Topical - Philosophy of Ministry
Alright, the heart of a shepherd. I think a certain kind of a shepherd, if you are looking at the heart of a shepherd, it would be somebody if we were looking at the Pastor of a church. It would be somebody who’s thinking about his building all the time and thinking about the building projects and how he might get lots of people to do lots of things for him and clean up this and move that and so, basically like this tyrannical boss that really knows how to move and shake and get things going. A certain kind of shepherd is somebody who doesn’t really care about what he’s teaching, but just as long as it sounds good. As long as he’s throwing in a few “the Greek says” a few other cute little stories and as long as people can say “Hey that was a really good job.” That’s the heart of a certain kind of shepherd. And also this shepherd is too busy for a the people. He’s not in touch with the people and to him, that’s okay. Because you know, he’s got things to do, he’s got his time, his schedule and flexibility isn’t really in the picture. You know, it’s like hey right now I’ve got to do this and I don’t have time for you to pour out your heart before me. And so he looks at himself as only a teacher or a preacher but in really no way as a Pastor. When it comes to sin in the church, this certain kind of a shepherd is really unconcerned about what is going on in the church unless somebody brings it to his attention, so that way you know if the people are starting to get their feathers ruffled over these issues, then he’ll get a move on it because you know people might end up leaving the church and his salary might end up going down. And also, the heart of a certain kind of a shepherd is one that is looking for his own personal honor and personal gain and looking for when the next vacation is and when the opportunity for golf is going to come up again and you know just kind of you know rest and relaxation and that’s what the ministry is all about. The heart of a certain kind of a shepherd is looking at the people that are not getting their jobs done and really focusing in on those people in the church and letting those people irk him and he ends up with a bitter, disgruntled attitude and everyone in the church can feel it as he is mad at everyone. And also, the heart of a certain kind of a shepherd is someone who looks at the church as a non-profit corporation. And this is a corporation that needs to be run and we need to have our command and get everything done and my plan is that I am going to build this church, I’m going to grow this church and I’m going to climb the corporate ladder and whether you’ve been doing this ministry for ten years, but if you are not as good as this new person that came in, that you know is really going to make our church grow, then you know, you’re out of the picture. And so, he doesn’t worry about who he stepping on, just as long as his vision of shepherding lots of people at a mega-church gets there and he can get to that point. And so he is more concerned about his pay raises than he is in praying or the men that are out of work in the church and then also regarding his own fear and his own panicking and frustrations and his dislikes he speaks about these negativities all the time in the heart or in the ears of the sheep so that way these things can be transmitted from himself into their hearts. And so, we could go on and on describing a certain kind of a shepherd and apparently a person like that would not be somebody if you could actually see their heart and see where they are going you probably wouldn’t want to sit under them, you probably wouldn’t want to follow after them because, you know a shepherd usually has sheep that are following and yet there are many shepherds that you can’t see their heart but yet their heart is worldly in these ways and selfish in these ways and so a shepherd after God’s own heart is one that is not fixing his eyes on himself. But, his eyes are focused on the shepherd and what the shepherd wants and where the shepherd wants to lead him and he is seeking to be pleasing to the Lord and so, when we look at somebody who would be a bad shepherd we can get an idea of what not to do. Just like some of us we had parents that were not the best parents in the world, not that we go blaming them for everything because you know, who is a perfect parent, BUT, at the same time some of you when you are younger you looked at a certain thing and you said you know what I’m not going to do that, I am not going to be like that and so with all the BAD in the world and even the bad shepherds, we can look and learn by life’s lessons and their bad examples of what not to do. In 1st Peter Chapter 5, it talks about the shepherd being an example to the flock. And so, there have been role model shepherds, pastors that have been a great example to the flock that you could look at it and go, “oh you do it like this and like that and this is how you love the shepherd and take care of them. Also, we learn through those bad examples in what not to do. Teaching and taking care of and ministering to a flock of whatever size, whether you are school teacher, a Sunday School teacher or a Pastor or a home bible study leader, it’s quite a responsibility and the Lord looks at that responsibility that the Lord has given to you and seeing if you are looking at it like a responsibility or if you are just kind of taking it lightly and you’re reckless with the responsibility and so God is watching and He is watching to see how you administrate and how you perform and how you function as a shepherd. Ezekiel Chapter 34 - we’re going to take a look at some indictments against bad shepherds in the Old Testament, those that were shepherding God’s flock, Israel. Ezekiel Chapter 34, starting in verse 1. It says, and the Word of the Lord came to me saying, Son of Man prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds, woe to the Shepherd of Israel who feed themselves should not the shepherds feed the flocks? And that is of course the primary importance of a Shepherd is to feed the flocks and that is of course the primary importance of a shepherd is to feed the flock, water the flock, tend to the flock. You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with wool, you slaughter the fat liens but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed with those who are sick. And notice that, we are going a little bit further here than feeding, we’re going into ministry and really caring about the individuals, strengthening, bringing forth the healing and of course they can come to the Word of God to the people. It says nor bound up the broken nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. And so, it mentions this in Peter, it talks about that we should be serving the Lord willingly or the shepherd should and not in such a way that he’s overbearing on the flock and then also it mentions that this shepherd that there is an indictment against did not seek that which was lost. And we remember Jesus mentioning the parable about the 100 sheep and there is that one that is lost and so he leaves the 99 and goes after that one that is lost, and so I believe that a shepherd never gets so busy and so caught up just doing church things that he loses touch with the fact that there are people who are lost and there are people he needs to be running after. It says in vs. 5 - so they were scattered because there was no shepherd and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered and of course, if there is no shepherd, sheep are scattered and you have the coyotes and the wolves, and the lions and whatever animals might have been around and these dumb sheep, innocent sheep are just prey to them and so there is an important thing here, of their being shepherds, being shepherds that are there with the sheep, that have a heart for the sheep and I remember, actually it was right before I really gave my life over to the Lord. I was at a Rolling Stones concert and there was 100,000 young people at that concert. And I’m looking around me and everyone is smoking marijuana and I’m just going, Man, and at that time I really wasn’t following the Lord, the Lord was definitely working on me. And as this one band was playing prior to this group that I came to see with my girlfriend, everybody was sharing this one particular song, it was a really bad song, it was obvious to me at that point that it was a bad song, and I was looking around and I was going, Man this is my generation, and I’m looking at 100,000 young people at the time, going this is my generation and just realizing how lost everybody looked. And you know, I had it come in my heart and I really believe that it was God, I didn’t hear a voice or anything like that, it was you know in my own thoughts but the thought came into my heart, these are sheep without a shepherd and I just heard that a few times, these are sheep without a shepherd and I’m looking around just going wow, these are sheep without a shepherd, and how lost the people were. And of course the next day or whatever, as I fully dedicated my life over to Christ, but really that is the way that the world is and that is the way that some churches are, as it mentions here, of those that were taking care of God’s flock that they really weren’t . And then in vs. 7 it says, therefore you were shepherds hear the Word of the Lord. As I live, says the Lord surely because of my flock became prey and my flock became food for every beast of the field because there was no shepherd nor did my shepherd search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed my flock. Therefore, Oh Shepherds hear the Word of the Lord. It’s kind of like the messages to the churches in Revelation Chapter 2 and 3, hear what the spirit says to the church and so yea, the church has got a message but the shepherds have also got a message and warnings that God wants them to take care of His flock, he doesn’t want them to go astray by getting caught up in themselves and in their own lives. And then it goes on here in vs. 10, Thus Says the Lord God, Behold I am against the Shepherds and I will require my flock at their hand. I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep and the shepherds will feed themselves no more, for I will deliver my flock from their mouths and the day may no longer be food for them. So the Lord can pull flock right away from a shepherd that does not have his heart. He can take the carpet right out from under their feet. They think all is going well, I’m living high on the hog and believe me, there are those as you know, that preach the prosperity message that I know of another pastor that he went to this resort and this special pastor’s thing and he went to this place where some of these well known people were and you know, there was one well-known couple that was just speaking of their riches and what they are going to do with this and what they are going to do with that and the pastor’s wife that was there just, it just made her sick to hear this. And so, no doubt there are those whose hearts have gone towards worldliness and we’ve seen in the past, you know, God pull the plug on Jim Baker and such and so even within the Christian Church, just like Israel, it’s been the same way. And then vs. 11 it says, Thus says the Lord God, indeed I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. So that’s great, that even though a man may not have God’s heart, God is going to tend to the business himself. It says, that as a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out my sheep and deliver them from all the places where they are scattered on a cloudy and dark day, and I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and will bring them to their own land, I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and the valley and all the inhabitant places of the country. Now we are seeing God’s heart. He doesn’t want any lost, he wants them to be fed and then it says in vs. 14, I will feed them in good pasture and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel, there they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock and I will make them lay down says the Lord. I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which was driven away. Bind up the broken and strengthen that which was sick, but I will destroy the fat and the strong and feed them in judgment. And as for you, Oh my flock, Thus says the Lord God Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats, is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture and to have drunk of the clear waters that you must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet and they drink what you have fouled with your feet, therefore, Thus says the Lord God to them, Behold, I myself will judge from the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns and scattered them abroad. Therefore, I will save my flock and they shall no longer be a prey and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them and he shall feed them. My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. So, God’s plan is that there would be somebody with his heart. There would be somebody that he could establish, there would be somebody that he would raise up to take care of those that he loves, to take care of those that seem to be astray and not have anybody taking care of them. Also, in the New Testament, Jesus spoke of one that was taking care of the sheep that was not a shepherd but a hireling and that when the wolf would come or some danger would come, he would flee, because he didn’t own the sheep, he didn’t care about the sheep, they weren’t his sheep. And so he would just bail out, run, when the danger came and he didn’t really have a heart nor care for the sheep. Where a good shepherd of course would just battle off whatever animal it was, I mean he would lay in the gateway there of the sheepfold and he would be there to defend the sheep at night from any intruder that would come along. And so, a hireling. Now today, in churches, we have many hirelings. Most church, well I won’t say most, but a vast majority of the church has somewhat of a democratic government, where the people can vote in and vote out the pastor and there is a certain Eldership that you know if you are not going according to what they want, you know then you’re gone and they’ll be able to have their nomination committee and pick somebody else and so the pastor gets the mentality of a hireling, so he starts thinking things in such a way as to please these men so that way he can keep his job and feed his family. And I can just name them, there are so many denominations that have pastors that are like that. Now some of these are not truly hirelings. Some of them are really very truly Godly men who love the Lord but are in this kind of a hireling system that has forced them to react in a hireling way and so when the going gets tough for them, they do quit and they go find some other pastor in some other city or state, hoping that the same troubles won’t follow them that were at this previous church. But truly, God’s plan and here with David, it mentioned in Ezekiel that there would be somebody there to pastor the people, to sick around with the flock to go through the thick and the thin, to be there, almost like a marriage until death do you part that this person would be there for the long haul, to know the sheep by name, to be there with their marriages and their deaths and to care about the flock. Now, a bad shepherd is one that is not serving the Lord joyfully. It’s become grudging obligation, it’s become a burden. It’s not something that he loves to do because he loves the Lord and the Lord gave him a great job to do, and when I say him and speaking of things in the sense of a pastor, I want you to relate it to whatever ministry, if you happen to be overseeing something that has people, that it would relate. And so, it mentions in the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 28 vs. 47 - because you did not serve the Lord with joy and with gladness of heart, he’s going to bring all these disasters upon you. Not a good thing for Israel to hear that. But it’s very important because of their being a lot of responsibility and a lot of work when it comes to shepherding God’s flock, you could very easily get caught up in the job and loose the joy of the Lord and end up in a place where you are serving and doing your ministry with joy and gladness of heart. You know, it’s become a burden to you and when something is a burden to you and not a joy, the Lord is able to take it away. Let’s now look at Jeremiah Chapter 23 some more Old Testament on some of his indictment against shepherds that were shepherding the flock. Let’s start in vs. 1, Woe to the Shepherd who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture says the Lord, therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed my people, you have scattered my flock, driven them away and not attended to them. And notice those key words there, not having taken care of them, meeting their needs, pulling the thorns out of them, you know there cast and casting means that a sheep is over on his back and they can’t get themselves up, and you know you have to pick them back up and so it says that you have not attended to them, Behold I will attend to you for the evil of your doings says the Lord. But, I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their folds and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them. Now notice that, God’s plan is to set up shepherds. So maybe you are feeling called, maybe you are wondering, you know, Gosh, what is my ministry? Well, the Lord has a plan to set up shepherds. And it says, and they shall fear no more nor be dismayed nor shall they be lacking says the Lord. The flock will not be lacking because there are going to be people that the Lord is going to put, the Lord is going to raise up Sunday school teachers, the Lord is going to raise up these prayer room counselors and these drug and alcohol ministry leaders and these people that care about his flock, he is raise them up. And then, jump over to verse 30 in that same chapter, it says, therefore Behold I am against the prophets says the Lord, who steal my words everyone from his neighbor, Behold, I am against the prophet says the Lord whose use their tongues and says, He says, - now notice that it says they steal the words everyone from his neighbor, that’s like a Pastor that is getting everything he says from a commentary, that’s like a Sunday school teacher that is getting everything that they say from their Sunday School curriculum, there is no Holy Spirit involved. They are saying the Lord says, the Lord says, as if it was the oracles of God and though there is nothing wrong with you know, quoting a neighbor or quoting something that you know is written, at the same time God wants there to you receiving the food, you cooking the meal, you know like a wife who is preparing, you know if she just slapped down a hamburger patty you know on your plate and maybe some ketchup and said here is dinner, you would be going like, gosh thanks, I don’t know if that is really going to fill me up and boy it’s not like what I pictured as far as being a full course meal, I mean I’d like a little fruit, you know maybe a little vegetable maybe some potatoes, something that is well rounded to get me going, but you see the carelessness. The lack of concern for the meal and so this is what he is speaking here about regarding about the indictment against these prophets. That they are really not caring and they are just getting their words from anywhere. And so he says in verse 32, Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and tell them and call on my people to error by their lies and their recklessness. Now this would very much fit in with in the New Testament in 2nd Peter Chapter 1, where it talks about the false teachers and also the things that the apostle Paul warned about, but also, these were people who were shepherding this flock Israel who were the prophets and so there will be those among us and those in the church who also have this recklessness and so it says, okay, it says they cause my people to error by their lies and by their recklessness. Now, I don’t know what word the King James uses, I have recklessness in New King James, what does the New King James read, “lightness” okay, you know there was one time, and boy this is hard for a shepherd to be accused of this. But there was one time where I was accused of recklessness by somebody who wrote a letter and it was because our kids were sick, they had something wrong with them and yet we brought them to church but they were on antibiotics and the doctor said we could bring them to church and this person had a fit and they gave me this scripture and they said that I was being reckless with your flock and you know because you’ll get the flock sick and it was a real slam on me, and yet God is saying this about his shepherds. Now if I heard this about my teaching or from God, I mean boy, that alone from this man hurt me. And so, to imagine God saying that to his shepherds is heavy there. And then also look at verse 36. It says and the oracle of the Lord you shall mention no more, for every mans word will be his oracle for you have perverted the words of the living God the Lord of hosts, our God. And so, this is what they were doing. They were not understanding, they were not listening to the Lord, they were not receiving from the Lord, they were caught up in their own lives as things sounded good to them and make things sound good to the people, they weren’t really giving the people what the people needed to hear and so there is says that the word of God were perverted, they were twisted, they weren’t really from him nor what God was actually saying. Also Isaiah Chapter 56 vs. 10-11 - it says, his watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant, the are all dumb dogs and that was a very terrible insult because the dog back then, were not seen as man’s best friend but they were wild, they would eat the garbage, and so it was something that was not a good thing to be called. They are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber, yes they are greedy dogs which never have enough and there are shepherds who cannot understand they all look to their own way, everyone for his own gain, from his own territory and notice there is says that they cannot understand. When I read the book of Proverbs, I read about to cry out to the Lord for wisdom and understanding, here are those first few chapters when it mentions these things. I remember when I was a new Christian that I was driving home from church and I would read those scripture in Proverbs about crying out to the Lord, and I would do that because I knew that there were a lot of things in the Scriptures that I did not understand. I mean just even the word, sewing and reaping, I mean those went over my head, sewing meant sewing clothing, I never used the word reaping before and I mean it’s almost like you know, in basketball, offensive and defensive, you know, what do these mean, does it mean you are defending me, or the basket you know, there are terms that if you are not involved in that kind of thing, you might now specifically know what those terms are and so there were a lot of things like that when I was a new Christian, and I’m just going, gosh Lord, I don’t get it, I don’t understand, you know people are using these words and you know, justification, glorification, sanctification and all of these things and so you know, it can be quite overwhelming, and so you know I asked the Lord, because I understood what the word understand meant. I understood the need for wisdom even though I did not completely understand what the word wisdom meant. And so, I would cry out and I remember because the Bible said to cry out for this, I was driving in my car and I was actually yelling for it, Lord give me wisdom, give me understanding, you know give me this . . . and you know the Bible says that he’ll make you wiser than your teachers and so it was very exciting that I was able to see over a long period of time, step by step verse by verse, study after study, I gained more insight, more growth more understanding into his ways, his word, and so enough that I understood it for my own personal life and where I could actually show somebody else and share with somebody else that way they could understand it and receive it. In fact, it mentions in the Book of Ezra where they read from the book of the law and they gave the sets, that was where they helped the people understand what was read, and how it might relate to their lives and so, let’s see talking about these shepherds that they didn’t understand and you know it talks about this in the Book of Timothy as well, that there were those that were teaching things that they themselves did not understand. In fact, let’s go ahead and look at this scripture, it’s not in my notes, but I am just thinking about it just now and it’s Chapter 1 of 1st Timothy Chapter 1 and vs. 7 - it says desiring to be teachers of the law understanding neither what they say nor the things what they affirm. Now, notice that, people want to be teachers, they want to feed God’s flock and shepherd them but they are not really understanding so to truly understand in your heart would come from that being revealed to you, a revelation to you by God as He causes these things to come alive in your heart and so in order to truly be able to shepherd God’s flock, it isn’t repeating a neighbor, it isn’t repeating a commentary or another man, it is having that relationship with God and having his word really speak to you about your own life. And what God is doing in your life and you’re being able to relate that to the people so that way they can see as far as you’ve come and as far as those will go that are listening to you. As you have a vital and a real relationship with Christ, you will be able to pass that on to others. Jeremiah Chapter 50 vs. 6, it says my people have been lost sheep, their shepherds have led them astray, they have turned away on the mountains they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place. And of course, this is the job of somebody who wants to comfort the sheep and that is to remind them of their resting place, because notice it says they went from mountain to hill and that would be like those that don’t have a shepherd but their hopping around and looking for where the next miracle is or the next exciting thing is they are jumping over here and they are jumping over there and really what they are looking for is not the excitement is not the charisma of somebody or the stimulus of how you know it really gets their blood going and then you know causes their hands to fill the vibrations or something, but what they are really looking for is Jesus. And they are looking for rest. They are looking for their resting place in Him. And yet there are many that will you know, bring forth things in such a way that people are just running around looking for something. The Lord cares about the condition of his flock, you know the Psalm 23 where it says thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Just the fact that the sheep see the shepherd in the midst of them and by the way, the shepherd being in the midst of the sheep is an important thing. Even though as Christians we are all ministers and there is no hierarchy where the Pastor or those that are Elders in the church are more important yet at the same time especially for those who are younger believers and those who you know have some shaking going on in their life, the stability of the Pastor being there and not running off all the time and (I’m not at all talking about Brian) you know, being in Israel, you know because those are wonderful opportunities but there is something comforting in that for the sheep for the shepherd to be there. And so, when it mentions about his rod and his staff, you know, I mean if a dad was to take off his belt and a kid was to say, you know, thy belt comforts me, that would be such a correct statement but ultimately, the ultimate danger that you would get yourself into is that if that shepherd did not have a rod and a staff, you are comforted in your walk with God because of the discipline that comes forth from the shepherd in our lives when we are straying. And so sometimes, the heart of a shepherd is disciplining the sheep and correcting them. You know there was one particular person that I needed to tell this person. you know you are slandering this person. That person found that very hard to take, but it was true and that is exactly what they were doing to this other person and you know they realized it and they said they were sorry but sometimes we need to be told this and so you know really we want to be told this from the Holy Spirit and we want to be convicted by Him and we want to say we are sorry to Him and not have to you know go any further with church discipline but with the shepherd he had a rod and you know maybe that had to do with you know, he was using it for walking or for other purposes but he also had the staff which was about six feet tall and was crooked at the top and so he would use the rod and staff in two ways. One, if a sheep was straying, he would take his rod and he would throw it at them and they would see that he was right there and they would turn around, or if one was being stubborn he would be able to take the crooked staff and you know grab its leg or just kind of nudge it and in such a way that it would get the point and know that the shepherd was there and you know it was supposed to be in line and doing what it was supposed to be doing. Let’s look now at the shepherd running after the lost sheep. Luke Chapter 15 vs. 4-5 - It says what man of you having a hundred sheep if he looses one of them does not leave the 99 and go after the one which is lost until he finds it. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And apparently there was a part of his robe, almost like those things that you would see mothers that would carry their babies in a pouch and so he could actually carry it even in the front of him, but here it is talking about carrying it on his shoulders and maybe the young ones he would carry in front of him and it says that he would be rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and saying to them to rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost and so it’s a very happy moment. And so I believe the shepherd heart of God is to care for the lost sheep, so if somebody is teaching a Sunday School class or leading a bible study or pasturing a church or what have you, they are always going to look for those opportunities to bring in the lost sheep, knowing that there is a visitor there, but if they are only doing it in the midst of their ministry and they are not living like that out in their life, you know, talking to people regularly, I think there is an imbalance there, but yet the fact is that they are concerned to bring in the loss and that when the loss come in that they rejoice. They’re not just like kind of not caring about the situation and whatever. Recently I had the opportunity of going to the “Somebody Loves You” crusade in L.A. and I had been working on this one guy for a year and a half, bringing him Christian video tapes and inviting him to the Harvest Crusade which he said he was going to go and then didn’t go and you know how all those things go and you try to bring them in, and then finally, he went to the Somebody Loves You crusade and the night that we went, it was Spanish speaking interpreted in English through various things that were going on there. And a couple of days before that I heard him speaking in Spanish to someone on the phone and I thought Oh, that’s neat but when we went, you know I was thinking can he relate to this? And then I realized wait the guy totally speaks Spanish and so he went forward and jumped over a seat and said you know, I think this won’t hurt, it might help. And so he went forward and so to this day, just talking to him on the phone today, he is still following the Lord and it’s exciting to see the lost sheep come in and to experience that kind of rejoicing and even to a pastor a shepherd named Timothy, Paul reminded Timothy to do the work of an evangelist not just be an evangelist because not everybody has necessarily the gift of evangelist, but if you have the heart of a shepherd you are going to do the work of an evangelist, but even above and beyond that, if you don’t have the heart of a shepherd, you are going to do it just because it is commanded us in the Scriptures to bring in lost sheep. Now, also we take a look at the apostle Paul’s heart. The apostle Paul was concerned about the churches, in fact, you know how a lot of us worry about a lot of things, we worry about, you know, how much money we’re making and if we are going to have enough to pay the bills and we get burdened down by so many things but think about how spiritual you would be if you would started worrying about spiritual things. And so, Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians in Chapter 11 vs. 28 - Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily my deep concern for all of the churches. Like he was always thinking about them, you even read in his letters, he said every time I come in remembrance of you, I pray for you and so he was always thinking about them, he was always praying for them but his heart was also burdened down, when you read about the Galatians he says you know, am I going to have to reform Christ in you all over again? You know because of them turning from the truth that they had already been taught and there were just things that he would hear about or he would go back and find out about and see the condition of the flock and constantly this guy was being burdened by the condition of the church. Now that is God’s heart, that is the heart of a shepherd, that you are not just doing your job on Sunday or on Wednesday night with the children but you are praying for them during the week. You are calling some of them on the phone to pray with them, you are visiting them when they are in the hospital. You are concerned when they believe the wrong thing and you want to go back and straighten them out, and so it is more than just doing your job and saying “okay, that was it, I did my ministry now it’s over, now I can be back to real life.” But the shepherd carries the sheep in his heart. Now also about the apostle Paul, he mentions about how they were among the Thessalonians and that they were opening up their hearts to them and treating them like their children and being like a father to them. It says in 1st Thessalonians Chapter 2, vs. 7-11 - (and by the way if you have something to add, we’ll take time at the end, so write those things down that come into your mind or put a BIG star next to it so you can bring it up at the end, if you have questions also.) It says but we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. Notice there, the word cherishing it says so affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives because you had become so dear to us. Now, notice that. That is somebody that says, you can come into my house, you know, I don’t live in this fortress that you could never you know approach me, I’m inaccessible, you know because I am the shepherd and you are the sheep. For it says that we give of our lives for you remember brethren our labor and toil for laboring night and day that we might not be a burden to any of you. We preach to you the gospel of God and there also they are showing their heart, that they wanted to you know, give the gospel to these people in such a way that the people were not turned off by the gospel by their having need. And then it says, you are witnesses and God also how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe as you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you as a father does his own children. And notice those three words there, exhorted, comforted, and charged. Next, we’re going to talk about what exactly is a shepherd. A shepherd was just a common job of taking care of sheep. But isn’t that interesting that the shepherds of Israel were the first ones that the angles revealed the fact that Jesus was born, it mentions that in the Book of Luke. That they went out and they were the first ones to proclaim that Christ was born. And so, there was something symbolic about that, but it was just a common job. And yet, God chose to use shepherds, you have to remember that King David was also a shepherd at first and so being a shepherd was a very good training ground for his later, being called to shepherd God’s people and taking care of God’s people. So shepherding also speaks of feeding the flock, being in touch with the flock and caring for the flock. In John Chapter 21 Jesus spoke to Peter and Peter had of course denied the Lord and Jesus is reaffirming his love for him and his using Peter but he’s asking Peter a question, Peter do you love me? And Peter says, well, yes, certainly I love you Lord, and He says well then I want you to feed my sheep. And then again, do you love me? Feed my lambs. And then finally a third time, do you love me and Peter’s going, of course I love you and He says, feed my sheep. And here is something very interesting because the Lord is asking, do you love me and then He is equating what He wants you to do with your showing Him your love. And so, this feeding of the sheep, if you have the heart of a shepherd and you are doing that which God has called you to do, teach bible studies to people to give out the Word of God to feed the sheep, this is one way you can be showing the Lord that you are loving Him, by loving his body, by loving his flock, are you taking care of them. Just like a parent, when you go up to their child and you play with their child and unless they just think that you are bizarre and obscene or something like that but usually, they like people who like their children. People who get into somebody else children, that parent likes them because you like people who like your children and so that’s the same thing with the Lord. As you care about his flock, He appreciates that and He equates that with your showing love to Him. You know, myself, I used to teach at a Christian school and I remember one year where the pastors prayed over the teachers and I was told you know that you are a shepherd and this is your flock, and that really stuck with me because I was looking at it that way, even though we are teaching language and math and everything but these are my sheep, this is the flock, and so those things that you are doing right now, whether you are teaching school, whether you are leading a Bible Study at work or whether you are literally leading sheep like David was or like Moses was out in the wilderness, that God is using those things as a great training ground for even more things that he has to give you and the more responsibility so it’s great preparation for future leadership in the roles that you guys will end up fulfilling or that you may already be fulfilling. Now, a shepherd back then was just a job but of course a shepherd of God’s sheep is more than just a job. It’s somebody that is chosen by God and appointed to be over the flock. Even Paul had a confidence level of knowing that he was called. He said, Paul called to be an apostle, he mentioned that he was appointed by God a preacher to the Gentiles. God who enabled me and counted me faithful and putting me into the ministry and yet not getting caught up and hindered and crippled by his background as he says who is formerly a blasphemer an insolent man. God had mercy on me and He chose to use me and so the apostle Paul was looking at his background but his background didn’t stop him from being used of God, he didn’t just say, Oh, you know gosh, I’m just so unworthy and how could God ever use me, I’m the chief of sinners but because he was the chief of sinners God could use him even greater as a pattern to those who had fallen later on and show how God could save them and how God could use them. And so what a great example Paul was to us of a man called by God. But at the same time, as you chose to step out and venture forth in faith to be used of God and to have His heart for His sheep, the Bible does warn us too, let not many of you be teachers for you will receive a stricter judgment and truly that’s what ends up happening because when you give out the Word of God there is obviously people who come up to you and say you know you got that kind of wrong, you know it says this too, and there is really this other angle of the Greek over here and so you are going to be judged more harshly but also not just by the people but by God himself, the accountability and the responsibility of feeding his flock and not perverting the Word of God. Not even the Scriptures speak of a king drinking and then if he drinks he perverts the law of God and he would error in judgment of the people and also the priests were not to drink because they would also error and twist the Word of God and so, there are certain guidelines and restrictions that you know, every Christian should be able to put over their life for their own preservation and protection against worldliness but at the same time, especially the accountability of those that are choosing that path and feeling called in that path. Now, also, as we spoke of the mean spirited shepherds at the very beginning who might beat the sheep, the scriptures teach us in 2nd Timothy Chapter 2, that there is a gentleness that is to come forth in our lives from Jesus who is meek and lowly and it says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest, let’s see I think it was in that context but anyway, it speaks of the Lord being humble and the Lord being meek and being like Him, in fact in Timothy Chapter 2 starting in vs. 24, it says and a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all able to teach and patient. Now, look at this, if someone was to come up to you with a problem that they had with you, they didn’t like your feeding, are you going to get all flustered and you know start arguing with them and start proving yourself to them, because it says that you must not quarrel, you must be gentle to all, you must know how to handle situations that come up to you. Notice also, a shepherd is called a servant of the Lord. Because see, the church structure that Jesus set up when he built up His church was not like the worldly corporation where someone is you know sits a special place of honor, has that special office with that special tag on it that makes them a very important person. But the Pastor, this shepherd is a servant. As Jesus said, I did not come to be ministered to but to minister to serve and to give my life for ransom for many. And so there is an understanding that if you want to be great in God’s kingdom you have to be the servant of all. Yet, you are not just looking out for yourself and looking for everybody to meet your needs but you are caring to be there for others and to minister to them, so it says the servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach and patient. Now, able to teach, is very important. Now, apt to teach, that ability can come first from just opening your Bible coming up with some ideas, looking for cross-reference and just trying to teach. And then when you are just trying to teach, God is going to show you and help you and teach you how to put these things together and then the longer your doing it you might end up doing a better job. And then you might also find out that Wow, I even have a gift in this. So being able to teach does not mean that you are this greatly eloquently gifted teacher that is able just to cause people to be spellbound and that they are sitting on the edge of their seat, biting their nails just saying feed me, feed me as they’re eyes are wide open and their mouths are wide open and they are just receiving because you are it, they have never heard anybody give the Word of God like this. That even the apostle Paul was boring. He was so boring that somebody fell asleep and they fell out the window and died! And so, you know if you are thinking of just being able to teach, not magnificent but just able to disciple someone, able to bring forth the Word of God in a way that makes sense to someone. And then it says, in humility correcting those who are in opposition. If God perhaps will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth. Because you know you could get really upset, you know the sheep do a lot of pooping and you have to pick up a lot of sheep poop. And so, it says, with gentleness. You know not like get out of here, you know this is no revolving door, and I don’t want you back in this church, you know there is a way of dealing with problems and it says that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil having been taken captive by him to do his will. Understanding that there is spiritual warfare and that things go wrong in churches and that the Pastor has to deal with it very gently because there is spiritual warfare and people have succumbed to the warfare of the enemy. Just like Peter did, was Peter still God’s man? Though Jesus told him Satan get behind me? He was. Was Jesus still going to use him? Yes. And so there needs to be an understanding like that and a gentleness. Now, also turn to 1st Peter Chapter 5 vs. 2 it says shepherd the flock of God which is among you serving as overseers not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly, nor as being Lord in Lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock. Now that is also that you could fall into that you take in these people that you are supposed to have God’s heart but think about this for a second, Does the Holy Spirit Lord over us? No. Think about this for a moment, the Lord is our Lord but is not the Holy Spirit gentle in us and even allows us to make mistakes, even though we grieve the Holy Spirit, quench the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not like Ananias and Syfiria killing us every time we did something wrong, and just you know, making us do a certain thing. We still have a free will and we can make our mistakes and reap the consequences. And yet, there are those that will Lord over the flock because people will let them and that’s where the cultic activity comes along with control and for those that will tell somebody you know, I think you should marry so and so, and it’s no longer advice but you know the person has a big head, they are high minded and all of sudden they are thinking that they can tell you what to do. And so that is Lording over the flock, that is not shepherding the flock with God’s heart. And believe me, you could do that, you could also realize Oh, my gosh I’ve got these people in my hand and they are like putty and I could tell them anything and they will do it. And some people get that idea and Satan just comes into their heart like that and their Lording over the flock. And then it says in vs. 4 and when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. So ultimately, if you’ve done your job well, you’ve done it with the right motives, you’ve done it because you are compelled by the love of Christ, you’ve done it because He has gifted you and He’s made you able to do this and He’s put you in that place to do it, then you are going to receive your reward from Him. In 2nd Samuel Chapter 7 vs. 7, this is an interesting Scripture that I want you to look at - it’s interesting because of the prioritization of how our lives can get out of wack if we are not careful. It says in vs. 7 - wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the Tribes of Israel whom I’ve commanded to shepherd my people Israel saying why have you not built me a house of Cedar? And do you see it up there is 2nd Corinthians and in 2nd Samuel Chapter 7 vs. 7, he says I have commanded some people to shepherd my people Israel. And that means to feed the flock. There are certain people that He has laid it upon feed the flock, but did I ever command those that I commanded to feed the flock did I ever say, also build me a house of Cedar? See David was in his house, and he was realizing that he had a very nice house and God’s tabernacle was just curtains. And so he started thinking, man, I’ve got things going so well for me, why shouldn’t God have something nicer? And so God, through Nathan, made an explanation saying Does God need this? Have I ever commanded this? Wasn’t my command for the people just to shepherd, to feed? And so what happens is Pastors’ get off track. They get into these building funds and we have to raise this much money, and we have to do this remodeling, now is any of that in and of itself, if its in perspective, just like if its in your own house just like keeping your own house in perspective, is it wrong? No. But are there those that have fallen along the wayside Pastor’s who probably are carnal and not even spiritual. I remember prior, I believe it was prior not even to owning our own building but even prior to starting a church. I remember driving around and looking at different churches and wondering, how did that church get there? Did the people really strive for their million dollar project of whatever? I mean was it, was this the whole focus of the church and evangelism was gone and it was like we are all into this building. You know, and I used to think about that, like what happened? How did that get there, and is that building really there to the Glory of God? Or is that a house that these people put together that once they got their house, they lost God. And I wondered about those kinds of things. And I know that there is a good warning there. Did I ever ask any of these people that I commanded to feed the sheep to ask them to build me a house, made out of Cedar? Did I ask them to get their priorities off. Because you could shepherd God’s people in the street, you could shepherd God’s people at a park, you could shepherd God’s people in a house you know, it has nothing to do with a building. A building could be a blessing, I mean the very fact that we have one shows that I had something to do with it as far as thinking about it and doing something there, but it’s not the priority. And I was reading this book by David Wilkerson and he was talking about in the last chapter about woe to the shepherds because they are building their multi-million dollar cathedrals and he mentioned about these people you know, that started out with good hearts and everything but then eventually they just lost their fire for the Lord because of their building projects. So pray for Pastors. Pray for those who get caught up into buildings because it’s an overwhelming thing and it’s something that can really lead someone astray. But of course, the true pastor is not caught up in the building, he is caught up in leading the sheep to the green pastures, to the still waters, and that is what it is all about. That is what the church is all about, is the green pastures and the still waters. A place to feed. David as he was a shepherd I believe he killed a lion and he was defending the sheep. And we also in defending the sheep need to talk about the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormon and the Christian Science and the Islam Religion, all of these other things and that these things do need to mentioned from time to time because we are defending the sheep from all of the lions that are out there where there are so many different kinds of philosophy and so many different brands of Christianity that people can really become confused, well who is the true God? Where is the true religion? And we need to be contending for the faith and that is why all of us need to know a little apologetics and enough to be able to show them that, hey, here is what the Word of God says and also here is what the Word of God says, and both of these things are true and the balance is sometimes somewhere over here but here are these people who just run off with this and they just got this particular pet doctrine and here are these people who run off in left field with this, and so they are out of balance. They are either out of balance or they are completely wrong or they are twisting the scriptures. And we know that the scriptures can be twisted not just by having seen it done but it mentions in the Book of Peter about Paul’s writings, it says because some people have found it really hard to understand some of the things written in Paul’s writings, they would twist the things to their own destruction and there are things in the Bible that take a little bit of meditating on, take a little bit of the Holy Spirit speaking it into our hearts causing the lights to go on and say, oh yea, I see how that all comes together with this now. And line upon line, precept upon precept you know looking within context you know those scriptures and any private interpretation of seeing how they all balance out with each other and so the people of God, so that way they won’t be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine but that they would grow up to the fullness of the stature you know of Christ and that maturity that we need to be there letting them know what is wrong and what is right and help bring them to discern and know the Word and the truth and that is why it is very important to teach the Word of God. A shepherd’s heart to feed the flock means to teach the flock and I know a lot of people think well, you know, I like preaching better, I mean that really keeps me awake. Do you want to know something? I believe, I firmly believe in Scripture that preaching when you look at the word preaching was only used in the context of the gospel. They preached Christ. It had to do with proclaiming the message of Christ. And so there would be the multitudes and they would proclaim the message of Christ. But when you read of teaching and Paul giving out God’s Word and making sure that they heard everything that they should hear before he left, he was teaching them. When Jesus was sitting on the hillside and the flocks were eating the bread and everything like that he was teaching them. And so truly the flock needs to be taught. Yea, you can decorate it, and you can make it a little bit louder and a little bit more interesting sure, but there are a lot of people who take a nice little sermon and that’s all they will give you. They will give you this pop sermon and then something else the next week and I used to go to a church like that. And the Pastor was a good Pastor as far as he loved the Lord and he cared about his church, but this is just what he knew how to do and so I really did not get that much out of growth in that church, but when I sat under the teaching of God’s Word, and received book after book and teaching after teaching, I really grew in the Lord. And that’s where God wants his people, growing in the Lord through the God and through the Word of God being able to recognize for themselves a counterfeit and a liar. And those that are not teaching the truth. And then also regarding the heart of the shepherd, do you remember Jesus was on the Mount of Olives and he is looking over Jerusalem and he says Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets, how I longed to bring you under my wings as a hen takes cares of her young. And so you hear the heart of Jesus as He is mourning over Jerusalem and their condition and their rejection of Him. And so, we also if you have God’s heart for the sheep, will mourn over those things that the people are rejecting from their lives and are not putting into practice in their lives and I think as I look gosh, I probably could mourn a little bit more over things when I see people going the wrong way or believing things wrong. But Jesus mourned and wept it says, over Jerusalem. And it says that he wanted to take them under His wings. And I remember when I was in the Philippines many years ago and there was a Typhoon type storm that was just pounding down El Nino strength rain and there was this chicken that was out there and she had her cute little chicks and they were all under her wings and you look at this big fluffy chicken just looked so skinny and thin as it was dripping with water and just looked miserable just out there in this rain. And after the storm passed, the chicks came out from under her drenched body and these little chicks were all fluffy and dry. I mean that was the care and the concern, you know that this person suffered and like Jesus suffered on behalf of everyone so all of us could receive but it also mentions in Paul’s writings how we suffer persecution but you yourself are honored and I mention these kinds of things because there are things that those that are shepherding God’s flock will have to go through that the others might not at that time have to go through, that they are doing it for the sake of his body, the flock. Now also, regarding David it mentions that David fed them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Speaking of his character and caring for the sheep. Jesus was called the Good Shepherd and so I believe as we get close to the Lord and the fruit of His Holy Spirit, goodness, kindness, gentleness, would be in us, we also will be good shepherds. Also, it mentions in John Chapter 10 where it speaks of Jesus being a shepherd of the sheep that He knows His sheep by name. And so he is intimately acquainted with his sheep and He knows if one is missing. And so, I believe that a Pastor needs to or a Sunday School teacher needs to be knowing them by name. Now, if it grows so big that you don’t know them by name and you have to have somebody over these people so that people can know them and somebody can be looking out for them. And also, in the Book of Ephesians it mentions about the gifts that are given, it says to the church is given for the equipping of the saints, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelist. But you see Pastor and teacher are coupled together. I have met people who teach Bible studies at church and they go well, I’m just a teacher, I’m not a Pastor, just a teacher. You know, to tell you the truth, I prefer to not have somebody teach if they are just a teacher. If I would notice over a period of time that they are just a teacher, and they don’t fellowship with the people but they just go home and get into their family, they don’t have anybody over for dinner, they don’t do activities with the saints and you know are part of the body, I prefer not to have them teach. Because they do not have a heart, why should you be teaching and not have a heart for those you are teaching. You don’t have to be a Pastor but whether you are leading a Spanish fellowship or whether you are leading a drug and alcohol ministry or whether you are leading the children or whatever it is you are leading, if you don’t have a heart for the sheep and you don’t have a Pastor’s heart, a shepherd’s heart then why, why even teach. And I’ve heard that more than one time from men that know how to teach the Bible and want to teach a home Bible studies and stuff. And yet they just want to teach.
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