Saturday, January 15, 2011


     "The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa - what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judaha and Jeroboam son of Jeroash was king of Israel.
                                                                                   (Amos 1:1   NIV)

      The book of Amos does not have a "3:16", so I chose to write about the very first verse of Amos. This book of the Bible was written by Amos, a shepherd and grower of figs.  Because Amos was a true worshiper of God, God gave him visions and the responsibility to deliver messages to God's people.  Amos didn't have a prestigious job.  He didn't come from royal blood lines.  He wasn't the son of a priest, but he prophesied to Israel when Israel was at the pinnacle of success and prosperity.
     Unfortunately, along with Israel's prosperity and power came spiritual decline.  As the people prospered, they became complacent.  Idol worship became common - even the city of Bethel was overcome with idol worship.  ( At the time, Bethel was supposed to be one of the major religious cities of Israel.  The word "Bethel" means "House of God." ) The people had consistently refused to repent and turn back to God.  Amos warned them of the coming judgement should they continue on this path of destruction.
     Now, Amos raised sheep - not a "spiritual job"... But, this humble shepherd became a conduit for God's word. Do not think that your job or your circumstances can keep you from being a witness for God.  No matter where you are, God can use you... You need only to be willing.

  In the Bible God is often pictured as a shepherd and people as sheep. Most people are familiar with the 23rd Psalm... " The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"...etc.  This Psalm is full of wonderful analogies
describing the similarities of shepherd-to-sheep  and God-to-mankind actions and attitudes. The prophet Isaiah describes people as sheep:  "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."  (Isaiah 53:6  NIV)   And, Christ called Himself The Good Shepherd:  " I am the Good Shepherd. The Good  Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:10,11  NIV)

this one reminds me of the one I had as a child...

 When I was a little girl, there was a picture in my bedroom of a shepherd and sheep.  I kept that picture, moving it back and forth across the country in my adult years.  But then, when my daughter and I moved into our big old house "in town",  the movers lost at least one box of stuff.  Missing were at least two treasures I can think of... a set of dishes from my childhood, and the shepherd picture.  It wasn't an expensive item;  it was a print in an ivory-colored plastic frame.  But I loved that picture...
     Years later, when I became disabled, I tried to search the Internet for the picture.  I found several Good Shepherd pictures, and ordered one print, but I never found the exact one.  Anyhow, the picture shows the Shepherd, with His staff, His cloak, and a few sheep nearby.  On His arm or over His shoulder is a little lamb that He is carrying.  When I was searching for the picture from my childhood, I stumbled across the explanation for why He is carrying the lamb:
 by Bernhart Plockhurst ; this is the one I bought

 You see, shepherds have to control the sheep.  Sometimes controlling can be difficult if a sheep is stubborn.  If a sheep consistently goes astray, the Shepherd breaks its leg and carries it until the break heals.  By the time the break heals,  the sheep has become so accustomed to its' Masters ways, that it will never stray again.  I wept when I read this, because I was unable to walk at that time without a walker, and  spent part of my time in a wheelchair.   I could see that I had gone astray... that without His allowing me to be slowed down with illness, I would be separated from Him.  And, I said aloud "Lord, thank You.  Thank You for 'breaking my legs'.  I thank You because I know that this is Your way of holding me close to You until I am able to walk on my own. Thank You for caring enough to teach me the lessons I need to be taught.  Lord, You are MY Shepherd. I praise Your Holy Name."

  Life isn't perfect...  Nowadays, I can walk - with a limp, but I'm walking.  I  sometimes need a cane.  And I still have quite a bit of pain.  And, I still wish I had that old painting. But I have the Shepherd of shepherds. Who gave His life to save mine.

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