Welcome Home – Now What? – Week of October 21, 2019

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15: 3-7

Can you imagine being in charge of one hundred sheep? The likelihood for one or more to wander off seems pretty high. Think for a minute about what the shepherd in our text does. He leaves ninety-nine sheep in the open country and goes after the one lost one. What devotion he has to that one lost sheep in addition to the others! Once he finds that wayward sheep, he doesn’t herd it back to the flock. “He joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” He’s so excited that he lovingly carries that rogue sheep back to join the others. And it doesn’t stop there. He invites friends and neighbors to celebrate with him. What selfless, overwhelming love!

In the past several devotions, we’ve talked about identifying someone you know who has strayed from the Word. We’ve talked about reconnecting with them and encouraging them to come home to their church and even more, to their Savior. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to do so and a conversation is beginning. You may hear those heartfelt words of gratitude that you cared enough to reach out. What a blessing to join in thanking God for this incredible blessing! What a cause for celebration!

But then again, you may not see immediate results. You may encounter resistance. Not everyone is going to fling their arms wide and say, “Thanks! That’s just what I needed to hear!” But take heart, it’s not up to you. It’s up to the work of the Holy Spirit. Be patient and loving, just as our Shepherd is with us.
So, what’s next? What do we do now? Think back to that shepherd. It’s not too hard to imagine that the probability of one (or more) of his sheep wandering off happened frequently. He was constantly on the lookout and eager to bring each one back. The encouragement is the same for us. Keep looking. Keep reaching out. Keep encouraging. Keep showing patience and loving care for anyone who needs to hear the comforting words of the Good Shepherd as he says, “Welcome Home!”

Dear Jesus, give me a caring, loving heart that is eager to reach out to those I know. Give me the words to share that encouragement with them in their faith. In your name I pray. Amen

Our devotion today is the final in the series focusing on the Welcome Home initiative. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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