Monday, January 10, 2011

Lost Sheep, Lost Souls -- The good shepherd who guides

Whenever some Christians hear the word "lost" or think of a "lost sheep" we often imagine a sinner. The word "lost" has shrunk in our minds to mean someone who has lost his moral way. But in the Bible it is more than that. It is used as a description of the human condition.

The Bible view of human life is a pitying one: We are seen as dust, for instance. Pitiable dust who live a short span of a mere 70-120 years. Nothing compared to the eternal life of God. We are seen as walking on a road and seeing only a few steps before us. Even then, we walk in darkness and can walk one step at a time. No matter how wise we think we are, we are like little children. We think we know how life works and we do not.

That is exactly how human life is. Humans, especially those who consider themselves shrewd and in-the-know, do not know the way the world works. There are programs, old wives tales, magazines telling us how to keep sane, get a man, have a perfect marriage, live healthily, control our future, get the best job, avoid the obstacles of life. With all this knowledge we still have no control of our lives. We walk around doing so-called intelligent things but God considers such things stupid. We walk around attempting to stave off death. We spend our money on what doesn't profit us because we have been taught by human experience, education, or friends that we should have these things.

God sees us as little sheep walking around accidentally falling into traps, accidentally being eaten by wolves, being preyed on by lions, being snared by cruel people, demons, or even our own so-called wisdom and slickness like sheep sneaking out of a locked pen not realizing that the rules and the edges of the fold were made to protect us. In short, we are stubborn, pigheaded, blind, and prone to think we know the answer when we don't know the first thing about how the world works. We need a shepherd.

I don't know if lost sheep can really come back to their master. They're lost, aren't they? And like most of the world, they don't know they are lost. They have no Shepherd directing their path. When a lost sheep is back with his master, he realizes how utterly lost he was. Not just morally lost and "missing the mark" (the definition of "hamartia" the Greek word for sin.) Not just lost in trespasses (walking into a dangerous or illegal field where one doesn't belong.) Not just lost in iniquity (treating sins partially, excusing one's self or one's friends while judging others for the same sin.) But lost in how and where we look for worth, lost in where we look for true food, lost in our notion of what we consider true food, lost in where we search for love. And especially lost in how we walk the road of life.

Psalm 23 is a psalm that shows us the importance of having a life with a Good Shepherd who guides us. We must not limit the importance of having a Good Shepherd who knows the way we should go. How wonderful it is to have a Shepherd who tells us what to eat for our own bodies! How wonderful to have a Lord who tells us through dreams or in our spirit what medicines we should take, what strangers we should avoid, what publisher to send our book to, what house we should buy, where we should live! Most people don't think God is that close to us. But the Bible tells us hat God cares about everything in our lives. We must grow to trust Him to guide us in small and great things. We must believe He loves us so much... so very much.

The Bible is our guide to life, and the Lord is our Shepherd. He is within us directing us as we read His word.

If you don't believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven? John 3:12

This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

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

I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye. Psalm 32:8

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

"After this, I will pour my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28

He leads me beside the still waters, he leads me through paths of righteousness.
Seeds of Bible Study




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