The Good Shepherd
Pastor Stephen Hayes
November 24, 2019
Main Idea – After receiving salvation by accepting Jesus as Savior, every Christian is faced with the decision of what to do next. If you make the conscious decision to make Jesus the shepherd (guide) of your life, you will receive at least four benefits.
Cast away the bad things in your life, and then follow Jesus to the good things
- The Holy Spirit will uproot bad things (habits and associations) in your life so that you are free to begin following Jesus as He leads you.
- One of the most famous chapters in the Bible is Psalm 23, where God is portrayed as a shepherd who guides His flock through the ups and downs of life.
- Psalm 23: 1-6 – The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for You are with me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NKJV)
- In your life, God will be faithful to complete His work in you that He started when you were given the faith to accept Jesus. As long as you keep your eyes on Him, He will continue to guide you through the good and the bad times of life.
- If you continually deal with depression, anxiety, and anger, it might be you have taken your eyes off the shepherd. (Inevitably, something will end up being your guide in life. Choose God as your guide.)
- Philippians 4: 4-7 – Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (NLT)
Do not live in anger, fear, or hurt
- It may be you have good reason to be angry, grieved, or depressed.
- However, even moreso, you have the right to be happy again. What Jesus accomplished on the cross gives you the power to be happy again – and also to forgive where needed.
- Colossians 3: 12-13 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (NKJV)
Go higher to get a better perspective
- It’s guaranteed that hardships will come upon each of us.
- However, a higher vantage point allows us to regard difficult times in perspective.
- Emblepo is the Greek word often translated into “looking upon” in the New Testament. Emblepoencompasses the idea of perspective: “to turn one’s eyes on, look at, to look at with the mind, to consider.”
- Perceive earthly events as God sees them: as temporary circumstances that will give way to an eternity in Heaven. Heaven is where you are headed. In Heaven everything is perfect, and you will live there forever.
- In the meantime, here in this life, you need to be guided every day by a shepherd.
- If you choose Jesus as your shepherd you will be taken care of by Him together with the many other members of the flock (church).
- As members of a flock (or small group) you will personally be taken care of by Jesus, and you will develop fulfilling relationships with the other sheep (believers).
- God loves you unconditionally. His love for you is not based on your performance. Before Jesus began his ministry, on the day he was baptized, God the Father expressed His pleasure with Jesus. The Father’s pleasure was not based on something Jesus had done, because he was just about to begin his work. Luke 3: 21-22 – When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
Four benefits of knowing your shepherd
- Sheep don’t miss the miracle
- Jesus’ first recorded miracle is presented in John 2: 1-11. There, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding celebration. The passage makes a special effort to note that the miracle was clearly recognized by the servants, and that Jesus’ followers were inspired to believe that he was divine.
- John 2: 9 – When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. (NKJV)
- John 2:11 – This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. (NKJV)
- Sheep are the medium for God’s miracles
- God often does miracles through His sheep (followers). Jesus’ sheep get to be part of His miraculous works.
- Matthew 14: 14-21 presents the story of how Jesus fed over 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread. Jesus did the miracle, but he used his disciples to distribute it. Matthew 14: 19 – Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.(NKJV)
- Sheep are supplied by their shepherd
- God provides for all His sheep. The Prodigal Son story is told in Luke 15: 11-32. This parable tells of how a loving father unconditionally provided for a wayward son. Everything the father owned was available to his son after the son repented and turned back to his father.
- Luke 15: 22-24 & 31-32 – But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. . . And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ (NKJV)
- All Jesus’ sheep receive the full benefits.
- Sheep are in position to receive the miracle
- The prodigal son in the above story consciously returned to his home, thereby putting himself in a position to receive from his father.
- Sheep know the shepherd is the source of their provision. They stay focused on the true shepherd.
- In your life you will eventually end up following something, or somebody. Make the decision you will follow God: the only one who can supply all your needs.
Follow Jesus, and then help lead others
- After you begin following Jesus as your shepherd, you will be in a position to help others just as you were helped.
- Just as you are a disciple, you will be able to be a disciple-maker of someone else.
- Receiving your personal salvation is not the only thing that is important. You must also establish relationships with others in the church, put yourself in proximity to where Jesus is doing miracles, make yourself available to help distribute those miracles, and then lead others to their own salvation and place in the flock.
- Small groups are essential for the personal and corporate development of the Christian community.
Reflective Questions for The Good Shepherd
- Oftentimes, young adults are excited to begin their adult journeys: where they can “make their own decisions.” At what stage of your own adulthood did you realize decisions without God’s guidance were not working out?
- Can you explain - in practical words - how you go about following Jesus as your shepherd? In other words, how do you know His voice? How do you know where He is telling you to go? Etc.
- At the end of each of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) it is written how Jesus told His disciples to go and make more disciples, by being obedient to what the Holy Spirit would show them. If those passages are a guideline, at what point do you think a new believer should begin leading others to faith in Jesus?