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DAY 20.

From the door of the sheep fold we turn to the Shepherd and look up to the One who reveals Him self as the Good Shepherd John 10 vs.11 and 14.

The first thought about the Good Shepherd is that He can be trusted, one who can be relied upon to guide His flock along the path of righteousness.

The word 'guide' has a number of meanings and they are important to us as members of His flock the will be with Him in eternity.

To 'guide' implies rule over as the Head and mutual confidence by those being ruled over

there is a lovely relationship formed between the Head and the followers.

Then to 'guide' means to go in a straight line rather than deviating along short cuts that cause the flock to be scattered or splintered.

This also points to another meaning of 'guide' meaning to give counsel to the sheep, there are always those wanting to be on the fringe of things rather than to be totally committed.

In the language of the shepherd 'fence crawlers', those that need close watch over as they can hold up movement and cause danger as well.

The Good Shepherd knows how to deal with these sheep and it is not an exaggeration to say they have been known to break a leg to bring them into the flock.

I have heard it said that the sheep that are found continually at the shepherds feet are the ones that have been disciplined in such manner.

Much of the discipline in the Christian family is due to 'fence crawling' and the disciples of Jesus Christ re not immuned to such treatment so as to draw them closer to the Good Shepherds feet.

One thing for certain the discipline given is only for the benefit of the sheep involved the Good Shepherd knows the right cause of action and will administer it.

A little word here coming to mind for such a sheep under discipline is that our Good Shepherd will go to great lengths to keep us in the centre of the flock and not let us stay on the fringes of things.

The Good Shepherd knows what is best for us and He gave His life, literally 'lays down His life' to redeem us and to release us into His family.

The second thought today for us to ponder over is the Good Shepherd knows all the flock by name, not some of them or even most of them but all of them v 3.

The 'porter' is the door keeper, he not only looks after the fold but is vitally involved with the safety of the flock at night by putting his life in danger being the door.

There is a personal relationship and bond between the Good Shepherd and the flock, it begins with the cleansing of the sheep initially but also in keeping them clean during the journey.

We need the instant cleansing to bring us inside His flock but we need daily cleansing because of the thoughts, words and actions that make a mess of us during the day.

We can make mistakes daily but that is not a reason to carry on making them, we should be striving to be as clean as we can instead of giving in continually to the lower standard of living.

The thought comes out here that we should be found cleaving to the Good Shepherd seeing that He has graciously brought us into the flock or family of God.

We ought to be first to be found at His feet each day when He calls us to come and dine on the green grass and cool refreshing water that He has provided for us His flock.

He knows our need and has provided for all of our need and there is always more than sufficient it is only our pathetic view of things that keeps us on the border line.

We can rise early and enjoy the provisions that our Good Shepherd has prepared for us and there we can enjoy the security of His presence with us.

He waits for us and will speak to us by name as we seek to obey His voice, He is gently speaking to us through His word if we become aware and alert to His tender voice.

The Good Shepherd does not raise His voice to the sheep unless they are in danger and so He is with us gentle and tender but very firm.

There is a third point about the Good Shepherd that we need to ponder today and that is He clears the way ahead of the flock.

There are many obstacles that come across the way that we are travelling and He is waiting for us to cleave to His feet so as to clear them.

He goes 'before' v 4 that is just in front of them, close enough to save His sheep from danger but far enough in front to deal with dangers.

The Good Shepherd watches the ground under foot looking for the tell tale signs of the snake lurking in the sand beneath their feet.

The snake coils up barely seen by the eye but to an observant shepherd he sees the mark and deals with it before the flock tread on that ground to be bitten on the heal by it.

He is watching the rocks for man and beast waiting to pounce of the unsuspecting sheep to kill for a meal for the beast or to sell for the money by the human.

The Good Shepherd is ever alert and diligent, He is watching all the time as they pass through the ravines on the journey and what comfort that is to the flock, they cleave to the Good Shepherds feet.

The Good Shepherd is aware of the vultures flying over head and as they gather so He gathers the flock closer around Him, there is one in trouble, maybe limping with feet problems.

Those birds are looking for a meal and will fly over the flock looking which one to get, it is usually at the back bringing up the rear.

Instantly a couple gather flying at a height circling around the Good Shepherd stops to count His flock, it reminds me of scripture 'Satan is lurking around seeking whom he may devour' 1 Peter 5 v 8.

Here is good reason for us to keep close to the Lord, the moment we start limping spiritually speaking He will deal with our personal problem.

We are living in times of spiritual declension when a great deal of things are being allowed in the church that should not be according to scripture.

We have opted for a lower standard of living in the church and the mess we have gotten ourselves into is appalling.

Today is a day to 'humble ourselves in the sight of God' so that we can be forgiven and helped to walk on the path of righteousness at the highest level.

We need to get our eyes on the Good Shepherd and to keep them there, we have let them stray on to the fringes of the world so that we have let the world standard dictate to us.

The Good Shepherd is dealing with the flock in mercy, love and grace, seeking to lift us up so as to walk on the path that brings us closer to our heavenly Father.

These are days of cleaving to the Good Shepherd and not leaving Him because we think we know best or even better than He does.

The Good Shepherd is longing to bring godly wisdom to our heart and mind, so that we see things from His point of view and not lurking on human wisdom.

'Never spoke a man like this man' that is the epitaph given to the Lord Jesus and truly that is the testimony of millions of sheep who accepted His word and ways.

He knows what is best for us today and every day, we need to become a little more diligent and vigilant in our walk with Him so that we remain close to His feet.

It said with some justification that 'the fastest sheep are the ones closest to the shepherd and the thinnest those feeding furthest away from him.

In spiritual terms that is an accurate description because the best of the flock rise early to listen to the Shepherd and to obey His voice.

Those on the periphery are those meandering around unsure of where they are going or how to get there either.

The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep v 11 we are privileged to b e found in His flock purchased by His death on Calvary, then may we walk a much closer to Him today.