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The Real Christmas Story

I think way too many times we look at the Christmas story and it’s just way too squeaky clean. There are so many songs that have been written about the birth of Christ, and they sound serene, angelic like everything was so perfect. I wonder if it was always told as we know it. I think we get most of the facts straight, but the truth was that before our very eyes, lost in the basic facts about this story are two people – two human beings – caught in the same chapter of God stepping in to human history. And it just wasn’t that easy.

Click here to read Luke 1:59-56, So Mary has this incredible, life-changing experience and there’s someone that she really has to share this with…Her fiancĂ©. And I figure Mary thought about this situation in one of two ways: she was pretty idealistic meaning, if God was doing this miraculous thing then Joseph is going to be just as excited as I am that God chose us! After all, it is the Savior – the Messiah that we’ve heard about our whole lives.

Or the o…

A Boat Sailing in the Wrong Direction

I have been spending a lot of time in what many consider a children's story in the old testament, Jonah. If you ask any child about Jonah, they can tell you the story of how Jonah was told by God to do something and Jonah ran away instead. And any child's most memorable part of the story is how Jonah was swallowed by a whale! In fact, for may adults this is the end of our knowledge of Jonah as well. We might be able to talk about what God told Jonah to do (go and preach against Ninevah), we may even see the symbolism between Jonah's three days in the whale and Christ's three days in the grave. But, as we see past the obvious and really dive into this text we will see there is so much more than a children's story.

So let's dive in...

Click here to read Jonah 1:1-3 Jonah is known by many as the "reluctant prophet" but his name actually means dove or peaceful one. His dad, Amittai, means "truth." So we are introduced to Jonah, t…

Do You Know His Voice?

John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

Did you know that sheep require more consistent attention and care than any other class of livestock? Sheep do not have sense of direction, so they are easily turned around and become confused and lost (sound familiar?). If they fall down they can't get up on their own and once they fall down if they are left too long, they will die. They are a very needy group of animals and the shepherd knows that sheep cannot be left alone for any extended period of time. Without the presence of a shepherd sheep will become anxious, they will panic, and many times they will cluelessly wander off. Nothing quiets and reassures sheep like the presence of their shepherd calling them by name.

Read John 10:1-6 . This scripture describes a morning shepherding scene. A shepherd enters through a gate into a walled enclosure which has several different flocks in one sheep pen overnight. The enclosure, with stone wall…

A Table Before My Enemies

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

We have finally made it to the last two verses of this psalm. We have been talking about the sheep/shepherd relationship and trying to gain a better understanding of it. Remember, Jesus said in John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." He calls us his sheep, not an eagle or some other majestic/ferocious animal, but a sheep. Let me remind you of some sheep facts in case you forgot from our opening blog on this subject.

1. Sheep are considered the dumbest animal on the planet.
2. They have no upper teeth.
3. They will stay in one spot and eat everything around them until nothing but dirt is left.
4. They have no sense of direction. No matter how long they are there, they can't find their way home without help.
5…

Comfort

Verse 4b "Your Rod and Your Staff They Comfort Me"

The Valley of Death

As we continue to talk about Psalm 23 and study the sheep/shepherd relationship, we come to the part of the psalm everyone can quote:

Verse 4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;

Even as a kid I was familiar with this portion of the psalm even though my family didn't attend church. The way I came to know this verse was through old westerns. After watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoons until noon, it was time for the Lone Ranger, the Duke and many other great westerns. After the star of the western caught the bad guy there would be a trial and if the bad guy was sentenced to death you knew he was to be hung. The next scenes would show the bad guy walking towards the gallows. The bad guy would have the sheriff on one side of him and the deputy on the other side with a preacher leading the way reading this portion of the psalm. So my only exposure was through these scenes, and it wouldn't be until…

He restores my soul...

In John 10 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees (the Pharisees were the religious snobs of the day) and he says to them in verse 27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me". Those two words "follow me" radically changed the lives of those who answered the call. But, Jesus never let anyone make the decision to follow him without them knowing there is a cost and to count that cost. Before we get into the cost of following Jesus and those two words "follow me" we need to finish talking about the first part of this verse where Jesus calls us "his sheep".

Let's continue our study of Psalm 23 as we learn more about the sheep/shepherd relationship. We know David, who is the author of this psalm, was a shepherd (also known as the "Shepherd of Israel") and he understood his position in the flock.

So, let's dive in...

Verse 3a "He restores my soul."

There is a shepherd’s term called a "cast" sheep. …

Follow Me...

John 10:27 Jesus said "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

I am going to spend time over the next few weeks talking about this verse, particularly paying close attention to the last two words of this verse "follow me".

But, before we look at the last two, lets look at the first two "My sheep." We know Jesus said he is "the Good Shepherd" (John 10:11) and calls us "His sheep." What does this mean? Why does he call us sheep? Moreover, why does he compare us to sheep? If Christ is going to compare us to something why not an animal that is majestic like an eagle or strong like a bear?

Let me share a few sheep facts with you:

1. Sheep are considered the dumbest animal on the planet.
2. They have no upper teeth.
3. They will stay in one spot and eat everything around them until nothing but dirt is left.
4. They have no sense of direction. No matter how long they are there, they can't find their way home without he…