You as a Sheep

You as a Sheep

If you have been in the church any amount of time, or are knowledgeable of the teachings of Jesus on some level, you are probably familiar with Jesus comparing people to sheep and revealing that He is our Good Shepherd. Some verses that immediately come to mind could include:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Earlier this week, a report came out of Australia that a merino ram was found who had not been shorn in his entire five or six years of living. He was indeed a lost sheep! This sheep they are calling, Chris, was carrying on his body the burden of 89 pounds of wool. That is the equivalent of 30 sweaters. Talk about needing to clean out your winter wear! Normally merino’s will bear, on average, 11 pounds of wool annually.

According to the TIME article, Chris had to be anesthetized to be sheared by a champion shearer. Prior to his shearing, he had a difficult time getting around and was hesitant with human interaction. Following the shearing of a lifetime, he moved about much better and wanted a pat from his caretakers.

While the wool is not in good condition to be sold, some hope it will be displayed in a museum. The fact is, Chris would most likely have died if he had not been rescued from his burden of wool when he was.

I can’t help but contrast my own story, each of our stories, with that of this Australian sheep, Chris. The Bible is true, we all like sheep have gone astray. However, gratefully, Jesus took the unbearable, damming weight of our sin on himself. 

Even when we come to the place where we are given new life in Christ, our salvation point, our conversion experience, we remain sheep. Today, I would like to ask you, what kind of sheep are you? A lost sheep, within the fold, a sent sheep, a leadersheep?

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Read on and consider that question along with these descriptions:

The lost sheep:

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7)

Perhaps you are a lost sheep never shorn of your burden of sin. Much like, Chris, the merino ram from Australia. Today can be the day of salvation for you. Today can be the day that you lay down your burden of sin to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the Creator God through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Read more here.)

The wandering, overburdened sheep:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Some of us find ourselves wandering in the pastures or on the hillsides of life carrying burdens never meant to bear alone. Jesus sees our everyday demands and desires for us to give them to Him. To take His yoke upon us. That doesn’t mean that all our responsibilities will diminish; some might, but not all. I think the point is, we submit our burdens and our cares to God and Jesus carries them for us. He gives us new eyes to see each task and an eternal perspective from which to draw from. Sometimes laying down our burdens will require relinquishing some of our daily activities, but that doesn’t mean letting go of all responsibilities and living carefree. That’s not the model of a work ethic Jesus gave us. However, the model He did leave for us was that of rising early to pray, and taking every thing to God in prayer and praise.

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The sent sheep:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  (Matthew 10:16)

This sheep should be one we all identify with if we are disciples of Christ Jesus. The saved are the sent. We are to live on mission in this world each and everyday. Just take a look at the headlines, those in Christ Jesus can expect to see more wolves the longer we live; conversely, we should also expect to rescue more sheep that are astray. I think of this week’s headlines of Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis. (Read more here.) As I write this, Kim is sitting in a jail cell in Kentucky because she refuses to lay her faith and covenant with Jesus Christ on the alter of the world’s standards. She is being, like a growing number in our country and thousands around the world, a Daniel in her day.

The leader sheep… yes, even sheep can lead:

Ever heard of the Icelandic Leadersheep? (Read here.) If not, take a few minutes to watch this short documentary below or click here.

Some leadersheep characteristics include:

  • a natural inclination to lead the flock.
  • an awareness of impending danger from predators and inclement weather.
  • managing the pace of the flock.
  • either male or female.
  • also warier than other sheep.
  • interestingly, they have more than one gait, like the Icelandic horse.
  • they always take the lead, even within a new flock of sheep to which they have never belonged before.

Are you a leader/teacher among your brothers and sisters in Christ? Leading brings more strict judgement by God. Consider:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

We need strong, godly, kingdom-driven leaders in our day. The gate is narrow and the way is hard. If God has designed you as a leader, then lead with all diligence as unto Him.

SO… what sheep do you most identify with? What is the Good Shepherd telling you today? He is ever guiding, it us up to His sheep to obey his voice.

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Getting Ready as in the Days of Noah

Getting Ready Noah

The Bible tells us–even more specifically Jesus tells us–that in the last days it will be as in the time of Noah:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:26-33, ESV)

God determined to destroy His creation and created because of the rampant sin on the earth.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8)

The sins of our day are not unlike the sins of Noah’s day; in fact, sin has been the same since the days of Adam and Eve after the fall. Murder, lying, adultery, covetousness, sexual immorality, and idolatry to name a few. The sins of our times are not unique to our times; they are, however, more rampant and championed–like the days of Noah.

Once God gave Noah the command to build the Ark, Noah knew that the time men had to repent and turn to God was limited. Scripture leads me to believe that Noah preached repentance and faith in God to save those who would listen. The people of his day decided they would mock Noah and his God and not heed the warning of impending doom.

God protected and preserved human life and animal life on the Ark in his abundant grace. God provided a way out–a wooden ark. Today, God continues to provide a way out of damnation and judgment: Jesus Christ. Just as the Ark provided the only way to survive God’s judgment of sin by water, Jesus provides the only way to salvation when we face God’s  judgment of fire. (See 1 Corinthians 3:13 for the believers, and 2 Peter 3:10 for the destruction of the earth by fire.)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

I believe we are living once again in the days of Noah. I believe that everything we are seeing on a national and international stage is preparing the way of the Lord as in the days of John the Baptist. That is why it is so very important for us to know the Scriptures so that we are wise unto salvation and prepared to heed the coming of the Lord Jesus. Noah’s Ark may seem archaic, or like a children’s story, but in reality it is a pivotal picture of what is to come.

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Will I Be in Heaven?

 Will I Be in Heaven

Many people believe that they are “good people.” Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us. Like Pilate (See Matthew 27 :24-26), we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride says, “I have not sinned, I am a good person.”

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

So if no one is truly good, then who will be in Heaven?

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Do you have a hard time thinking of children as sinful? Consider, we are sinful from birth because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. One example of children’s sin nature, we do not teach children to lie, but rather to be truthful even when consequences of punishment are at stake.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

In Matthew 27:25, the priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

The only way to Heaven is through faith and forgiveness in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Following our conversion experience, the act of putting our trust in Christ to save us and repenting from our sin, our lives tell the story of our eternal change:

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (1John 3:7-10)

 

 Thank you dear friends for joining me on this final post in the six-part series on Heaven. I dearly look forward to His return and the beginning of eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth. Until then, we will live in our temporary home with an eye to the eternal.

God bless you and keep you,

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Good Friday Not Good People

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

~ Matthew 27:24-26

Many people believe that they are “good people.” Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us.  One elderly lady I witnessed to last year said that she doesn’t do bad things “like those politicians.”

Like Pilate, we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride says, “I have not sinned, I am a good person.”

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

We continually strive to teach the children scriptural truths. A few weeks ago Ron talked to Emily about her sin nature. He explained that we all have a sin nature that is contrary to God. Since that time we have used teachable moments when Emily wants to disobey to reinforce this teaching on the sin nature versus following in obedience to God’s commands.

Earlier this week Emily asked if we would cry in heaven. I told her God will wipe away every tear. At this point I do not know if there will be ongoing wiping of the tears for eternity or a one time event. Next she asked what would happen if she disobeyed in heaven. Insightful questions indeed! I said those who believe on Jesus as their savior will live in heaven and upon earthly death will loose their sin nature. In heaven we will not have a sin nature at all. Praise Jesus! Emily’s face lit up and her mouth and eyes widened in surprise. She replied, “How will He take it out? How will He get it out of our stomachs?”

The priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

Praise the Lord Jesus Sunday comes after Good Friday. Let us ponder today the cross and crucifixion of Christ and praise Him for His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.

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