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God's Black Sheep

Hello 😊 It is Friday, September 17, 2021

I remember as a young child learning the story of the lost sheep. It made such an impression on me, but I could not have imagined that some day I would be that lost sheep.

We must have had a children’s book because I can vividly see in my mind’s-eye, a little black lamb caught in some brambles, the sky is darkened with clouds. The next scene is this precious little lamb draped over the shoulders of the shepherd who is returning it to the flock.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep can be found in Matthew 18:10-14:

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” NKJV

Luke chapter 15 gives the story a bit more imagery. Verses 4-7:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. - Luke 15 8-10 NKJV

Did you catch that? Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Jesus is trying to explain, in the simplest language possible, that He is not a God of “sit back and do nothing” He searches for us.

In my younger years I thought people being compared to sheep was sweet. Sheep, especially lambs, or so cute and innocent. They provide lanolin and wool and graze and are so peaceful.

But, honestly, it is not a compliment. I heard Pastor Chuck Burkeen give a sermon once on sheep and it really struck home. Sheep are dumb! Many people say sheep are right down stupid.

Sheep have no sense of direction.

One farmer said that if you have a bunch of sheep in a barn, stretch a rope across the door before you let them out.

When the sheep come out of the barn, the first few will jump over the rope. If you cut the rope, the remaining sheep will still jump over the “invisible rope” because it’s what the rest of the flock did.

Sheep are defenseless. That is why they need guard dogs or other means of protection.

There is a term called ‘cast down.” Sometimes sheep will turn over on their back (like a cockroach or turtle) with their legs in the air flailing. There is an old English shepherd’s term for this. It is called “cast down.” A “cast” sheep is actually a pitiful sight. If the shepherd does not lift up the sheep and put it back on its feet, it will die. It is completely helpless to the prey around it when in this position. Furthermore, it could get left behind when the flock moves on. How many times have we been “cast down” or flailing on our backs? -

In fact, the afore mentioned site lists several reasons the Bible compares humans to sheep.

Sheep are not meant to carry burdens. You will never see sheep carrying a pack on their back. Other animals are good for carrying things, but not sheep. They were not meant to carry a heavy load. In fact, they would be crushed under such a weighty burden. This is why God compares us to sheep in the Bible. We were not meant to carry our burdens. In fact, we are to give Him our heavy load so He can carry it for us.

Sheep cannot care for themselves when wounded. When sheep get a wound or a bite, they can’t care for themselves. Other animals lick a wound until it heals, but not sheep. They need a shepherd to tend to their injuries.

Sheep will settle for less. When sheep are thirsty, they will stop at a dirty puddle right in front of them instead of going for the clean, still waters twenty feet ahead of them. Sadly, they are content with filth, so long as it satisfies at the moment. Furthermore, they will stink and never even know it. Truthfully, they lack discernment and judgment and, frankly, don’t know what is good for them.

The writer also points out that sheep are emotional and recognize the Shepherd’s voice. This is where stupidity ends for sheep. They have a remarkable instinct for knowing the voice of their shepherd. Because they are emotional animals, they can detect strangers. Amazingly, they will fear a stranger’s voice and flee. Since they are emotional, they also have the ability to build friendships with other sheep and stick up for each other when in a fight. They can also get anxious or distressed. And they feel sad when their sheep friends are gone. We can learn a lot from these animals. What they lack in direction, they make up for in loyalty, friendship, and voice recognition for the shepherd.

Sheep are valuable. Sheep were treated as a prized possession in Jesus’ day. You were counted a wealthy man if you owned large flocks because they provided meat, milk, and wool. And they produced offspring.

Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd” and like the parables in Matthew and Luke, He leaves the flock in search of the lost.

Many of you have heard my testimony. I am not going into detail today on that, but I want to say this: I was LOST!! I was drowning in putrid sin. I was stuck in the brambles of life, and I heard God speak to me in mid-January 1984. Eight words that changed my life “Jeanette I have a better plan for you.”

Jesus said “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15.

I think most of us are familiar with Psalm 23, but have you ever read The Message version? I will leave you with that today. May God richly bless you, guard and protect you. Have a blessed weekend!

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

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