Sheep Need a Shepherd; Preferably, A GOOD Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11) There is a lot to consider in this short verse. What all do shepherds do? What is their role in tending the sheep? In Biblical times, shepherds provided leadership and protection for sheep, who were too vulnerable to make it alone out there in the real world. Common sense tells us that their job was to keep the flock together, to gather strays who wandered off, and to protect them from predators.

sheep

But Wait, There’s More…

But a shepherd’s role was also defined by the characteristics of his flock. He had to understand his sheep and guide them in such a way that they could overcome their natural tendencies. The analogy Christ is making works because there are so many similarities between sheep and, well, us

First of all, sheep are not very bright. They are selfish and appetite-centered. They don’t practice good crop management, since they will eat a field down to nothing, leaving barren soil in their wake. The shepherd would counter that tendency by leading them to various pastures in a rotation so that they could find enough grass in the appropriate season. Sheep don’t drink from running water, so the shepherd would guide them to ponds or “still waters”. Sheep as individuals will wander off and get into trouble. They are very vulnerable to predators.

sheep killer

Protection from Predators

When he was questioned about his ability to confront Goliath, David told Saul, “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:36) A sheep who followed his shepherd enjoyed protection and green pastures. Peter was probably thinking of that when he warned us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Jesus intentionally contrasted the shepherd with the thief, who came to “kill, steal and destroy.”

Has anything in your life ever been “killed, stolen, or destroyed”? As members of the flock, we live in a world that employs numerous ways to accomplish those three things. What kills your joy, steals your time, or destroys your peace of mind? There are leaders who would take down different paths than the Good Shepherd. Be careful what you follow. Be careful WHO you follow.

In the verse just before, Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and might have it more abundantly.” The good shepherd wants your life to be more peaceful, joyful, and full. The thief wants to tear it down. Are you willingly following the good shepherd? He might just take you to a good spot.

The Shepherd

The world can be a dangerous place.
So many dangers that we face
When we have wandered far from grace
Are things the fallen world employs
To break our hearts, and steal our joys;
Be careful out there, girls and boys:
For we, like sheep can go astray!
If only someone led the way,
And took us where the grass is deep,
Enough for even selfish sheep…
“I’m the Good Shepherd” said a man,
So I will follow him while I can,
Because I’d really like to see
If there’s a possibility of living life abundantly.
So far he hasn’t lied to me, this Shepherd out of Galilee…

To purchase my newest book Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Do Sheep Really Need to Follow a Stupid Shepherd Around? Yes I’m Talking to YOU

Wandering Sheep

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV) It is well-documented that sheep are not very intelligent animals. Sheep don’t strategize, they don‘t figure things out, and their general approach to life is that they wander around intent on finding things to appease their appetites. I’m sure Isaiah used this comparison because that sounds like a lot of people out there.

sheep follow

Shepherds were needed because sheep couldn’t figure things out for themselves. A shepherd could help them find watering holes and pastures with grass to eat as the seasons changed. Even when sheep have a shepherd who is looking out after their interests, protecting them from danger, leading them to food and water, and generally taking care of them, there are still sheepish tragedies. Sheep will wander off by themselves to suffer dehydration or starvation, or they will fall prey to predators who want to eat them for dinner.

Having a Guide Helps

Without a shepherd though, it gets worse. When sheep achieve freedom from their shepherd, they find themselves in a world full of possibilities. They might stumble into a rich pasture by a nice pond, or they could find themselves alone and friendless in a life and death situation. I wonder, as the sheep bleats plaintively in the desert, or when the lion is closing fast, does the sheep ever think, “Gee, I wish I had stayed with that shepherd. Maybe he knows something I don’t.” By then it is almost always too late.

When you think about it, we are a lot like sheep. We have a shepherd, but we mostly like to venture out on our own. We have a tendency to go astray. We have turned, every one to his own way, and traded the security of the shepherd’s control and limitations for the chance of freedom in a dangerous world. Our curiosity or our appetite will call us away from the shepherd’s advice and limitations to go out on our own.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Doing What You Want

The essence of sin is doing what you want, taking control, being selfish, and turning aside from your created purpose. That’s the also at the heart of Lucifer’s arrogant proclamation in Isaiah 14:12 and following: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’“

Notice how many times he says “I will”. It’s the same thing that all of us do. As the preacher says, “Whenever you sin, there’s always an “I” right in the middle of it. So how about you? Are you astray? Do you have a tendency to leave the Shepherd and go off on your own?

There’s another 14:12 in the Bible that says it this way. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Don’t trade the security of the Shepherd’s limitations for the freedom to wander about in a deadly world. 1 Peter 5:8 warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” When the lion finds you alone in the world, I guarantee you will end up feeling sheepish.

The Hungry Lion

Just like sheep, we go astray by turning off to our own way,
And make an independent choice unguided by the Shepherd’s voice.
We choose to go our own direction, wander off from his protection,
Hoping good will come to pass as we go off for greener grass…
But sadly, there’s an evil power who’s seeking those he may devour,
Stalking independent sheep who wander down the pathways steep.
Be vigilant, and be alert: the devil wants to cause you hurt,
To bring you down and bring you in to feel the ravages of sin!
Be watchful, careful, and be wary, lest this deadly adversary
Tempt you to a path that makes a detour into grave mistakes…
So listen to the shepherd’s call: he bore the iniquity of us all,
Extending love to great and small, redeeming sinners from the fall.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Devil is Fiction, Right? When Lyin’ Leads You to Your Adversary the Lion…

Men have talked about the devil for centuries, and I’m sure many people assume he is mythological or a fictional character. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44, NIV) The devil, you say? Isn’t he just an imaginary being with horns, a pitchfork and a tail? Certainly he doesn’t really wield influence in our world…

devil

Fact or Fiction?

In the same discourse where he said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”, Jesus identified the devil as a murderer and a liar, and says he has always been that way, from the very beginning. Apparently Jesus thought the devil was as real as a heart attack. He also pointed out that anyone who does not value integrity or truth is actually Satan’s minion (and not the cute, “Despicable me” kind…). There are only two kinds of people in this world: those who recognize and participate in the Kingdom of God, and those who, knowingly or unknowingly, are part of Satan’s kingdom.

A couple of observations: just like anything loving in this world must come from God (for God is love, 1 John 4:8, 16), anything deceitful must come from the devil, because he is the father of lies. Every falsehood and corruption of the truth comes from the father of falsehood. Jesus points out that our very desires can be influenced by the great deceiver, who enjoys bringing more death into the world.

More Outlets than Ever

If there is a spiritual realm where God is opposed by the devil, and if that spiritual realm impacts our world, then count on this: the Father of lies has many, many outlets. When we are bombarded with half-truths or minor variations of reality, it came from him. When revisions of history alter the facts just a little bit, and when the boundaries around actual events get moved, Satan has his hand in it. They don’t have to be big lies, they can be minor deviations. If you start with two parallel train tracks going for miles in a straight line, and deviate one just .005%, eventually that variation will cause a train wreck.

So… when media blurs the lines or tells only a part of the story, and when you encounter journalistic “reporting” that didn’t check its source, there is only one place it could have come from. When a politician lies (or reverses their position as if they never held the first one), we know who is speaking. When friends post inaccurate information on social media that tells only one side of a story, they are complicit. If there is a devil, all of those lies are helping expand his kingdom. You know those times when we tell a little white lie? Guess where that comes from? When Truth is abused or damaged, guess who is happy about it?

Just as God motivates us to be loving and selfless, the Devil motivates us to be selfish and deceitful. When we love, we connect to something godly, and to God himself. When we lie, or listen to lies, well… Be careful out there. Peter said, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV). Lyin’ can lead you to the Lion. Don’t get et.

The Devil You Say

Watch the things you listen to, be careful what you read;
The world is full of bad advice that it wants you to heed.
I don’t know your opinion, what you think or how you feel,
But Jesus said the devil is alive, and mean, and REAL.
Peter said that Satan wants to have you for a meal!
He’s like a roaring lion on the hunt this very hour,
So please make sure that you are not the next thing he’ll devour.
Resist his lies and use God’s love to circumvent his power…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread