Kruiz edited
Listen To His Voice
Tuesday of Lent 5
20 March 2018
Everywhere there are those claiming to lead the sheep that belong to Christ. They may speak in a friendly way, thinking that they have the best interests of the sheep at heart. They claim to want to help the sheep live safely and productively. But not everyone claiming to help is actually doing so. The thief who hops the fence to help himself to the sheep thinks that he is doing the right thing. The church's persecutors often make the claim that they are serving God by fleecing and flaying the poor sheep. No lying leader ever exposes himself by pointing out that he does not belong among the flock and that the flock does not really belong to Him. Such a false shepherd is often self-deluded to the point that he truly believes that he is the legitimate leader of the sheep and has every right to them (Is 44:20). Such a one is of the lie (2Thess 2:11).
 
Strangely, the sheep are not taken in by the lie. How can that be? How are they protected? The sheep are weak, lost, and poor. How could they ward off the lying leader that hops the sheepfold fence? What powers do sheep have against such determined thieves? A sheep is easily frightened and runs about when confronted with trouble dithering away precious moments in indecision and despair. When she strays the sheep has no powers of recovery. No sheep ever found her shepherd. No shepherd was ever lost, nor ever was found by his sheep. Rather the shepherd always finds the sheep. What power, then, do the sheep have against the lie and delusion offered by the robbers and thieves? They would seem to be helpless by themselves. Well, yes, they are.
 
But they are never "by themselves." First, the Good Shepherd will never leave nor forsake His sheep. Even His death does not end His ministry to them. The Shepherd says, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again." (Jn 10:17). He gives up His life in the place of the sheep but abides forever as the living Shepherd of the sheep. He is the only shepherd able to die for the sheep and still protect them, because He has an indestructible life. Second, the sheep are never without the most basic and simple weapon: the Word of God. They know the voice of the Shepherd. They will never listen to the voice of the stranger or follow it. The little lamb has laid her head upon the chest of the Shepherd and has had the resonant tones of the Shepherd's call fed into her heart; sound, vibration, timbre and all. She would know that voice anywhere. No matter where the Good Shepherd's voice calls her to go, she goes; even if she goes into the valley of the shadow of death, because He is with the little lamb (Ps 23:4). The voice of the Shepherd is the Word of God and will never lead her astray. The Lord is calling each and every Christian by His Word. If we have the Word of God set into our hearts; sound, vibration, timbre, and all, we shall never follow a thief or a robber. Let's listen to His voice.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"A sheep must live entirely by its shepherd's help, protection, and care. As soon as it loses him, it is surrounded by all kinds of dangers and must perish, for it is quite unable to help itself. The reason? It is a poor, weak, simple little beast that can neither feed nor rule itself, nor find the right way, nor protect itself against any kind of danger or misfortune. Moreover, it is by nature timid, shy, and likely to go astray. When it does go a bit astray and leaves its shepherd, it is unable to find its way back to him. Indeed, it merely runs farther away from him. Though it may find other shepherds and sheep, that does not help it, for it does not know the voices of strange shepherds. Therefore, it flees them and strays about until the wolf seizes it or it perishes some other way.
 
"Still, however weak and small an animal a sheep may be, it nevertheless has this trait about it. It is very careful to stay near its shepherd, take comfort in his help and protection, and follow him however and wherever he may lead it. If it can only so much as be near him, it worries about nothing, fears no one, and is secure and happy; for it lacks absolutely nothing. It also has this virtue, and this is to be marked well, because Christ praises it especially in His sheep (Jn 10:4), that it very carefully and surely hears and knows its shepherd's voice, is guided by it, does not let itself be turned away from it, but unswervingly follows it. On the other hand, it pays no attention at all to the voices of strange shepherds. Though they may tempt and lure it in the friendliest manner, it does not heed them, much less does it follow them." 

Martin Luther, Psalm 23, 23.1
Ezekiel 34:1-10

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, 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. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
 
"Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them."  
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus Good Shepherd, You have spoken Your Word into our hearts. When You call we follow through all trouble and trial knowing that You call and will be with us. Rescue us by Your Word when false shepherds holler and herd us, that we might not follow them away from You. Amen.
 
For Michael Koutsodontis, that the Lord Jesus, his Good Shepherd, would be with him and strengthen him and that the Lord in His grace would grant him His abundant life
 
For Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, that the Lord Jesus Christ would watch over them and guard them as only their good Shepherd can
 
For Nathan Haak, who is celebrating his birthday today, that the Lord would bless and keep him
 
For the outdoor education program of Memorial Lutheran School, that the Lord would watch over the children and adults as they learn of the Creator's world
 
For divine blessing on all married couples, especially Andrew and Ericka Coulter, that they may love and honor each other as a picture of Your Son and His Bride, the church.
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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