For the Love of a Lost Sheep Wandering Astray

Parables are simple stories illustrating a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus loved using parables to teach lessons. The Scriptures, primarily in the Gospels, contain many of these stories that Jesus told.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus called the poor and needy to salvation. Many Gentiles fell into this group of people. The Gospel writer Luke had a keen interest in them. In contrast to the rich and affluent, the poor and needy are the largest target group of the Gospel.

Parables compare two things. Jewish rabbis had used parables to hold an audience’s attention while illustrating an important moral point for centuries. Jesus uses them to teach his disciples, the religious leaders, and the crowds that gathered around him. Jesus did not start out teaching parables initially but turned to them once many rejected him as the Messiah.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus performed many miracles, demonstrating to those who witnessed them that He had the power and authority that only God could have. In a way, parables are miracles in words.

You might recall from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, that at one point the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke to people in parables. And he responded by explaining to them that he wanted to share a new revelation about the Kingdom with the disciples—the believers—but not with the multitudes. Many had rejected Him. His message was intended for those who believed or who would believe. Therefore, Jesus chose to use parables to share these insights in a mysterious way—demonstrating that God knows what will happen in the future.

Mysteries are secrets that the Lord shares with the Elect—those He has chosen—like the Disciples and those who believe in Him. Jesus was revealing some of God’s plans concerning the future of the messianic kingdom, but He was not allowing the unbelieving multitudes to understand these plans.

As believers, God’s truth is revealed to us in a way that unbelievers cannot understand. Like the Apostle Paul, the scales have been removed from our eyes, freeing us from our spiritual blindness. Once we were blind, but now we can see.


Luke 15:1-7 (ESV)

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, This man receives sinners and eats with them.

3 So he told them this parable: 4 What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that 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 his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

God rejoices when the lost are found.

Being a shepherd was one of the most common occupations in Palestine during Biblical times. Small farmers often had a flock of 100 sheep. It was also the norm for a shepherd to count his flock at night before calling it a day. In this allegorical vignette, the herd of sheep were hiding in plain sight, grazing or resting in open country. The lost sheep in this parable was lost due to its own foolishness, not because the herd was hard to find.

Knowing one of his flock had gone astray, the shepherd heads out to find his lost sheep. Upon finding his lost sheep, the shepherd is not angry or upset. He does not scold the sheep. HE REJOICES. In the same way, when we like sheep have gone astray, God rejoices when He finds us, rescuing us from harm.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to that foolish sheep who wandered away from the safety of the flock shepherded by God. I wrestled with sin a longtime before coming to believe in Jesus and repenting from my old ways. This doesn’t mean I don’t stumble. It certainly doesn’t imply that I am perfect in any way. No, I am still in the process of being perfected by the Lord. But, I am no longer lost. I am on the right path.

We don’t find God. God finds us.

The sheep was lost. The shepherd did not wait for the sheep to find its way home, but went out to secure it. God pursues those He has called. He doesn’t wait for us to find Him, but He finds us. God initiates the personal relationship we have with Him. He calls to us through the Holy Spirit, drawing us closer and closer to Him.

Neither Terri or I were looking for God when He called us. We had dated eight years before we ever had a conversation about God.  It wasn’t until we took a horseback ride up a mountain near Taos, New Mexico that we both felt the presence of God in our lives. This is not to say that God hadn’t spoken to us before. He had. But this time was different. This time, we listened and answered His call.


God cares for those He saves.

The mental picture of the shepherd carrying the sheep home on his shoulders resembles Jesus loving care of those He saves. It is a picture that would have been familiar to the shepherds living in that rural area. It was something they themselves had done numerous times. In the same way shepherds care for the sheep in the flock, God cares for each of us whom He saves.

You’ve heard the saying “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Being separated from God seems like an exercise in futility. With God, we find our purpose. With God, we gain peace and understanding. With God, we know real love. Does that mean we won’t face trials or tribulations? No. Not at all. But we don’t go it alone. As believers, we go with God. He is with us wherever we go.

The Lord Delights in the Saved.

The ninety-nine righteous people are the self-righteous Pharisees and lawyers, challenging Jesus and His authority. Jesus was using the term “righteous” ironically. These so-called religious leaders were only righteous in their own eyes, not in the eyes of the Lord.

The Lord delights with joy over one sinner’s salvation and He grieves over the 99 lacking salvation. Only those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved and enter into Heaven—or the presence of God.

Before God, our lives were completely different. Our “why” changed once God became part of our daily lives. That’s how we knew we had changed direction and were now on the right road, walking with God, no longer straying off the path.

I am glad that God rejoices over the saved. I am filled with joy knowing that He delights in me. I hope you can say the same.

May the Lord bless you and shine His favor on you.

Acts 2:21 (NIV) And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’

Romans 10:13 (NIV) for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

The Amazing Blessings of Living a Spiritually Rich Life

Monday morning ushers in the beginning of another work week. With a full week of activity ahead, Sweet T and I are looking forward to celebrating my Mom’s 80th birthday this coming weekend. In the decade since my Dad passed, we’ve watched my Mom grow deeper in her spiritual walk and grow closer to God. This has been a true blessing to us and all the people who know her. My Mom is a social butterfly; always kind, always generous. She’s deeply loved by her friends, many of whom she’s know for decades. She’s never met a stranger and she’s always willing to help someone.  Mom is a great example of what it means to live the Bible you read. She does that every day in the way she treats other people and goes about her daily routines. She’s got an incredibly bubbly spirit despite not always having the easiest of lives. Mom often reminds me of the popular pericope “The Widow’s Mite” found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark and Luke.


The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Mark)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

My Monday Morning Cup

The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Luke)

1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 (NET)

The story is a lesson in poverty and prosperity based on the weights and measures of God’s economic scale. The widow, while physically poor, was rich spiritually. In contrast, the scribes, dressed in their long robes of pride, were rich physically but stood before the widow spiritually bankrupt. They had everything and gave only that which cost them nothing. She had nothing yet gave God her all.

There is more to walking the walking then simply talking the talk. Actions have always spoken louder than words. James, the half-brother of Jesus, makes it clear that our belief is expressed through our deeds. What we do, in other words, reflects what comes to our mind when we think of God.


14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)

Me and MomSweet T and MomIMG_3236

My Mom will readily tell you that she doesn’t understand all the things of God. She has often said she doesn’t know her Bible as well as she would like. Yet, her actions show how deeply God’s truth is engrained in her. Her faith is self-evident in how she greets each day and every person she meets. Sweet T and I are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with her and grateful that she continues to be a blessing to others.

One of Mom’s gifts that she readily shares with others is her art. As long as I can remember, my Mom has always done artwork, particularly molding and sculpting original pieces from clay. This has provided her with the opportunity to spend quiet time with God and to share her love of art with others through the pieces she produces. Her artists circle consists of an eclectic blend of friends, each with their own unique talents.

Original Clay Pieces made by Mom © Karin I. Bantau

Mom models living a spiritually rich life. When we put God first, good things happen.

How about you? Do you feel spiritually rich today? I pray you do.

P.S. If you see Mom this week be sure to give her a birthday hug. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Better yet, do something that shows them how much they mean to you. None of us are promised tomorrow. Amen.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good!

Be Blessed and be a blessing.

#Spiritual Growth #More of Him Less of Me #Blessings

God’s Word Is Powerful

Gray and dreary. The weather outside matches how I’ve felt the past number of days. Overrun with melancholy, my soul hurts. I’m not totally sure why. I have some ideas. What do I do?

In 2017, Terri and I spent quite a bit of our time focused on committing verses of Scripture to memory. It sounds easy to do on the surface, but it’s proven to be more difficult then we anticipated. We certainly did a better job of it the first half of the year than the latter. But we keep trying. Perseverance.

Life is about that very thing. Perseverance. We all have dreams. We all have goals. We all have things we’d like to see, do, and experience. Life doesn’t always cooperate. Honestly, life has a mind of its own. But you can’t succumb to it. You have to press on. Just like the Apostle Paul said:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (ESV)

The Devotional Guy_title

Over the course of the year, I’ve had the opportunity to teach several Bible classes. I’ve talked about our journey of memorizing Scripture and why Terri and I believe it is important. Scripture urges us to commit God’s words to memory before the storm comes. The storm will come. Trouble will invade our best laid plans and overturn our good intentions. In teaching on the subject of memorizing Scripture, I’ve encountered a variety of reactions. Some that I honestly did not expect, especially from believers. I wondered…

Do we believe that God’s Word has power? Do we think that Scripture brings meaning to our life?


I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.

Psalm 119:11

Several discussions revealed that God’s people filling the chairs on Sunday morning don’t necessarily see the Bible as anything more than black print on white paper. And it’s not…

God’s Word has power. Even Satan knows that. 

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Through spending time in God’s Word, we get to know the Lord better. Our investment of time returns with spiritual growth and deeper understanding of who God is and the chaotic world we live in. The words of the Bible are powerful tools to help us get through our day-to-day hills and valleys. Memorizing Scripture equips for the battle, sustains us through the storm, and helps us walk humbly alongside the Lord. When we commit God’s Word to our heart, the Lord is never far from us. He is near us.

Through His Word, God is with us.


Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)

No, Scripture in and of itself will not save you. Only faith in Christ can do that. But Scripture teaches us that truth. It’s through Scripture that we know that Jesus is the only path to reconciliation with God. It is through the Bible that we know that if we profess our faith in Christ then we are saved. These truths and many others are revealed to us through God’s Word. Committing that Word to our heart is a wise action to take ahead of the difficult roads we travel.

God’s Word helps see us through the days that are gray and dreary, reminding us that in Christ, we have the light that overcomes darkness.

John 1:5 (NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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