December 20

Today's Bible Reading
     II Chronicles 24
     Revelation 11
     Zachariah 7
     John 10
''The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."  (John 10:10-11)
            A prominent part of the beautiful Christmas story is the simple shepherds coming at night to worship the Christ Child. Did they know He was both the Lambof God and the Shepherd?
            When you travel in the Holy Land, you discover it to be the ''LandoftheShepherds." When we come to John 10:10, we come face to face with the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. All through this chapter, He likens Himself to the shepherd who loves his sheep, who gives his life for his sheep, who saves his sheep, and who keeps his sheep forever. Yes, Jesus is the Great and Good Shepherd, and we who trust in Him are His sheep.
            The imagery of a shepherd and his sheep revolves around Jesus and those who love Him. There is no time gap between chapters 9 and 10 of John, no change in circumstance, no change in crowd. Jesus has, all along, been confronting the Jewish leaders, the false shepherds of Israel. They had not been appointed by God, but became self-appointed, self-righteous shepherds of Israel. They did not know God. They did not care about the sheep. They trampled the sheep and called them ''accursed '', and cast them out whenever they disagreed with them, as they did with the blind beggar. They hated Jesus because He exposed them.
            Jesus presents Himself as the only true Shepherd of Israel.In Palestine, there was a common sheepfold in each village. All the shepherds returning with their sheep from the hillside would lead them into the sheepfold at night. There was a man called the ''porter'' who was hired to care for the sheepfold while the shepherds went home. He guarded the door from animals, thieves, and robbers. When the shepherds came back the next morning, each flock would recognize their shepherd's voice as he called them by name, and they would follow him into pasture. Only the shepherd could get through the door. Our chapter tells us that thieves and robbers would try to get to the sheep. A thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus, the true Shepherd, comes to give life and to give it more abundantly. We call this abundant life by many different names: the Deeper Life, the Exchanged Life, the Full and Meaningful Life, the Victorious Life, Life on a Higher Plane, and the Crucified Life. We have this life because our Shepherd is not only the Shepherd, but the Door; He is not only the Door, but He is the LambofGodwho understands each of us, and who gave Himself for us. We are, indeed, a blessed lot.
            Sir George Adam Smith made a journey to Palestine. One day he met a shepherd and his sheep, and fell into conversation with him. The shepherd showed him the sheepfold where the sheep were kept at night. It consisted of four simple walls and an opening. Sir George asked the question, ''Are the sheep safe in there at night?'' The shepherd assured him they were safe. Sir George replied,''But there is no door to close." The shepherd said, ''I amthedoor. While the sheep are inside and the light is gone, I lie down in that open space. No sheep can go out unless he crosses my body, and no wolf can come in unless he crosses my body."
            As His sheep, we have perfect and complete security from our Shepherd.
            On my many visits for mission work in Romania,I have discovered a great need there for clarification doctrinally within the Christian church and even among evangelicals. Many evangelicals are not holding to the traditions of that same evangelical movement in other areas. For example, Baptists are much divided on the doctrine of eternal security in Romania. Pray for clarification and unity of doctrine among the wonderful believers of Romania.
''Gossip, pretending to have the eyes of Argus, has all the blindness of a bat.''