Who is Your Shepherd?

A Sunday Devotional

with

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

Today’s news headlines reflect the anxieties of a society that desperately
needs God. Consider the following;

The Covid-19 plague. A turbulent stock-market. Political chaos.
International tensions and rumors of war. Supply shortages. Riots and
lawlessness. Domestic violence. The upswing in criminal activity. Depression.
Suicide. Hopelessness. Joyless existence.

Need I go on?

If the messaging of the media is all you hear then your soul will be
greatly troubled.

So where can we go for peace? Where is our tranquility to be found? How
do we navigate the charged atmosphere of a fallen, broken world?

I recently heard about a little girl who was interrupting her father’s
attempt to read the newspaper. After numerous questions and brief answers,
the father finally took a page from the back of the paper and with scissors, cut
it into uneven sections, making something of a jig-saw puzzle, and gave them
to his daughter with instructions to reassemble the individual pieces. He
thought that this would occupy his daughter’s attention while he finished his
paper. However, within just a few brief minutes, she called out to her surprised
daddy to come and see her finished accomplishment. When he went over to
where she had correctly assembled the paper clippings, he asked how she had
finished so quickly. “Oh, that was easy daddy. I just put the lady’s face
together again.” What that father hadn’t realized was that on the other side of
that back page was a full-page advertisement with the face of a lady. This is
what the little girl had seen as her father was reading. She then said, “It’s easy
when you know what the face looks like.”

Instead of reassembling the newsprint the little girl had reassembled a
picture. May I suggest that we need to do the same thing in this difficult and
trying time. We need to reassemble the great picture of God’s love and grace
amidst the jumble and chaos of the news print. In other words, we, as
Christians, need to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind as we attempt to make sense
of the events that surround us.

But where can we get a glimpse of the ‘big picture’?

Let me suggest that the teachings of the Bible provide us with the picture we
all need to see, the picture of God’s love as expressed in our Savior and Lord
Jesus Christ.

Consider the teachings of the 23rd Palm when we read that;
‘The Lord is my Shepherd…I shall not want… He maketh me to lie down in
green pastures… He leadeth me beside the still waters…’

In the opening verses of the 23rd Psalm we note that there is a place of
rest and peace that God’s people can attain to. The lush, green pastures speak
of the comforts of true rest apart from the barren and thorn-infested grounds of
the world. The still waters tell us of the peace-filled serenity that fills any
thirsty soul who drinks from such ponds. All of this is contingent upon one
very important point of recognition. We might frame this point with the
question, ‘Who’ or ‘What’ guides you through life? In other words, “Who is your
Shepherd?”

If our answer is anyone other than ‘the Lord’ then we will certainly be
worried and anxious as this world offers only temporary respite and limited
promise. However, if we can confess with the Psalmist that ‘the Lord is my
Shepherd’ we will enjoy true peace, a ‘peace that passes understanding.’

So, who is your Shepherd?

Jesus claimed to be the ‘Good Shepherd’ (John chapter 10, verse 11) and
with this claim he also promised peace to those who follow him;
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give
to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John chapter
14, verse 27).

This ‘peace’ comes with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. When we call
upon the Lord to be our Shepherd, we are making a choice between the
promises of this fallen world and the eternal promises of God’s Kingdom. Paul
writes, “For the Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans, chapter 14, verse 17).

Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we are members of God’s eternal
Kingdom, and with the Kingdom comes the peace and joy that earmarks us as
the ‘sheep of his pasture’ (Psalm 79:13, 95:7, 100:3). This distinction is most
evident in the peace and joy that God’s people display, even when the news of
this world is bad. Because of this fact, we should consider sharing ‘the Good
News’ of the Gospel with others.

In so doing, we put the pieces of the puzzle together so that others might
see the ‘big picture’ of God’s love and grace! Let’s ask someone today, “Who is
your Shepherd?” and then, let’s tell them about the goodness of the Lord!

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