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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Matthew 8:12

"The Ninety-nine"

Message summary: Today's verse is from the first in a series of parables dealing with lostness; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. In each case Christ teaches the effort made to seek and save the lost with a clear message about the value of the lost soul and the immeasurable love of the Savior.

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"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

We continue to follow the news and pray regarding the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Actually for us it stresses our hearts as we mentally consider the agony so many are experiencing in hopes of being rescued as they are trapped in rubble. And we consider those who helplessly stand by hoping for good news. It's distressing when we think about the depth of pain and sorrow among the people in that part of the world.

We also pray for the rescue workers, the danger they are in as they dig through unstable rubble, the angst they must feel having to make hard choices as to the likely places people may still be alive or settings where they hear signs of life and are unable to access that individual(s) to free them. Brooksyne and I have been praying about the chaos that surrounds the families who have lost their homes in the midst of very cold weather. The needs abound which often leads many to seek the only One who offers eternal hope when their present hope is completely crushed.

Turkey earthquake rescueYet it's heartening to see the massive rescue efforts and reports of those who have been rescued. Yesterday I saw a news report about a little girl with footage of her being trapped and then freed. What joy among the rescuers amidst so much despair.

The intense search effort also expresses one of the highest motivations in life, recognizing the value of each and every person. How sad if those who survived and were capable of searching would merely have walked away, looking back on the ruins with an attitude, "I'm sure glad that wasn't my house and I wasn't caught in that mess".

Although any attempt at drawing an analogy from a contemporary event with a Bible story may fall short these rescue attempts in seeking to save those trapped brings to mind a great parable that Jesus told in Luke 15:3-7 concerning the lost sheep. The good shepherd is willing to "leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it".

This is the first in a series of parables dealing with lostness; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. In each case Christ teaches the effort made to seek and save the lost with a clear message about the value of the lost soul and the immeasurable love of the Savior.

Considering the number 99 mentioned in the story of the loving shepherd, we also consider evangelist shepherd, Billy Graham who died five years ago at 99 years of age. He who faithfully preached the simple but life-changing message of salvation to live audiences of 215 million people in 185 countries, now resides with the saints in heaven.

During the news accounts about his death a close preacher friend was asked, “What do you think Billy Graham would say to us today if he could?” Without pausing the preacher answered, “I know exactly what he’d say. Before each crusade when he was asked to test his microphone. Instead of saying, ‘testing 1,2,3’ Billy would always quote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

The one still lost is expressed in the Biblical word "whosoever". Today, are you in His family or are you lost? We have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. The word "whosoever" applies to you! As an old song says "Whosoever surely meaneth me".

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the mission of the Gospel was explained by Jesus Himself, in answer to Nicodemus, who wanted to know what it means to be born again. Jesus made it clear that He did not come to earth to condemn Your creation but rather to convert sinners. We, as followers of Christ, declare this same message to a fallen world as well, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus extended the greatest invitation that we'll ever receive, provided the greatest deliverance we will ever need, which resulted in the greatest possession we'll ever claim: eternal life in heaven. To think that You, Abba Father, could love a sinner such as I, is hard to conceive but I gladly receive it and share this wondrous love with others. Amen.

Josh BeersWe attend a large church which is growing. This last Sunday during the service Josh Beers, a friend of ours and also an elder, gave a brief report to the congregation that 99 new members joined the church. Alluding to the parable of The Lost Sheep he wondered aloud if they had lost lost one of them. He told the pastor there is one out there that we need to find.

The next day Josh shared with me a "rest of the story" he received from another staff member who was hosting "Connect With Us", a place where new people connect with church staff to learn more about the church and others seeking to be more involved in the church. The staff member told Josh:

"I was speaking with a man briefly but could see a woman out of the corner of my eye that was clearly waiting to talk to me. She told me you were talking about her when you talked about the ninety-nine and the one in the context of membership – she said, “I am the one.” I could tell it was emotional and even a bit hard for her to come speak to me. She is a widow that has come to grief share and her heart was clearly in a tender place. She told me she has been coming for a while and has thought about joining. What you said from the stage was used by the Holy Spirit to prompt her to her next step in her faith journey to pursue membership. The Lord is so good and faithful to use His people through the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of individuals in our midst. I am always encouraged to and hear how the Lord works and hope this encourages you too today! Go God!!

Josh Beers, is a leader at One Life Institute, a nine month Christian Gap Year Program for students who want to grow in their faith, experience genuine community, serve others, and travel while earning college credit. Awhile back Josh made a visit to our home telling us of his ministry: One Life is for students out of high school and we discussed ways that others may be of benefit to the ministry. I am refreshed by Josh's heart for ministry and for young people.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Whosoever Surely Meaneth Me"  Video  Blackwood Brothers

"The Ninety and Nine"  Video  Tent Revival Homecoming

"The Ninety and Nine" This is a hymn tune by Ira Sankey, written in 1868, as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. He sung it before a live audience even as he was writing it, during a D.L. Moody crusade in Glasgow, Scotland.

"All Sufficient Merit"  Video  Shane & Shane I selected two older hymns today, indicative I suppose of my age and memories of so many songs sung through my life. But we also continue to be blessed by new songs, including this brand new one with outstanding theology in the lyrics. For many years I have been blessed by the phrase "all sufficient merit" In this hymn by Charles Wesley. Any readers recognize it?

By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Brooksyne's note: Considering the shepherd that leaves the 99 to find the wandering sheep the following poem came to mind. I dedicate it to the many parents who pray for their wandering child we often refer to as a prodigal child. It is a request I carry often to the Lord as I regularly pray for several adult "children" whose parents desperately long to see them return to the ways of the Lord. It can also be the reverse role as I prayed for my prodigal parents to return to the Lord after 24 years of wandering. The Lord answered my prayers and those of my dad's parents who were also praying. None of us knew that Daddy would have only four years to live after he recommitted his life to Jesus and Mom, who also recommitted her life on the same Easter Sunday in 1995 would live only five more years. They died in 2000 and 2001.

The Sheep of God's Pasture

We're the sheep of God's pasture, alike in many ways
As we trust in the Good Shepherd and offer Him our praise.
Like sheep, we have gone astray to see what we could see,
But the Shepherd sought and brought us back where we ought to be.

We're the sheep of God's pasture here in the promised land,
Led to the living waters by His almighty hand.
We seek His face, His touch, His voice when we're afraid at night,
And we praise Him in the morning for sending us the light.

We're the sheep of His pasture 'tho scattered now and then,
Each depending on the Shepherd in a world of "Might have been."
He leads us down a righteous 'tho narrow is the way,
And welcomes home the wanderer when we have gone astray.;

                                                             - Clay Harrison

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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