We have the prettiest country drive to church. On the way, we pass by a sweet, quaint little church with sheep grazing in front of the church. I love looking at sheep, but studying sheep is what I should do. Why?
The Bible compares us to sheep.
- Sheep are not very wise.
- No domesticated animal is as helpless as the sheep. The sheep are so unwise, they don’t even realize they are helpless.
- Sheep are fearful.
- We can learn much about ourselves from studying sheep.
- We can learn much about how tenderly the Lord cares about us from studying the Shepherd.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Psalm 23:2a
The shepherd works hard for his beloved sheep, so they will have a green pasture for nourishment and rest. The shepherd clears the rough, rocky soil, tears out bushes, roots and stumps. He plows the soil, seeds it, and irrigates the pasture so the sheep will have a green pasture.
The Good Shepherd does this same thing for us.
- The Good Shepherd provides rest in His presence if we will only keep our eyes on Him.
- The Good Shepherd provides us nourishment when we look into His Word.
- The Good Shepherd provides for our needs as we pray in dependence on Him.
He does not promise a life of luxury, but He will always provide the pasture needed for the moment. The Shepherd lays himself down as the door to the sheepfold. ‘Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:27
Did you know that sheep have the character trait of refusing to lie down unless they are 100% free of fear?
I have a hard time being at peace when I worry and when I am in fear. I cannot get the rest I need either. I cannot properly do the good works the Lord has planned for me if I worry. Why? Worry means divided mind. Fear can shut me down for the day. Worry drains us and drags us down.
In the flock of sheep, there is much tension. Let us see if we can relate to these sheep.
- One cause of tension is the problems in the world such as the wolf which devours the wondering sheep. Sheep think they will do fine on their own. The good shepherd desires to protect the sheep. What worldly thing is devouring our thoughts? If we know how to worry, we know how to meditate on God’s Word. Rehash His Word instead of rehashing fearful thoughts.
- The sheep can become irritated from bugs. They stomp their feet and shake their heads when it comes to flies. The good shepherd soothes the sheep by applying ointment on them to keep the irritants away. What irritates us? What makes us impatient? Have we taken it to the Good Shepherd and told him all about it?
- There is friction among the sheep as they compete with others for the best grazing land. There are sheep that want to be “top sheep” and they have a “butting order.” The jealous irritable sheep, which is usually the older female sheep called ewes, will look over at other sheep resting. The
ornery ewes cause problems by running over to butt the different sheep. They want what the other sheep have. Sometimes a terrible fight will break out if the other sheep stand up to the ornery sheep. Shepherds say that the less aggressive sheep thrive the best, because they are the most contented. They are peaceful sheep. Is that a lesson for you and me? The sheep that did not feel the need to defend often avoided the conflicts that others experienced. They avoided the injury of being butted too. The good shepherd intervenes in the conflict to stop it. Are we jealous of what someone else possesses? How do we handle differences of opinions? Do we stand up for our rights in an appropriate way? God blesses the humble sheep. God blesses the contented sheep. When we are grumpy, we run the risk of hurting others, especially family. Am I a peacemaker? “And be at peace among yourselves.” 1Thes.5:13 The way to overcome jealousy is to be happy for those whom we have tended to envy.
“Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers…” Matthew 5:9
- Sheep are fearful of the unknown. Sheep worry. Sheep get fearful of shadows and even a little rabbit hopping by. Are we fearful of the unknown future or of a situation? What do you fear right now? Usually, the things I worried about never came true, but were little rabbits and a waste of time and energy. Worrying about the future robs me of the strength I need today. Worrying for the future robs me of today’s joy I could have had. We must put our fears on the Shepherd’s shoulders and trust Him to take care of us. He will.
Overcoming fear~ To be continued in the next post~