Friday, March 07, 2008

Lent: Day 27

Scripture: John 10:1-18

". . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . I know my own and my own know me, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . ."

Hymn: "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," UMH 138
Henry W. Baker, 1868

". . . Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
. . . And so through all the length of days,
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever."


My Good Shepherd, Lord Jesus, I seek your protection today. There are many forces of darkness at work around me, and I want to remain your lamb, belonging only to you, loving only you. You are my Gate; you gave your own life for me.

O Lord, you also call your sheep to serve as shepherds in your name, guiding and guarding one another. Make me faithful and loyal, just as you are. Give me an extra measure of your holy love, until it overflows my heart and spills out in love for your people and for all the world.


Kathleen said...


I love the 10th chapter of John, and that passage about Jesus knowing His sheep was pivotal in me understanding His purposeful sacrifice for my sins, and His personal relationship with me.

Before the Spirit opened my eyes to God's unfathomable love for me, I was a fearful "christian", knowing Jesus was God, but that He was always expecting some great level of performance out of me. I was never really encouraged in my spirit that God loved me.

Then, as I was reading some passages, especially John 10 and 11 and 6, and Ephesians 1 and 2, 1st John 4, etc., God opened my eyes to His love for me, personally. This was a crucial thing for me to know in my spirit, because my marriage was failing, my husband admitted later he really didn't know Christ, either. Months after I was transformed by the washing of rebirth and a confirmation in my heart of what the Gospel was all about, I had the privelege to lead my husband in a sinners prayer and he's been changed ever since, praise the Lord! That was about 4 years ago, after we had been doing the "church thing", "homeschooling thing", "bible school thing" and should have known what it meant to hear God's voice.

Sadly, I think the church and Body of Christ needs to hear the Gospel.

"Thy (God's) goodness faileth never". That is so true.

Psalmist said...

Hi, Kathleen. Thanks for your comment.

One of the things that I love about my Wesleyan heritage is that we hear frequently about "assurance." There's no formula or ritual about it, but Wesley taught (because he himself had been changed fundamentally by it) that we are given assurance of our salvation and God's love, as a gift from God. In fact, we mark as the beginning of the Methodist movement John Wesley's own first awareness of assurance. When he wrote about it afterward, he described it as his heart being "strangely warmed" as he realized that he did trust Christ and that God did love him. I think of it this way: For many of us, it takes our hearts quite a while to catch up to what our heads already know.

Anyway, I agree with you that much of the church is entrapped within laws, mostly of their own extrabiblical making. Whole movements and many books and articles play on people's fear of not measuring up. But we are free in Christ, and as Paul admonished us, we ought never again accept a yoke of slavery to the law. Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light.

Kathleen said...

"that we are given assurance of our salvation and God's love, as a gift from God."

Oh, so true for me, for if I had tried for 17 years of trying to earn His love for me or live up to His love for me and never understood it or felt it, then it certainly was something that God gave to me. I would have fabricated that on my own, if I had any sense or power to do so earlier. As I ponder those years of fear and doubt of God's goodness and faithfulness, I realize that it was most likely the
thing I needed to go through to know my utter need for Him, my own sinfulness, and the difference His indescribable love did in my heart, to make it alive in Christ.

I didn't know that about Wesley, and am glad to learn about his transformation. I was overcome with joy when I realized God's personal love for me and it's as if my eyes were opened to the Bible I had studied and meditated on for all those years and the words jumped into my heart. I started evangelizing everywhere I went, even at the store (I sure could use some more of that enthusiasm again). My family didn't know what happened to me. :)

I pray for the Body of Christ to be in the unity of the faith. The extrabiblical legalism breaks my heart and is so opposite the Cross.

Psalmist said...

Hi again, Kathleen.

You know the interesting thing about Wesley? He had been an Anglican priest for a number of years and had even come to America to evangelize the Indians (it was pretty much a failure). He wrote during that time (prior to his Aldersgate ("heart-warming") experience, "I have come to convert the heathens. But, O, who will convert me?" (that's a paraphrase). He KNEW the faith, but felt no joy, no assurance, no fervor. It was all duty for him. I love that he was so honest in his journals and letters, and that we have so many of them preserved.

Yes, much of the church is bound in legalism. I've been involved in a senseless inquisition of sorts (my own fault for not just giving up when someone was hounding me to prove that I'm a Christian--you know the "conversation" to which I refer), and I keep thinking, "Why is it so difficult to be content to allow God to address others' real and perceived faults?" Perhaps it's easier to rail against other people than to surrender to God. Just like it's easier to follow a check-list of rules and roles and laws than to give up control over such things to the Holy Spirit's guidance. I think it's a matter of wanting the final say in where we will and won't go. If God is in control, we don't get to choose such things, and we're afraid God will send us/use us in ways we prefer not to consider.