A timely message, The Shepherd in the Coronavirus Storm is a message that will help encourage believers in their walk during these uncertain times.
Amidst all the fear, doubts and worries, there is only one place we can cast our anxieties upon. Whether you believe this is governmental warfare, the 4th seal of Revelation or media fear-mongering, our marching orders have not changed. Jesus is still on the throne, He has no plans of seceding, and we have been given the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, for a time such a this!
In a recent message by president and founder of Good Fight Ministries, Pastor Joe Schimmel, just after receiving news of the “stay-in place” requirement in California, he delivered a sermon that delved into the 23rd Psalm. While he has taught on this passage before, the application of this Psalm, mixed with the concern that so many are facing right now, really hit home the message of assurances that all of us should be resting in during these times. In the message, he pointed out that we need to go to the Lord, for He is above all of our circumstances. He even faced every trial that we will have, and yet He was without sin. We are always to remember where our source of joy and strength comes from!
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
While concerns are going to be growing, concerns about how to put food on the table, pay bills, not racking up too much debt, having ourneeds met, and so forth, the answer has never changed. It is always our Good Shepherd, Jesus.
Psalm 23, although written 3,000 years ago by King David, rings all the more true for us at the time:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
Something that you may not have known about sheep, is that they are creatures of habit. When they are taken away from their normal routine, they get confused. It is only by looking back at the shepherd that can regain their composure. As most know quite well, the Scriptures speak often of Christians being the Lord’s sheep. It uses that picture because sheep were utterly dependent upon their shepherds if they were to survive and thrive, just as we are completely dependent upon our Savior.
But He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever;
To all generations we will tell of Your praise.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Jesus is telling Peter that he needs to take care of the flock as an under-shepherd (their apostle, their disciple). God doesn’t want us to be focused on ourselves. he wants us to be focused on Him and others. It’s never to be all about us. Even though Peter was learning to love Jesus and growing, he still didn’t love his brethren the way he ought to. Jesus uses circumstances to let Peter know that he was frail and weak, and that he needed the Good Shepherd. Peter needed to get involved with Jesus’ mission and take care of the sheep.
1 Peter 5:1-4
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
I shall not be in want.
I shall not be in need.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
The above text speaks to sheep who not only hear the voice of the shepherd, but follow Him. It’s not merely knowing things about Jesus, but placing your trust in His voice, in His word and following after Him!
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
We have to make sure that we know Jesus. We have to make sure we are talking to Him and crying out to Him. We must have a personal relationship with Him. There’s this peace that comes over us because we can say that the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
We can call Him Father. There’s no greater thing that we can possibly have than a relationship with the living God who made us, especially during times of such confusion.
I [Jesus] am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me
In ancient time, shepherds would take their sheep and cut a distinctive mark in their hseep’s ear with a huge knife. It would be painful for the sheep, and even for the shepherd as well, because he cared for them. The shepherd would know his from the others based on the mark placed on their ear.
2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His”
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
2 Corinthians 1:22
who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
The Lord knows us. We are not going to lacj anything because He is going to take care of us. Right now, we should say that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in need of anything. He will meet our needs.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
We can’t just go wandering around doing our own thing or go astray thinking that our needs are going to be met. The Lord may discipline us, saying, “No, you are not following Me. You need to get right.” If we are seeking the Lord and walking in rightesouness, He will meet our needs according to His riches in glory.
For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?
How many times in your life, when you didn’t know how you would get through it, did you see the Lord come through? That’s how He works. He’s awesome!
Shepherds provide shelter from the elements, such as storms. They provide protection from the wolves and the lions. We won’t be in want as we seek Him. He gives special attention to the sick and cares for those who are hurting.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
God wants us to live in green pastures. he wants us to be beside still waters. This happens when we put Him first, by listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Rejoice in the Lord and who He is. Look to Him and how He communicates to us in love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, then we are filled in His Spirit, in His love. We will abide in His joy and we’ll have the joy the world doesn’t have.
We need to let the Lord lead us into walking in His Spirit and receiving the joy that He has ordained for us. If we do it our way, it all gets messed up.
A strange thing about sheep is that they don’t willingly lie down. It’s hard to make them be obedient. The main reason is fear. They have to feel comfortable to do it. So if a shepherd tries to make them lay down when they are fearful, they will keep standing up. Even a squirrel running by can scare the sheep. We cannot allow anything to distract us from our calling in Jesus and cause us to look away and no longer listen to our Shepherd.
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
We need to be wise and make wise decisions that are informed, not to panic and cause more harm. We need to look to the Lord. He wants us to be able to lie down. Our rest is found in Him, for He is our sabbath rest. If we look to Him, trust His promises, than we will rest in Him! If we are going through life and we are not looking to the Good Shepherd, it’s going to be hard for us to lay down and be at peace.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
It’s also hard to get sheep to lay down when they are hungry and not fed. They are concerned that they are going to die.
Jesus overcomes and keeps us safe from the wicked lions and ravenous wolves in the wilderness. He also offers us the Bread of Life. He feeds us spiritually and takes care of us physically.
Another reason it’s hard for sheep to lay down is when there’s tension among them. Sometimes they will bite or buch each other obver land that they are grazing on. Guess what happens when the shepherd is there? All of a sudden they have peace, because they know they will be taken care of. They know they will get enough grass, food, and water. There’s peace among them. That’s why it is imperative for us to look to the Good Shpeherd right now, so we don’t bite and devour one another. We also don’t want to start competing with each other. We need to be trusting the Lord to take care of us.
If the sheep have a shepherd that they can trust, who is routinely taking care of them by bringing them to still waters, to green pastures, and defeating the predators, they will have peace. But some sheep can still be in a panic, even though the shepherd is there, because they aren’t trusting in him.
Right now it’s an issue of trust. We have to trust Jesus to take care of us by overcoming our enemies, feeding us, and keeping the tensions down. He instructs us, by example, to get along with one another. We need to look to the Good Shepherd.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
He restores my soul;
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
A cast sheep is a panicked sheep that has fallen on its back. It begins to flail and it can’t get up. It doesn’t take long before predators are signaled by its flailing and it is eaten, or the sheep dies out of panic by kicking itself to the point of exhaustion.
The shepherd is there in case one of the sheep becomes a cast sheep. They want to get it off of its back before it’s too late. The shepherd will its flailing, turn it to its upright position, and then return it to the field.
This is what happens to certain believers who fell away from the Lord.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If we don’t return to the Lord, we are in the clutches of the enemy and it’s only a matter of time before it’s too late. We have to respond by crying out to the Lord. Seek the Good Shepherd, allow Him to set you upright and return to the field
Do not cast me away from Your presence
and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
When we get away from the Lord, we are not going to have joy, we are going to have depression. We may have some happiness based on what’s happening in our backsliding state. We want to make sure we stay close to the Lord.
Praise God that He cares about us. He loves us
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.
God doesn’t will that anyone should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He takes not pleasure in the death of the wick, but rather that they would turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23,32). His arms are not to short to save and He will always do what it right.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The Hebrew term for “path” meant old paths that were dug into the ground from long wear. The sheep knew they could be on theses trustworthy paths. That’s how the Lord leads us. He leads us to the paths of righteousness.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
If they wandered off the path, they are dead meat. We want to make sure that we stay on the Lord’s path and not go astray to another path.
Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings;
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
The sheep are vulnerable in a valley because they can’t see the predators and they are more easily eaten.
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
For us as Christians, when we face the shadow of death, we don’t need to fear because the Lord is with us.
1 Corinthians 15:55
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
Even though death will still fly around us, we won’t experience nor fear death they the world experiences and dears death. Death for us, as Christians, is transitioning into the presence of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
All throughout Psalm 23 is the message to keep our eyes on the Good Shepherd who protects us, and understanding the spiritual meaning is quite beautiful.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The shepherd used the rod as a weapon to take out wolves, lions and bears. He would stand up for his sheep. Sometimes he would throw the rod at one of his sheep to startle it to come back to the fold. God sometimes has to do the same thing to shake us up to get us back to the fold.
There was also a staff, which was a long, slender stick, often with a hook at the end. It could pull a sheep out of water. It was used to keep the sheep in line as a disciplinary measure. Sometimes the shepherd would break the leg of the sheep that continued to leave the fold so it couldn’t wander away and learn to stay. Similarly, we sometimes get disciplined by the Lord. There are times that He breaks a part of us because we continue to wander. He is more concerned about our eternity than the cheap thrills we get by wandering.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
The key is to stay close to the Lord and His flock so we don’t have to get our legs broken.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Sometimes we can’t escape all the predators. After a new or late snow, the shepherd would have to take his sheep in water and dangerous areas. Yet, the shepherd would take special care to prepare a solace and peaceful place in the midst of the enemies of the sheep. Sometimes the Lord will take us into places that are dangerous.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus took His apostles to Caesarea, where the people there worshiped Pan (a sexually deviant god where the term “panic” comes from) and other demon gods. In that area is a huge cave that was known by some to be the gates of Hades.
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
It is imperative that we understand that no matter what is going on around us, and how many people are against us, God still prepares a table in the presence of His enemies for us. The apostles were able to witness some amazing fruit, as their circumstance did not change their mindset of worship! It was this worship that shook the ground and brought sinners to repentance!
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
In the midst of our enemies, we can still worship the Lord. We are to encourage and love our brethren. Don’t stop fellowshipping with each other.
You have anointed my head with oil;
It’s interesting because sheep have a lot of little problems as well, like insects, mosquitos, gnats, nose flies, etc. Even though the nose fly is small, it can be deadly by laying eggs in their nostrils. Shepherds take care of them with oil, which repels the insects, such as the nose flies.
The oil in scripture represents the Holy Spirit. As we seek Jesus, we are close to Him and filled with the love and peace that comes from the Spirit. Those little things that would annoy is and aggravate us normally tend to get repelled. Notice that when we walk in the Spirit and are filled with the love of God, many things don’t bother us as much. When things are bothering us more than normal, we have to ask, “Hey, am I not walking close to the Lord? Am I not walking in the Spirit?” If not, then seek the Good Shepherd and cry out to Him.
… my cup overflows
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.
God can do far greater for us than anything we can even imagine. He is greater than our circumstance and walking in Him is a life more abundant, filled with promises to great to comprehend:
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Good Shepherd became the sacrifice to pay for our sins so we could have eternal life through His death, burial, and resurrection. We can accept His promise.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
It is promises such as this, that we know that we can rest in Him! Let us never believe that any of these promises are for those who do not “listen” and “follow” after the shepherd. Let us be of those who come to Him, listen, follow and are unable to be snatched away by any enemy while we are in His hand. We have a good Shepherd who calls us to Himself and promises to take our yoke, and give us rest!
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Special thanks to Blessed Hope Chapel Texas for the notes from the message. You can listen to the entire audio message below from Pastor Joe: