REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
THE SERIES - BOOK SIXTEEN
AUTHOR - BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 - BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT
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5 - 6: “The only thing that counts is
faith expressing itself through love”.
- 13 - 35: “By this everyone will know that you
are My disciples, if you love one another”.
13 - 13 > 17: “You call me Teacher and Lord
and rightfully so, for that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and
Teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's
feet. I have set for you an example that you should do as I have done
for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you
know these things you will be blessed if you do them”.
the old “knowing and doing” dichotomy presented to us again.
Jesus must have known our preference for knowing over doing.
He makes clear this truth; From heaven’s perspective, love is a
“verb” not a noun.
would seem our Shepherd has a serious mindset regarding love! In
fact He clearly states, it will be our identification mark to the
world. As a sheep is recognized by its owner’s branding, this will
Apostle Paul said: It's the only thing that counts in that faith is
expressed through it. Can we therefore conclude: This is
how do we do it? We all have experienced the struggles involved
trying to replicate what Jesus instructed. May I share a “hopefully
helpful hint” of insight to the dilemma.
all tried and failed multiple times so let's consider a different
approach. Could it be that we are using the wrong product? The
inferior trying to achieve the superior.
love that Jesus speaks of is not the normal societal type. He refers
to it as one possessing a quality worthy of “great
reward”. It's backwards to the world’s version.
radically different and within its difference we find its identifying
characteristic as being “of God”, setting us apart as being
have been graciously adopted by God into a
“spiritually transcendent” society, “the body of Christ”.
One of His making, choosing, and direction. A society that
dances to a completely different drummer, Jesus.
can find ourselves trying to live out the “transcendently
radicle” fueled by the “earthly normal”. That's
an impossible task! After failing, we then defer to
our default option of blaming our insufficiency in this area on
the ones we're supposed to be loving.
can get caught in the trap of using a “BIG” word and applying a
“small” meaning to it. We need to get a clear picture concerning
the “quality factor” regarding the love that Jesus spoke of.
To find that, as is the usual, let's look to the cross.
being crucified, our Lord and example, was mocked with these
words by His abusers: “If you are the Son of God, then save
yourself”. Our Lords response without saying as much: I
didn't come to save myself but rather, YOU. That's right, YOU who are
would seem the love Jesus spoke of in our scriptural references
includes unconditional grace.
love is therefore, not easy! It transcends everything but the call to
do it. So, do we just do it? No. He does it through us as we
surrender our “old ordinary” and embrace His “new
by “this” they will know that we are “obviously” His. They
will see the quality of Him in us and through us.
God grant us the wisdom to allow an expansion of our hearts to
accommodate and reflect His “Superior Product”.
loved to the extreme but not simply for the sake of it. No, He
loved with a purpose. One that aligned itself with His understood
earthly ministry: “To reveal the heart of His Father” to
a world full of people who desperately needed to know God’s love
made Himself available each day to respond to this
question: What does love require of me today? There came a day
when the love Jesus spoke of would require a response
beyond our imaginations abilities to comprehend; the cross!
before His crucifixion, knowing what His immediate future included,
we see Jesus washing His disciple’s feet. Serving them at a table
that He knew would be their “last supper” together. Ministering
to them, not being ministered to. As we read in John
13 - 13 > 17: He was busy establishing an
example for them and us to follow.
made their “last supper” about them, not Him. Stop and consider
for a moment: Jesus washed the feet of Judas! That's what love
required! So, what does love require of us today? To understand
that it's not about us, but rather those sitting next to us, at the
table of life!
Think It Not Strange
That You Change
was well over two years ago since I prayed. Now don't get me
wrong, I've prayed since. What I'm referring to is “that prayer”.
one I call the prayer of utter frustration with an area of known and
prayer” that cries out to God; Father I'm sick of me within
the heavenly equation of us!
one that changed things; more accurately stated; changed me!
believe there are divinely appointed and anointed moments of profound
decision making importance in our individual walks with God. They are
unique, intimate, and personal. They are directional changers
or directional re-enforcers, depending on our ultimate choices.
also believe, as much as they may seem to be “our ideas”,
they in fact are not.
are created, orchestrated, and prompted by the God’s Spirit. They
are those one to one spiritual conversations with our Creator that
“others” are not invited into. Advice seeking from those
“others” is not welcome from heaven's perspective during these
moments of divine intervention.
these moments are between us as individuals and God only. To call
them reverently sacred would be descriptively correct. Their long
term relevance, while unknown here, will one day be known in heaven.
that day we will be shocked at the importance of our “back in the
day” chat we had with God! As we know, Moses went up Mount Sinai to
talk with God “alone” leaving the troops behind by God's
direction and instruction.
I'm thinking, don't we all have our “Mount Sinai” moments when
it's just us and God with us having a keen awareness of
the seriousness within the commune itself. Such was the
case with my previously mentioned prayer of “never to be
what was my spiritual frustration that I presented to God? My
insufficiency that enveloped a type of moderate torment within its
content? This bothersome prickly thing that poked at my
soul needing the surgical expertise of the God’s scalpel. The
“thing” I was completely incapable of changing myself!
presenting that answer, allow me to back up a step with a reflective
confession. I have known for a very long time the quality of the love
that I am loved with. The cross is tattooed on my soul and along with
it, my awareness of undeserved and yet granted grace! In short: My
love for Jesus is beyond measure as is His for me.
amazingly wonderful to walk in that awareness! But with it comes an
appropriate sense of indebtedness. To freely give not only what, but
also with the quality, that I have freely received.
see, prior to my prayer I wasn't some awful human being who only
cared for himself. On a scale of 1 to 10, I might have been a 7.
That's pretty good in the big picture.
that depends on which “big picture” one is looking at. This Jesus
I so adore, made clear His instruction as to my dispensing
of “freely received love and grace”. “Love others as I
have loved you. By this they will know you are mine''.
had “conditions” to navigate around before implementing my Lord's
instructions while simultaneously desiring more than anything that
His magnificent love would shine through me, thus identifying me
as His, while honoring Him.
couldn't think of anything more glorious than to be obviously His to
that extent. Thus my problem. Thus my frustration. Thus my dilemma.
Thus my prayer!
as a branch, connected to my vine Jesus, had developed a
“conditional blockage” of the heart. The healthy fruit
producing nutrients of love imparted to me through my
vine were struggling to by-pass my “blockage”.
some got through but more of a trickle than a flow and definitely
not near enough to accomplish mine or God’s desired goal
for my life.
surgery was obviously needed and agreed to by me. My prayer was:
“Whatever it takes, please do it Jesus”.
you think my prayer would have been longer? Desperate times
often call for short, to the point, prayers and I was desperate!
Remember the one who was hanging on a cross next to Jesus. He got
right to the point as did I!
it's been a while. I'm so very glad that I find myself today as
somewhat unrecognizable from the man who cried out to His God for
relief. I'm thankful for the encouragement of the Holy Spirit
as I climbed my Mount Sinai to talk with God alone.
previous version of me was doing the best he could but not near
as representative of his “altogether lovely” Lord as he
wished. He needed to, along with his conditions, get out of the way
and let God flow through him. I believe we call that; “dying
to self”. God grants prayers like that easily, quickly, and
folks closest to me would testify to that truth as they now get
to enjoy the much improved version of me. God's version!
you are in that season of life with God where you feel the “blockage”
or the “constriction” of “meant to be” unimpeded
love flowing through you, may I encourage you to climb
your Mount Sinai.
promise you this: God's surgical expertise will not fail nor
disappoint and you will be welcomed into His operating room with
loving, welcoming, and caring open arms, totally absent of judgement
to our brother Moses. He went up the mountain with dark hair. He
returned with snow white hair. He never again had dark hair. The
change can be that dramatic and permanent! So,
if you feel God prompting you to pray that prayer; “Think
it not strange that you change”.
to not alarm you great ladies and to clarify the
timing of my grayness, let me relieve your possible concerns: My hair
was grey “before” I
went up my mountain!
I Will Rejoice For
He Has Made Me Glad
61 - 7: “Instead of your shame you will receive
a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your
inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your
everlasting joy will be yours”.
joy? Not intermittent? Not occasional? No, everlasting by
my first year on planet earth to my twenty seventh, I
lived completely void of this mentioned
inheritance. To categorize it as “hard” would
be the understatement of all time. It was gut wrenchingly
never ending tread mill of performance based approval
that predictably led back to the same starting point over and
over again was truly insane, while simultaneously seen by others
what “others” thought of me was paramount, so I continued to do
my impression of a hamster and was perceived as, societally
well-adjusted by doing so.
to the majority opinion meant constantly “performing”
to appease the masses. An appropriate metaphor: A
Seal doing tricks for a fish, and considering the behavior
then I met Jesus or more correctly stated: He met me, with
11 - 28 > 30: “Come to Me all you
who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke
upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart
will find rest for your souls. For My
yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
Rest, easy and light. A little too good to be true so I
queried Jesus; Are you simply going to give me a new
treadmill where I'll end up being a religious hamster? No, He
responded; I'm going to deliver you from the treadmill of
will now live within the context of your, blood bought through My
cross, “inheritance” of grace, peace, contentment, blessing,
and “everlasting joy”. Your world is now in My hands!
status as a hamster has been changed to “child of God” with all
the rights afforded that title. Take the robe of My
righteousness and the ring of your adopted by Me Son-Ship, and
wear them with the dignity they warrant. This is your “New Life”!
forward, I will be living My life in and through you. You will
no longer be common nor ordinary. You will never again desire to
“fit in” but rather “stand out”. You will never again be a
“game player”, you will now be a “game changer”!
I wish I could say everything changed in that instant. While
that wouldn't be true this is: The direction changed. Old habits of
“performance based thinking” are tricky to break, but as
time has passed I have noticed them to have developed a strangely
God's patience and grace I have learned, “unconditional” is
a heavenly term not usually associated with planet earth and its
inhabitants. It takes a while to wear it comfortably. I must
remind myself I'm in the world “not of it” nor should I be living
according to its statutes or tendencies.
citizenship also changed that day as part of my inheritance. I now
have the luxury and license to see myself and others from
heavens viewpoint through the cross of Jesus, which is far
more encouraging, inspiring, and consistent than that of the
world or worldly mindsets.
has faithfully given me a wonderful life. One that transcends the
mundane. One that offers the choice of being lived out in the
deeper waters of the magnificently spectacular!
Our Shepherd Watches
daily ritualistic stroll takes me along the same route every day. One
that has provided many wonderful adventures in God. I think of it as
my own little anointed path.
I shouldn’t be so presumptuous, but I tend to “expect”
something significant to pop up before arriving back home. I think
“expecting” helps me notice when it does!
mindset of “expecting”, exposes a clear indication of my “spoiled
by God” status as He graciously continues to allow me the privilege
of participating in His magnificent heart towards others. My
goodness; what a heart it is!
learned that “holy nudges” go hand in hand with our needed
undivided attention. Our sensitivity to God’s “nudges” are
equally as important as the “nudges” themselves.
a co-operative duet type dynamic between us and heaven, leaving us
the most blessed as we get to
“see” the “unseen” in action!
day my walk takes me past a much frequented restaurant called
“Markham Station”. Today I noticed a very elderly couple, perhaps
ninety years of age, struggling to remove themselves from their car.
came the necessary “walkers” as they slowly but surely made their
way to the front door of the restaurant.
were looking pretty “spiffy”, maybe celebrating a special day, I
thought. Perhaps an anniversary or a birthday caused them to go
through their pre-arrival ordeal of difficulty.
paused to be sure they made it through the front door without
incident as we enjoyed a little mutual chat while I guided them to a
table. With my “enjoy your dinner” comment expressed, I left
to continue my walk. God speaks! I realize that’s a statement that
makes some folks a little squeamish, but the truth is He does!
a spiritual type of speaking. If God were to speak audibly to us we’d
all have heart attacks on the spot!
of it this way; the last act of kindness you imparted to another
wasn’t your idea. God “spoke” it into your consciousness.
got a few steps from the restaurant when I felt God “speak” these
words to my heart. “That elderly couple you just assisted; I now
would like you to treat them to dinner “on Me” and “for Me”!
my euphoria, ( I always get a little euphoric when these things
happen ) it took me a minute or so to realize, I didn’t have my
wallet with me and not near enough cash to cover the bill!
always has side-benefits to His ideas. For me it was cardiac
enhancing exercise as I ran back home, grabbed my wallet, and ran
back to the restaurant at full speed, before my new friends had
finished their meal! Whew! Thank you Lord for the “work-out”!
returned in time and not wanting to confuse the elderly couple while
they were eating, I simply found their waitress and with one “tap”
of my trusty credit card had purchased, “with God’s money”, one
more story of “Our Shepherd’s Attentive Love” to share with
you good folks.
God has an amazing heart! Is it really any mystery why we love Him?
How could we not?
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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