Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Gate-Watcher

Gates...a very important thing on the farm. I have memories of gates left open and unchained as a child. I also remember watching some gates with fear...I was scared I'd let a cow, pig or sheep out or simply afraid I'd get run over in the process.

Honestly, I haven't thought much about gates until the other day when my husband stepped into the house and said, "I need a gate-watcher." The kids were scattered and I wasn't in the middle of a job, so I slipped on my shoes and headed out to do the job.

This time it wasn't fear that took over my thoughts and my heart wasn't anxious, but my mind went to work and I started thinking about scripture. I knew John said something about Jesus being the gate, but this job on the farm led me to dig deeper.

John 10:7-10 gives us Jesus' words - "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."

I've read these words before and had a basic understanding of what I thought Jesus was saying, but I found myself wanting to know more. So friend, I'll share a bit of what I discovered with Jesus' time flocks of sheep were much more common than they are in our day. Most families had a few wooly animals and often times at night families would put their little flocks together and take turns watching over them.

Often they would gather all the animals in a small pen made from rocks that had thorns around the top edge to keep animals and thieves out. The shepherd or gate-watcher would often lay at the opening...keeping the sheep in and predators out. Jesus likened Himself to the gate...He didn't call Himself the gate-watcher, though He does that too, but more importantly He is the way in and out.

He used this picture to illustrate our way into heaven. Friend, He's not simply standing there deciding who gets in and who doesn't. We can't show up with a list of the good things we've done and expect Him to open the gate. It doesn't work that way. Read again what Jesus, our Lord and Savior says..."He is the gate." We are the sheep.

We must decide to go through Him. We must receive Him as Lord and Savior. We must confess with our mouths that He is Lord. Acts 4:12 says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Scripture is clear, but yet the world can leave us confused - we hear all sorts of messages about heaven and eternal life.

Friend, just like it was important for me to watch the gate for my husband as he fed cattle it's even more important for you to understand that Jesus is the way, the Truth and the life. Your good works won't save you nor will the lack of a criminal record. Your parent's faith won't get you to heaven and neither will your church attendance. It's a choice we must each make individually and it's a choice that will impact us forever.

Once we walk through that gate we're not just guaraunteed eternal life in heaven, but He promises us abundant life here on earth. Does that mean it will be easy? No...Matthew 7:13-14 assures us of that as we read more of Jesus' words - "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Our shepherd won't force us to walk through the gate, but He will lead us and guide us. Once we make that choice to follow Him, He will protect us and watch over us. He will make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters. Walking thru this gate will impact us forever.

Gates on the farm are important...I'm thankful when my little guy lets me in and out as I feed cattle. His efforts make my job easier and make things go faster. But friend, whether you live on a farm or not, I pray you can appreciate the gate we all need. Jesus is the gate and He's the way to our Shepherd! If you've never walked through Him, I pray you do today! If you have, I pray you cling to our Shepherd, listen to His voice, follow His lead and trust His plan. Remember He cares for you and is protecting you!

Blessings from the farm!

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