Following the Good Shepherd

Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,

Last Sunday in our study of The Good Shepherd, we focused on Ps. 23:3 – “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.”  Being guided along the right path implies movement and progress as His disciples.  As we follow the Good Shepherd along His paths, He leads to opportunities that help us grow in Christian maturity.

When I was pastor of an international church in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a new building was under construction across the street from the church.  When we arrived there, they were just starting to pour the concrete for the foundation and first floor.  And then the work suddenly stopped.  For five years, no work was done.  The picture they posted outside showed a beautiful building, probably 20-25 floors of luxury condos.  The story I heard was that they were not able to sell enough of the condos, so they had to stop working on it.

So, for five years it was just concrete and rebar.  A building only partially finished is not a very pretty sight.  In fact, it is something of a tragedy.  A beautiful building never brought to completion.  Comfortable condos existing only in the blueprints.  Potential that went unfulfilled.

Unfortunately, what we observed in that structure sometimes characterizes the lives of Christians; they never reach their potential as followers of Jesus.  Perhaps they started out with great enthusiasm.  Upon receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, they eagerly sought to grow in faith, understand more deeply the truths of Scripture, cultivate their relationship with God, use their gifts to serve others, and follow in whatever steps of obedience God was calling them to.

But after a while their enthusiasm began to wane, other things crowded out their routine of spiritual disciplines, and they ceased to grow as followers of Jesus.  They no longer followed the wise guidance of the Good Shepherd along the right paths.  The things that God desired to do in them and through them never came to fruition.  Thus, the joy of following Jesus, the thrill of experiencing the transforming work of God in their lives, and the satisfaction of seeing God use them in wonderful ways came to a screeching halt.  Like the partially completed building, their lives are a testimony to unfulfilled potential.  What a sad assessment, but one that all too often is true.

Of course, that is not what God desires for us.  God has great plans for each of us, plans that encompass our entire lives.  God desires that we never stop growing in faith, in Christ-like character, in service, and obedience.  God desires that we would always live out the adventure of following and growing in Jesus, that we reach our full potential as His disciples.  So let us be faithful in following the guidance of our Good Shepherd along the right paths, remembering that His plans are good, and He is right there with us to strengthen and encourage us.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bob

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