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Profile of a Good Shepherd

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May 14, 2021 2:00 am

Profile of a Good Shepherd

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 14, 2021 2:00 am

What are the characteristics of a shepherd who serves God's flock, and what are his responsibilities? In the message "Profile of a Good Shepherd," Skip considers the microscope that Peter placed himself and fellow shepherds under.

This teaching is from the series Rock Solid.

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You will have in scripture shepherds that are put in a good light because of their care. Sheep, on the other hand, in the Bible are not always put in the greatest of light. Isaiah 53, all we like sheep have gone astray.

We've all gone our own way. In fact, the only time sheep are placed in favorable light is when they're placed under the good supervision of a good shepherd. God always had a plan for his flock, the church, to grow and build his kingdom. Connect with Skip Heitzig today as he shares what God envisioned when he charged shepherds to serve his people. That's you. But before we begin, did you know you can get more insightful teachings from Skip on his TV show?

Here's how. Tune in for my program. Connect with Skip Heitzig on the Hillsong Channel on Saturdays at 4 30 p.m. Mountain Time or watch it on TBN on Sundays at 5 30 a.m. Eastern.

Be sure to check your local listings. Now we want to let you know about a resource that will ignite a deeper desire in you to pursue Jesus. Who comes to mind when you think of great, godly women? Probably Jesus's mother, Mary. Maybe Ruth, the unlikely ancestor of Christ.

But what about you? Here's New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas. Clearly, if God created us male and female in his image, it's leaning into who we are as women, if we're women, that is going to show God's greatness. Discover how the lives of some of the greatest women in history can show you the path to true greatness in your own life as a woman made in God's image. That's what you'll find in this month's inspiring resource by Eric Metaxas in every one of the seven women.

I think you see a different side of femininity. Seven Women is our thank you for your gift of thirty five dollars or more today to help connect more people to God's word. And right now, we'll also send you a special bonus resource, Pastor Skip's six message CD collection on prominent women from scripture.

Visit connectwithskip.com slash offer to give online securely or call 800-922-1888. OK, we'll be in first Peter Chapter five for today's study. So let's join Skip Heitink. You will probably never find a sports team that has as its mascot a sheep. I'm thinking football now.

Right. Denver sheep. No, no, no. Denver Broncos. St. Louis sheep. No, no, no. Rams.

Right. I mean, we're talking strong animals, not sheep. When it comes to coinage, you won't find a sheep on a coin in this country. You might in New Zealand, but here you find buffalo and eagle, but not sheep. And when it comes to protecting your personal property, have any of you ever owned a guard sheep? Have you ever seen a sign beware of lamb? No, because they're docile, even timid creatures.

Not only are they timid, they require care. In fact, they require a shepherd. There was a woman who was just sick and tired of all those blonde jokes. And so she decided to dye her hair black.

She dyed it black and she was out for a drive in the country. And her car, she slowed it down because the shepherd was directing a flock of his sheep across the road. So she stopped and she rolled her window down and she yelled out to the shepherd, hey, if I can guess exactly how many sheep are in your flock, can I have one of them? He said, sure.

Take a stab at it. She said, you have 257 sheep. Well, he stepped back amazed at her advanced intelligence because that's exactly how many he had. And so he said, well, you're free to take one. So she took one, put it in the car, was about to drive off and heard a knock on the glass. It was the shepherd.

And he leaned in and he said, hey, if I can guess what color your hair really is, can I have my dog back? Yeah, I guess sheep and dogs need a good shepherd. When you go through the scripture, you often notice that the figure of a shepherd is one of the most heartwarming pictures of the relationship that God has with his people. It's a picture of care.

It's a picture of diligence. Any passage of scripture is driven by the verbs that are in that section of scripture. And in verses one through four, there is a verb that all of this section revolves around.

And I draw your attention to it in verse two. The verb is the first word shepherd. Shepherd the flock of God, which is among you. The Lord is often seen as a shepherd in the Bible. Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 100, we are the sheep of his pasture.

We are the people of his hand. And so you will have in scripture shepherds that are put in a good light because of their care. Sheep, on the other hand, in the Bible are not always put in the greatest of light. Isaiah 53, all we like sheep have gone astray.

We've all gone our own way. In fact, the only time sheep are placed in favorable light is when they're placed under the good supervision of a good shepherd. Because sheep get lost easily. They do not navigate well. They do not find their way on their own. They're not like dogs or pigeons. They'll go back to where they came from.

They're lost. In fact, one professor of philosophy, tongue in cheek, said, the existence of sheep is evidence against the theory of evolution. There's no way sheep could have survived that process. You know, survival of the fittest.

They're not. They require constant oversight, constant leading, constant rescue, constant cleaning, or they will die. A great book written by a shepherd several years ago includes these words, sheep just do not take care of themselves.

They require more than any class of livestock, endless attention, and meticulous care. The behavior of sheep and human beings is similar in many ways. Our mass mind or mob instinct, our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity are all parallels of profound importance. And yet Peter addresses the people of God in chapter 5 as a flock. Now he does not do that to put anyone down, but simply to raise the bar of integrity saying, anyone who's going to be a leader of God's flock has to meet certain criteria.

Let's look at chapter 5 beginning in verse 1. The elders who are among you, I exhort. I, who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed, shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Paul has a lot to say to shepherds, pastors, elders. Peter has three main things to say to them, three main responsibilities or qualifications. The first is relationship, the second is calling, the third is desire. Those three things, relationship, calling, desire.

He must have a personal relationship with Christ, a practical gifting to serve Christ, and a powerful desire to please Christ. So let's look at them. Let's unpack these things. We only have four verses. But here's Peter's words, thus the Lord's words to these leaders. In verse 1 and 2, there's three words I want you to notice with me. I want to explain them to you.

I want to, as I said, unpack them. The first is the word elder. He writes to elders as himself being an elder. That word is the Greek word presbyteros.

We get the term Presbyterian from it. It refers to somebody who is mature, often older, wiser. It's a term that is borrowed from the Old Testament, brought into the New Testament.

There were the elders of the children of Israel. The second word I'd like you to notice is in verse 2. It's the word overseers. It's a different word, episkopos. We get the word episcopal from that, a bishop, an overseer. And the third is the word shepherd, also found in verse 2. Though it is used in its verb form here, second person plural imperative, verb, it is often used in a noun form, a shepherd. And the word in Greek would be poimen.

Now, here's what I want you to know. All three of those words describe one person, same person. Whether the word presbyteros, elder, episkopos, bishop, or poimen, shepherd is used, speaks of one individual. Three different words to describe one person.

Why? The term elder describes his maturity. The term bishop describes his responsibility. And the term pastor describes his ministry.

He feeds sheep. So he speaks to elders as a fellow elder. I love this about Peter. Peter doesn't come off as somebody superior. He doesn't say, I, Peter, the great apostle. He says, I'm a fellow elder. I come to you as one of you.

I imagine at that time Peter had become so famous in the early church, one of the few surviving original company of men that were with Jesus that pastors, leaders everywhere revered him. But he comes not as one of the three most intimate friends, but as a fellow elder. And one who had a personal relationship with the suffering and the risen Christ.

Notice the wording. He says, and a witness. Let me tell you what a witness is in the Bible. A witness is somebody who sees and hears something and then tells others what he has seen and heard.

That's all a witness is. He was personally with Christ. That's his past tense. I was there when he suffered. But now looking to the future, he says, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. So unlike you, I was personally with Jesus and watched him suffer.

But like you, I'm waiting for him to return. But what I want you to notice overall is that Peter writes as one who had a personal encounter, thus a personal relationship with Christ. That's the first mark of a good shepherd. It's a man who personally walks with God and is growing in that walk with God.

When a relationship with Christ is real and being cultivated, growing, that person has a base from which to share and to minister to others. In fact, I'll say it this way. As the shepherd goes, so go the sheep. As the shepherd grows, so grow the sheep. If the shepherd is growing, sheep are growing. If the shepherd is stagnating, the sheep will be stagnating. Which means church leaders should be always growing in their personal lives, their spiritual walks, their marriages, their gifts that they use, and their knowledge. All summed up in 2 Peter 3 verse 18.

But grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let me tell you a true story that puts it all together. There was a man who was among one of the passengers that was in a flight flying in different cities in California. They were in Sacramento. They landed in Sacramento and there was a flight delay. And the stewardess gets on the intercom and she says, Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be delayed in this airport for at least 45 minutes or more and you have the freedom to get up and go into the terminal and we'll re-embark after a period of time. Everybody gets up and goes off the plane except for one man.

He stays seated. He was blind. His seeing-eye dog was in the seat in front of him, underneath the seat. Evidently the pilot of that flight knew the passenger. He must have flown on the pilot's flight before.

The pilot gets up, goes over to the man who's blind and he calls him by name. Keith, he says, we're going to be at this airport for about an hour. If you want, you can go out and come back. He goes, No, I don't need. I'll stay seated. But my dog would probably like to be walked. Pilot said, No problem.

I'll take care of it. Now I want you to imagine in your mind's eye what it would have been like to be a passenger in the terminal when your pilot comes out with the seeing-eye dog. Right? And just to add a little bit of fun, the pilot even put his sunglasses on as he walked out into the terminal. What would you have thought? That's what they thought. Their reaction? Most of them went to the counter to switch flights. Some wanted to switch airlines altogether. Why? Why did they react that way?

It's simple. They had no desire to entrust their lives to a man who couldn't see to fly. Here's my point. Men who don't love their wives or don't raise their children in a godly fashion or don't know their Bibles have no business flying God's plane filled with God's people.

He has to see to fly the plane. So he needs his own personal relationship with the living resurrected Christ. You say, Yeah, I know that.

Everybody knows that. Really? A few years ago I was stunned but delighted when one of the people who came forward at an altar call at a Christmas Eve service humbly told me that he had been an elder in a church for 25 years and never had a personal relationship with Jesus until that night. I was mystified but delighted.

Better late than never. A personal relationship with Christ. Here's the second, a practical gifting to serve Christ. Verse 2, he says, Shepherd the flock of God, which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as being lords over those entrusted to you.

Notice the terms entrusted. It's as if God says, I will entrust you. I trust you to take my flock and be a steward over them. Not being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock.

Here's the long and short of it. A shepherd must be called. There has to be a calling. I know that's a mystical kind of a term, like are you waiting around for a voice to be heard? How do you know if you have a calling?

It's pretty simple. There's always a gifting that accompanies the calling. You can tell if a person is called by the fruit. If a person is called to be an evangelist, guess what's going to happen? People are going to come to Christ.

Nobody comes to Christ and he says, I'm an evangelist. Hmm, OK. I wonder about that. If you're gifted or called to be a teacher, you'll be gifted to be a teacher. People will be taught.

They will grow in their walks. So there will be an accompanying gift mix along with the calling. When Paul announced to the church of Ephesus those gifted individuals that had been given to the congregation, he said, there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. Would you notice a phrase found both in verse 1 and verse 2? It's the phrase, among you. In verse 1, he speaks to the elders who are among you, you being the flock. In verse 2, he says, shepherd the flock which is among you. Now he speaks to shepherds who have the flock of God among them. But the term among you is an important term of practical accountability. If you're gifted, others among you will recognize it. They will know it.

They will ratify it. This is why seminary alone is not sufficient. Hermeneutics and homiletics courses are fine, but they are not enough. You need more. You can teach techniques.

You can't transmit gifting. Only God can do that. Some people join ministry or want to be a leader in a group because they just want to be known as the leader. They want people to notice them.

They want the plaudence of people. No wonder James used these words, let not many of you presume to be teachers, for you will receive the stricter judgment. You see, it's got to be given to you by the Lord. And when you're among people, they will recognize God's hand on you. Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders and he said, take care of the flock of God, among whom the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. In other words, do not touch the ministry unless the Holy Spirit gives it to you. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the preacher of preachers, I consider him, said this, All are not called to labor in word and in doctrine, nor to be elders or to exercise the gift of a bishop, nor should all aspire to such works, since the gifts necessary are nowhere promised to all. But those should addict themselves to such important engagements who feel, like the apostle, that they have received this ministry. No man may intrude into the sheepfold as an under-shepherd. He must have an eye to the chief shepherd and wait his beck and command. And if he does not so, but he rushes into the sacred office, the Lord will say of him and others like him, I sent them not, neither did I command them, therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord, quoting Jeremiah 23. It has to be a practical gifting to serve Christ. In two areas, generally speaking, Peter brings up, there has to be a gifting to feed sheep and a gifting to lead sheep.

Look at the first one. To feed the sheep, that's in the word shepherd, verse 2, shepherd the flock of God, the old King Jimmy says feed the flock of God. Because the term shepherd and the term feed were part and parcel of the same calling, the same nurturing. One of the primary callings of a shepherd is to feed sheep. Jesus after the resurrection asked Peter three times, do you love me?

Yes, Lord, I love you. And Jesus said, feed my sheep. Sometimes translated tend or care for, but feed my sheep. It's what shepherds do, they feed sheep. The Lord is my shepherd, David said. He leads me into green pastures.

My shepherd provides me food. One of the main tasks of a pastor. I see our position as being a spiritual chef. I remember coming home and sitting down for a meal and sometimes I just start random leading things.

I remember my mom saying, I slave over a hot stove all day for you boys. I'll never forget that and I think that's what I'm called to do. Slave over a stove of scripture that takes time to prepare a meal that is palatable and edifying and understandable through which a person can grow. Listen, a pastor worth listening to is one who has thought through the truth in the presence of the Holy Spirit and that takes time. The words of Paul to Timothy were these, be diligent or in the old translation, study to show yourselves approved. A worker who does not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.

Be prepared, study hard. I've always loved the story of the Native American man, an older man, who went to church one Sunday and heard his preacher. It was a Sunday when the preacher didn't study and prepare for the message, so he tried to cover up his lack of preparation by being bombastic and pounding the pulpit and speaking loudly and running back and forth and putting on a pep rally show. In fact, he was frothing and spitting and just moving around and some people thought he preached up a storm. That's what they said, he preached up a storm. And they asked the old Native American gentleman afterwards, what did you think of the sermon?

He said, I have six words. High wind, big thunder, no rain. High wind, big thunder, but where's the rain?

Where's the nourishment? Boy, he preached up a storm, but where's the rain? This is why God, speaking through Ezekiel the prophet, said, prophesy against my shepherds, for should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

Now, I'm a real stickler about this, as some of you may anticipate and already know. I don't believe a pastor should just give bits and pieces of the Bible, a short series here in this and a short miniseries on that, a little bit of the New Testament, a couple of Psalms, maybe a little revelation. I believe you want to get strong sheep, you teach them through books of the Bible, all of it.

That's Skip Heising with a message from his series Rock Solid. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and many others to the Lord. Because of Christ's work on the cross, we're part of God's family. And as brothers and sisters in Christ, it's important to encourage one another in our faith.

That's what we aim to do is we connect listeners like you with biblical truth. And when you give a gift, you help your spiritual family around the world grow in their faith. Here's how you can do that today. Give us a call at 800-922-1888 to give a gift.

800-922-1888. Or give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your support is vital to continue encouraging you and many others with these messages.

So thank you for giving generously. Before we close, we invite you to check out the Connect with Skip mobile app. You'll have access to a treasure trove of Skip's messages right at your fingertips.

Find more information at connectwithskip.com slash app. And be sure to come back again next week as Skip Heising shares how God uses suffering and trials to enhance your life and relationship with Him. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Heising is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 19:21:42 / 2023-11-18 19:31:17 / 10

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