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Contributed By:
Jeff Strite
 
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THE LUKEWARM SHEEP

Now, for the sake of my illustration, I want to break a flock of sheep down into 3 groups.

1. The first group of sheep had DECIDED to look to Shepherd & follow Him wherever He leads.
These are the "Good sheep" who follow the "Good Shepherd. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 KJV

2. The 2nd group wants nothing to do with the Shepherd. They want to run their lives their own way and they deliberately DECIDE to walk away from Him. These are the pagans and atheists of society. They don't want to hear Jesus' voice... they don't want to follow.

3. But the 3rd group DECIDES that they like the Shepherd. They want to hang out with Him... but they don't want to get TOO close to Him. They still want to keep their options open. They want to look for their own grass once in a while. They want to nibble at a little of this and a little of that....

George Orwell once observed: "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."

That's the problem with this 3rd group of sheep.
They like being close to Jesus... just not too much, and not just all the time. And because they have this "loose" connection to the shepherd they're the ones who end up wandering off. They're the ones that end up getting lost. They're just close enough to the Shepherd to feel secure. And just far enough away to not hear His voice.
"My sheep hear my voice... and they follow me." says Jesus. John 10:27

And so, they wander off into their own little world, and they end up getting hurt and making bad decisions. And those bad decisions cause them pain and heartache.
As Proverbs 13:15 says, "...the way of transgressors is hard." (KJV)

Because they've chosen NOT to listen to the Good Shepherd and to follow Him closely, they are without the protection of that Shepherd and open to the attacks of Satan and this world.

 
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THE VOICE OF THE SHEPHERD

There once was a shepherd that lived in the Scottish highlands. This shepherd had a daughter and he would take her with him when he went out on the moors to take care of the sheep. The thing that the little girl liked best was to hear the call of shepherd. His voice sounded so free and beautiful as carried across the valleys of the moors.
As the years passed the little girl became a beautiful young woman and went off to one of Scotland's great cities--Edinburgh or Glasgow. It was there that she was determined to build a life. On her arrival, she would write back home to her parents every week. But as life began to take her by the hand, her letters soon dropped off in their frequency and soon there were none.

Rumors begin to filter back home to that shepherd and his wife that their daughter had started hanging out with some unsavory characters and they were having a very negative influence on her life. One day one of the boys from back home ran into her in the city streets and she acted as if she did not even know him. When the old shepherd heard this, he gathered a few things together and dressed in his rough shepherd’s clothes went to the city to find his daughter.

For days on end he looked for her. He looked everywhere; the slums, the rows of houses, the markets, the taverns, and everywhere in between to no avail. So after all of this searching he became very discouraged with the thought that he had lost his daughter to the evil city.

As he started the long trek back home, just as he was on the outskirts of the city, he remembered that his daughter had always loved to hear the voice of the shepherd calling out to the sheep.

So he turned around and on this quest motivated by his sorrow and his love, he began to stalk the streets. His voice rang out the shepherds call. The citizens of the city all looked at him as if he had lost his wits. It wasn’t too long as he walked the streets of one of the degraded neighborhoods that inside of one of those houses, his daughter sitting among the vermin who had led her astray, heard his voice. With great astonishment on her face, she heard that call of the voice of the shepherd, the voice of her father calling out to her. She leaped up and rushed out to the street and ran into the arms of that old shepherd, her father. It was then that he took her back home to the highlands of Scotland and brought her back to God and to decency and modesty.

This is a moving example of what happens to those who can hear the voice of a shepherd.

(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, The Voice of the Shepherd, 8/6/2010)

 
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MY SHEEP KNOW MY VOICE

Do you all know much about Emperor Penguins? I was not very familiar with these birds until a few years ago when the documentary, March of the Penguins, came out. And as I watched this documentary, I learned many intriguing facts about this largest of the penguin family.

For one thing, Emperors are monogamous; a relatively unique feature in the world of animals; they have one mate for life. Perhaps even more interesting than that, though, is the fact that it is the male Emperors who care for the egg until it hatches. That’s right, every year, when mating season is over, the female Emperors take off for the ocean; all of them together in one huge flock traveling hundreds of miles so that they can fish and get plenty to eat to sustain them and their new chick for a year. Meanwhile, back at their home, the male penguins are caring for the eggs. Each male tucks his egg between his feet to keep it from breaking and to keep it warm in the cold, harsh, winter winds.

But here’s the thing that is perhaps most interesting. When all those females return from the ocean, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them, how do you think they find their mate in the equally large crowd of males? It’s not that they can just walk up to the doorstep of their nest and step inside. No, there are no nests. The Emperor penguins always find their mate and their children by the sound of their call, their voice. It seems impossible for a flock of thousands of penguins to sort themselves out by the sounds of their voices, but they do it. In our view, it’s nothing short of a miracle!

I suppose such a feat shouldn’t surprise us too much. Perhaps all human voices sound alike to birds, just as bird calls (especially within a single species) all sound the same to humans. Yet, we humans do have some selective hearing; a father or mother will recognize their child’s voice in a crowded room and vice versa. But those of us who don’t have much to do with the bird and animal kingdoms on a daily basis are often startled at just how much animals can distinguish between different people as well as between others members of their own species. To this day, in the Middle East, a shepherd will go into a crowded sheepfold and call out his own sheep one by one, naming them. They will recognize his voice and come to him.

An Anglican priest toured the Holy Land many years ago. One day on his travels, he saw several different groups of sheep converging together on a watering hole. As he watched the meeting, he thought to himself, "Now, there will be trouble. They’ll all get mixed up. The shepherds won’t like this." But the sheep continued to come together, until they formed one big flock of sheep. They all looked alike--a big mass of white wool. "What will they do now?" the priest thought. "How will the shepherds ever separate them out?"

The priest was intrigued enough to stay for a while. And when the sheep had finished drinking, he was amazed at what he saw. Each shepherd gave out a cry. Each let go his unique call, and almost by magic, the sheep divided back into their original herds.

(From a sermon by Clair Sauer, A Call in the Cacophony, 5/11/2011)

 
Contributed By:
Bruce Ferris
 
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My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, “The Man Who Predicted 911.” We were both moved by this hour presentation and its focus on one man by the name of Rick Rescorla. Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank’s offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials’ advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to "be proud to be an American ... everyone will be talking about you tomorrow", and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.

After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, only 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.

The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who now in tears were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for saving their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero.

Mr. Rescorla left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, and two children that day. Since 911, a memorial stone was erected in Rick’s hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life and the sacrifice he made to save others.

James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As sinners saved by grace, we must have a “Rick Rescorla Attitude.” He was convinced people entrusted to his care would perish if his plan of escape were ignored. Rick Rescorla stayed the course even when unpopular and ridiculed because he believed what he was doing would save lives.

Sadly, many Christians today have a “Cain Attitude” when it comes to rescuing the perishing and having a consistent witness. Unlike Rick Rescorla, they say by their actions: “I am not my brother’s keeper.” How this must grieve the heart of Almighty God who has left us here as His Beloved Children to sh...

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Contributed By:
Frank Gallagher
 
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These shepherds were symbolic of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, who would also humbly follow God’s will. Their sheep represent us as believers, in several ways:

- Sheep cannot clean themselves. Some animals such as a cat can do that, but not sheep. Likewise, we as unbelievers were not able to clean ourselves from the filthiness of sin;

- Sheep cannot defend themselves from predators. Many animals have a defense system, such as skunks and blowfish, but sheep do not. We as believers are protected from the evil one, Satan, ultimately by the power of God, and as a local church congregation by our pastor-teacher;

- Sheep cannot find food and water for themselves. They depend upon the shepherd to lead them to water and green pastures, as stated in Psalm 23. We as believers depend upon the Lord for our spiritual food and water, as well as on our daily physical needs;

- Sheep are not intelligent. As believers, neither are we when it comes to the things of God. That’s why our salvation, eternal security, and rewards depend entirely upon the work of Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We have the Holy Spirit who makes spiritual things understandable to us (2 Cor. 2)

 
Contributed By:
D. Greg Ebie
 
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We can see in our national headlines the power of unity to fulfill a common goal. Each of us will never forget what happened September 11, 2001. Out of that terrible day we saw our nation join together in unity. President George W. Bush had the support of the nation as he led the nation into the war against the terrorist who murdered so many innocent Americans. Let’s go get ’em!
But now nearly 9 month later we’ve started pointing fingers. What did our president know before the attacks? What could the government have done to prevent the terrorist attacks? The unity that was born through terror is unraveling. We have forgotten who our enemy is.
The same happens within the church. We can so easily begin to point fingers at other "sheep;" we become critical of the "shepherd." All the while we forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the church. Satan seeks to "steal kill and destroy". Let’s not forget who the enemy is.

 
Contributed By:
John  Williams III
 
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I never will forget hearing the testimony of a pastor whose experience I heard on tape one day in class, when I was in seminary. I do not remember the pastor’s name. But, I can recall most of what he said when he gave the testimony that I am about to share with you. He said, "When I first started out, I wanted to be a great preacher. Someone whom people revered and thought of highly. As I got older and wiser, I began that people don’t want just a good preacher. They want a pastor. One day this hope became evident to me as I went to see an AIDS patient in the hospital. When people came to see him they stayed at the edge of the room near the door. One preacher even said a prayer from the door. But, when I went to see him, I went over to him held his hand and said a prayer. He cried, because that was the first time anyone other than medical personnel had touched him since he had been in a hospital." The point of this story is that whether one is a preacher or not, people who are hurting and/or sick want others to be pastoral to them. Pastor is a metaphor for a preacher who looks after his/her congregation just as a shepherd looks after his sheep.

 
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Lynn Anderson, in "They Smell Like Sheep," relates this story: “Several years ago in Palestine, Carolyn and I rode a tour bus through Israel’s countryside nearly mesmerized as the tour guide explained the scenery, the history, and the lifestyle. In his description, he included a heart-warming portrayal of the ancient shepherd/sheep relationship. He expounded on how the shepherd builds a relationship with his sheep—how he feeds them and gently cares for them. He pointed out that the shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep but leads them, and that the shepherd does not need to be harsh with them, because they hear his voice and follow. And so on… He then explained how on a previous tour things had backfired for him as he was giving this same speech about sheep and shepherds. In the midst of spinning his pastoral tale, he suddenly realized he had lost his audience. They were all staring out the bus window at a guy chasing a ‘herd’ of sheep. He was throwing rocks at them, whacking them with sticks, and siccing the sheep dog on them. The sheep-driving man in the field had torpedoed the guide’s enchanting narrative. The guide told us that he had been so agitated that he jumped off the bus, ran into the field, and accosted the man, ‘Do you understand what you have just done to me?’ he asked. ‘I was spinning a charming story about the gentle ways of shepherds, and here you are mistreating, hazing, ...

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Contributed By:
Davon Huss
 
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Napoleon—when he conquered Europe took his family and he sat them every one in great places over the many kingdoms and states and nations of Europe that he’d conquered. Whenever he’d conquered a country, he’d put his relative over it to be ruler. He took his entire family and spread them around over all of those conquered nations of Europe. Well, in the days of his glory, Napoleon heard of an uncle that he had never known. He was a humble preacher of little church miles from Florence and the town in which he ministered had less than a hundred people in it.
And when Napoleon heard of that humble preacher, his uncle, in that little place, he called his general in and sent him, with twenty men, to that little town and said, “When you see him, you tell him that no kinsmen of Napoleon Bonaparte ever is to be in a humble ministry, but he’s to be the leader, to walk in aristocracy and in pride and in glory. And when you see my uncle, you bring him to Paris and you tell him we will make of him a bishop. In time we will make of him a cardinal in the church.”
So the general went, with his twenty men, and came up to this humble place, this humble cottage where that preacher lived in a little town of a hundred people, and said to him, “The great Napoleon has asked me to come to you and to bring you to Paris. You can be a bishop of any diocese that you choose. In time we shall make you a cardinal and give you a cardinal’s hat.”
And the humble preacher replied, “No. These are my people and I am their shepherd and I’ll not leave them.”
The general pressed it upon him and the humble preacher said, “No. These are my people, my sheep, and I’m their shepherd.”
And the great general said, “Then I shall take you by force. We’ll take you to Paris and make you a bishop or a cardinal against your will.”
And the humble man replied, “Sir, if you do that, what would these dear people think and what would the Lord think? That against my will you forced me into this exalted place when the Lord wants me to be a shepherd with these people?”
Crestfallen, the general returned to Paris and made his report to Napoleon. Napoleon thought him a fool but that humble uncle stayed at that church until he died.
(Adapted from a sermon by W.A. Criswell)

 
Contributed By:
Frank Gallagher
 
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These shepherds were symbolic of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, who would also humbly follow God’s will. Their sheep represent us as believers, in several ways:

- Sheep cannot clean themselves. Some animals such as a cat can do that, but not sheep. Likewise, we as unbelievers were not able to clean ourselves from the filthiness of sin;

- Sheep cannot defend themselves from predators. Many animals have a defense system, such as skunks and blowfish, but sheep do not. We as believers are protected from the evil one, Satan, ultimately by the power of God, and as a local church congregation by our pastor-teacher;

- Sheep cannot find food and water for themselves. They depend upon the shepherd to lead them to water and green pastures, as stated in Psalm 23. We as believers depend upon the Lord for our spiritual food and water, as well as on our daily physical needs;

- Sheep are not intelligent. As believers, neither are we when it comes to the things of God. That’s why our salvation, eternal security, and rewards depend entirely upon the work of Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We have the Holy Spirit who makes spiritual things understandable to us (2 Cor. 2)

 
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