Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-Sheep Must Feed in Pastures Prepared for Them

Since the habit of sheep is to remain in the same pastures, a wise shepherd will know when to lead them to different fields and how long to keep them there. The skillful shepherd of Psalm 23 led the sheep into green pastures. Green pastures are not common to the dry, semiarid countryside where most sheep flourish. They must be cultivated by the shepherd, and this task requires tremendous work, time, and skill. First, the land must be cleared of rocks, brush, roots, and stumps. It must then be plowed and seeded with special types of grain. Finally, it must be irrigated or watered. Green fields are essential for the sheep if they are to mature properly and to produce offspring. The one to whom you are accountable for meditation must prepare precise sections of Scripture to assign to you. These passages should relate to your present spiritual condition. If there is any hardness in your heart, the area of resistance must be identified and appropriate portions of Scripture assigned. If there are roots of bitterness or spiritual dryness, related Scriptures should be used to remove them. The entire Bible is a rich green pasture in which we must feed. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The success of meditation comes as we “observe to do according to all that is written therein…” (Joshua 1:8). In another sense, however, the Bible is like a menu of different spiritual food for specific times and needs. Have the one to whom you are accountable select one of the following passages that he or she feels would be most helpful to you at this time then jot down the date by which you should have it memorized. The qualities of a good shepherd are personified in the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine: (John 10:11-14). Based on this description, the one whom you become accountable for meditation should have the following characteristics: He should have a personal commitment to those who are under his care. He should be able to persevere through times of discouragement. He should be able to recognize and drive away hindrances to consistent meditation. He must be sensitive about when to move forward on a new section and when to review what has already been engrafted. God has ordained that pastors be His “under shepherds” to the fathers in their congregations and that the fathers are “shepherds” to those in their own families. God has given to fathers strong protective instincts which, when properly directed, will be tremendously beneficial in helping you to become consistent in memorization and meditation. At this point, your father may not feel that he fully qualifies; however, it would be wise for you to explain to him that you desire to be consistent in meditating on Scripture and that you would like him to keep you accountable for your goals. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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