Thursday, May 31, 2012

In Christ - I am Jesus' Little Lamb

John 10:7-16 Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Psalm 79:13 So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

Psalms 100:3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

A New Kind of Hero
by Max Lucado

I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep as the Father knows me. ~ John 10:14-15

“BEHOLD A HERO of the west: the cowboy.

“A thousand head of cattle pass behind him. A thousand miles of trail lie before him. A thousand women would love to hold him. But none do. None will. He lives to drive cattle, and he drives cattle to live. He is honest in poker and quick with a gun. Hard riding. Slow talking. His best friend is his horse, and his strength is his grit.

“He needs no one. He is a cowboy. The American hero.

“Behold a hero in the Bible: the shepherd.

“On the surface he appears similar to the cowboy. He, too, is rugged. He sleeps where the jackals howl and works where the wolves prowl. Never off duty. Always alert. Like the cowboy, he makes his roof the stars and the pasture his home.  But that is where the similarities end.

“The shepherd loves his sheep. It's not that the cowboy doesn't appreciate the cow; it's just that he doesn't know the animal. He doesn't even want to. Have you ever seen a picture of a cowboy caressing a cow? Have you ever seen a shepherd caring for a sheep? Why the difference?

“Simple. The cowboy leads the cow to slaughter. The shepherd leads the sheep to be shorn. The cowboy wants the meat of the cow. The shepherd wants the wool of the sheep. And so they treat the animals differently.

“The cowboy drives the cattle. The shepherd leads the sheep.

“A herd has a dozen cowboys. A flock has one shepherd.

“The cowboy wrestles, brands, herds, and ropes. The shepherd leads, guides, feeds, and anoints.

“The cowboy knows the name of the trail hands. The shepherd knows the name of the sheep.

“The cowboy whoops and hollers at the cows. The shepherd calls each sheep by name.

“Aren't we glad Christ didn't call Himself the Good Cowboy? But some do perceive God that way. A hard-faced, square-jawed ranch- hand from heaven who drives His church against its will to places it doesn't want to go.

“But that's a wrong image. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd who knows His sheep by name and lays down His life for them. The Shepherd who protects, provides, and possesses His sheep. The Bible is replete with this picture of God.
Eighty percent of Jesus' listeners made their living off of the land. Many were shepherds. They lived on the mesa with the sheep. No flock ever grazed without a shepherd, and no shepherd was ever off duty. When sheep wandered, the shepherd found them. When they fell, he carried them. When they were hurt, he healed them.

“Sheep aren't smart. They tend to wander into running creeks for water, then their wool grows heavy and they drown. They need a shepherd to lead them to "calm water" (Ps. 23:2). They have no natural defense—no claws, no horns, no fangs. They are helpless. Sheep need a shepherd with a "rod and ... walking stick" (Ps. 23:4) to protect them. They have no sense of direction. They need someone to lead them "on paths that are right" (Ps. 23:3).

“So do we. We, too, tend to be swept away by waters we should have avoided. We have no defense against the evil lion who prowls about seeking who he might devour. We, too, get lost. "We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way" (Isa. 53:6).

“We need a shepherd. We don't need a cowboy to herd us; we need a shepherd to care for us and to guide us.

“He's not a cowboy, and we aren't cattle. He doesn't brand us, and we're not on the way to the market. He guides, feeds, and anoints. And Word has it that He won't quit until we reach the homeland.”

From A Gentle Thunder Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1995) Max Lucado

Don’t you just love Max Lucado?  He’s got such a way with words – I can almost hear the lambs bleating in the background, and see the Shepherd tending to each need.  SIGH.  That’s how I want to imagine Jesus – intimately involved in my life – leading me personally – tending to me when I’m hurt – carrying me when I just don’t have the strength to go on.  I can have that experience every day – if I let Him into my life moment by moment – or I can do it in my own strength and get overwhelmed.  I’ve done that – too many times – but my Shepherd is SO gracious and SO willing to rescue me (from myself) every time!  I’m learning to listen, and to take His direction and allow Him to lead me beside those still waters.  If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a break with the Shepherd – He will refresh you like no other!  Sharon

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