Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are you a good sheep?

John 10: 1-16 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me[a] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Today's Sunday school lesson was over the above passage.  I had a really hard time preparing for the lesson.  I don't know if I wasn't as prayerful about it or if it was because I waited until the last minute, but I did struggle with the preparation.  The message just didn't click with me.

But then we had class, and I was moved.

Isn't God just so cool?!?

As we started discussing the scripture, there were a few things that really stood out:

First, Jesus is the door to heaven.  He doesn't tell us that He is a door or one of the doors. He tells us that He is THE door.  That means not all paths lead to heaven.  Many people think they are good enough to get to heaven. Some religions think you buy your way in to heaven.  Some believe there is no guarantee you will go to heaven.  Others believe there is no heaven.  Jesus is the one and only way.

Another thing was the scattering of the sheep part.  Satan is so deceptive. He is really good at it.  He can make things look really good to where we don't think anything is wrong with it.  That is how Satan scatters the flock (how he makes us backslide or turn our backs on Jesus).  Satan is a liar. He is a thief.  He is that nagging voice that tells us we aren't good enough, we aren't forgiven, there is no hope.  How then do we win the battle? It isn't our battle to win. It is the Lord's.  We must lean on Him. We must feed on His Word.  We must spend time with Him.  He will provide us with the armor needed to defeat the devil. 

Along the same lines, I wonder where all the Christians are.  I am disturbed more and more everyday by things that I see, hear, and read.  I loathe the news.  I try not to watch or read much of it.  But somehow, I came across an article about Hobby Lobby and how the company is in trouble for not providing the health care coverage that would allow their employees to have access to the morning after pill.  They don't want to provide it because it goes against their religious beliefs.  The company is being fined and sued for not supporting a morning after pill.  Another thing that I learned today was that in a World Religion class being taken by teens, Christianity is not included. Seriously.  I don't understand that.

So, where are we Christians?  What is is going to take for us to stand up and say, "We've had enough. We are tired of being pushed to the side because of what we believe. We are tired of  our religious freedoms being taken away because we believe in Jesus."  Am I the only one who sees it?  Christians can't speak up for what is biblical because people don't want to be told what is right and wrong. They don't want to be told what is moral or immoral.  They don't want to be told about Jesus.  If we do those things, we are infringing on the rights of people who don't believe what we believe.  What about our rights? Why is it that we have to stay quiet just because we believe in the Bible?

Another thing about today's scripture that touched me was verse 10.  Just coming out of the Christmas holiday with shopping and Santa Claus, it was good to talk about gifts.  I can list what packages were opened and what they contained, but those aren't the gifts that Jesus is talking about. He isn't talking about the abundance of stuff. 

When we discussed our favorite gifts from this Christmas, one class member talked about how the family was really dreading Christmas because her father passed away on Christmas day of last year.  She knew it would be a struggle. However, the family spent time watching old home movies and reminiscing. They felt a peace. They knew they would one day see their loved one again because of Jesus.  Another class member talked about the gift of just being still, being together.  Those, my friend, are the gifts that Jesus gives. That is the abundance He is talking about. 

If we are stressing over having to buy the next big screen plasma HD TV or iPod touch or whatever else, we are missing the point of living an abundant life.  When we focus on all the stuff, and not just at Christmas time, but all year, when we focus on all that, we lose focus of the real gifts.

The gift of salvation.

The gift of joy.

The gift of hope.

The gift of peace. 

The gift of love. 

When you find joy in cuddling on the couch with your loved ones, that is an abundant life.

When you find the peace of knowing you will see your friend, mother, father, loved one again in heaven because you both have a relationship with Christ, that is an abundant life.

When you feel the peace and comfort from spending a sleepless night in prayer over a situation you have no control over, that is an abundant life. 

When your six year old has a prayer request or stands ups and sings in church, that is an abundant life.

When you can't get enough of Jesus, that is an abundant life. 

Jesus is the Good Shepard.  I want to be a good sheep.  I want to allow Him to lead me and guide me. I want to allow Him to protect me and guard me.  I want to allow Him to feed me and nourish me.  He loves me, and I love Him.

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