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Devotional: The Sheep on His Shoulder

Updated on November 14, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

Painting by Nathan Greene
Painting by Nathan Greene | Source

Was there ever a time when you identified with the lost sheep?

Many of us who attend church regularly never perceive ourselves as having strayed because:

  • We participate in every service;
  • We never do drugs or wild parties;
  • We are not promiscuous;
  • We have no record of a drastic change from sinner to saint.

Therefore, we credit ourselves with being forever Christians--even though our thoughts and attitude condemn us.

However, God sees beyond attendance and abstinence. He knows when we have strayed from His presence and protection.

The Text:

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?

Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?

And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

— Luke 15: 3 - 5 NLT

Illustration

Megan was in that category of people who stray inside the church. She was nineteen years old and the daughter of a church leader. Bible study worship was a regular activity in her home. She was physically attractive, the life of the party, musically gifted and sang solos since she was five years old. She could never consider herself that lost sheep, comparable to other rebellious teenagers who leave the fold.

Megan became obsessed with maintaining her slim figure. Eventually, her beauty became the sum total of her self-worth and she flaunted it--not exactly a crime or a reason for church discipline. Even when she met Martin who wanted a serious relationship with her, she could not give up the desire to be popular with everyone. Martin doubted that he could trust her in his absence, and he ended their friendship. Megan journeyed from disappointment to despair to depression.

In her sessions with the Christian counselor, Megan evaluated her spirituality. She confessed, "At times when I wrapped myself in my selfishness, I ignored the presence of God in my life, and was as lost as the people who turn their backs on Him."

No Focus.  Sheep straying in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK.  Photo: SWNS
No Focus. Sheep straying in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK. Photo: SWNS | Source

Megan had a point. We stray whenever our focus on anything or anyone (including self) replaces our focus on God. We do not need to be physically absent from church in order to leave His presence. Within the church, we still need the saving grace of Jesus Christ to rescue us from our own self-righteous attitudes, prejudices, and bad habits.

If we are honest, we can cite several instances when we identified with the lost sheep; and every time He searched for us with the passion described in the verse below from the song, The Ninety and Nine.

Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me.
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.

Within the church, we still need the saving grace of Jesus Christ to rescue us from our own self-righteous attitudes, prejudices, and bad habits.

Application

There is no need for us to pretend that we're in the fold when we're not. God searches for church members with the same urgency and passion as He searches for non-members. He loves us all the same. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross gives the same benefits to individuals in both groups. Each one is a lost sheep until the Shepherd-sheep encounter in which the sheep responds wholeheartedly to the love of the Shepherd.

Can you imagine His joy as He retrieves His lost sheep?

Can you see Him reaching out His arms as He comes close, bending down to pick you up and lifting you gently onto His shoulder?

Can you sense Him taking you away from your panic, from your failure, from your hurt, and letting you rest on His shoulder till you are strong enough to stand on your feet?

I've been there, and there are no words to describe the joy of being lifted onto the shoulder of the faithful, fatherly, forgiving Shepherd.

What magnificent love! What rejoicing when the relationship is restored! You’re not just a number in the flock. You’re the one He misses and searches for. You’re the one He longs to celebrate. Let this image of being a sheep on His shoulder live in your memory and you will never ever feel hopeless, no matter your situation.

Quiz on the "The Lost Sheep"

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For Reflection

(1) Do you credit yourself with being a forever Christian--even though your thoughts and attitude condemn you?

(2) Do you realize that you stray whenever your focus on anything or anyone (including self) replaces your focus on God?

(3) Have you ever sensed God reaching out His arms as He comes close, bending down to pick you up and lifting you gently onto His shoulder?

(4) Does this image of being a sheep on His shoulder make you feel like persevering on your Christian journey?

(5) Will you share with other lost sheep about your experience of being lost and found?

Prayer

Heavenly Shepherd, thank You for loving us even when we stray. Thanks for lifting us onto Your shoulder when we're tired, hurt or trampled upon by other lost sheep; or when our vision is so blurred that we cannot see our way. Thanks for the peace and joy which come when our fellowship with You is restored, and we return to the fold. We pray with thanksgiving In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Comments

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    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Anthony, thanks for your contribution. "When the attitude is right, God will do the leading." I totally agree with that.

    • profile image

      Anthony Georgio 

      2 months ago

      Sometimes people within churches and congregations can be the very cause of individuals becoming a lost sheep. The only person who truly understands themselves is the person themself, and for that reason a person can become a lost sheep "Both" within the congregation, and outside of it.

      I would say under them circumstances, a person needs to truly find themselves first, either within, or outside of the congregation depending on how much of a "stumbling block" the people within the church are to you at "that point in time" nobody is a master over another persons faith.

      God really don't care to much about church attendances by going through the motions, he's only interested in whats going on inside you. When the attitude is right, God will do the leading.

      ( Romans 14:4 ) "Who are you to judge someone else's servant ? To his own master he stands or falls" If God is able to make a person stand, he will stand, but it all starts with the death of Jesus verse 9.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jerry, I understand. Please be careful, especially on the road.

    • Jerry Hulse profile image

      Jerry W Hulse 

      4 years ago from Kingsport, Tennessee

      voted up, very well written wish I had time to comment but I don't right now.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Nell, what a Good Shepherd to care when we stray. Thanks for your input.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Beautiful words and meaning MsDora, and yes sometimes we can forget what we should be really thinking and believing in, its good to find the right path again, nell

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Demas, thank you for your input. Glad you were encouraged; in turn you encourage me.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Like UABI. My Sunday morning read this Sunday, and I have been well fed spiritually. Great imagery just as was intended in the lesson of the lost sheep, and so wise that you include those who are lost within the churched. May we all give God the joy of loving us at our best.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, lcbebefield, for reading and commenting. A blessed day and week to you, too.

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Beautiful, encouraging words this morning. Thanks for leading me in worship. Have a beautiful day in Jesus.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, for your comment, glmclendon. We're truly blessed.

      Cathleena, you touched the good part. Despite the fact that it is our fault, He loved us enough to come rescue us. Happy that you experienced it.!

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 

      6 years ago from Lascassas, Tennessee

      How wonderful it is to be His sheep and so well loved that He does come after us when we need to be rescued because we have strayed unwisely away. I can also identify with how happy the lamb is to see Him when He arrives just at the right moment.

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 

      6 years ago

      MsDora, good writing. Many of us have been lost sheep and know how blessed we are , because we have been found.

      Stay Well

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for your comment, skye2day. I share your joy that He came after me, too.

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 

      6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      ms dora Thank you for sharing the Love of Jesus Christ, amen. I thank the Lord it is not by works or by church attendance that we are saved or loved. Your hub is a reminder as well for the body of Christ to go after the lost sheep when one should stray.!!!!! In His glorious name.

      I am so grateful the Lord came after this sheep, me. God Bless your works sister. Beautiful Keep going. U will Phil 4:13

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks beverlyfaye. "The one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. Comfort and compassion at best!

    • beverlyfaye profile image

      beverlyfaye 

      6 years ago

      I love the message of a Shepherd who lifts us gently and lets us rest on His shoulders. Also reminds me of Dueteronomy 33:12.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Bob. We can never exhaust the supply of God's love. I appreciate your input.

    • BobMonger profile image

      BobMonger 

      6 years ago from Carlin, Nevada USA

      You've hit the nail on the head. God does so love us even when we forget who He is or where we are. It's a good thing, too! We all have a tendency to wander off the path from time to time, but He is an all merciful God and brings us back safe if we believe. Great hub!

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      It is indeed beautiful that God loves us enough to carry us on His shoulder even when our wounds are caused by our own straying.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      What a beautiful message.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dave, what matters is how God sees you. The rest of the family would do well to follow you, following Him. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      MsDora: I have always been the one in my family seen as the "lost sheep", the "black sheep" because I love God and choose to follow Jesus.

    • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Happy for you, unknown spy. What an awesome God! So glad you responded positively. Thanks for sharing.

      Samanthajae, you got the message and you worded it beautifully. Thanks for your input.

      Thanks, Deep. I love parables too. I think that metaphors on a whole are among the best teaching tools.

    • Deep Metaphysical profile image

      Deep Biswas 

      6 years ago from India

      Parables always help bring out the best in us. Beautifully written.

    • profile image

      samanthajae 

      6 years ago

      Hi MsDora, your hub is such a timely reminder to focus on the true condition of our hearts instead of mere outward appearances. It was a thought-provoking and soul-searching read. Thank you.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Not Found 

      6 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Amen. I love your hub Ms Dora. I used to be one but then God look for me into the wilderness.. I came back..

      Voted uP

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