Picking up the pieces

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The heart ache of this past week is evident in the state of Oklahoma…children were lost, families ripped apart, sorrow and pain have been an un-welcomed, uninvited guest.  How do we pick up the pieces when life seemingly sweeps away any remnants of normality?  

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Throughout our world people today are facing this very same situation.  It might not present itself in the form of a mile wide twister but rather a car accident, a bout with cancer, a loss of a loved one.  People find themselves at the brink of total despair and their lives in ruin shattered before their very eyes.  

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David knew a thing or two about a shattered life…more than once.  He was in flight for his life, the king wanted him dead, later when he became king he committed adultery, plotted to kill the husband and lost a child in the process… his life was shattered.  In one of his most famous psalms 23 he wrote; “even though I travel through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  

We at times, as human beings, walk through valleys within the shadows of death on all sides.   And because of these valleys,we find the pieces of our lives scattered in all directions.  

Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  Do you fear the evil that lurks in your life right now?  What was David’s hope?  How did he overcome his valleys and collecting the broken pieces of his life?  He knew that he wasn’t alone…the Lord was his shepherd and even in the midst of deep despair and trouble he knew One who could sustain, protect and provide. 

Are you picking up the pieces today?  Know that you aren’t alone and that the good shepherd will walk beside you and give the the strength to make it through this chapter of your life.  

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“Jesus the good shepherd”

John 10:1-21 (NIV)
1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.
3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–
15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
19 At these words the Jews were again divided.
20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Lost Sheep & The Search Party of One

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Jesus told a parable.  For those disciples who had been following Him, they had grown accustomed to his teaching style.  Yet they were always challenged with the content of what He had to say, often times asking Him to clarify or for the meaning.   It would be fair to say that His parables brought consternation to some while confusion to others.  His teachings were also difficult to accept at times, because it meant turning from some traditional customs that the Jewish culture had adopted along the way. 

 On this particular day, Jesus began to tell another series of parables.  His audience, the disciples of course, but there were also tax collectors and others that some identified as ‘sinners’.  Jesus began his parable with a relatable statement; “suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them…”  Immediately Jesus begins by drawing these tax collectors and ‘sinners’ into His tale.  Immediately He is helping them identify with the content of His story.  Immediately the implications are that this parable is for them.  Not a ‘for them’ which implies a tale of condemnation, but rather a ‘for them’ which implies compassion and love and a deep longing to restore a right relationship with them to the Father.   

In a moment, as Jesus begins to speak, they are held spell-bound, eyes locked on the Teacher…ready to hear His tale.  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”  Imagine if you will, Jesus speaks this phrase and He gazes intently into each face of those who had gathered around Him.  They were the lost sheep that Jesus was talking about.  They were pariahs of society, and by choice and some by vocation had lost their way.   

Jesus wanted them to know the extent in which the Father would go to find His lost ones in this world!  Every soul, every lost child was that important to God the Father.  Jesus was sent on this mission.  He even said it in His own words; “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  The lost were right in front of the One doing the saving…they didn’t realize how lost they were but Jesus did.  This wasn’t some guilt trip or a brow beating by Jesus, but a message of love and compassion and care.  Jesus looked into the very eyes of the lost sheep and hoped that they would let Him rescue them. 

 

He finishes His parable with these words; “And when he finds it (the lost sheep) he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do no need to repent.” (Luke 15:1-7)

Think of it, He places the lost sheep on His shoulders and carries them home.   Isn’t that what He has done for us too?  Those who had gathered there to listen were lost.  They needed someone to pick them up and carry them home.  Who would go to them, the outcasts…the sinners?  Jesus sought them out when all other religious leaders of the day sought out nothing but selfishness, power and condemnation.   Jesus brought salvation to them, and all they had to do was repent. 

Are you lost?  Can you recall when Jesus came to you?   All of heaven rejoices in the salvation of the lost.  And when they are found again, there is peace and there is hope in the arms of the One who seek us.   Our response to being found is repentance and allowing the Good Shepherd to carry us home. 

 

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