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God's Way Christian Fellowship Forum

God's Way Christian Forum. A place to be 'refreshed and built up in the Lord Jesus'. Where Christian 'Believers' can fellowship together to talk, discuss, enjoy, pray for others and give testimonies, chat.
 
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Do God's Work and all Your Needs will be Met
The Little Flock EmptyFri May 23, 2014 12:22 am by Camille
God always provides for our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

As long as we are doing the work of the Lord God will always meet our needs. As long as we are pointing others to God, He will always see that you have plenty.

Do the work of the Lord share what you know from the bible and share your testimony of how you were healed or set free and God …

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 The Little Flock

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Camille
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Camille

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Join date : 2013-03-21
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PostSubject: The Little Flock   The Little Flock EmptySun Jul 05, 2015 1:30 am

A Little Flock

The Little Flock GOOD
The Psychology of the Sheep


[The LORD] made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.—Psalm 78:52


Timothy Krupa

Society at the time of our Lord’s first advent was largely agricultural. Most people spent the majority of their waking hours trying to produce enough food to avoid starvation. They grew barley, wheat, corn, and other crops, and they tended vineyards and cared for flocks. As a master teacher, Jesus used many illustrations from the daily lives of his listeners.

The domesticated animals of Jesus’ day included cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, oxen, dogs, and chickens. All are mentioned in the Scriptures and Jesus used them to illustrate different lessons. When his lessons concerned the characteristics of his followers, he could have chosen any of these animals. It’s interesting he did not choose the camels, the chickens, or the horses. He chose sheep to illustrate what his followers should be like.

“I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14, NIV). “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16, NIV). Notice how inappropriate it would sound if another animal had been substituted for sheep. Clearly there must be something special about these animals.

Sheep are not like goats, cows, or dogs. Even though there are differences between breeds and differences between individual sheep, sheep have traits, characteristics, behaviors, and feelings that make them an excellent illustration of the collective Christian mind. By considering them in detail, we can gain some incredible insights into the feelings, behaviors, and actions of the Lord’s true followers both individually and collectively.

Psychology is the study of how the mind works. It is in the mind where the Christian lives, where he decides, fellowships, and communicates. We have very mortal bodies, but each one’s life and death as a Christian is in the mind. And so it is in this aspect that the sheep provide lessons for us. We are interested in the psychology of sheep because we want to understand their minds, behavior, and their traits.

The master once spoke about a man who had a hundred sheep. If one of them strays, he leaves the ninety-nine on the hillside and goes to find the one which strayed. When he finds it, he is more delighted over that sheep than he is with the ninety-nine that never strayed. This shows that sheep are special. In the same way the heavenly Father wants no little one to become lost. Our Lord said, “Never despise one of these little ones” (Matthew 18:10, NEB).

Jesus went about the towns and villages teaching in the synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom, and curing every kind of ailment and disease. The sight of the people moved him to pity. They were like sheep without a shepherd, harassed and helpless (Matthew 9:36).

When Jesus sent out the twelve, he told them, “Do not take the road to Gentile lands and do not enter into any Samaritan town, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5,6, NEB).

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … I know my sheep and my sheep know me. But there are other sheep of mine not belonging to this fold whom I must bring in. … there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:11,14,16, NEB). Jesus liked sheep!

A professor at the University of Wyoming wrote an article about his experiences with sheep.* For those who are not farmers it gives some deeper insights into the nature of sheep. Looking beneath the surface we see the ten sheep characteristics noted by the professor contain lessons for the true followers of Christ.

#1—You cannot make sheep do something contrary to their nature.

There’s a positive and a negative sense to this when applied to a Christian. The phrase “contrary to our nature” causes us to realize we have two natures: fleshly and spiritual. One is to be suppressed and the other is to be developed. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit” (Galatians 5:17). “I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves” (Romans 7:21-23, NEB).

The two natures are within us, but the commandment is to the spiritual life. The sheep are to be as spiritual as possible. “Walk in the spirit” (Galatians 5:16). “Mortify the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). In this life we must always contend with the old nature. But if we mortify it, and then strive for the things of the spirit with all our time, energy, effort, and money, then just as assuredly this new nature can be ingrained into our beings and our behavior.

If we keep ourselves in the love of God, we’ll stay in this new nature—by his power. Neither the world, our flesh, nor even the devil will be able to make us change because we’ve been begotten. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it” (Philippians 1:6). Therefore the unchangeableness of the sheeps’ nature can work to our advantage if we put spiritual things first.

#2—Sheep are not sheepish.

“Sheepish” means to be embarrassed or bashful, as by having done something wrong or foolish; it is something sheep don’t do. They either look you straight in the eye, or they turn around and run the other way. But they never act bashfully.

We are not sheepish either. We’re not embarrassed or bashful as though we had done something wrong. If we lived in our own strength, we might well be embarrassed in front of God and in front of men. But a Christian has no embarrassment because his strength is in the Lord. We know that Christ makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34). We know that our sins are no longer imputed to us (Romans 4:8. So we stand straight, not in any merit of our own, but “justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9). We’re not bashful either. 1 Peter 3:15 says we are ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any one who wants a reason for the hope that is within us. We’re not ashamed of Jesus’ name: “Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). Paul speaks of a workman who is not ashamed, rightly dividing the word (2 Timothy 2:15). So like natural sheep we are not sheepish, not bashful, not shy about our Christianity.

#3—The sheeps’ most manifest instinct is to flock.

Except for just a few breeds such as those that live on the highest mountain tops, sheep like to be together. Most animals, if left free to roam, will scatter. But if sheep are left to themselves, they’ll stay together. They’re gregarious. This is helpful because they lack many of the natural defenses other animals have, such as speed or the personal protection a porcupine has. The protection of the flock comes from staying close together. To flock means to be in company together, to be a group. It means togetherness as comrades, brethren, and associates. With the Christian, it means to assemble, congregate, meet, gather.

Many Scriptures speak of this togetherness. “There is one body and one spirit, one Lord, one faith” (Ephesians 4:4,5). And we might add, “One flock.” “Be of the same mind” (Philippians 4:2). “That your hearts might be comforted, knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2). “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another. Love as brethren” (1 Peter 3:8. “Be of one mind. Live in peace. And the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

The true sheep desire to be with all the flock: no ifs, ands, or buts—no reservations. Flocking together provides sheep with a defense. Break a flock into smaller and smaller sub-flocks, and predators can with greater ease penetrate and make their killings.

#4—The propensity of sheep is to follow other sheep.

This can be a problem. It’s best to follow only the shepherd not just because “grevious wolves shall enter in among you not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Some look like sheep “but are false prophets” which the Lord said, will come in among us dressed in sheep’s clothing. “But inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

It would be naïve to think our Lord’s words applied only to his day, or only during the middle ages, or in the time just after a beloved leader’s death. Our only safe course is to stay focused on the shepherd. We can learn from fellow sheep—we need their fellowship, protection, and support—but the last word must come from the shepherd.

The propensity to follow other sheep is not a characteristic to be cultured or developed. Following other sheep must be done only with great caution.


#5—Sheep are instinctively fearful.



Sheep are afraid of the unknown, of darkness, and of strange pastures and buildings. That keeps them appreciative of the shepherd and his helpers. It keeps them together for their mutual support and comfort. And it is in these relationships of staying together that they qualify for promises like “Don’t be afraid.” Notice how it’s precisely directed to the flock: “Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “Fear ye not, for ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). The spiritual flock, though fearful by nature, need not fear while they are in the Lord.

#6—Flocks seek light, and high ground.

Actually it’s easier for a hoofed animal to walk uphill. The high places apparently provide the flock with a good view to spot any approaching danger. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” We know that light represents truth: “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). The high ground we seek is the highest ground, as in “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). Yes, clearly, flocks seek light and high ground.

#7—Aggressiveness is an important facet of sheep behavior.

Sheep are not always the passive creatures one imagines in green pastures. Everyone who raises sheep will tell you, “Never turn your back on a ram.” Many have been seriously injured when they ignored this advice. The butting of rams seems almost ceremonial among them. They do it apparently to establish social rank, to get food, to get out of a gate, or to settle their differences. Sometimes they do it to gain attention.

Sheep are quiet when being sheared and our Lord perfectly sacrificed his life like a lamb being led to the slaughter. But in fact both male and female sheep are aggressive.

This forthright insight into the aggressiveness of sheep gives the “sheep illustration” a credibility, an honesty, a candidness. Sheep aren’t perfect. There are aspects of our behavior that are not to be carried over into the new nature. Our aggressiveness must be channeled into improving ourselves. We are to be aggressive with ourselves, zealously working for the Lord, not butting heads with each other.

But we are not to be surprised nor discouraged when we see aggressiveness in others. It’s somewhat like divisions. Paul urges us to have no divisions. Yet we have them. And he explains why: For there must also be factions or divisions among you. Why? “That they which are approved may be manifest” (1 Corinthians 11:18,19).

Would the apostle approve of the butting of heads? No, he would not. But yet there must be the butting of heads among us so “that they which are approved may be made manifest” (1 Corinthians 11:9). Amidst all the butting, some will show they still have the Lord’s spirit. They will be approved by improving themselves, by forgiving, by apologizing, and by butting less. So aggressiveness among us is permitted by the Lord to see who will properly react to the test, who will have the right heart attitude, who will grow and manifest the fruits of the spirit.

This characteristic of the sheep cannot be used as an excuse even though it is inherited from the old nature. Jesus said, “It must be that these offenses come” (Matthew 18:78. It’s necessary, but “woe to the man by whom the offense comes.”

Thus we conclude, there must be butting and aggressiveness, but woe to the one by whom the aggressiveness comes. And when we see that kind of behavior, we should not be stumbled.

#8—Sheep are very conservative; they like the familiar and resist change.

This characteristic has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s good to hold fast to the profession of our faith (Hebrews 3:6). And it’s good to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21), especially our doctrines. At the same time change is required, including growth and fruitage (John 15). This is not a problem though. If we keep the shepherd in sight and listen to his word, we are content in that kind of change. We should not be like natural sheep and resist change in our characters and our understanding. Studying is useless if we do not learn anything or we don’t gain better understanding. We must change.


#9—Sheep welcome the shepherd, especially during the birthing process.


Sheep lose their fear of humans and especially the shepherd when the female sheep give birth. Sometimes sheep act as though they don’t need a shepherd, but pain changes their mind. With the females, it is the pain of giving birth.

Pain has the same effect on us. It reminds us of the transient nature of this world, the transient nature of money and health. Pain brings us back to the shepherd where we belong.

[b]#10—Sheep are not very intelligent.[/b]

The professor said that ”sheep are not very intelligent.” By this he meant that when compared to some other animals like dogs, horses, perhaps even elephants, you cannot teach sheep to do complicated routines or fancy tricks. It’s just not something sheep can do. You’ll never see sheep doing tricks in a circus; they are simple animals.

At the same time, the professor said “sheep are quick learners and have good memories.” So even though we are not known for our brilliance—“not many wise” (1 Corinthians 1:26) —we can still learn our lessons quickly and keep them in our memories.

We are not called for our wisdom according to worldly wisdom. Sometimes the “sheep” get an inflated picture of their own intelligence just because they have an insight into God’s plan, into the Scriptures. But it was not their brainpower that logically deduced this.

The Gospel age is a time of selection. Not everyone who is called will be chosen. Not everyone who says, “Lord, lord” will be ushered in. But uncomplicated lessons like these given by our Lord provide us insight to show the objectives of the spiritual life. They’re not difficult concepts because they are like the principles of truth, honesty, righteousness, faith, purity.

These are the lessons that show us the difference between the wise and the foolish virgins, between the church and the great company, between the overcomers and those who fall by the wayside.

Sheep must have a very special place in God’s heart. His son was called, “The lamb of God.” What an opportunity we have been given, what a privilege, to achieve a position in a most special group. It will be worth the effort, the struggle, the resistance to the things of this world, the refusal to use worldly methods. It will be worth the study and the transformation to be part of the little flock of the Lord’s sheep.

_______________

{FOOTNOTE: * Ron Parker, “The Artful Shepherd,” Country Journal, December 1982, p. 66.}


http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_8.htm

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