Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does the Shepherd Know You?

The Bible refers to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. There are a number of times that he is compared to a shepherd: A shepherd who cares for his flock: A shepherd who will seek the lost sheep. There are a number of references to this aspect of Jesus’ character. But the one that makes this most clear, I believe, is this reference.

John 10:14
14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

As the shepherd we know him. We recognize his leadership in our lives. We know who he is and understand the relationship between us. He is the author and finisher of our faith. But He also knows us. He knows who are His sheep.

John 10:3
3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

He knows His own intimately, he calls them by name. The question today is does he know you? Have you become familiar enough to Him for Him to know you and recognize you and call you by name? Today I want to look at three people: Three people whom Jesus calls by name. I want to look at their lives the instance in which he calls their names and I want to try and apply it to our lives.

The First is Mary Magdalene.

John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

In this scripture we see Mary Magdalene in a moment of panic and confusion. The events of the last few days have taken a toll on her. She saw the Messiah, the pone she considered to be the savior of the world crucified and killed. Then as she arrives at the tomb in which he has been placed she finds the body missing. She finds that he’s not in the place where he has been laid. She is not doubt overcome with frustration and panic.

Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever wondered, “Where’s God? Why is this happening? Why have I been forsaken?” All of her life she’s been taught that God will send a Messiah who will come and destroy the enemies of Israel. Finally, here is a man who has the power of God. She knows that God is with Him because of the things He’s done. She knows He has power because of the powerful deliverance she has received at His hand.

Luke 8:2
2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,

Yet, he is laid in a tomb, dead, and now even his body has disappeared. Can you imagine the pain and confusion she is suffering at this moment. Then He comes to her and speaks her name and she is instantly, lifted out of that confusion.

I’m sure there were others who understood the prophecies better. There were others who studied doctrine and understood he doctrine better than she did. The Pharisees were so leaned in the law and the doctrines. They knew much more about all that than she did, but…she knew Him. She had a relationship with Jesus. She understood His power to change lives because she knew what He did in hers.

I’m sure that there swill be others who will stand before God who know more about doctrine than you and I. I’m sure that there will be others who are more learned in those things than us. But they will stand before God and here the words “I never knew you,” because they may know doctrine and law but they don’t know Jesus. I don’t claim to be a theologian but I know Christ and I hear His voice and recognize Him when he calls to me.

It is the same with Mary. She knows Jesus intimately…and He knows her. It has never been about what you know. It has always been about whom you know and more importantly who knows you. Can you recognize the voice of jesus in the panic and confusion of life? When Jesus called Mary’s name, she recognized His voice: She knew Him and He knew her.

The Second is Thomas (Who is Sometimes Called Doubting Thomas)

John 20:24-29
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

After the crucifixion, Thomas had a crisis of faith. Here was the man to whom he had discipled himself: the man who he also thought was the savior of the world: The man he thought was the incarnation of God on earth and he lies dead. So Thomas begins to doubt his own faith.

Can you see that? “I thought He was God. If he was God why couldn’t He save Himself, why did God have to die?” He’s struggling with his faith. It’s like the carpet of all that he believes has been pulled out from under him. He begins to think, “Could I have been wrong? Everything that seemed so right just a few days ago was gone, after the crucifixion, his faith was left in tatters.

When they told him they saw Jesus he couldn’t believe it. He had believed his own eyes. He saw Him hung on the cross. He saw Him look up and say, “it is finished.” He saw him give up his spirit and die. He saw all of those things and seeing, he believed. He told them he wasn’t going to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he saw it with his own eyes. How like us he is.

We want to see something tangible. We want to see something real. We go to Healing Crusades and we see people healed, so we believe that healing is possible…but we don’t always believe it’s possible for us. We ask for deliverance and all the time we think that promise isn’t for us. We doubt, just like Thomas.

I spoke to man once who told me that he believes in deliverance, bur he said, “I don’t think I’m strong enough to be delivered.” You’re not, so it’s a good thing that your deliverance doesn’t depend on you. Put aside your unbelief for a moment and think about this: Jesus rose from the dead, do you think he has the power to deliver you from whatever you’re going through? Can He resurrect you?

We doubt, just like Thomas doubted. Even in his doubt Jesus, called him by name. he spoke into his life, he reached out and said, Touch Me. Feel me I am who I said I was.” In that moment that Jesus allowed Thomas to touch the wounds, He touched Thomas. In that moment Thomas’ faith was healed. “My Lord and my God.”

Jeus said, “Thomas you believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who believe and haven’t seen.” Jesus knew this man. He knew what it would take to for him to believe. He could have said Thomas had missed his hour of visitation, but instead he reached out and reached into his life. Just like he does in when we doubt.

A man came to Jesus with his demon-possessed son. The demon would throw him onto the ground, into the fire, and into the water to try to kill him. This desperate father came to Jesus and asked Him to pray for his child that the demon would be cast out. Look at this exchange between them.

Mark 9:23-24
23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

That should be our prayer. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” The fact is that we all experience moments of doubt. We believe but sometimes we need help to believe. A Jesus that knows you can help you to believe.

The Third is Peter

John 21:15-17
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

We all know Peter’s reaction when Jesus was taken to be crucified. He followed at a distance, when someone recognized him he denied he was a follower of Christ. When they asked him a second time he denied it again. When they asked the third time he denied Jesus once more this time with a curse. He refused to allow anyone to call him a disciple of Jesus. He turned his back on Jesus and that moment of denial could have cost him eternity.

He turned his back on Jesus, went into hiding and eventually went back to fishing; his life before he became a disciple. He had abandoned his faith and he stood on the crossroads and Jesus spoke his name, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” In his moment of rejection, in his moment of denial, Jesus reaches into his life and restores him with the words, “Simon Peter, do you love me?”

None of us have experienced a test as powerful as this. None of us has seen the leader of our faith taken and crucified. Yet, some of us have gone through moments of denial: Moments when we have turned our back on his will and gone back to our former occupation, which is sin. We’ve gone back to our old life. We’ve gone back to our fleshly lusts. We turn our back on His will and go back to our own pursuits. In those moments we are denying Him as Lord over our lives: We’re denying his as God. We are lifting up sin and making that lord over our lives.

Yet, in this example we see that even though we have denied Him, he still desires to speak into our lives. He still desires to call us back to Him. “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Even through all that jesus still recognizes him as His own; still calls him by name. “Simon Peter, do you love me.” We sometimes think that when we backslide we can never go back again. We think that we can never be accepted again.

Imagine how peter felt when he heard the rooster crow. When he realized that he had denied the lord whom he had pledged to follow to the death. He must have felt like he’d lost it all. He was depressed; he was beaten down. I believe that’s why he wanted to go fishing - he’d given up. But that was something he did to himself, because Jesus came to him and spoke his name; He called him back. He restored him back to his destiny. He will do that in our lives as well.

What each of these people had in common was a personal history with Jesus Christ. They had spent time with Him. They knew him. They recognized His voice. And he called them by name. This is a part of discipleship; an intimate oneness with him. It’s more than just believing it’s knowing Him.

He knows us and calls us by name: Even when we are in moments of confusion, even in moments of doubt and even in moments of denial. The shepherd’s love is a love that knows us and reaches out to us even through those things.

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