My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life.
Listen to the Shepherd’s Voice – Follow
Have you noticed how many people think of God as a driver of the sheep. What I mean is this, they describe God as a hard God only demanding people what he wants them to do! Yes, certainly God does give us his law that demands. However, notice how Jesus describes himself and the sheep. He says they listen to his voice.
The shepherd of Jesus’ day walked ahead of his sheep and led them with his voice. He did not drive them as we often imagine. The shepherd knew his sheep and was with them all through the day and night. The sheep knew him and followed him through the countryside as they foraged for food.
By nature, we often can fall into that thinking of seeing God as a demanding Lord, driving his sheep and making us do what he wants. Let’s be honest, often that is how we work with others and certainly how we often treat God. We want and expect him to give us what we want, expecting and even demanding him to answer our prayers and bless us as we desire. We often judge God by the things he gives us. By nature, we have that law or driving mentality. Also, the less we h
ear and know our Shepherd’s voice, the more we fight and only see God as a driver. Satan loves to get us here. He is one of those enemies, along with the world and our sinful nature. He wants to destroy, to wound and finally to separate us from our Good Shepherd and eternal life!
“I know them” Jesus knows this about us. We are sheep! I may not like to describe myself in that way. But if I am honest, I need help. I need a Savior! Jesus came as our Good Shepherd. He knows you, me! He knows how easily we get lost or taken advantage of or belligerently bolt away on my own, only to need rescuing. In his Word he sooths my soul and forgives my guilt! In his Word I hear of his love and rescue. In his Word, I find peace and certainty. In his voice, I find his mercy that never turns away, but a Shepherd that goes out of his way to bring me back! They follow me. I give them eternal life.
How we get things too confused and mixed up about God. Jesus steps into our lives to love, to save and to give us eternal life – now and for eternity. In the church, we follow our Savior, listening together to our Savior voice! Come listen and follow Jesus!
Dear Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd. You know my life, my fears and where I have fallen. Jesus thank you for rescuing me and having brought me to faith. I am part of your flock. Help me listen and know your voice. Satisfy my soul. Give me strength to endure the challenges of this world. Amen.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8–9)
That poor water buffalo is in trouble! He got separated from the herd as the lions wanted. The lions prey on the weak and lonely, working to separate them from the protection of the herd!
Satan is no different. God tells us that he is the father of lies, sneaky and is set on separating us from the love of God at all costs. He desires to devour and destroy! He knows that if he can separate followers of Jesus, Christians, from Jesus, his Word and the church (the gathering of believers around the Word), that he has the best chance of destroying them eternally. He knows that God has promised that through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament is where the Holy Spirit promises to give and strengthen faith. This spiritual battle is far more dangerous as it is for eternity! The end game is hell!
On the first Sunday of Lent we hear Jesus willingly go to be tempted by the Devil. (Matthew 4:1-11, see below). We get a chance to see how the Devil works. He tries to get Jesus to use his godly powers for his own good. Jesus uses God’s Word to defend himself. Satan comes back using that same Word of God. Yes, Satan knows God’s Word. He knows it well and knows it has power. He twists it to get Jesus to test his Father. Notice how Jesus came back and used God’s Word to fight back against the Devil.
The Devil then tries to deceive Jesus, telling him that he would give him all the treasures of the world if he bowed down to him. Oh, how the treasurers of this world entice us and take our souls. So many things I can’t do without: sports, cell phones, money, clothes, family, relaxation, busyness of our lives… I have to say, the Devil seems to be winning in this area. Leading us to think we have God’s blessings when we can see so much around us, leading us to not have time to listen to Jesus or to come encourage each other around Jesus and his Word! See how Satan leads us to put our trust in the things God has given us, instead of God himself. He is so deceptive! It is hard to get away from Satan when he has set his jaws around our life!
Thank the Lord, Jesus came and defeated the Devil! He defeated our sin! In his Word, the Holy Spirit helps us to resist and to change our lives. It is interesting that when you search for lions killing water buffalo, you find many times where the lions got killed by the water buffalo. The family of believers gather around the Word of Jesus to grow, encourage and help protect one another! This is why our Lord has brought us together as the family of God! Praying the Lord helps you keep growing and fighting the Devil’s temptations! Pastor Green
Jesus Fighting the Temptations of the Devil
Matthew 4:1–11 —1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
In 1971 a well-known soft drink company produced a jingle which quickly became a hit song. The television ad featured young people from many different cultures on a sunny hillside in Italy singing the refrain, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” The commercial was a huge success. Radio stations across the country received many requests for the song to be replayed. Clearly both the melody and the message resonated with people who longed for harmony among the nations.
Our world is just as chaotic today as it was in the early 70’s, if not more so. We grow tired of the constant conflict all around us. So much fighting and quarreling in the news, on the internet, at work, and in our homes. We wish there were some easy path to peace, some way to get everyone to work together toward common goals. But the human heart is naturally inclined towards selfishness and suspicion. For countless centuries we have lived in never-ending conflict. Clearly no song (or soda) alone can create true peace and unity.
When Christ Jesus calls his people to walk together in his name, he doesn’t use a gimmick or emotional manipulation to unite us. The hymns we sing as Christian congregations are not composed of empty lyrics, but lasting truths. The next time you attend worship with your fellow believers, pay close attention to the words of the songs you sing. The melodies themselves may be ancient or contemporary, the chord progressions may be familiar to you or brand new. But listen carefully to the words. Reflect on their meaning and their importance for you, for your family, for all people.
Good Christian songs will point you to the love of God in Christ which is revealed to us in the Scriptures. They recount the many blessings God continues to pour out on us: forgiveness, peace, life, salvation—all through the work of his perfect Son Jesus who came to unite us sinners with a holy God. Through his sacrifice, we have been reconciled to God and to each other. Faith in God’s promises joins us with the people sitting in the pew next to us—and to those all over the world who share a common Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t help but blend our voices together in thanking him. Peace in Jesus is no illusion. He is the real thing.
Lord Jesus, open my lips to sing your praises together with your people everywhere. Amen.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6a
Fully Meeting God’s Standards
Has there been anyone in your life who always had expectations of you that were too high—so much so that you never felt like you could live up to what they expected? Maybe it was a parent who had really high expectations when it came to your grades at school. No matter how hard you tried, your grade point average was never good enough. Or maybe it was the football coach who was never satisfied with the way you ran that one particular play in the playbook. Even when you thought your team had it down, he shook his head and said, “Run it again!” Perhaps it was the boss who was never satisfied with your sales numbers, even when you surpassed the projected earnings for the company.
Often it feels impossible to live up to the expectations that others have for us. All of the above examples are nothing compared to the expectations that God has for you and me. God is holy. The bar he has set for us could not be any higher than it is. God commands us to be perfect. He demands that we be holy as he is holy. His expectations for sinners cannot be any loftier than that.
God’s Word states that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” On our own, sinners like you and I have no hope of ever meeting God’s expectations. Because of sin, we fall short day, after day, after day. Some days we don’t even try to meet God’s standards. Scripture speaks the truth when it states that, “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are powerless to meet God’s standards and because of that we deserve his eternal punishment.
That’s where faith comes in! The word faith in this verse describes a confident trust that an individual has in someone else. We know we have fallen short of God’s demands, but we are confident that someone else has met those demands for us. We trust that a Savior has taken our place under God’s law and fulfilled it perfectly for us. We have faith that because of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection, our status before God has changed. In Christ, God no longer sees our failures. He no longer sees how far short we have fallen from perfection. Instead, through faith in Jesus, God sees works that please him. God sees his own forgiven children serving him in love. By faith in Jesus, God sees us as ones who have fully met his standards!
Dear Jesus, thank you for keeping the demands of the law perfectly for me and for taking away all of my sins. Help me to live in thanks for your blessings. Help me to live by faith and to serve God in all I do. Amen.
Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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