them for years about his salvation. And as Kyhl says those words, Shelley stops. She looks to Jordan, her best friend, our daughter, and says, “Jordan, I have been lying to you for years.” I don’t know how the testimony ended, but Kyhl says that Jordan took Shelley out to the next room, (There it is. You can see the picture of them.) and Jordan had the privilege of leading her best friend to Jesus Christ! (audience applauding) Later on, Kyhl tells me, he says, “Steve, I wish I would have taken a picture of the floor. It was covered by tears of joy!” because there is joy over one lost person who comes to Jesus!
And there’s a heavenly joy… verse 10.
Luke 15:10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
If it causes joy in heaven, and you and I are citizens of heaven, shouldn’t it cause joy in our hearts and lives? And if not, why not? What is going on in our hearts and lives today? Maybe we need to stop right now and just talk to God and say, ‘Oh God, I confess my sin of indifference. I’ve become so indifferent over the lost people needing Jesus. Maybe it’s been so long that I saw somebody get saved. Maybe it’s been so long that I’d led somebody to Jesus Christ. Oh God, I’ve gotten so busy in work or in…’ whatever. Who knows? God knows where you’re at and what our hearts need to be like before God.
There’s a list of people that I pray for on a regular basis. A couple of the guys are Jose and Sergio. Jose goes to our small group. He is not saved. He does not show much interest in God, but I’m praying for his salvation. Sergio is more open to the gospel and I’m praying for Sergio’s salvation, but what about Saylorville Church? Where are we at this morning? Maybe the Holy Spirit would be bringing the image of a family member, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor to our hearts right now saying, ‘This is who you need to reach out to.’ The Holy Spirit is working in their life, drawing them to Him. They’re having questions about eternity. What’s going to happen to their life? Maybe you are that one person that can be Jesus to them, that can lead them to Jesus. And maybe this morning God would say, ‘In this new year, 2024… we’re just around the corner. Maybe God would burden you in the busy-ness, in the routine-ness, of your life that you would make it a priority to seek them out.
We can go back to that awkward picture that we began with of “Steve.” [A picture of Steve is shown next to a very TALL man.] Sorry to burden you with this again. With just the picture of Steve, you didn’t know how to answer. Thank you guys for not saying anything cruel or whatever. But let’s move on here. But now, what is the first word that comes to your mind when you see Steve, okay? Blurt it out, please, church. Steve is_____… Yeah, there we go. That’s right. Steve is short, right? I have a new best friend. When Lauren saw the picture, she’s like, “Steve, you’re not short.” I was like, “I think I love you!” Okay. But being next to Dan, Dan played in the NBA. Dan’s a 7 footer, and yes, you feel really short next to him! At one point I was noticing his hands, and you know how a child with a parent does this hand thing? I thought, that might be a little awkward with this grown adult, so I didn’t do that! But with Dan in my life, you clearly saw Steve is short. Before, when you saw a picture of Steve, ‘I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what you’re looking for. I don’t know what you’re asking for.’ But now, with Dan next to me, it’s easy. Steve is short!
What do I need in my life so that when others see me, they say, “I love the lost.” Is it evident to your family, to your neighbors, to your church, to your small group? Is it evident to them that you love the lost? And if so, praise the Lord! Keep it up! And if not, what would the next steps be for your life right now? Maybe God would lead you to choose a person. ‘God, this person is asking questions. I see you working in this person. Help me in this next year to choose that person, to pray for that person on a regular basis, and to seek diligently after that person.’ Why? because God loves the lost.
Father, thank you so much for your word. Thank you, Father, that at one time we were enemies of Yours, not belonging to Your family, but in Your amazing grace, you drew us to Yourself. You’ve sent somebody to share the good news of Jesus Christ with us, and it’s through Jesus Christ that we have been forgiven and we are saved in Jesus Christ. Father, maybe there is somebody here this morning who’s not sure of their salvation. If they were to die today, they do not know if they would go to heaven. May they reach out to somebody and experience that amazing joy of being born into your family. Father, for your church this morning, we pray, oh God, that as we exit these doors in brief moments, that your Word would resonate in our hearts, Lord, that we wouldn’t see people outside of these doors as problems or obstacles or difficulties or annoyances, but that we would see them as lost people who need Jesus, people that you love and that Jesus died for. And, oh God, I pray that in 2024 you would allow each one of us the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with somebody. May you be glorified, Father, through Saylorville Church. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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