Friday, November 12, 2010

Knowing God - John 10:10-11

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THE FIRST OF SEVERAL DAYS ON JESUS'  "I AM ..." STATEMENTS
 
Your Name is SHEPHERD
Lord, you are the gentle shepherd of the sheep.
Help me rest (and rest in you) today.
Make a plan for how you’ll rest today. Make a plan for how you’ll rest in God today.
 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
"I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:10-11
 
I sat with a friend in the hospital recently. He'd had a mild stoke and was hooked up to all kinds of gadgets, including a device that measured his blood pressure repeatedly.
 
We talked about two subjects of his choice: politics and religion. 
 
After watching the numbers on his blood pressure machine for half an hour, I finally had to say, "Let's talk a little more about God -- because whenever we talk about politics, your blood pressure goes up and up and up!"
 
Researchers have done studies about talk and prayer in hospitals. Imagine a person who is very, very sick -- say going in and out of consciousness or nearing death. The most comforting prayers for the desperately sick are not eloquent prayers from the top of our head but familiar words that have long reminded these people of God's gentle presence -- words like The Lord's Prayer and The 23rd Psalm.
 
Today, my devotion is simple. I want to make sure you know The 23rd Psalm by heart.
 
Why? Because we've lost something in recent generation. People used to have a power source that modern generations have mostly unplugged. God's faithful people used to memorize scripture, which would give them the ability to instantly tap into God's wisdom and encouragement in powerful ways.
 
Today, I invite you to memorize these familiar words that have the power to transform even life's darkest hours. (Tape them to your mirror, your computer, your dashboard -- anywhere you can put them until they've sunk into your heart.)
 
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want .
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
 
I witness this power regularly in hospitals. When people are truly sick -- think death beds and going in and out of consciousness -- their minds can't comprehend much new information. Therefore, familiar words often make the best prayers.
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I don't rest well. Or often. Recently - during a drug induced sleep, I had a dream that has stayed with me.  I woke up with John 10:10 swimming in my head. "The thief comes to steal and destroy."  In my dream I was sitting on my bed while a thief was sneaking out with the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness ... and leaving me with sorrow, despair, loneliness, depression, grief.  


I drew a poor rendition of my dream and one person I shared it with said, "We need to figure out to get those back."  I still don't have them back. 


The 23rd Psalm is one I have tried and tried to memorize, but have failed at doing so (like so many other things!).  I even helped my 7yo learn it, yet it slips from my mind constantly.  Maybe somethings just aren't for me. 

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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