John 10: 7-18

New International Version (NIV)

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

As I read this beautiful passage in Scripture, I am struck by the fact that this passage follows my recent journey through John Devries’ devotional book, “Why Fear”, a study of my favorite psalm – Psalm 23.  Psalm 23, with its beautiful imagery of how our Good Shepherd cares for us, has been a source of comfort and encouragement in many circumstances in my life.  When I feel afraid, harassed, helpless, lacking in direction, or overwhelmed – it is such a blessing to remember that I have Jesus, my Good Shepherd, to guide, direct, provide for, and comfort me in all circumstances.  Jesus loved me so much that he gave his very life for me – so that I will live with him in heaven for eternity.  

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I frequently find that the Spirit speaks to me by using music, scripture, devotions, books and people to reveal specific messages that he has for me.  The Spirit seems to be teaching me about shepherding – reminding me of God’s care of me and showing me how to care for others.  Dr. Carey’s message on Sunday has me reflecting on the “Take-Aways”:  God uses IMPERFECT people; God is PATIENT; and God LISTENS to His people.  The final question that he gave us for personal reflection was:  “How is God calling you to serve and minister to those around you?”  

I am reminded that serving and ministering to others is shepherding.  I am called to minister to those that God places in my life – my family, my friends, and my neighbors. I am also reminded that Jesus laid down his very life for his sheep, including those that are not of his sheep pen.  How does God desire to use IMPERFECT me to minister in his kingdom?  Will he call me to step out of my comfort zone?  Will he prune and discipline me to help me grown into the disciple that he desires me to be?  Like Moses, I struggle with doubt.  Why Me?  What if people don’t listen?  What if I am not gifted enough?  God is PATIENT with me and will LISTEN to me as I pour out my heart and seek his will.  I just need to listen to my Shepherd’s voice and trust him to guide me to the sheep that he wants me to serve.  How is God calling YOU?  How can WE encourage each other?  How can WE work together to reach Jesus’ sheep?

 Abba Father, be with us this day.  As we go about the business of our day, remind us of your faithfulness, your goodness, your provision, your patience and your undying love for us.  Help us to reach out to those that you would have us love and serve – your flock.  Remind us that you are powerfully working all around us – we just need to bring a willing heart and willing hands to join you.  Although we are weak, sinful and imperfect, you have prepared good works for us to do.  You will provide all that we need this day – we just need to trust and rely upon you and you only.  Amen