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Many have come out of the last year defeated and really wanting to make some real changes for the good. And maybe you are one of them. That's what is so wonderful about a new year; it gives hope to people to make a new start—to wipe the slate clean.

There is a scripture the Lord gave me for today: 1 Peter 2:25, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."

I don't know anyone who hasn't done the "sheep going astray" bit. What better way could there be to start a brand new year than to stop being a "sheep going astray"?

The word "going" is present tense and continuing in action. It didn't say "gone" which would mean an action past that was no longer happening. Rather, Peter was inferring that we, before returning to the Lord, were continually straying. Not just once in a while, either.

Here's another thing; How can you return to God unless you came from Him? And if you came from Him, then He created you, and He owns you.

Some of us have returned to the Shepherd. Others, well...others of us had to be hunted down like a lost sheep, picked up, and carried back to the Shepherd, but the important thing is, we're back!

I like how it says we were as sheep going astray. Why? Because the Shepherd put His Holy Spirit in us so we wouldn't want to stray anymore. Oh, there are times we may get a little out of sight of Him and we start feeling the pull of the flesh to lead us astray.

"Just stray a little," the devil says, "Just a little." Pretty soon, we are clear out of sight of the Shepherd. Remember, sheep don't see real well, and they're sort of stupid. They stray and get into trouble. (Maybe the word "sheep" does fit us after all!)

But if you're like most sheep that have strayed, you will start getting scared when the Shepherd can't be seen. Maybe that's good. Jesus doesn't want us to stray anyway. We need to stay real close to the Shepherd.

You see, the Shepherd loves us. He won't run when the wolves, lions, and bears come to get us. Instead, He will stay close to protect His flock. And if one gets scared, He will pick it up and hold it close so it can feel the warmth of His love and the safety of His arms.

What Will You Carry With You?
Jesus doesn't want us carrying fear with us into the New Year. So many have no hope that the New Year will be any different than the old one.

That's unfortunate, because this really can be a time of renewal and refreshing for us, and a time of returning to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

Cast all your care upon Him and come close to Him and rest peacefully in His presence. He holds the future in His hands. He knows the plans He has for us. Good plans! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, Thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

Let the times of the past be sufficient for our straying from God. We have no need to stray. Sheep stray because they're looking for something better. But all we could ever want or need is in Christ Jesus. And He wants to give you all you need, and then some.

Therefore, why stray? The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. All that's on the other side are thistles, rocky ground, muddy waters, and oh yes, wolves. Don't forget the wolves. They love sheep too...for lunch!

But we're safe here with Jesus. He provides us with green pastures, He leads us beside the still waters, He restores our souls.

Yes, some of us have strayed like sheep who have spent all their lives jumping the fence and getting lost. But now we're back in the Shepherd's fold. He doesn't care where you've been; you're His beloved sheep. He's just happy He found you and that you're safe.

Our Eternal Shepherd
Now, it's time to be a different kind of sheep. You used to be a lost, straying sheep. Now, you're a found sheep, with a bright new future. Not just for this life on earth, but forever.

You see, Jesus isn't going to stop being your Shepherd when your earth time is over. He will be your Shepherd for all eternity. And because of that, the peace of knowing all your needs are met (and that you're safe and loved) will never end.

And just in case you haven't yet returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your soul, what are you waiting for, a written invitation?

Well, ok, here it is:
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matt. 11:28-30)
Jesus is the gate to the sheepfold. There's no other way in to eternal life, but by Him. And He hasn't made the way closed or hidden. The gate is open and there's always room for more.

Come on home and lay down at the Shepherd's feet. This is the best possible way to begin the New Year. Oh, yes, this is the good life!

Copyright © Life Healing Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Jerry Baysinger
Web site: Life Healing Ministries
Jerry Baysinger was a twenty-one-and-a-half-year civilian employee of Missouri State Highway Patrol and operator of his own successful furniture repair business, when in 1993, he was diagnosed with five melanomas and liver cancer. Given a month to live, he resigned from the Patrol and went home to die.

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