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Looking to Jesus

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Fixing one’s eyes on Jesus is easier said than done. Life is distracting. We have responsibilities. We have commitments. We have hopes and dreams, hobbies and interests–what does it look like to focus one’s eyes on Christ?

Meditation on God’s word is a gigantic part of it. Constant, consistent prayer is a large part of it too. But before you quit your job and join a monastery, remember that God is with us always. We don’t have to isolate ourselves from normal everyday life to focus on Him. As He said to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

God is always near. God is always present. God is always listening. God is always actively involved in every aspect of our lives. Acknowledging this fact, rejoicing in this fact, and taking advantage of our right-relationship with Him by consulting Him in prayer and filling our minds with His perfect Word–this is the walk of the Christian who is looking to Jesus, fixing his eyes on the love and grace of his Savior. And everywhere you turn in scripture, it can’t be ignored that focusing ourselves on God involves turning away from evil.

Lord, fill us with the knowledge of your love which surpasses all understanding and help us turn our eyes and hearts to you completely!

  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

  • “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:1-5).

  • “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. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23)

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Our Great Shepherd

Hebrews 13:20

“Our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep”

Great

Initially I assumed our English word for great would be inferior to the Greek word used in this text. I thought it would be something more descriptive like wonderful, magnificent, illustrious, awesome, clothed in grandeur. But no, it means great. In fact, its even more plain than the word great. It literally means big. But there’s nothing insufficient about that word when it’s used to describe God. It means powerful. It means preeminent. It means majestic. It means exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever imagine or describe.

  • Psalms 145:3; Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
  • Psalms 48:1; Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!
  • Psalms 86:10; For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
  • Psalms 147:5; Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
  • Psalms 96:4; For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
  • Psalms 135:5; For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
  • Jeremiah 32:17-19; Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds.
  • Revelation 15:3; Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
  • Malachi 1:5; Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!

Shepherd

Anyone would be willing to lead from a throne, or an oval office, or a corner suite on the twentieth floor. How many would be willing to lead the way a shepherd does? Instead of sitting on a throne, sitting on a rock. Instead of walking through palaces, walking through mud. Instead of mingling at cocktail parties, living with the sheep.

  • Ezekiel 34:15-16; I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
  • Micah 5:2-5; But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. …And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
  • Isaiah 40:11; He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
  • Revelation 7:15-17; …He who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Sheep

Understanding Christ to be our Great Shepherd requires us to understand who we are in relation to Him. He is our God, we are His people. He is the potter, we are the clay. He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep.

  • Psalms 95:7; For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
  • Psalms 79:13; But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
  • Psalms 100:3; 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.
  • Ezekiel 34:31; And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.
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