July 22nd

Shepherd and Sheep

24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ tell us plainly." 25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one." John 10:24-30 NKJV 

Jesus uses the analogy of a good shepherd and his sheep in John 10 to illustrate our relationship with God.  Sheep are apparently not the most intelligent of animals, yet they listen to their master’s voice and follow him.  This simple model is what we are to follow in living for God – we are to listen to Jesus’ voice and follow him. 

Too often we use our intellect and reasoning skills to try to figure out what the master is doing and what our roles should be in that work.   A lot of energy can be spent in striving and worrying, when all we really have to do is listen for the Lord and follow him.  I’m reminded of these words from 23rd Psalm NIV: 

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

From a sheep’s perspective, these verses describe heaven.  Green pasture, quiet waters and rest are the things they love best.  If we’ll let him, the Lord will lead us in peace, satisfying us with good things that we need and desire, just like with the sheep.  He will also restore our souls and guide us in the paths of righteousness.   

Hearing God’s voice can be an elusive challenge for some people.  We need not struggle to get our “spiritual ears” connected, as this is something that only God can do for us.  We can simply trust that God will guide us in a way that we’ll recognize.  We can, however, do our best to familiarize ourselves with his written word, which is applicable to any situation we may face in life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  The Bible helps us get to know God – his character, his ways and his will.  Reading the Bible loads our mind with the truth and helps us better recognize what is of God and what is not.  An analogy for this is found in how bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money.  They spend much time with real money by handling it and studying it.  When a counterfeit bill comes through, they are easily able to recognize it as a fake, because they know the character of real money.  When we know God’s truth, we’ll easily recognize the devil’s false shepherds.   

We can also ensure that we’re taking time to “rest” in God and listen for his guidance.  I thought it was interesting in Psalm 23:2 how the good shepherd made the sheep lie down in green pasture.  If we can take time out of our busy lives to make ourselves rest and enjoy what God has blessed us with, we’re likely to be more aware of God’s voice.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer: 

“Lord Jesus, thank you for being my Good Shepherd.  Thank you for abundantly providing for me and enabling me to bless others.  Please teach me to rest in you, Lord, and to listen for your voice.  Please sharpen my convictions to obey the Holy Spirit in every prompting.  Thank you for restoring my soul and leading in the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.  I bless your name and praise you now and forever. Amen.”