Following the Voice of Love

The world gets very loud and can make discerning difficult. But even in a noisy din, the voice of a loved one is clear. My heart helps me hear my loved ones when the world gets in the way. I have felt the fear of being separated from a loved one and the joy hearing their voice brings. “Hear” is a big part of the word heart, and hearing is at the heart of love. It is also at the heart of John 10:27-30.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” NASB

The point of hearing the shepherd’s voice is following the shepherd’s heart. Jesus says that His sheep know His voice and they follow Him. He adds that those sheep were given to Him by His Father, and no one is able to take them from Him. Jesus is talking about connectedness, and it gets Jesus into trouble as He makes it clear that He is One with God. That isn’t what the crowd wants to hear.

The voice of my sweet Savior bids me to follow and love as He loves. It calms my heart and stills my soul in the same way mama’s voice always did. Christ’s voice gives me the courage to follow Him even when I don’t know where He’s leading me. I don’t have to know; I just have to believe that He is Who He says He is. Jesus makes that very clear as He challenges those who would stone Him to death.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” John 20:37-38 NASB

Jesus challenges me in the same way. If I believe He is who He says He is, then I need to hear His voice and follow Him. Walking in God’s kingdom means following His Son. I have to let Jesus go before me, and that means being patient and not having to know where I’m going. I only have to know Who I’m following. Walking in God’s kingdom doesn’t make sense to the world, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me either. That’s where trust comes in. I know my Shepherd’s voice, and I rest assured in His promise that no one can snatch me out of His hands. His is a voice of love, hope, and peace that allows me to be one with Him and with God.

Today would be mama’s 97th birthday. Her voice of love still sings in my heart, and I still feel the love and safety of her embrace. I thank God for mama and know she will be celebrating with Him today as she does every day:)

Jesus, My Good Shepherd

The Shepherd's Hands

Folds & Flocks

God placed the beautiful image of a flock of grazing sheep in green pastures in my path this morning. He also showed me the difference between a flock and a fold. He knows I’m a visual leaner, and the images He provided were just what I needed to help me understand the important differences between the two. A sheepfold is a pen or an enclosure for sheep, but the folds come together to form a flock that grazes together in the pasture. Christ makes it clear in John 10:16 that He has many folds that all belong to the same flock. He is the good Shepherd who laid down His life to bring His folds together.

God is about oneness, and Jesus is one with God. Pens are necessary for sheep just as churches are necessary for Christians. It’s important to gather together and enjoy sweet Christian fellowship, but the point must always be to glorify God. Being one glorifies God; Jesus came so we could be one with Him as He is one with God. I don’t understand how His message of unity causes division; but it did then, and it does now. We are one flock with one Shepherd, and we must move from thinking from of living in a fold to loving in a flock.

Jesus says it beautifully in John 10:14-20

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”NASB

This beautiful scripture is a wonderful example of irony. Christ’s attempt to get the folds to be one flock and embrace the oneness of God causes division. I would laugh if it weren’t so very sad. Heaven is oneness in its purest form, and walking in God’s kingdom here must involve the same oneness. I’m finding that some folks cling to the fold and don’t like it when I don’t do the same. I thank God that there are many more who welcome the notion of oneness even if it is unfamiliar. As God is calling me to leave one fold and join another, I am challenged myself to maintain relationships while making new ones. The lessons of late have been tough as I navigate the unknown, but God continues to give me His peace and place passages such as John 10 in my path to encourage me to stay the course He’s set before me. I know there will be challenges along the way because the world loves division

Unity must come to my own heart first, and that is a process that will continue as long as I am in this world. Atonement is, as Oswald Chambers says, at-one-ment. Being one with God through His Son and Spirit allows me to be one with His flock. I also must see the fold for what it is and not get it confused with the flock. There is one Shepherd and many wonderful messengers who feed God’s flock. I am blessed to know and love so many faithful messengers who feed faithfully in beautifully different ways.

Folds are never to be in competition with one another. God wants us to come together as one wonderful flock. When that happens, God’s kingdom comes, and His will is done in a way that will send Satan running for shelter. The image of a beautiful flock of sheep peacefully grazing together is the image God has for all His children.

Fold of Sheep by David Wyatt

David Wyatt Sheep Fold Flock of Sheep

The Gift of Love

John 10:27-29 are the most comforting words in the Bible to me.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  NASB

Along with the comfort comes a sobering  reminder that I must follow when I hear Christ. It is, and always will be, true that no one can snatch me from His hand; but it is also true that I can hop out anytime I want. He will let me wander for however long it takes to create my own kingdoms, make my own mountains, and plan my own projects.

Christ doesn’t close his hand around me because it would become a fist. His open palm allows me to be who I am. God is the ultimate example self-differentiation, and His love only exists in an open, honest environment. He doesn’t force or coerce, and He refuses to fuse. I must do the same if I am to love Him and others as He desires.

When my kingdoms crash, my mountains topple, and my projects fail, I crawl back into God’s loving hand. He doesn’t gloat or fuss or say, “I told you so.” He loves. His love never changes or moves, and it is best described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffereddoes not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” NASB

This is a season of love, and as we light the Advent candle of love tomorrow, I pray our hearts will remember the love that brought Christ down to where we are. There is nothing that compares to it. May we trust His love and love Him and others as He loves us. That means letting go, being who we truly are, and allowing others to be the same:)

God created His kingdom with love, and this is a season designed to celebrate His love. His love is the greatest gift ever given, and it becomes the greatest gift we can give to one another. Let love lead the way this Christmas when it comes to giving because it is what we all need and want.

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