Sheep and Shepherds

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1

רָעָה

ra`ah

shepherd

to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend):—× break, companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep (sheep) (-er), pastor, shearing house, shepherd, wander, waste.

occurs 173 times in 144 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV

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I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11

ποιμήν

poimēn

a shepherd (literally or figuratively):—shepherd, pastor

occurs 18 times in 17 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV

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Sheep do not have the ability to survive on their own.  They:

  • graze the same area until the pasture is destroyed.
  • pollute the same ground until it breeds dangerous parasites.
  • drink whatever water is available, clear or contaminated.
  • are fearful and become aggravated which can lead to improperly digesting foods.
  • are timid.
  • and can be stubborn.

They need a shepherd.

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Christians are compared to sheep quite frequently in God’s Word.

We wander down paths of our own devising rather than follow God’s way for our lives.  We delve into false beliefs.  We drink from unhealthy waters, figuratively.  We can be stubborn and fight against God’s best.

Looking at the natural habits of sheep when left on their own can be a reflection of ourselves.

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He is the Christ, the Son of God.  He created me and you.  Who better to care for me, for us?  He cared more than anything for the likes of me when He went to Calvary.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

We are capable of doing right, yet often fail in our attempts using our own strength.  We drink waters of the world rather than the Living Water.  We live in fear rather than trusting in Him Who is trustworthy.  We wander away from our Maker and do not listen for His still, small voice directing us in the way in which we should go.

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36

Jesus is our faithful Shepherd, gentle, caring, and, yet, stern.

A shepherd owns his sheep and marks them with his special mark to determine ownership.  He will cut a notch, a distinctive mark, into his sheep’s ear while placing one ear on a wooden block.

In the Old Testament, Exodus 21, this was also done to a slave in a Hebrew household who chose, of his own free will, to become a lifetime member of that home.  His master/owner would take him to the door, put his ear lobe against the door post and, with an awl, puncture a hole through the ear.  He was marked.

1 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.  Exodus 21:1-6

We, as Christ’s, bear the mark of the Cross.  Jesus has authority over me.

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  Matthew 16:24

We need the Good Shepherd, the One Who truly is our Shepherd.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  11 I am the good Shepherd.  The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  14 I am the good Shepherd.  I know My own and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice.  So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.  John 10:7-16

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Father God, You gave Your One and Only Son to pay the price for my iniquities.  Thank You so very much.  

As one of Your children, I so want to please You.  Carrying my cross daily and following Jesus is my call.  And I want that to always be my call.  I am grateful for being willing and able, for the sake of the Gospel.  I follow.  It is a privilege, LORD.  A privilege.  

As a sheep, I would wish that I were not so vulnerable, but I am.  It is by staying in Your Word, by listening to and for You, by praying, that I can remain in Your fold.  I know that the good Shepherd guards the gateway so that I remain safe.  He watches for the wolves, protecting me.  I am dependent upon Jesus and look to Him.  I am sorry for my past periods of straying away.  I am here now.  I must stay close for His protection is vital to my life.  Thank You, Father.  I lift up in prayer those who stray or are lost or have not yet found the Shepherd.  May they hear Your Voice and come to You before it is too late.  I have family and friends in those places and I so want them with us in Heaven.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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Photo of shepherd and sheep

Photo of John 10

Jesus — Propitiation for My Sins

God, You have blessed me with Your Word, Your Truth.  You teach me as I walk with You and learn Your ways.  You are showing me that by my sins, Your wrath is real.  Yet, by my sins, Your love and mercy and grace are strong and beautiful.  You sent Your Son for me.  You love me so.

For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?

You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.   Hebrews 2:5-9
hebrews2Jesus, the Son of Man and the Son of God

Jesus, our Salvation

Jesus, our All

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 2:17

ἱλάσκομαι

hilaskomai

to conciliate

to atone for (sin)

be propitious:—be merciful, make reconciliation for

propitiation (n) prō-pi-shē-ā-shǝn–

the act of appeasing the wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person

atonement or atoning sacrifice

Jesus…

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  1 John 2:2

Jesus…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  Romans 3:23-26

propitiation

Jesus…

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 4:10

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…’Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live…

from “In Christ Alone”

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Father, You could be so angry, so wrathful towards me.  I am a sinner.  But You see through me and know that I need a Savior.  I need Salvation.  You are Just.  You came to me through Your beautiful Gift, Your Son, Jesus, Who delivered me from my sins.  Through repentance and belief, I have been set free.  You are Merciful.  You have granted so much to me which I take for granted sometimes.  I am sorry, Father, for I forget all too often of the many gifts which I am allowed.  Yet, I do not forget that I can fly free from the shackles of sin because of Jesus, Your Son, Your Son’s death on the Cross for me, for others such as I.  Your Grace and Your Truth have been showered over me.  I am ever so grateful, Father.  “Here in the death of Christ I live….”  I live.  Thank You for this precious Gift. 

In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen. 

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Graphic/Photo:  http://pictures.agodman.com/spiritual-quotes/hebrews-29-but-we-see-jesus-crowned-with-glory-and-honor/

Graphic:  http://lifegatefellowship.com/wp/?m=201309

“In Christ Alone” by KOCH, DONALD A. / CRAIG, ANDREW SHAWN; Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

United with Him

romans6_5

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be!  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?  Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Romans 6:1-10 NASB

I laid my sins down, asking forgiveness.  Jesus took my sin to that Cross.  He hung on that cross for me.  I, too, died to that sin when He took it all.  He then rose from the Cross and I rose too… with Jesus.  I wanted to begin anew, and was born again… a new me.   Although the seed of sin is with me always, I am raised with Christ to walk a new life, a life free from that sin by obedience to Him.  This is my resurrected self.  Hallelujah!

Christ lives in me.  I live in union with Him just as two plants, growing closely to one another, grow together, become engrafted.  In Romans 6:5, the phrase “united with Him” reminds me of what I am trying to say here.  “United” is the Greek word symphytos meaning to be planted together, to grow along with….  I am intertwined with the life and death of Jesus Christ because I believe.  Finding definition for this unity I am given in Christ is in word after word: planted together, intertwined, engrafted, grown together, innate, kindred.

As a believer in Christ, I experience, spiritually, the “likeness of His resurrection” and then am raised anew with Him.  Romans 6:10 says that Christ “lives to God”.  As I am united with Him, I, too, am to live to God.  I am called to walk in His ways, in obedience, in love.

LORD, this is something I cannot do alone.  I know that it is impossible… for You are the One Who died for me, taking my sin to the Cross.  I kneel before You and ask You to teach me.  May I stand in intimate fellowship with You so that my new life would be consecrated to You and You Alone.  My word(s) for this year is “set apart”.  Being consecrated is to be set apart for You.  That is my desire.  May I be holy and acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit to You as I learn Your Way.  May I let the world know my gratitude from my countenance, LORD.  May I live with “holy gladness”, “holy boldness”, “cheerful holiness” as I live to God.   I pray in Your Holy Name, Jesus.  Amen.

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photograph: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/1401.html

“holy gladness”, “holy boldness”, “cheerful holiness” from  Charles H. Spurgeon, in “Morning and Evening” August 14th

Humiliation… Humility… Humble

“The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.”  St. Augustine

Pondering “humility” and “humiliation” has reminded me of times in my life when I was humiliated.  Like when I was in high school and got caught talking to the girl next to me after she asked me a question and just before the English teacher began his class.  He asked me to get up, without a chance to defend myself (and the other girl did not stand up for me either), had me stand in one of the very back corners of the classroom, facing towards that corner.  I had to stand there the entire period.  I was humiliated.  I was a normal kid, pretty quiet, very respectful, well behaved, most of the time.  But this teacher, Mr. Wyatt, had a problem with me and I never knew what it was.  The humiliation hung around my neck like an albatross for eons, it seemed.

Humiliation is an injury to our dignity or self-respect.  Humiliation comes from the Latin root “humilis” meaning lowly, “on the ground”, which is from the root “humus”, meaning earth.  So literally, it can mean “reducing to dirt”.  That is what I felt like… dirt!…before the whole class of adolescent teenagers.  Devastated … for one such as I!

At that point in my life, I did not understand the following words of Jesus, not that I wholly do today either, but I would rather be humble and accept that which comes my way rather than fight or even stand up for myself:

Matthew 5:39 – 45 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

But I believe that I did that for I took it and accepted the consequences.

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Blessed are the meek (humble; gentle), for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5

Humility is recognizing and accepting our limitations based on as accurate an estimate of our importance and significance as possible.

From Old French umelite, humility means “humility, modesty, sweetness”, from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) “lowness, insignificance”, in Church Latin “meekness,” from humilis “humble”

Humble and meek dance together at times and can mean “gentle, quiet, unaggressive; benevolent, kind; courteous, humble, unassuming.”  These words do intertwine and disconnect and then re-twist themselves about one another.  God’s Word is how we really need to look at these words.  

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud,but gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,….  2 Corinthians 3:5

“Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.”  Charles Spurgeon

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LORD, I pray that I would be the humble servant You desire me to be.  I desire to grow more and more like You.  And I need You to do this.  And I want this more than anything.  Help me to understand what it really means to be humble and be filled with humility.  Teach me, O LORD.   

My gratitude sprays out this day as the ocean waves do when they rush ashore.  I am grateful for the unconditional love of God, for my beautiful Mama I recently lost, for His grace to get me through this time in my life, for being able to be near to her for these past fifteen years, for healing my body through these four surgeries, for teaching me humility.  I am in love with You, LORD.  Amen.

 

Child graphics: unknown/a copy of a picture I had on my wall as a child

2 Scripture graphics: www.heartlight.org

Please Keep Me Humble, Lord.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, 
a tender heart, and a humble mind. 

1 Peter 3:8 

Humility 
dresses 
me
with
pity…not condescension,
but with a heart filled with 
gentle sorrow and
compassion
for those in the midst of 
misfortune, distress, suffering. 

Humility
offers
assistance, relief, and support 
in those hard times.
What can I do?
How can I help? 

Humility

is kindness,
meekness, 
modesty,
lack of pride,
tenderness.

Humility
carries 

words 
to others in need
with gentleness,
in a friendly
good-natured,
agreeable
manner

“After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser.” (by Benjamin Franklin)


Crosses are those things we all, ALL, bear from time to time, or carry all of the time.  A cross may be financial difficulties — paying the monthly health insurance premium, the mortgage payment, having enough for the electric or phone bill this month, or even having enough to put food on the table for the family.  A cross may be a serious health concern, a difficult marriage, a teenager testing the parental waters of discipline.  A cross may also be a lost soul searching for the Truth or running from the Truth.  Either way, one feels a very heavy burden. 
Of course, losses can be through divorce or death.  We can lose something material, but it may have meant something emotional to us.  We can lose a limb, our health, an ability.  A loss becomes a cross to carry as well.
Crosses become heavy, bringing me to my knees.  I ask the Lord to take this burden, to yoke with me as I carry it along life’s roads.  He does and always will when I ask.  

Humility
is asking.

Humility
is a pride-less garment.   

Humility 
allows me to 
be dependent upon the Lord
without an “I can do this all alone!” spirit.  

Humility 
is 
laying the burden 
at the foot of the cross.  

Humility
is 
being able to thank Jesus 
for paying the price 

Thankfulness 
is the humble cloak 
over all the other clothing 
of humility.
This cloak
is full…
sheltering me,
keeping me warm.
Being grateful 
for 
everything
is 
humility

A humble spirit 
is filled with 
gratitude  
and grace 
and mercy.

I am in the school of humility and probably always will be.  I want to be humble.  I want a humble mind.  I desire wisdom.  Growing in the Lord means staying near to Him with an open heart and mind.  The trials and tribulations are there for my journey towards humility and wisdom. 

 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,  
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, 
and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, 
knowing that suffering produces endurance,  
and endurance produces character, 
and character produces hope,  
and hope does not put us to shame, 
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  
Romans 5:1-5 ESV

 Lord, change me and make me Yours and Yours alone.  Mold my character to match Your Jesus … as best as possible for I am human, but I am meek and gentle when I am with You.  I thank You for being my Teacher and letting me be one of Your students.  I sit at Your feet and listen.  I also rejoice for I have hope of the Glory of God.  Praising You this day.  Amen.