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Never Knew I Was A Sheep!

I’ve always considered myself fairly content, of course, I’m not even sure why “content” is even an issue or even what it is.  I’m not even sure why “I’m” even an issue.

Some of the others say I have OCD; though, admittedly, no one has ever defined that label and I certainly cannot define it.  I guess I am just “me.”  This is very convenient since I have no ability to really be anything else but me.

My right hip has been itching again.  I told my people about it and they all just snicker and continue eating.  Granted, I know I am very good at eating; I prefer clover, but long, deeply green grass is as good as candy—whatever candy is!

So there I was, happily and contentedly eating the grass just outside the area where we all sleep.  There was a noise, a rather melodious tone which I recognized but I do not recall ever hearing it before.  Others also heard it—I saw their heads raise up—but many resumed eating.  The sound came again, yet this time I understood it: Come!

I wasn’t the only one, there were others, yet many ignored the sound.  I was drawn to it, it literally resonated through all of who I am.  As I began to move toward it, all who recognized it started moving faster and faster; not to be left behind (and that place on my hip was itching again), I started running too!

There was a man, a man who was calling my name!  He touched me, stroked me and told me I belonged to Him.  I felt so much contentment and love when I heard Him say my name.  I knelt at His feet, I laid my head on His lap, and He uncovered the spot on my hip that had been itching for as long as I could remember.

“He is yours,” a voice told the Man, “there is My mark, My brand on him.”  The Man looked at me and smiled at me.  He said to the Voice, “Can you see the damage done by the wolves and his poor choices?”  

“You know I cannot My Son; Your blood has made him as white as snow.”

I loved this Man.  I loved His Father and there is something in me which lets me know I will always be His.  I now remember all I have read (read?) and recall words from long ago:  

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

I now am forever with this One; I cannot leave and I cannot be lost!

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Me, Myself & I against God!

Forgiveness.  Easy to say yet more difficult to actually achieve. Why is forgiveness so hard?

 

I’m into my third decade as a pastor now.  Over the years I have met people—good people who know the Lord—yet they have no problem telling me there is someone they know, someone with whom they have had a relationship in the past and now, because of something they did, they said, or they caused and now they cannot forgive them, ever.

 

There is a huge difference between what we know and how we feel, our responses to circumstances. What we know is what is reality. Does reality change?  It certainly does.  Yet the changes to reality are much slower and more deliberate. Interestingly, the root of “reality” is “real.”

 

So, does this mean that what we “feel” should be automatically discounted and disparaged? Not at all.  Feelings are always a response; a response to people, to circumstances and even to thoughts—ours mostly.  Unfortunately, feelings are ephemeral, they change, have no solidity (or reality) and how we “feel” often soon changes as soon as the pizza we have eaten is digested.

 

I am not surprised when those who do not have a relationship with God through Christ do not forgive.  People who are lost or pagan have not been “recreated” as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17. They are acting according to their created order; they are not less than believers because believers were once just like them.

 

Yet believers in Christ are to look like Christ and act like Him!  Paul makes it very clear that “those whom He [God] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, ESV).  What God foreknows and predestined is reality; it is what is real.

 

Of course, those who are more attentive and observant immediately realize there are many people who profess Christ as their Lord and yet they do not either “look” or “act” like Christ. How can this be if the reality is that God has made us to look like Christ?

 

The same God who made us to look like His Son also gave those He made this way true freedom and will. Those who do not forgive have made the choice to purposely disobey and to not forgive!

 

Paul in Colossians 3:13 commands, “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.”  Paul informs the Ephesians in Ephesians 4:32 that forgiveness is a mark, is actually evidence that we are actually saved.  “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

 

In Luke 6:37-38 is perhaps one of the most often misunderstood, misapplied and misquoted verses in all of the New Testament.  There Jesus lays out three parallel concepts which make it crystal clear how God applies justice in this world: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven…For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

 

People who are judgmental will themselves face judgment.  People who are constantly condemning, will themselves face condemnation. People who forgive will find forgiveness.  The way we act and live will be the “measure,” the means by which our lives will be measured and judged by God.

 

Oh, and try not to oh-so-quickly state, “Hey, this has nothing to do with salvation!”  You are correct; it does not.  Yet this does apply to our eternal reward as believers!  I know some people who tell me how much they love Jesus, how long they have been in church and all they do for people, yet they are often cranky, mean-spirited, angry and demonstrate very little of Jesus in their life.  God will make sure they are rewarded accordingly.

 

There are people who have literally lost brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and other family because of the actions of an individual.  I’ve heard them tell me they “will never forgive that person.”  The longer I know the Lord, the more I understand they are destroying their rewards and robbing themselves of blessings in the here and now.

 

Who do we think we are as believers when we make such statements?  God’s One and Only Son paid for our sin, and then the Father because of that payment has forgiven us.  Do we actually think we are “bigger” or more important than God?  I’ve actually had people say, “God has blessed me the way I am.”  Okay, but how much more could he have blessed you if you were obedient to Him?

 

In my life, Me, Myself and I are the most self-centered, often evil and selfish persons I know; I know them because I am them!  As I age, and as I mature in my relationship with Christ, I am more and more amazed that God the Father has forgiven me and especially Jesus Christ has also forgiven me. Especially Jesus; as my Advocate, He knows all of my Issues whereas the Father only sees Jesus!

 

Praise God!  Because I am forgiven, I can now forgive!