As most of you know, this past Sunday I preached on the passage where Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd. In particular, we focused on just one verse, where Jesus says: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life.” (John 10:27-28) I asked three questions that I want to ask all of us again: 1- Do you believe Jesus is the Good Shepherd? 2- Is He still speaking today? Probably all of you who are reading this blog would answer “yes” to both of those questions. That leads me to question # 3: the important one: 3- What is He saying to You today? If you can’t answer that one, why not? Do you think he just isn’t speaking to you for some reason? That he doesn’t care enough for you to speak. That He is too busy with others, and can’t spare the time to be with you? I trust you know that each one of those statements is absolutely false. The real reason we manytimes cannot hear the voice of Jesus, and don’t know what He is saying to us, is simply because we are not listening! We are good and consistent about bringing our requests and needs, but we are not so good at taking the time to listen as we pray. In fact, we are often just plain bad at listening! Let me encourage you today to develop the discipline to listen for God’s voice. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but just begin by being quiet and still, not bringing any requests. Act as if another person were in the room (which is true!), and you were waiting on him/her to speak. Then, be attentive to where your thoughts and minds go, to what your heart feels and your mind dwells on. I promise you: Your Lord, the Good Shepherd, is nearby, and he has something encouraging and loving to say to you. This is so important, to be able to hear and discern the voice of Your Lord. If you have any questions, or need some encouragement in listening for His voice, don’t hesitate to give me a call, or send me an e-mail. But don’t do nothing! The vitality of our life depends on being able to hear and follow the Good Shepherd!
The Olympics are in the spotlight these days. The best of the best competing against each other, under the bright lights and the whole world watching. To get to this point, competing in the Olympics, an athlete has to be very gifted, but also for years has had to dedicate their lives to develop those gifts. And they do it for an Olympic medal, for the honor of being called an “Olympian,” and all the glory that goes with it. As Christians, we, too, have been gifted by our God: with spiritual gifts. We, too, have been given a name, “Christian.” We, too, are called to develop the gifts we have been given, to be the best we can be. But we do not use them for our own glory, or for an earthly crown, but for God’s glory. And we do not compete against anyone in using our gifts: they are for the good of others, to serve them, both within the church and out into the world. As you journey through this week, ask God to show You how to serve others around You, that you would not shy away from opportunities to serve, and use your gifts.
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. James 1:12 (msg)
“Life and more life.” “Blessings today, and bright hope for tomorrow.” I encourage you to ask the Spirit to give you the eyes to see the opportunities to serve others before you today (perhaps there are some around you who are hurting, or discouraged in some way?), and the willingness to keep developing your gifts through serving them.
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
There is lots of darkness around us, isn’t there? And within us as well. There is the darkness of ignorance, of limited understanding, needing the light of wisdom and direction. There is the sin of rebelliousness and hardened hearts, needing light that will soften our hearts, give renewed resistance to sin, and change behavior. Also, there is the darkness of doubt, worry and fear, in need of that light which brings peace, comfort. And on and on,… there is lots of darkness in this sin-infested world. In what areas of your life is there darkness, where you need Jesus, the Light of this world, to come and conquer? A great comfort to us should be the very nature of light and darkness: wherever light comes, darkness is no more, for darkness is simply the absence of light. As we invite Jesus into our lives and our circumstances, darkness is removed. Is Jesus in your life? Have you invited Him in? He will never force His way into Your life, He simply waits at the door of your heart, waiting, hoping you will open it and let Him in. If you have invited Him into your life, are you asking Him to remove the darkness in and around you? As you pray this week, for yourself and others, pray for the discernment to identify the areas of darkness that are hindering your experiencing the abundant “life” of Jesus, and pray for His Light to invade and conquer those areas. His light is the light of ‘Life’: eternal and abundant. “O Lord, light of this world, grant us Your light. Amen.”
I’ve been reading a book entitled The Divine Invitation, by Steve McVey. In it he speaks of the hectic lifestyle we live and try to bring into our walk of faith. Only problem, the Lord is not in a hurry: His pace is so different than ours, mostly because he knows relationships can never be rushed. McVey writes: “A legitimate Christian lifestyle gently flows like water along a riverbank, refreshing all who happen to stumble upon it. It isn’t a flash flood of activity that honors God. He doesn’t lead that way, but instead He chooses to make ‘us lie down in green pastures. He leads beside quiet waters. He restores our soul.’ God loves you so much that he wants to deliver you from the misery of must into the triumph of trust.” I love that last phrase. As you go about your activities this week, as you stop to spend time with your God and pray, make sure you are expressing your trust that, in all things, He is in control, is watching over you and will protect You. Slow down, and enjoy the refreshing waters of His presence!