Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Numbers 7; Psalm 23; Acts 27

Woke up in, well thinking on and about the 23rd Psalm, talked to Dan in bed before ever getting up do we allow ourselves, submit ourselves to this truth that we are sheep. Dumb and ...... as sheep oh how very loved we are…. and then come to find out it is our reading for today….

Been spinning in NOT WANTING TO BE THE SHEEP…not wanting to BE WEIRD…instead of resting in the knowing that I am a sheep…I am weird…because ….well this is where I was yesterday…..

John 10: 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
186 references to sheep in the bible. God calls us sheep and Jesus my shepherd. I don’t like being a sheep…..sheep are DUMB.

and then I found this:

Philip Keller is a modern day shepherd. Keller says that sheep will never lie down until four conditions are met: 1) they must be free from all fear. 2) they must be free of torment by flies or parasites. 3) they must have a full belly. 4) they must be in harmony with their fellow sheep. Green pastures means tender grass. A good shepherd leads the sheep to the best places to graze to keep them healthy. Keller says that a good shepherd will put tremendous labor into clearing rough, rocky ground into lush pasture land. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, removes our fear, fills us with His Spirit until we are full in Him and gives us peace so that we may lie down and rest. The sheep are led to "quiet waters"….running creeks = dead sheep… the sheep drown. Sheep scare easily so calm waters put them at ease. If we follow Jesus, He will lead us to those calm, quiet waters where we have inner peace, calmness and stillness from the living water that only He can give - the water that when I drink, I will never thirst again (John 4:13-14).

Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [
a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

"He restores my soul" (verse 3a). When I am heavy laden and burdened, when life bruises and batters, when I am downcast, He restores my soul. We restore things (fix things) that are old, battered and in bad shape. We restore houses, cars and furniture. We make them look brand new. Jesus restores us - He makes us brand new.

A sheep sometimes if she falls cannot get up, she can literally become stuck on her back… That is what is meant by being downcast. In that position, they can get sunstroke, or can be attacked by wild animals. The Good Shepherd will restore the sheep who has become downcast. He will set us right side up.

"He guides me" (verse 3b). He leads me. Where? Into paths of righteousness. Right paths. Remember sheep are dumb, they have no sense of direction. They need someone to lead them in paths that are right. They have to be led or they will wander. He leads us into the best places. The word "lead" literally means to "drive" us. At times He guides me gently - at times I need to be driven - pushed and prodded. But that's what a Good Shepherd does. He wants to lead me into those paths that have been marked out by Him. They have been checked for safety and only for my good. But my eyes must stay on Him as He leads.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me" (verse 4). Sheep have no way to defend themselves. They have no incisors (cutting teeth) in their upper jaws. They have no claws or pointed horns. They are defenseless. The only way they can defend themselves is by running away. They need a shepherd with a rod (a stick that is used to fight enemies) and a staff (a special stick that helps people walk) to protect them. When we are afraid, when we're lost and not sure where we are or where we are going, the Lord is there. Sometimes with a gentle word and a soft touch. Sometimes poking and prodding with His rod and staff. He may also have to use his rod to get us out of deep waters or get us down from a high ledge that we are afraid to come down from. Either way - He is leading us and guiding us and protecting us. And protect us He must! Apart from Him we have no defense against the lion who is seeking after whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

It is important for a sheep to see it's shepherd and hear his voice to know that it is safe. In John 10:27, Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me." Sheep know their shepherd's voice so well that when they get intermingled with another flock, each shepherd can call out and the sheep will quickly start following their own shepherd. Only then are they able to lie down and rest, restored, because they know their shepherd will protect them and care for them. He will lay down His life if He has to (John 10:11). He doesn't run away when the wolf comes (John 10: 12-13). And if one strays, He will leave the rest of the flock to find it. He will put it on His shoulders and carry it home. You know that wandering can be harmful and tiring - sometimes we can't even walk when we're found. But He will rejoice as He carries us and say, "I have found my lost sheep." (Luke 15: 4-6) (I didn’t know any of this until I began slowing down)….you know what the most amazing fact of all is? When a shepherd has a sheep who is a habitual wanderer, he will break it's leg. That's right! He will break it's leg so that He will have to carry it until it is healed. Once healed, that sheep is so used to being close to the shepherd that He never wanders again. Wow!
Ok I know the images may be childlike but maybe I need them to remind me that being the sheep...being exactly where HE wants be the sheep, a member of his flock....not a sheep dog nor a shepherd.....not an anything special sheep but as a sheep of His flock...oh how loved I am.

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