Feed My Lambs

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15 ESV

Do you love Jesus, dear one?

Our opening scripture reveals what Jesus said should be evidence of your love for Him. Lovers of Jesus feed His sheep.

Jesus pressed the point with Peter, repeatedly asking him the same question.

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

God never wastes words.

Three times Jesus connected loving Him with caring for His sheep—particularly with feeding them. And when God repeats Himself, He draws our attention to the importance of His message. He wants us to understand this vital truth: We must feed and tend His sheep.

Ezekiel 34 describes what unfed sheep look like.

Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. Verses 2-5

Weak. Sick. Injured. Strayed. Lost. Scattered. Devoured.

My heart burns as I consider those words, dear one. They reflect what my own eyes see. Those words describe today’s church.

What has happened that the people of God have become so down trodden?

Most feel weak and overtaken by life’s circumstances. Illness and cancers ravage them. Wounds fester unhealed, leaving a legacy of bitterness, pain, and division. Our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

And he succeeds. Regularly.

And God’s Word says those things result when sheep aren’t properly fed.

So what are we, the sheep, supposed to feed on that makes us strong, healthy, whole, and united?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Sheep, dear one, are supposed to hear Jesus’ words. And then follow them.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

The church starves on a famine of God’s words. Click To Tweet

We’ve grabbed hold of a few of them, but most we reject or ignore. Instead of aligning our lives with God’s Word, we allow the world’s voice to dictate our beliefs. We hardly know the God we profess to follow. And we ignore His Spirit’s gentle promptings to return to Him. Instead we trust the desires of our flesh while crying out for God’s blessing.

And we get angry when we don’t receive it.

Jesus doesn’t want your words, beloved. He wants you to feed on His.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Blessing flows when people delight in the Word of God.

It’s time we return, dear one. God calls us to seek it like treasure, and He promises to give us understanding. When we choose to let God cleanse us from sin and align ourselves with His Word, something miraculous happens.

And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 36:35-36

Can you imagine it? People looking upon Christ’s church and recognizing that it has become like the Garden of Eden—beautiful, fruitful, and teeming with life?

God spoke that promise in a prophesy of the new covenant He would make through His Son. Eden awaits the people of God when through the power of the Spirit we return to what Adam rejected: living our lives in agreement with God’s Word.

“I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 36:36

The Other Prodigal

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 1 John 2:9

You’re probably familiar with the parable of the prodigal son.

Jesus told of a son who demanded his inheritance from his father and journeyed to a far country, only to squander it away with wild living. He found himself starving, “longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:16).

That sounds about right. Any time we try to satisfy our needs and desires apart from our heavenly Father, we’ll come up lacking. Empty. Starving.

Yet we keep trying.

And that’s exactly what this young son did. He wanted to trade on the benefits his position as a son afforded him without maintaining his relationship to his father. He didn’t want to stay close. He just wanted the property his father’s name entitled him to.

Does that resonate, dear one?

It does with me. For years I did the same thing.

For a long time, I wanted the benefits that come with Jesus’ name—forgiveness, salvation, the Father’s blessing—but I didn’t really want Jesus. I wanted my Kingdom inheritance, but I had no real desire to draw near to God through Him. I still wanted to live my life my way.

And just like the young prodigal, I soon discovered the futility of that thinking.

You see, what our souls really long for is union with our heavenly Father. He is life, and we access that life through intimacy with Jesus. Jesus is the blessing we seek, dear one. So anything we try to enjoy apart from Him —even the good things that flow from His hand— leave us wanting. His presence gives life to all things.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

Thankfully, our young prodigal finally came to his senses, realizing that what he’d been looking for was found in his father all along. But he made the long journey home carrying the weight of some extra baggage.

A singular thought compelled him.

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”Luke 15:18-19

I am no longer worthy.

I can’t tell you how often those words have haunted me. And every time, Jesus responds the same way He did to the young prodigal.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24

I pray you will notice something significant, beloved. The father never judged the young prodigal for his behavior. The only condemnation came from the son himself. His father welcomed him with open arms and simply reminded the repentant son of his true position. He wasn’t a servant and wouldn’t be treated like one. He was a son.

If only his brother shared his father’s mind on the matter. But compassion and joy fell subject to another emotion as he drew near the house filled with music and dancing.

But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him. Luke 15:28

I find it interesting that judgment appears in both brothers but never comes from the father who holds the only right to it. Look at how scripture describes him.

His father came out and entreated him.

Do you see it, dear one? The loving father pursued both sons in the same way, going out to greet them while they still approached. Both received the same invitation to feast with him.

But he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ Verses 29-30

Jealousy never punishes the object of its rage. It only steals from the one who possesses it.

Jealousy never punishes the object of its rage. It only steals from the one who possesses it. Click To Tweet

In this case, it blinded the older son to his own blessing and made him refuse what his father longed to give.

“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Verse 31

What God gives to one never takes from another. It’s we who withdraw ourselves from His table by holding onto the sin that separates. We choose judgment over grace. We insist on fighting for our rights instead of letting God grace us with all that is His.

It’s time we come to the table, beloved. Let’s remove every hindrance and run to the Father’s arms.

No one but you holds the power to stop Him from lavishing blessing upon you. He won’t force you to come to the table. But He waits with open arms for you to choose.

Love That Heals

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1 NIV

Our hearts cry out to be known. Sin keeps us hiding from one another. But something deep within us all longs for significance. And in a world that easily overlooks us, God sees.

He knows your name, dear one. He calls it—even when no one else cares to know it—inviting you to turn your gaze to Him. You see, God also longs to be known.

We are not nameless to God. He knows us, and He desires us to hear Him calling our names. He taught me this one day as I walked through the village next to our base in Pemba. I had been visiting the neighbors for hours, and I was late for a discipleship meeting. As I hurried down a hill, I noticed a very old lady in rags sitting in the dirt against a mud hut. She was blind. Her eyes were pure white. I felt the Lord asking me to stop for her.

In the local dialect I asked her what her name was. She told me she had none. I thought perhaps she was from another tribe and didn’t understand my Makua dialect. I asked her again in a different language, but her answer was the same: “I am blind. I have no name.”

There was another woman sitting nearby. I asked her if she knew the blind woman’s name, and she too replied: “She is blind, and she has no name.”

I was stunned. I hugged the old blind woman and immediately decided that I would call her Utaliya. It means “you exist” or “you are.” When I spoke it for the first time, her wrinkled face came alive. She gave me a huge, nearly toothless grin. I asked the other woman nearby to try calling her by the new name. Utaliya turned her white, blind eyes toward that unfamiliar sound and giggled. After that I prayed for her eyes. I watched them turn brown in front of me.

Utaliya could see!

I told her about the man Jesus who had just opened her eyes. I told her about Papa Daddy God who will always call her by name. She met God that day. I was hours late for my meeting, but it seemed to me I was right on time.

~Heidi Baker, Birthing the Miraculous, p.29-30

Stories of God’s great exploits in third world countries always amaze me. He often shows up mightily amidst the broken and down trodden. Where need is greatest, glory shines brightest.

Perhaps that’s why He sends us to them.

I have a hard time contemplating a woman who lived without a name. How empty she must have felt, defining herself only by her weakness. Her blindness. Apparently the rest of the world did too.

Until a woman filled with the Spirit of God happened to walk by her and take notice. She didn’t have to stop—shouldn’t stop, in fact, according to her schedule. But she sensed God asking her to. Her obedience opened an outpouring from the river of life.

I want to release that river, dear one. I want to see the life that flows from pure, unhindered union with God poured out in our land.

I want to see the life that flows from pure, unhindered union with God poured out in our land. Click To Tweet

My heart aches over what I know holds it back.

I do.

Every time I quench the gentle nudges of His Spirit and choose my agenda instead of His. Every time I pass by a need without notice. Every time my comfort trumps His calling.

Forgive me, Father.

Lord, give me the heart of a Heidi Baker for the broken in this nation. Give me eyes that see and discern their pain. Give me feet that walk toward them. Give me hands that touch them, arms that embrace them with your love.

Birth your righteousness in me, Lord. Bring forth your salvation as a burning torch. Possess me. Heal me. Use me, Lord, to heal this land.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,

until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.

The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory,

and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,

but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married;

for the Lord delights in you.

Isaiah 62:1-4

Creation Knows Its King

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Psalm 93:1

 In the beginning God said, “Let there be…” and there was.

Wonder still grips my soul at the thought of it. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—enjoying perfect fellowship with Himself, decided to create. The Word came forth as He expressed His thoughts. And all things came into being in obedience to the sounds God made.

Amazing. Inconceivable. True.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Hebrews 11:3

Oh, the power of God’s words!

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. Verse 9

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. Verse 11

In the beginning, all of creation moved in agreement with God’s words. No created thing denied Him obedience. Not even man.

Until the day that man entertained a sound that disagreed with God. Adam and Eve trusted that sound, and for the first time, man denied God’s Word.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

Death came to man that day, severing our union with our Maker. Sin bound man’s heart to the deceiver, and God’s Word became veiled to us. Now all the rest of creation still responds to the sound of its Creator.

Man alone does not.

When Jesus—the Word of God Made Flesh—walked the earth, creation knew Him.

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” Luke 8:22-25

Who but their Creator could command the wind and water, dear one? The winds and the waves know His voice. They move in agreement with His Word. They recognize the One who called them into being and commanded them in the beginning.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

Beloved, creation recognizes the Word that created it.

When Jesus walked among us, water became wine at His command. Bread multiplied in His hands. Every created thing responded to His word, even the bodies of the unwell.

Withered hands grew back. Blind eyes saw. Even the dead discovered life at His word.

Take this in, dear one. The only created thing on earth that hesitates to respond to the Word of God is the deceived human heart.

The only created thing on earth that hesitates to respond to the Word of God is the deceived human heart. Click To Tweet

No wonder Romans 8:19 declares,

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Creation groans, beloved, waiting for earth’s true sons to emerge. The sons of God are those who respond in obedience to the Word made flesh, who recognize their Creator and—like the rest of creation—choose to live in agreement with His Word.

Until then, creation will always declare its King.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people worshiped with shouts of praise.

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:38-40

Jesus declared that the rocks of the earth would cry out in honor of their King if the people didn’t. His words proved true a week later as He hung from a wooden cross.

The people no longer blessed His Name. Instead they cheered His suffering. The sun refused to shine (Matthew 27:45). And a great earthquake shook the ground (Matthew 27:51).

Creation knows its King, dear one. Man alone rejects Him.

Will you join creation’s song?