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I AM the Good Shepherd

Shepherding is one of the three major occupations in Palestine along with fishing and farming. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God calling on the leaders of the nation to shepherd his people. We also often refer to a pastor of a congregation as a “shepherd.” And Jesus declares Himself to be the ultimate, Good Shepherd.

A blind man sees the Good Shepherd

In Chapter 9 of John, Jesus had just healed a man that was born blind. The Pharisees drill the poor guy with lots of questions. Then they bring his parents and and drill them. But the parents were afraid of the Pharisees because they held the power to ban them from the temple and so they basically said, “Why are you asking us? He’s a grown man. Let him answer for himself.” The Pharisees then bring the guy back in and he finally says to them, “Hey, I don’t know who healed me. Why are you so interested in knowing? Do you want to be one of his followers too?”

The Pharisees were too spiritually blind to see the Good Shepherd

The Pharisees were so caught up in trying to discredit Jesus and trap Him so they could kill Him that they missed a miracle – but the blind man sure didn’t miss it. It changed his life. As I imagine this scene unfolding, in my mind I see this guys staring the Pharisees down with a mix of awe and unbelief that that they didn’t get the fact that the greatest thing that ever happened to him just happened. He shakes his head and says, “Don’t you guys get it? All I know is once I was blind, but now…now I can see!” Can you hear his joy and excitement? And still the Pharisees missed it. Angry at the man, they throw him out of the temple.

The Good Shepherd confronts the Spiritually blind

A little later, Jesus comes back to check on him and make sure he’s okay. He then turns his attention to the Pharisees. For a moment he just looks at them. They squirm under his direct gaze. Then He calls them out for their ridiculous ungodly behavior, telling them that though they may not be physically blind, they are spiritually blind. He then uses an allegory playing off of shepherding to try to get them to understand.

Thieves and robbers who steal the sheep away

So as we get to Chapter 10, Jesus is pointing out who the true shepherd is and who are the thieves and robbers who would still the sheep away. He says, “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Little words can sometimes have big meanings. Have you ever stopped to think about a thief and a robber as two different things? We know they both steal – but what’s different about them? A thief will sneak in, take what they want, and sneak back out. A robber, on the other hand, steals by being violent. So Jesus was saying that the person who is not the true shepherd is a sneaky, violent thief.

The true shepherd enters the pin by the gate

In comparison, the true shepherd of the sheep enters the sheep pin by the gate. They sheep listen to his voice as he calls each sheep by name and leads them out of the pin and into the pasture. When they are all out, he goes ahead of them and they follow him because they know the sound of his voice. If a stranger tries to lead them, they will run away because they do not recognize the voice.

“I am the door to the sheep.”

Jesus then says in verse 7, “I tell you the truth, I am the door to the sheep.” Understanding life and culture of Jesus’ day gives a much deeper understanding and truth to what Jesus was saying. Every night, the shepherd would bring the sheep back to the pin, which was basically an area with a wall around it that had an opening which was the “door,” but there actually wasn’t a door – just an opening. After all the sheep were in the pin, the shepherd would lay across the opening with his staff. The only way to get into the pin was to go through Him. It kinda gives a new meaning to the saying, “Over my dead body.”

What we can learn from Jesus being the door is that whoever enters the sheep fold through Him will be saved because he gives them abundant life. In contract, Jesus said that they thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Because He is the door to the sheep fold, he is also the shepherd. And He’s not an irresponsible, lazy, or mean shepherd. He’s not the hired helper who abandons the sheep when the wolves come looking for dinner. No, He’s a good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.

Sheep need a good shepherd

If the Pharisees were listening with their heart, the blind man would not have been the only person who’s life was transformed that day. Let’s make sure we don’t miss the spiritual truths that the Pharisees missed. The first truth is that we are sheep. The second truth is sheep need a good shepherd.

Psalm 100:3 says: Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Yes – we are sheep. What are sheep like? They certainly are not fearless, rugged creatures. Sheep are pretty much just passive, dependent blobs of wool. Doesn’t seem like a very good compliment to be compared to, does it. And yet around 200 times, the Bible refers to us as sheep.

Sheep need a shepherd because they are followers

If we do a little research about sheep we can find that they are great at following. You might say, that’s a good thing because if Jesus is our shepherd, we should follow Him. But with sheep, if one sheep starts running towards a hungry lion, they will all follow along – and Mr. Lion will feast on a smorgasbord of lambchops.

Sheep need a shepherd because they are helpless

Sheep are also helpless creatures, which makes them prime targets for wolves or any other hungry belly. They have one one defense and that is to run when danger comes.

Sheep need a shepherd because they have limited vision

Sheep also have a very limited vision. In fact they are almost blind. They can only see about 15 yards in front of them. Beyond that, they have no idea what’s ahead of them or what’s behind them.

Sheep need a shepherd because they are not intelligent

Sheep also are not intelligent creatures. They will graze on the same hill over and over until they turn it into a wasteland. They will stay on the same trail until they fall in a rut. Sheep are not able to find their own way back home. They will also lie down and roll over on their backs. However, they are not able to roll back over and will die unless they are helped to get back to their feet again. But even though they will die, they keep on rolling on the backs.

How do we compare to sheep?

How do we compare with such helpless, stupid animals? Like sheep, we tend to be followers. We all want to “fit in” and wear the latest styles, use the latest, trendy words and we sit for hours peering into “Social media land” to make sure we are following right along with everyone else. We have also been known to run off on our own, charging full speed ahead and even take a crowd with us but yet not really know where we are going or why we are going that way. Today, something could be defined as “wrong” and tomorrow it could be defined as “right.” And whatever the crowd says, we scoot our beliefs into line with everyone else and march forward on our woolly little legs and follow.

We can also be very near sighted. We see today – not eternity. And like sheep, we live for what’s right in front of us and never consider the impact it will have tomorrow.

And like sheep, we can be stubborn, hard-headed, unmovable. We will keep on doing something that we know is wrong or not good for us – it might even potentially kills us – but we keep doing it any way.

We are sheep in need of a Good Shepherd

Yes. We are sheep. And we are in need of a Good Shepherd who is willing to give His life for His sheep. Our Good Shepherd, calls us by our name. When we go astray, He searches us out and brings us back home. He guards us through the night with His own body being the door. He gave His life for us so that we can have abundant and eternal life. Our Good Shepherd leads and guides us to green pastures and living water. And, when we stubbornly roll over on our backs, He picks us up and sets us back on our feet again.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. King David described it best in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures He leads me beside 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 your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


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Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

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Download our Free 2021 Bible Memory Verse Plan

We’ve put together 52 memory verses for you to hide God’s Word in your heart! You can download the full document for free and then print a new verse each week and as many copies as you’d like. Each verse prints four times on a page so that you can then cut them into index size cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them frequently throughout the day to help you remember to memorize them. Just because you visited our site, they’re yours for free! Download today.

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Bible Reading Plan Download

Download our Free 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan

With just 30-40 minutes per day, you can read the entire Bible in one year. The One-Year Bible Reading Plan consists of both Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the year. The Bible is God’s personal Word to you. What is He saying to you today? Open your Bible and find out!

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Download our Free Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

Want to know more about self-care? Our Self-Care blog series targets people who serve in any ministry position and takes a Biblical approach to self-care.

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This week’s featured Christian Tees designs:

Battle Isn’t Over and Just Pray

In every battle and every situation, our first response should be to get on our knees in prayer. When life brings us to our knees, the battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. So no matter what happens in life, stop worrying, stressing, panicking, overthinking, assuming, controlling, and wondering. Just pray.

See our graduation tees and products:

Graduating Seniors, Class of 2021, #Done2021, and Tassel worth the Hassle

Once in the store, you can click on the customize tab and add your school name or graduate’s name!

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

  • Revive Us Again, Lord

Canvas art and posters are available in the Teespring store. Many of our Christian Tees are also available at Teespring.

To see the collection of Canvas and Poster Prints


Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

Click here for the Contemporary Christian Playlist
Click here for the Southern Gospel Playlist
Or Click here for the Hymns Playlist

You can also watch our animated devotionals on the YouTube Channel


God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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Searching for God

Every day, the news is filled with stories of sorrow, pandemics, murder, and tragedy. Thankfully, there are some good stories mixed in as well. However, all the stories of sin and evil, combined with a pandemic, is enough to feel robbed of our sense of safety. Our feelings of security are ripped away as Satan laughs at the destruction he brings. As a result, many are left searching for God, wondering where He is and if He is aware of what is happening down here on earth and if He even cares.

Searching for His strength

1 Chronicles 16:11 tells us to search for the Lord and His strength and to seek His face always. In a world full of sin and brokenness, the only place to find strength is in our relationship with Him. Our security is in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus whereby we can believe on Him and have our sins forgiven. As a child of God, we know He has our names engraved on the palm of His hand. There is nothing that happens to us or around us that God is not aware of. He is never caught off guard. Rather, He has good plans for us – plans for our future and to give us hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

In Searching for Him, we become a new creation

As we place our faith and trust in Him, we become a new creation. The old sinful person is gone and a new creation emerges. Our “2.0” self comes complete with the love, joy, and peace of God while sin was deleted. You won’t even be able to find your past, sinful self in the “deleted files” to be recalled – just in case. Psalm 103:12 says that God has removed our sins from us as afar as the east is form the west. And in Jeremiahs 31:34, God says, “I will forgive their iniquity (sins), and I will remember their sin no more.” Yes! You are a new creation – made new through the perfect, sinless blood of Christ the moment you placed your faith and trust in Him.

When we search for Him, we will find safety and security

As a forgiven, recreated, child of God, I have safety and security in Him. Psalm 91:4 says: “He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” That doesn’t mean that we will never face the trials and sorrows of this world. But it does mean that we are eternally protected and there is nothing Satan can do to us that will cause us to lose our eternal security that we have in Christ. In John 10:28, Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” None of us know the moment our life will come to an end or how that will occur, but as a child of God, I know where I will spend my eternity. Do you?

The World is still searching

While we can find peace, comfort and security in knowing we belong to God, there is a lost world who desperately needs Him. They are searching for Him. They feel a void in their souls and try to fill it with drugs, alcohol, sex, careers, hobbies, and anything else that will give them a few moments of joy. It’s up to us to bring them to Christ.

For as long as God has us (Christians) on this earth, He calls us to be salt and light to a dark, depraved, uncaring, selfish world filled with hatred and evil. We are to be His witnesses whether that it is in our home town, state, country or around the world. The truth of the matter is, this world is not going to improve until Christ returns and Satan’s day of rule and reign on this earth is over. That might sound rather bleak and depressing, but Revelation tells us this is exactly what’s to happen.

If we sprinkle Salt and Light on the World searching for Christ, they too can be a new creation

Because we know how the story ends and because of the amazing grace Christ showed to us, we should then go about our everyday lives sprinkling salt and light everywhere we go. God doesn’t want anyone to perish in hell. God wants every single person to become a new creation! But each person must decide for themselves if they will seek God or not.

We should feel burdened for those who are lost and earnestly seeking God. We should be on our knees, humbly praying for a revival in our land. Throughout history we have seen great revival awakenings occur when Christians humble themselves before God, pray and seek his face and turn from their sinful ways. When we do this, God promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that he will hear us from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. If there is ever a time that America and all the nations around the world, needs healing and forgiving of sin, its now.

Many of us will pray for those lost, but will you also spend some time humbling yourself before God, praying for our nation and yourself and seek His face and turn from any sinful ways? Will you ask God to hear you, forgive you and our nation and heal our land? Ask Him to send a revival awakening and ask Him to let it begin in you.


Revive Renew Redeem logo on self-care post

Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

[Download not found]

Download our Free 2021 Bible Memory Verse Plan

We’ve put together 52 memory verses for you to hide God’s Word in your heart! You can download the full document for free and then print a new verse each week and as many copies as you’d like. Each verse prints four times on a page so that you can then cut them into index size cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them frequently throughout the day to help you remember to memorize them. Just because you visited our site, they’re yours for free! Download today.

[Download not found]
Bible Reading Plan Download

Download our Free 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan

With just 30-40 minutes per day, you can read the entire Bible in one year. The One-Year Bible Reading Plan consists of both Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the year. The Bible is God’s personal Word to you. What is He saying to you today? Open your Bible and find out!

[Download not found]

Download our Free Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

Want to know more about self-care? Our Self-Care blog series targets people who serve in any ministry position and takes a Biblical approach to self-care.

[Download not found]

This week’s featured Christian Tees designs:

Battle Isn’t Over and Just Pray

In every battle and every situation, our first response should be to get on our knees in prayer. When life brings us to our knees, the battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. So no matter what happens in life, stop worrying, stressing, panicking, overthinking, assuming, controlling, and wondering. Just pray.

See our graduation tees and products:

Graduating Seniors, Class of 2021, #Done2021, and Tassel worth the Hassle

Once in the store, you can click on the customize tab and add your school name or graduate’s name!

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

  • Revive Us Again, Lord

Canvas art and posters are available in the Teespring store. Many of our Christian Tees are also available at Teespring.

To see the collection of Canvas and Poster Prints


Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

Click here for the Contemporary Christian Playlist
Click here for the Southern Gospel Playlist
Or Click here for the Hymns Playlist

You can also watch our animated devotionals on the YouTube Channel


God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

WestBow Press logo

Bible Studies, Bibles, Books & More

Christianbook Distributors logo
Everything Christian for less!

Looking for a Bible Study, Bible, book or Christian gift? We are an affiliate with Christianbook Distributors and receive an 8% commission on any item purchased through one of our links. However, the commission never increases your cost of any item. View some of our favorite items by clicking on the logo and thank you for supporting our ministry.

Christianbook Distributors Search:
Christianbook.com

Wellspring Christian Ministries receives an 8% commission on any purchased made from Christian Book Distributors through any affiliate link on this site. Your price for any item is the same as purchasing from CBD directly.


Here’s some of our recent posts.

904.239.8937
A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL 

Follow us on:

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Quotes from the Self Care Blog Series

095 strengths and gifts

The quote above is from Part 13 of a blog series by Julia Bruce on Self-Care for people in ministry. Read the blogs here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13.

Snowmen-Divider-85442

Cover_mHave you seen Julie’s new book: God, Love and Marshmallow Wars? This book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.)

004Looking for a speaker for your next ministry event? Julia is now booking for 2019 and 2020 events. Book with us now.

 

 

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1 Chronicles 16:11

1 Chronicles 16 11

It seems that more and more often we hear on the news stores of mass shootings and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. When it happens in the city you live in, a place you grew up in, you become more and more aware of how sin is destroying lives. A sense of safety and community is ripped away as Satan laughs at the destruction he brought. On August 26, 2018 at approximately 1:30 pm a shooter at the Jacksonville Lander killed three people, wounded 9 and then took his own life….over a Madden NFL 19 video game tournament.

1 Chronicles 16:11 tells us to search for the Lord and His strength and to seek His face always. When tragedies occur, the only place to find strength is in our relationship with Him. Our security is in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. None of us know the moment our life will come to an end or how that will occur, but as a child of God, I know where I will spend my eternity. Do you?

However, for as long as God has us (Christians) on this earth, He calls us to be salt and light to a dark, depraved, uncaring, selfish world filled with hatred and evil. We are to be His witnesses whether that it is in our home town, state, country or around the world. The truth of the matter is, this world is not going to improve until Christ returns and Satan’s day of rule and reign on this earth is over. That might sound rather bleak and depressing, but throughout history we have seen great revival awakenings occur when Christians humble themselves before God, pray and seek his face and turn from their sinful ways. When we do this, God promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that he will hear us from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. If there is ever a time that America as a nation needs healing and forgiving of sin, its now.

Many of us will pray for those lost  and wounded in this senseless act of evil, but will you also spend some time humbling yourself before God, praying for our nation and yourself and seek His face and turn from any sinful ways? Will you ask God to hear you, forgive you and our nation and heal our land? Ask Him to send a revival awakening and ask Him to let it begin in you.

We at Wellspring Christian Ministries add our condolences to the many already offered. May God wrap the families who lost loved ones in His arms and may they feel His presence and comfort. To the wounded, we pray for healing – physically and emotionally. Our hearts break for what you all have been through and will continue to go through in the coming days.