Faithlife Sermons

Who is Looking after you?

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05/03/2009 Who is Looking after you? Knox 16 PC

691/11/634 Psalm 23 1 John 3:16-24 John 10:11-18

OOPS! The Camden, Maine, Herald ran two photos on the same page: one of Camden’s board of selectmen and town manager; the other of a flock of sheep. Unintentionally the captions were reversed. Under the picture of the sheep the caption identified them, left to right, as town officials; the one under the photo of the town fathers grouped around a table read, “The Sheep Fold —naive and vulnerable, they huddle for security against the uncertainties of the outside world.”  
  UGH! At the place where I get my hair cut regularly, there is a person who stands out as one who gives full service. After a short number of visits I soon discovered that each time I went in this lady will know exactly what I want to have done to my hair and proceed to do it without any other questions. If I was dealing with another person in the same store or the others wouldn't have a clue what my name was or what I needed to have done with my hair and so on. There is a difference.
Many people live their lives as though they are simply a hired hand. They are in it for the money. But, the Shepherd is the owner and he has a vested interest in each sheep. The hired hand does not own the sheep and therefore does not have a vested interest in the sheep.  
  In recent days there are two institutions seeking my business. Their message is very clear. We miss you. And my question is how can you miss me when you don't even know who I am. The key to one being looked after fully is that the other person knows who they are and are ready to do what ever it takes to look after them. These financial institutions and others have only one interest in me and that is making money. They don't miss me. They missed the profit that I bring to them.
So when the hired man sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The key for the Good Shepherd is that when we come under the Good Shepherd's care, we shall not want.  
  Isn't that the beginning of the Shepherd psalm? The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The Lord is my Shepherd and he anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. Under the care of the Good Shepherd we have more than enough.
A lady visiting Switzerland came upon a sheepfold located high on a mountainside. Her attention was drawn to one poor sheep lying by the side of the road bleating in pain. Looking more closely, she discovered that its leg was injured.  
She asked the shepherd how it happened. "I had to break it myself," he answered sadly. "It was the only way I could keep that wayward creature from straying into unsafe places. From past experience I have found that a sheep will follow me once I have nursed it back to health. Because of the loving relationship that will be established as I care for her, in the future she will come instantly at my beck and call."  
  AHA! Have you ever been in a store when you have been served almost instantaneously when you come into the store? During the time in which the person has gone away to find out your information for you a second person comes and ask if they can be of help. You say no thank you someone is looking after me already. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This was meant to be literal.
WHEE! The Shepherd in the Middle East would lay himself down on the ground at night at the gateway or the entrance to the sheep pen. If a wolf came to attack the sheep, the wolf would have to go through the Shepherd first. It has been more than one occasion that a Shepherd has literally given up his life to defend his sheep. Jesus says to us, no greater thing can a man do for his friend then to lay down his life for them.  
  When He was God incarnate amongst men, He declared emphatically, "I am the good Shepherd." But who was this Christ? Our view of Him is often too small - too cramped too provincial- too human. And because it is we feel unwilling to allow Him to have authority or control much less outright ownership of our lives. He it was who was directly responsible for the creation of all things both natural and supernatural (Colossians 1:15-20).
If we pause to reflect on the person of Christ - on His power and upon His achievements - suddenly like David we will be glad to state proudly, "The Lord He is my Shepherd!" But before we do this it helps to hold clearly in mind the particular part played upon our history by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  
  God the Father is God the author - the originator of all that exists. It was in His mind, first, that all took shape. God the Son, our Saviour, is God the artisan - the artist, the Creator of all that exists. He brought into being all that had been originally formulated in His Father's mind. God the Holy Spirit is God the agent who presents these facts to both my mind and my spiritual understanding so that they become both real and relative to me as an individual.
The beautiful relationships given to us in Scripture between God and man are those of a father to his children and a shepherd to his sheep.  
These concepts were first conceived in the mind of God our Father. They were made possible and practical through the work of Christ. They are confirmed and made real in me through the agency of the gracious Holy Spirit.  
  "The Lord is my Shepherd," it immediately implies a profound yet practical working relationship between a human being and his Maker. It links a lump of common clay to divine destiny. It means a mere mortal becomes the cherished object of divine diligence.
Obviously, David, in this Psalm, is speaking not as the shepherd, though he was one, but as a sheep; one of the flock. He spoke with a strong sense of pride and devotion and admiration. It was as though he literally boasted aloud, "Look at who my shepherd is - my owner - my manager!" The Lord is!  
  After all, he knew from firsthand experience that the lot in life of any particular sheep depended on the type of man who owned it. Some men were gentle, kind, intelligent, brave and selfless in their devotion to their stock. Under one man sheep would struggle, starve and suffer endless hardship. In another's care they would flourish and thrive contentedly.
I stoop down and pick up a handful of soil from the backyard or roadside. Placing it under an electron microscope I am astounded to discover it teems with billions upon billions of micro-organisms. Many of them are so complex in their own peculiar cellular structure that even a fraction of their functions in the earth are not yet properly understood.  
  Jesus Christ - the Son of God brought all of this into being. From the most gigantic galaxy to the most minute microbe all function flawlessly in accordance with definite laws of order and unity which are utterly beyond the mind of finite man to master.
It is in this sense, first of all, that I am basically to admit that His ownership of me as a human being is legitimate - simply because it is He who brought me into being and no one is better able to understand or care for me.  
  It is patently clear that many men and women refuse to acknowledge this fact. Their deliberate attempts to deny that such a relationship could exist between a human and his Maker demonstrate their abhorrence for admitting that anyone really can claim ownership or authority over them by virtue of bringing them into being.
This was of course the enormous risk which God took in making people initially. But in His usual magnanimous manner He took the second step in attempting to restore this relationship which is repeatedly breached by people who turn their backs upon Him.  
  Again in Christ He demonstrated at Calvary the deep desire of His heart to have men come under His benevolent care. He Himself absorbed the penalty for their perverseness, stating clearly that "all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
Remember the gas station where a man drives his car in and it is still one of those full-service stations. All he is expecting is to get his car filled up with gas and to have the windshield washed and maybe some of the other windows on the car. But, when he enters the gas station and places his order, someone puts the hose into the gas tank and starts filling it up and two other guys proceed to clean all the windows and check the wipers. They proceed to check under the hood and check all of the fluid levels. And then they enter the interior of your car and vacuum it from the inside out perfectly. It is all included in the price. When the man goes to pay his bill he asked with astonishment how is it that you give us all this service. The gentleman's response was, our aim is not just to serve you. Our aim is to amaze you.  
  One of the main reasons I have been using the same mechanic for our cars over the past few years is the issue of service. Even if I just get my car in there for an oil and filter change and to checkout that everything is okay and the price is only $40, I know that my car will be cleaned from the inside out as well. When I get a bill that's fairly large they allow me to pay it off over two months for a period of 30 days in all.
The goal of the church should not be simply to serve, but to amaze people. That is what the meaning of giving truly is. You give and you give and you keep on giving without any expectation of receiving back. Why? Because we are under the Good Shepherd who looks after all of our needs.  
  YEAH! On the chapel wall at Eagle Village, a residential treatment centre for boys, hang the portraits of two 12-year-old boys. Some boys from Eagle Village were on a canoe expedition on Lake Superior when they pulled ashore to make camp. Rosy spotted something floating in the water, so he pushed off in a canoe to retrieve it. Strong winds quickly blew him offshore. The staff recognized his peril and started off in two canoes to rescue him. When Rick saw that his best friend was in danger, he insisted on going along. Because of the wind, all three canoes were tossed about helplessly, and finally capsized. Miraculously, the staff members made it to shore. But Rick and Rosy were lost in the depths of Lake Superior. A plaque between the pictures tells the story. It says: Rick, who loved enough to give his life for another. Rosy, who was loved enough to have another pay that price.
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