Hope that won’t perish

Pr. 10:28:  “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”

This proverb reminds me of the scripture I was reading this morning in John 10.  Verses 11-16 of John 10 are the words of Jesus:

I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

We who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, have heard the voice of our Shepherd and become righteous only through Him.  Our hope certainly is gladness when our hope is in our Lord and Savior, for we know of the goodness of the Lord.

It is the expectation of the wicked, those who hope in anything other than God, that will perish.  When we count on hirelings to care for us, give us hope, come through for us, guide us, protect us, lay down their lives for us, our expectation will surely perish.

Only God has laid down His life for us.  Others will inevitably let us down.  They are not our true Shepherd.  Sometimes the hirelings in our lives leave us, allow us to be caught, cause us to be scattered.  And though some hirelings do care, people can change, and we must not look to hirelings for our ultimate hope.

We must make sure we our listening for the voice of our good Shepherd and looking to Him for protection, hope, guidance, and care.  He has already laid His life down for us, and will care for His flock like no other ever could.

Jesus said He knows His sheep, and He has already laid down His life to protect His own from the wolf.  We must continue to make sure the voice we follow is His, and that we do not allow a hireling to cause us to be scattered from the flock.  When our hope is rooted solely on the Lord, our expectation will never perish, for the Lord, alone, proves Himself to be faithful.

Don’t place your entire hope on anyone or anything besides your true and good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  True gladness awaits.

Listening for My Shepherd,

jamie

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The healing tongue

Pr. 12:18:  “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”

Almost 3 years ago, I was admitted into the hospital for a lovely 5-day visit.  A dear friend of mine came to visit.  She and I are close friends, and she was also my fitness pal and co-worker at the time.  I vividly remember when she walked through the door because her eyes were brimming with tears and I could see pain on her face.

I eventually found out that prior to her visit she had been “beat up”  and “pierced” by careless and inconsiderate comments by our co-workers concerning the cause of my condition.  Feeling guilt and shame, she asked me, “Did we do this to you?”  Instead of simply offering comfort and care to her as her friend was lying in the hospital, our co-workers had been criticizing our choices and pointing out how we had brought this upon me with exercise and food choices.

Since I have never been fully diagnosed, that could be true.  Who knows?  However, their words at that moment wounded my friend and brought her more pain that she was already feeling.  It’s easy for us to think of all the kind, encouraging things they could have said to her instead that would have promoted health and comfort within her.  As I was lying in the hospital bed, I began to encourage and comfort her, hoping to ease the pain they had inflicted.

This kind of situation is somewhat normal, however.  Human nature makes us quick to throw out words of opinion, criticism, correction, advice, or solution; and much slower at simply offering comfort.  I’m so thankful our Father in heaven isn’t as quick to do those things as we.  His Word is full of healing, comfort, and consolation.

This morning I read Psalm 23, which is indeed filled with comfort:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If you’ve been pierced by careless words, turn to the Word of God for healing.  Then, being full of His Word, when we find ourselves about to pierce another with our own words, we need to take a moment to find healing words to offer instead.  There is enough pain in this world already.  Healing is what is truly needed.

Grateful for His staff,

jamie

Prudent or simple?

Pr. 22:3:  “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”

When I think of simple, I am reminded of sheep.  They’re depth perception is poor.  In order to check something out, they get very close to it to see the details.  Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading:

“One never could completely relax with a flock of sheep.  A lamb might escape the pasture and get lost, drown in the swiftly flowing creek, become entangled in the blackberry briars, or wander into the road.  Then there was the possibility of a hungry predator selecting one of her beloved creatures for his evening meal.”

It reminds me of us with sin.  Instead of just steering clear of sin and hiding ourselves, we let our guard down or get curious.  We get close, examine all the options, and check out the details.  Once we’re that close we are in danger of getting lost, being completely caught in the current of or drowning in sin, or entangled in thorns and snares.

Boundaries are for the prudent.  foreseeing all the evil and temptations in this world, we must have boundaries to keep us safe.  There are boundaries in our wedding vows, in the Word of God, in the laws of the land, and in our families.  If we still choose to pass on, danger and punishment will be waiting on the other side.

We also know that when we wander off alone, we are much easier prey for a hungry predator.  Satan will stop at nothing to devour us and rob us of our God-given salvation.  Let us not be simple any longer, but to prudently stay within the boundaries that protect us.  Not only that, but let’s stay safely away from the boundary lines and not go looking at the details of the evil around us.  No reason to get that close.

Let’s stay safe with our good Shepherd, Jesus, who knows us all and gave His life for us.  In His presence we will have life everlasting.

Known by my Shepherd,

jamie

excerpt from:  Ellis, Mary. (2009).  A Widow’s Hope. Eugene Oregon:  Harvest House Publishers