Monday, December 19, 2005


We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).

In 1845 a Texas pioneer named Sam Maverick accepted a herd of 400 cattle in payment of a debt. He put them in the care of one of his men on his 400,000-acre ranch. They were neglected and allowed to run wild. When calves were born they were unmarked, and soon were rustled by neighboring ranchers who immediately branded them as their own. Their ownership could no longer be disputed, because the brand was the legal mark of identity. From this event developed the word maverick—an unbranded straying animal, claimed by the first person to find it.

This seems to mirror the history and character of humanity. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, Isaiah wrote, each of us has turned to his own way. While under the ownership of God, humanity (including you and me) strayed away—became mavericks. And invariably we are branded by other gods, the thousands of false religions of this world.

Thankfully, Jesus comes to us as our Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd doesn’t bully us into doing what He wants. He doesn’t try to motivate us by making us feel guilty. Instead, He invites us to follow Him. Jesus says I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep…My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand (John 10:14-15, 27-28). Notice how the Good Shepherd is different from the false gods who want to own us. He laid down His life for we, His sheep; instead of making demands of us, our Lord gave up His own life that we could be free of the brand of sin. And our Shepherd rose from the dead to prove His power to raise us from our graves when we die; He rose from the dead so that He can continue to protect us from those who want to steal us away and return us to the captivity of false promises and degrading behavior. When we look to Jesus to lead us, He promises that no one can snatch us out of His hand. Please join me in praying:

Dearest Lord Jesus, thank You for freeing us from the lies and mistreatment of false religions and hollow philosophies. Keep our eyes focused only on You, that we may never be tempted to stray again. Amen.

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