Shepherd Or Butcher 

Amos 1:1
“The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”

When the car breaks we look for a mechanic, when the body breaks we want a doctor, and when pipes leak it is a plumber we are interested in. We realize, to get the job done right we need a well- trained expert. God on the other hand, works by a different set of rules. Since He has no limitations, He is able to choose the foolish things of the world to accomplish his purposes. When he needed to get a message to the nations, he chose a shepherd from the hills of Tekoa. It is not as though Amos had no qualifications, it is just that the qualifications to be used by the Lord are totally different than those necessary to be chosen by men.

Amos met one of the chief requirements for anyone who desires to be used by God. Amos was a shepherd. Not everyone who wants to serve Christ has to train by learning to care for sheep, but all ministry must be done with the heart of a shepherd. The chief role of a shepherd is to care for the sheep, and he does this by focusing upon feeding and protecting them. Basically, a shepherd does what he does, not for his own benefit,  but for that of the sheep he has been given responsibility over.

Prior to entering full-time ministry, I worked as an apprentice butcher at a local market. My responsibility was to cut and display fish, poultry and meat. Every year, as Passover approached, we would receive cases filled with legs of lamb. During that week, I would spend much of my day de-boning dozens of lamb legs for individual customers. I must admit, I did this with my mouth watering as I imagined seasoning them with Italian dressing and placing them on the grill. I learned then, that a butcher looks at sheep differently than a pastor. The butcher looks at how the sheep will benefit him, while the pastor looks out for the interest of the sheep.

If we desire to be called by God, the one requirement, in addition being a follower of Christ, is that we have the heart of a shepherd. We must not look at people for what they can do for us or our vision. We must look at others, seeking how we can serve them, and help them grow into the person God has called them to be.

Pastor Jim

 

A Shepherd’s Heart 

Ezekiel 34:7
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord”

This chapter contains some of the most valuable and important instruction for anyone seeking to be involved in Christian ministry. In it, Ezekiel explains the role of the servant of God, by using the imagery of a shepherd. As a shepherd must care for the sheep of his pasture, so a person seeking to serve Christ must care for the people of God. Ezekiel explains how to go about doing this by contrasting the leaders of his day with the ministry of the coming Messiah. A careful look through this chapter will reveal many of the roles and responsibilities of anyone who wants to serve Christ.

First off, it is worth noting, the leaders were failing because they were feeding themselves instead of feeding the sheep. A person who looks at the people of God for what they can do for him and his ministry goals, instead of for what he can do for them and their growth in Christ, is behaving more like a butcher than a shepherd. It is the primary role of the shepherd to ensure that the sheep are well fed. Scant, weak, and frail sheep are evidence that the shepherd has failed to do his job, more than it is an indictment on the sheep themselves. If you want to be an effective minister, you need to get to know the word of God, and share it faithfully with others. Paul did this by declaring the whole counsel of God, and not picking and choosing select subjects that he enjoyed teaching.

Ezekiel also explains that the shepherds failed because they neglected to seek after hurt, broken, and scattered sheep. Jesus illustrated the role of the shepherd when He said He would leave the ninety-nine healthy sheep and seek after the one that is lost (Luke 15:4-6). A true shepherd will seek to minister to the needs of the sheep. Often, a hurting Christian will speak or act out of their pain. Instead of judging them harshly for their behaviors, we should seek to minister to the cause of their actions.

There is no shortage of hurting, wandering, damaged and scattered people in every community in the world. If we will look at others through the eyes of Christ we will find that we have wide open doors for ministry.

Pastor Jim

 

 

Good Shepherd 

Psalm 23:1 
“The Lord is my Shepherd . . .”

In this Psalm, David uses the illustration of a shepherd to speak of God’s care for those who belong to Him. This Psalm speaks of the benefits true to all who are in a covenant relationship with God. He speaks of God’s provision, comfort, protection and care. Jesus used the same illustration in John 10 when He said, 

“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:26-28

While the poetry of this Psalm is beautiful and comforting, it is important that we realize the promises are for those who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If you want to experience God in the way that David describes Him, it begins with surrendering your life to Christ and following Him. Once that has happened, all these great and precious promises belong to you. As long as you live like a sheep outside the fold of God, you miss out on the loving care of the Good Shepherd; life’s difficulties must be faced with your own strength and resources. However, the moment you surrender to Him, He becomes your Shepherd, and you begin to lie down in green pastures, walk by still waters, benefit from His rod and staff, and experience goodness and mercy following after you.

With all that is promised to the one who follows Christ, it is so foolish to refuse Him. What are you holding back from God that is better than all He wants to do for you? Will you make Him your Shepherd today?

Pastor Jim