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Merilee Ottoson

I recently thought about which animal in all of creation was mentioned the most in the Bible. Fish came in a close second but sheep took first place as the animal most often mentioned. J

 It seems as though sheep are often spoken of regarding our walk with Christ. The Scriptures  refer to us as “sheep”. Why? Sheep are intelligent animals with great memories and are able to recognize human faces. They show emotions and build friendships. According to Four Paws(a global animal organization for the protection of animals )  they even stick up for one another in fights! However, sheep need someone to lead them!!!

1) Sheep NEED a shepherd. Hundreds of sheep near Istanbul, Turkey fell down a ravine to their death because their shepherds ignored them while taking a break. The sheep were free to “roam” and they followed the lead sheep to the edge of the cliff. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each one to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6)

2) An unfortunate situation for sheep is to become “cast”. Sheep may lie or sleep on their sides but if they roll unto their back they are unable to get up. Because they are not able to right themselves a “cast sheep” will die within 24 hours. Life has a way of bringing situations and circumstances that threaten to knock us out or keep us down. Our Shepherd lovingly guards us and keeps us during the worst of times. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand. (Psalms 37:24)

3) Sheep are social…..they build relationships. You and I must be connected to our fellow believers. We can thrive when we have relationships with others. Those followers of Jesus who try to be a “lone ranger” usually do not do well spiritually. We can better grow in our faith as we share our needs, hurts, happiness and joys with one another! “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…”(Heb. 10:24-25)

4) And what about our fellow “sheep”? How do we treat them? It is one thing to wish them well….but quite another to “get dirty for them”. We do not walk this path for Christ alone. Are we are willing to “get in the sheep pen” next to them? Life issues can be difficult and beyond our understanding. God may be calling us to walk into their world. See things from their perspective and bring the Shepherd’s heart with us.

5) Listen to the voice of the Shepherd. Lean in to hear it. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) We are responsible to quiet ourselves so that we can hear His voice.                                                                                                                                                                            “Help us to listen so closely to the Shepherd’s voice that                                                                                the howls of the wolves no longer distract us.”