The Lord is my shepherd. Psalms 23:1
One of my all time favorite writers and brother in the Lord is the late Phillip Keller. A sheep man and naturalist with a zest for life and a powerful testimony of grace; this quiet man of God who claimed to be a layman touched many lives with his writings. From his experience being a shepherd in East Africa Phillip wrote about raising sheep.
One of his most popular books, "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty Third Psalm" was a wonderful blessing in my life learning about how the Lord loves and cares for His sheep. These next few messages will attempt to give you insight into our Lord's gracious provision and great patience that He bestows on His children.
THE RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP
To say that the Lord is my Shepherd, involves ones truthful statement that he has allowed the Lord Jesus Christ to have total control over his life. To give up ownership of your life is a choice that you will have to make in order to obtain eternal life. Simply joining a church, being baptized or praying a prayer will avail you nothing in regards to everlasting life unless you surrender to the Shepherd's care.
If you were to ask most people about their eternal destination they would respond by saying, I have led a good life and have tried to do the best I could and I hope I will enter into heaven. Many today in the church have no assurance of salvation because they only prayed a little prayer not really understanding what was expected of them or what the cost of eternal life would entail.
The only human institution that even remotely resembles salvation is marriage. The giving up of ones life to another in total submission and the commitment to become one with another person. Giving your life to the good Shepherd is the same commitment, and it involves the total submission of body, soul and spirit forever. Coming under the Shepherd's care is to allow Him to lead you throughout your life trusting in the fact that He truly cares for your well being and ultimately knows whats best for you.
"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." John 10:1
A sheepfold is a partial corral originally made of rock or brush designed to protect the sheep at night from storms and predators. In the spiritual sense it represents the place of rest and protection given to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the door of the sheepfold and for us to enter we must go through His shed blood to receive forgiveness of sin and find mercy and grace to restore our life.
Jesus, in actuality is the sheepfold, a refuge from the storm, a shield to protect us from predators, and a shelter for us to enter as a place of rest. Jesus is the good Shepherd and He makes every effort to manage His sheep and bring them under His oversight in every aspect of their life. The care and management of sheep is a full time job and it involves the shepherd's attention to every minute detail of the flock.
When one submits his life into the total control of the good Shepherd he knows that Jesus has laid down His life for the sheep and shed His own blood so that we would have eternal life and could entrust our souls to a faithful Savior who has paid the ultimate price so that He deserves the right of ownership. Sheep are led and goats are driven, only by ones total submission of his will can he enter the sheepfold and come under the loving care of the Shepherd of our life.
"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." John 10:14,15
THE SHEPHERD'S PROVISION
I shall not want. Psalms 23:1
One of the greatest stories in the bible and a wonderful example of God's provision is when Moses led the children of Israel into the desert. Moses, a type of Jesus and shepherd of almost three million people with all of their possessions and livestock led them into the wilderness. Three days into the journey they ran out of water and began to cry out to Moses for help.
As they arrived at Marah they found the waters to be bitter and could not drink so they complained to Moses and God told him to cast a tree into the bitter water, representing the cross of Christ and the water was made pure. God showed Himself that day that He was a good Shepherd able to provide even in the midst of an impossible situation. For forty years, God proved over and over that no matter what the circumstance that His provision was sufficient for His people.
Sometimes we underestimate the good Shepherd's ability to provide for us even though in the wilderness God performed an impossible miracle among the children of Israel. To provide food and drink, not to mention the feeding and watering of their livestock which could have numbered in the millions; the daily provision of God's people would have had to be brought in by the trainload. At one time I had the figures of what it would entail just for one day's provision and the numbers were staggering.
If God could provide for that many people and never ever let them down, even though they whined and complained daily for forty years, do you not think that He is more than capable of taking care of you? Sheep have to be cared for, they simply can't be left alone to provide for themselves and that's why they have to have a shepherd to give oversight in regards to their welfare.
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
"For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:31-34