Sheep Grazing

Sheep_grazing_near_to_Pentraeth_-_geograph.org

Sheep follow one another.  They will wander into areas that may lead to danger, or cause them to hunger or thirst.  Sheep, left on their own, will graze the same area over and over until there is nothing left to eat, gnawing the grass right down to the dirt.  As they graze and re-graze one area, they will make ruts in the dirt.

A shepherd’s reputation is based on the appearance of his pastures as well as the condition of the sheep.  If the pastures are run down, not very green, filled with deep ruts, then it is safe to assume that he is not a good shepherd.  The same could be said of the shepherd if the sheep are not well cared for.  They need to be constantly tended to, groomed, fed, and protected.  The shepherd’s reputation is on the line.

When sheep are led by a good shepherd, he/she will drive them into fresh pastures regularly.  He will have a pattern whereby he leads his sheep from one area of new grasses to another so that they are continually fed, and minimally damaging the land.  The shepherd will know his land well in order to drive or lead them each day into an area that would be a benefit to his sheep.  He will know right where the watering holes are as well.      

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:3

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He leads us.  However, we don’t always trust Him (or anyone else) to lead us where we think best.  Instead, like sheep, we will often stay in one pasture, working ourselves along the same paths turning them into ruts.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.  
Isaiah 53:6

We can be stubborn, prideful, stiff-necked, filled with self.  We often blindly follow another or are determined to go our own way.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Looking around at others near to us or gazing into a mirror back at ourselves, we might see abuse of drugs or alcohol, sexual promiscuity, dead-end careers or jobs, wrong or falling-apart relationships, family members gone astray, following others into New Age religions, or so much more.

Can we ask: Where have I strayed away from the LORD?

The LORD calls us into fresh pastures…each day…for nourishment and refreshment.

It is important to note that it is for the LORD’s Name sake that He leads us. Our well-being, our peacefulness and joy reflect upon His character, His ownership, His management, His protection of us.  If we claim be to Christ’s, His image would be tarnished by our behavior or thought patterns when we go astray.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Am I willing to be led?  Am I willing to follow Him to fresh pasture for nourishment?

Am I willing to love Christ and others more than myself?

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1 John 3:16

Am I willing to be set apart for Him?

Am I willing to release what I might call my “rights”?

Jesus did not say this would be easy.

And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  Mark 4:17

BUT…Jesus said,

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Am I willing to rest in being His and not mine?  

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Am I willing to be gracious and thankful for all situations, no matter what comes my way?

Am I willing to have no self-will, but have His will for my life?

Am I willing to follow Christ to obey all He asks of me?

“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  Acts 5:32

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13

LORD, I pray that I will be like a lamb that jumps and plays, that brings a smile due to joy-filled leaps into the Shepherd’s arms.  I want to be filled with that joy because You loved me first.  

June-21-2012-15-18-34-dsdsd

LORD, I thank You for caring for me always.  Thank You for loving me.  Even while I strayed, going my own way time and time again, You waited patiently for me.  Once I became Yours, I wanted to be Your sheep.  I have to admit that it has not been easy, but I love You so and want to please You more than anything.  May I walk in the steps You have prepared for me and stay close.  May I feed within the pastures where You lead me and drink from the water You know is thirst-quenching and safe.  LORD, You are my Shepherd.  Praises to the Shepherd of Israel.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.  

bwdarkgreen sig

Sheep grazing near to Pentraeth by Nigel Williams  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Imgarcade: Baby Lamb Jumping

He has Risen!

mark-16-6

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.  Mark 16:6

May this Easter weekend remind us of Whose we are, what He did for us, and why.  May we humbly bow before the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and know His victory over death and the power of His resurrection.

Father God, thank You for Your Son.  You allowed His death to give me life.  You allowed Him to suffer to show me that I am sinful.  You allowed Jesus to walk this earth so that I would know You.  You allowed Christ to show Your forgiveness so that I would know that I am forgiven.  You allowed Jesus to love so that I would know that You loved me first.  I am forgiven and loved and saved by Your mercy and by Your grace, Father.  Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for His death that I would be able to face each tomorrow knowing that I, too, will have final victory over death because I asked for forgiveness, asked to be His, and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.  I am so very blessed, my LORD.  In the Name of the Risen One.  Amen.  

bwturq sig

photo:  Christina Rivas

From Burden to Praise

eab87e6372c2e0737a54e83672065483

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.  If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”  This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

 “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” **

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them.  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”  Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus knew His time was near.  He knew the Scriptures filled with prophecies about Him.  He knew.

A beast of burden is a draught (draft) animal that carries or pulls heavy loads, such as a donkey, mule, llama, camel, or ox.  It can also be any domesticated animal trained to perform tasks for humans, such as a herding dog or a trained falcon.  Often, the animal will be under a yoke, teamed up with one or more of the same kinds of animals.

Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, as per the prophecy in Isaiah 62:11.  The donkey, the beast of burden, carried the One Who would be carrying our burden of sin to the Cross.  Jesus came that we might be saved.  Jesus came that we be made white as snow, cleansed of our sins, for the Father.  

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

crucifixion-of-christ-near-amarillo-tx_0113
Jesus calls us to follow Him and bear our crosses.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  Luke 14:27

Yet He is there by our side to carry the load with us.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:29-30

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

He wants our dependence, our submission, our obedience.

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.E. M Bounds

Jesus-Will-Carry-Your-Burdens-photo

We, as Christians, are called to help one another as He helps us.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

8dcb60551caceb4b0d880b3138b12e7f

As we approach Palm Sunday, may our hearts turn to the One Who came to this earth to save us from ourselves.  May we look to the One Who carried our sins to the Cross, cleansed us wholly, that we could be His.

“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child

I have received the most beautiful gift, Father, for which I am ever so grateful.  May I never look upon a “burden” as being too much for me.  May I see Jesus yoked with me in all that I am called to do and to be.  May I remember Who the Holy One is Who used a beast of burden to ride into Jerusalem, but became the One Who carried all of the burdens to the Cross where He died a terrible crucifixion, yet He did this for me.  I praise You, LORD.  Hosanna, in the Highest.  Hosanna, oh save, I pray.  “Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved.” Hallelujah.  I rejoice in the Holy One.  You are my salvation, LORD Jesus.  You knew and you know, LORD Jesus.  You know me, Jesus.  Praise Your Holy Name.  In the Glorious Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

 

beblacksig

 

** Isaiah 62:11

Thirst – Sheep and Shepherds

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.  Psalm 23:2

989248f123318eb9096f1a327c679896

“Water determines the vitality, strength, and vigor of the sheep and is essential to its health and general well-being.”  **

The physical body of sheep, of all animals, of all human beings, is made aware of a lack of water by thirst.  When a physical body has not had enough water, dehydration, weakness, and serious other problems and/or damages can occur.

158854023_5b931b9961_b

Interestingly, sheep do not require a pond or a water trough fed by a deep well in order to obtain the right amount of water for their physical well-being.  Sheep can even go for months without actually drinking.  Yet, they need water more often than “going for months without” might imply.  A very important source of water for sheep is a heavy dew on the grass…the pasture.  Sheep will usually begin feeding just before dawn.  They may also feed at night fall when the moon is bright.  If circumstances are right for dew, the grass would be drenched at those hours, making the sheep’s intake of water a feast enough for their bodies’ needs.

dew-grass

In order for sheep to have enough grass upon which to feed, the shepherd leads them to the pastures that have a fresh growth of grass and a stream with clean, clear water nearby.  He knows just where he is leading them for exactly what they need so that the sheep remain healthy.

lambs-pasture-3-1024x796

When sheep become thirsty, they become restless, setting out on their own if the shepherd leaves them to their own devices.  They may end up at a mud hole or at a water supply that is contaminated.  Consequently, they may end up with internal parasites or other disease germs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Good Shepherd will lead us, as well.  He knows where “the quiet, deep, clean, pure water is to be found that can satisfy His sheep and keep them fit.”

Dew is such a beautiful picture of the still waters as they hang heavy as water droplets. Looking into a droplet, a tiny reflection can be seen in its clarity.  May we see clearly as we look into our souls and see that we need Jesus.  

Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD, for My people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken Me,
the Fountain of Living Waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.  Jeremiah 2:12-13
 

I went my our own way.  I tried to do things my way.  I did not even look for anyone (or any One) to help me.  I drank muddy water.  I wandered aimlessly into fields where there was no water for my thirst.  Oh, so many times I searched for something I thought I needed or wanted in my life only to find that I was lost.  I had gone the wrong way, hewing out my own way, my own cistern.  I became broken.  I could not do things myself without becoming hungry or thirsty.  I needed Jesus.  I needed a Shepherd.

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  1 Peter 2:25

Little did I know that I needed Him to lead me in His ways…to those still, clear, refreshing waters where I could be refreshed and made whole.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  John 7:37-38

διψάω

dipsaō

to suffer thirst, suffer from thirst

  • figuratively, those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened

When one drinks, she/he takes in, accepts, believes.  When I drank of the Living Waters, the life of Christ became a part of me.  I believed and asked Him to be my LORD and Savior. The closer I walk with my Shepherd, the more I become like Jesus.  I do not thirst.  My Shepherd quenches all thirst as long as I stay close.

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.  John 6:35

Thirsty souls are only quenched in Jesus, by Jesus, through Jesus.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-15

dew17

I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.

I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.  Hosea 14:4-6
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.  

…from an old hymn, “Dear Lord and Father Of Mankind,” by John Greenleaf Whitter

When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.  Isaiah 41:17

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrew 13:20-21)   Father God, I pray the words of Hebrew as my own and thank You for breathing new life into me through Your Son.  You led this sheep to water and I thirst no more.  I am sorry when I stray.  As I age, it seems I am doing that less and less.  I praise You for loving this sheep and never losing me.  I thank You and praise Your Name through Christ.  Amen.

 

bwdarkgreen sig
** quotes by W. Phillip Keller in “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”
Photo: Dew17