Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 5, 2009

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'" Luke 15:4-6
I am highlighting the different levels of lostness that Jesus mentions in this chapter 15. In yesterday's post I talked about the Pharisees who were lost with their faith due to self-righteousness. This morning I am going to focus on the lost sheep who was lost from the fold due to self-indulgence.
How do I come to that conclusion? Well, what do sheep do? They graze, they grow wool, and they have lambs. They are notorius for following blindly and are basically defenseless. Those last two attributes make them a favorite target for predatory animals. That's about it. Not much is expected of them and they rarely disappoint.
So, how did this one sheep wander away from the other ninety-nine? Did he rebel? Was he a teen sheep wanting to assert his independence?
Nothing that dramatic. He just nibbled his way into trouble. It was just another day in the meadow, grazing with the flock. The shepherd was standing guard and all was well.
This hungry little fellow likely found a good patch of fescue or clover and pigged out (sheeped out?). His appetite took control over his judgment and he followed the fescue. Because he was more focused on the fescue than he was on his flock, he gradually wandered off. He nibbled his way into separation from the flock and alienation from the shepherd. Becoming a slave to his appetite he ended up isolated and lost.
Unfortunately, that scenario plays out everyday in real life. While there are plenty of people who are on a mad dash to Hell flaunting their sin and grabbing for the gusto, there are a majority of people just nibbling their lives away.
You were there. So was I. We didn't wake up one day and decide to leave the fold and become hopelessly lost. Like the sheep, we wer led by our appetites and chasing vain pursuits, found ourselves alone and in need of a shepherd.
Here's more bad news. While sheep can nibble their way away from the fold, they never nibble their way back.
Now for the horrible news, when a lone sheep wanders into the wilderness, his life expectancy seriously dimishes. Every predator in the area will relish the opportunity to nibble on him. When he is isolated from the flock and out of the shepherd's care, he is dead meat.
Thank God for a Shepherd Who cares for every sheep! Thank God for a shepherd Who is willing to risk His life to save even one lonely sheep! Thank God for a Shepherd Who is more powerful than any predator! Thank God for a Shepherd Who knows where we are even when we don't. Thank God for a Shepherd Who arrives ahead of the predators and picks us up and carries us tenderly upon His shoulders.
It is a wonderful thing to go from being lost to being loved! Even a sheep can appreciate that!
So, what are you nibbling on? What has taken your attention away from the flock and what has distracted your focus from the Shepherd? If you are being led by your appetites, you are asking for trouble.
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." - Jesus
How about nibbling on that today?