Don’t leave the ninety-nine
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4
Do you remember the old cartoons with the sheep and the wolf? The wolf was always out to get 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 man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4 That’s exactly what God did for me every time I was within the clutches of the enemy. He rushed in to rescue me and I am so thankful.
He will do the same for you if you ever get beyond the place of connection and protection with other believers. God’s grace reaches to where ever you find yourself. The smart thing to do is to stay in the planned place He created for you. There you will have His greatest blessings and peace. No longer will you wonder about in the wilderness of uncertainty and indecision. Next to the Shepherd is true satisfaction and rest.
Today I want to encourage you to stay connected with God and His 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: Luke 15:1-7
1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.