December 21, 2021
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"It's time to get the old bathrobes out, boys. Yeah, for the church Christmas pageant." You've got to have some boys be shepherds. You know, when I think of shepherds, though, it's more than Christmas to me. It's potentially life changing. There's this picture that hangs on the wall in our living room. It's meant a lot to me in recent years. Just like an identical picture did when I was four years old. That's when my baby brother died suddenly. My grieving dad, who was not a churchgoer, decided he should take his surviving son to church somewhere.
So every Sunday he dropped me off at this one nearby church while he waited in the car, and smoked and read his Sunday paper. That church is where I first heard the name Jesus. And it's where I first saw the picture. It was my first impression of Jesus. It shows Jesus as a shepherd, leading a flock of sheep beside a stream. In His arms, there's this little lamb, looking up at the shepherd who looks lovingly at him. And I said, "That's me! I'm the lamb in Jesus' arms!" Not just then. But on the darkest day of my life.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Living Sheepishly."
Karen was the love of my life since I was 19. The only person I've done my whole adult life with. Then, on that May 16, she was suddenly gone. And I was suddenly lost. Oh, how I needed my Shepherd. And He was there. Again, I was the lamb in His arms. My one safe place. He wants to be that for you.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from what many call "The Shepherd Psalm." It contains some of the most comforting, hope-filled words in the Bible. Psalm 23:1 and then verse 4 tell us: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want ... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil..." Wait! If the surroundings are that dark and dangerous, why will I "fear no evil? Well, He says, "because you are with me."
Suddenly, on that heartbreaking day, I was in the valley of the shadow of death. And one day I'll be walking the valley of the shadow of my own death. And while that valley may be the darkest and most devastating, there are other dark valleys that shake us to our core. There's that bad news from the doctor. The marriage that was once a dream, and now it's collapsing into a nightmare. The disaster that destroyed a lifetime of treasures. Financial disaster. A job lost - or a child, a breakup, a betrayal. We all have lonely valleys to walk through.
But here's some of the best news you'll ever hear. You don't have to walk that valley alone. Ever. "I will fear no evil; for You are with me." And the Bible says of Jesus: "He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord...and they will live securely (Micah 5:4).
The vulnerable, frightened sheep is safe in the Shepherd's arms. And it just might be He's come looking for you today right where you are. Because the Bible says we're all lost sheep. It says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Put another way, each of us has sinned, hijacked our life from the One who gave it to us. We are away from the Shepherd we were made for. So we'll always be lost in this life, and when we die, we'll be away from Him forever.
But the Shepherd loved you too much to leave you lost. He came to die on a cross, to pay for the sin you and I deserve to pay for. Then He walked out of His grave three days later - and He's waiting to walk into your life today. If you'll tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
I would love to help you get started with this life-changing relationship. Just head for our website as soon as you can. It's where a lot of people have found what they needed to begin their relationship with Jesus. It's ANewStory.com. That's the website.
Let this be the day when you make the Shepherd your shepherd, so you can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd." You'll discover what millions like me have discovered. However great the loss, Jesus is enough. And you are safe. The lamb in the loving Shepherd's arms.