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Shepherds and Seamstresses - a Mother's Day Message

Shepherds and seamstresses

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What is your name?

What happens when your name is called?

Mother's Day is a celebration of one truly wonderful human relationship.

All human relationships point us to the one vital and life-giving relationship that is necessary for real life, a relationship with God.


Watch the Service Here

Four Insights from Today's Readings

    • When your Name is Called, Rise Up! ( See Acts reading)
    • When Your Name is Called, Rest. ( See Psalm  reading)
    • When You Realize the Shepherd's Name, Rejoice! ( See Revelation reading)
    •  When Your Name is Called, Respond, ( See John reading)

Whether  a shepherd or one of the sheep of a seamstress asleep in the sleep of death, it is all about the relationship between God and God's people that is played out and glimpsed in every human relationship.

The Scriptures in One Place

Acts 9:36-43

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them, and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile, he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Psalm 23

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

Revelation 7:9-17

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb!”

And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For this reason they are before the throne of God
    and worship him day and night within his temple,
    and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat,
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

John 10:22-30

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

At that time the Festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, in regard to what he has given me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

God’s Care 

 An Extra Message

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”- Psalm 23:1

 Today, we take a fresh look at the most familiar words in the Bible. Yahweh, the God of Israel, is my very own shepherd. He has many sheep, but He is MY shepherd who knows me, cares for me, leads me, and speaks in a voice I recognize. He can differentiate me from all other sheep and always knows whether I am walking with His flock or wandering away. When I do wander, He seeks me because I am His. He is jealous for me and will not tolerate anything that would harm me. I can trust Him.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” – Psalm 23:2

 Sheep are not very good at locating their own grazing lands. They tend to wander aimlessly, following this patch of grass to another until they are lost. The Shepherd knows the places of abundant food and pure, sweet water. Worry and care are redundant exercises if one is a member of Yahweh’s flock; He already has our needs in His heart and plans. His care is complete. His provision is sure. Are you wearing your life and patience thin trying to duplicate His efforts? Stop. It is futile. Trust Him.

“ He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” - Psalm 23:3

 The care that God gives us restores something that has been lacking in our lives.  His desire is not simply to keep us going or maintain our existence, but do a deep work of grace in us that places us back on the path of righteousness – right relationships with Him and others and right living that nourishes our souls. As He works profoundly in us, His purposes are accomplished and His Name is glorified. We cannot divorce the glory and love of God as opposing realities. When we prosper, He is exalted.

  “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

This valley was a real place of danger in the psalmist’s time and it is any place of danger and despair in our own where we feel alone and vulnerable. But neither the valley nor death itself are the essential and fearful evils that we shun. Evil overtakes us as we grow frightful and discouraged in the valley and it is that evil that the Shepherd confronts with His rod and staff to comfort our souls. Sometimes it is the rod and staff of discipline, but more often, of protection that reminds us that we are not alone.

“  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” – Psalm 23:5

We are guests of God, honored and prized. So far, the psalmist has portrayed God as a shepherd. Then, he has added the role of friend to the Lord’s description. Now, He is also our host. As we see more of who God is in our lives, our self-image is expanded. We have been invited to sit at the head table and partake of a feast of love, joy, and abundance. Looking on with jealous rage are our impotent enemies –  forces that endanger our souls. They are powerless to interrupt this celebration for God is in charge.

“ Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” – Psalm 23:6

Wherever we go, goodness and love follow. Our journey is a temporal transition leading to an eternal home, but throughout it all, we are accompanied by the presence of God. His Shepherding friendship and hospitality cause us to reinterpret every event of our lives in the light of His purposes and providence. Nothing has meaning apart from Him once we have trusted Him and known His covenant love. Everything prior to our coming to Him was a cruel illusion. But now, we live in a constant state of grace. Amen.

Bonus Message

I Have Already Come

 “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”. – Revelation 7:14

 There are two powerful words joined together in the scriptures – two prepositions that together bring us hope in our trials and tribulations: out of.

We catch a glimpse of Heaven and behold the saints, on display as examples of potential victory and ultimate triumph. These are they who have come out of tribulation. You might as well say, “through.”

Years back, my wife underwent surgery for breast cancer. The next day she was visited by a survivor. While she had already made up her mind to be more than that – even an “overcomer,” the visit was an encouragement. Someone had come out of the struggle, through the difficulties, and over the hurdles. And out of those tribulations, there emerged good.

“I have already come.”

When we hear those words and when we speak those words, we get courage. Whether it is our experience or someone else’s, there is precedent for victory. We affirm again with Paul that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We draw upon past victories to nurture belief for present and future challenges. We recognize the power of God’s grace in our lives up until this point. We see where we were, what we had to face, and how we emerged and we know that if we have to, we can do it again.

We don’t want to do it again, but we can.

Then we think of the saints around the throne and know that we have really faced such little hardship compared to them. And from there we look to the cross and know that we have not even approached Christ’s suffering. Then we go back to our Bibles and underscore the words, “out of,” and back to our hymnals and highlight the word, “through.”

I have already come.