Tag Archives: Good Shepherd

Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” John 10:24-30

 

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When I went to India the first time, I was able to see firsthand what shepherding looked like during Biblical times. No barns, no fenced-in green pastures, no troughs of food or water, just a mass of goats (most commonly) or sheep and in their midst their shepherd and sometimes his nomadic family.

A dried rice paddy, the ground resting after a harvest, the herd hired to fertilize the land in preparation for the next planting season. A lone shepherd crouched down in the shade, a sun-bleached towel wrapped around his head to protect him from the elements, his watchful eye missing nothing.

A herd journeying through the village toward new grazing land, some stragglers lingering in the road blocking traffic. The shepherd, carrying the newest addition to the flock under his arm, gently guiding them with his staff, a unique clicking sound coming from his mouth, a warning to move out of the way…and the sheep instantly respond.

When there is more than one herd in the area, to the untrained eye, it is just a swarm of bodies, chaos and pandemonium. Then each shepherd bellows out, both calling his sheep like children. The herds separate like the Red Sea and every sheep goes to right or left toward the voice it recognizes.

But how do I recognize my Shepherd’s voice? How do I really know how to hear God’s voice?

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the audible voice of God – that big, booming, Charlton Heston-like voice portrayed in most religious movies – but over the years I have learned to recognize how He talks to me.

When He says something, it may be words that come through my head like thoughts, it may be a picture I see in my mind’s eye, or an impression I feel with my heart or my other sensations, etc. And, I know it’s God, the same way I know it’s my mom or dad or my sister, my husband, or my friend on the phone; I recognize His voice because I have practiced listening to Him.

I have learned to distinguish the difference between God talking to me, the enemy accusing me, and my own self-talk. I have learned to look for the proof by seeing the fruit of what each voice brings. God’s voice is loving, full of grace and mercy. He speaks life and encouragement to my heart, even when He reprimands me, calling out my sin and convicting my heart to turn back to Him. Hearing His voice helps me know Him better and helps me follow, choosing the right path and walking in the footsteps of Heaven.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:14-16

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.

P.S. This video was filmed in Norway and is a superb example of sheep responding to their shepherds voice. When God calls His sheep we will come running.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Image of shepherd in India: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204520204577250391151923490

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel, John, New Testament, Old Testament

Psalms 24,25,26; John 10:22-42

David had an awesome relationship with God. I spent some time meditating on Psalm 25 today. It is a beautiful picture of childlike trust and admiration of a loving Father by a trusting child.

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Fast forward to Jesus’ day.  In John 9 we read about Jesus’ healing of a man that was born blind. The Pharisees just did not want this to be true.  They tried desperately to spin this some other way than the miracle it plainly was. The healed man says that if Jesus was not from God then he couldn’t have done this miracle. To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. The Pharisees were not humble, for sure. No guidance for them, I’m afraid.

So Jesus moves along and he gets to Jerusalem. The Holy City. Teaming with learned Pharisees. In John 10 we read:

22 Then came the Feast of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple

area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ,[c] tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

These Jews did not want to hear any of this.  Jesus was claiming to be God and they did not want to hear that. They try to stone him but Jesus escapes. It was not yet his time. The story continues:

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

One thing that stood out to me as I read this was the contrast between what happened in Jerusalem and what happened in the area where John was baptizing. John the Baptist’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He preached repentance. Repentance requires us to admit that we have gone astray, we are wrong, and we desire to be made right. Repentance requires humility. The people that were prepared by John and his ministry were able to hear Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The Jews in Jerusalem, the learned ones that thought they knew everything, the ones that were at the top of the heap and did not want to give that up, were spiritually blind and deaf. The blind man was able to see, but the Pharisees were blind to the Truth.

Lord, sometimes I know that my biggest sin is the sin of pride. I pray that I can humble myself and repent so that I can tune into your voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd. I know that this is an ongoing journey, from day to day, from pasture to pasture, until you lead me to my final home.

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1 Samuel 19; Psalms 23,59; Luke 21:1-19

Today we read Psalm 23, one of the most famous/popular of all time. I was just thinking today about how certain passages just cut through all the clutter in my brain and truly touch my heart and my soul. To me this is one personal evidence that Scripture is truly unique in its power. Yet sometimes popularity can take the beauty out of passages, so I take the time to truly soak this one in today.

Just in case you are like me and sometimes  don’t do the reading associated with the plan, I will copy/paste it here because it is so beautiful. (And it’s short… 🙂 )

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

One thing that I like about this reading plan is how the Psalms are read in context with the events that inspired them. (At least I think that is how it works!). I focus on verse 4. Sometimes things went swimmingly for David, other times not so much. But in every circumstance, he was comforted.

I did a little research into the rod and staff of a shepherd. I had always thought of the rod being more for discipline, but apparently the rod has many uses. The rod was used to mark, separate, guide, protect, and restrain as well as discipline. And we are all familiar with images of the shepherd using the staff to rescue his sheep. Then I take a moment to remember the times God rescued me, and I am grateful. Then I think about that “prodding”, which at times saved me from falling in the crevice to begin with, and again I am thankful.

Thank you, Lord, for being my  Good Shepherd.

suegraff

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Exodus 31; Proverbs 7; John 10; Galations 6

Scripture  
 
Exodus 31:18 “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.”

Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

John 10:2-5 “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Gal 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Observation
I loved the progression in today’s readings. First we have Moses receiving the ten commandments in tablets of stone. Later Solomon tells his son to write his commands on the tablets of his heart so he will live. Then Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd. He tells us that if we are His then we will listen to His voice and we will run away from a stranger’s voice. Finally, Paul tells us that we will reap what we sow, so it matters which voice we listen to and follow.

All throughout today’s readings we are reminded that God’s ways are good for us. He loves us and cares for us. We are reminded of Psalm 23’s beautiful picture of the Lord as our Good Shepherd, how he cares for us. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

Application
Jesus tells us that HIS sheep listen to HIS voice and no other. I know that through my day I am busy and often very distracted, and I hear many voices. I don’t even realize how chaotic things are until I catch a verse of Scripture somehow and then it’s almost as if everything goes silent and I hear a still small voice. Has that ever happened to you? Or have you ever been to a Thomas Kinkade store at the mall? You are going merrily (or not so merrily) along, you come across the store and go in, you see beautiful artwork with Scripture underneath, and everything around you just seems to change, if only for a few seconds or minutes. You hear His voice, and it’s a beautiful voice. Right there in the mall, among many voices that are suddenly on mute…
 
Prayer
Lord, I love those times when I’m just grazing along in life and then I hear the sound of your voice – the Good Shepherd. I long to hear it more. I am convicted that I have not made your Word the priority it needs to be in my life. Please help me get back on track so that I can hear your voice every morning and keep it with me through the day.

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