Our Shepherd is a faithful guide to us in all things, no matter how faulty our decisions. Indeed, he says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).
Everyone knows the importance of having a quality guide. Think about the important life decisions you’ve made. Were the ones guiding you experienced, skilled and knowledgeable in getting you where you wanted to go? God uses his children to help others along the way, but Jesus gives the most succinct and direct guidance of all when he says very simply, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9).
Jesus illustrates the rich, satisfying life he has for us by using the image of a sheep pen. “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures” (John 10:9, NLT). There in the pen, his sheep are safe from all enemies as they feed on the “good pastures” of God’s kingdom, enjoying health, peace and freedom.
Satan seeks to steal from us the life God has designed for us. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (10:10). He does this by seeking to remove us from the “good pasture” (i.e., crucial spiritual food) that Jesus has given us. Immature Christians are most susceptible, as long as they remain on a diet of “milk,” never advancing to the meat of God’s Word. They are especially subject to Satan’s wiles in times of crisis, becoming paralyzed with fear and worry, thinking, “I don’t know how to make a decision. Where are you, God?”
Scripture tells us there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (see Proverbs 11:14). God uses the godly guidance of a faithful pastor, a professional counselor or even devoted Christian friends. The difference with Jesus is that he is always there for us: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (10:11).
If you want true guidance in life, get to know your Shepherd’s voice. Do you need direction in your life? Then go back to those two simple words of the Master: “Follow me.” Keep your eyes on Jesus and focus on what his Word says. He never fails you, never leaves you, and always has your best in mind.
“Lord, what is going on? Is there any safe place?” This was the cry of my heart as I observed the falling away of people who had been very influential in my life. My heart was broken and confused, and my spirit was wrestling within me.
God led me to Psalm 91, an extraordinary psalm that gives us incredible insight. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (91:1). The word abide in the Hebrew means to claim — claim your possession, take up residence, defend in order to regain property. It literally says, “This is mine. This is my place. This is where I’m going to stay — my dwelling place.” The believer cries, “The secret place is my place! Underneath a shadow is my safe place. Close to Him is the place where I’m safe.”
Verse 13 says, “You shall tread upon the lion and the viper, the young lion and the dragon you shall trample underfoot.” This is poetic language, prophetic and preventive — symbolic language that brings spiritual light. In this case, the viper represents the sudden trap that attacks God’s promises in our lives. The lion is a satanic trap that attacks God’s plans and purposes. The young lion is the seemingly small trap that attacks the purity of God in our lives. And the dragon is the silent trap that attacks the peace of God in our lives.
But the Word says you shall tread upon all of them! You shall tread upon the viper, that sudden trap you didn’t see coming. You’re walking with God and something hits you that takes your breath away. Perhaps your boss calls you in and tells you he has to let you go. You think of your family and the thought just grabs you in the throat.
At such a moment, the enemy seems to have a capacity to erase God’s promises — if we let him. But God tells us how to overcome: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (91:14-16).
Don’t let Satan steal your promises! God’s Word is sure and steadfast and he is faithful to you, his beloved child.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
The apostle Paul said, “I am determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Have you sought to know the voice of Jesus, sitting quietly in his presence — just waiting? Have you sought him for things you can't get from books or teachers? The Bible says all truth is in Christ and he alone can impart it to you, through his blessed Holy Spirit.
A question may arise in your mind: "Isn't it dangerous to open my mind to a still, small voice? The enemy can come in and mimic God's voice and deceive me. And isn't the Holy Spirit to be our only teacher?"
Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a distinct, living, divine person in himself. Scripture calls the Holy Ghost the Spirit of the Son: "God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts" (Galatians 4:6). He's also known as the Spirit of Christ: "The Spirit of Christ who was in them" (1 Peter 1:11). "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the essence of both Father and Son, and is sent by both.
There's a way we can be protected from deception during deep prayer. Our protection is in waiting. The voice of the flesh is always in a hurry. It wants instant gratification, so it has no patience. It's always focused on self rather than the Lord, always seeking to rush us out of God's presence.
The voice of the enemy also is patient, but only to a point. It can be soft, sweet, assuring and logical. But if we test it by simply waiting — that is, not acting on it right away, testing it to see if it's the Lord's voice — it will grow impatient and expose itself. It will suddenly become ugly and demanding, railing at us and condemning us.
This is why the Bible says again and again, "Wait on the Lord — wait on him — wait." It's during our waiting that these other voices are exposed, or grow weary and leave. We're to wait, wait, wait, so that both heaven and hell know we won't give up until the Lord takes over.
“Which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:7-10).
We know the master is Jesus and the servant here represents every believer. The servant works hard all day and when he is finished, he needs nourishment. He expects to hear his master commend him for his hard labor and offer him food to refresh him. But instead, the master commands, “Put on your apron and serve me first. Then you can eat.”
At first glance this command seems harsh and demanding, yet nothing could be further from the truth. What is actually being said is, “Put God’s kingdom first and then everything will be given to you.” He had already told his disciples, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). And now he is saying, “You’re my servants, but I call you friends. And there’s a need in me that only your friendship can meet. Yes, I know you’ve been out in the fields all day working, but I want you to sit at my table — there’s so much on my heart I want to tell you.” This should change how you view communion and revolutionize your prayer life.
Clearly, this parable is about feeding Christ and, evidently, our Lord views this act as our highest calling. You may object, “I thought our highest calling was to go into the harvest fields to labor.” That is certainly a high calling, but Jesus says it is not the highest. “The high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” as Paul refers to it in Philippians 3:14, is to have communion and intimacy with Christ.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). It should deeply humble us that Jesus would want to be near us and speak with us.
Take a look at the current condition of our nation and the world. What do you see? Christ’s prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes: “On the earth distress of nations, with perplexity … men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
Paul also speaks of this time: “When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Paul is describing a people who live smugly and securely, boasting, “We’ve achieved success and peace. Everything is going along just fine.” Yet, at the very moment people feel most secure, destruction comes. Suddenly, the security they cherished vanishes and society is overwhelmed by fear.
Yet we are not to fear. Paul told the Thessalonians they were being preserved in spirit, soul and body (see 5:23). God’s purpose behind it all is to “fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Paul was saying, “You’re being called to fulfill a work of faith — not a silent faith but one that demonstrates the power of Christ.”
This is not a time for timid faith! Our Captain is calling us to stand up in the midst of a fearful society and engage in “power faith.” We are to make the declaration: “God sent me before you to … save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7).
Our Lord is not surprised by anything happening today. When the world is reeling from disasters, with sorrows mounting on all sides, God will be calling forth faithful soldiers who have been trained for battle. These devoted men and women have endured trials and emerged with a sure faith. The power of God rests on them. Such power may not be seen on a grand scale; it may be seen only in simple ways: a quiet spirit, a smile in a sea of frowns; a rest of soul, mind and body as others tremble.
All ministry comes from communion with the Father, so diligently seek him in prayer. Truly, you are called forth as a member of his company for such a time as this.