Our Great Shepherd

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Our Great Shepherd    Psalm 23, John 10, Matthew 24 and combined scriptures.

 
      “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”. David's Spirit-filled pen has inscribed this passage as being the most favored when read aloud in public ceremony. His poetic psalm describes the Lord as his life-long guardian of body and soul. As being a shepherd himself he is able to expound on personal values when being led to pastures, waters and bounty. He includes a reference to his death-valley trails and the inner confidence received to endure every force of evil against him. This heart-felt scripture tells of the divine guidance gotten through hardship in a way we all can relate to. These Holy verses extend goodness and hope to everyone with assurance of being with our Great Shepherd forever.

  The deeper spiritual insight is given when these same truths are carried over to the Gospel of John when our Lord says: "I am the good shepherd”.
It’s here where He spoke an eternal parable to callused hearted Hebrews about His beloved sheep inside the eternal fold. His Word is given in symbolic details and meant to open the eyes of the blinded chosen. In this chapter He warns His flock of thieves finding a way inside, and then He adds an exclusive description of himself to display His Life-Giving Love for us. Using figurative speech He identifies the Gate, the Gate Keeper, and the way He calls His sheep by name. He then grips our heart deeper by saying we’ll recognize His Voice - not a stranger, and then we’ll follow Him with an everlasting trust. But these things were difficult for His hearers to understand, and it’s the same today. How can we know who symbolizes the "hired hand" He spoke of? What person fits the substitute for the True Shepherd who runs in the face of danger without any care of what is left behind? And what allegory should we give the “wolf” in terms we can identify nowadays? Every reader could draw a personal meaning and associate these characters to their own experience in Christ. But the fact which every true follower shares in common is the focal point given when He says; "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep".

  God's Word always gives us such abundance in learning more about our Great Shepherd. But in the final chapters of Matthew's Gospel He brings many of these spiritual truths to the responsibility of His own. In these pages He warns His flock of very dark days and very dreadful events which will come with mass deception. Using words of woe He warns us to be ready, watching and working due to the level of evil of those times. He then transfers the duties of the shepherd to us when He says; ”Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?". Here is our Lord’s position passed forward to us His flock. And likewise, in the host of passages of our New Testament we are instructed to nurture the Household of the Lord from the position we have. These scriptures give His same symbolic message and many of these relate to the same prophesies given by Jeremiah and Ezekiel as they referred to the unfaithful “shepherds of Israel”. The Word brings our attention to the failings and corrupted motives foretold by these prophets for the purpose of those days up till now. The prophetic words of woe describe shepherds wanting only to reap the benefits of the flock, and the same Word of warning is passed forward to us. But, the final Word in leadership as spoken by Our Great Shepherd is to serve the least of His lambs. He then repeats the true meaning of Love to Peter, saying three times; ”Do you love me…....Feed My Sheep"!

  Remembering our FOOD is every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God - our faith always tells us His Word is timeless, active and relevant to the everyday journey of our lives. Doesn’t it seem we are all shepherds and we are all sheep? AND what defines this most is the Spirit speaking inside our heart and using the voice that we alone can understand. It’s always the Light of His Word that shows us the path to follow, or to lead. As sheep we cannot assume a role not given to us, but when working for the Lord we become a shepherd to those He loves. As a shepherd, we must look at our motives and put on His shoulders the work in which we fail. But consider by the scriptures how our deeds fit the pattern of sacrifice shown by true shepherds led by God. Those not following the Lord’s pattern could resemble some of the characters listed in the His parable. Symbolically we could at times resemble the “callused hearted Hebrews”. We could also at times symbolize the “hired hand”. We could fall short in running from the “wolf” if reasons are found to abandon those placed in our care. And on the other hand, how well do we recognize those which are called to be true shepherds over us? Are we ready to exercise responsibility to support them? So then, let us endeavor to fit the pattern of, ”the faithful and wise servant”.

  “In Christ”, we are sheep & shepherd each day. The person who bypasses the Gate actually wants the same things we have, but they do not want to submit to the Word of the Great Shepherd. The wolf never announces his approach, but he devours one by one in secret. There will always be the seemingly true servants who gain earthen goods, glory or the cozy life style while hired in the shepherd’s position, but the voice of that “stranger” we will never follow. As it is written; “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Our prayer is that our eyes are opened to see this ever clearer in our faith. In Acts 20 Paul says; “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”. This shows the Lord’s Word in making the eternal change in him. And we have His same Word in us which has a personal message to every ear. There is no doubt everyone will fail in our walk of Grace. But we can always count on Our Great Shepherd to be our guardian and restore our soul because His mercies will follow us all the days of our life. And we will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Amen!

 

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