Following Jesus

Sometimes I need to “get away” to a quiet place and pray. Over the years I have discovered the ideal place…cemeteries! There’s very little traffic, and people are real quiet there. I cherish a vivid memory from pastoring in New Jersey during the 80s. It was a difficult time for me, and I decided to fast and pray. While walking down a cemetery road, I was praying for direction and the ability to hear from God. My eyes fell on a stone statue of a little lamb with these engraved words underneath: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This was the right word at just the right time for me! In that moment my mind flooded with memories of how the Lord had so faithfully guided me in the past. I recalled major crossroads where the Lord faithfully went before me and helped me make the best decisions. The Scriptures are full of passages encouraging His people to trust Him as the Great Shepherd. In Genesis 48 we read of Jacob (Israel) blessing Joseph and his two sons. “Then he blessed Joseph and said, May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…” (verse 15). Think about it…. God says He has been your shepherd all your life! The picture of us as the sheep of His pasture is a common metaphor. Lately, I have noticed how the word “sheep” is used in our culture in a negative way. The world mocks people who act like sheep and simply follow without question. Of course, I agree with the danger of following other people without question. However, when it comes to obeying the Lord, I willingly consider myself a sheep. I know that without His leading, I easily stray into sin and the snares of the enemy. Those who scoff at the idea of following the Lord don’t understand the power of the sinful human nature and our tendency to self-destruct. We need the Shepherd! As we worship this last Sunday of 2021, we look back at the faithfulness of our God. In these confusing times, our country faces many challenges which affect every one of us. However, the Lord’s wisdom and insight give us confidence to face the many uncertainties ahead. Our Shepherd goes before us! As David declared, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). Above all, Jesus himself proclaimed, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

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