Shepherd of Soul

1 Peter 2:22-25 

22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Kuai Dian

If you were to travel in China and have no interpreter, memorize Chinese phrases to like “Ni Hao” for “Hello,”  “Xie xie” for “Thank you,”  Duo Xiao qian” for “How much is it?” If you want someone to hurry up say, “Kuai dian, Kuai dian!” “Kuai dian” is a Chinese phrase for “hurry up, move faster or be quick.” Of course, it is very rude and not polite to say “Kuai dian” if you want a preacher to quickly ends his sermon, right?

Once in a while, there are individuals who need motivation to prompt them. And there are individuals who naturally behave like—turtles, sloths or snails. If you nudge or prompt them to hurry up or move faster, it would be wasted effort and energy.

Anyway, when others tell, prompt, nudge or push you to move faster, they try to influence your pace or step. Envy of what others accomplished, attained or achieved in life is indirect push beyond the natural ability. Envy pressures and stresses the envious.

Drivers who blow their horns to pressure other drivers to drive faster or get out of their way so that that they can move faster. How do you normally react when drivers blow their horns? Are you upset, feeling mad or just staying relaxed and you keep on driving?

Emotional responses, behaviors or attitudes to disrespectful people can confuse and may affect lifestyle and outlook and life. As Christians, we are compared to sheep.

Sheep will follow a leader without any hesitation. When the leading sheep runs, the flock runs and follows the leader. When the leading sheep jump into its death, the rest of the flock follows and not hesitate to jump into their death. Sheep don’t have the capability to evaluate consequences of their action. They don’t deliberate why they follow a leader. They needed a shepherd who guides them to safety.

Sadly, many Christians are not mindful of consequences of their decisions. With godly wisdom, we faithfully follow Christ as Lord and Savior. It declares in Romans 6:23, 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Praise God for Christ our Good Shepherd; he guides us prepare for eternal life.

Is it possible for naturally sinful human to avoid or refrain from sin? Naturally, it’s human tendency to sin; instinctively, we don’t refrain from sin. We are inclined to avoid God. We need Christ, the wisdom of God to guide us. He avoided and refrained from sin.

1.  Refrain

22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

True! It’s possible to refrain and avoid sin and be righteous. Jesus Christ our Lord, born in human flesh, exemplified how to avoid and refrain from sin. He chose not to sin.

He refrained from using derogatory or deceitful words because he is the truth.

There is one thing Christ cannot do. What? To lie! He did not lie. He can’t lie or even say deceitful words, why? Lie and deceit is opposed to truth. And, whatever Christ declares is truth. He encourages us in John 8:31-32, 31If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

To hold and follow his teaching, that is the secret to avoid and refrain from sin. When we hold onto, follow and put into practice the teaching of Christ, our relationship with him as Lord and Savior grows more intimate. We understand his instructions more. We discover more of the blessings and benefits he prepared for following his teaching. And as we desire to follow him more seriously, it’s when we sense freedom from control of sin; so, we ignore and resist wickedness. When sin cannot control us, we sense peace in us. Peace from God is gratifying rest that Christ promised to all who come to him.

How do you practically interpret when Christ invites us in Matthew 11:28-30? 28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The yoke” of Christ pertains to his teaching as guide for godly behavior, attitude and lifestyle, and the rest” that he promised is practically gratifying peace, even in the midst of difficult struggle, and not just during problem-free moment. To take his yoke and learn from him requires reliance upon him as he guides us to follow his teaching. And his yoke becomes easy and light. How? When life becomes tough, he carries us.

Elderly man and rocky roads

Someone wrote a story of an elderly man, who had lived his life and died. The life he lived on earth, the paths he walked onto was flashed on the heavenly screen. He was puzzled and asked the Lord, “As I look on the paths I traveled on foot, I see two sets of footprints on the easy paths. But on the rocky roads, I see only one set of footprints. Tell me, Lord, why did you let me go down all those hard paths alone?”

The Lord smiled and simply explained it, “My son, the one set of footprints on the rocky roads is mine, not yours; it was when I carried you over the hard path!”

For most readers, they emphasize the faithful care of the Lord. How about you? Why did the old man think that the one set of footprints on the hard paths was his own footprints? Why did he think that the Lord let him go down alone during those rocky hard paths? Do you consider that the old man was a genuine believer?

If you were standing before the Lord in heaven, you don’t doubt the Lord, right? But, during hardship of pilgrimage on earth, temptation to doubt is not impossible. When doubt attacks, we’ve got re-evaluate our faith in Christ. “Did I learn from Christ?

Did I walk the path of life together with him?  Do I trust that Christ carry me on rocky difficult journey?” It’s reality that we don’t readily pray during situations that may require instantaneous response. When driving, a car before you suddenly stops, you quickly hit the break. You don’t ponder and say, “Lord, shall I stop or change lane?”

Likewise, expect it or not, others may say things that may hurt us emotionally. What do we do when insulted? When God’s grace and love prevail, we don’t retaliate.

2.  Retaliate

23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 

Christ exemplified how we may react or respond when others insult us or make suffer. Even at the very moment when he was about to die, Christ knows that no valid reason for the tormentors to insult him. Yet he didn’t retaliate; he made no threats.

Listen carefully: Christ exemplified how children of God should behave. It should also remind us that we should seek his help in our behavior. With our human effort, we would rather retaliate and fight for our rights. To fight for human right is what this world promotes. Meditate on the warning of Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:8, 8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Have you shared Christian practices favorable to believers but you were ignored?

Canada Geese

Last week, geese had lingered on the church lot and left a lot of droppings as evidence. I assumed that the green grass on our yard attracted them. But most of the time, they just played on the murky water on the ground next to the parking lot. Then, it came to my mind that it could be helpful for them when I filled two plastic containers with clean water and placed them on our yard where the geese may eat the grass.

Surprisingly, the geese disappeared in the next few days. I am not sure, if they even tasted the water I prepared for them. I observed the geese walked and played in the murky water for several days; but I never saw them passed by near the clean water, I prepared for them. Did those geese assume that I tried to trap or catch them? Hmn!

When you shared practices and ideas beneficial to you, you may be trying to help them, but they think otherwise. For sure, everyone has unique opinion on many things. How should we react to philosophies or principles that we cannot agree with?

How do you personally interpret what Apostle Paul warns in 1 Timothy 6:20-21? 20Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

How about 2 Timothy 2:16-17? 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene.

Avoidance of godless chatters or ideas that have no relevance to Christian beliefs is possible when we are totally dependent on the Lord. Most often, arguments about philosophies and practices in this world can ignite the human tendency to aggressively respond with pride; it can be termed as survival instinct to defend the self-image.

When it says that Christ did not retaliate when he was insulted, and he did not make threats when he suffered, it should help us intellectually ponder that it is also possible for us not to retaliate when insulted, how? We have to return to our Shepherd.

3.  Return

24“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Every one of us, no one is exempted. We all went astray from godly lifestyle. At one point, we lived our life according to the inclination of our hearts. Sometimes, we are even misled to believe that Christian practices and traditions are biblical but actually they are not written in the Bible. So, we do our best effort and let God do the rest.

“Do your best and God will do the rest!” Have you ever advised others to do just like that? It’s a positive advice, nonetheless. But it is not biblically accurate. Actually, it promotes independent personal performance apart from God. It suggests expectation of God to supplement the rest that is not covered by human effort. Can you agree?

I suggest that you would rather advise or say, “Do your best to rely upon the Lord as your Shepherd, in everything you desire to do and actually do, for the rest of life.”

When it says that Christ has become our Shepherd and Overseer of our soul, what do you personally interpret as your “soul?” How do you explain the term “soul” to a child? “Soul” is part or aspect of our innermost being where affections, personality, will, feelings, desires, aversion, emotion, sentiments, conscience and moral exists.

David vs. Goliath

            It narrated about Goliath the giant in 1 Samuel 17:10-11, 10The Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

The human instinct of aversion prevailed when the Israelites were terrified of Goliath. Human mind assesses accurately that the bigger overpowers the small.

The mind sent such reality to their soul so that the Israelites were scared of the giant Goliath. So, the soul senses aversion or scary undesirable. The immediate response of the human mind is to retreat or seek safety – that’s what the Israelites did.

In comparison, David warned Goliath the giant Philistine in 1 Samuel 17:45-47. 45“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Bible scholars suggest that David was a regular teenager; he was younger than any of the Israelite soldiers. David saw the giant Goliath, but he never felt scared. Why? King Saul warned David that giant Goliath was a veteran soldier. In response, David had testified of the Lord in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, 34When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.

David never said, “I will defeat you with my power, Goliath!” Did you notice that? He told King Saul that the Lord rescued him from the paw of the lion and the bear. He shouted that the Lord will deliver Goliath into his hand, and all the Philistines into the hands of Israel.

The term “deliver” implies no extra effort; just receive what is delivered, right?

Giant problems easily scare anybody, but if we let Christ as Shepherd on our soul, we may personally understand more when David testified somewhere, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need, even if I walk in the valley of death, I am not scared.”

By faith, we trust Christ to take care of our needs even aversion to scary situations so that when that moment happens, we celebrate and praise the Lord.

As a church, we celebrate TMEC 31st Anniversary. This church has weathered the ups and downs that every local church may go through. Praise God for keeping our soul and remain loyal even when undesirable situations confused others to go somewhere.

If TMEC belongs to Christ, he enables us to sense gratitude, and we praise him.

It’s been 31 years of God’s faithfulness to this church. Happy Anniversary TMEC!

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