Jesus, the great I AM

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The lost lamb

The lambing beat, Sharon & Jo Dassler

Sharon & Joanne Dassler, back from the lambing beat

There is nothing more endearing than a lamb.  This is me in my earlier life when I lived and worked on our family farm, bringing in a lamb we found next to its dead mother. 

We did a lambing beat each day to check the ewes and bring in any orphans and we were really happy when one was found.  We did our best to search for the little ones and save them.

In the same way the Lord goes out of his way to search for and save us.  Jesus said;

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Matthew 18:14

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 (Old Testament)

This shepherd loved us so much He laid His life down for us.

Jesus said I AM the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  John 10:14-15 (New Testament)

The gate, and the sheep that went astray

Splattered with mud, I threw myself at the ewes and lambs that were dodging past me.  I tried to stop one charging ewe, only to stab my hand on a thorny stick of gorse hidden in her fleece.  Another jumping ewe hit me in the chest, ran me over and kept on going.

NZ lambs

It was our first muster, in late August – the end of winter and the first month of our new lives on the sheep farm.  Our arrival coincided with the lambing and docking season, one of the busiest times of the year.  We didn’t know what we were doing, and lacked the experience to see that the  docking pen was in an impossible place.  It was stuck right in the middle of the long boundary fence we shared with Mt Zion, the sheep station in the next valley over from ours.  I don’t know what the previous owners were thinking.  It was a stupid place to put the pen, as there were no corners to herd the sheep into.

Ewes and lambs were launching themselves in every direction, with us six inexperienced children, aged eleven down to five,  trying to hold them.  There were no dogs for that first muster, we were the dogs.  Our father, more used to cows than sheep, shouted at us in frustration.

That first dock took all day.  Wearily trudging home in the dark, I decided to ask for a crook for my birthday, a staff with a curved end.  It would make life easier mustering those sheep.  I thought of the pictures I’d seen of sheep trotting after their Shepherd.  What a contrast.  Nothing could be further from that idyllic image. These sheep weren’t tame.  We were strangers to them.  There was no way they were going to follow us.

In Jesus day, the sheep were led in small flocks by their Shepherd.  The pens were for the sheep to lie down in peace.  The Shepherd would lay his own body across the gate of the sheepfold.  Jesus was thinking about that when He said “I AM the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.

sheepfold

These are His words;

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:1-10

I know that the Lord has chased more sheep than I have.  He’s run after me, before I knew Him as my Shepherd.  We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.  Isaiah 53:6.  He wants us to follow Him.  May you hear the voice of the true Shepherd calling, and enter by the gate.  Here is good pasture, and you will find rest for your soul.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

Sheep of his pasture

The light shines in the darkness

Mangaehuehu, Mt RuapehuPanting harshly, we hurriedly left the river to scramble up the steep bank to gain the top of the ridge near the Mangaehuehu hut on Mt Ruapehu. 

Fog rolled down the mountain’s slopes just as we’d finished washing the last of the dishes in the clear mountain river, touching us with its damp fingers.  It conquered the evening sun that lit the folds and ridges of the land, leaving us disoriented and lost.  Dropping down to our hands and knees, we crawled down the ridge hoping to find the hut.  No landmark was visible, nor could we discern the track. We were caught out.

When we reached the ridge we stood to our feet in the grey void, unnerved and too afraid to move.  The feeling of fear was clammier than the air.  Our packs and sleeping bags were in the hut.  The majestic volcano that crowned the hills near the land I lived was my friend, a great playground for skiing and tramping, but it was complex and had rules.  Confident of the mountain’s good mood, we’d gone out clad only in our shorts and T-shirts.  Even though it was mid-summer, we knew the peril from exposure if we were forced to spend the night in the open.  How were we going to get back to safety?

Just as we were debating what to do, a light appeared, beckoning us to safety.  That light that someone, recognising our peril, had put in the hut window, was our salvation.

That is what Jesus, the Light of the World, is for me.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2

He promises that “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.

The King, the great ‘I AM’, is mightier than the light in the hut, mightier than the cyborg robot played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2, who reached out his hand saying “Come with me if you want to live.”

Light Of The World

earthOnce upon a time there were two trees created in a garden called Eden.  They were planted before time began, for the sun was not yet made.    As they grew the trees absorbed the creator’s light that He shone upon them.

The creator, the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of His being, was brought forth as the first of God’s works.  He was called “The Bright Morning Star”, “The Rising Sun from Heaven”, and “the Logos” – the word that God spoke when light was created. The light was good.  All that was created was made by Him and through Him.

The most important trees in the Garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.  Man ate from the Tree of Life and lived for centuries. Man also ate from the Tree of Knowledge, forbidden because it would bring death.  When they ate, all of creation fell under a curse.  Man original-sin-ninetta-hernandezbecame like a seed on a tree, where the outer flesh was good, but the kernel was rotten – for the flesh lived but the spirit was dead.  From that time on, Man lived in the shadow of death.

Long ages passed on the Earth, and the story of Creation passed into myth and legend.  The promise of a deliverer was fulfilled in The King named Jesus Christ.

He was foreseen around 700 years before his birth, when Isaiah the prophet said “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16

The time came when John the Baptist, the last prophet before Christ, was born.   Zechariah, his father, prophesied;

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace
.” Luke 1:67-79

Christ, The Word, became flesh and dwelt among us, and He said I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

His Kingdom was not of this world, although his disciples wanted it to be.  He took Peter, James and John the brother of James up on a mountain, and was transfigured before then, His face shining like the sun, and his clothes becoming as white as the light.  Matthew 17:2.  He wanted to show His disciples that His Kingdom would be characterized by HIS glory, not man’s.

Soon after, He willingly gave up his life on the cross.  No one took his life.  He said “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:18

As the Light of the World took the crushing weight of our sin upon himself, darkness came over the land for three hours. 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  Mark 15:33

He gave upgods_son_centurion his spirit with the words “It is finished”.

The curtain of the temple separating the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence from the rest of the temple where men dwelt, to signify man’s separation from God because of sin, was torn in two from top to bottom.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:38

The Lord had said he would be killed, and after three days He would rise.  He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” Mark 9:31

Three days later, He returned, for death could not hold Him.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3

In the final chapter of the Bible, it is written

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:12-21

The King is the Alpha, the Light of the World at the beginning, and the Omega, the Bright Morning Star at the end.  May His light dawn in your heart.

Related article by Grammy Grace: The Brightest Star

Here is Bread

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I AM the Bread of Life

Eight centuries before Christ’s birth, the prophet Micah foretold that He would be born in Bethlehem.  The meaning of the name “Bethlehem” is the “House of Bread”.

I AM the living bread which came down from heaven,” Jesus said in the first of seven “I AM” statements, “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:51

Have you ever been hungry, for something besides food?  When I was a child, I hungered for a hug, and words of approval.  When I grew up, I hungered for a better life.  I hungered for the King, even though I did not yet know Him.

The King promised whoever comes to Him, the Bread from Heaven, believing in Him will never go hungry.  He said His Father’s will is that everyone who looks to Him the Son, and believes in him shall have eternal life, and He will raise them up at the last day.  John 6:35-40

I hope you have enjoyed reading what I’ve learned about the King.  I’m but one beggar showing another beggar how to find bread.  If you hunger in your spirit, remember who was born in the House of Bread, and may you find Him this Christmas.

The King, the Great I AM

Bethlehem

Whatever we think of Him, the King’s entrance into our world that night in Bethlehem changed the world.  His birth changed history.  We can’t argue that. Our system of dating is divided into BC and AD.  The scriptures are ordered around His life.  There is the Old Testament – before his birth, and the New Testament – after his birth.

Micah, a prophet who lived about 8 centuries before Christ foretold the birthplace of the King and described Him who would come forth as being “from of old, from everlasting,” or “appointed from eternity.”

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2

It is said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2

I AM resized

Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament of the Bible at different times and in different guises.   At the Burning Bush, He commanded Moses to remove his sandals, and gave His name as “I AM”. This was about 1440 years before He was born at Bethlehem.

On another occasion He appeared before Joshua, holding a drawn sword When Joshua asked Him “Are you for us or for our enemies?”, He described himself as commander of the army of the Lord. He accepted Joshua’s worship, which no angel (except the fallen Lucifer) would ever do.  Joshua was also told to remove his sandals, for the place where he was standing was holy.

When Jesus walked the earth, the Jews asked Him how could he have seen Abraham?  He answered them “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58