Okay. I am sorry for my obsessive reviewing. But let’s begin once again by reviewing our rather lengthy list of sheep characteristics. Ask the Lord, which of these apply to you, then trust Him to change you for His glory.
- Sheep don’t see very well.
- Sheep don’t hear very well.
- The biggest enemy of the sheep is the fox.
- Sheep are not very courageous. They panic easily. However, they are very resilient.
- Sheep are healthy and happy when their shepherd is gentle, kind, intelligent, brave, and selfless.
- Sheep are marked on the ear with the distinct mark of their shepherd.
- Sheep will lie down only when four requirements are met:
- They must be free of all fear.
- They must be free of friction with other sheep.
- They must not be tormented by flies or other pests.
- They must be free from hunger.
- Sheep have a “butting order”.
- When sheep are thirsty, they become restless and begin to search for water. They will drink any water they can find—even polluted water.
- A sheep is “cast down” when it is turned over on its back and cannot get up again. A cast sheep will die if its owner does not get to it in time to right it.
- Sheep are very bothered by flies; a shepherd must apply an ointment to their heads to prevent flies from going up their noses.
- Sheep are the most fit and healthy and strong in autumn. In autumn the leaves are so beautiful. But what is really happening? They are dying. We, too, are most fit, healthy, strong and beautiful when we die to our own selfish desires.
This is our last day of our detailed study of sheep. Tomorrow you will have a time to reflect on what you have learned, and then we will move on to study more of the our focus passage of John 10: 10-18. First, let’s continue in our study of sheep, asking the Lord which of these lessons we can apply to our own lives.
- Sheep who are well cared for will benefit the land—they eat undesirable weeds, and their manure is an excellent fertilizer. God has a great purpose for each of us. He wants to use even the wasted things in our lives to bring Him glory. He wants us to serve Him by serving others. He wants us to do our small parts in pulling up the undesirable weeds in our lives and our society. He wants to use us to benefit the land in which we live.
- Sheep are creatures of habit and will follow the same trails until they become ruts and graze on the same pasture until grass can no longer grow there. They must often move to fresh pastures. Shepherds must carefully choose to move their flocks from one pasture to another. The Shepherd knows how to lead us to the fresh revelations that we need, but we must follow Him. Often we hesitate, because we don’t want to get outside of our comfort zones.
- Shepherds carry only a rod and a staff. The rod is a piece of wood with a knobbed end that the shepherd uses to protect himself and the flock from predators. He also uses it to discipline wayward sheep. The staff is a long, slender stick with a hook on one end. The shepherd used the staff to catch sheep and draw them near for examination and is used for guiding sheep into a new path or through a gate or along a dangerous route. The shepherd also uses the staff to get a sheep free from a bush in which it is tangled or reach them when they’ve fallen off a cliff onto a ledge.
In light of this fact and all the others, listen to the beautiful words of the psalmist, David.
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.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
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.
Makes more sense now, doesn’t it? The biblical heroes of our faith saw a lot of sheep. They acted a lot like sheep, just like we do.
My friends, your Good Shepherd will not waste a single thing you give to Him. He will use everything—good and bad—for your good and His glory. But you must trust the Good Shepherd and surrender to His help and healing. Then, your life, your story, will be used to help and heal others. Jesus can be trusted to show us fresh and new things which will satisfy our soul. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, will use His holy rod and staff to help you, save you, protect you, and discipline you. Trust Him. He is good. Praying for you today!