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Feeling Sheepish? : THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP


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THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP
PSALM 23
Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer


Lesson 1
The Shepherd Cares for His Sheep

“If people would repeat Psalm 23 seven times before they go to sleep each night, we would rarely see an emotional breakdown,” said Charles Alien, a thoughtful Christian psychiatrist. He considers Psalm 23 to be God’s psychiatry. If we knew that God cared for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep, we would find rest for our weary souls!

Few words are better loved than the simple phrase, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The imagery helps us understand the relationship between the Creator and His creatures; The Care-giver and the needy recipient.

This Shepherd not only owns His sheep, but knows them. He knows their different characteristics. He knows their parents and grandparents. He knows their sisters, brothers and cousins. He knows all about the cold nights and the hot days when pesky insects embedded themselves in their wool. He understands their joys their sorrows, their gladness and loneliness. This Shepherd makes the sheep His number one responsibility.

He also knows the terrain. He has calculated the number of miles the sheep have traveled; He knows how many sheep begin on a particular journey, how many of them will try to get themselves lost and even how many will die along the way.

He sees beyond the hills to the water holes. He discerns the difference between healthy and poisonous grass. He knows the scratches and sores of His sheep. He fathoms their fears and their deepest longings.

Every sheep matters. We read of Jehovah, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock. In His arms He will gather the lambs. And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes” (Isaiah 40:11). David knew that a sheep’s lot in life depended largely on its shepherd. Some shepherds were gentle, kind and brave; others were selfish and careless.

The Good Shepherd is a responsible shepherd. He lives to please the owner of the sheep, but also takes delight in each individual sheep because He loves them. He knows they are incapable of finding their own food and water. The shepherd is the guide and map; the leader and supplier.

No domesticated animal is as helpless as sheep. But don’t tell them that! Shepherds tell us that most sheep think that they are quite capable of living on their own. They are stubborn, manipulative and determined to find their own pasture and water. No matter how many years the shepherd has cared for them, they still act as though he might do them wrong. That’s why sheep need strong leadership and discipline.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Philip Keller says it is difficult to get sheep to lie down unless they are free of all fear. They can be so easily disturbed that even a stray rabbit bounding from behind a bush can cause a flock to stampede. When one sheep jumps, the others follow without even investigating the commotion.

Sheep have virtually no defense strategy. All they can do is run when danger comes. And because they are not fast runners, a stray dog can kill hundreds of sheep in a single night. They are in greater danger moment by moment than they even realize.

Nothing so quiets a sheep as the presence of the shepherd. As long as they hear his voice they can eat to their hearts content and then lie down and rest. The shepherd communicates peace by the tone of his commands and the surety of his past record.

They must also be free from irritations. All kinds of bugs, flies, ticks and other assorted insects torment sheep. When surrounded by such pests, it is virtually impossible for the sheep to lie down and rest. They are forced to stamp their feet, shake their heads and rush off to some bush to find a refuge. The shepherd uses repellents and oils to deliver the sheep from these irritations. Every sheep enjoys having his head “anointed with oil.”

My friend, our Good Shepherd is aware of what bugs us. And the blessed Holy Spirit is given to us to enable us to be free from the distractions that come our way. Our circumstances do not change, but we are no longer driven to despair by the relentless power of events that are beyond our control.

The sheep will not lie down unless they have resolved the conflict between themselves. In every animal society an order of dominance or status is established within the group. In a pen full of chickens it is called “the pecking order.” Among sheep it is called, “The butting order.”

According to Keller, usually an arrogant, cunning and domineering old ewe will be the boss of any flock. She maintains her position of prestige by butting and driving other ewes away from the best grazing grounds. The other sheep succeed her in precise order, maintaining their exact position in the flock by using the same tactics of butting those who are below them in the “butting order.”

This causes friction and the sheep cannot lie down and be content. They must always stand and defend their rights. Just picture what happens: The old ewe finds a contented sheep, marches up to it with an arched neck, tilled head and a proud gait, saying in effect, “Out of my way!” If the other sheep does not respond, the ewe butts the contented sheep mercilessly.

The shepherd must intervene and put a stop to their foolish rivalries. The shepherd interferes for the benefit of the weak sheep, but in the end all sheep benefit from the peace and rest the Shepherd brings.

Interestingly, the less aggressive sheep is usually the most contented. The sheep that did not feel the need to defend its territory often avoids the conflicts that others experienced.

No wonder the Bible likens us to sheep! We fight to become “top sheep.” We butt, quarrel, and compete to get ahead! We stand up for our rights and want people to stay clear of our territory. But in the presence of the Good Shepherd, we forget “who is who” and we bow before Him, recognizing Him to be Lord, our own quarrels evaporate. When our eyes are on Him, they are no longer on one another. The shepherd has come.

To be contented, the sheep must be free from hunger. There are reasons why David wrote, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”These pastures are the product of hard work. The shepherd clears the rough, rocky soil. He tears out bushes, roots and stumps. He plows the soil, seeds it, and irrigates. If the sheep are to enjoy green pastures amid the brown, barren hills, the shepherd has much work to do.

When grass is scarce, the sheep are always on the move, searching for another clump here or there. Such sheep never thrive; they are discontented and are of no use to their owners. A good shepherd will provide deep grass so that the flock can fill up quickly, then retire to rest and ruminate.

When God portrayed the Promised Land as “a land flowing with milk and honey” this was nothing less than the Good Shepherd preparing for the arrival of His sheep.

He works to clear away the rocks of unbelief; He tears out the stumps of bitterness; He takes away the bushes of self-will. Then He sows the seeds of the Word of God. His work is watered by the Holy Spirit. Thus He makes a place for us; we call it contentment.

Sheep will not lie down peacefully unless they have water. Only the shepherd knows where the best drinking places are. And it is to these watering holes that he leads his flock. Without adequate water, there is weakness and dehydration. When the sheep are thirsty, they set out to find water on their own. They will drink at any polluted pot-hole, where they might pick up internal parasites or disease germs.

In fact, even as the shepherd is leading them to a clear mountain stream, some stubborn sheep will stop to drink from small, dirty muddy pools beside the trail. If they come to a rushing stream the shepherd will use stones to build a quiet area, so that they drink beside “still waters.”

When a shepherd buys his sheep, come what may, they are his. He knows that they cannot take care of themselves. He takes a knife, puts the ear of the sheep on a wooden block and notches it. The shepherd too, feels the pain. Now even at a distance it is possible to know to whom the sheep belongs.

But out of that mutual suffering comes an indelible life-long mark of ownership that is never erased. The shepherd would never deny the ownership of the sheep, no matter what. The cross of Christ marks us as His for all time.

If the Lord is our Shepherd, we really need nothing else. Yes, we need jobs, we need food, we need other friends - but we don’t need these as badly as we need the Good Shepherd. Some day we will be deprived of all things we think we now need; then we will be left alone with our Shepherd.

It is not necessary for us to know the terrain; the sheep were not expected to know the map of Judea. They did not have to know where they would be grazing tomorrow. Their responsibility was to stay close to the shepherd. Can you say, “The Lord is my shepherd?” Then you can continue, “I shall not want.”



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Re: Feeling Sheepish? : THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP


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Lesson 2
The Shepherd Guides His Sheep

It is not just the people of the world who at times feel hopeless; Christians do to. There are times when it seems as if God is not working for us, but against us. We are so weak and nothing we do seems to matter.

We are especially vulnerable to lose our faith when we experience the great reversals of life.
• When a doctor tells us that we have an incurable disease.
• When our best friends betray us.
• When carefully laid plans come unraveled.
• When we are too weak, too depressed to pray, and too faithless to hope.

What is God doing when it appears as if He is doing nothing? David says of the Good Shepherd, “He restoreth my soul.” That word restore means to “bring back to one’s former position.” It is God’s way of bringing us back to where we belong.

Some sheep need to be turned around. Sheep have a habit of getting themselves lost. Often a sheep becomes interested in one clump of grass—then another and then another. Soon it is far from the flock and the shepherd.

Sometimes sheep follow paths that are made by thieves wanting to lure them away. Sometimes they follow wind-swept paths that lead nowhere. The sheep need to be brought back to the fold.

Robert Robinson, who once stayed close to the shepherd, became a wandering sheep. He lived in moral and spiritual rebellion. In his travels he met a Christian woman who encouraged him with the words of a new hymn she had just learned:

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy praise
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Robinson wept when he heard those words, and had to admit that he had authored those words many years earlier. God used his own song as a means of restoration.

David said in Psalm 119, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Thy word” (v 67). Four verses later he added, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes” (v 71). If a sheep develops a habit of going astray, the shepherd will break its leg, make a splint and then carry the cripple close to his heart. The sheep must wait for the shepherd to carry it across the streams and the rough terrain. After the leg has healed, the lesson has been learned.

Does that sound cruel? Perhaps, but the sheep’s broken leg is really the result of the shepherd’s broken heart. The shepherd knows that the sheep must learn to stay close to him for his own good. The hurt is intended to help.

Some sheep have to be turned around; others have to be turned upright. Here’s what happens: A heavy sheep will lie down comfortably in some little hollow or depression in the ground. The animal might roll on its side to stretch out and relax. Suddenly the center of gravity in the body shifts so that it turns on its back and its feet no longer touch the ground. In a panic the sheep paws frantically, but this only makes things worse. It rolls over even farther. Now, it is impossible for it to stand on its feet.

The blood circulation is affected and in hot weather the sheep can die in a few hours. In cool weather the sheep might live for several days. All that the animal can do is lash about in frightened frustration. Only the shepherd can role the animal back on its side, help it get up, and over a period of time help the sheep regain the use of its legs and muscles. This is a tender moment of bonding between the shepherd and his sheep. On the one hand the sheep are utterly helpless; while on the other hand here is the shepherd, quick and ready to help.

When David said, “why art thou cast down O my soul and why art thou disquieted within me?” He was probably thinking of the sheep that is cast down, the one who can’t get up on his own. The one who has given up all hope of regaining his strength again. He is invited to look to God for hope and restoration.

Surely those who have slipped and fallen morally need such a restoration. David, the author of this psalm knew what such a fall was like. He committed adultery and then murder to cover it up. He lived with this for more than a year and then finally prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Though Uriah would remain dead and Bathsheba’s purity could not be regained, David was restored to his Chief Shepherd.

Some people slip and fall, and others are pushed. Yes, there are those who are victims of other people’s anger and abuse. We read, “He heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 47:3). The shepherd knows how to help the sheep to heal.

After the sheep is restored, he is led in “paths of righteousness.” The shepherd hopes that the sheep has learned its lesson; yet at the same time, the shepherd knows that the same sheep might have to be restored again. The patience of the shepherd is a remarkable testimony to his commitment to the sheep. Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves, they will follow the same trails until they become ruts. They will turn hills into desert wastes; pollute the ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites.

The shepherd keeps the sheep on the move; they cannot be left on the same ground too long. There must be a deliberate planned rotation from one grazing ground to another in line with the principles of sound management. The shepherd knows where the flock will thrive and where the feeding is poor. Whenever the gate is opened to a fresh pasture, even the old ewes kick up their heels and leap with delight.

The shepherd leads us in the best paths, not necessarily the easiest ones. The greatest challenge the shepherd will face is to overcome the natural inclination of the sheep to follow one another rather than follow the shepherd. Or, worse, they will insist on the right to self-determination, choosing their own way regardless of the consequences. If they persist in grazing on old polluted ground, it will be to their detriment. If only they trusted the shepherd, knowing that he leads with the broadest possible perspective.

Whenever the shepherd opens the way to new pasture land, there is a sense of excitement in the flock. They know that they have been led their for their own good and nourishment.

The Good Shepherd will never lead us except where He Himself has been. Are we expected to endure rejection? He was rejected by His peers, His friends, and indeed, for a moment, God Himself. Does He want us to face poverty? He has done that too. And then death, not a natural death, but a violent death, based on false accusations—that’s what He endured. “When He putteth forth His own sheep He goeth before them. “ Yes, He does not push us; He does not drive us, but says, “Come to follow where I have already been.”

Paths that are a surprise to the sheep are never a surprise to the shepherd. Life is easier when we remember that the shepherd never forsakes his sheep. Through sickness and despair, in valleys and deserts, the shepherd is there.

Once again, the shepherd must overcome the natural resistance and stubbornness of the sheep. They would each prefer their own paths. “All we like sheep have gone astray we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

If sheep are allowed to go their own way, grazing on polluted ground, they will end up thin and weary on a ruined land. Broken homes, broken hearts, derelict lives and twisted personalities remind us of the high cost of self-determination.

If we stay close to the shepherd, we will know that all events in life are under His watchful eye. We must give up our “butting rights” and seek to simply do as the shepherd commands. We move to fresh ground through each act of obedience.

When the shepherd comes back at night to count the sheep, he may count each one, calling each by name. When he discovers that one is still out in the wild he leaves the flock in the care of a trusted servant and trudges over the route that he and the flock traveled that day. He calls out to the sheep in the darkness.

If we are “cast down” he sees us on our backs, beating the air, and he restores us back to the fold. Remember that the reputation of the shepherd is at stake. He leads us in righteous paths, “for His name’s sake.” We have been purchased at high cost; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will not abandon us. This Shepherd will never be accused of being unable to care for those entrusted to Him.

Finally, the shepherd always seeks the sheep; sheep never seek the shepherd. Sheep will get lost, but they cannot get themselves found until the shepherd has sought them out.

You’ve heard people say, “I found the Lord back in 1990.” We know what they mean, but actually they were not looking for Christ; Christ came looking for them, “no man can come to me except the Spirit draw him,” Christ repeatedly reminded us.

Today I can assure you in the words of Sinclair Ferguson that there is more grace in God’s heart than there is sin in our past. There is enough grace to cover the sin of breaking any one of God’s commandments. Today the shepherd is searching for you.

If you find Him prompting you to return and rejoin the flock, or to get closer to Him, be obedient. Not only does the Shepherd appreciate it, but it is best for the sheep.

Lesson 3
The Shepherd Provides for His Sheep

Life has its hills and its valleys; its storms and its calm. And in the end of the journey, we must all face death. Perhaps this past week you have felt weary of the battle.

When we are in good health, time seems to move all too quickly; but when life is difficult with physical pain and emotional suffering, it moves too slowly. Either way, we need a shepherd who stays with us until the end. In Psalm 23, verse 4 brings a change in perspective. Until now, the sheep has been boasting about the shepherd; now, the sheep turns to talk to the shepherd directly, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me...”

He is comforted by three promises: First, the shepherd protects us. Often as summer approaches, the shepherd will take the sheep to distant summer ranges. This entails long “drives” with the sheep moving along slowly, feeding as they go, working their way up the mountains behind the receding snow. During this time the flock are, for the most part, alone with the shepherd; they are under his personal attention and the bond between sheep and shepherd is strengthened.

There are many valleys in Israel. One that is particularly steep is “the valley of the shadow of death.” It has vultures by day and hyenas at night; it has narrow trails and high plateaus. Even here the shepherd knows the way.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...” Though David was probably thinking of an actual dangerous valley, these words have often been applied to the darkest valley we will ever face. That deep valley in Israel is symbolic of the valley that will try our faith the most; the valley that leads all the way to heaven. We might fear this valley, but there is simply no way to get to the other side. This valley is actually a gift from God.

“The valley of the shadow of death.” If there is a shadow there must be light somewhere; the light of heaven shines across our path. Notice that we do not just walk in the valley, but through the valley. Eventually, we will emerge into the light of immortality.

Remember, a shadow is not to be feared. The shadow of a wolf cannot bite; the shadow of a sword draws no blood. Thus we read, “I shall fear no evil.” Yes, we are frightened by shadows, but we need not be. But the shadow is only fearful, when we mistake the shadow for the reality.

What does the shepherd do to help the sheep through the valley? Every trail has been tried; every stone is known; every blade of grass is anticipated. The sheep are comforted knowing that the shepherd knows the way. He has already seen the light of the other side.

What if the sheep do not follow? At times he will take a young lamb, carry it on his shoulders and soon the mother will follow; then others will take the cue and begin the journey along the precipitous pathway.

Sometimes our Good Shepherd takes a child to heaven, then the adults are more eager to follow. And if not a child, then a friend, a marriage partner. Just recently I spoke to a new widow who cannot seem to adjust to the loneliness, the longing, the sense of abandonment. Eventually all of us will pass through the valley; despite our fears, we shall do so successfully because of these words, “Thou art with me.” This is the Old Testament equivalent to “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee...”

If we do not yet have the grace to pass through that valley, it shall be there for us when we need it. Dying grace is usually not given to us until we need it. The deepest valley sometimes has the most satisfying refreshment. Remember on the other side of the valley is the higher ground that leads to God.

En route there are many dangers. “Thy rod and staff they comfort me.” The rod was a symbol of authority. It was a huge club used in close combat and also thrown at wild beasts. Though it evoked fear, it also brought comfort. The rod that should bring us to our senses is the Word of God.

The staff signified the tender guidance of the shepherd. If a sheep was about to eat poisonous grass or drink contaminated water, the shepherd would use the crook to bring the animal back on track. If the rod symbolizes the Word of God, the staff is symbolic of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is our “Comforter” that One who is called along side of us to meet whatever spiritual need we might have.

A shepherd who knows how to use both the rod and the staff, gives the sheep a feeling of security. Understandably David could say, “I will fear no evil.”

Notice how far we have come: the Good Shepherd protects His sheep, but He also prepares for His sheep. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointest my head with oil...my cup runneth over...”

The shepherd has taken the sheep through the valley and they have now emerged on the distant hillside. Yes, the wild animals are there, but the sheep may safely graze, for they are in the presence of the shepherd. If a soldier eats a meal in the presence of his enemies, it is generally eaten very quickly. But sheep can eat leisurely in the presence of their enemies if the shepherd is beside them. There is a part of us that our enemies cannot touch.

Jonathan Edwards was, perhaps, America’s greatest theologian, a preacher whom God used during the days of the America’s first great awakening in the 1740’s. As pastor of a church in Northhampton, Massachusetts, he was involved in a controversy; the church was split; seeds of dissension were sown, rumors flew and tempers flared. At a business meeting, a vote of confidence was taken and Edwards was voted out of his church by about 230 to 30. Years later one of his relatives confessed that he had started the dispute against Edwards out of jealously. Of course, that confession was too little, too late.

But how did Edwards handle this turn of events? His reputation was tarnished and his best friends turned against him. One of his friends described it this way, “His happiness in God was beyond the reach of his enemies.” He knew that his Shepherd had not left him.

One of the responsibilities of the shepherd is to keep the sheep together. Wolves often seek to scatter the sheep, to find one that is unprotected. To be secure in the presence of our enemies is to be close to the shepherd and close to one another.

“Thou anointest my head with oil.” Such oil was put on the head of the sheep as a repellent from insects. It is one of those special comforts the shepherd gives to his sheep. The sheep does not notice that he is in the presence of these pests, but the shepherd does and knows in advance what to do. Again, the more obedient the sheep, the easier it will be for sheep and shepherd.

“My cup runneth over.” As a courtesy, the shepherd will sometimes put water in a bowl and let the sheep drink from a full cup.

Finally, the shepherd plans for the sheep. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Christ promised to go and prepare a place for us so that when He returns we can be with Him.

I have not found it easy to preach on Psalm 23 because it seems too idealistic. A shepherd takes care of his sheep, but sometimes the Good Shepherd appears to neglect His sheep; life is often cruel and harsh. Job, for example, might say that the Good Shepherd appears inaccessible and silent when His sheep suffer.

Let’s dialogue with David. Let’s ask him for an interpretation of what he wrote. He writes, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. “ We interrupt him, “David, that’s fine for today when the sun is shining; but what do you do when King Saul hunts you like a partridge in the wilderness?”

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters.” “That sounds fine, but what do you do when you commit adultery and murder the woman’s husband to cover your sin? What do you do when the sin you tried so hard to cover is being talked about throughout the land? What about it, David?”

“He restoreth my soul...He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” “David, what do you do when the baby Bathsheba bears you dies?” “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”

“David, what do you do when your own son turns against you? What do you do when Absolom rebels, divides your kingdom, commits immorality with your concubines and tries to kill you? What then, David?”

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” “David, what do you do when this son whom you loved so much is finally killed, against your express orders? How do you bounce back from the humiliation, David?”

“Thou anointest my head with oil...my cup runneth over...” “David, David, David. You are dying now. Your wives are laughing at you behind your back. Your three remaining sons have all rebelled. You have failed as a father. Your kingdom is in ruins. David, tell us, what now?”

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever”
And so the curtain closes; and David’s life ends just as it began. All that there is, is David and his God.

David, thanks for writing this down so that people who have messed up like you have can be encouraged. Thanks for reminding us that we are just stubborn sheep and the Lord is our Shepherd. And so the psalm ends with a wounded sheep and his Shepherd.



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: Rapture Bible Prophecy Forum, ( http://www.rapturebibleprophecyforum.com ) does not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the reply button.

If you are new to this site and would like to post articles, opinions, youtube videos that are appropriate for this site just e mail me at

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Steven

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Lesson 4
The Shepherd Keeps His Sheep

To be satisfied in life we need to know that we really matter. That we matter to one another, and matter to God. We can’t just know it intellectually; we need to be convinced that we really matter to Him.

This is the fourth message in a series titled, “The Shepherd And His Sheep.” The first three were from Psalm 23; today we continue the theme from John 10. Here we discover how much Christ’s sheep matter to Him.

We open with a morning scene in a sheepfold: A shepherd enters through a gate into a walled sheep pen which has several flocks belonging to many shepherds. The enclosure was guarded all night by a doorkeeper to prevent thieves and beasts of prey from entering.... “the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

As the sheep hear the sound of their shepherd’s voice just those who belong to him get up and follow him out of the pen until the whole flock is formed. If a stranger enters the pen they will not follow him because his voice is unfamiliar.

The analogy is clear: Christ goes into the sheepfold of Judaism, and people come to God because He calls them. He will also, however bring sheep from another fold, namely Gentiles. Some respond to His voice and others do not.

In verse 7 Christ changes the analogy slightly. He now says, “I am the door...” Again he repeats it in verse 9. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.”

He is both the shepherd and the door to the sheepfold. The sheepfold that is now described belongs exclusively to God’s sheep. All who enter this one have come in through the door: Christ.

Every building has a door. If not, it would be a vault sealed in death. Noah’s ark had only one door; just so there is only one that leads into the Lord’s sheepfold.

A door is also a means of separation; it represents inclusion and exclusion. You are either on the outside or the inside. And there is a big difference between the two.

In fact, Jesus said that some day some people who fully expected to enter into heaven would find the door to heaven shut in their faces.

A door is also a means of protection. The icy blasts of winter that beat upon our houses are manageable as long as the door is closed. Behind that strong door is warmth, comfort and protection. After we enter the sheepfold through Christ, we can enjoy pastures with confidence and joy.

How does this answer the question of whether we really matter? Let us notice the benefits these sheep receive.
First, we receive the benefits of salvation. “I am the door if any man enters through me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.” That word saved means that we are reconciled to God. We finally experience what God intended us to have.

This is no cheap blessing bought at basement bargain prices. Five times Christ says, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” These sheep were purchased at high cost.

In the Old Testament sheep died for the shepherd; in the New Testament it is the shepherd who dies for the sheep.
His death was voluntary. “No man taketh it from me.” Here is where Christ the Good Shepherd parts company with other shepherds. An ordinary shepherd would never volunteer to be killed. Christ could have called angels to deliver Him, but He did not. That dark good Friday Christ said: this time the wolf wins!

His was a substitutionary death. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” No other shepherd would be willing to do this. If it were a choice between his life and the life of the sheep he would let the sheep be chewed to bits. This Shepherd is different, He dies for the sheep.

Thankfully, His death is temporary. “I will take it again.” The wolf wins on Friday, but he is beaten on Sunday. The purchase has been made, the payment received by God the Father.

What is the result of this? “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” What His sheep receive is not just eternal existence. It is a quality of life that is special, unique. We have life and pasture; we have it “abundantly.” We have the assurance that we matter.

We are now owned by God. We are the sheep of a wonderful Shepherd. Yes, we receive the benefits of salvation; we also receive the benefits of significance. We really do matter.

Most of the time ordinary sheep are taken care of by a hired hand. He is paid a stipend each day for taking care of the sheep. When he sees a wolf coming, he makes sure that he outruns the sheep! “He who is the hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, behold he seeth the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters the sheep.” So much for the hired man.

But the shepherd who owns the sheep; he remembers when each sheep was born; the paths that they had been on together. He remembers the illnesses or trials that each sheep has experienced. He has a special relationship with them. Ask him how wealthy he is and he will tell you their number and their value.

If you ask Christ about His wealth, he will say that His people are “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Ask Him about His jewels, and He says, “they shall be Mine in that day.” If you ask Him where His treasure is, He will say, “the Lord’s portion are His people. “

His sheep matter. How special are we? So valuable that He gives us personal attention. “He calleth His own sheep by name.” Someone asked me, “Will Christ know us in heaven?” Yes, of course; when He sees you, He will even pronounce your name right. The very hair of your head is numbered. The Lord knows His people.

He also gives us personal communication: “I am the Good Shepherd and I know my own and my own know me” (v 14). There is a relationship between sheep and shepherd that is intimate and wonderful. We go in and out and find pasture.

My God and I we walk the fields together
We walk and talk as good friends should and do
We clasp our hands
Our voices ring with laughter
My God and I we walk the meadows through

Finally, we also have the benefits of security. Let’s assume you have heard Christ’s voice; you are one of His sheep. Could you possibly end up in the wrong sheepfold at the end of life’s journey? How seriously does Christ take His commitment to His sheep? Would He ever abandon them, under any conditions?

Notice what He says, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “

What are the chances that one of these sheep could fall between the cracks? The sheep are secure because of the purpose of the Father. “My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all...” Repeatedly in John’s Gospel, Christ’s sheep are spoken of as a special gift of the Father to the Son. These are special sheep indeed.

The Father is “greater than all.” An ordinary shepherd might not be able to win against a wolf. Even a whole group of shepherds might not be able to ward off a pack of wolves or ingenious thieves. But the analogy does not apply to God. He is “greater than all.” He’s even greater than all your doubts; He is greater than your fears.

Debbie White died of cancer at the age of 21. She was a lovely Christian, a wonderful example of Christ’s sheep. When she went to bed at night she was afraid to fall asleep, for fear that she would never wake up. We can understand that; we might have the same fear some day. But how wonderful to know that even her doubts could not “snatch her out of the Father’s hand.”

Can we snatch ourselves out of the Father’s hand? Ask a shepherd. If a sheep is stubborn and runs away; do you just let it go, or do you go after the sheep? Do you make sure that even rebellious sheep make it back to the fold at night? Yes, a good shepherd brings all sheep to the fold at night. He counts his sheep in the morning and again at night. The trustworthy shepherd ends up with as many at nightfall as he had in the morning.

The question, of course is: how can we be sure that we are God’s sheep? Remember there are many people who think they are God’s sheep, but are not. Some are in the wrong fold...the fold might be labeled, “Christ’s Sheep.” But the label is deceptive.

How do we tell? You must be convinced that Christ the Good Shepherd did everything that needs to be done for you to become one of God’s sheep. You must accept His death as a sacrifice for your sins.

Your faith must be personal, “My sheep hear My voice.” Your faith must be conscious, “they know His voice.” Your parents could not make that decision for you. Your church cannot make that decision for you.

Christ must do all the giving; you must do all the receiving. You can’t make yourself into a sheep; Only God can do that.

All rights reserved for all transcripts, and all material. ©2009 The Moody Church, Chicago. Permission is granted to print and/or store the contents in computer form provided the content is not changed in any way.


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All materials ©2010 The Moody Church


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Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.



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Disclaimer: Rapture Bible Prophecy Forum, ( http://www.rapturebibleprophecyforum.com ) does not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the reply button.

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Re: Feeling Sheepish? : THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP


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THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.



+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: Rapture Bible Prophecy Forum, ( http://www.rapturebibleprophecyforum.com ) does not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the reply button.

If you are new to this site and would like to post articles, opinions, youtube videos that are appropriate for this site just e mail me at

stevensandiego@ymail.com

I will send you a PASSWORD

Ybic

Steven

Our New Website URL
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