Tag Archives: nature

Can you sleep through the storm?

30 Oct

Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along
the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed
applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.

Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the
wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around
the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand‘s
sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over
in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he
discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were
barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away.

The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
When you’re prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired
hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We, as believers in Christ, secure ourselves against the storms
of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God. We don’t need to understand, we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the midst of the
storms. I hope you sleep well!

Matthew 8:34-27 23 Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us, we’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith! Why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!”

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The Good Shepherd- A Picture of Goodness, Love & Devotion

21 Oct
The Good Shepherd- A Picture of Goodness, Love & Devotion

 

By Darren Woods

John 10:14-21
I’m sure that many of you will be familiar with the 1980’s sit-com The Golden Girls. The show is about 4 older ladies who share a house together. One of the main characters is Sophia Petrillo – she’s the oldest of the ladies, and the mother of Dorothy Zbornak-one of the other characters.
Whenever Sophia wants to tell a story, share a memory or impart some nugget of wisdom she always starts off by saying “Picture it, Sicily 1947” or it could be “Picture it, Brooklyn 1956”- She always says something like that, to put her story into context.
She then goes on to tell her story, painting a picture with her words – Making her tale come alive in the minds of those listening to her.
Today I want to paint a picture for you. I want you to leave here with a clear vision in your head. This morning I want you to SEE Jesus. I want you to experience for yourselves his goodness, his love and his great devotion to us.
I want you to see before you, the figure of a man:- A tall, strong looking man – A man whose clothes are perhaps a little dusty and disheveled, from living rough.
He’s a man with scars on his hands and feet, and on his face – scars that were caused by the attacks of vicious wild beasts.
In spite of his scars, this man has kind eyes and a warm smile.
In his arms he gently holds a young lamb. He gives a slight chuckle as the lamb looks up into his face and bleats. He lovingly strokes its head and cuddles it closer to himself.
Standing around him are many more sheep. They push and jostle as they all try to get closer to him. He lovingly casts his caring eye over each one of them – checking for scratches or bites or any other ailments that might afflict them. He rejoices in their health and wellbeing.
His love for them is evident in the way he gives them his utmost attention – He talks to them, calling each one individually by name. As he talks to them, they bleat back at him, as though responding to his voice – they know him. They trust him. They communicate with him as best they can.
In his hand he carries the tool of his trade – a staff. The staff is a long wooden rod with a hook at one end. The man uses this rod to fight off the wild animals that would attack the sheep. He also uses it to guide the sheep, occasionally using the hook to support their bodyweight as each one walks along a treacherous part of the path.
This man knows what’s best for the sheep. He understands their needs better than they do. He knows the types of vegetation that would make them sick and so he directs them away from it. He gently leads them to fresh pastures and clean water – to everything they need.
He gently chastises them when they head towards trouble, or they fight among themselves. He chastises them out of his great love for them – there’s no hint of cruelty or vindictiveness. Why would he be cruel to them? The scars on his own body prove how much he loves them – the scars show how far he’s prepared to go to protect them. His scars prove that he would die for them if he had to.
Occasionally one of the more head-strong sheep will wonder away from his fold. The sheep wants to do its own thing. It stubbornly refuses to obey the man’s commands, and so it finally finds itself separated from the rest of the flock – but more importantly, it finds itself separated from its protector.
Can you see how this man frets over the lost sheep? Do you see the worry-lines on his face? Can you hear the man calling out the sheep’s name – over and over again-pleading with it to return to the fold.
Can you see the determination on the man’s face as he goes in search of the lost sheep? See how he clambers over the rocks and hills, through the thorn bushes and along the cliff edges – facing every difficulty. He’s determined not to go home until his lost sheep is found.
Can you see the look of terror on his face as he sees his lost sheep in the distance? It’s dangerously close to the cliff edge – Doesn’t it realize that it’s about to fall off to an unspeakable end??
As the sheep calls out to him, do you see the urgency in his pace as he rushes to the rescue?? He ignores the cuts and tares that he’s getting from the thorn bushes as he rushes to save his beloved sheep.
Can you see the tears of joy and relief as he grabs the sheep from the clutches of disaster? Ignoring his own wounds, he tends to the sheep. Quietly talking to it, he whispers quiet reassurances, “there there now, everything’s gonna be alright”
As he walks home, with the sheep up on his shoulder, he whistles happily. In his head he is making plans to celebrate. He has recovered something that’s of extreme value to him – so he thinks that a party is definitely in order.
In your heart and in your mind this morning, can you see this man, standing before you? Can you see this Good Shepherd loving his sheep?
Just for a moment let us shift our attention away from the main character. Let’s have a more detailed look at these sheep? Are they REALLY worthy of such love and devotion? Is there some special quality about them that endears them so much to this man? Well…..
Sheep are shy creatures – easily frightened, they can panic easily.
Most people consider sheep to be dumb, stupid and gullible – and, in actual fact, they are!
They are stubborn creatures and they do whatever they can to get their own way.
They are very jealous creatures, often competing with each other for dominance in the flock.
They show little discernment in choosing food – they’ll eat anything – whether it’s good for them or not.
They are creatures of habit and they can literally get themselves stuck in a rut.
They are easy to flip over onto their backs. When this happens they have no ability to right themselves again – and they would die without the aid of the shepherd to turn them back over.
They have little or no means of self-defense, so they are easy prey – all they can do in the event of danger is run away.
So, do you see what the sheep are like? Can you picture the scene??
So far we’ve painted a picture of a good shepherd. We’ve sketched the sheep, but what about the background in this picture? What kind of terrain – what landscape does the sheep and the shepherd find themselves in?
Well – in some parts of the picture the landscape is rugged and rocky. There are dangerous cliffs and narrow windy pathways. There are thorn bushes and brambles that would cut and tear both the shepherd and the sheep. This type of terrain is troublesome and dangerous. Thankfully the shepherd is very familiar with the area. He steers the sheep away from the really dangerous spots and he helps them get through the trouble spots.
In other parts of the picture the landscape is green and lush. It looks like the emerald green rolling hills of Ireland! There’s lots of long juicy green grass there for the sheep to eat. There’s a gently flowing crystal clear river – where the sheep can leisurely drink their fill. There’s lots of space- places for the sheep to sit and rest.
So there we have it. We have ‘pictured it…Israel AD30.’ We have painted the picture of a good shepherd, his sheep and their surroundings.
Did you see it? Did you see HIM? Did you have an encounter with THE Good Shepherd – the one who lay down his own life for you – The Lord Jesus Christ Himself?
Did you see something of yourself in the sketch of the sheep? Are you sometimes willful and stubborn? Do you get easily frightened and panic easily? Do you sometimes get jealous and jostle others to get ahead in life? Are you like the sheep, in that you don’t always know what’s best for you? Do you get yourself into a rut – trapped in your own habits and thinking? Do you sometimes get yourself into predicaments that you can’t get yourself out of – you sometimes need help to get back on your feet again? When you get into trouble, is your only defense to run away?
Humanity are more like sheep than we want to admit sometimes, aren’t we?
Did you see the terrain in the picture? Does it remind you of your life and your circumstances? Did you see the place where YOU find yourself right now? Sure there are times when life seems green and lush – things are going good and you don’t really need anything in particular.
At other times, however, you’re caught between a rock and a hard-place. You teeter on the brink of disaster – sometimes you find yourself so close to catastrophe – and you’ve no clue how on earth you got there.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd – The picture of goodness, love and devotion.
Nahum 1:7 tells us that the Lord is good. In Matt 19:17 Jesus tells us that HE alone is good! It’s undeniable – The Lord IS good!!
The Psalmist of old saw Jesus as a leading Shepherd in Psalm 23. Isaiah saw him as a Shepherd who feeds his flock in Isaiah 40:11. Ezekiel saw him as the shepherd searching for his flock in Ezekiel 34:11-16.-The Lord IS our shepherd.
Our text this morning tells us that Jesus is the good shepherd, who died for his sheep.
Hebrews 13:20 tells us that he is the great shepherd, risen for his sheep.
1 Peter 5:4 tells us that he is the chief shepherd who’s coming for his sheep.
Do you recognize the shepherd this morning? Do you hear his voice? Do you recognize his voice? Is he calling your name?
I urge you to respond to him!
In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes a number of ‘I Am’. Today we have pictured his statement ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ Is he your shepherd?
* In John 6:35 Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life” – Have you eaten of this bread and been satisfied?
* In John 8:12 Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world” – a statement showing that he illuminates and sanctifies. Has he shone his light into your darkness?
* Last week we heard how in John 10:7 Jesus declares, “I am the gate” – a statement showing that he saves. Let me ask you plain and straight this morning, are you saved?
Today Jesus declares, “I am the Good Shepherd” – a statement showing that he loves and cares – even to the point of death. So, I ask again, is he your shepherd today?
You have a choice this morning- you can either continue to wonder on in darkness and sin, or you can call out to the shepherd – you can be brought back into the fold.
You can choose to stay in your rut, or you can be lead out of it to a sweeter future.
You can lie on your back, unable to turn yourself the right way up – or you can call out to the Shepherd and let him put you right.
Today, you can choose to be stubborn – or you can choose give-in to someone who really knows what’s best for you.