Monday, February 20, 2012

The Sheep of His Pasture

     When our basset hound was a puppy, he had to learn the rules of our house and how to interact with our, then, six year old dalmatian.  He needed guidance and help with things like learning to stay off the furniture.  He also needed food, water and care so he would stay healthy.  Being animal lovers in our home, we gladly helped him adjust to his new environment.
     In the same way, our Lord is a loving shepherd of our hearts and souls when we belong to Him.  He is always ready to help us and wants us to depend wholeheartedly upon Him.  Psalm 100 reads:  "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!  Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God;  It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good;  His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations."
     My thoughts today focused on the verse that says "we are the sheep of His pasture".  What does that mean to us?  Well, having helped our oldest son raise two lambs for 4-H taught me a lot about these creatures we are compared to.
     First, sheep have no sense of direction.  They can easily wander off and become lost.  They need a shepherd to help them find their way.  Likewise, a Christian has to rely on God's direction for their life so they can stay on the straight and narrow path He has for them.
     Secondly, sheep cannot clean themselves.  If you have ever been around a lamb or a flock of sheep, they have a very distinct odor which will remain in your nostrils long after you have left the sheep behind.  A good shepherd will pick the briers and thorns out of the wool on a sheep and keep it trimmed.  In the same manner, a Christian cannot cleanse himself.  He needs the heavenly Father to cleanse him on a daily basis.  Only the blood of Christ can wash our sins away!
     Sheep are helpless when injured and defenseless when attacked.  If a lamb falls and breaks a leg, a shepherd will often pick up the lamb and carry it until the leg is better.  A shepherd also defends the flock against wolves and other animals of prey just as David did.  Our Lord and Shepherd does the same thing for each of us who know and love Him.  He binds up our wounds and protects us against the attacks of the enemy.
     On their own, sheep cannot find food or water.  They need the shepherd to guide them to green pastures which is depicted in the 23rd Psalm.  God does the same thing for us.  He is the "bread of life" and the "living water" if we will avail ourselves of His spiritual food on a daily basis.  He always leads us to the truth found in His Word.
     A good shepherd knows that his sheep are easily frightened and often sings to them or plays an instrument in the night to calm them especially if there is a storm.  Our Lord is able to do the same for us when we become afraid.  His promises are the soothing ointment we need for our souls.
     Finally, the sheep's wool is valuable and belongs to the shepherd who has looked after this animal.  It brings blessing to the one who has been willing to sacrifice all for the sake of his animals.  All that we as Christians have in terms of prosperity and production also belong to the Lord.  He has given us all that we need and provides for us in every way; so really all that we have is His.
     How appropriate was the Lord's description of us as His sheep!  He is the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for us.  If we will just draw near to Him, He will "meet all our needs according to His riches in glory".  May this encourage each of us as we walk daily with our Master.  Selah!

I welcome your comments and thoughts here.  I read each one and pray for those who take the time to leave them.  May God grant you encouragement and blessings this day.

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