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Faithlife

The Benefits of Being Sheep

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Being true sheep means we have a True and Good Shepherd with all of the benefits.

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John 10:1–30 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
PRAYER
An evangelist was preaching in a small Methodist church in Georgia and asked the crowd, “How many of you folks here this morning are Methodists?”
Everybody raised a hand, except one little old lady. After the service, when the two shook hands he said, “Ma’am, I noticed you didn’t raise your hand. That means you’re not a Methodist. Would you mind telling me what you are?
She said, “Well, I am a Baptist.” Some of the others didn’t seem to like her answer. So, he asked her, “Ma’am would you mind telling me why you’re a Baptist?”
She said, “I really don’t know, except my mother and father was a Baptist. My grandmother and my grandfather were Baptist.”
The preacher said, “Ma’am, that’s really not a good reason to be a Baptist. Suppose your mother and your father, and your grandmother and grandfather had been morons, what would you have been?”
Without batting an eye, she said, “I guess I’d have been a Methodist.”
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Not offense to our Methodists friends, but it raises a good point. I don’t want to talk to you about being a Methodist, a Catholic, a Lutheran or even a Baptist.
R.G. Lee said, “We’re a rather conservative bunch. Like Methodist without the excitement. We never raise our hands in church. We can’t We’re afraid if we raise them too high, God might call on us. In fact, we’re so conservative, Christ could come back tomorrow and we’d form a committee to look into it.”
Why are you a Christian? Why do you claim to be a Christ follower? Why are you a sheep? Do you know the benefits of being one?
I wonder how many people with their name on the Baptist roll know why they are Baptist. I wonder how many people on a church roll, on our church roll, know why they are Christian.
This passage can be an encouraging one for a Christian, as long as they are living in the spirit, in the will of God. It can also be a passage we want to avoid if we are living as carnal Christians. Boy have I learned a lot about sheep this week. After learning what I did, I don’t want to be a sheep either.
I want to talk to you about
See in the flesh, with our American mentality and way of life, we don’t like being called sheepish or being seen as sheep. Some of you want to be like a wolf. We think the wolf is unafraid and a risk taker. We think a wolf rises to the challenge with its powerful instinct, intuition and high intelligence. But, surprisingly a wolf is one of the earth’s most cowardly and fearful animals, which is the reason it is so sly. It can also be one of the most vicious and blood-thirsty animals.
In the sermon on the mount () Jesus warns his followers to beware of the ravenous wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Jesus says the ones looking to rob the flock of their joy, rob the flock of their power, rob the flock of their faith, rob the flock of their witness, those people are like the wolf, sly and cunning. They come in and kill the church from the inside out. They take on the characteristics of the wolf pack. Often, they simply kill as much prey as is possible, regardless of hunger and appetite. This is done by “hamstringing” their prey. This leaves them helpless and unable to move. Then the wolf pack can eat and tear him apart at their own will. Although savage and bloodthirsty, wolves are among some of the world’s smartest and most perceptive mammals. These people are often most of the only ones left in a dying church because wolves have an extremely mighty stamina lasting on the hunt for 8-10 hrs at a time. They stare down their prey and are stimulated by the prey trying to run away from them. They are tenacious and do not give in until they are done. But in what is known as the “Conversation of Death” the wolf seeks to determine if the hunt will be stopped or not, if the prey resists or not. That is why James tells us to resist the Devil and he will flee.
Paul knew how people, acting like wolves could be in a church and the damage they could do to the flock (reference to sheep). Listen to how the Message paraphrases his last words to the Ephesian elders.
Acts 20:28–31 The Message
“Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.
See, no person claiming the name of Christ should ever been known by wolf like character, or want to be known in this way, because the wolf is only ever described in scripture as a tool of satan to destroy the church.
They come in and kill the church from the inside out. They take on the characteristics of the wolf pack. Often, they simply kill as much prey as is possible, regardless of hunger and appetite. This is done by “hamstringing” their prey. This leaves them helpless and unable to move. Then the wolf pack can eat and tear him apart at their own will. Although savage and bloodthirsty, wolves are among some of the world’s smartest and most perceptive mammals. These people are often most of the only ones left in a dying church because wolves have an extremely mighty stamina lasting on the hunt for 8-10 hrs at a time. They stare down their prey and are stimulated by the prey trying to run away from them. They are tenacious and do not give in until they are done. But in what is known as the “Conversation of Death” the wolf seeks to determine if the hunt will be stopped or not, if the prey resists or not. That is why James tells us to resist the Devil and he will flee.
See, no person claiming the name of Christ should ever been known by wolf like character, or want to be known in this way, because the wolf is only ever described in scripture as a tool of satan to destroy the church.
Some of you may not like being known as a wolf, but boy how majestic is the lion? I mean come on it is known as “the King of the Jungle.” We want to be strong and confident like the lion.
See, no person claiming the name of Christ should ever be known by lion like character, or want to be known in this way, because the Bible describes satan as a lion on the prowl seeking to devour Christians.
If I ever think it cannot be me, I am wrong. Think it cannot be you, you are wrong. It can. Remember, Jesus called one of his most loyal and vocal disciples satan. Telling Peter, get the behind me satan. Again we are told to resist the devil and he will flee. Resisting the actions will cause sheep acting like wolves and lions to flee. It will cause the wolves who only look like sheep to flee.
Sheep are:
Sheep are:
Sheep are:
slow learners - constantly going through the same painful lesson over and over again
slow learners - constantly going through the same painful lesson over and over again
demanding - demanding from the time is a newborn, more and more grass, when snow on ground steady fussing at shepherd for food
demanding - demanding from the time is a newborn, more and more grass, when snow on ground steady fussing at shepherd for food
stubborn - cannot get them to do anything very easily
unpredictable - will watch a car coming for several hundred yards and then run right out in front of it.
unpredictable - will watch a car coming for several hundred yards and then run right out in front of it.
imitators - Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them. When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good "decision." For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. (This can happen spiritually in a church)
restless - For sheep to lie down, they need the four F’s. No fear. No friction. No flies and plenty of Food.
straying - been seen in the middle of nowhere all alone and unconcerned or seen dead in a little dip in the ground.
dependent - cannot thrive or survive w/o close supervision of their shepherd.
Usually the scripture reference about sheep give an imagery as helpless and hopeless. “Like sheep gone astray. - helpless” “He looked on the crowd as sheep w/o a shepherd. - hopeless” Jesus is the True Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, - the Great Shepherd. Through Him and only through Him are the sheep blessed and benefitted.
This is a major point that must always be emphasized. In v.5 - the negative wording reinforces what has already been said about the true sheep of the True shepherd. They “do not know the voice of strangers,” which is because the True sheep have a firsthand familiarity with the True Sheherd through experience. That experience with the shepherd does not exist without a conversion experience, which begins with conviction of sin, repentance of sin and commitment to the savior from your sin. Without that there does not exist for you, any benefits of being sheep, because you are not one until you are made one by the Holy Spirit.
v.This is a major point that must always be emphasized.
You have a True and Great Shepherd who loves you so much that He died for you.
v.1 & 7 - Jesus is the door of the sheep. A near Eastern shepherd would lay himself in the opening of the gate into the fold/pen thus becoming the door. The only entrance for True sheep is through the door
v.3-5 & 14 - John, in this chapter however, shows Jesus as describing a beautiful imagery, a positive one of the close intimate relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. The context of this passage is the conversation between Jesus and Jewish leaders and laypeople who thought they were in God’s flock but were not because of no faith in the True Shepherd, the Messiah.
This is a major point that must always be emphasized. In v.5 - They “do not know the voice of strangers,” which is because the True sheep have a firsthand familiarity with the True Shepherd through experience.
v.9 - Again, Jesus says that he is the Door. The Door is synonymous with Savior.
v.17 & 28 - Jesus is the savior because He gives his life for the sheep so that they may have eternal life. This points to the substitutionary atonement, he died in our place so we could live. That experience with the shepherd does not exist without a conversion experience, which begins with conviction of sin, repentance of sin and commitment to the savior from your sin. Without that there does not exist for you, any benefits of being sheep, because you are not one until you are made one by the Holy Spirit. If you are made a true sheep then:
You have a True and Great Shepherd that leads you in the best way to the best places.
v.3, 4 and 27 - The context of this verse is something very unfamiliar to Westerners because you think of sheep being herded by a sheep dog and a man driving the sheep. Near-Eastern shepherds however, stand outside of the sheep fold/pen and call out the specific names of his sheep. The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd and the follow - or are in the same way with, they accompany Him. The sheep are moved along by the shepherd’s firm voice and gentle leading. He leads to the greenest pastures and the quietest waters.
v.10 - Jesus here in the text, is comparing the unbelieving Pharisees and unbelieving Jewish lay people in the crowd to the wolf who catches some sheep and scatters the others.
In the sermon on the mount () Jesus warns his followers to beware of the ravenous wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Jesus says the ones looking to rob the flock of their joy, rob the flock of their power, rob the flock of their faith, rob the flock of their witness, those people are like the wolf, sly and cunning. Often, wolves simply kill as much prey as is possible, regardless of hunger and appetite. This is done by “hamstringing” their prey. This leaves them helpless and unable to move. They are tenacious and do not give in until they are done. But in what is known as the “Conversation of Death” the wolf seeks to determine if the hunt will be stopped or not, if the prey will resist or not.
Paul knew how people, acting like wolves could be in a church and the damage they could do to the flock (reference to sheep). Listen to how the Message paraphrases his last words to the Ephesian elders.
Acts 20:28–31 The Message
“Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.
See, no person claiming the name of Christ should ever been known by wolf like character, or want to be known in this way, because the wolf is only ever described in scripture as a tool of satan to destroy the church. But:
You have a True and Great Shepherd who gives life that cannot be taken, shaken or destroyed.
What Jesus means by Abundant life is “life to the full” which suggests fat, contented and flourishing sheep. Contentment in Christ means: No fear. No Friction. No Flies. and plenty of Food (Spiritual). True disciples, true sheep live and enjoy life long before it is eternal. This verse alludes to life at its best lived in and for Jesus not self. Which you should live for Jesus w/o fear and in faith because:
You have a True and Great Shepherd who gives life that cannot be taken, shaken or destroyed.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ promise of giving you abundant life is in His depiction of you as a sheep?
Have you ever noticed that Jesus’ promise of giving you abundant life is in His depiction of you as a sheep?
v.10 - What Jesus means by Abundant life is “life to the full” which suggests fat, contented and flourishing sheep. Contentment in Christ means: No fear. No Friction. No Flies. and plenty of Food (Spiritual). True disciples, true sheep live and enjoy life long before it is eternal. This verse alludes to life at its best lived in and for Jesus not self. Which you should live for Jesus w/o fear and in faith. It is hard for some Christians to not let fear be their guide. They only remember the warning about the devil roaming like a lion. They allow themselves to be devoured by the lions in the church.
They are sociable creatures and enjoy good fellowship, but that fellowship however, is only amongst themselves in the pride of about 15 or less. The females do almost all the hunting, stalking and ambushing their prey in groups undercover. They try to circle around the prey separating the one from the many. They kill the prey by strangulation, literally chocking the life out of them.
What Jesus means by Abundant life is “life to the full” which suggests fat, contented and flourishing sheep. Contentment in Christ means: No fear. No Friction. No Flies. and plenty of Food (Spiritual). True disciples, true sheep live and enjoy life long before it is eternal. This verse alludes to life at its best lived in and for Jesus not self. Which you should live for Jesus w/o fear and in faith because:
Too often new believers, new members, regular visitors, even longtime servant members in a church have this happen to them spiritually. The lions and lionesses with negativism and pessimism, begin to chock the spiritual life from their victim. The lions go undercover, behind a closed door, around a corner or in the parking lot. These enemies of Christ will use their critical cynicism, their obstructionism, their push for personal preferences to chock the spiritual life out of the ones who just want to worship and serve the shepherd who died to save them.
See no person claiming the name of Christ should ever want to be known by a lion’s character. See only two individuals are called lions, one is Jesus, the Lion of Judah, and we will never be Jesus. The other is the devil roaming like a lion, seeking to devour Christians. If I don’t think I could be like the devil, I am wrong. If you think you can be like the devil, you’re wrong. We both can in our flesh and pride. Peter did. Jesus said, “get behind me Satan.”
James tells us that if the devil is resisted, he will flee, but fear sets in too often, or weariness. A Sheep’s natural instinct is to flee not fight. Their strategy is to use avoidance and rapid flight to avoid being eaten. After fleeing, sheep will reform their group and look at the predator. They use their natural herding instinct to band together for safety.
After fleeing, sheep will reform their group and look at the predator. They use their natural herding instinct to band together for safety. A sheep that is by itself is vulnerable to attack.
If the devil is not resisted a church will end up with a bunch of carcasses and a bunch of starving lions, making it a church with no spiritual life left. - This is a real scenario too often, in fact I know of one church right now just north of us, without a pastor (shepherd), dropped couple hundred plus in attendance, and fighting off the lions while praying to revive the carcasses.
I will say the opposite of Thom Rainer in his Autopsy of a Deceased Church book. I say when the members have a greater passion for lost souls and the gospel than the personal preferences of the few lions, then you will have a living and vibrant church.
What do we have to fear in standing for the Lord. v. 28 - is one of the greatest promises in the Bible to God’s children. His sheep are forever His sheep. No matter how hard the lion roars, he can never kill you. Jesus is the Great Shepherd who provides protection against the wolves. Sheep, must stay focused on Him. Jesus will remove the wolves and lions. Jesus is not like the hired help who runs away when things get tough, he has a deep compassionate concern for His sheep.
You will never loose your salvation, nor will anyone ever snatch you out of the Shepherds hand.
Conclusion: Sheep do actually have some worthwhile and useful qualities, as long as they remain with the flock. Christian you have the same worthwhile and useful qualities, as long as you remain with the church or flock of committed followers.
Sheep can withstand dry seasons for several months without water as long as it eats the grass early in the morning while still wet with dew. Rise early and eat from God’s Word and you will survive your dry season.
In the absence of the shepherd, sheep will follow one of their own who rises to act as their leader. They trust and follow him as they would the Master. Jesus has left pastors and elders to lead each lock flock. Pray that I and other leaders follow the shepherd well while I try to lead you well, and if so, follow as you would Jesus.
Sheep are remarkable also for their mutual affection. The sudden start of a single member of a flock affects the whole, as if they were connected by nerves of mutual affection. Be kind to someone in the church, and see if you do not start a chain reaction that builds the unity of the one flock in v.16.
Affection for their shepherd is stronger than their mutual love. Him they will follow away from their friends. Keep your focus on Jesus and not the wiles around you. If you have lost your first love, return to Jesus.
Their affection for their young, also, is stronger than their love for one another. Adults, Senior especially, we have some younger ones that need your attention to be on them.
Another characteristic of sheep is patience. When a sheep is caught by the shearer, at first there is a short struggle, until she finds that she is firmly held and cannot get away. Christian no matter the problem, rest in the firm arms of your Great Shepherd.
Sheep have an amazing tolerence for pain. They do not show pain, because if they do, they will be more vulnerable to predators who look for those who are weak or injured. Christian do not let the wolves and lions see your hurt. Take it to Jesus. Share it with other sheep, but stand together and stand firm.
A sheep is continually busy in making herself valuable, and multiplying herself or increasing her own growth for the benefit of others. Christian, don’t look to see how you can be taken care of at church. Move beyond yourself to serve others. Get off the pew and be busy in making yourself valuable. Benefit others.
If God has convicted you in that you realize you are not yet one of His sheep, hear his call and repent, ask forgiveness and become one.
If God has convicted you in that you realize you are not yet one of His sheep, hear his call and repent, ask forgiveness and become one.
If any of us have been more like a wolf or lion, yet know we should be a sheep, God calls us to repent and reconcile.
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