Tag Archives: Sheep

Whose Life Matters?

Shepherds were outcasts, considered subhuman lowlifes.  Not welcome in town, they lived and slept out in the fields with the animals.  According to the American Journal of Biblical Theology,  “…because of their vocation, shepherds were considered unclean and could not take part in temple worship without ritual cleansing.  They were despised by the people, considered untrustworthy, and unable to testify in a court of law.”  Interesting it was shepherds to whom God initially announced the birth of Jesus. 

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (Luke 2:8-11)

People who could not readily enter the Temple were chosen by God to receive His most important message.  He chose people considered despicable and untrustworthy, unable to testify in court to be His first witnesses.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  (Luke 2:20)

 Those marginalized and rejected by society were the very ones God chose!   But why?  Why not chose people more respected and trusted?  The answer is contained in verse 10 above.  One little word; can you see it?

It’s the word, “all.”  The good news of great joy would be for all the people.   Why all the people.  Because all the people mattered to God.  He loved all the people.  He sent His Son as a gift to all the people.

Even you.  You matter to God.  This good news is for you.

To slightly change what Tiny Tim said, “God blessed us, every one!”

To the Full

Black Friday just isn’t what it used to be.  They ruined all the fun by starting it, in some cases, back at the beginning of November. Not the way the pilgrims observed it. No more standing all night in line and then smashing and pushing to get in the door.  Maybe I’ll take up roller derby.  But speaking of getting in the door, consider this, somewhat more peaceful, analogy from Jesus:

9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:9-10)

The frenzy on Black Friday, I suspect, is largely driven by people who are desperate for life “to the full.”  If I can score that toaster oven at a ridiculously low price, then I’ll be really living.  Nothing wrong with a new toaster oven, but it is not the “gate” to a full life.

Life “to the full” comes only by having the life of the Holy Spirit in our souls.  The Spirit is given to all who, as Jesus says, “enter through Me,” by faith.  Those who find this full life, “come in and go out and find pasture.”  Their lives are not locked up in church but are lived out in the world, led by Jesus, to “pastures” for sustenance and rest.  Compare the peace of that image with the mindset of those who smash and push their way into Black Friday sales.  You can see how the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” the full life he falsely promises.

You are Precious

The pushing and shoving has already begun.  Now that the nastiness of the political campaign process is over, the winners are now jockeying and maneuvering to be the greatest in the new government, to have the most power and prestige possible.  That’s the way we do it here on earth.

But not in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus said the greatest in His Kingdom would be those with the simplest, humblest faith.  He said that each believer in His Kingdom would be personally loved and treasured by God, so much so that He would take it personally when anyone caused harm to any of them.  He spoke in the strongest terms about how horrible it would be if we hurt ourselves by getting stuck in sin.  In other words, Each of us who join His Kingdom by faith is precious.  Our importance and significance is measured by this:  we are important and loved by Him.


“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:10-14)

When you accept Jesus by faith, you are more than accepted by God.  He receives you into His family.  You are precious to Him, so much so, He will pursue you if you wander away.  God is not willing that _____________________ (put your name in the space) ever be lost!

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Don’t be Fooled

If all you had to go on was Hollywood movies, you would expect that all Christians were ignorant fools, and quite possibly hypocrites, hiding wicked acts.  Of course, you know better: you know there must be some good Christians.  But how can you tell one from the other?   It is not enough to see that someone has a fish on their bumper, or even that he or she attends church.  Who really has been changed by trusting Jesus?  Who is it that really is alive by His Spirit?

This is not a new question.  There were pretenders from the very beginning.  Think, Judas.  And lots of pretenders look very real.  Some of them have become famous pastors with huge congregations.  How can we safely sort out who is real?  Jesus taught that many “wolves” would infiltrate His followers, dressed as sheep.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17 )

Likewise, John wrote:

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:7-10)

Just today I read of another so-called minister who swindled his congregation of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  These guys have always been among us.  Don’t be fooled.  What a person does shows in Whom or in what he or she really believes.

Check Engine

Are you getting tired of all this talk about what makes God angry?   You might be thinking, “Alright already! I get it; let’s get on to something more pleasant!”   If that is how you feel, imagine how God feels!  Fact is, God wants us to get on with the good stuff.  That’s why He gave us the Bible!

When your check-engine light comes on,

Check Engine light on a 1996 Dodge Caravan.

Check Engine light on a 1996 Dodge Caravan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

you can either get upset about it, or you can think, “Wow! My car just informed me of something I can do to get it running better.”   Sure you can  also be bummed out about the cretin who just serviced the thing and who probably left a wire unplugged…   But the point is, Isaiah 5 is a “Check Engine” light.  Ignore it to your own peril.  Here’s what lies ahead for those who do:

So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.  (Isaiah 5:15)

The problem, at its root, is arrogance, the attitude that presumes it knows better than God how to live in His garden.  The opposite attitude, humility, is held by those who really do know they need to pay attention to God, the Creator and Designer of all this and to submit to the ways He has said work best.  If you are only recently reading these posts, go back and read about the key verse in Isaiah, the one that reveals the message of the whole Bible.  The short version is this: God will dwell in the souls of the humble, will forgive them, restore them and bring them to full life (Isaiah 57:15-19).

Here is what lies ahead for the humble:

But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich. (Isaiah 5:16-17)

The “sheep” in those verses are the humble who pay attention and submit to God.  And to His Son, Jesus.  Here’s what Jesus said lay in store for His “sheep”:

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
(John 10:7-9)