Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Because There Was No Shepherd

I would like to submit that we all consider prayerfully that the first and foremost need in our respective mission fields is a spiritual leader committed to discipling every soul on the grounds. 

If we have planning meetings that draw out for hours and hours, discussing, arguing, complaining, requesting, developing all of the question, agriculture, administration, salary, or dollars, there will be progress, but any progress that is made without Jesus Christ front and center is absolute futility.  Instability will always be at the foundation. 
At this season in your particular field, If you think of this planning as a meal and our Lord isn't much more than garnish, a sprig of parsley on the side, then it's time to step back.   When I picture Him sitting in our meetings, listening to Israel complain about the Manna, I sometimes chuckle at what borders on the ridiculous.  I'm so very grateful that He loves us! I believe we have a real opportunity to turn a corner in the world, yet the greatest deficit I see is what we should have in overflowing surplus, if we have anything at all. 

I'm sure you'll agree that the majority of what we fret over won't even amount to a hill of beans. All that will ever matter is the day each soul stands before the Lord.  He will either know them or He won't, and they are right now under our care and supervision.  
We have an awesome, humbling, responsibility of eternal magnitude.    He told Peter that if he loved him he'd feed His sheep.   We should stink of sheep above all else. 

A man that is deep into voodoo watched me weeding my corn the other night as the sun was setting.  We've been in this spiritual dance, he and I.  He sees a sliver of light that he simply cannot ignore.  He sees the Lord and he just can't quite turn his back.  
After watching me said, "Dan, you work hard," then he quoted a Haitian proverb, "Work gives freedom."  "I agree!"  I said.
I had to track him down later, because when I'm in my garden that's where the Lord usually does His greatest whispering, and He knocked on my heart.
I went and found him taking a shower, and I had to tell him,  "Work does gives freedom, liberty indeed.  But which is best, to have work or to have God?   Work, as we well know in Haiti, is fickle.  It can come and it can go, here one day and gone the next.   But with God, I have freedom for life ever-after.  Forever, work or not, I am truly free, and I have the only real liberty that man can really hold onto." 

Ezekiel 34 came plowing in on me tonight.  Please take the time to meet with the Lord, to quiet your time and your self as you read His word, and see what a good meal He has for us here in this text.   
Check out His awesome promises at the end of this passage if we just trust in God and lay down. He makes the rest fall into place.  Isn't that a much easier route?  This isn't complicated unless we make it so.
Chew on this most choice, tender meat and search your hearts for your direction in the field today...
'The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
“ ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
“ ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 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 bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
“ ‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.
“ ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ”

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