Our nation recognized its veterans this pass Saturday. Many businesses offered free services to military persons who are serving or have served this country. It is an honor that bears year round observance. As an Army veteran, I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to be used in preserving the freedoms this country enjoys! To those who gave so much more than just their time and service I say – THANK YOU – GOD BLESS YOU – GOD KEEP YOU!
Today, I want to honor another group that has been called to duty. The Good Shepherd – The Pastor! I firmly believe God is the only Commander-in-Chief who directs one to this very important office and God directs and guides the Shepherd in the abundance of his duties toward the sheep. Without God operating from the very seat of the Shepherd’s heart, it is easy for the church to be infiltrated by those who have today, have crept in unawares, to cast shame upon the gospel of Jesus Christ:
Jude 1:4 (KJV) – For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Moses gives us an awesome picture of what the Shepherd’s mission is – to bring a people out of bondage. Moses was called to bring a nation out of bondage, which in itself is a far cry from just managing a congregation of 50-3000 people. His call was simply stated:
Exodus 3:10 (KJV) – 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Egypt is a picture of the world, and Moses was called to pull this great nation out the world, which is a picture of bondage. No true Shepherd nonchalantly throws his hat into a ring like this shouting, “pick me, me, me, pick me!” A true Shepherd spiritually discerns and recognizes that there is an overwhelming responsibility appointed to those in this position, and he bombards heaven with his prayers for confirmation. Moses was described as one who was very meek and faithful. I wonder if in addition to his fear of being rejected by his people for his past, if a part of his reluctance was also his experience with the inherent difficulties of getting sheep to follow directions.
Today, I want to honor those Shepherds who, totally dependent on God for guidance and instruction, organize their bodies through the teachings of the bible, to the mission ministries, into a fitly joined body working together to accomplish the main goals of ministry. I have observed some qualities I associate with good Shepherds I’ve admired and been under:
They Have A Heart For Making Disciples – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
They Devote Themselves To Studying The Word Of God – Acts 6:3-6 (KJV)
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
They Sacrifice Their Lives For The Ministry – Acts 20:23-25 (KJV)
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Their Ministry Is Christ & Mission Centered – 2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (KJV)
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Their Ministry Is Focused On Reconciling The Lost – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (KJV)
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
They Build The Ministry Through Servanthood – Ephesians 4:8-16 (KJV)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Their Ministry Endures Through Hardships – 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (KJV)
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Believers are the sheep of the congregations where we worship and learn the ways in which God desires his children to develop their Christ-likeness and impact the world that surrounds us. We stumble, we go astray, we are afflicted, but God uses his Shepherds to draw us back to the way, the truth and the life. We are no different than the Nation of Israel in the wilderness: we complain; do our own thing; do our dirt; and then, cry out for God to deliver us from the error of ways.
If you think it is easy to Shepherd people, I question if you understand the full picture given in the wilderness experience for both the shepherd and the sheep. I want to leave a picture from the wilderness experience in the hopes that there would be a greater honor associated and demonstrated daily to those who answered the call of duty to Shepherd God’s people, and who do so with a heart sold out entirely to building the spiritual kingdom of God; not a kingdom on earth.
True Shepherds don’t want to be put upon a pedestal and/or treated as kings. True Shepherds are Christ servants serving God’s people to expand the kingdom of God. True Shepherds train men, women and children to be dedicated, faithful, and steadfast soul winners. True Shepherds look for open doors in the community to serve and share the gospel message of redemption. And, True Shepherds thrive on going beyond the four walls into the mission fields to minister in the word of reconciliation.
To the True Shepherds Called to Duty
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HUMBLE SERVICE
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DAILY SACRIFICE
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DEDICATED LEADERSHIP
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVANT’S HEART
THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING THE CALL TO DUTY!
We as Sheep…
- Lack spiritual discernment – v.7a
- Forget God’s mercy of before – v.7b
- Provoke God – v.7c
Yet God …
- Saved us for his namesake to prove his might – v.8
- Leads us through dry land and valleys – v.9
- Protects and redeems us from our enemy – v.10
We then …
- Believe his words and sing his praise – v.12
But we …
- Again forget his works and his counsel – v.13
- Lust after the world’s offerings – v.14
- Gain the world, but lack grace and spiritual comfort – v.15
- Exchange God’s glory for other gods – vv.19-20
- Forget yet again – vv.21-22
- Despise his provisions & word – v.24
- Complain more & listen less – v.25
- Join ourselves to the unrighteous – v.28
- Provoke our Shepherds to do them a disservice – vv.32-33
- Mingle with the works of the world – vv.33-39