“If You Hear His Voice” (Psalm 95: 6 – 7, NEB) by Carley Evans

“You know His power today if you listen to His voice,” writes the psalmist. As the lamb follows the shepherd, so “we are His people, we the flock He shepherds.” We come into God’s presence with “a joyful song” and “a shout of triumph.” (Psalm 95: 1) We “kneel before the Lord who made us; for He is our God.” We thank Him for “our salvation.”

We are not to “grow stubborn” or “test” God; we are not to allow our hearts to go astray. Instead, let us discern God’s ways. (Psalm 95: 8, 9, 10)

The author of Hebrews echoes this, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not grow stubborn as in those days of rebellion, at that time of testing in the desert, where your forefathers tried Me and tested Me, and saw the things I did for forty years. And so, I was indignant with that generation and I said, ‘Their hearts are for ever astray; they would not discern My ways; as I vowed in My anger, they shall never enter My rest.” (Hebrews 3: 7 – 11)

“A Sabbath rest still awaits” us — “the people of God.” When we enter God’s rest, we “rest from [our] own work as God did from His.” Don’t “follow the evil example of unbelief;” instead “make every effort to enter [God’s Sabbath] rest.” (Hebrews 4: 9, 10, 11)

Make this effort while today is still today; and His voice is still heard.

“The Social Gospel” (Matthew 25: 46, NEB) by Carley Evans

God “separates men into two groups” — with men who behave as goats on His left, and men who behave as sheep on His right. The goats do not come to God’s help while the sheep do. The sheep help those who are without shelter, without food, without clothing; who are in sickness or imprisoned. The goats fail to help, living a life of selfishness, apparently oblivious to others’ suffering. They do not shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick or those imprisoned. They do not help God.

Both groups ask, “When did we see You, Lord?”

God responds to both, “When you see My brothers, You see Me.” He explains,”What you do or fail to do for them, You do or fail to do for Me.”

The goats Jesus says, “go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [sheep] enter eternal life.”

He says to these sheep, “You have my Father’s blessing; come, enter and possess the kingdom that has been made for you since before the world was made.” (Matthew 25: 34)

“Treat others as you like them to treat you,” says Jesus. (Luke 6: 31) And as you treat others according to this “golden rule,” you treat Jesus as well.

“Sheep And The Two Gates” (Matthew 7: 13 – 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

Maybe sheep are like lemmings — all going the same way, following along in a daze, unaware of dangers around them, oblivious to the paths they might take. Lemmings tend to move forward in a crowd, even to the point of tumbling over cliffs to their deaths.

For sheep, it is natural to follow a leader, yet they also tend to keep together. Sheep usually flee when threatened and only stand their ground when their egress is cut off.

A narrow gate is one which is obvious, but difficult to pass through especially if sheep are in a large mob — herd or flock. Many may not pass through; rather each sheep must find its own way through that narrow gate. Most sheep remain with the herd, meandering through the wide gate which is easy to pass through and appears safer, since the sheep remains in the mob.

But that wide gate — which is so easy to pass through — leads to destruction.

And the narrow gate — which is so lonely sometimes and so hard to find and so difficult to pass through — “leads to life and those who find it are few.”

“Directing Our Course” (Isaiah 48: 17, NIV & ESV) by Carley Evans

Directing Our Course (Isaiah 48: 17, NIV & ESV) by Carley Evans
Friday, September 4, 2009 at 7:03am

God says that He is the Lord, reminding us that He is our Redeemer; that He is Holy. He says, “I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you (NIV), who teaches you to profit (ESV).” He also tells us, “I Am the Lord your God, who directs you in the way you should go (NIV), who leads you in the way you should go. (ESV)”

Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary defines “direct” as “cause to move or follow a certain course,” “show (someone) the way,” “regulate the activities or course of,” “request with authority.” The verb “lead” is defined as “direct or run on a course,” “go at the head of,” and “bring or tend to a definite result.”

God has an ultimate result in His Mind; He has a certain course, a definitive way. He certainly knows what is best for us. He is most assuredly holy. Above all, He has the authority.

“Profit” is defined as “valuable return” or “gain.” God says He teaches us to gain. He expects us to gain a valuable return for His investment in us. God expects not only what is best for us, but what is best — period!

We see here God as Shepherd, prodding, directing our course with His crook. He hooks it around our necks now and then, pulling us away here, pushing us forward there. Sometimes He takes that crook and brings it down sharply on our backsides to remind us who is really in charge of our direction, of our ultimate course. He is at the head at times, expecting us to follow. Ocassionally, He winds up behind us, seeking us out with a wary eye. But, rest assured, He is always there. He is always our Shepherd, and He always loves His sheep.