manciple to martyr, Niagara Falls, distribution of food, full of the Spirit, full of wisdom, prayer, taking care of the widows and orphans, essential demonstration of God's love, everything being shared in common, living together in community, fatherless, a man full of faith, judge others by their actions, measurable, visible description of character, fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, humility, self-control, gifts of the Spirit, sense of justice, unheroic, steward

From Manciple to Martyr

Lectionary readings (Sunday, May 22nd, 2011):

  • Acts 7: 55-60
  • John 14: 1-14
  • 1 Peter 2:2-10
  • Psalms 31: 1-5, 15-15

From Manciple to Martyr

Maybe you’ve heard about the guy who walked across the Niagara Falls on a tight rope.  When finished, he asked the crowd of astonished onlookers “Do you believe I can walk a tight rope across the Falls?”  Of  course, having just witnessed the spectacle, they all replied “yes”.

Well, he then got back up on the tight rope, with a wheel barrow, and pushed it the  whole way back across the Falls.  When he was done, he asked the crowd on the other side again “Do you believe I can walk across the Falls pushing a wheel barrow?” This crowd also said “Yes”, they believed he could.

Then he gets his friend (the things you’ll do for a friend!) to sit in the wheel barrow, and pushed him all the way across the Falls on the tight rope sitting in the wheel barrow.  When he was done, he asked the even more astonished crowd, “So, do you believe I can walk across a tight rope across the Niagara Falls pushing a wheel barrow with a person in

Once again, they all said “yes”, to which he replied “So, who’s next?”

Today, I want to talk about the “next” guy: Stephen.  This is the man that was willing to follow Christ to the death for his faith – the first known Christian martyr.

Everything that we know about Stephen can be found in just two chapters of the Bible: Acts chapters 6 and 7.  Stephen was a Jew, but a Grecian Jew.  While many of us might have interpreted this to mean that he was Jew that lived in Greece and had moved back to Jerusalem, it’s more probable that he lived beyond the borders of Palestine, and therefore
had come under the influence of the prevailing Hellenistic culture.

Stephen is introduced to us in Acts 6, verse 5, and by the end of Acts chapter 7, he’s dead.

If he were to play a part in a sit-com like CSI, he would have just had a cameo appearance for one episode only, with his character being dying at the end of the episode and the producers moving on to characters with “higher” ratings.

And yet, this character that only appears for 2 chapters of the 1,189 chapters of the Bible, has an incredible impact on the growing church and he still continues to influence lives today!

If I were to choose an Apostle or early Christian mentioned in Acts of the Apostles as the “icon” for Balboa Union Church, I am convinced I would choose Stephen as our model; not Peter, not Paul, not John.  Stephen would almost indelibly be my choice.

So, who and what was Stephen, before he became the 1st Christian martyr?

Acts 6, verse 1 (setting the stage for the entry of our hero into this episode):

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This could be a scene from any church or group today – someone is being more favoured than others. So, the twelve get ALL of the disciples together and say:

It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.

This proposal pleased the whole group.

So, here we have it: it could have been any business or charity organisation.  In my office it would have been something
like this:  “The receptionist is out sick today, and while a receptionist is absolutely essential to my business, I don’t
think I should be the person sitting at reception answering the phone, taking messages and opening the door for visitors.
We need someone to volunteer for that job, so that I can do my job as lawyer and taking care of client’s legal needs, while someone else answers the phone and takes messages.”

The twelve disciples have their instructions from Christ:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has be given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”[1]


“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. … and these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons, … they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well”[2]

This doesn’t really seem to include taking care of the widows and orphans.  And yet we know, from Jesus’ ministry, that showing this love to the women and children was vital and was an essential demonstration of God’s love.  Someone needed to do it.

We also know from Acts chapter 2, verses 42-47, that all of the believers were devoted to learning, to breaking bread together and prayer, with everything being shared in common. They were selling their possessions and good, and each received according to their needs.  They were living together in community, and yet some of the widows and the fatherless were being left out, because they had no man to ensure that they were looked after.

So, at the meeting, it’s decided that 7 men are to take care of the administration and ensuring that no one is left out.

The requirements for the job are simple:

You must be KNOWN to be:

  • Full of the Spirit; and
  • Full of wisdom

Stephen is the first man listed, and he’s described as “a man FULL of faith and of the Holy Spirit”.  I often wonder, what did he DO that Luke would single him out as being full of faith of the Holy Spirit?  Most of us judge others by their actions, not their words.  Being full of the Spirit was obviously a measurable and visible description of character!  It wasn’t the subjective reality of Stephen (“I think I’m full of the Spirit”). There was obviously evidence in his character and life choices.

Full of the Spirit:

To be filled with the Spirit means to be controlled by the Divine Spirit and not by “self”. If we are under the influence of the Spirit, we talk and act differently – our minds are renewed, our thinking is controlled, and our speaking and acts
change.  We know that the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.

While there may be many different gifts of the Spirit (such as speaking in tongues, Divine wisdom, knowledge, a special faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophesying, etc.), the fruit of the Spirit are the same.  Irrespective of what gifts of the Spirit someone may or may not have, the proof that they are filled with the Spirit is not the gift, but the fruit.  Jesus warned that “by their fruit you will know them”.  And so, we can be sure that Stephen was a man that was filled with love for others, he had joy like a fountain, he had peace like a river, he was patient and kind with those he served, he was a good man, faithful in his stewardship, humble and meek (not puffed up by his position and responsibilities) and demonstrated self-control irrespective of what trials he may have been faced with by the responsibilities he was given.

He was full of wisdom:

When you think about it, a man put in charge of purchasing all the food and distributing it to the widows and others according to their needs, MUST be a person filled with wisdom.  Like Solomon, he must have a sense of justice, of knowing intrinsically what was right or wrong, and not simply having a rule book to follow.

James 1: 5 tells us

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all… and it will be given to him”

And so Stephen, a man full of the Spirit and wisdom, takes on this mundane and unheroic task of serving the Christian community in temporal and charitable affairs, with some minor religious office.  Like I said, he’s a manciple:  A waiter; Perhaps the Maitre-D’.  The steward.  But nothing more.

He wasn’t on stage – he was in the back room.  He was the coffee-lady.

So, how does one go from manciple to martyr?

We don’t have to read much further in Acts 6 to find out!

Verse 9:

“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose… from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen… These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.”

So, we find, Stephen, while he’s not one of the 12 disciples, and he has humbly undertaken the task of serving tables, he is a man full of God’s grace and power, just like the disciples did great wonders and miraculous signs.  And got noticed.

Stephen must have been a powerful orator if these men felt they couldn’t stand up to his wisdom or the Spirit by who he spoke.  They felt inferior to him.  Their pride was pricked.  They probably felt he’d made a fool of them in their own synagogue.  Enough of this!

And so, they got a couple of convenient witnesses, with obvious selective amnesia and memory to say that they had heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.

Jesus had warned[3]

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.  On my account you will be brought before governors and kings… But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be your speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. …. Men will hate you because of me… So do not be afraid of them…”

And so we find Stephen, the man called to wait on the tables of the widows and those in needs, falsely accused before the Sanhedrin of blasphemy (just like Jesus).  So… who’s next?

Do you remember what Peter said to Jesus before He was sentenced to death?

“I will lay down my life for you”

And yet Peter, when asked if he wasn’t one of Christ’s disciples, wasn’t really ready, and denied even knowing Christ 3
times.  And so, when the cock crowed the third time, and Jesus turned and look at Peter, he remembered his Lord’s
warning, and ran out and wept bitterly. It’s not until we REALLY know ourselves, when we’ve been to that lowest point, and seen the WORST of ourselves, that we can really become followers of Christ.

Like Peter, many of us would like to think we are ready to serve, but are we really ready to be humble?

Stephen, a man described as being “full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom, full of God’s grace and power”, was willing to serve tables.  He was REALLY feeding the poor.  He was actively involved in healing the sick!

As Jesus said in John 14:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these… And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

And Stephen wasn’t afraid to ask God, in Jesus’ name, to heal the sick, to perform miracles, and to give him wisdom to speak and debate the scriptures in the synagogue. Even when faced with false witnesses, he was still more concerned with the salvation of those listening to him, than he was about his own life.

Chapter 7 of Acts begins with Stephen recounting the Jewish history, starting with Abraham being called by God to leave his country and his people, and go to the land which God would show him.  Stephen relates throughout Acts 7 the unfaithfulness of the children of Israel to God, how they rejected Moses and wanted to go back to Egypt, how they made idols and turned to worshipping what their own hands had made (rather than the Unknown God); how they worshipped
heavenly bodies (such as stars and planets)… and how man has tried to put God into a man-made house (such as a
church), rather than understanding the true greatness of God.

Stephen reminds the Sanhedrin:[4]

As the prophet says:  Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  What kind
of house will you build for me?  Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?

Stephen (almost reminiscent of Jesus’ words) goes on to say:[5]

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers.  You always resist the Holy Spirit!  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?…

And so, the Sanhedrin members were furious when they heard this.  He added insult to injury

Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. … At this, the Sanhedrin covered their ears, yelling at the top of their voices, … dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.  While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.
Then he fell on his knees and cried out “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Like Jesus, his last breath was forgiveness of those who persecuted him.  H really was ready
to be “next”, following in Christ’s footsteps!

Each one of us in Balboa Union Church has been given different gifts.  Some of us are natural speakers; others prefer to be serving at the tables.  But all of us are called to be “full of the Spirit and wisdom”, full of God’s grace and power – no matter what we are comfortable doing in our service of God and the church.

Some of us, like Stephen, like to ripple the waters, questioning those who are set in their beliefs, and asking whether faith is really faith!  But the true measure of our faith is the fruit of the Spirit. That love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control that can be measured and objectively seen in our lives by those around us.

As Peter says:

As you come to Him, the living Stone, … you also, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.

We show this by the fruit which are apparent in our lives: the acts of charity that we undertake daily, without looking for praise and gratitude from those we serve, but rather understanding that we are serving a Master whose reward we will receive in heaven.

And so we pray the prayer of St. Stephen:

Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth, for the testimony of Thy truth, we may steadfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, may learn to love and bless our persecutors, by the example of the first martyr, St. Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to Thee, blessed Jesus. You who stand at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

[1] Matthew 28: 18-19.

[2] Mark 16: 15-18.

[3] Matthew 10: 17-33

[4] Verse 49

[5] Verse 51

the Lord is my Shepherd, sheep, lambs, shepherds, ewes, sheep are weak, defenseless, foolish, fearful, timid, stupid, flock, follow a leader, wandering aimlessly, valuable, prized possessions, provider, preserver, director, loving them, close to His heart, Jehovah Raah, Creator, Universe, Jehovah Jireh, contentment, provender and peace, rest and refreshment, serenity, satisfaction, goal-oriented, the Peace of God, path to perfection, Holy Spirit

The Lord is my Shepherd

Sunday – May 15, 2011 – Balboa Union Church

Readings:  Psalms 23; John 10:1-10; Acts 2: 42-47; and 1 Peter 2: 19-25.

Did you realise that there are over 600 references to sheep, lamb, shepherds and ewes in the Bible?

David compares us to sheep, as does Jesus:

  • Sheep are weak, defenceless, foolish, fearful, timid, stupid, and stubborn. A sheet of paper blown by the wind can  frighten them.  A thunderstorm can throw them into a panic.  They depend entirely on their Shepherd for protection.
  • Sheep live in flocks (they aren’t individuals or used to living on their own), they follow a leader, but  unfortunately this also means that they may even follow another “leader” even when that leader is lost and is wandering aimlessly without direction or purpose.

How are you feeling about this comparison right now?

  • On the other hand: sheep are among the most valuable of all domestic animals:  they are property, often bought with a great price.  They provide us with meat, wool, lamb pelts or leather, milk and cheese.  Although their nature may be weak and defenceless, they are prized  possessions.
  • They graze over wide areas of pasture; they are naturally hill animals, liking places that are high and dry.  They don’t live in swampy wet areas, because it makes their wool rot.

So, what should we look for in a shepherd?

  • The sheep know the voice of their shepherd, because he lives with them 24 hours a day, speaking to them calmly, making sure that they know the sound of his voice – in Israel you might pen 3 different flocks together overnight, but in the morning when the shepherd comes and calls them, ONLY those sheep from HIS flock will respond to his voice and follow him.  The rest will stay in the safety of the pen until their
    shepherd arrives.
  • A good shepherd is the Provider, Preserver, Director, and, indeed, everything to his sheep.
  • A shepherd OWNS his sheep – he isn’t hired help.  He won’t run away in the face of danger.  He loves them, shields them, and would go so far as to lay down his life for them.

Biblical references to sheep & shepherds:

As I mentioned, in the Bible we find about 600 references to sheep & shepherds.  Here are a few that I think can provide us with a little more insight into what it means to be a good shepherd:

  • Proverbs 27: 23 “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks and give careful attention to your herds”
  • Isaiah 40: 11:  “God tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
  • Ezekiel 34: 11-16 “… I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when He is with them, so will I look after my sheep.  I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness… I will tend them in a good pasture… there they will lie down in good grazing land… I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…”
  • In Luke 15:4, Jesus says:  “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?

The Lord is MY Shepherd:

Jehovah Raah – “the Lord is my Shepherd”

“is” – refers to a continual state of being. Not past, present or future. Always.

I want you to also note that it says “the Lord is MY Shepherd” – it doesn’t say, “The Lord is the shepherd of the  world at large, and I’m just one more member of his gigantic flock.”  In John 10:3 we read “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out”.

I’m a priority for my Creator – He takes time out of His busy schedule to care for me.  He has the whole Universe to run, but he knows MY name.  David said: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.[1]

I shall not want:

Jehovah Jireh is my Provider: I shall not want.

I may not possess all that I wish for, but “I shall not want.” Those wealthier and wiser than I may want, but not me!  My Shepherd is able to supply my needs, and He has promised to do so.

In Matthew 6: 25-31 Jesus tells us:

25… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or  store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…

28And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  31  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…

If I follow my shepherd, seeking eternal transformation, I will not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures

I don’t know about you, but this phrase makes me think of wonderful summer days, with long grass and a little shade, and resting peacefully after a fantastic picnic.  It sounds like contentment.  No anxiety.  Not looking for something better: we have found both provender and peace, rest and refreshment, serenity and satisfaction.

How often have we known that there are green pastures, but been too busy, too worried, too goal-oriented to lie down in them?  And so, He makes me lie down.  Shiloh, the Peace of God, does it – not me.  It’s not “I lie down in green pastures” – it says “He makes me lie down”. My Creator not only takes care of my basic needs –He blesses all areas of my life: physically and spiritually so that I can rest.

Psalms 127: 1-2 remind us:

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.  In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

He leads me beside the still waters

Our good shepherd ensures that He leads us along in peace.  He keeps us on the path to perfection and always moving forward, but beside still waters.  Not a rushing current where we can get swept away.

My shepherd is not a sheep drover, driving me forward.  He leads from the front; I don’t have to wonder if I’m heading in the right direction. This reminds me of how Jesus said to more than one disciple: “follow me”?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

But how many times do WE try to tell Jesus where we are going?  I make MY plans and then say to God “Please bless what I am going to do”.

The still waters represent life with the Holy Spirit: they cleanse, refresh, and revitalise us.  The Holy Spirit loves working peacefully, flowing into our souls, letting us perceive His Divine presence in silence and rest.  The Holy Spirit is represented by a dove, not an eagle; by the dew of the morning, not a tropical thunderstorm.

“To the waters of repose He gently leads me, there He revives my soul.”

He restores my soul

He lets me catch my breath.  He gives new strength to my soul.

When the soul grows sorrowful our Creator revives it; when it is sinful our Saviour sanctifies it; when it is weak His Spirit strengthens it.  Elohim does it.

Are you feeling low on grace?  Is your spirituality at its lowest ebb?

Maybe it’s time to let the Prince of Peace restore your soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

Our Creator is a personal God, actively involved in our lives 24 hours a day.  I’m not expected to be righteous or find my way alone.  Jehovah Tsidkenu guides me in paths of righteousness, the same way that Jehovah Shalom leads me beside the still waters.  These “paths of righteousness” change and develop as I grow.

Jehovah Tsidkenu “The Lord is our righteousness” does this “for His name’s sake.”  He is true to His Word, guiding us in paths of righteousness, with pure, free grace.

Jehovah Tsidkenu wants us to deal with those issues, bad attitudes, and in our life holding us back, so that we can be those “dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures” that honour His name.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

There is SO much to talk about here!

I guess the first thing that jumps out at me is the we walk through the “valley of the SHADOW of death”.  It’s not the “valley of death”, it’s only a shadow.  The shadow of a dog doesn’t bite, the shadow of a sword won’t hurt you, and the shadow of death won’t kill me.  So, who’s afraid of shadows?

Obviously death casts a shadow, but our Shepherd only asks us to face the shadow – not death itself.

Charles Spurgeon makes an interesting comment about this verse:

“Yea, though I walk,” (don’t) quicken (your) pace when (it’s time) to die, but calmly walk with God. “To walk” indicates the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its end, resolves to follow the path, feels quite safe, and is therefore perfectly calm and composed. The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not run as though he were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further, he is not confounded nor ashamed…

I also see that we are walking through the valley.  We’re not walking “into” the valley – this is not our final destination.  We will come out the other side, into the light.  We are passing through, on our way to somewhere better.

Though I face death or uncertainty I am without fear, “For Thou art with me.”  Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is in this place)

When did it change from “the Lord” to “you”? Suddenly we’ve transitioned to 2nd person, rather than 3rd
person.  “The Lord is my Shepherd”… has now moved to “you are with me”.

Your Rod and your Staff comfort me:

The rod was a weapon used against predators (wolves and lions), and the staff – with its crook at the end is to  pull us back from the edge of a cliff or falling into a gully.   These 2 (rod and staff) keep me safe from predators and from my own wrong-headedness when I heedlessly bowl my way into dangerous situations.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (my Shepherd)[1]

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies:

A good man will have his enemies – those that disagree with him, those that feel ashamed by his good deeds and their lacking.  Jesus had his enemies:  Why, otherwise, would he have told us to LOVE our enemies and pray for those that persecute us?   He also tells us in Matthew chapter 5 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed re you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

“You prepare a table before me I the presence of my enemies”:  our Shepherd SERVES us.  He’s not hurried: He takes the time to set and lay out a table before us.  Even if the enemy is watching, we can take our time.  There is no confusion, no disturbance; I can sit down and eat in perfect peace.

As sheep, He owns me, He bought me; and yet, my relationship with this Master is so beautiful that He serves me!  Like Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.

Thou anointest my head with oil;

The origin of anointing was a practice of shepherds: lice and other small insects would get into the sheep’s wool, and if they burrowed into the sheep’s ear, it would kill the sheep.  The solution was simple: anoint the sheep’s  head with oil, and any insects would slide off.  Anointing thus became the symbol of blessing, protection and empowerment.   And then later referred to being full of the Holy Spirit.

David was anointed by Samuel and with the anointing came the Holy Spirit.  Being anointed usually means “you are the Chosen One” – you are honoured before all. We all need to be anointed.  Each day as I wake up “Good morning Holy Spirit. I’m going to need strength for this day. I need that extra grace from “on high”: Divinely designated for my purpose in life.” And I can be sure that I have been anointed.

My cup runneth over.

When was the last time you counted your blessings?

I have counted my blessings – and am truly content.  My cup isn’t full – my cup runneth over.   Can you recognise it when you are blessed?

Paul says in Philippians 4: 12-13

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can to everything through him who gives me strength.

If Heaven is where God is, and I KNOW that my Shepherd is with me each moment of each day, then I am already in heaven and my cup runneth over…

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

Have you wondered about this order? The shepherd  leads from the front, I follow, and goodness and mercy follow me, watching my  back!  So in front I have my Shepherd and  watching my back are goodness and mercy.

God’s mercy, sweeps along behind me, forgiving my  mistakes, weaknesses and sins.  His  goodness carries away all baggage and regret, because I am following the good Shepherd. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

I am not just a guest.  I belong.  A child of the everlasting and Almighty Creator.

Jesus calls us to follow His voice – this is the voice we are to know. To be able to hear, irrespective of what noises and voices are drowning out His words.  We are to listen to His voice, rather than the voice of pleasure, self-pride,  materialism, rewards of worldly success, my own goals, family pressures, and keeping up with the Jones’.  We are not to allow all those others that try to climb in over the protective fence that shelters us draw us away.

One of the conclusions drawn by Biblical scholars about our sense of loss and lack of self-worth is that we
often don’t know where to go, what to do, or that we even have anywhere else we need to go.  We are SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD. When we try to run our own lives without having a basic set of principles and values, when we try to create our own religion (rather than having simple faith), when we maintain our own comfortable way: We become our own shepherd (I will do it my way). But, sheep weren’t made to lead, it’s their nature to be led.

Jesus did three primary things as a shepherd:

1-    He looked after the spiritual needs of the people – teaching, preaching and sharing the gospel

2-  He looked after the physical needs – healing every disease, sickness, feeding the hungry

3-    He taught his disciples to go out and to do the same.

If we are truly His followers, then we are to follow His example and the same way that we are following Him, bring others to that place where they will receive the same peace, protection and blessings.

[1] Philippians 4: 6-7

Psalms 61:2