On Being A SheepSeries: Strong When Weak
ON BEING A SHEEP
Sermon By Terry Siverd / December 05,, 2021 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Welcome to those joining us online - - we're grateful for your interest in the study of God's word.
Our church family has been hit hard this past week. On Tuesday morning Shirley Davis passed away and on Wednesday morning Dan Kennedy passed away. The passing of these two has brought us deep sorrow. We rejoice with them, but heaven's gain is our loss. Technically and theologically, we realize that the death of one of His godly ones is never a loss. The aim of our Christian walk on earth is to prepare us for life in the hereafter, so the death of a Christian is never a loss. Yet even when our heads knows a thing to be true, our hearts often lag behind -- for the moment it sure feels like a loss.
Today's message is a sequel to last Sunday's. In 1Cor.16:9 Paul wrote about a wide door for effective service that had opened for him in spite of many adversaries. We closed that lesson by revisiting Paul's words in 2Cor.12:8f. Paul had petitioned the Lord three times to remove his thorn in the flesh. God answered him with a “no”, saying: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Paul then added, “Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Difficult times like these remind us that we are SHEEP.
In Old Testament times we read of how God often referred to the nation of Israel as His sheep. Ps.100:3 / Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He who made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. There are some 60 or so shepherd/flock references in the Old Testament. I was reading online a master's thesis presented at Concordia Seminary by Jack Ferguson. It was titled, Shepherd, Sheep & Goats: A Study In Old Testament Concepts And Imagery. This shepherd/flock language is transferred to the church in the New Testament. This transference is authorized by Jesus Himself. In Jn.10:7f we read Jesus stating: I am the door of the sheep …. I am the good shepherd … I lay down My life for the sheep … My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
The constant flow of problems accompanied by heartache at ever turn remind us that we are sheep. As such, we are vulnerable; we are sometimes susceptible to discouragement; we are needy. For a host of reasons I have been feeling acutely needy over the last few weeks. Mentally I'm okay, but physically, I haven't felt well. I'm been whining to my wife about one thing after another. I don't like it at all. After all, I'm supposed to be the MAN of the house - - strong & steady...reliable & resourceful. I'm not a hypochondriac. I really haven't felt well. And I am real eager to snap out of it!
There's something about being a sheep that we ultimately have to come to terms with: WE ARE ALL NEEDY!! Even the most robust RAMS & EWES among us have to eventually acknowledge our own neediness. Jer.10:23 reminds us: I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct His own steps. Prov3:5-8 admonishes: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes: Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Serious problems arise when we disavow our sheepishness and launch out on our own. If you find yourself thinking that you have outgrown sheepdom, prepare to be humbled.
If I only stood before you this morning to tell us that we are SHEEP, that alone would not make me a gospel preacher. In fact that revelation alone (that we are sheep) would not prove to be very encouraging. That which injects or infuses a shot of good news to this message of being a sheep is the announcement that: WE ARE THE SHEEP OF HIS HAND, or stated even more emphatically, THE LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD!
Finally you get that abbreviated sermon that I have promised was forthcoming. I delivered a eulogy yesterday and I will another this afternoon.
Open your Bibles as we read once more time from Psalm 23. This time our reading will come from the New Century Version.