Summary: I sometimes identify more with being a Shepherd’s dog for Jesus than being a shepherd of the flock. This is a message that deals with the Love of God for His sheep.
It’s Great Being a Dog – But I’d rather be a Shepherd
By Pastor Jim May
1 John 4:15-16, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."
These past several weeks it seems as though God has been giving me many hard words to give to you. One of the most unpleasant tasks of being a minister, and especially a pastor, that I have found is that I am often directed by the Holy Spirit to bring messages that I know will be uncomfortable at best. I do my best to bring to you what I feel that God would have me to say, even when I know that the message is unpopular, and even condemning.
I must confess that when I begin to write down what comes to me while I am preparing these sermons, it seems that God always brings to mind someone to whom this message would speak directly. One of the things that is both a great blessing and a great source of concern at the same time is that, as a pastor, it is my job to look after the spiritual condition of the flock at this church in particular. To a lesser degree I also carry that same responsibility to our entire district.
Before I received the call to enter into this phase of ministry I didn’t always have the spiritual condition of the whole church in mind. I dealt mostly with small groups or with the youth. But to some degree I’ve always had to be concerned about those who were under the ministry that God had called me to do.
I have never taken this task lightly. When I stand behind the sacred desk, whenever and wherever that may be, I know that I stand in the place where the words that I say and the things that I do will have an eternal impact upon every soul who sits in the congregation.
Though the messages often contain things that make us laugh, I never forget how serious this business is for all of us. Sometimes I have messages that are hard to deliver because I know that the words drive deeply into the heart and reveal sin for what it is. I do not apologize for preaching the truth for that is what is necessary for all of us to make Heaven our home. However, there are times when I ask God to give me a message that will encourage his people and let them know just where they stand with God.
I have here a picture that usually hangs in my office of Jesus, as the Great Shepherd, walking with his sheep. In his right hand there is a lamb resting, looking up at him with such a look of peace and tranquility because that lamb knows that he is resting in the Master’s arms. It is a place of ultimate protection and provision for that lamb.
Walking along beside Jesus, there is another lamb, looking up at Jesus with that same look of perfect peace. There are many other sheep walking along with Jesus at the same time. One is stopping momentarily to eat of the green grass in the pasture where the Lord has led him. The others, while they are looking around, are still following the Great Shepherd as He leads them to greener pastures and still waters.
In Jesus’ left hand there is a crooked shepherd’s staff. We all know what that staff is used for. How many times in some of the hard sermons have you felt the correcting blow of that staff in your heart? You see, that staff is used for guiding the sheep and fending off the attacks of the enemy, and those attacks are always in our heart. Just as surely as it is a painful thing to beat away the hungry wolves of natural sheep, it is also a painful thing to beat away the demonic and sinful influences that attack our heart and soul. That part of the shepherd’s duty is never pleasant but it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the sheep.
The other end of that staff has a hook or a crook in it that is designed for a very different purpose. What does a shepherd do with that crook? He can use it to catch a sheep that has fallen into the mire, or into a ditch, and gently lift that sheep out of its place of danger. He can also take that crook and gently catch a straying sheep around its neck and turn it back into the fold.