I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Tim 4:7-8

When Paul was ready to depart from this old world, he was able to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7).” That is not to say he didn’t have opportunity to get off course. As a matter of fact, just prior to his confession, he list several potential pitfalls in 2 Timothy that could do just that: loving this present world, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, being entangled in the affairs of this life, erring from the truth, failing to purge yourself, not continuing in the Word and receiving the instruction, reproof, and correction it provides, just to name a few.

And then it occurred to me that these are just merely symptoms to the underlying problem. The problem is really quite simple, and it all boils down to what does it means to be a sheep. Let’s go back and see how the Good Shepherd defines the role between the Shepherd and the sheep. In John 10, Jesus must have been dealing with a hard-headed crowd because he seems to move from general to specific, and even to more specific. Generally speaking, sheep hear the voice of the shepherd; he calls them by name, and he leads them out. Secondly, the shepherd goes before the sheep; they follow him and know his voice. Finally, they don’t follow strangers, for they don’t recognize their voices (John 10:3-5).

As if the crowd didn’t make the connection, he said, “I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enters in, he shall be saved … The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they (sheep) might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:7-10).

Next, he said, “I am the good shepherd.” Unlike the hireling who does not care for the sheep and flees at the first sight of danger, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Again, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (10:14).” Jesus’ sermon caused a division among the Jews. Many of them even said he was mad and had a devil. So Jesus tells them the reason they didn’t believe was “because you are not of my sheep … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:26-27).”

In summary:

Sheep believe Jesus
Sheep hear and know his voice
Sheep do not follow strangers, but flee from them, for they don’t recognize it
Sheep know Jesus and he knows them
Sheep are led of Jesus, and follow Jesus

Let us pray today, Lord, help us to get back to the basics of hearing, knowing, and following your voice this year. As we all follow you, we will have 100% participation at our church and once again, work together to reap the end time harvest by faith.