He was wounded because of our sin; His punishment brought us peace; by His wounds we are healed. These contradictions are staggering; they’re irrational and unjust. We are the ones that have gone astray, and therefore we justly deserve to be wounded, crushed, punished for our sin, and to live out our destruction in aimless wandering. What causes us to go astray, or ‘away from the correct path or direction,” in the first place? The answer in these verses is so simple and yet convicting: “each of us has turned to our own way.” Just like the lost sheep, wandering without purpose, lacking the shepherd’s care and direction, defenseless against the world, we are all before Christ. When was a time in your life that you have been like the sheep who goes astray? What got you there? What was it like to be found by God?
It can often feel like we need to insert a bunch of ‘to-do’s” into our lives in order to walk with God faithfully. However, God calls us to closeness with Him, our Good Shepherd, before anything else. As we aim to stay near Him, we won’t turn to our own way or find ourselves wandering alone. When we’re walking with God, we find that because of the Lord’s perfect sacrifice for our sin, instead of the wounding, crushing, punishment, or destruction, we get salvation, hope, redemption, restoration, and new life!
When it comes to sharing what God has done in my life with others, it can be easy (or at least easier) to do that with those who are searching, hungry, asking, who already know or want to know Him. Where I feel God’s conviction is first in my perception of the world that is living apart from Jesus. If I had the cure for a globally experienced illness, I know I would be sharing, fighting, and insisting that every person knew and received the needed treatment to be saved. And yet that is not always the way I see the gospel or those who don’t yet know Jesus.
If we do see the gospel as the payment and cure for the sickness of the destructive impact of our sin, we can recognize that one thing is true: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And yet one more thing remains true: whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
There is no distinction among us, no levels or hierarchy, no hope in our own power to heal and save. We are all sick and needy for our perfect Savior. And even for those of us that have received the undeserved grace of knowing Christ currently, we still remain needy for Him daily.
When was a time that you were in great need of God? It may have been when you first came to know Him, or when you found yourself in a pattern of sin or walking away from God, or maybe it was during recent difficult times you have faced. Even though the truth is that we need God constantly, there seem to be pressurized times in our lives where we feel (or maybe are just willing to admit) our great need for Him, a desperate need for God to show up mightily, carry us through, to do His work in our lives.
No matter what it was that got you there, how did you respond to God? How did you perceive His response to you? The part that strikes me from these verses is how Jesus describes the shepherd’s response: “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,” takes it home, “calls his friends and neighbors together,” and rejoices! I don’t know about you, but I personally haven’t gone directly to sensing God rejoicing at times when He has found me in lost and needy places. Instead, I can often be like the prodigal son later on in Luke 15, who makes a behavior modification plan in an attempt to win back his father’s favor (Luke 15:18-19).
What a God and Good Shepherd we have that seeks us out, is always capable of finding us in our darkest places, always willing to receive us back, and always rejoicing as He carries us home. Thank you, Jesus!
I am grateful for the way God has transformed me from the dimension of time and brought me into His eternal kingdom.
There was so much I didn’t understand when I started following Jesus, especially regarding the capability to see and observe what is happening in the spiritual realm.
The power He gave me to be a witness of who He is and what He is doing enables me to perceive the difference between reality and illusion. The Lord has turned my world upside down and inside out.
Watching the development and decline of projects, institutions and events that are only temporal manifestations of human ingenuity make me realize the futility of living my life without Him.
I pray that God will give me more discernment to distinguish the difference between the temporal and eternal.
Whenever I dwell on negative thoughts I start feeling like I am surrounded by darkness. If I engage in a conversation about pessimistic or controversial ideas, I begin to lose my conscious awareness of God’s presence.
However, if I stop contributing to the negative dialogue and redirect my thoughts towards Him and His kingdom, it is like having the sun come out from behind the clouds.
The light of the Lord’s presence enables me to see things from a much different perspective. I am able to listen objectively and maintain a sense of His peace and joy which gives me the energy I need to overcome the darkness.
I pray that God will help me maintain my focus on Him in every moment so that when shadows begin to form around me I will remain in the light of His grace, mercy and love.
One thing I learned early in my walk with the Lord was the reality of His sovereignty. He is the creator of the universe, everything belongs to Him, and He has a purpose and objective in the events that occur in our lives. That is why it is so important for us to have an understanding of how prayer and surrender go hand in hand. There are many times that God gives us the desires of our heart because of our importunity, but He also sends leanness to our soul. As we grow in our faith and understanding, we discover that it’s more important to resign ourselves to leaving the choice with God. He knows what is best in every situation, and being content with His discretion enables us to be free from any form of discouragement. I can testify that many times I have not received what I wanted, but in the end, I discovered that what God provided was far superior to what I had desired.
Obedience is how followers of Jesus Christ have an opportunity to express their love to Him. It is also how we are able to build our lives on a solid foundation so that we can learn to see our life situations from God’s perspective. That is so important because Jesus told us that in the world, we would have trouble. Problems are inevitable, but knowing God’s ways helps us discover solutions that bring us more and more into His light. The more obedient we are to God’s command, the greater the revelation we have so that we can experience His abundant life. No matter what is going on around us, we can have confidence that God is making everything work for good. Knowing this will bring us His peace, even when the world is tumultuous.
It wasn’t very long after I came to faith in Christ that I found myself talking to other people about what had happened to me. I had grown up in a traditional, denominational church, but I had never experienced a personal encounter of intimacy with Christ like I had when I made a decision to turn my life over to Him and become one of His followers. Whether it was where I worked or people I encountered in my various life situations, I began to share the good news about what God had done for me. That was in November of 1964, and I have been doing that ever since. Most of the time, I never knew the results of how my testimony impacted their lives, but that wasn’t my responsibility. I share my faith out of the overflow of what He is doing in my life and trust God to work in the hearts of those with whom I meet.
One man I encountered thirty years ago became a friend I started meeting with weekly. Eventually, he became a follower of Jesus, and we still meet regularly for lunch and share what God is doing in our lives. He is a college professor at Texas State and has made a big impact on many students’ lives, influencing them to become followers of Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, one of the most wonderful experiences I can have is being able to give a testimony about something God has done in my life. Whether it is a story about how He has delivered me from an addiction, healed my body of sickness and disease, or set me free from desires that distracted me from abiding in Him, every adventure glorifies God because it has been His work in me that made it happen.
I have never planned a miracle, but after they have happened, I know that it has been something only He could have done. Many times the manifestation of His power started with a painful, troublesome, or disheartening experience, and simply through faith and belief that He could do something to rectify the situation according to His purpose and plan, an event happened that resolved the problem. Sometimes it happens to me, a family member, or a friend, but the one common factor that always occurs is that God is glorified.
Paul’s declaration that we are “full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another” is a statement of faith that is a result of the hope that he has that God is working in every believer. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the very best God has to offer us, and this gift doesn’t get better as we mature in our knowledge of Him. There are two ways we can grow in our understanding of who we are in Christ. We can surrender our lives to God, study the Scriptures, and make good choices by obeying the commands of Jesus Christ. The other is to continue going our own way, living in disobedience and reaping the consequences of our rebellion. Both ways are difficult and challenging, but the former has a benefit that makes it superior to the latter.
Submission to God’s way is how we abide in Christ and bear good fruit. The latter, refusing to make the hard choices of obedience to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin, can only end in turmoil, destruction, and sorrow. The first way results in our lives becoming an example of love, joy, and peace. The result of the other way becomes a warning to others of the consequences of our self-indulgence. Either way, we are discovering the sovereignty of God and maturing in our understanding of who we are in our relationship with Him. The good news is that He makes everything work together for good.