Clarence Semonious, Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Kernville, CA.
April 25, 2010
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)
There is a certain risk in presenting thoughts under the title of Counting Sheep for a sermon; this phrase usually indicates a desire to fall asleep. Today’s look at the Good Shepherd is to look through the lens of Scripture as guidance for the under-shepherds.
Through a condensation of Acts 20:19-21, Paul gives each one of us here today, a lesson in what our lives are to accomplish: …serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to [us]… [we do] not shrink from declaring… anything that [is] profitable, and teaching in public and from house to house, testifying of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. From my beginnings here, I have explained that everything I do publically, you are individually called to do privately.
We, as under-shepherds:
Remember the privilege you have, “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4; So there it is, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. These are not a guide for the professional; they are guides for every person who has been called, “out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
The 23rd Psalm is for your comfort and more. Listen now, not as one to be comforted; listen as one who is, “…able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
As an under-shepherd, we are called to go into the world, as you do every week. But in “leaving the 99” be diligent in the counting of sheep. What Paul said in Acts, do you believe for yourself? “…I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24. “ Do the words, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” comfort you? Then what is the value of your life? Isn’t it (to testify to the gospel of the grace of God?) And do the words of Revelation 7:17 (For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.) comfort you? Let them become your fulfillment of these words, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
Typically, as the Good Shepherd counts and finds one sheep missing, He goes and finds that sheep. As under-shepherds, we also go out and see many sheep:
1. belonging to other under-shepherds,
With these, rejoice in the gospel, but remember Exodus 20:17*(or anything) You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, (including his sheep) that is your neighbor's."
2. For lost sheep with no under-shepherd,
seek to match his previous fold and discover how he got lost, for to comfort the sheep and ensure stability, and
3. Be aware of the many wolves in sheep’s clothing,
The message to them is, “…you do not believe because you are not part of my (master’s) flock.” John 10:26.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25.
So, then, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.