Read His Words Before Ours!
1 Samuel 16:1-12
These are the real-life stories of four shepherds.
The first was a man named Moses. He cared for his sheep while his wife cared for their children. The days of his own childhood would sometimes dance in his mind. Some days he would allow the memories to linger, and others he would quickly shoo away. He had been a prince of Egypt as a boy, after being adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, but now he was a shepherd, caring for sheep through pouring rain and sweltering days.
The second was a boy named David. He was the youngest in his family, and quite a darling young man. He was fearless and strong and was learning to love the God of his people. David had defeated lions and bears, and he knew that if he relied on Yahweh, he could defeat anything.
This third shepherd doesn’t have a name. While shepherding was often a lonely job, he had other shepherds for friends and companions. They didn’t notice each other’s stench or filth, and enjoyed the company after long hard days of herding sheep. They often risked their lives to save their livestock, and endured harsh weather to ensure no sheep would wander away from their herd.
The fourth shepherd? We’ll talk about him more in just a moment.
One day, Moses was caring for his father-in-law’s sheep. He led them to a mountain to graze, taking care to ensure each sheep was accounted for. There he saw a bush engulfed in flames, but it wasn’t actually burning. Moses moved nearer to the bush, his curiosity peaked at how such a phenomenon could occur.
“Moses, Moses!” A deep, steady voice came from the bush.
Moses responded, “Here I am”, while stopping in his tracks to see who was calling him by name.
“Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place which are standing is holy ground.”
David was tending his father’s sheep, oblivious to anything else that was occurring. His people had begged the Lord for a king to lead them, and He had given them Saul, but Saul had become wicked and a new king needed to take his place. As Samuel grieved Saul’s hardened heart, God said, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?” He then commanded Samuel to visit Jesse because one of his sons was to become the next king. Jesse was David’s father, but he had many sons who were grown, strong, and capable young men. David was just a boy. Samuel paused before each of these grown men, asking the Lord if which one was to become the next king. But the Lord instructed him to pass up each of them, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Our nameless shepherd was exhausted from a long day of herding his sheep, but his job was never done. Even in the still darkness of the night, he must still guard the sheep from thieving predators. He and the other shepherds occasionally talked for a moment before letting the quietness overtake their voices, listening for any sounds that might be out of place among the common bleating of sheep. Suddenly, a great light appeared and enveloped them! It was an angel! And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were speechless and terrified! The angel began, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” They were told to look for a baby lying in a manger and then, in an instant, the sky was filled with thousands of angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Now for that fourth Shepherd…
This man wasn’t a traditional shepherd.
It wasn’t His first career and He didn’t herd sheep.
He shepherded people.
Like Moses, He was adopted into a family different than His own and would fulfill His calling by saving millions of people from slavery.
Like David, He seemed like the most unlikely of people; He was the son of a carpenter and born in a stable, surrounded by animals. He was not born into a royal family, but He was a great King, existing before time began!
And like our Nameless Shepherd, He would protect and care for His sheep, guiding them away from death and rescuing them from the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
That fourth Shepherd… He is THE Shepherd.
He is MY Shepherd.
He gives me rest.
He restores my soul.
He lets me drink the Living Water.
He walks with me when I go through deep valleys and in dark shadows.
He disciplines me.
He guides me.
He is Jesus.
Like shepherds of old, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep (that’s us, guys!).
He knows us. He cares for us.
The motif of a shepherd is incorporated throughout the entire Bible. It is another thread woven together that proves the Bible, and every truthful story in it, has a purpose, pointing to King Jesus.
The GOOD Shepherd!
This Bible Study first appeared on GracefullyTruthful.com and is property of Gracefully Truthful. Check out their website for more studies like this one!
Read His Words Before Ours!
When I was still pregnant with my twin daughters, they were given a book called, “The Jesus Storybook Bible”. (If you’ve never heard of this book, go order it right now! Or you can wait until you’re done reading… but seriously. You need this in your life. Not just for your kids… but for YOU. You’ll see why…)
This “children’s” Bible had beautiful illustrations with some of my favorite current color schemes bringing the truth of these Bible stories to life in a way I’d never seen before. The author wove God’s great redemption plan through every story. For the first time in my life, as I read these stories to my babies after they were born, I saw a connection between the Tower of Babel and Christ’s birth, or the Creation story and Jesus’ death, in a way I’d never seen it before.
As I read this book aloud to my, often sleeping, babies, I found myself amazed.
Some may call it hormones, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit,
but I never cried over a book like I cried over this children’s Bible.
So, I want to share with you one of the biggest things I learned while reading this book about God’s truths.
Rules can’t save us.
Guys, I knew this already.
But I didn’t know it.
I could have told you that “rules don’t save us”.
I could’ve even told you that God gave us rules to protect us
and show us that we really need Him.
But I truly learned this one day while I was rocking my babes.
In awe, I read and reread the last few sentences of the story of The Ten Commandments:
“Only one Person could keep all the rules.
And many years later God would send Him –
to stand in their place and be perfect for them.
Because the rules couldn’t save them.
Only God could save them.”
How many times have we gotten stuck thinking that we need to be perfect in order to be loved by God? How many times have we thought that following the Ten Commandments, or even the “rules” that have become tradition and standard in the modern Church, were the key to being given grace?
Sisters… wearing dresses to church on a Sunday won’t save you.
Praying before every meal won’t save you.
Raising your hands during worship won’t save you.
Listening to the Christian radio station won’t save you.
Having a daily quiet time won’t save you.
We’ve got to stop thinking that we need to follow those rules
for God to keep extending His grace to us!
Some of these are still great guidelines to follow to help us grow in our relationship with Him… but DOING will never equal GETTING when it comes to a grace-filled, saving relationship.
Even further… following every single one of the Ten Commandments is utterly impossible for us because of sin. Go ahead, and take a look at the Laws and see how many you’ve broken.
You aren’t alone, every human being falls into the category of “sinner” because we’ve all broken the Law of Holiness designed by God, who is Holy.
We are doomed to Death because of our inability to perfectly fulfill the law!
God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments for several reasons.
Yes, He cared about their personal well-being and He didn’t want to see them hurt. He knew that they could greatly minimize the hurt in their lives by following these commandments. Just like we know that children are given rules to minimize the possibility of their getting hurt. And yes, He needed to bind His people with a common law, just like we are bound by the common laws and constitutions of our lands.
But most of all… He needed to remind His children of their sinfulness. He knew that they would never be able to keep this law, and every single time they failed, they would be reminded of just how sinful they are, and just how perfect God is. James tells us that the law can be used as a mirror. Any time we start to think that we have it all together, we can just look in that mirror and realize that we have seven zits popping up, our roots are two inches long, and we haven’t plucked our eyebrows in a few weeks.
We are so far from perfection.
And there was only one Person who was ever able to follow every one of the Ten Commandments.
Once we choose to step into the grace that Jesus has extended to us, once we choose to fully embrace that grace, only then can the gap between “Us trying to follow The Law and miserably failing” and “The Law” be filled.
Do you see it?!
Do you see how the Gospel is literally woven through the Ten Commandments and every single law written after that?
It is amazing and exciting!
The Bible isn’t just a bunch of random stories placed together.
Every single story has a purpose, and that is to point to Jesus and the redemption we can receive through Him!
Hundreds of years before Jesus even walked this planet,
God was weaving His plan of redemption from His heart straight to yours!
This Bible Study was first published on GracefullyTruthful.com and is property of Gracefully Truthful. Check out the website for more studies like this one!
Read His Words Before Ours!
1 John 2:16-18
“For God so loved the world…”
God loves the world.
Not just the saints.
Not just the Jews.
Not just the believers.
Not just the Christians.
Not just the rule followers and law obey-ers.
Not just the mamas who seem to have it all together.
Not just the families that go to church every Sunday.
Not just the women who can balance their whole lives perfectly.
Not just the thankful.
Not just the healthy.
Not just the clean.
God loves the WORLD.
He loves the people overtaken with pride.
He loves the Muslims.
He loves the agnostics.
He loves the rule breakers.
He loves the mamas who get a little too angry a little too quickly.
He loves the broken families.
He loves the women who put on their lipstick while trying to drive a stick shift in traffic.
He loves the dissatisfied.
He loves the sick.
He loves the dirty.
God loves everyone.
It doesn’t always seem fair that He has the same amount of love for the person who doesn’t even try to live a godly life as He does for those who are working daily to grow their relationship with Him.
And as embarrassing as it is to admit, these thoughts cross my mind sometimes:
“I’m such a better mom than her.”
“I’m so much nicer than her.”
“I give so much more than them.”
“I present myself better than her.”
“My house is so much cleaner than hers.”
“My walk with God is a little shinier than hers.”
I bet I’m not the only one that thinks these things… (Read: Please tell me I’m not the only one that thinks these things!)
And even if I am today… I know I’m not the only one in history who has had similar thoughts.
The Prodigal Son’s brother.
The Rich Young Man in Mark and Luke.
I mean, just to name a few.
But one that stands out to me the most is this man we’re going to be talking about for a little while… Jonah.
Jonah. The prophet infamously known for being swallowed by a giant fish because he refused to go where God called him to go. But, why did he refuse to go to Nineveh? He was a prophet of the Lord! Shouldn’t he WANT to go where God’s love was greatly needed?
He thought the Ninevites didn’t deserve grace.
They were too far gone. Too dirty. Too lost.
Way too sinful.
And this is where my breath catches and my eyes start to tingle with tears of guilt suddenly threatening to spill over.
How many times have I been Jonah?
How many times have I looked at someone and refused to show them love because I thought they were too far gone? They were too dirty, too lost, and way too sinful for me to even consider offering them the grace that God gives freely to ALL? Sisters, if my answer is even “just one time”, that’s one time too many. And, unfortunately, my answer is way more than one.
My prejudice-ness, pride, judgment, and self-entitlement clouds my perception of others and their need for grace, while also radically fogging other’s viewpoint of God’s character of pursuit of His children.
We all have our own ideas of what “too far gone” looks like.
For Jonah, it was the Ninevites.
For some, it might be murderers, child abusers, prostitutes, politicians, dictators.
For me, sometimes it looks like another woman who is struggling to find her place in this world. And realizing that ugliness in me, breaks my heart.
I can’t believe that I could ever limit the love that I show someone based on my perception of them. Until I remember how dirty and lost and sinful I am too.
Jesus saved me, despite all of it, and in the sight of the Lord,
I am absolutely no better than anyone else.
Love can be so messy.
It can be so dirty.
But if Jesus can love the entire world… the abuser and the victim, the prostitute and the pimp, the dictator and the citizens, you and me…
then surely I can love the people that can seem the hardest to love.
Let us learn from the sad life of a man who would rather die than watch the Lord extend grace to people he deemed unworthy.
Because we are all unworthy.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful where it was first published. For more studies like this one, visit GracefullyTruthful.com!
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