While in the Word this last week, two words kept popping up on my radar: “guide” and “shepherd.” It caused me to think about the importance of guides in our lives. A guide is one who advises, provides information, and direction.
All of our lives are filled with many different kinds of guides and shepherds. Parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors, employers, pastors, church leaders, Bible study teachers, travel agents, car repair people, museum curators, traffic directors, and even GPS – just to name a few.
These guides and shepherds are a part of each of our daily lives. We are dependent on them to direct us, show us what to do and how to do it. Guides help to keep us heading in the right direction and on the right path.
Having the wonderful privilege of traveling to Cambodia and India on mission trips, my husband and I found out firsthand how important a guide can be. Every country has different customs, traditions and laws. Those guides helped us maneuver through many places and situations. They directed us in what we could eat, where it was safe to go, and helped with communication. Their advice and direction many times kept us from danger as well. They also allowed us to see and experience things we otherwise would not have experienced or known about.
If we know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, God’s Word tells us that the Holy Spirit is our Guide and Shepherd through life. Jesus often referred to Himself as “The Great Shepherd.”
Jesus told the disciples, “Truly, truly, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 3:1-4)
John 10:11-14 continues this theme.
“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. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Sheep without a shepherd are in great peril. They are not hunters and unable to find food. Sheep cannot protect or defend themselves from predators. They can only run and not very fast at that! Sheep easily panic, are timid, fearful, and gullible. They stampede easily and are vulnerable to mob psychology. If a sheep lands on its back, it is unable to right itself and will die of starvation, if not turned over by the shepherd. Sheep can quickly wander away or be led astray. They are literally helpless without a shepherd.
When Jesus referred to us as sheep, he knew we needed a guide and shepherd to help us maneuver through this life. So He left the Holy Spirit Who is the rod and staff in our lives.
A shepherd never heads to the field without his rod and staff. Sheep have a tendency to wander off with no sense of direction. They are stubborn and are often times resistant to the shepherd’s prodding. The shepherd’s staff firmly but gently directs the sheep back to the fold where they will be safe. He uses the rod to fight off wild animals as well as direct the sheep to a place of protection and safety.
Do you see yourself in this picture as a sheep? I do! Jesus Christ is our Great Shepherd! His rod and staff, the Holy Spirit, guides us, moves us, directs us and even corrects us. He keeps us protected, on the right path, and in the sheepfold. Jesus holds the rod and staff in His very hands, always prodding us along! He uses the rod and staff in our lives, for our good, our protection, and our wellbeing.
When David wrote Psalm 23, he knew firsthand what being a shepherd entailed and required. He knew personally who his Shepherd was and the power and guidance of His rod and staff in his life.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
“You have led in your steadfast love the people who you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” (Exodus 15:13)
“For you are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.” (Psalm 27:11)
Thank You, Jesus, and sweet Holy Spirit, for guiding, protecting, and correcting us! Thank you for caring for our needs and providing an eternal home for each of us that know you. Thank you, for being the good, good Shepherd in our lives.
We love You!
The writer of Hebrews gives a benediction to us:
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Kathy Niswender is the wife of our pastor.