A Sheep Is One of the Weakest Animals

Sheep

Sheep have little ability to defend themselves, compared with other species kept as livestock. Even if a sheep survive an attack, they may die from their injuries, or simply from panic. When they fall on their back, they could not stand up on their own and they could die in that position. Sheep are so vulnerable. It is interesting to think why the Lord has likened humans to meek sheep.

We are so vulnerable to the things that happen to us, even Christians. One time we feel so strong yet something we do not know would come and hit us so big that we would fall flat on our backs and it seems so hard to recover from the unexpected hard knock. We are vulnerable to sin and temptation. Like sheep, the Good Shepherd knows that we need special care and so He cares for us individually.

Image: http://www.sheep101.info/breedsW-Z.html

The Lord is Our Shepherd- John 10.1-10- Part II

Sheep pen with a gate

Before we proceed, I would like to clarify the two images of a sheep pen that we can see here in John 10:1-10. The first one in verse two is an enclosure with a gate. The second one in verse nine is an enclosure without a gate. In the former, there is a gate. In the latter, the shepherd himself sits down and serves as the gate of the enclosure.

As a caveat, in the previous chapter (John 9), the Pharisees are investigating the healing of the man born blind. The man boldly tells the Pharisees that he believes that Jesus is from God. He believes that Jesus is the Messiah. The Pharisees claim that they are disciples of Moses and they do not know where Jesus has come from. The Pharisees are supporting themselves in their opposition to Christ; that they are the pastors of the Jews and Jesus has no authority from them so therefore the people should not listen to Him.

Sheep pen without a fixed gate

In response, here the Lord describes the true shepherd of the flock and the relationship that exists between the shepherd and his flock through a parable but the Pharisees have not understood. The Lord here reveals Himself as the true shepherd- the Good Shepherd.

I propose the following points for reflection, which I will discuss in the next posts:

  • A sheep is one of the weakest animals.
  • Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the Gate of the sheep pen and we are the sheep of His pasture.
  • Sheep are meek and obedient.
  • The evil one aims to destroy us.

 Allow me to invite you to follow the next posts…

 

Images:

http://leecadden.com/2011/03/20/i-am-the-gate/

http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/2008/05/may-18th-one-ye.html

The Lord is Our Shepherd- John 10.1-10

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

This is my favorite image of the Lord, being our Good Shepherd. For me it is one of the most comforting attribute of the Lord. It gives the assurance of His personal loving care and protection.

In Matthew 18:12-14, the Lord has shown us a picture of how a good shepherd cares for each of his sheep. He would leave the ninety-nine sheep to look for the one that has wandered away. He would not let even just one sheep wander too far away. Apostle Paul has called the Lord, the great Shepherd of the sheep and He would not let anyone of us who come under his pastoral care perish.

In the book, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, F.B. Meyer has written: “The Lord has a:

  • Shepherd’s heartit beats with pure and generous love that counted not His own life-blood too dear to pay down as our ransom. He has laid down his life for the sheep. In the Old Testament image, the sheep gives up his life for his shepherd or owner as according to the law. The owner/shepherd would take the lamb to the sanctuary, lean with all his weight on the lamb’s head and confess his sin. The Lamb would be slain and its blood would flow out. The greatest irony of faith is that the Great Shepherd has laid His life down on the cross in order that the sheep might be saved.
  • Shepherd’s eye: takes in the whole flock and misses not even the poor sheep wandering away on the cold mountain.
  • Shepherd’s faithfulness: never fails or forsakes, leaves us comfortless, nor flee when He sees a wolf coming.
  • Shepherd’s strength: delivers us from the jaw of the lion or paw of the bear.
  • Shepherd’s tenderness: no lamb so tiny that He will not carry it; no saint so weak that He will not gently lead; no soul so faint that He will not give it rest”.

I invite you to follow the succeeding posts about “The Lord is our Shepherd”.

Image above courtesy of: http://www.sodahead.com/united-states

Condensed from a sermon by: Arnel Oroceo, Church Organist, The Lagro United Methodist Church, May 15, 2011

Safe and Secure

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. [We are] hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”- 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

There is a Christian cartoon strip in one of my folders but I could not remember when and where I have obtained it. There are what seem to be Chinese characters on the frames. Most likely, I have received it through email years ago.

First frame: The cartoon strip begins with a boy kneeling to God in prayer for protection. It is the perfect way to start a day, to pray for God’s blessing to face the challenges of the day.


Next frame: After he has prayed, he has started on his way.


Next frame: However, a stone hit him at the back of the head.


Next frame: He cries aloud as if distraught that something bad has happened to him even if he has already prayed to God.


That is the common reaction of many people and even Christians. Yes, God’s protection is always there. His hands cover us and shelter us from all forms of harm. However, life on earth is not perfect. People commit mistakes. We can make mistakes that can harm other people and vice versa.

As in the text above, we are hard-pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. All these because we know the hope of our calling and we know that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. His joy is our strength.

Next frame: The boy has noticed that there are stones falling behind him.


Next frame: So he looks up behind him…


Last frame: He has seen the Lord Jesus protecting him from all the bigger falling stones with his own body.


The cartoon strip has implied that the Lord has missed one stone not because he has failed to protect him but because he needs to get hurt so he could learn important lessons while on his way; so he could pause for a while and look up and see the goodness of God and how He loves him. Its intention is not to break him but to make him firm and strong.

God loves us too much to hurt us. Whenever it seems too hard to see the hands of God moving in our lives, we should always keep in mind that He remains and we can trust his heart.

Three Principles for Spiritual Victory

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “[Are] You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but [as] Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand [is] holy.” And Joshua did so.” – Joshua 5:13-15

Student Reception LUMC July 17, 2011

Last July 17, The Lagro United Methodist Youth Fellowship with the leadership of its president Karen Hernandez has had this year’s “Student Reception”. Every year, during the opening of the school, we hold this activity in church to welcome young students to impart spiritual guidance and exhortation as they face the day to day challenges of being a student. This year’s theme is “Shout Out”.

The speaker for the occasion is Rev. Bong Mangubat, associate pastor of Puno United Methodist Church. His sermon has dealt with the “Three Principles for Spiritual Victory”. Even young people experience problems in their lives and those come in different forms and magnitude. It is crucial for young people who are starting to explore life to understand these three principles because these can guide them to understand how they can achieve their goals with God at the center of their lives.

1. Know who is in charge- It is important to realize who “call the shots” in our life. Do our desires reign supreme over the principles of God? When we encounter conflicts between those that what we want and what is pleasing to God, which side prevails? If God is in charge of our lives, we accede to His commands. Sometimes, it is difficult to let go of some enjoyment, friendships or conveniences but when faith is at stake, we should learn to obey. Making God in charge of our life is not giving up our options but putting our life in safe hands.

2. God’s methods are not man’s methods but they are always right- Normally, young people are aggressive and impulsive. Consequently, they fall into the bait of leaning on their own knowledge as they enjoy their new found liberties. All of us need to understand that we cannot lean on our own understanding because we are imperfect people but we can always trust God’s ways because He never makes mistakes. God’s methods are clean and guilt free. In man’s eyes, they are not easy often difficult but for a Christian believer, they always lead to fruitful results.

3. The best way to hear from God is to be quiet- The most important privilege of Christians is the direct access to the Almighty God. Prayer gives strength to us whenever we feel weary and discouraged. However, prayer is a two-way communication. Often, we are the one talking and we talk too much. Sometimes, while we do worship Him, yet we present a very long list of requests. It is not wrong to depend on God in fact it pleases Him but we also need to have quiet moments in prayer so we could let God speak to us in a very special way.

If we can observe these three principles in our lives, we can expect spiritual victory in our life. The road toward our goals will not be easy but with God’s guidance, we can get there safe and sound.

Student Reception- July 17, 2011, Lagro United Methodist Church, Group Dynamics: Bro Jay-Ar, Praise and Worship: Matthew 5:16 (Praise Team) Message condensed from the sermon of Rev Bong Mangubat of Puno UMC

Lord, You Are Good!

This is one of the greatest praise songs I have heard and learned in terms of instrumentation and melody although I have not mastered the original arrangement. It is a bit complicated for a simple musician like me. Perhaps, I can simplify the arrangement so we can use it in church in the next weeks to come. Besides, we do not have the same musical equipment “Israel and the New Breed” is using as you can see in the video below.

May you all be blessed as you listen and watch the You Tube video. Join the singing and praising unto the Lord because He is good all the time.

Five Elements in a Father’s Formula

Happy Fathers' Day!

We have celebrated Fathers’ Day last Sunday in church. In the morning divine worship service, our guest speaker, DS Rev. Dr. Daniel N. Miranda has spoken about the occasion. In the evening, Rev Orlino Veron, our Administrative Pastor, has delivered the message for the fathers. His text is from Luke 15:11-32.

“It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found”. – Luke 15:32

If fathering is a chemical mixture, to make a perfect mixture there five elements that fathers need to put together in good balance.

1. Grasp your significance to your family

Try your best to perform your responsibility to your family as a provider and protector.

2. Be present for your children

Love spells T-I-M-E. If we will read Proverbs 15:1-10, it assumes or suggests open dialogue between parent and child. We need to spend time with them so that we can have an opportunity to express our love and concern to them. We can have a chance to know what they need and feel.

3. Teach your children your skills and values by example

Teach your children by example. Do not just tell them what and what not to do. Let your actions speak them.

4. See the good qualities of your children first

Encourage your children by praising their good traits. It does not mean overlooking the bad ones but do not become over critical. Appreciate their good side so you can easily correct any bad trait.

5. A good time to laugh is anytime you can

Share the joys of faith to your children. Laugh with them and enjoy the good things of life with them.

Digested from a sermon by: Rev. Orlino Veron, Administrative Pastor, Lagro, United Methodist Church, June 19, 2011- Fathers’ Day Sunday

Note: Pastor Orly says he has borrowed the title of his sermon from a book by Rev. Jim Stanford- Five Elements in a Father’s Formula.

 

Image above courtesy of: http://desktoppublishing.com/clipart/fathersday/fd-thumbs.html

Psalm 100: A Psalm For Giving Thanks

Worship the Lord with Thanksgiving

Psalm 100 is one of the four Psalms that has only five verses. In other translations, you can see a caption below the title that says: “A Psalm. For Giving Thanks.” It is said that Israelites use this Psalm for their thanksgiving offerings.

A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. –Psalm 100:1

In verse one we can read, “Make a joyful “noise” unto the Lord”. The word “noise” here comes from the Hebrew root, “ruwa”, which means “to shout, raise a sound, cry out, give a blast”. It can mean “to shout in triumph”, as a battle cry. It is the same Hebrew word we can read in Joshua 6:20, when the Israelites shouted with a great shout after going around the city of Jericho for seven days and the walls of Jericho fell flat on the ground. It is a shout to glory in the power and might of God.

It could also mean a shout in applause. It is a joyful noise in the presence of the Lord. It is welcoming the great and mighty King before His congregation. There is nothing more joyful than being with the great King of kings; experiencing His glory, power, holiness and His goodness. It is not just an ordinary noise of people shouting aimlessly, but an exceptional noise of singing voices that carries the glory of God that comes from the heart that seeks to dwell in the presence of the holy God.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.-Psalm 100:2

It is the desire of the Lord that we should come to Him in the spirit of joy and gladness. It is His desire that we serve Him or worship Him with gladness that comes from a loving heart and not just out of liturgical duty or religious tradition, which we best express through singing (in Psalms 63:5, the psalmist calls it “joyful lips”).

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.-Psalm 100:3

The Psalmist gives us a reason to rejoice by reminding us that God has created us according to His image and likeness. No matter what we have gained for ourselves, we should always realize that we can do nothing apart from Him and it gives us a great consolation to know that the Awesome God Himself is our Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd and He will take care of each one of us according to His purpose.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.-Psalm 100:4

There is great reason to give thanks unto the Lord for every good thing that we receive and there is nowhere else that is most appropriate to worship the Lord with thanksgiving and rejoicing than in the church. The words from the Psalmist should encourage us not to forsake our meeting together as a church instead take advantage of it to praise the wonders of God’s works in our lives before our brethren. In that way, they too may be encouraged in the Lord.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.-Psalm 100:5

God is always good in every season. Even in the middle of pestilence, disasters, or war, the goodness of God will remain and those who choose to trust Him will never be disappointed. His mercy never ends even unto our children and our children’s children.

 

Image Above Courtesy of: Free Foto.com

Trusting God’s Heart for it- Jeremiah 29.4-7

Trust God's Heart

Have you experienced being into a similar situation? Let me describe the situation again: You are in a situation that causes a lot of pain and hardship, it is so difficult to bear and in the bottom of your heart you know that it is impossible to be God’s will yet you are stucked in it. You pray to God to fix it miraculously and you expect it come immediately but it is taking too long as it seems. How are you going to cope?

The literal meaning of these verses from the Jeremiah 29 of course is for the Israelites who are in captivity at that particular point in Israel’s history but we can derive a parallel spiritual insight from those verses.

1. Submission to the will of God

Often God wants us accomplish something but we don’t see it right away. Instead, we want God to take us out of our situation and bless us the way we want Him to bless us. We expect God to answer our prayers in a manner that we want Him to answer them. However, just as Isaiah has written, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (Isa.55:8).

Sometimes, God allows us to experience a good measure of difficulty because He wants to grow us and teach us. He wants to take us to a level of spiritual maturity where faith is not measured by the blessings that we receive but by the knowledge of God’s person or of who He is; a faith that is pure and thrives by God’s grace in each day. By those experiences, we become what God wants us to be.

2. Living by faith and not by sight

to be continued

 

Image Courtesy of: http://www.bereanbaskets.com/