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The Ninety and Nine

by Inspiration Ministries
“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 go 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.’” Luke 15:4-6 NIV

Elizabeth Clephane was raised an orphan. Born in Scotland in 1868, she was frail and often battled illness. Yet, perhaps because of her own weaknesses, she developed a special concern for the needy.

Inspired by this compassion, she found special inspiration from Jesus’ story about the lost sheep and His concern for the Lost. Moved by this compassion, she wrote a poem about reaching the Lost.

She knew it could be easy to focus on the “ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold.” But the fact was that “one was out on the hills away.” Even though most of His sheep were safe, the Shepherd could not rest.

One of His own had “wandered away” and was “sick and helpless and ready to die.” He had to find this sheep, even if it meant going on roads that were “rough and steep.” If He had to look in deserts, cross deep waters, or search at night. Only when the sheep was found could He rest.

While visiting Scotland with Dwight Moody in 1874, Ira Sankey, Moody’s colleague in ministry, saw her poem in a newspaper. When Moody asked Sankey to write a song for their crusade, he used Elizabeth’s words for the first of what would be a series of inspired hymns.

Today, many lost “sheep” need Jesus. Ask God to give you compassion for these souls. Pray that doors would open. Pray for a move of the Spirit that they might be saved.


Father, give me a burden to reach souls with the Gospel. I dedicate my life to You. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Pray for God’s blessings upon Inspiration Ministries’ social media outreaches.

Extended Reading

Luke 15
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