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Sermon - Isaiah 40:11 - The Ring

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The Ring

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11)

Do you know what it’s like to be led by the Lord? If so, you are blessed beyond measure. It means that you have faith in the Lord, and even the smallest faith in Him leads to wondrous eternal life. In eternity, there will be no more pain or sorrow. No loss of any kind, but instead great GAIN that never ends. Boredom will not exist in eternity because God Himself and all you encounter in that timeless, blessed place are infinite in scope, and it is a never-ending place of sheer delight, where you always have that which is new, holy and breathtakingly beautiful because of His amazing, infinite love.

You have, or can have, a taste of eternity right now. Paul the Apostle spoke of himself and the recipients of a letter he wrote, not only the Ephesians he addressed directly, but all who have found his words through the centuries, including us—that God has ALREADY “raised us up together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” Something deep inside us through faith, moves us right out of this world, this universe, and transports us into eternity, into “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 2:6-8). We are with Him and He is with us right now. Our physical body will go to Him later, but right now in the center of our being, we’re SAFE in Christ Jesus.

When we read today’s Scripture, which includes the words, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd,” it’s an eternal truth including this moment. Within the pain, the sorrow, the injuries and confusion of this uncertain world, He is gently leading us and will bring us through. It’s a journey that will lead us out of the pain and sin of this place. Life hurts, but through faith, it is also a trek to healing and wholeness in God’s holy sight. We don’t seek suffering, but like the birth process, our journey leads to new LIFE!

This has been shared with a few people, and if you don’t mind, I would like to share it with you right now: A few weeks ago, my wife and I, along with two friends, attended a Southern California event celebrating Mother’s Day. It was a combined breakfast and luncheon, with food stations around a large dining room that included seating for about four hundred guests. Our reservation was for 1:00 p.m., and after an extended wait, we were placed around a table near the center of the room.

Life has contained some emotional bumps and difficulties for me, as it also has for you, and I was having mixed feelings that day. I was pleased to be with my wife and friends, but there was also a sadness that I could not completely shake off. As we were seated by the hostess, I noticed a shiny, round thing on the floor between my feet. Hmmm, a ring, I thought, but what was it really? I reached down and picked it up, noting that it was metal-colored and seemed to have letters written on it. My eyes aren’t as young as they used to be and I could not initially read those letters, but I remarked out loud, “I’ve found a ring” and slipped it on my little finger. The others glanced at it, dismissing it as “probably made out of plastic.” And I nodded because it most likely was some plastic object that fell off the floral display in the center of the table.

But studying it further and tapping it with a metal table utensil, I observed that it was definitely some kind of metal—not plastic at all—a silver colored metal that might be stainless steel or silver. I held it up toward the light and finally managed to read and understand the letters written on it. Here are the words it contained and they touched my soul: “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

Like it is for just about everybody else, life for me has been hard in certain ways, and that message touched me at just the right moment. I have long been convinced that God is continually reaching out to us through time and space, revealing His love in innumerable and creative ways, and that ring was His personal touch, reminding me that God the Son came into this world to save and also lead us. God is utterly pure and we are not. He loves, whereas we seek to BE loved. He gives but we want to get. His love and our need find completion in us through Jesus Christ, and that ring is perfect as a reminder that God, who has brought me, brought US to this moment, will also see us through.

The Lord Himself is our Great Shepherd and today’s verse continues, “He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). If you have placed your faith in the Lord or are drawn to do so, it is the Lord Himself who has led you to this very moment. In relation to this universe and what lies beyond it, we are like lambs who are less than gifted mentally and are inexperienced about what even sheep should understand. We compare ourselves with each other which isn’t enough—the true comparison is Him and us—He is God and we are not. We guess about life, but He who really knows life is the One who will lead us through.

I notified “Lost And Found” about the ring I found and gave them our telephone number, but so far, no one has called. The ring is mine for the moment, but I recognize that it belongs to somebody else and even if I keep it all my life, eventually it will pass to those I may or may not know, along with all else that I have. The ring is a reminder, a loaned object that I can share; not a possession.

As you read in Scripture about those who God has loved and does love, think about this: God loves you as much as He loves Abraham, Sarah, Hannah, David, Mary, Peter, John, Martha, and any other blessed person you and I can imagine. He who loves Mother Teresa and Billy Graham also loves you and me, and even when we feel lost in the complexities of life, He is tenderly showing us the way.

In the days that have followed, opportunities have arisen to share the words on that ring with others who wear the mask of “I don’t need help,” but actually they really do. My aunt’s doctor, her hospice chaplain, several nurses, and others who needed to hear and be touched by the words on that ring have read or heard the words: “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” And He will.

I love Isaiah Chapter 40. It’s a place to catch God’s perspective. The message of John the Baptist was written there in advance by Isaiah, hundreds of years before John’s birth. The seemingly endless universe is declared to be smaller than God’s hand; the nations are “a drop in the bucket” to Him. He “sits above the circle of the earth,” and note that the earth was described there as round, a “circle,” long before later scientists and theologians decided it was flat. We are like “grasshoppers” to Him. He never faints or is weary, and He lovingly strengthens those who place their trust in Him.

The Lord is my shepherd,” shouts David in Psalm 23. Paul the Apostle, though weakened by age and mistreatment, could smile and state confidently in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Is it like that for you? Remember: “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” You can do "all things" through Christ our Shepherd. Let’s trust Him who brings us through:

Lord, life is confusing, with moments of happiness, but then painful sorrow. I cannot do it without You. I confess my weakness, my inability, and place my faith in You. Thank You for receiving and leading me. I love You. I trust in You, Great Shepherd—I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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