May 1, 1991 Issue
by Jim Winchester

"Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us, and not ourselves: We are his people, and the sheep of his pastures." Psalm 100:8.

The world you and I live in is a world that is frightened and unhappy. Confusion is the rule rather than the exception. Heartaches and heartbreaks are an everyday affair to some people.

As you look at this world, what would you say was the basic cause of our troubles? I fully believe it it man's estrangement from God. All the emptiness and loneliness we experience comes to us because of man forgetting that we are God's people, created by him for his eternal purpose.

We are trying to center life around ourselves. Too many people endeavor to use God's created energies to serve man's own needs. Instead of man seeking God's purpose for our life, we try to run life to suit ourselves by setting up our own rules and methods. This type of living leads to our own destruction. When man's ways fail, he then becomes bewildered and frustrated.

Man is trying to be his own shepherd. Instead of admitting we are scared, lonely, disturbed and lost, we are prone to think we know where we are going and how to get there. Faith has nothing to offer to those that feel this way.

Christianity is based on man's limitations and God's unlimited resourcefulness. The Bible speaks many times of God as the Shepherd and man as wandering sheep. Ezekiel describes the activities of God as seeking the lost, bringing back the strays, binding up the crippled, strengthening the weak, and feeding them all with justice. The apostle John portrays man as wandering sheep getting lost, being faced with many temptations, and being lead by false shepherds who will not protect them in their hour of temptation.

Our spiritual condition depends on our ability to recognize a need for a shepherd. We are tempted sometimes to look for green pastures, rather than yield to the authority and care of the shepherd, thinking that we are capable of taking care of ourselves and all the needs we might have. We need to watch for false shepherds offering us all types of benefits, often with the promise of little or no effort on our part. The shepherds of the "isms", cults, and fads stand in our way by offering to restore our souls and bring us into the valley of the peace of mind.

Jesus warned against things like these and taught that they would forsake us in the face of the enemies. Jesus made no easy claims. He implies a need for discipline and perhaps at times of suffering. Discipleship calls for humility, loyalty and faith. He does, however, extend unto us for faithful service: love, forgiveness, power to endure and relationships that death itself cannot destroy.

A strong relationship between the shepherd and his sheep takes time, patience and experience. The ability to know, trust and understand the shepherd, comes from a constant, persistent, practice of faith. There is no easy way, no magical formulas in religion and no short cuts to abundant life. These are some of the reasons why some of the sheep become disappointed and leave the flock.

Turning your back on the shepherd is like drifting from place to place without any rest. The end results of this kind of living is confusion, conflict and finally death.

Man seemingly has placed a barbed-wire fence between himself and God. This barbed-wire fence can be defined as hate, suspicion, envy, jealousy and pride. All of this separates man from God's eternal purpose of one flock, united together in one body. Refusal to surrender to his wisdom and goodness is to reject that purpose; only chaos and despair can result.

In these perilous times let us build within ourselves a belief in God, by which we will be able to serve our souls and others as well. May our prayers always be "Lord teach us thy ways."

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