Don’t leave the ninety-nine
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? Matthew 18:12
Do you remember the old cartoons with the sheep and the wolf? The wolf was always trying to steal the sheep to have for lunch, but the sheep dog would come along at just the right time to rescue the sheep. The interesting thing was, the wolf was always getting the sheep that were off by themselves away from the rest of the flock.
It’s a similar picture of our walk through life. We are to stay close with other “sheep” where the Shepherd is keeping watch. We encourage and pray for one another and look out for each other. It is a very important way of life for believers. I know this from experience. When I first started making my own decisions in life, I was headed in a direction that I thought was right to take care of myself. My desire for independence tainted my ability to make good decisions. In the process, I often found myself on the “edge of the flock” as it were. Basically, I was out from under the protection and encouragement of the church and other believers. Many times, I found myself vulnerable to the “wolves” of the world. As I continued to go through life, often I felt the need to try to find my place in a body of believers, but because I didn’t want to take the time to invest in others or get to know other believers in my area, I didn’t stay on that path very long. It was uncomfortable and awkward.
God was always so faithful to seek me out and come rushing in to protect me when I was about to be devoured. Much of my pain and lasting regrets from wrong choices could have been avoided had I stayed “connected” with God’s people. Today’s verse says, “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” (Matthew 18:12)
Today I want to encourage you to stay connected with God’s people. If you have a church you regularly attend and serve at, keep serving. If you don’t, I strongly urge you to ask God to direct you to the right place for you. The place that He has planned for you to be “planted”. It’s not always easy starting out, but it is the best place to stay accountable. You may want to start by finding a “small group” close to where you live. It is a more personal setting and a great opportunity to get to know believers that also have been through life and can help you to stay on the path God has for you. Soon you will find you depend on the encouragement of others and can begin encouraging and building up others who may be struggling with similar things you have already been through. In God’s eyes, life is all about people and relationships. He wants us to stay “connected” to Him and to each other!
Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 18:6-14
6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.