He makes me lie down in green pastures, [New International Version] Psalm 22:3
We saw yesterday that sheep will not rest unless 4 things are in place. If they’re not, the sheep will not settle and will remain that way until the issues are resolved! Let us look at them again and see how they apply to us! They are freedom from:
fear As long as there is even the slightest suspicion of danger from dogs, coyotes, cougars, bears or other enemies, the sheep stand up ready to flee for their lives. They have little or no means of self-defense. They are helpless, timid, feeble creatures whose only recourse is to run. Two dogs have been known to kill as many as 292 sheep in a single night of unbridled slaughter. In the Christian’s life there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby. There is nothing like Christ’s presence to dispel the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown. You see, from my own experience it’s when I have moved from His presence that fear is instantly upon me. So I daily need to abide in Him. The saying goes, IF YOU DON’T SENSE THE PRESENCE OF GOD, GUESS WHO’S MOVED! Another saying is, ‘if Christ is truly the Lord of your house [life] and the devil comes a knocking, then let Jesus open the door! He’ll say “what do you want?” And the devil will flee’. It’s all to do with His presence in your life! Remember the Ark of the Covenant of God in the Old Testament! Wherever it went, so did the Presence, Power and Provision of God! If the Sheep are restless, the shepherd will walk among them putting a calming hand upon their heads. His very presence would calm their fears. For us it works by daily inviting Holy Spirit into your day, reading your daily bread [THE WORD], daily praying to the Lord! Abiding, living and remaining in Him. When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away. John 10:4-5 and I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. John 15:5
- tension This is usually caused by rivalry or one sheep wanting to dominate or have it’s own way. [Ring any bells in Church life!?] This is a startling example, in fact, of the scientific accuracy of the Scriptures in describing a natural phenomenon. Because of this rivalry, tension, and competition for status and self assertion, there is friction in a flock. The sheep cannot lie down and rest in contentment. Always they must stand up and defend their rights and contest the challenge of the intruder.
“The continuous conflict and jealousy within the flock can be a most detrimental thing. The sheep become edgy, tense, discontented and restless. They lose weight and become irritable. But one point always interested me very much, was that whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior. In any … human organization or group, be it large or small, the struggle for self-assertion and self-recognition goes on. Most of us fight to be “top sheep.” We butt and quarrel and compete to “get ahead.” And in the process, people are hurt.
It is here that much jealousy arises … It is where ill-will and contempt come into being, the place where heated rivalry and deep discontent is born. It is here that discontent gradually grows into a covetous way of life where one has to be forever “standing up” for himself, for his rights, “standing up” just to get ahead of the crowd. In contrast to this, the picture in the Psalm shows us God’s people lying down in quiet contentment. One of the outstanding marks of a Christian should be a serene sense of gentle contentment. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The less aggressive sheep were often far more contented, quiet and restful”. PHILLIP KELLER [A shepherd looks at Psalm 23]
Tomorrow we will look at the other two points. For now, let’s pray.
Lord help me to keep you near, then I’ll have no need to fear. Lord help me God I pray to live and walk with you each day Lord help me not to strive, and help me be at peace So rivalry and fighting and jealousy may cease. Amen