Blessed… Reason to Celebrate?

“Be careful that you don’t look down on one of these little ones. I say to you that their angels in heaven are always looking into the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones (Matthew 18:10-14, Common English Bible).

When we read today’s lesson, from a business perspective, it makes no sense. Why would a shepherd leave the overwhelming majority of his flock unattended to go out and search for one that wandered away? Sure, the one sheep is valuable but by leaving the flock unattended would leave 99 times the value in danger of loss. Sheep are not the most intelligent animals God created and if one would wander away, even under the diligent watch of the shepherd, the other 99 could disappear while the shepherd was out chasing down that one lost sheep. Perhaps if there were two shepherds there it would make more sense.

The truth is, however, this parable isn’t about what makes good business sense! It also isn’t about a finite being who is the shepherd, it is about an infinite God who can watch over each of us while still pursuing those who have wandered from the flock or perhaps have never been part of the flock.

When the shepherd, who has the infinite power to watch over the flock and at the same time pursue a wandering sheep, when that maverick comes home, it is reason to celebrate. As for the rest of the sheep, there isn’t need to celebrate them at that moment, they are already part of the flock. The way I see it, God celebrated our return when we were brought back to the flock.

Without question, the sheep in this parable are we who follow Christ or at least for the wanderer, a would-be Christ follower. And, as I have already said, sheep are not the most intelligent animals of the creation. Sometimes we aren’t either. It becomes easy for us to wander from the place God wants us to be, calls us to be. We know where we belong and yet all too often, we still wander. We need to be permanently on guard to insure that we do not wander.

I am reminded of the old song, “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.” The second verse says, “I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray, since Jesus came into my heart; And my sins which were many are all washed away, since Jesus came into my heart.”

It is my prayer that I truly have “…ceased from my wand-ring and going astray…” I know, “My sins which were many are all washed away…” I pray the same for you.

Where have you wandered? How did the ever-watchful Shepherd find you?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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