“The Lord is My Shepherd”

1 08 2018

The Lord is my ShepardBack in the Summer of 1975, when I was a sophomore in High School, my Family moved from Chester NJ to a nearby town called Peapack. Even though it was still very much North Jersey, this incredible house that we acquired came with a pony, two goats and two sheep. I so bonded with Mama and Baby Sheep that I named them Sheep and Baby. Maybe I didn’t give these pets the most original of names but I did learn lots about sheep in general by just taking care of them both. As life would have it, Sheep died the day before I left for Philadelphia College of Bible where I was going to prepare being a Shepherd of people. Just a side note, when my Family sold the house on 44 Peapack Road, the powers at be tore it down to build three new modern monstrosities. I always wanted to let the owner of New Home number two that they built their residence right over my Sheep’s burial plot. I wonder if anyone has heard some bleating coming from the basement.

 

God had given me quality time working with real sheep. Real sheep do not just take care of themselves as some might suppose. They actually require more assistance than any other class of livestock. If you want to raise sheep, you must be prepared to do lots more giving than you probably will ever receive. But you do so because these creatures are so dependent upon you that you don’t mind giving them the endless attention and meticulous care they demand.

 

I also recognized the facts that Sheep behavior and that of Humans is similar in more ways than you might have ever thought. Both are susceptible to operating via mob instincts and crowd rule. It’s easy to get sheep and people to come together and act as a herd. Both are given to responding positively or reacting negatively because of fear, stubbornness and stupidity. Our habits parallel these wooly creatures in the manner of profound importance. God knew what He was doing when He called Jesus the Great Shepherd and we people the Sheep of His Pasture.

 

The title of Pastor comes from the Greek word “poimen” which means “shepherd.” One can’t truly be called to be a Pastor if he can’t stand people. Sheep have needs that include grazing on green grass, drinking fresh water, being lead to shade from the overbearing sun, moved to shelter in the midst of severe storms and being personally protected from ferocious predators who want to devour the flock in one big bite! A Good Shepherd is there to manage the sheep to life because on their own they have no chance to survive. Over the years, I have become increasingly aware of one thing when it comes to shepherding God’s children. It is this: the manner of ministry done by the Minister in the lives of those who encompass the church makes all the difference in the direction of the destiny the body of Christ will end up!

 

Jesus loved His Sheep so much that He gave us all Himself. It is in that divine love that we don’t find a program or a product or a process, but the only Person who will be the ultimate missing piece we’ve all been looking for. In Psalm 23 we read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures.” The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very make-up, it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.

 

  1. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear.
  2. Because of the social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind.
  3. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only when free of these pests can they relax.
  4. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger.

 

It is significant that to be at rest there must be a definite sense of freedom from fear, tension, aggravations and hunger. The unique aspect of the picture is that it is only the Shepherd himself who can provide release from these anxieties. It all depends upon the diligence of the owner as whether or not his flock is free of disturbing influences.

 

Jesus makes it possible for us to lie down, to rest, to relax, to be content, quiet, and flourishing. A flock that is restless, discontented, always agitated and disturbed never does well. And the same is true of people. It is not generally known that sheep are so timid and easily panicked that even a stray jackrabbit suddenly bounding from behind a bush can stampede a whole flock. When one startled sheep runs in fright, a dozen others will bolt with it in blind fear, not waiting to see what frightened them.

 

As long as there is even the slightest suspicion of danger from dogs, coyotes, cougars, bears or other enemies, the sheep stand up ready to flee for their lives. They have little or no means of self-defense. They are helpless, timid, feeble creatures whose only recourse is to run. Two dogs have been known to kill as many as 292 sheep in a single night of unbridled slaughter. It is also a known fact that nothing so quiets and reassures sheep like seeing their Shepherd in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector puts them at ease as nothing else could do, and this applies day and night. In the Christian’s life there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby. There is nothing like Christ’s presence to dispel the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown.

 

Finally, did you know that green pastures don’t just happen in Bethlehem? As a matter of fact, Israel, where David wrote this Psalm and kept his father’s flocks, especially near Bethlehem, is a dry, brown, sun-burned wasteland. Green pastures did not just happen by chance. Green pastures were the product of tremendous labor, time and skill in land use. Green pastures were the result of clearing rough, rocky land; of tearing out brush and roots and stumps; of deep plowing and careful soil preparation; of seeding and planting special grains and vegetables; of irrigating with water and caring for the crops that would feed the flocks.

 

Green pastures are essential to success with sheep. The Good Shepherd has supplied green pastures for those who care to move in onto them and there find peace and plenty. Every human being follows a Leader! Is your Shepherd worthy of that title? If not, it may be time to make a change! The Lord is my Shepherd and I lack nothing. I pray the same for you!

 


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