Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.Luke 2:41-52

Many Things Are Lost
Within these verses of Scripture is a lesson that is well for us to study. The lesson covers the fact that Joseph and Mary lost Christ and went on without realizing He was not with them. We can draw a parallel from that: we are living in a lost world, in a world where many things have been lost. I am sure when I mention that thought, every mind begins to think of the many principles that were good and which made our nation great, but have been "lost" in the last twenty-five years. It makes us sad and we weep over the fact that they have been lost. The terrible confusion manifested by national leaders shows that our nation is in a lost condition.

Some time ago, I was in a lawyer's office. In all three rooms, the walls were completely lined with law books. As he pulled out a certain book to check on a particular ordinance, it occurred to me that all the laws contained in those volumes revert back to those God gave the children of Israel. They would not keep them, so others were added, some were taken away, still others were changed. Men are paid high salaries to continually make new laws, only to have them broken.

We have lost something, and that is respect for those who have authority over us: government and law on all levels. Many times it has begun right in that which calls itself the church, the highest pinnacle, and goes on down to the lowest level of living.

All laws start with those given to Moses. Then in the New Testament, Jesus, Himself, let us know that ALL the law was fulfilled in just one word: L-0-V-E. That's right: LOVE. He made it very plain in Matthew 22:40, when He said, On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. You know what they are: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:37-39.

Our nation has not only drifted from God's law, but has lost the very thing the law hangs upon: the right respect for God and the right respect for our fellowman. From the very beginning, God wanted man to live in a way that he could show right respect with God, which is to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and that he love his neighbor as himself.

The purpose of this message to you is not to discuss the sad picture of our nation as a whole, but to reach the souls of men and women. However, our nation is NOT progressing toward God--it has lost its way and is "headed for the ditch", just exactly like so many other nations that forgot God. Not only has our nation lost something, but many individuals have lost wealth, health, happiness and hope. Oh, the numberless people who are existing without hope around our world!

While my primary interest is to see men and women find a real experience of salvation through Jesus Christ, my secondary interest is that I might, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so feed the church that men and women will not lose the experience that God gives them.

You Can Lose Christ
Many who once enjoyed a rich experience and a rich fellowship with Christ have lost Him. There is a false doctrine that advocates if you ever had Christ in your heart, you could never lose Him. However, that is wrong: God gave us a free will to make choices about whom we serve. Just as we are not "forced" to be saved, we are not "forced" to remain saved. The Bible speaks out in warning for us to live in a careful attitude before God, because we can lose this great experience that God has brought to us through real salvation.

The most tragic loss anyone can experience is to lose real, vital contact with Christ. This can be done in various ways--it is not hard to lose Christ from our hearts and lives. There are people who raise up against the false teaching of eternal security, yet the spirit of that thing works on many, many people. The fruit of their lives lets us know that they have lost Christ, but the spirit of eternal security makes them feel secure.

We can fight off incorrect (false) doctrines with the truth; but only as we keep the Holy Spirit working in power and force in our lives can we raise up a standard against the false spirit that wants to take hold of us and seduce us, deceiving us and leading us in a way contrary to the Word of God. If you have lost Christ, I pray that this will be made plain to you and that you will humble yourself and go back to a place where you can find the real contact that you once had with Him.

It is possible to lose the real, vital contact with Christ--that burning experience of salvation, by just becoming too busy and engrossed with temporal things. Remember our scripture text: Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the feast of the passover when He was twelve years old, and of all the places in the world to lose Him, they lost Him there. They went an entire's day journey toward their home without Him.

A Danger In Communion With Our Fellowman
In one sense, it is hard to understand how Mary, the mother of Jesus, chosen of God to be a model mother for all mothers to look to, could go a whole day's journey without her son, but the fact is, she did. However, any alarm we feel at that should be lessened when we stop to consider that Mary was just an everyday woman like women of today. If we stop and look at everyday life, such as even we experience, we can understand how it was possible for such a thing to happen.

First of all, let us consider the history of the text. To the Jewish nation, keeping ceremonial feasts were high places in their lives. Those feasts were to them something like our campmeetings are to us, except we are in the time of Holy Ghost dispensation where we have the reality, while they had just the form. Because of this huge gathering together, Mary had many things to think about and talk about with other women. Feast times were busy times and she was meeting old friends and making new friends, History lets us know that at this particular time, the national picture was shaking and emerging quickly. The upheaval was on the minds of people; they had hope of a soon-coming liberty that would release Judah from the throne of Rome.

When we look at that picture, we can see that it is not too much different from the picture of our day. What do you think about and talk about the biggest majority of your time? The people of God must be ever vigilant about the dangers arising from communion with their fellow man. Just the common communion that we have with others can cause us to lose God. We need to be careful about too-close companionship with neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc. Certainly, we want to be friendly, we want to do what we can to win the world to Christ. However, the devil is ready to set up a program where a too-close communion can easily begin working. Mark it down: if you are a Christian and your neighbor is not, ONE or the OTHER is going to change. If you are not strong enough in the Lord and the power of His might to affect him (her) and bring that soul to Jesus Christ, he (or she) is going to pull you toward the world. When it comes to communion with our fellowman, we need to let the Holy Spirit be fervent in our lives; when we feel the least pull within our souls against the path of light, we need to break off that relationship (friendship) and hold on to Jesus.

Too Busy With Daily Activities
I want to warn the young people first of all. The program of school and activities of one's school have, in many many cases, been the cause of many losing Christ from their lives. Certainly, we fully appreciate the young people who sell out to God and get an experience of salvation. However, every one of you must remember that the devil works through circumstance. The enemy of our soul, the devil, has ONE goal: he wants to rob you of the precious experience of salvation that God has given you. This is not preaching against schools--but this IS a red light of warning! You can easily become so busy with the activities of school that you do not readily realize that somewhere along the way, you lost Christ.

Young friends, anyone or anything that demands you give up Christ--your experience of salvation--is NOT worth having. I would even go so far as to advise you in this manner: if you are attending college--if you feel God is leading you into a vocation--certainly you need the education to support that vocation. However: you need to settle it in your heart and mind: if the going gets too tough and it begins to crowd Jesus Christ out of your life, you pull back and critically examine what is taking place. While education is important in this world, your eternal salvation is even MORE important. If need be, go to the dean of your college and let him know that you would rather have Jesus than the education.

Many are being robbed by the daily program of life (some people refer to it as the "rat race"). Furthermore, the devil is going to speed it up all he can, and he would like to get every one of us in such a whirl that we don't have time to serve God and live a Christian life as God ordained us to live. However, you have the privilege, as an individual, of "putting on the brakes". If the program of the world is spinning too fast, just jump off. You do not have to go around with the world--the devil just makes you feel that you do.

A Danger In Courtship and Marriage
There is danger of losing Christ during courtship and marriage. Far too many young people have lost out with Jesus during these periods of their life. I recall a young woman I talked with one time. It grieved my heart as I thought upon the condition of her soul. With all of her moral goodness and all of her fine qualities, she did not have Jesus in her heart. She once did; however, she became so wrapped up in courtship that she got to the place where the young man held the apex of her life. When he turned her down, she took such a fall that when she hit ground, she did not have either the young man or Jesus.

When something is good for you, you can have it and serve God at the same time. Paul teaches us, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. Those all things include school, courtship, marriage, the job and all else. However, we must live according to God's purpose, because whenever we begin to live according to our own purpose, we are going to be misled and defeated. Simply put: we are going to lose Jesus Christ. Get the message: we must have one purpose above every other purpose, and that is to please God!

There must be one supreme purpose in our lives, and when we make Christ that purpose, we will want to be educated to the Glory of God. We will want to be married to the Glory of God. With that ONE purpose, we have a wonderful promise to stand on: everything IS going to work for good.

As I walked away from the meeting we had with that precious young lady, I am sure she has spent years in remorse with a broken heart. Only God in heaven knows for certain, but it could be that it was a blessing for her when that courtship didn't work out. There is something worse than not having any man, and that is having a bad one. Something worse than having no companion is having the wrong one, because your lives are tied together.

I have dealt with broken homes where women with children have looked me squarely in the face and told me, "I don't love my husband, and I never did. I didn't love him when I married him--I married him for other reasons." Now that is a pitiful state to be in. God is love, and we know that when hearts are yielded to Him, He is able to put love there. But if those hearts are not yielded to Him, what a sad situation it is to have to live with someone the rest of your life who has told you right to your face that he or she does not love you.

Someone made the statement that they had gotten a "no-fault" divorce. There is no such thing. Some couples fight like cats and dogs, read each other's pedigree, run each other down, and then sign a paper stating they are getting a divorce and no one is to blame. Ridiculous! If there were no blame and no fault, there would be no divorce.

It is in courtship and marriage that people need to be very careful. Even the Bible let us know that under the law, they did not call on a newly-married man to go to war or to do anything else for a year (Deuteronomy 24:5). The only man who had a real excuse for not attending the feast when the gospel feast was given was the man who got married. He married a wife and could not come. Even God gave him time to show his affection for his wife. We might just as well face it: there is a reason when men and women are joined together in true matrimony and love. They have one thing in mind: giving themselves to each other. Their thoughts are about each other. However, let me warn you--you must be careful, because when the honeymoon is over, you might have lost Christ.

Even though the preacher joined you together and it was a holy matrimony and the Holy Ghost touched your marriage, you still have to be careful. The devil will work right through your very marriage to rob you of a real personal experience with Jesus Christ. How many young people loved the Lord when they were single, but after they married, they dropped out of the work of God. This is one of the ways that the devil is working to cause many, far too many, to lose Christ.

Religious Duties Without A Purpose
We need to watch the deceptive dangers of religious duties without real purpose. Notice verses 42 and 43 in our text: And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. The feast of the passover, an eight-day feast, was the highpoint of all the religious services that Judah enjoyed. It was right in the midst of that religious service that Mary and Joseph lost track of Jesus.

Those of you who are in a backslidden condition probably did not backslide at the beer joint, in a house of prostitution, or in a crooked deal. You lost Christ while sitting right in the pew during a church service. The reason Mary and Joseph lost Jesus is the same reason people lose Him today: there was more thought being given to the feast than to the purpose of the feast. There is more thought of us "being seen in church by others" or going because "it's a habit", or "we're supposed to" than why we should be: to focus on Jesus. Jesus sternly laid the truth on literal Israel and called many of them hypocrites, because they had kept the letter of the law, but lost the real purpose of the law.

Verse 43 tells us And when they had fulfilled the days... They had fulfilled the required time, but not the purpose. They made sure they stayed eight days; they made sure they attended the temple worship; they made sure that they ate of the unleavened bread--but they had lost the true purpose of the feast. The purpose of the feast was to remind them of the great deliverance that God had given them out of Egyptian bondage. They stayed in Jerusalem until they had fulfilled the days, and then they headed home.

People today go to the house of worship, stay a couple of hours, and say that worship is over. There is more involved than just showing up at the pew. What should be the real purpose of you going to church? It ought to be in appreciation for the deliverance that God has given you from the life of sin and because He has made you a new creature, affording you grace and strength. Sadly, many many go into the building, fulfill the required time and go back out without having ever lifted their hearts unto God in praise for His Mercy and Grace.

We need to be very careful about this thing of "going to church" merely for the sake of ritual (habit). It is very easy to slip into such a custom, yet it is without fulfillment of any real purpose. If every person who entered the church doors stayed until they fulfilled the purpose for being there in the first place, there would be many more lost souls getting saved, and very very few backsliders, indeed! Be very careful of this deceptive danger, merely going through the motion without accomplishing the purpose. It is very easy to slide into tradition instead of keeping on track of purpose. It is very easy to start missing services, the forsaking of the assembling of ourselves together, for minor reasons. If our focus is on anything but the worship of God, the enemy of our soul will use that very thing to twist our purpose of going to church and we will not gain what we could from our time spent there!

Just Suppose
Far too many are living just as it is pictured in our text, under religious supposition. When you live under "religious supposition", you go along with the crowd, really afraid to be one of God's peculiar people (what the world calls an "oddball"). Verse 44 states that Mary and Joseph, supposing Jesus to be in the crowd, traveled a whole day without Him. I dare say there are thousands filling the pews in church buildings who are living in religious supposition; they have not taken the time to check--they just suppose.

Friend, religious supposition is dangerous! If you are just supposing Jesus Christ is in your heart, let me ask you this: Suppose He isn't? You cannot afford to operate under "suppose"; if God saw fit to fill out the last page of your life's record and required your soul tonight, are you willing to merely suppose that you are saved? That all is well with you and God? There has to be more than just supposition. Many who have sustained a loss in their souls are kept from making speedy application to God for help and salvation through foolish supposition. They suppose that He is there and they suppose that their religious state is not as bad as it really is.

One of the marks of the spirit of the age is that we take too much for granted. That is doing more damage to this great nation than any one thought the devil has sowed in the minds of mankind. Just as our parents took for granted that this grand old USA would always be, we do, too and so do our children. "Oh, good times are here to stay!" No one is willing to consider the thought that the good old USA may not always exist.

It would do anyone good to travel outside the United States and be treated as people are treated in many foreign countries. It would cause them to be thankful for what we have, to pray and live and hold what we have far dearer than we do. There are many foreign countries where people are not treated as they are in the good old USA--they are pushed around and not thought of as highly as animals, even.

Many of this day and age are taking it for granted that certain freedoms will always be here. Yet, how very foolish of us to do so: even today, one cannot go about on the streets at the same hours as they once did, or in certains sections of the city. Yet, we persist in foolishly "supposing" that the "good old USA" will always remain just as she is. Yet just "as she is" is a far cry from who she used to be. The only way that the "good old USA" can continue to exist is for the people to walk according to the principles and patterns that our forefathers walked by to develop the United States of America. When we quit walking that way, we will lose it. And the same thing is true of the body of Christ, the church. Do not take for granted that you will always have the same religious freedoms that you currently have.

There is far too much taken for granted today. There is too much dreaming and not enough reality. People dream about living in beautiful homes and having high-paying jobs. We must quit our dreaming and get down to business. Every one of the things that we dream of having takes great preparation and the starting place is Jesus Christ in your heart and life. He promises in the Word of God that if you will seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these other things shall be added unto you.

Salvation Is An Individual Matter
Thank God for the privilege of meeting together to worship God and for the blessing there is in it! Thank God for the strength we derive from one another by the lives and testimonies. God has ordained these to be a blessing, but the enemy of our soul will try to twist these privileges around and work in a deceptive way on you! He just loves deceiving folks into supposing all is well with their soul, when in fact, they may be in a seriously lukewarm condition, they may be lean in their souls, they may have unforgiven sin in their life. Yet because you have worshiped with some spiritual people, you suppose that everything is all right with your soul.

Understand something very very clearly: real salvation is an individual matter. Philippians 2:12 tells us we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. That clarifies the individuality of it--that clarifies that we must work it out for ourselves--it doesn't just rub or jump off onto us. You can sit with spiritual people all around you, drink from their wells, eat of their food, be warmed by their fires, and die and go to hell right from their midst unless you have a living experience of Christ in your own heart and life!

In our text, the people walked many miles to go to the feast and many miles to get home again. Undoubtedly, they walked as we do today; for the most part, we still find the men walking with the men, the women walking as a group, and the children frolicking along together. As Mary and Joseph and those with whom they were traveling moved along, they may have walked a number of miles before stopping to eat. Mary was comfortable that Jesus was traveling with Joseph--Joseph may have felt the same assurance, except thinking Jesus was with Mary. They went along, enjoying the communion of the crowd they were with, not realizing they had lost Jesus.

Many feel safe and protected, so long as they are meeting with, or in regular contact with "the saints". Friends, that simply is not true! The picture we get from our scripture text teaches us that when we are merely going along with the crowd, even a "saved" crowd, even a "good" crowd, we can still lose Christ. Every step that Mary and Joseph took with the crowd was taking the both of them farther and farther from Jesus.

Turn Back and Seek Him
Verse 45 reads, And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. I love that verse! When they realized Jesus was no longer with them, that in fact they were traveling away from Him, they immediately turned back. They did not attempt to go any further with the crowd--they turned back to Jesus! Oh, if we would only be so prompt to do so today! The Word of God tells us that if we will seek Him, we will find Him: Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am… Isaiah 58:9.

Supposition will carry you farther and farther away on the busy highway of life, and if the devil gets his way about it, you will never receive light on your condition until it is too late. Then, through your own willful neglect, the light that should be saving light will only light up the fact that you have lived a life of error and the ghastly future will be yours throughout ceaseless eternity.

So many, who once had Christ, do not get straightened out with Him, is because of a too light and chaffy attitude. Oh, it is a wonderful thought to think on the mercies of God that are from everlasting to everlasting, but if that thought is taken too lightly, a person will never get straightened out with God! They will live under the false supposition that they don't need to refresh themselves in Christ, they don't need a daily walk close to Him--they can just "coast". There is no coasting in the Christian walk, my friends.

Not only did Mary and Joseph seek Jesus at once, but they also sought Him sorrowfully. They were sorry they had lost Him. People today don't want to experience "being sorry", thus they wander farther and farther away from God. Oh yes, many today profess on and on, living a life of supposition. Congregations are dotted with this condition of people living on in supposition, almost beyond feeling.

It is a great blessing to be awakened to the fact that you have lost Christ from your life. When you have Godly sorrow fall upon you, count it a blessing! Real Godly sorrow will do exactly what Paul said it would do: For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of… II Corinthians 7:10. "Not to be repented of" means that you will not be sorry of feeling that Godly sorrow--it refreshes your walk with God. Godly sorrow will cause you to seek Christ, and no price will be too great, no journey too far, no effort too much when real Godly sorrow strikes your heart.

It is very important that you understand one thing: no matter how beloved you are to them, no matter how beloved they are to you, your kinfolk cannot bring you salvation. Thank God for Mothers and Dads who have lived the Christian life, but their salvation will not save you. You must make personal contact--you must work out your own salvation. It is an individual experience for each and every person.

There are those who start to get straightened out with God, but then decide they are unwilling to pay the price. They shop around in religion just like someone does to get a better bargain at a supermarket. Finding salvation for your soul is not a bargain hunt. Maintaining a close personal relationship with God is not a bargain hunt. There are no cutting corners, my friends--there is only one acceptable method: we must go through Christ to get to our Heavenly Father! Just as Jesus told Thomas in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Is being busy about your Father's business the last place or the first place your friends and loved ones know to look for you? Do your friends and others in your life know where to find you when it's time to go to church? When there is someone in need, do others know where to find you? We all need to live our lives so that those who know us will know where to find us. And we all need to stay in close communion with Jesus so we don't have to "go looking" for Him--we know right where to find Him.

Searching Questions
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23,24. We must quit supposing and make certain. Putting on a search is the excellent way for us to find out our condition, our state of being with God. Put on a search by asking yourself these questions: "Do I have peace that passes understanding? Is there joy unspeakable and full of glory in my soul today? It must be yes or no: "Well, I'm getting there", "Almost", or "Sometimes" will not do because Jesus is not a "sometime-Jesus". This is not a "sometime-salvation" that we have, my friends. This is a "know-so" salvation: either Jesus Christ abides in our heart and shines through in our lives, or He doesn't. There's no guesswork or "maybe" to it. Jesus does not come and go--when He comes into our heart, it is to stay. He doesn't move away from us--we move away from Him. Just as with Mary and Joseph when they "lost" Jesus--He didn't wander away from them--they moved away from Him. He was "about His Father's business". Think about it!

Once we realize we have lost Jesus, we must seek Him with all of our heart. Fling away that robe of religious supposition and take a long hard look at the truth of your condition. If we seek Him, we shall find Him. We can be renewed daily in Him: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16. Renewed in Christ each and every day! But it is only through the realization that we must stay in communion with HIM and not everything else that is going on around us.

Do you have victory over sin, the flesh and the enemy of your soul as he comes against you in your daily life? We can, through the Spirit of Life that is in Jesus Christ! Paul made it plain in Romans 8:9, when he said, So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:8,9. Now if any man have NOT the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

The Word of God teaches us that Jesus will take our old stoney hard heart and replace it with one full of love and compassion toward our fellow man. He will take the wrong spirit out and put the right spirit in. He will remove your sin as far as the east is from the west; Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will move into your heart and go everywhere with you. Turn back to Him, seek Him while He may be found--don't allow yourself to live by merely supposing that all is as it should be with you and God.

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