Categories
Characteristics of God Devotions Godly Living Serving

The Good Shepherd’s Love {{Devotion}}

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 (Jn. 10:14-15, NLT).

My favorite passages are those who acknowledge God as my Shepherd. I am someone who has both been led astray by other humans and one who has heard my Shepherd’s Voice and still ran away.

Maybe, you can relate? It’s easy to find ourselves in either position, isn’t it? Our great God is the Perfect Shepherd. He knows how to lead us and is the Shepherd with the strongest ability to lead us in the way we ought to go.

Our Lord Jesus is declared as our Good Shepherd in John 10. As our Good Shepherd, He shows us the way to eternal life. He lives out what we are taught in Isaiah 30:21 – which says:

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has passionately, loving – laid down His life for His sheep – who are actually those who believe and follow Him. As we follow the Lord, we are loudly declared as His very own. And over time, He even gives us ways to impact the Kingdom of God. We are given ways to passionately love, in a similar way to how Christ Jesus has loved us. While we will never be able to show the exact love He has shown, we can passionately love just as He has loved us.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God (1 Peter 5:2, NLT).

We are invited to feed the Kingdom of God. God has assigned to each of us a particular place of ministry. Maybe it is in our homes, through our blogs, or on the soccer field (or in the stands). Wherever you are: If you are a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, then, this verse is for you.

You may not feel important “enough”, or equipped. But the truth of the matter is: God has a purpose for  your life. Before you were born or became engulfed in your trial, God set you aside with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose still stands.

We are invited to join our great Lord at work, and share the Good News with others. While every day isn’t our best day, we have been given many new opportunities to share with others that our God is the absolute best God and Savior! He is far greater than we could ever imagine, and He is working all things together for His good (and ours).

And the really good news is: we don’t have to actually see God’s hands moving – to know He is most definitely working. When things get tough and we begin to doubt He is working, may we remember faith is choosing to trust what we know about our great God – through His written word, the Bible!

Unsplash Photo: Scott Webb

In Him,
Stacey

Categories
Characteristics of God Devotions Godly Living

Meeting My Shepherd

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! {Luke 15:3-7, NLT}

Today, I want to focus on the lost sheep that our Lord Jesus purposely went and redeemed. He saved this sheep from danger and brought them home. Friends, we are His sheep.

Anyone who has repented from their sins and chosen to follow Jesus Christ – is one of God’s sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. {John 10:14-15}

I have grown fond of the illustration as God as my Shepherd. Ever since I studied John 10 in a seminary course, I have felt drawn to seeing God as my Shepherd. However if I am honest, I haven’t always allowed Him to shepherd me. I have been a stubborn sheep who goes astray. But, He never stops pursues me – thankfully.

I want to start out by explaining what repent means. To someone unchurched or even someone like me, I needed the definition. I don’t want to use the word “repent” lightly or misuse it when I write an Instagram post, etc.

Repentance means:

→ To change one’s mind.
→Turn from our sins, and turn to Jesus Christ.

When we make the decision to turn from our old life and follow our Lord Jesus, there is much rejoicing in Heaven. The Lord is going to keep cheering us on, as we seek to bury our old sins in His strength and make Him our number one choice.

He doesn’t leave us in this process of trusting Him with our lives. He gives us every ounce of strength, courage, and grace we could ever need.

Hang in there, dear friend. Take heart in the fact that our great God is going to keep cheering you on.

For myself when I make decisions, I need to remember my “why”. We see this word in health related challenges. “Remember your why” in the context as the reason for what you are doing.

For us, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to remember the One who has laid down His life for us. We make our decisions based on this love relationship we have with Jesus Christ.

See Galatians 2:20; Psalm 23

Featured Unsplash photo by Pawan Sharma.

In Him,
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Categories
Summer Psalms

The Shepherd Who Protects {Summer Psalms ’17}

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep  (John 10:14-15)

We are reminded in Psalm 23, that the Lord is our Shepherd. More than told, we are given specific ways God reveals Himself as our very good Shepherd.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless (Ps. 84:11).

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are protected and have every need met. He is the One who faithfully cares for us no matter what is going on in our lives.

He gives us everything we need (vv. 1). I heart the “God verbs” as I call them, where we are able to see how God, our Shepherd, moves for our benefit.

He gives us rest (vv. 2). Not only does He provide physical rest for us, He gives us all the rest we need. He rejuvenates and offers peaceful rest we need to thrive. He is our God and makes sure we lack no good thing (see Ps. 84:11).

He leads us (vv. 2). God makes sure we get to the right place. He is the One who goes before us. He isn’t going to abandon us, half way through His leading us. Our great God leads us the whole way!

He gives us new strength (vv. 3). God is faithful to supply us with strength. Remember Isaiah 40:30-31, where we are taught that God renews our strength. Let’s pray for God to do this for us.

He guides us along the right path (vv. 3). He will lead us on the right path, where we are exactly where we need to be. One way He guides us, is through the Bible. As we seek Him, He will show us which way to go.

He is with us (vv. 4). Take heart in this promise that we find throughout the Bible. When we choose to follow Jesus Christ and diligently seek to obey His commands, He promises to be with us (see Mt. 28:18-20).

He prepares a feast for us in front of our enemies (vv. 5). We aren’t given mere leftovers, but God has thoroughly prepared a table for us. Knowing God’s protection and provision, we can sit down and enjoy our great God – even in the midst of the battle.

He pours oil on our head, giving us an abundance – which includes His favor and rejoicing (vv. 5). We see this lived throughout the New Testament. Despite all we have done, Jesus Christ came, has saved us and restored our relationship with God. In this new life, we are given much favor poured into our lives.

His goodness and love follow us (vv. 6). In whatever we are facing, God’s goodness and love is following those who are genuinely seeking Jesus Christ. Let’s put away the sin, seek His forgiveness, and allow Him to be the One whose love and goodness we are chasing.

Featured image by Patrick Schneider.

Categories
The Outcast

The Outcast: Who Wandered Away.

Our good Shepherd doesn’t just rush out to find the popular or favored sheep. He rushes out to find the outcast, the lonely, the afflicted, the broken, and the one who felt unworthy and insignificant. He rushes out to find this one particular sheep, even though He had many. Because , this is the one who stands in need.

They are the:

broken.
afflicted.
poor.
leaper standing in the street.
beggar crying in the street.
comfortless.
overlooked.

This is the one that the good Shepherd diligently and purposely rushes out to find, comfort, save, and bring back home to His flock. It isn’t about the quota or perfect score. It is about this one who stands (or perhaps crawls) in utter brokenness and needs the Savior- no matter what their situation is.

“Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them
wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one?
And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine
who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way.
He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.”
(Matthew 18:12-14, The Message)

My needs.
Your needs.
They don’t go unnoticed.
We may not be the “popular”.
We may be the outcast.

But, imagine, how treasured we are by the Heavenly Father. He chases after us, and continues to pursue us… even if He is the only One who seems to be pursuing us. He is the only One we need to be pursued by!

We are loved. We are beautiful to our Father. We are cared for. He longs to carry us in His arms. He longs to comfort, and bestow upon us the hope only He can give. In all of God’s family,  there is none like us. We may not be others’ favorite, but we are deeply loved and cherished by the Father. We can’t look to the temporary, and forget that important and eternal truth!

We are His.
We are loved by God the Father. None can love us or look after us like God can.

“Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.”
-Psalm 23:6, The Message

Reflection Questions:

1. Do you sense God’s pursuing you?
2. Where do you turn, when you feel like “the outcast”?

Categories
Truth in Trials

Sleep, Time, and the Good Shepherd

I haven’t blogged that much lately. Mostly, because I have not slept much lately. I miss my sleep. Sleep is a precious thing that I miss dearly, but I keep being remembered of Ecc. 3 where time is so valuable and used for different things. There are times and seasons for things in our lives. Evidently, there is a time to sleep and a time not to sleep… Not that the writer meant that there is a time to sleep. Sleep is a necessary part of being human. Not getting sleep is sheer torture.

I have had that sleep is the body’s way of healing itself. In some ways, I am sure the body does heal itself. I am a critic in many ways lately. Honestly, I think it is the lack of sleep… But I have always been a bit of a critic.

While I battle sleeplessness, muscle aches, and the pains that come from living with Fibromyalgia and not getting adequate sleep, God’s presence is very real to me. Even now, God’s presence is here and He is sustaining me. He is the One who holds me together, even when it should feel like I am falling apart.

In my Thursday class, we have been reading and rereading John 10 each week. Tonight, all I could think about is how Jesus Christ continues to be the good shepherd even amidst chaos and a busy life storm. Jesus may not remove the storm.

In John 17:15, Jesus’ prayer is not that we are taken out of the world but that we would be sanctified through God’s Word which is our truth. Jesus, my good shepherd, is many things to me especially when I am extremely fatigued and can’t sleep. Tonight as I reflected on John 10, I wrote this:

He does not run away. At times of great struggles, everyone seems to be running away from it all. They want to get as far away from the situation as possible. While they are running from it, Jesus is already there walking ahead and with His children as we walk through fire. Jesus knows our struggle before it happened! Jesus did not leave or forsake us! Jesus is the One who brings peace amidst the storm. It is something to be endured.. Even in hard times, we (I) can still hear His voice even more clearly in the midst of the trial. He deeply cares and treads the deep waters with us.. And, He leads us to pastures..

Jesus may choose not to remove my Fibromyalgia from me, but it’s all good as long as I have Him holding me tight. Even now, God is using me to be a light in a dark, hurting world of aches, pains, and frustration. This is a reality we have to endure, especially if we have chronic illnesses. It becomes our daily reality. Even though this kind of sets us apart from others, God is just using this as an opportunity to share Him and my faith with others. I can share what I am enduring and how I can know without a shadow of a doubt that God walks with me through this fire.

Isaiah 43:2 is my verse right now, as I continue to adjust and endure the new struggles that come my way. It is one we may not think of much unless we are in a rough uncomfortable place in our lives..

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

I think one lesson I am learning is… the promises of Christ and the Bible are eternal, but they also are sooo much more valuable when we experience them first hand. Life is hard. Time has a meaning for everything, but everything happens for a reason. We may think God’s timing stinks, but it doesn’t matter. His timing is perfect. We do not have to agree with what God does in our lives (because our opinion does not matter in comparison to God’s). God knows what He is doing. When we take assure in this, our faith will grow leaps and bounds..