Psalms 27:13,14: "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord...the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart....wait I say on the Lord."
Psalms 34:4: "I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears."
WHAT IS A SHEPHERD?
I grew up in 'cow country' (beef and dairy).
Some of our neighbors raised cows for beef, but we ran a Grade A Dairy and sold milk to Steffin's Milk Company in Altus, Okla.
That helped get us through the depression and helped to pay for 80 acres which my Dad acquired.....next to the 80 acres he inherited from his Dad.
My 3 brothers and I milked 22 cows....each morning before we caught the bus to school, then again each evening before supper!
(That was BEFORE the days of electric milking machines!)
Like a good shepherd loves his sheep, we came to love our cows.
We named each one, sometimes by looks...or personality,
but we became close to them, almost like they were family.
I remember when I was about 10-12 yrs. old my favorite cow, 'Blackie'
(named for her color) checked out with what they called 'bangs disease'.
She had to be sold and was taken to Oklahoma City.
I watched in tears as the truck took her away.
Jesus relates to us in a very personal way....
He knows our names....and He knows when bad times come.
Later I learned more about sheep and shepherds.
In 1957, La Moyne, our 2 oldest sons and I moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming to pastor.
When we would travel to Casper, Wyoming, we noticed shepherds tending their sheep.
Winter was rough, but the shepherds would be out with their sheep, moving them from place to place in search of pasture.
Sometimes they would have a wagon and a team of horses.
It always looked cold and lonely, but they were there as 'good shepherds'.
John's Gospel of 21 chapters is my favorite New Testament book.
Each chapter paints a different picture of Jesus....my favorite is John 10.
1) Verse 1-2: Jesus is the Door to the sheepfold.
Over 1900 times in the Scriptures, the word 'Come' is used as God invites us to 'come through the doors to His abundance.
Jesus is the Main Door, however.
2) Vs. 3: We listen to Him and follow Him.
This makes you 'special' for as II Corin. 6:19-20: "We are not our own for we have been bought with a price (the Cross)...
and are to glorify God in all we say and do."
3) Vs. 4: A good Shepherd goes before the sheep to show them that the path is safe.
Even when they come to a stream, he may have to cross first...before they will follow.
He may even pick up a lamb and carry it on his shoulders across the stream.
This even gives MORE assurance to the sheep.
Jesus cares for us...and in a sense, He carries us!
4) Vs. 10-11: "I am the door and by me, all who enter in shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy.
I AM COME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY.
I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND I GIVE MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP."
This section also emphasizes...'beware' of satan and... 'be aware' of The Savior!
The contrast is quite graphic in how much the Savior-Shepherd cares for his sheep.
This reminds us of II Peter 5:7: "Casting all your cares upon him, for he cares for you."
Meanwhile, satan could care less for you!
5) Vs. 14-15: The Good Shepherd knows us and makes Himself known to us!
Over and over, the Scripture emphasizes that we can know Jesus in a very personal way.
I like the old song:
"I do not know the depths of Jesus' love
That brought Him down to earth from Heaven above.
But this one thing I know
That when that crimson flow
Dropped to the earth below....
It fell on me!
My eyes were opened wide...
I saw Him crucified...
And knew for me, He died
6) Vs. 27-30: "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me....
and I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of my Father's Hand. I and my Father are One." The good Shepherd keeps us in life...and in death.
David Livingstone (long time British missionary to Africa) was asked how he could travel Africa for 25 years, winning the lost, establishing roads and making life better for people?
He replied, "I had the words of a Gentleman, Who never broke His promise in Matthew 28:20: "I am with you always even unto the end."
Someday He will come again for His sheep!
Until then, John 10:16: "There are other sheep not in the fold. You MUST bring them to me for there is one fold and one shepherd."
Jesus has also said in Luke 15:4: "What person having a hundred sheep and loses one, does not go out to find it? Once he has found it, there is great rejoicing. Likewise in Heaven, there is rejoicing over one sinner who repents."
Psalms 23 tells us what we have....if we walk with The Shepherd:
The Lord is my Shepherd.................................perfect salvation
I shall not want...............................................perfect satisfaction
He makes me to lie down in green pastures......perfect rest
He leads me beside the still waters...................perfect refreshment
He restores my soul.........................................perfect restoration
He leads me in paths of righteousness..............perfect guidance
I will fear no evil..............................................perfect protection
He is with me..................................................perfect company
His rod and staff comfort me............................perfect comfort
He prepares a table for me...............................perfect provisions
He anoints my head with oil.............................perfect consecration
My cup overflows.............................................perfect joy
Goodness and mercy will follow me forever.......perfect care
I will dwell forever in the House of the Lord......perfect destiny
Oklahoma's name is derived from 2 Choctaw words:
'Okla' meaning people and 'humma' meaning red.
There are currently 35 tribes of Indians living in Oklahoma.
La Moyne and I are proud of our Indian heritage (Choctaw and Chickasaw), so we would like to share this Indian version of Psalm 23 by Isabel Crawford, missionary to the Plains Indians.
"The GREAT FATHER above, a SHEPHERD CHIEF is.
I am His, and with Him I want not.
He throws out to me a rope, and the name of the rope is Love.
He draws me to where the grass is green, and the water not dangerous,
and I eat and lie down and am satisfied.
Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down,
but He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road.
His name is WONDERFUL.
Sometimes....it may be very soon...or it may be a long, long time...
He will draw me into a valley. It is dark there, but I'll be afraid not.
For it is in between those mountains that The Shepherd Chief will meet me
and the hunger that I have in my heart all through life, will be SATISFIED.
Sometimes...He makes the love rope into a whip.
But afterwards, He gives me a staff to lean upon.
He spreads a table before me, with all kinds of foods.
He puts His hand upon my head and all the 'tired' is gone.
My cup He fills 'till it runs over.
What I tell is true. I lie not.
These roads that are 'away ahead' will stay with me through this life and after.
I will go to live in the Big Tepee and sit down with the Shepherd Chief FOREVER."
Amen and amen!
John's Gospel was written by the beloved Apostle, John.
Later he would write the Revelation, the last book of our Bible.
Jesus appears to John and says, "Fear not, I am the first and the last. I am He that lives and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of death."
Jesus was saying:
"Don't be afraid of life, for I have lived.
Don't be afraid of death, for I have died.
Don't be afraid of Eternity....
for I hold in my hand the keys to all those mansions over there."
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