“I AM” The Good Shepherd
What sort of shepherd doesn’t speak to His sheep?
In John 10:11, Jesus made the statement, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep“. Of course we know that Jesus laid down His life for us, and if that had been all, it would surely have been totally beyond what we deserved – but it wasn’t all! In verse 27 Jesus said something which contradicts the claims of many Christians – namely that they don’t hear God speaking to them. Jesus simply said, “My sheep hear my voice“. You really can’t argue with that; you may think that God is not speaking to you, but Jesus plainly stated that you could hear His voice. And before you say, “Well, maybe I could hear, but He’s not speaking“, what sort of shepherd doesn’t speak to His sheep? A shepherd that hardly ever speaks to His sheep could hardly be described as ‘good’. So stop saying that God isn’t speaking and start listening.
No vows of poverty then!
But let’s look at what we can expect ‘The Good Shepherd’ to do for us. We will do this by examining what David wrote about the Lord as a Shepherd in Psalm 23. David begins this Psalm with a statement which, like Jesus’ “My sheep hear my voice“, contradicts the beliefs and lifestyles of many Christians. David wrote: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (New International Version). So that pretty much does away with the idea that Christians are supposed to be poor. In truth, rather than being poor, Christians are actually supposed to lack nothing – so no vows of poverty then! Verse 2 continues, “He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water” (New English Translation). God provides times of refreshing for us; we should never go long with taking a break & allowing God to refresh us. Of course, one way which we can be refreshed on a daily basis is by the living waters of God’s Word – realistically this is not even optional, any more than eating physical food is optional.
Experience does not carry a higher value than what the Bible actually says.
Psalm 23:3 completes the theme of God refreshing us and then explains that He doesn’t just give us guidelines to live by, He actually helps us in following those guidelines: “He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most” (The Living Bible). Whatever God shows us to do, whatever things God tells us not to do; it is always for our benefit, and He is always there to help us – if we will allow Him to. Verse 4 in the Common English Bible says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff— they protect me“. Before we discuss this verse, I realise that some of you reading this are probably thinking, “Well, that all sounds great – but it’s just not my experience and I don’t know many people who have experienced this sort of life either“. Look, one of the most important things that you need to learn is that experience does not carry a higher value than what the Bible actually says…..unless you allow it to. God’s Word is always true, but whether or not it becomes true for you personally, depends entirely on whether you believe whatever promise God has given, and then fully expect it in your own life. Every single time you see a promise if the Bible, say “Thank you very much Lord, that’s for me“.
Have you ever been told that most of God’s blessings are for after we get to Heaven?
So, getting back to verse 4, which I think is pretty self explanatory – if we will trust God, there is never any reason for us to fear – NEVER! (To read more about the protection that is available to us 24/7, take the time to study Psalm 91.) As this short Psalm draws to a close, verse 5 from the New Century Version says, “You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil of blessing on my head; you fill my cup to overflowing“. Have you ever been told that most of God’s blessings are for after we get to Heaven? Well that’s not Psalm 23 says! Our enemies (the devil and his cohorts) aren’t going to be in Heaven! God wants to bless us, NOW! God wants to fill our cups to overflowing, NOW! Psalm 23 ends with these encouraging words: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (New Living Translation). The King James Version, and many other translations, talk of God’s goodness and mercy following us – which is correct – but if misunderstood, it can give the impression that they are just quietly following on behind us. But in actual fact, God’s goodness and His unfailing love are not merely following us; they are chasing us, they are pursuing us and as we are obedient to God, they will catch up with us. Deuteronomy 28:2 in the King James Version says, “All these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee“. The New American Bible Revised Edition translates this verse as, “All these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you“.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He wants to be your Good Shepherd, the key is obedience. Obedient sheep get blessed and are kept safe; disobedient sheep wander off and end up getting themselves into trouble.
Matthew Cailes is married with two young girls & lives in Southampton, England. His blog can be found at www.matthewcailesonline.com