A short devotion for 3rd May

Call to worship

Jesus says, ‘I am the gate.’ Come and be loved. Come and receive peace. Come and find life.

Opening Prayers

Prayer of praise

We praise you for your presence in our lives, for the security you offer us, for your life that enriches our life great Shepherd of the sheep. For the sense of belonging and for our place in your sheepfold we praise and adore you. Amen

Prayer of confession

Generous God,
you offer us abundant life, yet we ask for more;
you offer us security and sanctuary, yet we seek our own way – despite the risk;
you offer us guidance and direction, and we ignore you and take our own way.
We are sorry for ingratitude. We are sorry for our arrogance. We are sorry that we think we know best.
Forgive us, renew us and restore us to abundant life in you, in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Bible reading

  • Psalm 23
  • John 10:1-10

Message

Text

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Introduction

Just recently I have been watching a programme on TV all about lambing. Every night and morning you would find me glued to the screen as these sheep became mothers while the poor farmers had sleepless nights making sure everything was alright. I found myself asking what it must have been like for Job.

We read in Job 1:3 that he had seven thousand sheep and when the Lord blessed him again in chapter 42:12 with fourteen thousand sheep and he still lived to be 140 years old. In all fairness the Bible does not mention about the lambing season I am sure that with his family and staff they would have managed.

Leonard, the farmer’s son, had started to attend Sunday school. He liked the 23rd Psalm. One day he asked his teacher if Eastern shepherds had dogs to help them. She replied that she did not know, but said she would find out. The next Sunday, Leonard had the answer ready before she could get speaking. “I’ve found out about the dogs myself, Miss. Eastern farmers did have them and the writer of Psalm23 had two of them. What’s more, Miss, I know their names because it says in the Bible: “Goodness and Mercy shall follow me.” (Taken from ‘Young People’s Daily Readings by Noel Grant)

Jesus the Good Shepherd calls us

In the East, shepherds lead their sheep by chanting to them in non-human sounding utterances which the sheep learn to discern, trust, and obey. The shepherd would call the sheep to follow him and they recognizing his voice would follow. The first thing the sheep had to do was recognise their new born lambs by smell and then recognise the shepherd by his voice.

It is so very important that the sheep recognise the shepherd’s voice as there are those who would climb in another way with the sole purpose of stealing the sheep and having them killed and selling them off as meat. So you understand how important that the sheep hear the shepherd’s voice. There is love and security in that voice. We too must learn to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus so that we will follow Him.

The Good Shepherd leads us

The reason why Jesus came into the world was to lead us back to God His Father. “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16. In the East, sheep were not for meat but for their wool so the shepherd had time to get to know them, he would even have given them names, just like pet lambs today. Ewes on the farms being around for some time may be given names but these days they are all tagged from just after birth to make them traceable. In Isaiah 43:1 we read, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” We belong to Him; as a result God wants the best for us and because of this, Jesus was willing to lay down His life for us; His flock. It was not unusual for a shepherd to put his life on the line in order to protect his sheep from wild animals and even thieves. In 1st Samuel 17:34-37 David tells King Saul how he took a sheep from the mouth of a lion or a bear and killed them both.

When Jesus used the metaphor of GATE in verse 7 it is important for when the sheep entered through the Gate, they were safe, they will be protected. It is just like us going through the gates of a city and they are closed for the night, we are safe from attack. The Gate in the ancient world is where all business and legal matters were transacted. “I am the gate for the sheep.” John 10:7

Isaiah 53:6 gives us a picture of what we are like as a people, as a nation without a shepherd. We are vulnerable open to attack and can fall prey, to Satan. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus has proved to us that He is the Good Shepherd for He lay down His life for us, “I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11. When a former Hindu Braham, B Sreeramgam (you can read his story in his book, “Braham Reborn” ISBN 978-1-913278-04-5) could testify about Psalm 23:1-4, “This is what He has done for me in many astonishing ways,” is it any wonder that James Edmeston the hymn writer penned these words, and let them be our prayer, “Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us o’er the world tempestuous sea; guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us, for we have no help but thee.”

Is Jesus our shepherd? Is He the One leading us?

What a Shepherd, what a Saviour.

Prayers of Intercession

Loving God, we pray for our Queen and members of the royal family, for our government in these difficult days. We pray for all who feel unloved; for those whose lives are filled with anguish and pain; for those who suffer depression; for those who can’t get out. We pray for Sandra, managing a retirement home, for Tracy called back into nursing, for Dawn as she recovers from an ankle injury, (Christabell’s family), for Ted as he recovers and not forgetting those of our Church Family known to us that are ill, Mr Terry Warneford and Mrs Molly Patterson to name three that we know of.

We pray that in your mercy You would hear our prayers and that they will experience your healing touch. Loving God, may your abundant life fill our world, our Church and us in the name of Jesus. Amen

Blessing

Grace And the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us always. Amen