"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?"

If there's any word to describe the stirring of life which is beginning to shake the Body of Christ, worldwide, it’s the word URGENCY.

We no longer see Jesus as an easygoing teacher handing down timeless truths on the quiet hillside of Galilee. We see as never before, that everything Jesus taught, and everything he did was presented against the background of the end of the age.

What Jesus teaches has special meaning for us now because we see ample evidence that this could be the beginning of the end.

Of course, only the Father knows when, but we need to consider that the present generation,

- the generation that would live to see Jerusalem restored and besieged,

- the generation which is to see the world sink under the flame of judgment,

- the generation which is to see the blinding lightning flash and the coming of the Messiah,

could well be alive on the earth at this moment.

When we hear Jesus say,

"This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come,"

we don't think in terms of hundreds of years and millions of dollars invested in colleges and seminaries and church superstructures. We think in terms of ourselves and our brothers and sisters, and other laborers now being raised up across the earth.

When Jesus says,

"We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night comes when no man can work,"

we sense that these words apply with special meaning to the disciples of this hour.

The Spirit that kept driving our Lord on from town to town, from city to city, never allowing him to stop and settle down, is now stirring our hearts. Just as Israel had to be covered with the Word, so now the earth has to be covered with the Word of God.

And yet this same Jesus,

- who was always on the move,         

- who never, from the time his ministry began, ever settled down and got comfortable,

- who always kept pressing on to the next village, on to the cross, on to glory,

spent huge amounts of time alone with his Father, and always had time to talk to one man, one woman.

- Nicodemus.

- The woman at the well.

- Zacchaeus.

For all his urgency, Jesus has time to concentrate on the Father, and he has time to concentrate on that one lost soul.

He may not waste five minutes with people who want to argue for the sake of arguing,

or who want to split hairs over doctrine,

or who want to manipulate him for their own ends.

But the lost soul, the needy soul,

the heart-broken,

guilt-ridden sinner, Jesus never brushes aside.

There's a lesson here that we need to learn. No matter how urgent or pressing the work we've been given to do, if we will concentrate on the Lord Jesus himself, and on that one lost sheep who has come across our path, everything else will somehow be taken care of and fit into place.

But if we get so caught up in our "great work" for the Kingdom that we no longer have time to concentrate on the Lord, or on that one lost sheep, then the Kingdom in which we labor is no longer God's Kingdom, it's our own. And let’s face it, this is what has been happening to many of us.

- We have allowed ourselves to be distracted so that we no longer concentrate.

- We get side-tracked like Martha in the kitchen, anxious and troubled over "many things" when only one thing is needful.

And we feel justified even as Martha did. "After all, the dinner has to be cooked. The potatoes have to be peeled. The bread has to be baked. Somebody has to clean the fish."

"Come on, aren't we busy with legitimate things in the Body?

            - Things that have to be done?

- People that have to be talked to?

- Misunderstandings that have to be straightened out?

- Wounds that have to be treated?"

Perhaps - but when these "legitimate things" scatter your mind so that it can no longer concentrate on the Lord and on that one lost sheep, they aren't legitimate things.

Before we know it we're caught up in the vain idea that it all hinges on us, that if we don't hold things together they're going to fall apart.

It's God's Kingdom. God is still on the throne and the Lamb is still at his right hand. Jesus has made us responsible, really, for only two things:

1. Our relationship with him.

"If you abide in me and my words abide in you."

2. The man or woman at hand who is lost.

That's our responsibility, and only that.

"Wait a minute!" you say. "Aren't we responsible for our brothers and sisters in the flock? Aren't we responsible for the unity of the Body?"

Yes, in the way the shepherd is responsible for the ninety-nine sheep. Yet he leaves them in the wilderness and concentrates on the one sheep which is lost.

"But that was foolish! What the shepherd should have done was stay with the ninety-nine and teach them how to function as a body. Then the lost sheep wouldn't feel threatened or rejected anymore and he would automatically come home."

We have flocks all over the land where the sheep and under-shepherds are busy conducting seminars on how to get along with each other so that the lost sheep will feel more love if it should ever wander back to the flock. And there are beautiful, tender, charming little sheep that move from flock to flock in search of the most loving atmosphere they can find. But what about that lost sheep? .....what happens to him in the meantime?

"0, but we can't afford to worry about him. We have to build up the Body. We ninety-nine have to learn to love each other."

So what happens? We love each other to death! Our love grows sick. Our love isn't real because it isn't where God is. God is out there seeking the lost.

We need to learn that even in the shape we're now in, motley crew of stumbling saints that we are, we can afford to concentrate on that one lost sheep just as surely as our Lord concentrates on that one lost sheep, and the angels concentrate on that one lost sheep.

We begin the day by concentrating on Jesus.

- By renewing our relationship with him.

- By entering afresh into his light, his peace.

- By receiving his word into our hearts,

knowing that apart from him we can do nothing.

Then, abiding in Jesus, we step forth into the day with an eye that can see and a heart that can concentrate on the one person at hand, leaving the swirling multitude and the voices that clamor on all sides, and the possible needs of the next hour to God.

Let the Spirit of God open your eyes to one particular person who still hasn't come alive to his love.

            - Some Lazarus.

- Some Nicodemus.    

- Some Mary Magdalene,

or Zacchaeus, whom God has given you.

That person may not be a "gem" from the world's point of view, but he or she is a priceless gem to God. Your object is to draw that gem of God,

- back to the Father's house,

- back to the light,

- back to the flock.

Don't worry about the fifty thousand other things you could be doing.

Don't lose sleep over wrongs that are beyond your control.

Concentrate on this one soul in prayer, in conversation, with material help if it's needed. Spend time with them. Know that God sent you to bring that man, that woman, right into the Kingdom and don't quit until you see the fire of faith coming to life in that heart.

- Better to be drinking coffee with that one lost sheep than to squeeze five calls into the evening.

- Better to take that lost sheep to the ball game than to try to cover a list that somebody handed you.

If you are faithful with that lost sheep, God will see to it that those other problems will be solved. Keep at it until you've brought that one soul safely to the inn and have taken care of them. Then turn them over to the Innkeeper, Jesus, and go out and find the next lost sheep.

God doesn't keep score in heaven of how many souls we save.

- God numbers the hairs on our heads, but not people.

- God sees one soul at a time.

- Sends us to one-at-a-time.

- Empowers us for one-at-a-time.

And when that one soul comes home, what joy!


Perhaps one of those lost sheep found his way, or her way, to be reading these words. If so, the Spirit of God is concentrated on you right now more than on the hundreds who have already entered the Kingdom. He calls you by name, and visits you right now with his forgiving grace and helps you to rise up and come home to the Father.


Lord Jesus, show me where I fit in your mysterious Kingdom.  Lead me to that one soul who longs for an encouraging word.  Put your love in my heart and your words in my mouth.  Amen!