The call of our Shepherd's psalm 23
A farmer pointed out to a friend his thriving crops and healthy livestock. His companion was especially impressed with the beautiful sheep in the pasture. He had seen the same breed before, but never such attractive animals. Curious, he asked the farmer how he had managed to raise such outstanding sheep. The answer was straightforward but profound: “My friend, I just take very good care of the lambs.”
Friends, as a Youth Leader I can tell you that taking very good care of the lambs, indeed goes along way in making an outstanding flock, however our Lord, the Chief Shepherd- He goes far beyond this.
Let’s read Psalm 23
Jesus Christ takes very good care of all His sheep, from the youngest lamb to the oldest sheep. He takes care of the strongest and the weakest, the healthiest and the most sick. The most rich and the most poor, all of us who are members of the Lord’s flock we can trust the Lord will take care of us, completely, and today in the church the Lord has called a few men to shepherd his church until he returns.
1 Peter 5
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
The elder’s of this church are the men that God has called to shepherd this church, and God has indeed given them a great calling. A call to be like Jesus, the chief shepherd.
Elder’s the Lord has called you to love your sheep, like he loves us. Psalm 23 shows us three ways the Lord loves his sheep.
I. First, we see in verses 1-3, the Lord loves us by restoring our soul.
It says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Phillip Keller, once a shepherd himself, in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 says that the strange thing about sheep is that because of their very makeup, it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.
First, due to their timidity, they must be free from all fear. Next, because of their sociability, they must be free from friction with others of their kind. Third, they must be free from flies or parasites if they are to relax. Lastly, they will not lie down unless free from hunger. It is only the shepherd who can provide release from all these anxieties.
As we read this it seems odd that it takes so much for sheep to simply lie down and relax, but the truth is most of us are just like sheep.
How many of us actually use Sunday’s as a day of rest? How many of us when we go on vacation, take work with us.
Furthermore, most of us overwork during the week and are not even willing to take our vacation time. An online article called, “Why Most Americans are Vacation Starved, “ says this
In America, vacations are considered a perk or indulgance. We've been so indoctrinated with the work ethic that we brag about working sixty hours a week and sleeping only 5 hours a night--little realizing that our obsession with work often leads to burnout, stress and a premature death from heart disease or cancer.
Important studies have concluded that almost every American under 40 is swept up in a self-inflicted epidemic of sleep- deprivation. Dual income couples must juggle jobs, cars, children, debt and chores to get even 30 minutes of leisure time together each day. For most, the only way to get more free time is to cut back on sleep. The result: millions of young adults sleep only 5-6 hours on weekday nights.
What will it take for us to lie down and relax, so that our souls might be restored?
Must we all come to the point of burning out , before we finally realize that the Lord offers restoration of the soul.
This is what the Sabbath is about.
Our Lord has told us to work 6 days, and then take a break from all worldly activities 1 day of the week to find rest in the Lord. This is prescribed because our God knows that we need this rest. Mark 2 tells us that the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. In other words, because the Lord knew we needed a spiritual rest, he made it a rule for us to follow. It is for our own good.
However, like the sheep because of our very make up it is almost impossible to get us to lie down and rest.
It is the calling of our shepherds to take care of us by making us lie down in green pastures and lead us by still waters. We will probably not do it on our own, but our shepherds must tell us. Friend, I love, but your working too hard, you need a break.
Secondly, one of the most difficult callings of our shepherds is to discipline us. The end of verse 3 and verse 4 says,
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,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
The first thing that you probably notice is that I placed this idea of the Lord guiding us in the paths of righteousness in this point concerning discipline. When we think of discipline, we think of punishing our children for wrong that they have done. However, this is not the idea here. The idea here we probably think of more as discipling.
You see the Lord, our Great Shepherd, first teaches us the ways of righteousness. Then when he finds us in the valley of the shadow of death, he then uses his rod and his staff to comfort us.
I remember Keith Fields, Sr. came to youth group one time to share with us about this passage. I remember him saying that this valley was full of snakes under the ground, and when a sheep got stuck here he would face sure death, if His shepherd did not save him.
In order to save the sheep the shepherd had to use his rod in order to brake the sheep’s leg, so that he could carry him to safety.
A story is told of An American traveling in Syria who became acquainted with a shepherd. Each morning, he noticed the shepherd carrying something to the sheep. The traveler followed him one morning and found that he was taking food to one sheep that had a broken leg.
As he looked at the animal, he said to the shepherd, “How did the sheep break its leg? Did it meet with an accident, fall into a hole or did some animal break the leg?”
“No,” said the shepherd, “I broke this sheep’s leg myself.”
“You broke it yourself?” queried the surprised traveler.
“Yes, you see, this is a wayward sheep; it would not stay with the flock, but would lead the sheep astray. Then it would not let me near it.
I could not approach it, and so I had to break the sheep’s leg that it might allow me, day by day to feed it. In doing this it will get to know me as its shepherd, trust me as its guide, and keep with the flock.”
Sadly, we are often very much like this wayward sheep. We must learn and relearn who our shepherd is, and learn to trust him as our guide, and then we will keep to the flock.
This is the difficult part of the calling for you elders. You are called to teach us the ways of righteousness, and when we stray, it is your job, sirs, to break our legs, and bring us back into the flock, and feed us.
Finally, brothers, a Shepherd is called to provide a home for his sheep. Verse 5-6 says,
“ You (the Lord) 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
Here we find that the shepherd provides all that a sheep needs. He provides food, oil for his wool, drink, goodness and love, and shelter from danger.
Most of you know that I have spent a great deal of time talking about the church as a family over the past months. Here we find the shepherd, acting as a Father. He provides not only a house and food, but goodness and love.
In Middle School, my mother, and my brother moved to Tennessee, while my dad was sent with the military to a battalion in Crete, Greece. For most of Middle School my father was stationed away from us, and during this time we finally found a home church.
With my father being gone, the elders of our church stepped in and became father’s and grandfather’s to me. The elder’s came to my football games and other special events. If I ever needed a man to talk to, they were there. Everything that I needed from a man that my dad could not provide, they were there.
Elders it is your call to be the Father’s of this church. The Lord has called you to make Neely’s Creek Church a home, not just a place where people come together. We are a family, and elders, you are the Father’s.
Father’s as you see the calling to be a shepherd is not easy. After today, you are probably thinking there is no way that you can live up to this calling. You are correct, but this is what we need. Especially, during this time without a pastor, we need men of God to take lead as our Shepherds.
Church this is a reminder to you of what you have elected these men to do. As 1 Peter says, they are not here to Lord over you, but rather to be servants and examples, in order to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Expect your elders to be your shepherds. Call on your elder when you have a need or a prayer concern.
Today, I would like to have the elder’s come forward.
These men are your shepherds, and they are continually praying for you. Today, I am going to pray for your elders, I ask that you join me in doing this by praying silently. Then I would ask for a couple of the Elder’s to lift you as a Church up in prayer.
As they do this we would like to remember all those who will be serving the church this week in VBS. Will all the workers please stand up, so that the elders can see who they are praying for.
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.