Far More Jesus

Songs of the Christmas season say we should feel wonderful, jolly, merry and bright. But instead we often feel stressed, stretched, buried, and exhausted. It is easy to get caught up in the rush and forget that we cannot give from an empty reservoir of time, energy, and warmth.

Stop for a second and remember why we celebrate Christmas. It is not about gifts, parties, concerts, decorations, lights, trees, or cards and letters. It is not even about family traditions and gatherings. Christmas is about Jesus, the celebration of His birth and the hope, peace, and joy that He brought to earth. Consider His words on this:

“…I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of his sheep.” (John 10:10, PHILLILPS)

Jesus brought us far more life. Not far busier life or far more exhausted life. He brought us far richer life and far deeper life. He gave up His life so we could have far more life.

Here are some of the gifts Jesus has given us:

  • Forgiveness. “But it was because of our rebellious deeds that he was pierced and because of our sins that he was crushed. He endured the punishment that made us completely whole, and in his wounding we found our healing.” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT)
  • Love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)
  • Joy. “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Acts 2:28, NIV)
  • Peace. “Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1, NCV)
  • Patience. “…We are together in Jesus, and we share these things: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance…” (Revelation 1:9, ERV)
  • Kindness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
  • Goodness. “…We ask our God to help you live the good way he wanted when he chose you. The goodness you have makes you want to do good.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11, ERV)
  • Faithfulness. “The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, VOICE)
  • Gentleness. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5, NIV)
  • Self-Control. “We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.” (Titus 2:12, MSG)
  • Hope. “I pray that God will open your minds to see his truth. Then you will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. You will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.” (Ephesians 1:18, ERV)

The gifts Jesus offers us are not wrapped and waiting under the tree. Through the Holy Spirit, these gifts are alive and active inside the hearts of God’s daughters. These gifts will not break or get lost or stolen. They are guaranteed to be yours forever! And they will never wear out; in fact, the more consistently you use them, the stronger they grow. Forgive quickly and respond with kindness when others offend you this week. Prayerfully choose gifts that express love rather than obligation. Let the music fill you with joy and hope as you reflect on the meaning of Christ the Messiah coming to earth. Rest in peace as you enjoy the beauty and calmness of the season’s lights.

Focusing on God’s gifts — and sharing them with those around us — enables us to feel wonderful, jolly, merry, and bright, even during the busy season of Christmas. Unwrap them today and begin savoring those that are most meaningful. Let these gifts fulfill you and add far more life to your day…and every day ahead!

Sisters,
What song lyric or phrase describes you during the Christmas season?
What aspect of Christmas is most important to you? Does this add to or detract from your celebration of Jesus?
Which of the gifts listed is most meaningful to you today? What will help you remember to savor it during this busy month?
Enjoy far more life as you celebrate Jesus’ work inside your heart this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Far More Thanks

He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me. (Psalm 50:23, NASB)

Offering thanks to God does not sound like a sacrifice, but sometimes it is. We can be so bogged down — by a hard situation or just the daily demands of life — that we forget to be thankful. It takes effort to consciously include it in our thoughts and prayers. God knows this, so He gave us clear instructions:

Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. (I Thessalonians 5:18, GW)

God’s will — His desire, His best plan for us — is that we thankfully remember all He has done for us and all He provides for us. We find far more life when we look beyond our circumstances and give thanks. Thankfulness is a powerful tool that helps us keep our hearts and minds in alignment with His perspective.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (Colossians 4:2, NASB)

I confess that I spend more prayer time asking God for things than thanking Him. It is easy to focus on my request — especially when interceding for someone else — and forget to thank God. When I fail to give thanks, I can easily slip into the mindset that God should do what I want and fulfill all my wishes, desires, and requests. But that is not God’s best for me!

When we follow His instruction and maintain an attitude of thankfulness in our prayers we are more likely to walk in far more life. We become alert to thoughts and feelings that are contrary to the power of the Spirit. We more consistently experience the peace, joy, and other fruit of the Spirit rather than falling into anger, apathy, or dissatisfaction. We handle disappointment better and can more fully connect with others in their joys and struggles. We feel more satisfied and find far more life even in circumstances where it previously eluded us.

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. (Psalm 9:1, NASB)

Focusing on thankfulness helps us recognize God’s work in and around us, often in situations where we would otherwise overlook it. We are faster to give God credit and our faith is strengthened. We grow in patience, kindness, generosity, and graciousness since we see the evidence of His work. We are slower to become fearful or worried as our trust in Him increases. We are also more aware of our need for Him and our limitations, which makes us more likely to follow His instructions. Giving thanks goes beyond the words we say; it is a far more life mindset that impacts how we perceive and respond to the world around us.

There is scientific support that supports God’s instruction. A 2014 article in Forbes shared these research-backed benefits of thankfulness:

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships; people are more likely to seek out a relationship with someone who expresses thanks.
  • Gratitude improves physical health, including fewer aches and pains and increased likelihood of exercise and self-care.
  • Gratitude improves psychological health, including increased happiness and decreased depression.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression, leading to lower interest in retaliation or revenge.
  • People sleep better and longer when they write in a thankfulness journal before bed.
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem and reduces comparing ourselves to others.
  • Gratitude increases mental strength, reducing stress and increasing resilience to difficulty.

No wonder God instructed us to be thankful!

I know many people have Thanksgiving traditions to help them remember thankfulness. Consider building on that to form a new habit: daily thankfulness. The sacrifice is small compared to the far more life it reaps.

Sisters,
Does giving thanks require sacrifice? What barriers get in your way?
What helps you give thanks in difficult circumstances?
How can you incorporate more thanksgiving into your prayers?
What benefits do you notice at times you are thankful?
I hope today is the start of a year of thankfulness — and a year of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Far More Power

Evil forces are attacking. Are you powerful enough to stop them? Yes, God’s daughter, you are!

Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world. (I John 4:4, CEV)

When we accept Christ, we enlist as soldiers in a war we will fight every day of our lives on earth. But we fight to a certain victory; God’s Word reveals that He wins this war and grants His soldiers everlasting peace in Heaven. In the meantime, He gives us the power to overcome any attack. Tapping into His power enables us to experience far more life, even in the midst of the battle.

For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3, AMP)

The most powerful evil forces we face are those that attack our mind, tempting us to disbelieve, distrust, and disobey God. We are tempted to sin through unforgiveness, selfishness, hatred, worry, shame, fear, and more. These temptations are attractive, even irresistible, in areas where we hold erroneous core beliefs about ourselves and God. Those core beliefs were usually developed when we were young and our immature minds could not recognize them as lies. Over time Satan tempts us to interpret circumstances in ways that reinforce those erroneous beliefs; when he succeeds, the lie gains credibility and we experience pain rather than far more life. Here are some of the most common lies Satan tells us about ourselves:

  • I am alone.
  • I am unloved.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I am worthless.
  • I am not good enough.
  • I am helpless.
  • I am hopeless.

How do we fight these attacks? With God’s truth!

The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, AMP)

There are many Bible verses we can use as weapons against Satan’s lies. Here are a few:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (I Corinthians 3:16, NKJV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13, NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. (Acts 1:8a, NIV)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)

You are not alone. You are loved. You are lovable. You are valuable. You are good. You have help. You have hope. The verses above are just a sample of the weapons available for fighting Satan’s attacks. Memorize the verses that most powerfully communicate these truths to you so they are always available when you need them. That will allow you to more consistently experience far more life.

Sometimes we get ambushed and do not even realize we are engaged in battle until we have lost. We recognize we are not experiencing far more life but do not know how we got so far from it. This happens when Satan’s lies resonate with messages in our subconscious and we react without stopping to think about the underlying beliefs. How can we be more aware those ambushes? By monitoring our negative emotions. Whenever we feel angry, hurt, alone, ashamed, disheartened, worried, or other strong negative emotions it may mean our enemy is attacking us. Stop and ask, “Why am I feeling this way?” Digging into what you feel and why will reveal the underlying belief and enable you to compare it to God’s truth, win the battle, and continue walking in far more life.

Some battles are harder than others. You may have to fight through layers of negative feelings and painful beliefs to reveal the erroneous core belief. You may have to wrestle with doubts about God before embracing the truth from His Word. You may need help from fellow soldiers to penetrate the enemy’s lair and destroy his weapons. But take hope in this truth:

The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. (Psalm 118:7, NIV)

God has secured the ultimate victory over Satan! In this lifetime, you will battle, but each battle takes you one step closer to final victory. Fight in His power — using His truth — today and celebrate far more life!

Sisters,
In your daily experience, is God’s Spirit in you more powerful than the forces attacking you?
How do you find far more life in the midst of battle?
What erroneous core belief is most tempting to you? What truth helps you overcome that false belief?
Pray that God will help you recognize today’s attacks and counter with the power and truth of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Time to Invest

We all have 60 minutes each hour. 24 hours each day. 7 days each week. 52 weeks each year. We can invest our time wisely and reap huge dividends, both now and in heaven. Or we can spend it on pursuits that yield a temporary thrill at most. One choice lets us survive while the other helps us sustain far more life.

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. (Ephesians 5:15-16, TPT)

People who spend their lives for God’s purposes do more than accumulate possessions and experiences during their time on earth. They understand their God-given purpose and mission is to love Him and share His love with others. Investing in God’s work may not generate instant results, but it does produce eternal rewards. The far more life we find as we take full advantage of each day reminds us that our hope rests in Heaven, not immediate gratification on earth.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB)

Whatever you do. Life is not a collection of spiritual and non-spiritual activities. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, everything we do is a spiritual activity. We can work for God, regardless of our job. We can recreate or rest for God. We can learn and grow for God. We can give and serve for God. We can also do each of these activities without God. The choice is ours; will we choose life or far more life?

It takes more than just showing up to maximize our eternal yield and walk in far more life each day. The heart behind our investment is a key factor in the yield. Mundane tasks — like laundry and changing diapers — can be more profitable than leading a Bible study; it depends whether we are simply doing the “right” thing with an empty heart or “taking full advantage” of opportunities to love God and others. We take full advantage by remembering His instructions:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).

Acquiring earthly treasures — belongings, experiences, even relationships — can bring us temporary pleasure. But investing our heart and time in God’s purposes leads to far more life and treasure that will last for eternity! We do not always understand the impact of our investment, but God is orchestrating the efforts of many individuals to accomplish His will.

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. (I Corinthians 3:8, NLT)

Investing in God’s work of planting and watering spiritual seeds can take more than our time; it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. We know there will be an eventual payoff, but we can still grow weary from our labor. How do we maintain far more life in those conditions?

A wise friend once shared an “energy equation” that has been helpful to me. She explained that we all experience three types of interactions/activities: those that energize us (+3); those that are neutral, neither adding nor taking energy (0); and those that draw more energy than they give back (-3). If we are regularly in the hole, we are guaranteed to burn out and miss far more life. To be healthy, the sum of these interactions must consistently be zero or above. To experience far more life and have all we need to invest in God’s kingdom, we need a positive balance.

When my energy equation is below zero I often read or play mindless computer games to “rest”. But while my brain is distracted by those pursuits, I remain tired and reluctant to re-engage. Since they are not refreshing, those activities are probably a 0 rather than the +3 that I need. But if I invest the same amount of time exercising, meditating on God’s Word, writing, or napping, I find myself energized and ready to re-engage. Rather than “unplugging” by retreating into a virtual world, I am learning to ask myself, “What do I need right now to truly energize my body and spirit?”

As you look at your calendar and commitments, be intentional about your time investments. Prayerfully consider what you have to give each day and the refreshment you need to live far more life with a God-pleasing heart. Allowing time for connecting with God, eating healthy food, exercising, laughing, and sleeping is important for sustaining far more life. Remembering to include those in your daily energy equation will enable you to consistently join God in investing in His kingdom…people. Those are the only investments that will continue paying dividends for eternity!

Sisters,
Is most of your time spent or invested? Are you consistently experiencing far more life?
Are your treasures primarily on earth or in heaven?
What is your energy equation right now? What will truly energize your body and spirit?
Pursue far more life today as you invest in God’s kingdom!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Refocus!

Last week I was feeling spiritually blah and wanted a verse to meditate on that would help me refocus. I searched on the word “hope” and found this gem:

…fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:13, NASB)

Let’s break it down and meditate on it.

  • Fix means to set definitely or focus. When something is fixed it is secure rather than wavering. It is solid rather than shifting. My emotions have been fluctuating recently and that has caused my mind to vacillate as well. This is a factor in feeling spiritual blah. I want to experience the peace and calm that comes from fixing my mind on what comes next in this verse. I trust that will lead to far more life.
  • Hope is more than a wish. It is a confident expectation. It is not blind, but is based on evidence. Often my well-being is hanging on whatever I am hoping in. When I hope in temporary things, I feel good temporarily. But that is not satisfying! God has given me a desire for permanent hope. If I am to “fix my hope”, it must be placed in something that is more secure. Far more life recognizes that hope must be placed on the eternal. That is the only trustworthy source of hope.
  • Completely. If there can be only one object of hope, this verse is getting ready to define it! Whatever is ahead is worthy of all my hope. It will not disappoint. It will be firm. It will be consistently available. This word promises that far more life is within my grasp if my hope is fixed in the right place!
  • On the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Christ Jesus. This is the key to the whole verse. It is the best possible object of my hope. The revelation of Christ Jesus will definitely occur at His second coming. He will be revealed as The Messiah, Lord of Lord, King of Kings, Redeemer, and more. He will rescue God’s children — including me! — from this wicked earth and take us home to Heaven. I will be rescued from the power, presence, and penalty of sin forever. All who have denied Christ — or ridiculed me for following Him — will realize their error. I look forward to the day when He will return and the object of my hope will become visible!

When I pull this all together, far more life is placing my hope in the grace of Jesus Christ. It is knowing that eternity with Him is my ultimate goal. That allows me to take the challenges of this life in stride, knowing they are preparing me for the future that He already knows. I recognize that I am on a journey, a road trip, through this world. It is my current, temporary home, but something much better awaits me. I experience good and bad, and while both can bring personal growth, neither defines or fulfills me. Rather my connection to God is the source of my identity and fulfillment. When I remember all this, the spiritual “blah” feelings evaporate and I am able to see life through the lenses of joy and thankfulness.

Here are a few more verses on hope:

…godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (I Timothy 4:8b-10, NASB)

Godliness leads to far more life now and for all eternity. God is trustworthy. If He says something is valuable, I can believe it is. When I fix my hope on Him, my efforts to become like Him will pay off.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. (I Timothy 6:17, NASB)

When I consider worldwide economics, I am rich. Yet this should not be a source of pride. I should not fix my hope on money or possessions to make my life secure. Remembering that God is my ultimate provider is a key to living far more life. He is generous and wise; He knows exactly what I need and always supplies enough. I can expectantly look for and find His provision in every situation I face.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:3, NASB)

Because my hope is in Jesus, I am pure. What a wonderful statement and promise! Jesus has purified my heart and enables me to rise above spiritual “blah” to far more life! When I stop to think about what He has done for me, I cannot stay in an emotional funk. God has already forgiven me for failing to remember all Jesus has done for me. But once I recall the price He paid and the benefits I received, my heart is eager to thank Him and notice all the ways He blesses me. Those moments of thankfulness are moments of far more life. May my day — and yours — be filled with them!

Sisters,
What verse or spiritual truth helps reset your vision?
Where is your hope? Is it on temporary things or eternal ones?
Do you believe that God will supply all you need? If not, what do you need that He has not supplied? What source have you turned to for those things? Did that source give you far more life?
Join me today in thanking God and focusing on far more life and the hope it brings!
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: JenJoe Marsh


Far More Generations

Think about the women in your life. How does the youngest girl you have a relationship with impact you? What kind of relationship do you have with the oldest woman in your life? Think of the women in between, both consistent contributors to your life and the most influential. I hope your life contains a richness of women who offer a wide range of life experiences, a variety of personalities, and diverse interests and gifts.

We are often most comfortable with people who are like us. Sadly, the message we increasingly hear in our culture is we can only be understood by people like us. We may believe those are the only people whose input we can trust. We may feel they the only people we should turn to for perspective. We are told they alone have the right to speak into our lives. We may draw lines between “us” and “them” that rob us of different experiences and perspectives.

Relationships that cross generational lines offer far more life. Older women offer wisdom and experience. Women in the middle generations offer insights on balancing challenges as they strive to support aging parents and maturing children. Young women offer enthusiasm, optimism, and connection to our culture. Each generation faces unique challenges and possesses unique gifts.

Despite our differences, women of all ages have commonalities. We all have hopes and dreams. We all experience love and loss. We all face challenges. We all sin. We all are made in God’s image. We all want to experience far more life. Sisters in Christ share a faith, a future, and fellowship that is not impacted by the number of candles on their birthday cake. God has given us a common role in each other’s lives:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

Women of any age can help others become more Christ-like. We can sharpen and be sharpened by others, which leads to far more life. Although age differences can feel awkward, Christ provides a connection point. We can always pray for each other, share encouragement, and study God’s Word together.

We may feel awkward with other generations because what we give each other is not the same. A sense of inequality in what we have to offer and what we receive can be a barrier. For an example, an older and younger woman cannot trade babysitting. Or one may need help with meals or cleaning while the other has no practical needs at that time. We can become uncomfortable receiving from another generation because we are not sure what we “owe” them in return. But if we shift our perspective, we realize that removing debt is not the goal.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. (Romans 13:8a, NIV)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV)

If we trust the other woman is giving lovingly and cheerfully of her resources, there is no debt or inequality!  It is okay to ask once, “How can I repay you?” or “Are you sure this is okay?” Humbly accept the answer, trusting her to speak truthfully. We build connection by lovingly and gratefully giving and receiving different things from each other. This connection helps us experience far more life.

As a college student, I formed a friendship with a woman who I later found out was just a couple years younger than my mother. Our age difference was not a factor. I learned a lot from observing her life and asking questions about a variety of situations that I, as a young adult, had yet to experience firsthand. She appreciated my support and encouragement as she traversed a hard season of life. Our relationship was centered on a mutual desire to love and serve God, not on the specific situations we faced.

There are many formal opportunities for us to build relationships with women from other generations: at work, at church, at the gym, in community groups, through shared hobbies, and more. But being in the same place at the same time may not be enough to form a connection. Take initiative to get to know women from other generations. It can be as simple as asking them for advice or offering to pray for them. It can be a few minutes face-to-face when you are already together or a special time you arrange in advance. You can use social media or go “old school” and call!  Do not assume someone else is too busy for you, instead, if you want to get to know them, initiate. You may enrich your life in ways you never imagined! 

In addition to the blessing in your own life, pursuing intergenerational relationships at a time when others are turning away from people who differ from them gives you a chance to be a picture of God in action.

Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other. (John 13:35, GW)

Enjoy the richness of all your relationships this week as you live far more life!

Sisters,
How have older and younger women helped you grow in far more life?
What hesitation or reluctance do you have about pursuing relationships with women from another generation?
What do you have to give? What do you need? How can giving and receiving enrich your life rather than just adding more to your to do list?
Pray for your plans to initiate sharing far more life with a woman from another generation this week.
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso

Being a Lamb

A recent Sunday message from Psalm 23 ended with the question, “Will you make yourself a lamb under God the Shepherd?” It sounds simple enough on the surface, but that is actually a deep question!

The roles of God the Shepherd are described throughout Psalm 23:

  • He satisfies His lambs.
  • He makes His lambs rest.
  • He leads His lambs.
  • He restores His lambs.
  • He guides His lambs.
  • He is with His lambs.
  • He disciplines His lambs.
  • He protects His lambs.
  • He comforts His lambs.
  • He feasts with His lambs.
  • He chooses His lambs and sets them apart for His noble purposes.
  • He exceeds the needs of His lambs.
  • He endures with His lambs.
  • He will spend eternity with His lambs.

Of course we want all of those benefits! But the phrase “make yourself a lamb” caught my attention. We cannot experience God’s shepherding unless we are willing to place ourselves under his care and take on the nature of a lamb. What is that nature?

  • Lambs listen for their Shepherd’s voice and obey His commands.
  • Lambs do not follow other shepherds; they only follow their own.
  • Lambs trust their Shepherd completely, they know he will not harm them.
  • Lambs flee danger.
  • Lambs depend on their Shepherd for protection, they have no natural defenses.
  • Lambs understand they are safer in the flock than alone and stick together.
  • Lambs only take in what is healthy for them; they don’t consume garbage.
  • Lambs do not complain about being in uncomfortable or painful situations.
  • Lambs are content to follow and let the Shepherd lead.

Lambs in God’s flock experience far more life. They know the Shepherd will provide all they need for a full, satisfying life. They do not worry. They do not live in regret. They are free to enjoy each day as it comes.

We find it hard to be lambs. We want to determine our own course, be in charge of our own life. This verse too often describes us, just as it described God’s flock in Old Testament times:

The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow? (Hosea 4:16, NIV)

Our stubbornness, pride, and insistence on getting our own way prevent us from experiencing far more life of a lamb under God’s care. God desires to lead us to a place of safety and abundance within His protective boundaries, but we resist. In those moments, we trust ourselves more than we trust our Shepherd. We prefer to blindly forge our own path in search of what we need rather than follow Him to the place He knows will meet our needs.

This reminds me of a friend from college who demonstrated the life of a lamb following her Shepherd. When challenges arose, she recited this Psalm:

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131)

My friend was an intelligent, independent, capable woman. She was a leader. She did not shirk responsibility or have a low opinion of herself. But she was realistic about her position before God. She recognized He was the perfect Shepherd and found far more life as a lamb in His flock. She trusted Him as her leader and accepted the tasks and opportunities He provided, believing He was always working for her good. She was content to follow Him rather than needing to forge her own path. She understood a lot but also recognized that there was much she did not understand. And in those areas, she was willing to trust her Shepherd and believe He had a plan and purpose to bring her far more life.

Lambs were sacrificed as atonement for sin in the Old Testament. And the Bible refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God because of His sacrifice to atone for our sins. But God has also raised Jesus to the role of Shepherd. This glimpse of our future in Heaven with Him is exciting:

They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (Revelation 7:17, NIV)

Our Shepherd is leading His lambs to the most wonderful pasture imaginable, Heaven. And we will remain there — safe and satisfied — forever. But we can also experience His presence and provision now. That is far more life: being a lamb in the flock of God the Shepherd.

Sisters,
Have you experienced God the Shepherd as described in Psalm 23?
Are you more often “stubborn as a heifer” or like a lamb in the meadow?
Do you take on responsibilities and concerns that are not meant for you? What makes you hesitant or reluctant to be a lamb in God’s flock?
Will you choose to be a lamb under God the Shepherd today and experience far more life?
-Shari

Copyright 2019, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: David Padfield/FreeBibleimages.org