Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
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"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching westerns with my dad. You see, back then, not only were there plenty of movies that they played every Saturday afternoon on television, there were also a bunch of prime time shows. Anyway, we’d watch westerns, and one of things I liked about them was that you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the good guys and the bad guys. Often it was as simple as noticing the color of the hat they were wearing. And I’ve got to tell you, the good guys were really good. They weren’t complex characters, rather they were selfless and noble and pure. And the bad guys, man, they were bad with a capital “B”. And the worst of this lot were the cattle rustlers, you know, the guys who stole the cattle of another rancher, often one with a daughter who would fall in love with the hero in the white hat. You see, in those old westerns, there were few people worse than those rustlers. They were lousy pole cats who deserved to be strung up.
And it’s interesting, Jesus warns of another kind of pole cat in the passage we read from John, but instead of rustling cattle, they focus on sheep. You see, they sneak into the sheep fold and try to steal sheep, leading them away from the truth to a lie. And even though those sheep will always belong to Jesus and one day they’ll hear his voice and return, they may suffer while following the rustler. And for that reason, speaking as one of the sheep, I think it makes a lot of sense to learn as much as we can about the truth so that we’re able to tell the difference between the shepherd and the rustlers.