“The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep... The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:2-3, NLT).
We all need guidance for decisions in life. Yet in a world as chaotic as ours, getting good guidance isn’t always simple or easy. Jesus says it’s different for Christians. He makes it clear in the above passage that his followers— “his own sheep”—know his voice and “come to him.” The picture is of a Good Shepherd providing his sheep with all the oversight and care they need.
All the Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of Christ. Upon his arrival, he would perform glorious blessings — binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, healing the sick and building a new church (see Isaiah 61:1). He would “give...beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (61:3, NKJV).
It was the Passover season and Christ was teaching in the temple. A large crowd gathered because Jesus had a reputation for speaking profound words of love and performing powerful works of God. Yet no sooner had this crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders showed up.
I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I was told the young man’s mother was the only surviving member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her fourth funeral and the third son she’d had to bury.
I grew up in New York, but when I was in high school my family moved to east Texas. During my first year there I wasn’t known as Gary but as “Yankee.” The longer I kept my New York accent, the more puzzled looks I got, along with a question: “What did you just say?”
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet in all my years I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?
We all have a calling from God on our life. Maybe the Lord gave you a dream related to your calling and you started out strong. You could actually see that vision being fulfilled, but then an obstacle came along - an impossible circumstance - and it derailed you. You lost momentum and soon you were off track altogether.
Consider the great testimony of King David: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust” (2 Samuel 22:2-3, my italics). He said of the godly, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).
The Bible makes clear that, sadly, only a small percentage of God’s people in any age have ever truly trusted him as their deliverer. As you look around at believers today, how many people do you see operating with such peaceful trust?
In John 2, Jesus enters the temple for an act that would signal the beginning of his public ministry. (His earlier miracle at Cana, turning water into wine, wasn’t a public declaration.) What takes place next is quite dramatic:
In the Old Testament, high feast days in Jerusalem were an incredible event. Three times a year, Israelites from across the land journeyed to the temple in Zion to take part in the feast days. It was the most religious thing the people could do. The priests likened it to “coming near to the face of God,” or “drawing nigh to the Lord.”