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Monday, January 4, 2010

Sheep on Echo Valley Road 1/3/10
Sheep Gone Astray
Yesterday afternoon on the way home from our church sevice we had to stop for these sheep on Echo Valley Road. We were unable to determine what they were eating on the road surface but they were sure hesitant to move on!
(I assume some grain had fallen off a truck, but all we could see was them licking the freezing road surface.  I'm surprised their tongue didn't get stuck.)

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"Like Sheep Gone Astray"

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

As we drive through the Pennsylvania countryside one of our favorite sightings is a farm where wooly sheep and tottering lambs are grazing on the pasture land. However yesterday we didn't need to look for them. Instead they came to us.  As we turned a bend and came over a hill in the road we made a quick stop as several sheep that had fled from safe pasture were grazing right in the middle of the road!

Seeing these sheep "gone astray" reminded me instantly of the many Bible stories and illustrations about sheep. This morning as I look into God's Word I am experiencing His peace as once again I consider the position of sheep in relation to the Great Shepherd.

The Bible frequently uses the metaphor of a shepherd and sheep to demonstrate man's relationship with God.  In fact it begins as early as Genesis 49:24 and continues through the final book of Revelation 7:17.  Of course the most beloved and comforting passage using this metaphor is Psalm 23, along with our Lord's words, "I am the Good Shepherd" (John 10:11).

In the daily text Peter alludes to a verse in Isaiah which states, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray" (53:6).  Indeed we have all gone astray, for "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Sheep in pastureSheep gone astray are sheep surrounded by danger since they have no ability to protect themselves. They're at the mercy of other predatory animals and aren't built for speed even if they do run. They're easily lost with no gps to find their way home. Poisonous weeds look just as inviting as the pasture for grazing.  And I don't need to tell you that moving vehicles are obviously a deadly force that sheep cannot defeat! Much like the sheep that face lethal enemies daily, we too deal with a spiritually lethal enemy Peter describes as "the devil [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). 

If you've found yourself grazing in the enemy's toxic wasteland, have you returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls?  Although the Shepherd seeks the lost sheep, we all have a free will.  Are you in His fold of safety today?  If you're in His fold rejoice; life's biggest problem has been resolved!

Shepherd with sheep
If you have gone astray return to Him. Do you hear the voice of the Shepherd calling to you, "Come home!"  Respond to the beckoning voice of the Great Shepherd today.  Any fleshly temptation to indulge in temporal pleasure pales in comparison to being under God's steadfast love and care. Jeremiah writes, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight…" (15:16). He was feeding on some "soul food" while his own people were indulging in the enemy's poisonous revelry.

Finally today, take note of the word "overseer" in our daily text.  This is the only place in the entire Bible that the underlying Greek word "episkopos" ("bishop" in the KJV) is used in a description of God.  It means one who watches over or superintends.  That's what I need for my soul today and so do you.  I have returned to that Great Shepherd and I don't want to be lost again!  Praise the Lord for His steadfast love and care as we begin another year!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Our prayer for each reader today is the wonderful benediction in Hebrews: "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20,21).

Personal note: We are getting back to some degree of normalcy in our home following my surgery and some other health issues Ester had the last couple of weeks. Ester goes to work today, Brooksyne will make some chaplain worksite visits and I will catch up with office work. Yesterday I was able to preach but was sure weary when I got home!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"He Leadeth Me"  Video

"Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us"  Video

In searching for music with a sheeep and shepherd theme we came across a number of versions of Psalm 23:

"Psalm 23"  Video

"The New 23rd"  Video  Actually this was "the New 23rd" back when I was a young Christian.  It really doesn't sound very new now!

"Psalm 23"  Video  Keith Green

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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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