REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
THE SERIES - BOOK
AUTHOR - BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 - BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT
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*Special thanks to Shila and
Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration*
Why God - There’s
Always A Why
often we question God when it comes to our lives. Why “did” this
or that happen? Why “didn't” this or that happen? The
“created” challenging the “Creator” seems to be the thing
most humans feel entitled to do and truth be known, we all do it at
one time or another.
can be a touch fair-weather when it comes to our dealings with the
Almighty. It's good He is more than big enough to handle
our often “selective short-sightedness”.
have you noticed, we don't question “why” God loves us. We can't
possibly think it's because we are all so loveable, so we simply
accept “by faith” that He does and leave it there,
interestingly not having the need to understand “why”.
today's reflection I would like to step up and ask the
never-questioned question and hopefully in the process discover and
uncover the heart of God towards us, within all its magnificence?
love is pure and holy. It's gift-like in its
makeup. Its texture has a stabilizing effect on our souls. It's
without spot or blemish. It's perfect in every way! We find ourselves
in awe of its unfathomable depth and beauty.
not of this world nor tainted by this world. Its dimensions are
without measure. Its divinity allows it to be unimaginable yet
to the question: Why God do you
love me? Who am I that you would love me? What
could I ever have done to warrant such love? What could I ever do to
maintain it? I need a “why” God! There's always a “why”.
we hear the sweetest of responses: My child, My love for you
isn't about you but rather Me. I loved you before you knew Me.
am capable of loving you in your most unlovely of states. My love is
in fact unconditional and all-sufficient, as is My grace. It's
of a quality your mind is unable to comprehend.
came at a very high cost to Me. Therefore it’s completely secure in
that I initiated it. My love isn't predicated on what you do or don't
do, but rather on what I chose and choose to do.
have chosen to love you, that's your “Why”.
soul finds rest in His transcendent love. Thankfully, He doesn't
love me because of me. I would be the never-ending “weak link” in
that scenario. God covered that probability by making Himself
the determining factor.
an amazing love, but now I'm left wondering: With all this being
true and immensely appreciated by me, if I were to reciprocate
by submitting to have my heart expanded by God to
accommodate more of Him thus less of me, would I then be better able
to love as He loves in all situations with all people, in a
likewise un-conditional fashion, simply because I choose to?
that would be a “desired result” worthy of pressing into!
of course, I've surmised that I am loved
because I'm so lovable! I think not!!
1 - 8: “But you will receive power when the
Holy Spirit has come on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem
and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”.
were the last words spoken by Jesus before He ascended to heaven.
“You will receive power”,
would suggest they didn't have it at the time of our Lord's final
is not found in how much we know, nor a specific personality
type, but rather the person of the Holy Spirit intimately
empowering us. My point: It's not our power, but us allowing by
invitation, His power to flow through us.
wonderful news: We all qualify! Under the anointing of the Holy
Spirit there are no limits to what God can accomplish
through us. Why would there be? He’s God!
great illustration is found in the third chapter of Acts as
we find Peter and John walking down a street on their way to the
come upon a man who was crippled from birth and begging for his daily
needs. The man’s request is for money to which Peter declares:
“Gold and silver I do not have but what I do have I give you,
in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”!
Peter sets the record straight as the onlookers are amazed by
what had happened.
Israelites why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if
by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk''?
what did Peter and John have that they didn't have before Jesus
ascended and the Holy Spirit descended? Omni present,
But as Peter made clear, not their own.
same “powerless” Peter who had denied Christ was now the
much so, that later he would pray a dead girl to life! There
is only one explanation for Peter's transformation from “coward”
to “courageous”. Power!
we all embrace the truth that the same power that inhabited Peter
inhabits us all.
we are to be inhabited, not inhibited. Let's go out into our worlds
under the anointing of the Holy Spirit putting aside our insecurities
and fears and watch God be God in all His glory, in us and
those who hunger to participate, I believe the day is coming when we
will be at the grocery store when a lady has a heart attack and
we will pray her back to life.
we like Peter will proclaim; Fellow citizens of the world why does
this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or
godliness we had brought this lady back to life? It's in the name of
Jesus that she lives!
our Lord will be highly exalted. The news people will have to show up
and we will be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria
and to the ends of the earth.
will use these events to glorify Himself and “make known” His
reality “through His own” just like in days gone by. Days “too
far” gone by! We are all invited to join in! Whosoever will!
week I was asked by a friend and fairly new follower of
Jesus, the meaning behind water baptism.
going through all the “ins and outs” of the subject, I landed on
the simple but profoundly sobering answer to her query, complete with
a lesson for my heart to embrace.
is an external expression of an internal experience”, I
concluded. A conclusion that echoed in my heart, exposing a
truth of great value that will serve me well going forward for the
duration of my time on planet earth as a sheep.
description is “applicable to” and “indicative of”, all
I do! Absolutely everything about me resides under its umbrella of
13 - 3: “The Lord your God is testing you to
find out whether you love Him with all your
heart and all your soul”.
first time reading that scripture I interpreted it as God finding
out. After much closer consideration it hit me: He already knows,
it's “me” who God is saying needs to find out!
test” is for me to discover what my internal reality is with
Him. Heart and soul being internal, will always reflect their
hot or cold conditions externally and God knows it.
is so very reminiscent of Peter's encounter with Jesus on
the shore when our Lord, with plenty to talk about, asks “the
question”: Peter do you love me?
Jesus knew it was Peter that needed to answer the question for
Peter's sake. Before Peter is given one drop of instruction he
is asked “the question”.
God is the beginning place and foundation to a radiant life
in Christ. I was created to be a lover of God. It's my “from
the beginning” destiny. In doing so I fulfill that destiny.
the extent of my love for Him, will be to the extent that the
foundations of my life are sweetly fragranced with His presence.
Their textured strength will be equally established by that same
external expressions evolve from that sacredly intimate
place. Therefore, it would seem of paramount importance
that I make periodic temperature checks. In the book of
Revelation I am cautioned to be “hot”. So I'm taking that as the
prescribed temperature of my seeking.
love many things that are connected to God without loving Him.
can love my church and not love the “Reason” for my church.
can love worship and not love the “One” I’m worshiping.
can love writing and not the “One” who gave me the
opportunity to write.
can love singing and not the “One” who gave me something amazing
to sing about.
can love my salvation and not love my Savior!
a story in the bible regarding ten men with leprosy who were all
healed by Jesus. While “all” were healed, nine of the ten felt no
need to say thank you. They loved their healing but not their Healer.
read that story and are totally bewildered knowing these nine
were afflicted with a slow and painful “death sentence”. One
that left them ostracized from community and family.
ask ourselves; How is it possible to be given back “everything”
and not love the “Giver” enough to say thank you?
“one” who did, the bible says was made “whole”. Wholeness
is internal! Loving God is the initiator of wholeness, thus
fundamentally non-negotiable to my spiritual well-being.
out of ten! 90% is a frightening number but if it shocks me
by its size into understanding its commonness, I will
hopefully take measures to land in the 10%. It's where reality
today I hear “the question” ringing in my ears: Bill, do you love
Me? You see, Jesus knows that “I need” to know. My
heart tells me, all else is secondary in importance to Him
therefore should be secondary in importance to me.
The Least Likely
- Got It
scene is the crucifixion of Jesus. We have two groups of people in
there are those who knew Jesus and are mourning His soon to be death.
As a group they are experiencing their worst nightmare! All their
time spent together with Him, the promises that were repeated
over and over again by Him, nor the magnificent miracles
they saw Him perform, could pierce through the grotesque darkness of
what they were beholding.
one is saying: “Jesus said He would rise again on the third day.
It's going to be OK”. Not even his Mother or closest disciple
John could muster up a single word of hope.
grief had blinded and deafened them to what “had been” said,
done, and promised. The visual they were exposed to had broken their
hearts and faith.
they would all confirm this truth by returning to their pre-Jesus
lives and even when visiting the tomb of Jesus, they were not
expecting a resurrected Savior, thus shocked to find His body
with their loss was now their new reality. Their reason for breathing
had just died and with it died their purpose. Jesus was their
everything and He was gone. They had no “what's next” on the
menu. We can only imagine the depth of their total sense of lostness.
second group were the “mockers”. Those who found the event
entertaining and a perfect opportunity to hurl insults at who they
assumed, was a helpless man hanging on a cross. His executioners were
men who enjoyed participating in this torturous behavior.
would have been some of those present at the moment of decision
regarding Barabbas or Jesus as to which would be set free. They
likely dropped by to take one last shot at justifying their
blood thirsty screams of “crucify Him”.
we have our two attending groups. The “mourners” and the
“mockers”. Neither side truly understanding the massive
significance of what was transpiring, each with their own
debilitating reasons why.
in the middle of this myriad of sadistic insanity and broken hearts,
heaven speaks a magnificent word of clarification through
the “least likely” mouth!
we know Jesus was crucified with two other men, both criminals, one
on each side of Him.
we draw close and listen to the dialogue between Jesus and one
of those men, heaven’s choice as to who God chose to speak
His clarifying truth through, is revealed as recorded in:
Luke 23 - 42 & 43: Then
he ( the criminal ) said, “Jesus remember me when You come into
from our Lord's subsequent: “It is finished”, that was
the most profound statement of the day! That man didn't say: “if
You do”, he said “when
You do” enter into Your Kingdom. The only
one who “got it” was
a criminal hanging on a cross being executed for his
don't believe on his way to Calvary that man “got
it”. I don't believe when they were driving the
nails in his hands and feet, that man “got
do believe that in a moment in time heaven “gave
it” to him to proclaim and suddenly
he knew that the One hanging next to him was in fact the Son of God
and based on that, “the man” had a seriously time sensitive
request: “Jesus remember me when You come into Your Kingdom”.
our wonderful Lord responds in verse 43: Jesus answered him,
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in
imagine after seeing and hearing for hours from both groups
for different reasons, the “it's over” visual and audio,
heaven in a heart beat drops this revelation into the
man's soul; “It’s not over”! And
you, the most “unlikely of all” are
the only one present, who knows that reality at the moment!
you just love God's “least
likely” recruits! The next time you
discount your usability status based on your
self-thought “un-likeliness of choice” remember our spoken
of friend. We're still talking about him and we don't even know the
“nameless” little boy with a few fishes and loaves still finds
his way into Sunday church messages. There was a widow with
“no name” who gave a penny ( a mite ) for the
needy that Jesus found so incredibly impressive, He gave
her honorable mention in
see it's not about them nor about us, but rather our great God who
loves using the “least likely”,
thus qualifying all, as
useable in the outworking of heaven's story!
Rejoice By Choice -
It's A Lifestyle
4 - 4 > 7: “Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in
every situation, with prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace
of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus.
what a challenge! What Paul is describing in our scripture reference
is not remotely common with its “always” qualifier. This isn't
descriptive of: When everything's going my way, rejoice. Nor,
when I've gotten what I wanted, rejoice. No, this is a “regardless
of the weather” lifestyle the Apostle Paul is laying out for the
Philippians to embrace and follow.
know that Paul's life was far from trouble free to the extreme, so
when he says always, he's talking about some serious scenarios.
I wonder: What would be the net result if I
immersed myself without wavering in Paul's instruction. He
gives us a sneak preview at the end of verse seven to the likely
impact: “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.
believe my spiritual and emotional life ( heart and mind
) would be transformed! Now that sounds like a worthy cause to
invest my energies in!
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OF A SHEEP
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OF A SHEEP - THE SERIES - BOOK FOUR
OF A SHEEP - THE SERIES - BOOK FIVE
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OF A SHEEP - THE SERIES - BOOK FOURTEEN
OF A SHEEP - THE SERIES - BOOK FIFTEEN
OF A SHEEP - THE SERIES - BOOK SIXTEEN
ROSE AND THE THORN
HEARTS - NO LIMITS
ROAD LESS TRAVELED
IN CHINA SHOPS
IS A JOURNEY
HEART IS SACRED
- IT’S A NEW DAY!
FRIEND - MY PEACE - MY LORD
DECIDE - CHOICES
REAR VIEW MIRROR
LOVE MADE PERFECT
GRACE - AMAZING SAVIOR
ME HOLY SPIRIT
- GOD IS NOT INTIMIDATED