Jesus, the Good Shepherd

John 10:1. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The Shepherd Uses the Gate" — John 10:1-2 (What Jesus Did!)

Today, we are starting a wonderful chapter, one that has become a great favorite of mine. John 10 is Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He goes in and out of the sheep fold only by the door. Anyone who enters any other way is a thief, and has no good intentions. I’ve heard many sermons from this chapter over the years, some tied in with Psalm 23.

When I was very young, probably five or six, I got a jigsaw puzzle as a gift. I don’t remember the gifter, but I wish I did. I loved it so much. It was a picture of the famous painting of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Let me see if I can find it. . . . .

The Good Shepherd LORD Jesus Christ and His Sheep – Ethiopian Orthodox  Tewahdo Church Sunday School Department – Mahibere Kidusan

There are literally dozens of interpretations of this story, but this one feels the most familiar. It was hard for me, at that age, because of the many sheep. So many of the pieces looked alike. I have no idea how often I put it together, put it all back in the box, did it again. I do remember thinking, as I worked, about everything I knew about the story in John 10 and Psalm 23. This puzzle gave me an early and lifelong vision of Who Jesus was, and how much He loved us.

Later, working as a Sunday school teacher and a children’s church story teller, I often enjoyed sharing the story of Snowflake, the little lamb who rebelled against the shepherd and got lost. The Shepherd gave His life, in the story, seeking the one lost sheep and bringing it safely back to the fold. It’s quite a dramatic story. I’ll always remember the little boy who, when the Shepherd called Snowflake’s name, “baahhhed” in response before I could do it myself. He was totally involved with the story 🙂

This is a wonderful chapter, full of great gospel truth that is so simple a child can understand it. It is so profound that educated adults can’t grasp the full meaning of it. That’s probably because our minds are all cluttered up with our knowledge, leaving very little room for the simple truth of the gospel.

I hope you will enjoy the chapter as much as I do as we journey through it.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Where is God?

I have a blogger friend in Canada who posted an article about a terrible accident that took place, killing ten young hockey players, their coach, stats person, the bus driver; and leaving at least ten more boys seriously injured.  They were hit by a big semi that ran a red light, destroying the front of the bus.  I don’t remember if she said the truck driver survived.

People have wondered all through the centuries why God allows such tragedies, where He is when these terrible things happen.

I heard someone say, once, that He is right there in the same place He was when His Son was suffering and dying for our sin. He knows the pain of each parent who has lost children.  He knows our grief and our sorrow.

God never promised us that He would protect us from tragedy.  In fact, He said that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

What He did promise is that He would walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death; that He would be there to comfort, to console, to strengthen in times of trouble.

As long as sin remains in this fallen world, there will be tragedy. Very few of us go through life without having to deal with loss, grief, and despair. We can turn to God for our need, and He will give us comfort.

I would ask you all to be praying for the families of those who died, as well as the ones with injuries, and the ongoing health and financial needs that will be with those families for a very long time.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Now We Live

I Thess. 3:8. “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

What did Paul mean by this statement?  I believe this is a very descriptive  sentence, comparing Paul’s extreme apprehension to the relief of knowing all was well.  Before,  his apprehension had been like a dead weight.  He was unable to work, to write, to focus on anything but his dire concern for the welfare of his converts.  He was weighted down with fear that they would not stay strong under persecution and temptation.

Do you get it that he wasn’t so much worried for their physical safety as he was for their walk with God and their testimony toward others?   Sometimes I think we’ve really got our priorities wrong.  We pray, “Lord, give us safety as we travel/work/whatever.” We’re praying for physical protection, and then if/when something does go wrong we  wonder how a loving God could have allowed it.  For some strange reason, we tend to think we should be safe from all harm.

God never, ever promised us that we would be safe from all harm.  He did promise us that He would walk through the harm with us.  Psalm 23, among many other passages, reassures us that He will go with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  We do not need to fear evil; God is greater.

I believe much more energy and prayer should be focused on “Lord, please keep me close to You; help me to recognize the lies of Satan; help me to claim the promises in Your Word so that my faith doesn’t falter. When there is trouble, Lord, help me to cling to Your hand.”

The relief Paul felt when he was told of the steadfastness of his converts was so freeing that he could actually feel the joy of living again.  They had not turned aside from the truth.  They had remained faithful.

If you have children, you know what it is to worry when they leave.  Until they are safe back in the nest, or wherever they are going, we tend to fret over their safety.  Even more, we tend to be concerned for their spiritual strength and safety.  It really is a jungle out there, full of  danger and temptation to lure our children away from God and godliness.  When we see that they’re going to be all right; that they’re going to stand for the Lord and continue to serve Him, then we can breathe deep and thank God for giving us the rewards of the  years of labor in teaching and training them.

This is what Paul felt.  How he loved them!