25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (Ezekial 28 ESV)
I am not fully comfortable in my neighborhood; naturally introverted and very private, there are many times I want to retreat to the woods (again – as some may know I lived deep in the woods; indeed, juxtaposed right up against a national forest for 6 years prior to our move to this state). And I sometimes feel neighbors’ contempt. We do not own this house, and we certainly do not fit the parameters of this neighborhood. We are sometimes the objects of scorn. But I treasure the above verses. First, I treasure the promise of security. Second, I treasure the Lord’s great love. No matter what, we (my family and I) are a people for His own possession- and we are loved. We are not loved because of our social status, our home upkeep, our car (or car care), or our physical beauty. We are loved because Jesus. This is precious to me, and I hide myself in this protecting shelter.
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. ESV
I think about the scornful voices. I think about many choices I make and paths I choose. Ultimately, I must follow my Shepherd’s voice. There is something to be said for being true to that voice; to the leadership of Jesus in my life. Fun and seemingly harmless choices for so many- I sometimes know I just can’t. I can’t. Scorn from without the church; scorn from within. There is a witness (in my spirit), and I choose to (and I must) be true.
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ESV
Jesus does not flee when He sees the wolf coming. He offers His very Life. Safe Pasture. Protection. Good leadership. Security. He promises: I know my own and my own know me. O, deepen this intimate knowing in my life, O Lord!
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” ESV
Over many years, as I grew up in a faith of my own, plucked out of a family with no Savior, I worried I would be snatched. I will never forget the first time I stood in church and heard (and sang) the song: In Christ Alone by the Gettys: “No power of hell; No scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand…” Spirit-infused reassurance and truth flowed like molten gold from song to soul. And still, to this day, does.
Lord, sometimes I don’t understand why I must hold to a specific conviction- other than knowing I must. I must be personally faithful to Your Voice in my life. Help me to hear You, O Lord. Deepen my intimate knowing of You. Thank You for security in You. Help me understand what it means. Hide me in Your shelter from the scorn of man. Your very life is invested in me. Help me understand. Amen.