He Knows Your Name
The shepherd knows his sheep.
A branding iron or some sample brands written on cards (You can find examples on the web or make up some of your own such as "Diamond M," "Lazy S," or "Rocking R").
"He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." John 10:4 (NIV)
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Some of you may have seen a branding iron. A branding iron is used to put an identifying mark on cattle and sheep. When a calf is branded, they put the branding iron in a fire and burn the brand into the side of the calf. Ouch! I'll bet that hurts! When a brand is put on sheep, they dip the brand into a special paint and put the brand on the sheep's back. That sounds a little better, doesn't it? Okay, let's talk about branding sheep. Here is a photo that shows a sheep being branded. (Click Here)
Do you know why they put a brand on the sheep? They do it so that they will know who owns the sheep. Each rancher has his own special brand. So, if a sheep wanders off and becomes lost or stolen, the brand will prove who owns the sheep.
I don't know whether they put brands on sheep in Jesus' day or not, but Jesus once told about a shepherd who went to a sheep pen to get his sheep. He said that the shepherd knew his sheep and called them by name. When he had called them out, he walked ahead of them and they followed him because they recognized his voice. Jesus said that if a stranger called to the sheep, they would not follow him. In fact, Jesus said they would run away from him because they did not recognize the stranger's voice.
That is a beautiful picture of our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is our shepherd. He loves us and cares for us -- he even knows our name. Jesus calls us to follow him and if we belong to him, we will know his voice and we will follow him.
Sometimes, Satan may try to get us to follow him. He may try to get us to do things that will do us harm. If we belong to Jesus, we will not follow Satan. In fact, we will run from him.
Heavenly Father , we are thankful that we have a shepherd who knows our name. Help us to follow him when he calls. In Jesus' name we pray.