Shepherds

shepherds and sheep

As I mentioned last week we don’t think very much about sheep in this day and age and it’s logical that we think little about shepherds. The role of a shepherd has changed in this modern day and it doesn’t have the same meaning it had in biblical times. The work of a shepherd still exists today in areas of the world and people still care for sheep in the way that the scripture describes for us.

Let’s take a look at why the role of shepherd is important today for those of us that call ourselves Christians. The word shepherd quite obviously comes from the joining of the two words sheep and herd. So a shepherd is one who herds sheep. It can also mean pastor or one that works in the “pastures”.

1 Samuel 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

Isn’t it interesting that David was a shepherd, the man after God’s own heart and would be the first acceptable King, started as a lowly shepherd. We also see that Abraham, Moses, Jacob all were shepherds. Jesus described Himself as the “Good Shepherd” that lays down His life for His sheep. The metaphorical use of shepherding and the important role of shepherds are as significant for us today as it was in the times of Christ.

We can see that God uses the lowly to reveal His greatness. Shepherds were considered the bottom rung of society, shepherding was not a glamorous job. It was a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. Sheep never stop being sheep. They need constant care and watching over. We saw in the article about sheep that they need constant watch because there is so much danger for them. They easily contract illness and cuts which can cause disease. They are very susceptible to attack from predators.

So you might say, “Well this is moderately interesting but how does it affect us today?”

There is a tremendous amount of New Testament application to the role of being a shepherd, but for the sake of this article, being shepherded. What does it mean to be shepherded by those called to be shepherds?

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…

As established above the word pastor here is the same word as shepherd (poimēn) which means literally or figuratively to be a shepherd or a pastor. We can see that Christ Himself has appointed men in your life to be your pastor, for what purpose…for the purpose of equipping you for the work of ministry and the edifying of the body.

This really is the primary purpose of the church and the work of those that are in ministry as pastors and elders. It’s not to stand on the stage and give you a pep talk about life, or provide you with a motivational speech to keep you going until next week.

The pastors job is bring the weight of scripture to bear upon your life. That you would be edified and equipped for the work God has for you. Not to fill the seats with his wonderful charm and quick-wit.

The shepherd will do the unpopular things to keep his sheep healthy. He will pin them down and pull bot flies out of their infected flesh. Doesn’t this make the 23rd Psalm come to life?

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” Just think about this for a moment, it’s not your own desire to lie down in a green pasture, you must be made to do it.

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” If you are a child of the King you will be led on the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Sometimes the shepherd must use the rod to correct, even when it’s unpopular.

1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

What an overwhelming charge give to those that Christ has appointed. They are told to be examples and overseers. They are accountable for souls, and we generally just want to be sheep, right? We desire our own way, and we might want some accountability, but not too much.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Here is a charge to us sheep. We are to willingly place ourselves under the authority of our shepherds, as we willingly place ourselves under the authority of Christ. We have established earlier by looking at Ephesians 4:11 that Christ Himself has placed those shepherds and now we must obey and be submissive.

Why?

Because it is profitable for us! Doesn’t it make sense that when sheep have illness and disease and the shepherd digs out the nasty infection that can kill his sheep; that is profitable for that sheep? Do we make that connection? Have you considered the last time you fought against God’s desire for your life and you refused to obey or submit? If your shepherd was faithful in his calling, he did his job.

Did you fulfill your requirement?

May we humble ourselves today, for the plan God has put in place for the profit of His people.

Kevin

Home ownership & the mortification of sin

draftywindowb&w

What an odd title to a blog post right?  I’ve been struggling this week on a topic to write about so I went outside for a few minutes to take a look at a drafty window we have on the northwest corner of our house.  I thought I might cover it with a piece of plastic to cut down on the air flow, and as I was contemplating this, I asked God for wisdom in declaring His truth.

This has been an odd week for me, usually I get up pretty early on Monday morning, head to Starbucks, read my Bible, and then write my article.  The article is sent to my Pastor so he can ensure I’ve not made any huge theological blunders.  I take seriously the charge to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 3:15) and that I’ll be held accountable for what is being taught (James 3:1).  Then I’ll sit on it for most of Monday, review on Tuesday and make any refinements and then post it Tuesday sometime.

This week I caught a bad cold and I couldn’t drag myself out of bed Monday so I kept procrastinating and then again Tuesday…  So now here I am Tuesday evening and finally sitting down to write and I can’t think of a thing to say.  For those of you that know me I’m sure you’re wondering how that happened.

I’ve been a homeowner for approximately 22 years; well actually I’ve been buying a house from the bank for 22 years, but that’s a whole other article, and the thought occurred to me that there is a lot of maintenance to being a homeowner.  Down through the years, we’ve replaced the roof, the hot water heater, had our basement flooded a few times, it’s a never ending job to keep things up.

As I gave up on my window project as quickly as I thought about it I realized how similar it is to what Scripture calls me to mortify my flesh, not to entertain sin in my life in anyway.  It’s a never ending process.  It’s like watching a gerbil on a treadmill; we run and run but seemingly never get anywhere.  However, as with home maintenance and mortification of sin we must see some obvious signs of accomplishment or we must really examine our claim to Christianity.

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

If you gaze back on your Christian life do you see obvious signs of “accomplishment”?  I use this word accomplishment lightly because it’s God that works in us and the progress is not our own yet we must fully participate in the process.  Have you gained ground on your sin or do you continue to struggle with the same old stuff.

If my house is crumbling around me it would appear I’ve not been very diligent in keeping up with my investment.  So clearly we can see the parallel can’t we?  If I was to ask you how is your relationship with Christ I’d be every bit as interested in how is your relationship to your sin?  Are you closer to it or further from it?  Do you see your sin in a different light than what you once saw it?

Jesus Christ was the greatest preacher the world has ever known and one thing that made Him so good, beside the fact He is God, was His use of common everyday things in life that illustrated deep theological issues.  He called these parables and in my “parable” I hope you’ll consider today if you are working at killing the desires of your flesh, i.e. keeping up the maintenance, or are those nagging sin issues still dragging you down.

Without the grace of God there is no peace and when sin stands between you and God there is no grace. 

So today let’s put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.  Whatever sin issues you are currently dealing with you need to repent of that sin and then put it off completely.  If you are a Believer you are entitled to enter the throne room and set it at the foot of the One that freely gives to those who humble themselves, but you must not count that grace as a common thing (Hebrews 10:26).

If you are a Believer that sin was nailed to the cross of Christ.  So why would you continue in it?  Let’s really think about that today.

Kevin

Also wanted to announce our new radio show “Ask a Pastor”

I met Pastor Craig…

I met Pastor Craig Houston on September 29th, 2012.  Well… I sort of met him, I had sent the general mailbox at his church an email looking for some information on churches in the Seattle area and he wrote me back.  I was impressed by the tone of the email.  You can tell when someone has genuine intentions by how they write.  I didn’t seem to be an annoyance and I’m a chatty sort of fella when it comes to email.  I always seem to want to get the last word, even if it’s a “thank you”.

In the past month I’ve continued to communicate with Pastor Craig and we’ve had a dialogue going about churches on the east side that I could recommend to my friends.  I have greatly appreciated his willingness to help.  I can tell that if we actually sat down together we’d have great conversation because we share a passion for Christ and the gospel.  We are like minded in our pursuits.

I had been invited to attend a conference at the end of October and decided my work schedule was too busy to go, but I noticed Pastor Craig was on the speakers list.  This week I wanted to send him a note of encouragement.

Philippians 1:3-4 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

A group from Grace Fellowship Church was going to be attending and I had hoped I could meet him again through my Brothers and Sisters.  It looked to be a great time with a talented list of speakers.  In his typical fashion Pastor Craig wrote me back and thanked me for my encouragement and shared with me that he would be unable to attend.  It seems God had purposed something else and his daughter Anna had been diagnosed with Leukemia.  Anna is 16 years old.  In all, the Houston’s have 11 beautiful children.

I asked Pastor Craig how I could pray for him, and here was his response.

Our God is faithful and makes no mistakes. Pray that I will be able to lead my wife and children with steadfastness, compassion and strength during the season ahead – Grace and Peace

Brothers and Sisters we serve an Awesome God and He promises to work everything to the good for those that love Him.  We can trust that promise, but He never promised an easy road and He never promised perfect health to those that love Him.

Today I want to ask you a very challenging question.

Can you say, with confidence, God makes no mistakes?

I can when it’s Pastor Craig’s daughter.  It’s easy for me to Praise God’s name when it’s someone else.  I have to dig deep when I think about it being Grace, Madeline or Lydia.  What if God asks you to give Him back your child?  Do you only serve Him when your life is going well and your kids are healthy or can you begin to comprehend a trial like this?

In the easy times and the hard times, Believer, you must cling to Him because there really is nothing else that matters.  I look forward to hearing the testimonies that will come from Anna’s life and there will be many.  I know that the good news will be preached and lives will be changed, and that is a life that glorifies the One that is worthy.

2 Timothy 1:7-10 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Here is a link to Pastor Craig’s blog and you can read the story of Anna.

http://www.soundpulpit.com/my-sweet-anna-has-cancer

Here is Emily Houston’s blog which provides some great information about what is going on.

http://www.emiliesposts.blogspot.com/

Please join me in praying for the Houston family and that Pastor Craig can continue to lead his family in steadfastness, compassion and strength.  I for one have already benefitted greatly from this and I trust you will as well.

In Christ,

Kevin