2015-4-26 “Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep” Pastor Tezenlo Thong

shepherd and sheep2

Following the Shepherd, Loving the Sheep

John 10:7-18

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. As a result, each year on the third Sunday after Easter we read from the tenth chapter of John’s gospel. The other passage from the Old Testament that goes with the gospel of John is Psalm 23. The Good Shepherd Sunday texts, as I see them, has two parts. The first talks about the shepherd’s love for the sheep, and the second part contains loving the sheep.

The shepherd so loves and is so devoted to his sheep that he would give his life for the sheep. In other words, the good shepherd’s love is self giving and sacrificial. And the shepherd commanded us to love one another in the same way that he has loved the sheep.

You cannot follow the shepherd without loving the sheep. This assertion is stated over and over again in the Bible. To follow the shepherd is to care for and love the sheep. In John 13:35, it says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” At another time, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” To which, Peter answered, “Yes. I do love you.” Jesus responded, “Then, feed my sheep.” Following the shepherd and caring and loving the sheep always go hand in hand.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

2015-4-19 Messages received from Called to Enhance Life, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

 

Called to Enhance Life

Acts 3:3-15

Messages received:

  • Bring healing to others and heal yourself.
  • One person can make a difference by good deeds and actions.
  • One person can make a difference with ill conceived deeds and actions.
  • Small acts of kindness can be powerful.

Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-4-19 Called to Enhance Life, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

sumc

Called to Enhance Life

Acts 3:3-15

 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

————————————————————–

Today’s text in the book of Acts begins with the healing of a man who was lame from birth. We see two groups of people in the text: one group kills life; another group restores life. The religious leaders killed “the author of life” who came to provide abundant life. But God raised him from the dead. Following the resurrection, Peter and John healed a handicapped person. By doing so, they enhanced his life and restored his social status.

The story begins with a place called Beautiful in the gate area of the Jewish temple. In that place called Beautiful, there is someone whom society considers not so beautiful, because he was born handicapped. He is considered by others as an eye sore in a temple entrance. He is considered a burden to society. Life does not seem to have much value.

Peter’s healing not only makes the man to walk, but more importantly restores him fully to society. Here is a man whose life was considered worthless and a sore in the eye by society. By healing the man Peter and John enhanced the quality of his life. Healing brought wholeness to this once discarded man. It raised his social status and value in the eyes of others. He is no longer a second-class citizen, but a fully functioning member, equal to everyone.

In your action, word and attitude you either enrich life or diminish it. You either kill life or add meaning and purpose to life. You enrich life by visiting a sick or bereaved friend or church member. You enhance life when you bring joy and comfort to someone who is feeling lonely or hopeless. You enrich life when you enable someone to experience God’s love by your love and kindness.

Everyone is a child deeply loved by God who created her or him. Whether poor or rich, young or old, female or male, everyone carries God’s image. And everyone deserves respect and dignity. We are called not to kill or destroy life but to enrich and nurture life. In your word, action and attitude, don’t diminish life, but enrich the god-given life.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church