…we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them…
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
Wow…Week 6. It’s difficult to believe, but that’s exactly where you and I stand today as we celebrate Lent 2019 together with His Own Heart Ministries. The fact that you’re with us right here in the right now means more to us than you’ll ever know.
If you’ve followed The LORD is My Shepherd for any length of time, you’re probably well in tune with the rhythm our series has sought to develop. If, on the other hand, you’re joining us for the first time, you’re as welcome to jump in now as if you’d been with us from the very first step of the journey. For the convenience of anyone who’s missed some past posts or just wants to review what we’ve covered thus far, the following links will take you where you need to go: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and Week 5.
The basic premise of this series is simple. We’re examining aspects of what the very title of our series states. What, in other words, do we mean when wesay with heartfelt conviction and deliberate commitment that The LORD is My Shepherd? What does the idea entail? Looking beyond the surface – to its roots and the rich soil of Hebrew context that embeds it – what does the statement imply about Jesus Christ? And you? And me?
We’ve stated this previously, but it bears repeating these are some of the driving questions we continue to pursue as we draw ever-closer to Resurrection Day on April 21, walk past that gigantic stone and peer into the sweetly and marvelously empty tomb of Jesus Christ, our Savior and All-In-All.
We also continue to watch for these three basic truths to unfold as we take into account the factors that make our lives so much better when we let go and let Christ lead us as our undisputed Shepherd:
- Jesus is the perfect Provider; He provides all needs for one’s soul.
- Jesus is the perfect Protector; He defines and defends His flock.
- Jesus is the perfect Promise; He delivers on His Word at any cost.
Our goal for the whole of this series, then, is to seek the divine revelation that brings these truths together as we consider the following topics:
- The LORD is my Shepherd: Are You Pulling the Wool?
- The LORD is my Shepherd: What Does That Make Me??
- The LORD is My Shepherd: Oh No He DIDN’T!?!?!
We concluded the first leg – Are You Pulling the Wool? –with the final of three looks into Psalm 23, While camping there amid those six verses, we discussed the shepherding roles that Christ serves for followers who accept by faith His identity as the Only Son of God and Savior of the world. We also examined references the psalm makes to the provision God offers to us through two tools of a shepherd’s trade: His rod and Hisstaff. Finally, we delved into the concluding verse of the psalm to examine a theological revelation about the Shepherd that by extension reveals facts regarding our own eternal security.
This week, we’re rounding out the second leg of our journey. For two weeks now, we’ve explored implications drawn from the last part of this conditional question: If the LORD is my Shepherd. What Does That Make Me??
Now, the answer to the question seems arguably obvious. We’ve seen in this series that since Christ is the ultimate Shepherd, believers are logically His sheep. But the context of that statement holds an amazingly wondrous and life-altering truth that I absolutely do not want us to miss as we prepare our hearts for the season at hand. As His sheep, you and I have direct access to some awesome privileges and blessings that define our identities in a temporal as well as in an eternal sense. That was another statement I made in a previous post.
This week, though, the following tweet from Christian author Jennifer Rothschild struck me deeply. And not just because of the raw truth that her words hold – that raw truth is striking within itself. But also – maybe even more striking than that truth – is the realization that over and over, time and again through the course of my life, I’ve bought into the very lies that Rothschild’s words so sweetly dispel.
And here’s the kicker: those very lies have the potential to skew my perception of my identity as a sheep of my Shepherd. Have you ever been able to relate to Rothschild first two sentences below?
If your thoughts are condemning, hopeless, or ugly, that’s the voice of your enemy. He wants to steal all the joy your Shepherd is giving you.
I’ve been able to relate, and – okay – on given days I still can relate. If your answer resembles mine at all, read the sentences below – take them to heart. Rothschild ends her tweet with a statement strong enough to make Satan’s blood pressure skyrocket:
So, listen for the voice of the God Who loves you instead. His voice will always celebrate you, comfort you, and bring you confidence.
Stay with me for a moment here, because this truth – when you really, truly grasp it – will turn your spiritual life upside down in a mighty way. And I so want you to really, truly grasp it.
If you’re a follower of Christ, the Shepherd, you are His sheep. You’re created by Him; You’re chosen by Him; You possess an identity of power and uniqueness available only from Him through His grace and His mercy. When, through faith, you surrender and take on this identity He’s given you, here’s what happens.
You become not merely one of the sheep in His fold; you become a masterpiece in Christ’s fold. The Apostle Paul says that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
Satan doesn’t want you to know what you’re about yo learn, but God does. That’s why the Father has given us passages like the ten in the chart on the right to give us confidence and strength for maintaining our identities as masterpieces in the fold of Christ the Shepherd even as the enemy attacks. Mark this: try as Satan will, as long as you cling to your identity as Christ’s sheep, he – Satan and his legions – can not overpower you as long as you diligently follow your Shepherd.
So let’s put our money where our mouths are, as the saying goes. Below is a list of the nine passages mentioned in the paragraph above. I’d like each of us to take some personal time this week to think about the passages – one-by-one – and use the associated questions as a method for applying them to our own individual lives. In other words, how might we put each Scripture into action as a means of using our God-given identities as masterpieces to the glory of the Shepherd?
You are chosen/important:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
How does it make you feel to be chosen, to be royalty, to be a possession of God? At what times do you find it most difficult to remember that God has named you these things?
You are forgiven:
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).
What word picture or illustration does this verse bring to mind as you recall your own times of repentance as a follower or sheep of Christ?
You are a new creation:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
What, if any, new spiritual, emotional or physical values does this Scripture motivate you to pursue as a means of embracing your identity in Christ?
You are protected:
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber (Psalm 121:3).
Does this truth affect your motivation to act on any values you listed in the previous question? If so, how?
You are family:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).
Does this verse in any way affect your aspirations for living in Christ’s fold in a way that is pleasing to Him? Explain your answer.
You are strong:
Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God (Psalm 68:35)!
As you reflect on the Christian’s ability to worship God from his sanctuary – His fold – how might you use this ability to thwart Satan’s attempts to draw your focus away from the Shepherd?
You are unique:
Your hands have made and fashioned me (Psalm 119:73).
Does this statement in any way alter how you see yourself and your role in Christ’s fold or kingdom? If so, explain.
You were created for a purpose:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Spend a few moments looking back over the course of your life since you accepted Christ as your Savior. List any times in which God has brought good to you out of bad or seemingly impossible situations. As you reflect on this list, does it affect your view or dedication to your Shepherd-sheep relationship with Christ as you wait to watch your future unfold?
You are victorious:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:3-5)?
Thinking again of our Shepherd-sheep relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s Western culture, why do you think the Apostle John connects our willingness to obeyGod – or to keep His commandments – with loving God and overcoming the world? In other words, how do the three elements forge together to render a victorious life for us as Christ’s sheep? How willing are you to pursue that victory?
(This week’s featured image courtesy of JenniferRothschild.com.)
– Copyright 2019 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.