April 2, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

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God as Our Shepherd
Psalm 23

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Five weeks ago, I was in India on a mission trip with some colleagues. After five baptisms and dedicating a new church building, we were returning from a rural village to a city. We noticed three or four hundred sheep and their shepherds about to cross a public highway—the lead shepherd, the sheep, and another shepherd at the end of the line. For about 10 minutes, traffic on both sides of the road stopped. I watched carefully until all the sheep and shepherds had crossed the road. I thought about the entire operation—sheep, staff, rod, and shepherds. I have never seen hundreds of water buffalo herded this way. Maybe it’s unmanageable for their caretakers, but with sheep it’s possible. It’s natural for sheep to listen and follow. Sheep have a nature of unity, to be in the group rather than being alone.

Some 2,644 years ago, a normal man from the kingdom of Judah prayed, “People’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). We are quickly like lost sheep, not able to manage or guide our own lives. How a guide dog is much appreciated by a blind person! We all need a good shepherd.

As followers and disciples of Jesus, we must listen for his voice. The Good Shepherd never drives his sheep from behind. Rather, he calls to us from the front of the flock every day and in all spheres of our lives. And then he leads us forward.

Changes are inevitable in our lives. As God’s people/sheep, we must accept these changes when our faith is anchored in Messiah Jesus. You may have just passed through green pastures and still waters, the valley of the shadow of death, or been seated at a table in the presence of insiders, outsiders, or even enemies. Finally, you will live in the house of the Lord eternally in heaven. Sheep and people experience changes in life. Anticipate the changes but do not be afraid of them, for you and I do not add a day to or decrease a day from our lives on the earth.

“Dr. Harry Ironside used to say that goodness and mercy are the two sheepdogs that help keep the sheep where they belong.”[1] What a concept of sweet fellowship as God’s community! Our Shepherd’s rod takes care of the enemies, and his staff takes care of his sheep. Yes, we can stay close to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and his precious and Holy Word. One day we will realize that everything is under God’s goodness and mercy. Thank you, Lord, for being the Good Shepherd to us, our families, and our communities.

  • How do you experience Jesus as your Good Shepherd?
  • How do you participate in your flock?

—Paulus Thalathoti, paulus.thalathoti@gmail.com

© 2017

1. Johnny Hunt, “The Satisfaction of Our Shepherd’s Sheep,” PastorLife.

Paulus Thalathoti is an ordained minister and the founding president of Peace Proclamation Ministries, an evangelistic and church planting ministry with those living in the interior rural areas of India. Dr. Thalathoti also serves as chairperson for Penn Bible Fellowship in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Sumatha, are mission associates with Mennonite Mission Network and members of Plains Mennonite Church, Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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