So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
James 1:21 NLT
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and they know me.”
Jesus is the good shepherd who sacrifices His life for the sheep. A hired hand is in it for the money; he doesn’t care about the sheep.
Jesus is the good shepherd. He knows His sheep and they know Him. He gives His life for the sheep. He has sheep from a different sheep fold and He will bring the flocks together.
Jesus is the good shepherd. He is not a faithless hireling who runs at the first sign of danger. He lays down His life for the sake of His sheep.
There is nothing that Jesus will not do for His sheep. He won’t always give us what we want, but He will meet every need that we have. He is the good shepherd.
He knows us by name. He sees us the way we really are. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses, our victories and our failures. He knows us as closely as He knows the Father. And He loves us.
He wants us to know Him also. To have the strong, unbreakable bonds of friendship. He wants us to invest time and energy in seeking His face.
It is said that in the time of Jesus, shepherds would often put their sheep in a shared sheepfold overnight. In the morning, the shepherds would call their respective sheep but name, and their sheep would hear the voice of their own shepherd and go to them.
Jesus’ sheep know their shepherd. They know when He calls their name and they follow Him.
Jesus, you are my good shepherd. Thank you for sacrificing your life for me. Amen.
Over on my Facebook page, I share quotes from books that I have been reading. This quote from “The Benedict Option” garnered a lot of mostly negative reaction:
The need for liturgy is becoming clear to more and more Protestant theologians. Perhaps surprisingly for a Pentecostal, Simon Chan, a noted theologian, scholar, and writer based in Singapore, is one of a growing number of Evangelical church leaders who argue that their churches must return to the richness of liturgical worship. Evangelical ecclesiology is inadequate to the task of meeting postmodernity’s challenges, he has written. Rod Dreher
The first thing to note is that Pentecostal churches already have a liturgy, which is a fancy word for “order of service.” It is nearly always a variation of the following:
4-6 songs- 2- 3 fast songs (“Praise”) followed by 2-3 slower songs (“Worship”)
Offering- usually preceded by an overly long exhortation to give
Communion (sometimes)- also preceded by an overly long mini-sermon
Altar call or ministry time
If you know what is coming next than you have a liturgy, whether it is in a book or unwritten. There is nothing wrong with that because people are comfortable when they know what to expect. It doesn’t necessarily limit the Holy Spirit, but it does provide guidelines about when it is appropriate for people to pray in tongues or prophesy.
Our liturgy is a variation on this model, but when it seems appropriate we mix things up a little.
But when people talk about “liturgical worship” they usually mean a more formalised style of worship such as those found in the traditional churches.
That raises the hackles of many Pentecostal and Charismatic people who see this as “dead religion.”
We can have various opinions on that, but let me share an observation about the usefulness of liturgy.
I have been to several funerals over the last few years, some of which were led by “Spirit-filled” pastors. The thing that I noticed on these occasions was that they were indistinguishable from funerals led by non-christian celebrants, except maybe there was some reference to “Jesus” or “God” and comments about the person’s contribution to the church.
The central focus in each case was the person being buried. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit.
In other words the church is copying the world, and losing its unique voice in the process.
In every act of worship by the church, the gospel must be proclaimed and Jesus must be worshipped. That is why liturgical worship at these formal events of funerals and wedding, in particular, is so important.
A good liturgy keeps Jesus at the centre. The prayers, the spoken word, the music, it is all gospel proclamation. There is no waffle, no adoration of a person, no stumbled prayers,
At the other extreme where the liturgy is everything, there are issues of over formality. I remember when I first started as a pastor in a small town, someone said to me after a funeral “At least with you, we know who is being buried.” The liturgy I followed had room to thank God for the life of the person, to pray for family members by name etc. But the suggested prayers offer gospel hope and constantly refer back to the cross of Christ and His resurrection.
We can make similar observations about wedding ceremonies.
As a pastor I am always wanting to make sure that my congregation is being brought to maturity in Christ. I think that is is what the quote is getting at. The reality is that a couple of “I Love You Jesus” songs followed by a preach about “Three Ways To Boost Your Bank Balance” is not enough to impart maturity into people, even if all the sermon points start with the same letter. But knowing the Apostles Creed or The Lord’s Prayer in the kind of familiarity that comes from saying them every week can give at least a chance for the great truths of scripture to sink into the soul.
The Lord is my shepherd
I have all that I need
You, O God, are my shepherd.
I used to be a lone ranger sheep, not even knowing I was a sheep. I thought I was God, or at least, the shepherd of my own soul.
I would go where I wanted, pursuing the green meadows and fresh water myself. I made my soul sick on the excesses of the world. It would have killed me.
But then you came into my life. Now Lord you lead me in the right paths.
You are my shepherd Lord. You lead me to the best places. Sometimes it feels like I am in a desert place, but you are always there, right beside me, pointing out the green shoots.
Because of you Lord I have everything I need.
I don’t have a yacht or a plane or a fancy house. Sometimes the bank balance gets low. But Lord I do have everything I need- family and friends who love me, a purpose for my life, food on the table and a promise of eternal life.
I lack no good thing.
You are my provider, my abundance. In you there is no lack and no shortage, as long as I follow you and walk in the path you set for me.
When I wander away from you, it is into the place of danger. When I stay with you, it is joy and provision.
So Lord I will walk with you all the days of my life, knowing that you are the good shepherd.