Overseeing the Sheep

December 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the last part of I Peter Chapter 4, and into Chapter 5, we move from preparing for glory through “regular” persecution and suffering to preparing for glory through “official” persecution – intense suffering. When the intense suffering comes, it will be important to have properly prepared overseers (church leaders who recognize that they are under the authority of the true Shepherd and in authority over the sheep). This applies to the heads of families (fathers and husbands primarily) as well as church leaders.

1. The overseers will need to be personally involved with the Shepherd, and willing to share what He’s given them.

2. They will need to have a deep and abiding love for the sheep.

3. But they will have to have a desire to please the Shepherd, not the sheep.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

I Peter 5:8-9

Resist Satan with Scripture. Don’t discuss things with him.

Oversight / Obedience

August 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Posted in I Peter, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Oversight

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

I Peter 5:1-2

What a comforting thought for us sheep. Not only is the Good and Great Shepherd watching over us, protecting us, providing for us, and leading us, but He has also assigned undershepherds – here the reference is to a pastor or an elder – to exercise oversight of us, and to help us, and to look out for our best interest. He has assigned them to feed us the Word of God, and to fight off wolves who might come in to deceive us.

The idea that Almighty God would exercise such meticulous oversight is very comforting. He wants every step you and I take to be monitored, but there is another side to the blessing of oversight, which is:

Obedience

Is obedience truly comforting? Don’t we struggle enough with being obedient to God? And now, how humbling! Willingly submitting to another human being!

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

I Peter 5:5-6

A previous lesson in this series was partly about opportunity. Here is a great opportunity – the opportunity to humble ourselves before God has to do it for us.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.

Hebrews 13:17

We make a big mistake when we think of obedience as drudgery instead of comfort. God says that obedience to His ordained authorities is profitable – that it is working itself out for our benefit.

Are You Feeling Sheepish?

June 6, 2012 at 10:03 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Psalm 23:4 (emphasis added)

Christians are like sheep, and the Lord is like our shepherd. His presence is comforting to us, but sheep must stay close to the shepherd. We must stay close to the Lord in the green pastures (times of freedom) and especially in the dark valleys (times of caution). Sheep can be preyed upon by wolves and lions. Wolves and lions do not fear sheep. They fear the shepherd. Stay close to the Shepherd at all times.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

In the presence of our Lord we are not only safe, but we may be bold – even when our enemies are also present. The dual presence of our Protector and our enemies is not cause for fear because our Protector is far stronger.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

Our Shepherd sanctifies us. He cleanses us, because, like sheep, we have a tendency to get very dirty. In Bible times, shepherds applied oil to their sheep to help keep insects and pests away.

It is somewhat embarrassing for us as human beings to see ourselves compared to helpless and unintelligent animals like sheep so often in Scripture, but we share many sheep-like characteristics:
-Sheep need reassuring. We need to be constantly reminding ourselves of God’s promises.
-Sheep get sick. We tend to get sick spiritually, finding ourselves repeating our mistakes, discouraged, unfocused.
-Sheep often need help from their shepherd when giving birth to their offspring. We are powerless to evangelize and disciple new believers without our Shepherd’s help.
-Sheep get tired and have to be made to lie down (Psalm 23:2). Our Shepherd often has to forcibly take away our distractions and place us into a place where we can be still, rest, and meditate on spiritual things.
-Sheep are responsive to their shepherd’s voice. We are guided, directed, and instructed by the Word of our Shepherd.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:3-5

Sheep do not see well.

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.

Psalm 23:4 (emphasis added)

A staff, as well as a rod, is needed. The shepherd’s “rod” is what we would think of as a “cudgel” or a “club.” The staff has a hook on the end. The rod is for clubbing attackers and the crook is for guiding, and for rescuing from dangerous places. In Bible times sheep would also pass under the staff each night for examination by the shepherd. We need to remember to ask the Lord to search our hearts each and every day.

Shepherding is hard work. It’s more than just lying around in a pasture playing a flute and writing poetry.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

It sounds like the Psalmist is changing his metaphor here. Why would sheep need a “table?” But the “table” might be a table rock – a safe, firm, flat place where the Shepherd can thoroughly examine the condition of the flock.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalm 23:5 (emphasis added)

Shepherds had large containers (or “cups”) for the sheep to drink from each night in the sheep-fold.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6 (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated as “follow” is radaph, which can mean “to pursue or chase after.” What a thrilling thought! If you are truly a Christian, God’s goodness and mercy will “hunt you down” all the days of your life!

The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going

October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am | Posted in Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

The Lord is the Great and Good Shepherd of every true Christian, and He will make sure that His sheep do not lack anything that is truly good.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

This is true in the green pastures (Psalm 23:2), and it is true in the darkest valleys (Psalm 23:4). But the Bible is very specific in telling us that the Shepherd leads the sheep. Since He is leading the sheep, and since He always has a foreknowledge of the terrain, why would the Shepherd ever lead the sheep into a dark valley?

There are a number of reasons, but one of the most obvious is that some of the most beautiful pastures, streams, and places of rest can only be reached by way of a dangerous and dark route. Sheep must stay as close to the Shepherd as possible for maximum safety – even when He seems to be leading in a frightening and confusing direction. He knows that a treacherous journey, with Him as the Guide, is always worth the trip. And we can know it, too, if we will learn to trust in the Shepherd and the “surely” of His promises:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6

Careless Love – Part 1

April 7, 2010 at 8:52 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Philippians 4:10

God providentially placed a desire in the heart of the believers in the church of Philippi to meet the needs of the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling them, “You have always loved me. You have been ‘careful’ (full of care) for me. It’s just that, until now, you cared, but you lacked the opportunity.” This reminds me of how, many times, in our love for God, we are not full of care.

We say we don’t have the opportunity, but is the problem really that we don’t have the concern? “Careful” is the Bible word for “worried.” What is causing you to worry right now? That you don’t have enough time to do the things in your schedule? Or that you are not taking time to get alone with the Lord? I am afraid that, as 21st Century believers, we are careless with God’s love.

That may be because we don’t fully realize how much He loves us. Song of Solomon is thought by some to be only a book about the relationship or the love between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. But God created this love, and all His creations contain lessons about Him. All His creations contain lessons about His relationship to His people, about the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Song of Solomon is a book of poetry in which different voices speak in the first person. This is the king speaking to his bride, and it is also our King’s message of love to us:

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

First of all, it’s a call to come down from the high places – from the monuments and edifices we’ve built in our lives to draw us away from time with God. These include not only the material hobbies and pleasures and pursuits of this world, but even the “good” things we do, such as our devotion time, our church time, our ministry time. It is as if God is saying, “’Come down’ and spend time with Me.”

When is the last time you completely shut out all distractions and went somewhere no one could see you – and where you truly determined to seek God’s presence?

“Come down from your high places.” This will be necessary for me to have the power of God abide on my life – to teach, to witness, to love, to pray, with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can say all the right things, go to all the right places, but without the power of God abiding upon me personally, I will live a defeated life.

I can’t explain why God would love me – the way a lovesick king longs for time alone with his bride – but His Word says He does.

Second, Song of Solomon 4:8 is a warning that our “high places” are not only keeping us from spending time alone with God, but also that they are dangerous places.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

These mountains of Lebanon looked like mighty strongholds, but they were really the mountains of leopards. There were lions’ dens. How dangerous it is to get too far from God’s Word and God’s will!

Lions are out to devour. Our enemy, the devil, is not afraid of the sheep. He is only afraid of the Shepherd.

Furthermore, God wants us to stay near him. If we are truly His children, He will rescue us if we cry out, but what scars will we bear from being attacked? “Stay near Me,” God says. “Come away from Lebanon, the high mountains where the lions’ dens are.”

Once, I was at a skating rink where we were having a children’s church activity, and one of the children went missing. Her mother was terrified. Several of us began searching, and I happened to find the little girl, upstairs, in a dark room where parents could watch television. She was reluctant to come with me, so I wanted to pick her up because the quicker I could show her frantic mother she was safe, the better. However, she kicked and screamed and howled for me to put her down all the way down the stairs. How often God wants to hold us in His arms, but we don’t want to be carried – we want to get down and play. Lord, help us to trust in You and Your loving arms which carry us away from danger even when we think we’re having fun.


Entries and comments feeds.