Today’s Scripture Selection: John 10:2-3

“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

When I was in college, I studied world religions.  In fact, that was my chosen major.

In those early years, before seminary, I became well acquainted with many of the faiths of the world’s peoples – and I came to understand how they were in some ways similar to one another; in other ways vastly different from each other.

Anyone who can glibly say, “Oh, well, all religions are basically teaching the same thing…” obviously hasn’t studied religion very much.  Sorry, but that’s just the case.  Buddhism and Hinduism and Christianity really are very different ways of understanding the universe – how it came to be – and who, if anyone, is in charge of it.

That’s only one reason that I have always been particularly moved by this passage from John.  Jesus is talking to his followers about the “good shepherd” – and how He is, in fact, that good shepherd.

He is trying to warn them about those who will come to harm them if they can.

And he tells them something that is both beautiful and powerful at the same time: the good shepherd knows his sheep by name.

What an amazing (not to mention comforting) thought it is to think that God knows us that intimately; cares for us that personally.

I’ve studied many different religions – and few make that claim – that God knows you personally by name.

But Jesus did.  And I believe Him.

I think God really does know all about you and me; really does understand who we are and how we fit into the “big” picture he has created.

So, the next time you talk to God – don’t worry about having to introduce yourself or remind him of what’s been happening in your life.  He already knows.

What’s even better is that He cares.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for caring so much for me – one small sheep of your fold.  AMEN.



By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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