Only the Shepherd can produce rest and prosperity in the sheep
length: 1:00:52 - taught on Aug, 26 2010
Ps 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Ps 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
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. Owning 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 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.
And funny enough, if the sheep are startled by a predator and the shepherd runs out with his rifle and the sheep see him they are calmed just by his presence.
See the shepherd reassured them and calmed them like nothing else.
Ps 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
In the Christian life there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby.
Often it is our expectancy of something that gives us a sense of anxiety and fear, even though the thing may never happen.
We either live in anxiety and fear or in peace and prosperity of soul. What determines this? It is our vision of the Shepherd.
All of a sudden things aren’t quite as bad because we behold the Shepherd.
And the more times you see Him come through for you the more peace you will experience. He told His disciples that He would give them His peace, not as the world promises peace, but this peace is beyond understanding.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.
The second source of fear from which the sheepman delivers his sheep is that of tension, rivalry and cruel competition within the flock itself.
In every animal society there is established an order of dominance or status within the group. In the chicken world it’s called a pecking order; with sheep it’s called a butting order.
Generally an arrogant, cunning and domineering old ewe will be boss of any bunch of sheep. She maintains her position of prestige by butting and driving other ewes or lambs away from the best grazing or favorite bedgrounds. Succeeding her in precise order the other sheep all establish and maintain their exact position in the flock by using the same tactics of butting and thrusting at those below and around them.
The word of God gives a vivid and accurate picture of this in:
For thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 "As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. 13 "And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14 "I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down in good grazing ground, and they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 "I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest," declares the Lord God. 16 "I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, "Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 "Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, until you have scattered them abroad, 22 therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.
Because of this rivalry there is tension and competition and friction within the flock.
If there is friction the sheep cannot lie down and rest. They’re too busy exercising their dominance, trying to be top sheep, others bothered because of their butting. This is a picture of the disciples who when with Jesus bickered amongst one another as to who once the greatest.
In immaturity the disciples tried to establish a butting order. And when they asked Jesus about being greatest, the Lord replied, “Will you drink the cup that I’m about to drink.” In other words, in Christianity, the last shall be first and the servant will be the master.
Pastor’s are warned of this behavior in 1Pe 5.
1 Peter 5:1-5
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Keller describes the unmerciful butting of a younger lamb by an older one. She would arch her neck, tilt her head, dilate her eyes and approach the younger with a stiff-legged gait. All as it to say, “move or else!” And if the younger didn’t move then the massive head butt would follow.
If this continuous conflict is allowed to continue the sheep become edgy, tense, discontented and restless. They lose weight and become irritable.
Keller describes the best way to stop a conflict was for him to simply make his presence known.
When the sheep saw the shepherd they would forget their foolish rivalries and stopped fighting. Again, the shepherd’s presence made all the difference.
Members of the human race are constantly in competition with each other. Kids start off playing king of the mountain and then take that into adulthood.
Jealousy is such a detrimental sin that God ordered Israel to have a special offering just for that sin.
Jealousy brings bitterness and that robs anyone of any semblance of peace.
Unfortunately this also happens in Christian churches. Believer’s get into competition with each other, form cliques based on personality conflicts. Even pastors get involved in this stupid game of whose crap doesn’t smell.
Guess what, it all smells!
The greatest man/believer who ever lived, the very God in the flesh, TLJC humbled himself to the point of death, came to serve and not to be served, who was rich became poor so that you could become rich. This is our example.
Every day you must see others as more important than yourself. You must forget about yourself by doing what works for the sheep, getting your eyes on Christ.
All of us are occupied with something. Either it’s ourselves, the world, people, or Christ.
The Psalm shows God’s people laying down and resting in quiet contentment, seeing their Shepherd.
But the sheep are restless and people, even believers, are evil. Mr. Keller relates how he had to strongly trounce a beligerant ewe for trouncing a weaker one and the Lord does the same to us.
No one gets away with anything. If you are being trounced by another person leave it to the hands of your shepherd. He will discipline the evil person. But if you fight back you both will be disciplined.
It turns out that the less aggressive sheep are far more contented, quiet, and restful.
There is nothing to gain by attempting to be the top dog in anything. The only means of great gain is godliness or living the spiritual life.
In reference to the behavior of sheep certain passages take on a whole new meaning.
1 Tim 2:1-4
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Tim 4:6-9
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.
1 Tim 6:3-10
If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.
We must remind ourselves that it is the Shepherd who will decide at the Bema seat what your status really is or was.
That’s why the word of God says don’t judge. Everything will be brought to the light by our Lord.
1 Cor 4:5
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
You can have the affection and comfort of the good Shepherd or you can strive to hold a prominent position in society.