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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeding lambs
Sheep feeding in a pasture near our home.

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"Feed And Follow"

"Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.  I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then He said to him, 'Follow me'" (John 21:17-19).

The daily text is the final recorded personal exchange between Christ and Peter prior to His ascension to heaven.  I ponder how this revelation of truth might have affected Peter.  Here he is, gloriously restored after his ignominious denial.  He's ready to take on the world.  And after this encounter with Christ he is experiencing the glorious liberty of forgiveness and restoration.

"Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep'". Peter faithfully heeded this personal commission. He was a leader in the early church. He was the lead preacher on the Day of Pentecost. Later in Peter's first letter he passes this commission on to subsequent generations, including our own when he wrote, "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care" (1 Peter 5:2). Feed and shepherd are from the same root Greek word and are also the source for the word "pastor".

But our Lord's final sobering words to Peter were in regard to the manner in which he would one day die, though he went on to live and faithfully minister for Christ another 30 years prior to being crucified upside down (as tradition asserts).

Consider how the knowledge of his future death might have emotionally crippled him.  He could have become a basket case.  As much as we often wish we knew the particulars about our future Jesus warns us that we can't handle such information. Trying to do so leads us to a state of worrying (panic); "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).  But there is no hint in Peter's apostolic preaching recorded in Acts or in his two epistles of this information being a factor at all in the way he lived his life.

I wonder about this when I read the account of his imprisonment in Acts 12.  His long-time friend and fellow apostle James (This was the James in the inner circle of "Peter, James and John") had just been beheaded and Peter surely knew the "killing mood" that Herod was in.  Did he wonder "Is this my time?"  Yet he is soundly sleeping when the angel awakened him for his deliverance from the jail.  I wonder when he had laid down his head he might have reasoned, "I'm not old yet."

The purpose of this revelation to Peter was that he might know the way in which he would glorify God in his death.  That takes a lot of pondering for me.  Yet I consider people who have glorified God in their death.  I'm inspired each time I read of Stephen's bold proclamation of faith at the very time of his stoning.  It seems to me the right outlook is seeing death as merely God's appointed means of transition from this life to the next.  Surely this is a time when believers can indeed glorify God.

Today let us, like Peter, again hear the words Christ spoke; "Feed My sheep" and "Follow Me".  May we respond accordingly!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, help me to determine in my heart that Your words, "Follow Me" will far surpass the importance of any other mission I am called to in my life time.  I pray that my goals, achievements, and ambitions never conflict with the major calling You have placed on my life.  Lord, may all that I pursue establish for me a firm foundation where my faith will grow and where I bring glory to Your name, both in life and in death.

Interestingly the words pasture and pastor come from the same root. In fact, in my spellcheck, every time I write "pastoring" it automatically changes to "pasturing."  But I think people would find it rather offensive to read that they're being "pastured" rather than "pastored."

Today's Suggested Music
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"Lead Me Lord, I Will Follow"  Video   Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Brooksyne's note: Several times I have mentioned this book in this series and it came to mind again today as we considered glorifying God in one's death.  This book is filled with stories strengthens my resolve to remain faithful no matter the circumstance.

The Complete Book of Christian HeroesThe Complete Book of Christian Heroes
By Dave & Neta Jackson / Tyndale House
Are there any true heroes? Discover the remarkable stories of those who have suffered for the cause of Christ throughout the course of history. This book reveals what inspired the great heroes of faith and drove them to give their all. Featuring such gripping accounts of each hero's life, this book gives the historical and cultural information as well as quotations and Scripture passages that amplify what each hero stood for. You will learn about John Bunyan, Mary Dyer, Brother Andrew, Todd Beamer and over 200 more heroes of yesterday and today. This is an excellent resource for any home library. For more information or to order click here.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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