pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Guiding and Leading

Reading: John 10: 1-10

Verse 4: “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”.

In today’s application of the shepherd-sheep metaphor, the focus is on Jesus, the shepherd. In today’s passage Jesus claims to be both the gate and the shepherd. There is both an eternal and a temporal component to both of these roles. Transitioning from talking about spiritual blindness with the Pharisees, Jesus begins his next teaching by noting that some do and try to enter the pen by evil means. Their goal is to rob and to steal. Perhaps foreshadowing the ending verse of today’s passage, is Jesus saying religion can steal joy and can rob people of what God really intends faith to be all about?

Getting into the heart of our passage today, Jesus states that the shepherd enters through the gate as the watchman opens it for him. Using only his familiar voice, the shepherd calls out to his sheep and they follow him out of the pen. Only the sheep belonging to the shepherd will follow. To the other sheep his voice is that of a stranger and it represents danger to them. So only the shepherd’s sheep know his voice. As Christians, to be followers of Jesus, we must know his voice and discern it from all of the other voices we hear. We learn it by being around it, over time becoming familiar with it. We learn to trust it through the ways it leads us to green pastures and safe waters. We follow because we learn that his voice keeps us safe and protects us. In verse four we read, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”. Once Jesus has called us and we know his voice, he walks out ahead of us, setting for us an example. He calls out and invites us to follow. In this life Jesus’ voice, the Holy Spirit, leads and guides us. Following that voice, we are blessed in this life and are guided towards the next life as well.

Jesus also stated that he is the gate. At night, the sheep must pass through the gate to find safety and rest. It is the only way in. Then the gate is shut, guarding the sheep, keeping them safe during the darkness, preventing the thieves and robbers from reaching them. Jesus remains present to us in Spirit in this life, doing just these things. He also lifts our burdens and cares, giving us rest. His Spirit prays for us and speaks to us, reminding us of his words. It is a shield about us, protecting us against the attacks of the evil one. As we near the end of our road and transition into the next life, Jesus is the gate to eternity. He will judge us worthy of heaven or deserving of hell. He will open the gate of one for our eternity.

As we follow our good shepherd today may we take some time to rejoice in his leadership and in his provision. May we praise the Lord for his love and care for each of us, the sheep of his pasture.

Prayer: Loving God, as I stop and look back over each day, I praise you for all the ways you led and guided, provided and protected me. It is my greatest joy to praise you and to give you thanks for who you are to and for me. Amen.


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Willing, Trusting, Obedient

When danger or death is on the horizon it brings up feelings of fear and doubt and sorrow in many.  It can be almost paralyzing.  In a few it stirs up courage and determination and focus.  No matter what your first reaction to the realization that life hangs in the balance, the second must be to connect to God in prayer.

When Haman secured the decree to blot out the Jews, Mordecai put on sackcloth and went to the city gate to fast and pray.  He invited other Jews to join him.  Esther got word of this and sent him clothes.  He rejected them because he know this was a time of great need.  He also realized that God had called upon him to stir up Esther so that she may see her role as well.  He knew that the time of her divine appointment was upon her.

When Esther came to terms with the fact that this was indeed the moment for which God placed her in the palace, she accepted her role.  She set her mind on fasting and praying for three days and invited all the Jews in the city to join her.  Esther did not want prayers for someone else to step up or for God himself to intervene.  She wanted prayers that her role in this would be blessed by God.  In Esther there was no fear because her hope lay in God alone.

From time to time we are each faced with something that puts us to the test.  It may be concerning health or employment or family relationships.  There will also be times when we are not directly affected but do have a hand in the situation and its solution.  In today’s text we see an example of willing servants who trusted their very lives into God’s hands.  Because of their relationship with God they did not fear any outcome.  Each walked into their divine appointment fully trusting God.  Lord, instill in me such a willing heart, such a trusting soul, and such an obedient mind.

Scripture reference: Esther 9: 20-22