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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Amish hay harvest in Lancaster County, PA 10/25/11
"Making hay while the sun shines" on an Amish farm in Lancaster County PA.

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"Like Sheep Gone Astray"

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25).

Sheep astray running back to the flock in Lancaster County, PA 10/25/11

On Tuesday afternoon we took a long walk on our country path along Donegal Creek with our dogs. It was a pleasant fall afternoon but suddenly the dogs noticed something out of order. Four sheep from our neighbor's flock had gone astray and were in a meadow across the creek. Instinctually Mollie especially had the urge to herd them back to the flock. But she was on a leash so she resorted to barking rather ferociously instead and it was effective. The sheep immediately responded, darted away from us, and ran to be with the rest of the flock in their own pasture!

Seeing these sheep "gone astray" reminded me of the many Bible stories and illustrations about sheep.  There is much to consider as we look at 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 from the Old Testament is Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd".  In the New Testament the most familiar passage is our Lord's words, "I am the Good Shepherd" (John 10:11).

Isaiah in the great chapter concerning the Messiah states, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6).  Indeed we have all gone astray, for "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Sheep 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 green pastures 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 an enemy Peter describes as "the devil [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8)

Have you returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul? Although the Shepherd seeks the lost sheep, we 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!

If you have gone astray and away from the sheepfold return to Him. 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 passing 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.

Take note of the word "overseer" in our daily text as well.  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!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for the great Shepherd of the sheep, who equips us with everything good for doing His will, and who works in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We give Him glory forever and ever. Amen. (See Hebrews 13:20,21).

Teamster at Cherry Crest farm Lancaster County, PA 10/25/11
 We enjoy the setting of this Corn Maze at the Cherry Crest Farm here in Lancaster County and got a kick out of the realistic booted legs under the plastic wrapped "Teamster".  It was a windy day so the bag filled out and shifted back and forth which made it seem as though a person was inside the bag!

John Keefer

Yesterday a pastor friend stopped by for a visit. John Keefer read our story "Ho-ly Socks" several weeks ago and wrote to inform us he was still wearing socks his mom purchased when he was a boy some 50 years ago!

50 year socks
As he recalls she bought them from a neighbor and they had the name "wear-ever" socks. He quipped that perhaps they made them so good they never wore out and went out of business!

Pets in fall 2011 (photo by Ester)
Ester took this photo of our pets in front of our home. They enjoy being in the front lawn but Mollie must be restrained! (Missing from the photo is Dottie, our 10 year old cat, who is not too fond of being photographed with the dogs.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Softly and Tenderly"  Video  Altar of Praise Chorale

"Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us"  Video  Discover Singers

We've mentioned in several recent encouragement messages about a friend who died last week in auto accident in Little Rock Arkansas.  Here's a video tribute to Nelma Carpenter and her grandson Buck. Note: The first part of the tribute is to Buck and the second part, beginning at 3:52, is to Nelma.

Cherry Crest

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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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