John 10-12 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He has provided the gateway into His presence

Even though the wonderful relationship between the Shepherd and His sheep expressed in Psalm 23 needs no affirmation, John 10 does just that.  David explained that relationship from the viewpoint of a sheep, and Jesus confirmed it from the viewpoint of the Shepherd.  I can’t help but give pause to John 10.  Here’s an excerpt from Intimate Moments with the Shepherd, Chapter 48, a visual impression from the Lord entitled,“The Gatekeeper.”

Night was advancing across the countryside as the sheep rushed past the Shepherd to the fold, tired and ready for rest.  As the Shepherd approached the fold, He found a bottleneck at the somewhat narrow gate as the sheep pushed and jostled to move through it.  The Shepherd moved to the middle of the gateway and stood, allowing the sheep to pass one by one on either of Him safely into the fold.

Although it would seem that His position at the gate would narrow the passageway even further, it actually brought order and safety to the flock.  As the sheep passed by Him one by one, the Shepherd, knowing each name as He did, was able to see who was there and who was not.

Why not have many gates and avoid all this chaos?  More sheep could enter more quickly and rest would come all the sooner to the weary flock. “‘I assure you, I am the gate for the sheep,’ [Jesus] said.” (John 10:7)  Why is the gate so narrow?  “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)  Why is there only one way into heaven?  Wouldn’t a loving God want everyone there?  “All others who came before me were thieves and robbers.   But the true sheep did not listen to them.  Yes I am the gate.  Those who come through me will be saved.” (John 10:8-9)  “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

None of our questions will change the facts.  The Lord our Shepherd is the only gateway into eternity with God and He was chosen by God to fulfill this role.  God, our creator, overflowing with great love for His lost creation, sent His Son, the only part of Him that our finite minds could ever understand, to be our gateway to Him.  All that is required of us is to accept this Savior and to follow Him to His Father.

Any other gate would be an insult and a mockery of God’s sacrificial gift to us.  “There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:4-7)  Paul, not known to mince words, laid it out plainly in this passage. An individual who believes someone or something created life other than God may take exception to this declaration.  Unfortunately, eternity will clear that up one day should that mindset continue.

Order was not the only benefit given to the flock by the Shepherd positioned as the gate.  Their Shepherd was a very personal shepherd, and He knew each one by name.  Because of this familiarity, the Shepherd would know immediately if one had failed to pass by Him, and He would search for the missing sheep.

Our God knows us by name, as well.  In fact, His knowledge of us is so personal that He actually has numbered the hairs on our head. (Matthew 10:30)  For those who are hair challenged this may not be such a big deal, but for most of us, it screams intimacy—intimacy with our Creator.  Although He will not force our devotion, He will pursue us and abundantly fill us with His love.  Bless the Gatekeeper!

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful for my intimate relationship with the Shepherd today.  I know Him, and He knows me…intimate moments. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Timothy 3-4

John 1-2 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He became human and dwelt with us, revealing Himself to us

My mom was a personal soul winner like no one else I’ve ever known.  Although she was somewhat shy by nature, when it came to sharing her love for Jesus with others, she was fearless!  Her favorite tool was a small booklet of the Book of John, and I can’t even begin to number how many she gave out to those she had led to Lord.

Sometimes she would run out of her copies of John, but I can still hear her telling the new ones in the Lord, “Just read the Book of John! Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus.”  Mom loved this book because as a new Christian, before she found a church home or Christian friends, God directed her to read it.  Within the pages of John, she fell in love with her Savior, discovered her Shepherd and met the Great Physician.  Needless to say, the Book of John is a favorite of mine, too.

While the other gospels include wonderful, anointed biographies of the life and times of Jesus on earth, John’s approach in writing was different, more thematic.  Just as a lawyer systematically presents his argument to a jury, John gave a deliberate and methodical case for the deity and power of Jesus.  His closing argument, if you will, is found nearly at the end of John in chapter 20:30-31, “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.”   Persuaded by the powerful words of John and our own undeniable experience, my mom and I accept the verdict – Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God!

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1)  In our language of today, the term Word is an unusual way to begin a case for the deity of Christ, but in John’s day, it was a term familiar to Jew and Greek alike.  To the Jew it was a term used for God; and to the Greek, Word was a term used to represent the current philosophy or reason of an expressed thought.  During the troubled times of persecution after the fall of Jerusalem, John was able to capture the attention of both the Jew and the Greek.

Similar to the Greeks, today much of the world’s thinking about God and His Son is ruled by philosophy and reason without faith – He was simply a good man or possibly a prophet. Just as my mom had discovered, the words of John along with the testimony of our personal acceptance of Him are powerful tools to convince the world that Jesus is the Son of God.

I love the unforgettable words from John – “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), “For God so loved the world that He gave” (3:16), “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep” (10:11), “Now you are my friends (15:15), and so much more.  Just read the Book of John!  Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus. And we will read it.

Moving Forward:  I’m convinced, and willing to share with anyone who will listen, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Mighty Counselor, the Healer…and my friend. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Thessalonians

Ezekiel 31-36(NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is the Shepherd who never fails us, never leaves us

@ Ezekiel 34
Shepherds and sheep – right up my alley!  While writing the devotional book, Intimate Moments with the Shepherd, I had the joy of visiting sheep farms where I met dozens of shepherds and hundreds of sheep.  I’m sure the shepherds enjoyed watching this city girl navigate the pastures and sheepfolds while learning about the nature of sheep.  My advice for anyone pursuing an adventure like this is to wear sturdy boots, enough said.

“What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?…You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal.” (1-5)  Ezekiel revealed this prophecy to the kings, prophets and priests of Israel, the shepherds of Israel, who with their selfish, cruel behavior had neglected and abandoned the children of Israel.

We’ve followed the sinful acts of Israel’s leadership over the past several weeks recorded in Ezekiel, Leviticus and 1 and 2 Kings.  The common thread throughout the accounts of each evil leader was disobedience to God while following their own selfish desires to be powerful, prosperous and popular.  Whether in the church world or the secular world today, the pursuit of these same three selfish desires will cause a leader to neglect and abandon those being led.  The sheep become weak, lost and scattered, no longer the strong flock they once were and because of this, sorrow awaited the shepherds.

Thankfully, the shepherds I met on my journeys were not at all like those described in Chapter 34.  Their eyes sparkled as they talked about their pride and joy and as they shared the heritage of each sheep, their parents, siblings and offspring.  The shepherds knew them so well that many of the sheep were named according to their personalities.  They knew what grasses and grains each sheep enjoyed the most and recalled the injuries and diseases certain sheep had experienced.  They would never call their sheep dumb but agreed that they indeed were willful at times…hmmm.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock… I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again… I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak… And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David [Jesus]. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them.” (11-16,23)   And He did just that!  He sent His Son, Jesus, the Shepherd of Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd of John 10, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” (14-15)  He is the selfless Shepherd who sacrificed His life, the faithful Shepherd who will never leave us or forsake us, and He is the intimate Shepherd who knows us by name. 

Moving Forward: Standing firm today on the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd.  I know Him, and He knows me! 

Tomorrow @ Luke 21-22

John 10-12 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He has provided the gateway into His presence

Even though the wonderful relationship between the Shepherd and His sheep expressed in Psalm 23 needs no affirmation, John 10 does just that.  David explained that relationship from the viewpoint of a sheep, and Jesus confirmed it from the viewpoint of the Shepherd.  I can’t help but give pause to John 10.  Here’s an excerpt from Intimate Moments with the Shepherd, Chapter 48, a visual impression from the Lord entitled,“The Gatekeeper.”

Night was advancing across the countryside as the sheep rushed past the Shepherd to the fold, tired and ready for rest.  As the Shepherd approached the fold, He found a bottleneck at the somewhat narrow gate as the sheep pushed and jostled to move through it.  The Shepherd moved to the middle of the gateway and stood, allowing the sheep to pass one by one on either of Him safely into the fold.

Although it would seem that His position at the gate would narrow the passageway even further, it actually brought order and safety to the flock.  As the sheep passed by Him one by one, the Shepherd, knowing each name as He did, was able to see who was there and who was not.

Why not have many gates and avoid all this chaos?  More sheep could enter more quickly and rest would come all the sooner to the weary flock. “‘I assure you, I am the gate for the sheep,’ [Jesus] said.” (John 10:7)  Why is the gate so narrow?  “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)  Why is there only one way into heaven?  Wouldn’t a loving God want everyone there?  “All others who came before me were thieves and robbers.   But the true sheep did not listen to them.  Yes I am the gate.  Those who come through me will be saved.” (John 10:8-9)  “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

None of our questions will change the facts.  The Lord our Shepherd is the only gateway into eternity with God and He was chosen by God to fulfill this role.  God, our creator, overflowing with great love for His lost creation, sent His Son, the only part of Him that our finite minds could ever understand, to be our gateway to Him.  All that is required of us is to accept this Savior and to follow Him to His Father.

Any other gate would be an insult and a mockery of God’s sacrificial gift to us.  “There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:4-7)  Paul, not known to mince words, laid it out plainly in this passage. An individual who believes someone or something created life other than God may take exception to this declaration.  Unfortunately, eternity will clear that up one day should that mindset continue.

Order was not the only benefit given to the flock by the Shepherd positioned as the gate.  Their Shepherd was a very personal shepherd, and He knew each one by name.  Because of this familiarity, the Shepherd would know immediately if one had failed to pass by Him, and He would search for the missing sheep.

Our God knows us by name, as well.  In fact, His knowledge of us is so personal that He actually has numbered the hairs on our head. (Matthew 10:30)  For those who are hair challenged this may not be such a big deal, but for most of us, it screams intimacy—intimacy with our Creator.  Although He will not force our devotion, He will pursue us and abundantly fill us with His love.  Bless the Gatekeeper!

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful for my intimate relationship with the Shepherd today.  I know Him and He knows me…intimate moments. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Timothy 3-4

John 1-2 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He became human and dwelt with us, revealing Himself to us

My mom was a personal soul winner like no one else I’ve ever known.  Although she was somewhat shy by nature, when it came to sharing her love for Jesus with others, she was fearless!  Her favorite tool was a small booklet of the Book of John, and I can’t even begin to number how many she gave out to those she had led to Lord.

Sometimes she would run out of her copies of John, but I can still hear her telling the new ones in the Lord, “Just read the Book of John! Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus.”  Mom loved this book because as a new Christian, before she found a church home or Christian friends, God directed her to read it.  Within the pages of John, she fell in love with her Savior, discovered her Shepherd and met the Great Physician.  Needless to say, the Book of John is a favorite of mine, too.

While the other gospels include wonderful, anointed biographies of the life and times of Jesus on earth, John’s approach in writing was different, more thematic.  Just as a lawyer systematically presents his argument to a jury, John gave a deliberate and methodical case for the deity and power of Jesus.  His closing argument, if you will, is found nearly at the end of John in chapter 20:30-31, “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.”   Persuaded by the powerful words of John and our own undeniable experience, my mom and I accept the verdict – Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God!

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1)  In our language of today, the term Word is an unusual way to begin a case for the deity of Christ, but in John’s day it was a term familiar to Jew and Greek alike.  To the Jew it was a term used for God; and to the Greek, Word was a term used to represent the current philosophy or reason of an expressed thought.  During the troubled times of persecution after the fall of Jerusalem, John was able to capture the attention of both the Jew and the Greek.

Similar to the Greeks, today much of the world’s thinking about God and His Son is ruled by philosophy and reason without faith – He was simply a good man or possibly a prophet. Just as my mom had discovered, the words of John along with the testimony of our personal acceptance of Him are powerful tools to convince the world that Jesus is the Son of God.

I love the unforgettable words from John – “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), “For God so loved the world that He gave” (3:16), “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep” (10:11), “Now you are my friends (15:15), and so much more.  Just read the Book of John!  Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus. And we will read it.

Moving Forward:  I’m convinced, and willing to share with anyone who will listen, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the mighty Counselor, the Healer…and my friend. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Thessalonians

Ezekiel 31-36(NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is the Shepherd who never fails us, never leaves us

@ Ezekiel 34
Shepherds and sheep – right up my alley!  While writing the devotional book, Intimate Moments with the Shepherd, I had the joy of visiting sheep farms where I met dozens of shepherds and hundreds of sheep.  I’m sure the shepherds enjoyed watching this city girl navigate the pastures and sheepfolds while learning about the nature of sheep.  My advice for anyone pursuing an adventure like this is to wear sturdy boots, enough said.

“What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?…You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal.” (1-5)  Ezekiel revealed this prophecy to the kings, prophets and priests of Israel, the shepherds of Israel, who with their selfish cruel behavior had neglected and abandoned the children of Israel.

We’ve followed the sinful acts of Israel’s leadership over the past several weeks recorded in Ezekiel, Leviticus and 1 and 2 Kings.  The common thread throughout the accounts of each evil leader was disobedience to God while following their own selfish desires to be powerful, prosperous and popular.  Whether in the church world or the secular world today, pursuit of these same three selfish desires will cause a leader to neglect and abandon those being led.  The sheep become weak, lost and scattered, no longer the strong flock they once were and because of this, sorrow awaited the shepherds.

Thankfully, the shepherds I met on my journeys were not at all like those described in Chapter 34.  Their eyes sparkled as they talked about their pride and joy and shared the heritage of each sheep, their parents, siblings and offspring.  The shepherds knew them so well that many of the sheep were named according to their personalities.  They knew what grasses and grains each sheep enjoyed the most and recalled the injuries and diseases certain sheep had experienced.  They would never call their sheep dumb but agreed that they certainly were willful at times…hmmm.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock… I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again… I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak… And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David [Jesus]. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them.” (11-16,23)   And He did just that!  He sent His Son, Jesus, the Shepherd of Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd of John 10, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” (14-15)  He is the selfless Shepherd who sacrificed His life, the faithful Shepherd who will never leave us or forsake us, and He is the intimate Shepherd who knows us by name. 

Moving Forward: Standing firm today on the care and guidance of the Good Shepherd.  I know Him and He knows me! 

Tomorrow @ Luke 21-22