Saturday, July 4, 2015

Confessing Jesus Before Men: I AM the Good Shepherd


"And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9 NASB)

In an attempt to understand what it means to "confess Jesus before men" (or say the same things about Jesus that He says about Himself), we are reviewing the "I AM's".  So far, we've covered I AM the Bread of Life, I AM the light of the world, and I AM the door. 

Today, we continue the passage from John 10 with a look at the pasture into which the door of Christ opens.

"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:19,11 NASB

Most of have seen pastures. These are wide, open fields in which livestock live and feed. Pasture management is a science of it's own and has taught us that a healthy pasture requires considerable attention. (I have more than one book on pasture management.) The type of grasses are chosen for their nutritional value. A source of clean water is imperative. There must be shade from the sun and protection from the elements. 

If the pasture is well-maintained, it provides a safe home for livestock, replete with everything needed for a safe and healthy life. In that same way, when we enter through the door of Jesus into the pasture He provides, we (according to Thayer) "shall not want the needful supplies for a true life." 

There is a difference, of course, between the "needful supplies for life" and our mountain of wants. In a society of entitlement, such as we have here in this country, it's easy to confuse the two. 

In 1943, Maslow described the hierarchy of human needs. Our most basic needs are simple. Breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep. The next level of need includes health, job, family, property, and social stability, but is not required to sustain life. 

Take a look again at the most basic needs. Air, food, water, shelter, and sleep can all be found in a good pasture. (Clothing is just another form of shelter, or covering.) When we enter into the pasture of faith in Jesus, he is our stability. We become part of the family of God. We are joint heirs with Him. He gives us the work of the kingdom. The "needful supplies of life" are all provided, and more.

Jesus is the door that opens into the pasture of our provision. We, the sheep of His pasture, must occupy that pasture in ways that demonstrate the care lavished upon us by our Shepherd. One of the ways we confess Jesus before men is the attitude with which we occupy our "pasture". When we receive the gifts of God with a grateful heart, we give glory to Him with our gratitude. 

A lifestyle of contentment, rather than grumbling, says to the world that we serve a Good Shepherd who provides all we need for a productive life. Let's take a look at our attitudes. Do we grumble about the gifts of God? Do we constantly want more or different than He has provided? Today, let's take note of the provision God has given us, then thank Him for His generosity toward us. Let's confess Him before men by a lifestyle of gratitude.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11-12 NASB)

Our Father, thank You for giving us our daily bread, our needful supply. Give me a grateful heart that honors You by the way I receive your gifts. Replace my grumbling with contentment in Your abundant provision. In Jesus' name, Amen