Be Still My soul!

I woke up with one line of an old hymn, “Leave to thy God to order and provide,-” As the hymn didn’t come to mind immediately, I searched my hymnal and found the beautiful old hymn, “Be Still My Soul!” I spent my quiet time with the Lord pondering the meaning of the words, the comfort and encouragement of  each thought expressed!

“Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul! thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still my soul! The waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still my soul! When change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

The words are so applicable at this time of year as we prepare to end one year and begin another. In the rush and worry of Christmas we need to spend time in stillness! Life is short and stress is a thief, robbing us of joy and often our health. Be still in your soul!

Psalm 46:10 expresses some of the same thoughts which I will paraphrase, “Cease striving, let go, relax, stand silent, Know that I Am God!” The reason we can have the stillness of soul is because we know God (intimately)! We have a relationship with Him that is immovable no matter what comes our way. He is my God!

The Psalm begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help. He’s abundantly available for help in trouble (or tight places.) Therefore we will not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea.

4-There is a river of joy flowing through the City of God, the sacred home of the God above all gods. God, Himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay His help. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He has come to rescue us. Come and see the glorious things God does.”

When God is in the city, in my heart, in my home, I can stand unmoved by the turmoil around me. I can commit my future to Him, leaving the ordering and provision to Him because I know He has looked after all my needs and even some wants in the past.

I refuse to let my hope and confidence be shaken because I know the waves and winds, the storms that come my way, are subject to Him. They still know His voice!! On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke to the waves and the wind which stopped at His command.

This world is not my home! Someday all sorrows, disappointments, fear and grief will no longer have any place in my life and I shall go to my forever home to be with Him. In the meantime I make time to be still, to reflect on the goodness of God towards me. I spend time in His Word as He speaks to me and I talk to Him with thankfulness!

 

 

 

The People Who Know Their God!

Daniel 11:32 “The people who know their God will display strength  and take action (do exploits for God.) Daniel was talking about bad things that are going to happen, evil and wickedness will seem to be winning, but in the midst of it there will be people who will know their God, the true God, the Lord of heaven and earth and they will stand strong!

As we look at the world and we listen to the news we could feel sick. Because of the Media we are more aware of everything that is happening around the world and it does not look very promising! We need to know God in order to stand strong! I need to trust Him in every area of my life.

In my quiet time one day a familiar story in Mark 8 caught my attention. The disciples & Jesus were in a boat, crossing the lake when the disciples expressed concern that they had forgotten to bring food & had only one loaf of bread with them. Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread?”

“How is it that you do not understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? Having eyes do you not see? And having ears do you not hear? Do you not remember? When I fed the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? ” They answered “Twelve.”

And when I fed the 4000 with 7 loaves how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” “Don’t you understand yet?” He asked. Mark 6:52 says they had not gained any insight from the miracle of the loaves, their hearts were too hardened.

Like the disciples we fail to trust Him many times and in much the same ways.We forget His provision in the past. They had forgotten the miracles. He reminded them, “When I fed the multitudes there was more than enough!”

We look at our resources to meet our need. We think we have to figure out how He will do it! We look at what we have   and do not see how He will be able to do anything with the small amount we possess. The disciples knew one loaf of bread was not enough. We know our limited resources are not enough.

We don’t trust Him when we do not know Him or believe His promises. The disciples didn’t fully understand who He was. He told them but they didn’t believe His words. We do not trust Him when we allow fear to invade our mind & heart. We are afraid He won’t come through for us. We aren’t sure He cares!

The disciples on the stormy sea woke Jesus up & said, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing? Do you know about our situation?” Overwhelmed & afraid, we don’t see any way out. Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? How is it you have no faith?” We can’t have fear and faith at the same time, they are not compatible!

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green. And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

Consider four basic ways we can have faith that counteracts the reasons we don’t trust Him.  1. We can live in faith when we look back & remember His past provision! We know He can do it again! Jesus said to the disciples, “Do you not remember?” He reminded them of what He had done before. We need to look back at His miraculous provision in the past.

2. We can live in faith by not looking at what we have in our hands and trying to figure out how God can possibly meet our needs from that. Adrian Rogers told a story of some humanitarians who were caring for some orphans after WW2.  Every night the boys were waking up with nightmares.

It was thought they had fears of an uncertain future, so every night they were fed a big meal and they were given a piece of bread to hold in their hands which would be their breakfast. Somehow, just holding the bread in their hands helped them sleep better. Jesus is our supplier, He’s our bread!

3. We can live in faith by spending time in prayer &  His Word every morning. We get to know Him & his promises. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing but in every thing by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace which surpasses comprehension will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.”

4. We can live in faith as we do not allow fear to stay in our mind & heart. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power & love & a sound mind.” God is not surprised by the things that happen to us and He is able to work everything out.

Romans 8:28 says, ” God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have hope even when the world around us is falling apart because we know God will take everything in our lives, the good & the bad, and He will work them for our good when we love & trust Him.

In his book, “The Coming Economic Armageddon,” David Jeremiah tells a story about a man named Samuel S.Scull who lived on a farm in the Arizona desert. “One night a fierce storm struck with rain, hail & high wind. Fearing what he would find, Samuel went out at daybreak to survey the loss.

The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed, the hen house was blown away and dead chickens were scattered around. Destruction & devastation were everywhere. While standing, evaluating the mess & wondering about the future, he heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the hen house.

A rooster was climbing up through the debris and he didn’t stop until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. That old rooster was dripping wet & most of his feathers were blown away, but as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed!

That old wet, bare rooster could still crow when he saw the morning sun. And like that rooster, our world may be falling apart, we may have lost everything, but if we trust in God, we’ll see the light of God’s goodness, pick ourselves out of the rubble, and sing the Lord’s praise!”

An old song by Ira Stamphill says, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.”

“I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for it’s skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said. And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty, But the One Who feeds the sparrow is the One Who stands by me. And the path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood, but His presence goes before me, And I’m covered with His blood.”

Chorus  – “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;                                                                 But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.”

People who know their God do not fear tomorrow, they know He has it in His control.

 

My Times Are In His Hands

Today is my 80th birthday! To me it’s a milestone and a time to reflect on my life. Was I born for a reason? Does it matter that I was even born? What does the future hold? There’s a song that expresses some of my thoughts. I heard the Singing Hills sing it on Tribal Trails. I think it was written by Hoppers who sing it on Youtube.

TOO FAR TO LOOK BACK

I’ve come too far to look back again, there is nothing behind me,
All the treasures I used to love have all faded from view
There’s a new day ahead for me. all my heartaches are over
For I left them at Calvary where my new life began.

Chorus
I’ve come too far to look back
My feet have walked through the valley
I’ve climbed mountains, crossed rivers, desert places I’ve known,
But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Look around, there’s no happiness, there’s no reason for living
Life will give you a broken dream, full of sorrow and fear.
Turn around, don’t look back again, face the new day before you.
Place your heartache in Jesus’ hand, He can mend broken dreams.

Chorus
I’ve come too far to look back
My feet have walked through the valley
I’ve climbed mountains, crossed rivers, desert places I’ve known
But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Tag:  But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Yes!! I am nearing the home shore! The broken dreams, the mountains and valleys I have placed in Jesus’ hands. My times are in His hands! He has brought me thus far and He will lead me on to whatever the future holds.

I GAVE MY GARDEN TO GOD

Have you ever seen a movie, read a book or heard a sermon that made such an impact on you that it changed your life? Suddenly you saw something old in a brand new light.That happened to me recently when I heard “The Pineapple Story.”

Otto Koning and his wife, Carol were Missionaries in New Guinea. The people were chronic thieves which caused Otto to be angry all the time.They even stole the diaper pins. Otto said God sent him to those people for him to learn Luke 14:33 “Whosoever of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

They stole everything they could, even stealing the clothes off the clothesline. The soil was very sandy but he thought it would grow pineapples, so, he planted a pineapple garden. It took three years to produce fruit, but he never got the fruit because the natives stole all the pineapples even before they were ripe.

This made Otto very angry. When they went on furlough. Otto & Carol told each other they were never going back. While in Chicago, Otto attended a Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar which changed his life.

The speaker talked about fighting for your rights. He challenged them to give up their rights to God and to give their possessions to God. He continued to challenge them, “God takes good care of His possessions. What you give to God with the right motives, you’ll never lack in that thing.”

He told them “the people you fight with you’ll never win. Fighting for your rights will destroy your health”. When the speaker gave an invitation for those who wanted to put everything on the altar and give it to God, Otto gave the pineapple garden to God. A great peace filled his soul.

They went back to the jungle and Otto told God, “Lord, It’s Your garden.” The pineapples grew bigger and better and the natives were still stealing them. Otto was still angry at their thievery. He told God he was angry for Him.

On his knees one morning God showed him Romans 6, dying to self. At the end of his rope, he gave up his right to own a garden. He wasn’t angry anymore. The natives noticed and said to him, “You must be a Christian now.” Otto had preached about Christ and about Christianity but they didn’t see it in him because of his anger.

They asked him why he wasn’t angry anymore and he said he gave the garden away. He said he would tell them the next day who he had given the garden to. The next morning they were at his door early and he told them, “I gave the garden to my God in heaven.”

They wanted him to take the garden back because they had all kinds of problems since the garden was God’s. They were angry but one man persuaded them to let God own the garden. They liked Otto as a christian rather than an angry white man.

Suddenly they wanted to know more about God. They asked questions. Does God see in the dark? Is your God big? Things that had been stolen began to come back, showing up on their porch. God supplied over and beyond their needs.

Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.” The opposite is also true, “he is a fool who keeps fighting and struggling for what he can not keep (and ruins his health in the process.)” Otto told God he didn’t want to own anything anymore. That was graduating from grade one.

With each area brought to his attention, he considered it like going to school. When the natives were bringing him things to fix and he felt frustrated that his time was being wasted he put that on the altar. He began fixing things with a joyful heart and they said he was a christian again. That was grade two!

When he was almost sent home from the Mission field, he gave his reputation to God. It didn’t matter what other people thought of him, what mattered was if he was pleasing God. He was given more responsibilities.

He wondered why people wait until they almost lose their children, when there’s no medical help there, before they surrender them. Some people who have surrendered their right to be healthy have been healed. God wants to be Lord in every area of our lives.

Some areas mentioned where we need to surrender our rights to His Lordship are: plans, reputation, time, possessions, music, money, health. self, activities, opinions.Surrendering our rights to Him is not a once in a lifetime event but must be done daily and sometimes moment by moment.

At the end of his message he gave an altar call, asking those who wanted to surrender everything to the Lord, to pray this prayer: “Lord, forgive me. I give my garden to You. Have Your way! Remind me again tomorrow.”

I couldn’t get this out of my mind. I gave my garden, my everything, to God. I don’t have to worry about anything. I don’t own the garden anymore, He does! Everything to do with my life is His worry now. He takes care of His own!

See & hear the full story on utube: THE PINEAPPLE STORY FULL INSPIRATIONAL

FROM FEAR TO FAITH

Recently I decided to review a course I had taken some years ago. I needed some answers and this would be a good place to start. The course, “Counseled by God” is taught by Mark Virkler who also teaches “How to Hear the Voice of God.” I started each morning  by watching the DVD for that day’s lesson, then spending time with the Lord journaling my questions and His answers.

As I journaled, my time and conversation with the Lord was always meaningful. Although there were aspects of ministry and healing in previous lessons, session seven was very close to home, “From Fear to Faith.”  The application exercise addressed the question, “Are there areas of fear in your life? To help you discern them, list five “what if”s…you have asked yourself recently.”

Ask the Lord, “What do You want to say about these “what if’s?” I made my list and I asked the Lord what He would say to me. His answer was loving, encouraging, and He reminded me that He has always taken care of me all these years. He said, “Let the light of My Word shine into all the corners, the places where dust webs of doubt are lurking. Have faith in Me!” Certain Scriptures came to mind.

One book in the Old Testament written by the prophet, Habakkuk, addresses fear and faith with all the implications we face today. He had a lot of questions concerning things that were bothering him. The world around him was much like ours and he wanted to know why God was allowing the violence and injustice and how long it would go on. God’s answer was, “I am doing something in your days-”

Habakkuk says,”You don’t approve evil or wickedness so why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they are?”He says I don’t understand but I want to. “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me and how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Then the Lord answered Habakkuk, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

He has a conversation with the Lord, remembering His Majesty and Power displayed in the past. His mind turns to the coming invasion which God has told him will come and he almost hears the sound of their coming. His lips quiver and his body trembles as he sets himself to wait quietly for the day of distress and the invading people.

Suddenly his faith rises within him and he says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls. yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

Listen to any news channel and you will be bombarded with all that’s wrong in the world. From fires in California and as of today’s report, five hundred fires in BC to floods in Texas. We need rain and may have a shortage of water here. Shootings and stabbings every day for no reason. Greece is in financial trouble again and our economy is supposed to take a down turn by the fall.

I was born in the great depression is this the full circle for me? I can’t control the world market or the weather patterns but I can control my attitude. I can be filled with fear, try to stash money or food and wait quietly for the invasion of adverse circumstances or I can say, I will remember that the Lord GOD is my strength. I choose to depend on Him. He will enable me to make it through.

What a wonderful affirmation of faith is Habakkuk’s testimony. As he moves from fear to faith he says, “I will not live in fear, according to my circumstances, the joy of the Lord GOD is my strength. He will enable me to overcome. I will not only survive but thrive!” Our hope is not in this world, it must be in God Who is the only source of stability when the world is crumbling around us. I choose to put my faith in Him.

WHEN GOD SPEAKS

When I think about God speaking, words from an old familiar song come to mind. “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing. And the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing. And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C.Austin Miles)

When God speaks there are many different responses, some with consequences. The Bible is full of examples of God speaking. Right from the beginning to the end, we have recorded instances of God speaking. He spoke this world and all of creation into existence. He said, “Let there be -,” and there was! He made the first man & woman, breathing His very Life into them and His first words to them were blessing.

But people did not always choose to listen. Adam & Eve did not want to listen to God’s words and their disobedience resulted in a curse instead of blessing. Now, instead of knowing only love, they felt fear and when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid from Him. God knew where they were but He called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam needed to admit where he was and what he had done.

As time went on, God spoke in various ways, to many different kinds of people, who were in all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes He spoke through dreams or visions. In Job 33:14-16 Elihu says to Job, “-God speaks once or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleeps falls on men while they slumber in their beds. Then He opens the ears of man and seals their instruction,”

When Abraham was seventy five years old, God spoke to him and said, “Leave your country and go to a place I will show you,” and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Although he made a lot of mistakes along the way, he was known as a man of great faith and as the friend of God. As we read about his life we see that God constantly spoke with him.

When the people refused to hear God’s voice, He would speak to the prophets or the leaders, who would then tell the people what God said. Moses was one leader who talked with God , “face to face just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11) After spending a long time with God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil because the people could not stand to look at the glow on his face.

God’s ways of speaking were not always the same. In 1 Kings 19 we have the account of God speaking to Elijah at a time when he was very discouraged. After God had given him a great victory, he suddenly became frightened of a woman’s threat. Jezebel sent word to him that she was going to kill him. In fear, he ran for his life into the wilderness, sat down under a tree and said, “Oh Lord, take my life!”

After sleeping , he was awakened by an angel who gave him food & drink that sustained him for the next forty days and nights. When he came to Mount Horeb he stopped at a cave. He heard God asking him a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”His answer was, “I have been very zealous for you. … All the other prophets have been killed, I’m the only one left and they are trying to kill me.”

The Lord instructed him to stand  at a certain place on the mountain. Then the Lord passed by with a mighty show of force. First, a great, strong wind tearing up the mountain and breaking the rocks into pieces. But the Lord was not in the wind!  After the wind, an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally there came a sound of gentle blowing.

When Elijah heard that, he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave. The voice of the Lord came again, asking the same question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah gave the same reply, ending with “I’m the only one left and my life is being sought.” God then gave him instructions to return and choose certain people as leaders. He says, “I have 7,000 other faithful people.”

Elijah listened to God’s voice and obeyed His instructions.  He was a great prophet who was known for his amazing faith with which he performed miracles. He is one example of a man who wanted to hear from God and was blessed because of it. Of course there are also examples of people who did not want to listen to God and ended up with unwanted consequences.

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn the people that he was going to deal with them about their wickedness, he did not want do it, so he got on a boat headed in the opposite direction. He told the seamen that he was fleeing from the presence of  the Lord. God sent a terrible storm which threatened their lives. At his request they threw Jonah overboard and the sea was calm.

The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow him. In his distress he called out to God to rescue him. After three days in the belly of the fish he had a change of mind and was ready to listen to God. The Lord commanded the fish and it vomited him out. I imagine the fish was just as glad to get rid of Jonah as Jonah  was to leave! In His patience, God spoke to Jonah a second time.

God wanted him to go to Nineveh and warn the people that the judgement of God was about to fall on them if they didn’t repent and mend their wicked ways. The people believed the message and the king, the nobles and ordinary people fasted and prayed and turned to God. But Jonah was angry because God showed compassion, forgave the people and did not bring the calamity he promised.

God speaks today! Above the tumult of war threats, nations rising against nations, kidnappings by Boko Haran and murderings by ISIS, God is speaking! Above tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and changing weather patterns, God is speaking! Many people do not want to hear God’s voice. They believe they have a right to live their life as they wish without any interference from God. They don’t fear Him!

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Verses 20-29″Wisdom shouts in the street…..because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof, I will laugh at your calamity….they will call on me , but I will not answer….because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”

God is speaking! He is calling out a people for Himself to have a relationship with Him. Hebrews 1:1 – 2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” He sent His Son, Jesus to bring us into fellowship with the Father.

God speaks to the whole world generally to return to Him but He also speaks to each individual person, calling them to walk with Him. I can tune Him out or I can make time to listen. Each day as I spend time in fellowship with Him through His Word and in prayer I get His perspective on everything around me and I can face whatever comes my way, with confidence that He is there.

When God speaks my best response is a listening ear. “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C. Austin Miles)

 

 

 

 

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

In his book, “The Bush Is Still Burning” Lloyd John Ogilvie describes an experience he had in Israel as he sat on a hillside watching shepherds and their sheep in the valley below. As the sun began to set, he saw something remarkable take place. The shepherds began to call out to the sheep, each walking in a different direction. After milling around a bit, the sheep divided and a separate group followed each shepherd.

What a sight, the shepherd in front and the sheep faithfully following. They knew their Shepherd and he knew his sheep.Each shepherd led his sheep to a different sheepfold, an enclosure with four walls and a man sized opening on one side. The shepherds stood inside and called their sheep to enter.

Then they built a fire just inside the door and prepared their evening meal. Before long the fires would be banked and the shepherds would curl up in their blankets for a night of watchfulness inside the doorway of the sheepfold. No sheep could go out and no predators or invading danger could come in past the shepherd.

The imagery of shepherds and sheep is used all through the Bible, depicting God and His relationship with His people. Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He Who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” God is frequently referred to as the Shepherd and Israel as His flock.

He is the Good Shepherd Who provides everything for His sheep as Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Often Jesus spoke of Himself as the Shepherd and the disciples or followers as His flock and when He said He was the Good Shepherd, He identified Himself with God.

In John 10, we have the words of Jesus teaching His disciples. He compares His relationship with them as that of a shepherd and his sheep. When He spoke using figures of speech, they didn’t understand so He began to speak more directly. In verse 7 and 9, Jesus tells them, “I am the door of the sheep.”

Then He says, ” I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Not only am I the protector of my sheep, the only way to go in and out of the sheepfold, but I willingly lay down my life for my sheep.”I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Vs17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” Vs18 “No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

But there were other people who heard the words of Jesus and they argued all the time about His words and whether He was the Christ or not. Jesus pinpointed their questioning attitude by saying to them, “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.”

So, not everyone is a sheep who is following Jesus, the Shepherd. There are those who are not interested in what He has to say except to find some fault. There are some who hear His voice and seem to be one of the sheep but they do not really want to follow Him and obey Him.

All through Scripture there are solemn warnings not to harden our hearts to His voice. In Psalm 95:6-7 “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts -,”

Hebrews 3 says. “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts,” God requires our obedience if we truly hear His voice and desire to follow Him. Proverbs 29:1 “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”

In his book, “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” Phillip Keller talks about a beautiful ewe he had which he really loved. She was healthy and bright eyed, and she had sturdy lambs which matured rapidly. But she had one fault, she was restless, discontented.

He named her Mrs.Gadabout. Because she was a fence crawler, she produced more problems than all his other sheep. No matter what field or pasture the sheep were in Mrs.Gadabout would search for a loophole to craw through and feed on the other side.

Often she would end up feeding on bare, brown, burned up pasturage that was inferior to the place she was in before. She never learned but continued to fence crawl time after time. Not only that but she taught her lambs the same tricks and soon they were skilled at fence crawling too.

Even worse was the example she set for other sheep. In a short time she began to lead others through the same holes and over the same dangerous paths down to the sea. After putting up with her perverseness for a summer, he came to a conclusion. In order to save his flock from becoming unsettled, she would have to go.

He could not allow one obstinate, discontented ewe to ruin the whole ranch operation. It was the only solution. It was a difficult decision to make because he loved her as much as the rest. One morning her fence crawling career was cut short. He took the killing knife and he butchered her. In spite of the good care he had given her she always wanted something else.

To quote Phillip, “She was not like the one who said, The Lord is my Shepherd – I shall not want. It is a solemn warning to the carnal Christian  – backslider – the half Christian – the one who wants the best of both worlds. Sometimes, in short order, they can be cut down.”

There is another type of sheep Jesus mentioned, those who are not a part of the fold yet. Vs16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one Shepherd.” Jesus, the Good Shepherd is calling the lost.

In Luke 15 we have a parable Jesus told to illustrate the great love He has for lost sheep. The shepherd who has one hundred sheep finds that one is missing. He leaves the ninety nine and searches for the lost one until he finds it. He calls his neighbors to rejoice with him because he found his sheep that was lost.”

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety nine righteous persons that need no repentance. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

At Easter we remember the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah tells us He bore our iniquity, our sins. We were disobedient, like straying sheep and Jesus laid down His life for us. If we hear His voice and follow Him we will never want or lack any necessity of life. He promises to care for us forever, in this life and the next.

Vs27-30 “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (essence).”

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN

How long has it been since you talked with the Lord,
And told Him your heart’s hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed? How long since you stayed
On your knees till the light shone through?

How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

How long has it been since you knelt by your bed
And prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that He’d answer you
And would keep you the long night through?

How long has it been since you woke with the dawn
And felt that the day’s worth the living?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

 

Song by Mosie Lister