Tag Archives: sheep

Sheep and goats

My recent encounters with our goat (this morning she broke into the rabbit feed again) has caused me to ponder scripture.

The Bible says a good deal about sheep and goats, but the words of Jesus have stood out as I’ve been praying.

All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:32‭-‬33 NKJV

Jesus is talking about His return to earth and what will occur.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:34‭-‬40 KJV

Those who are “sheep” are commended by the way they served others.

He doesn’t conclude there, but next turns to the “goats”.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Matthew 25:41‭-‬45 KJV

Talk about heavy.

These people are condemned by their lack of service.

Yet, we know it’s not by works which we are saved.

Jesus tells us that to be saved we simply need to believe in Him.

John 3:16 NKJV — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

So, how is it that the “sheep” believe and yet it’s their works Jesus points to as the proof of their belief?

Because true faith is evident in the daily lives of those who believe.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:14‭-‬17 NKJV

Jesus, Himself referred to this.

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV — “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Belief in Jesus Christ is a faith which changes our hearts and lives completely.

John 15:8 KJV — Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

I want to be a “sheep”, content with following my Master, bringing glory to God the Father through my daily obedience.

John 10:27 KJV — My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for using my sheep and goat to remind me of Your truths. You change my heart and through that my attitudes and actions. Lord, I thank You for saving me and making me Your sheep. I thank You for continuing to teach me through Your Word. Lord, please help me to listen intently for Your voice and walk faithfully in Your paths. Thank You for Your love and salvation. Amen.

Difficult animals

This is our goat.

Because we haven’t gotten the cross fence up, we take her and our lamb out to graze three times a day, sometimes more.

A few weeks ago the goat broke her collar, but she had learned to follow us out to the pasture so we didn’t bother to replace it, thinking it best to wait till she was bigger and could get a permanent collar.

As I sat outside with the sheep and goat, I wasn’t here long when I heard our son calling me.

He was struggling to lead the goat back down.

Then he explained he found her trashing the barn in an effort to get into the grain.

I looked over to check on the sheep.

Yup, she was still doing what we came out here to do.

I had to carefully tie the goat, in such a way as to keep her safe, and sat very near her so to be sure she’d be okay.

Did she go back to eating?

No, she began by knocking over the other chair, then chewed the cord on that chair, chewed my gloves, stuck her nose in my hot cup of tea, tried to sit on my lap…

I took the top picture after I had gotten up to put some distance between us, as I was feeling a bit frustrated with her.

“Why can’t you just eat?! That’s why we are out here?” I asked her.

The Lord reminded me: she’s a goat.

Goat’s are very curious.

They are not content to just eat grass, but need a variety of vegetation.

Brush, dead leaves, black berry bushes, weeds,…

They will even strip the bark off trees.

They are noted for climbing and leaping.

They can be difficult to keep in a fence.

Yet, they are very useful animals; they eat troublesome weeds, produce milk, and can be a source of meat.

Ours is a milk goat and we look forward to having our own milk for making cheese and soap and just for drinking.

The Lord’s reminder to my heart brought me truth.

I have to keep in mind they are just animals and will respond to life in their unique way.

The chickens act like chickens; the sheep like sheep; the goat…like every goat I’ve ever had.

All of this points me back to my Good Shepherd.

I want to behave like a sheep.

Following my Master, filling myself with His Word, listening for His voice.

(Our lamb comes when I call her.)

Not going off by myself, or trying to fill up on things God hasn’t given me, or making a mess because I’m not where I’m supposed to be, ignoring the voice of my Master.

I want to obey and reside in the place the Lord has for me, rather than waste that trying to get something else.

For He has supplied my every need and given the best, most important gift of all.

Psalm 68:19 NKJV — Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for this lesson. Please help me to be a follower of You. Show me my stubborn waywardness that I might repent and turn back to You. Lord Jesus, I want to walk in Your ways, resting in Your provision, waiting upon You for all things. Please continue to teach me daily. And Lord, help me to be wise with how we care for these animals You have given us. Thank You for the blessings they bring. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

“Adventure” before 7am

We’ve been finding evidence of a critter digging it’s way under neath the chicken run, nearly every morning.

After several failed attempts to deter it, my husband bought a live trap.

Because our son had actually seen a young skunk in the neighbor’s yard, not far from their chickens, my husband wrapped the trap in a tarp to keep from getting sprayed once the animal was caught.

Yesterday morning, when I came up to do the chickens, there was food sitting outside of the trap, but the trap had not been sprung.

I thought that was odd, the food had obviously been eaten on.

When my husband came out, I told him about the food.

He was surprised to see that something got the food out of the trap, but had not sprung it.

Last night, he reset the trap in such a way that the animal was sure to be caught.

So when I came out to do the chickens, I didn’t go near their pen, because the trap had been sprung.

Instead, I sent my husband a message and went about the other chores.

I prayed for him as he headed towards the trap.

Requesting that he would not be sprayed, as he had to go to work this morning.

God answered.

My husband was able to load the live trap and animal into the back of his pickup without incident.

He would take it and release it far away in the woods before heading to work.

When I do chores, I normally let our lamb out of her pen as she wanders about grazing while I take care of the other animals.

This morning was no different, she had followed me to the facet as I filled up the rabbit waterer.

My husband needed to leave immediately to have time to release the skunk.

The lamb and I were nearby as he jumped in the truck with his lunch box.

I realized that my lamb was awfully close to the truck and although she’s normally very frightened of vehicles, I wanted to get her out of the way, it would be very hard for my husband to see her.

I was encumbered by the rabbit waterer and only had one free hand, but assumed the minute he started the truck she would want to come toward me.

I forgot I was dealing with a sheep.

Although, I had put my hand out and called several times, she literally ran towards the back of the truck, under the bed, near the tire.

He was aware that she had been in the area and had seen my efforts, so he did not put it in reverse.

Instead, he got to watch as I tried desperately to get my lamb to come away from the truck.

She did not want to, despite the fact that it was running.

I tried leading her as I normally do, with one hand under her chin, but she fought me and kept trying to turn back towards the truck.

Are exhaust fumes that appealing?!

I knew that he was in a hurry, so I stopped trying to guide her and grabbed a front four leg.

By pulling on her four leg gently, I began to get her away from the truck.

She found this extremely frustrating and began leaping in the air in an attempt to break my hold.

She’s not heavy enough, even with her leaping over and over to break my grip.

I was able to get her away from the truck, to a safe distance, so my husband could drive away.

After getting her there, I didn’t let go, I couldn’t trust her.

She might turn and run back toward the truck, thus I stood, holding on to her leg waiting for my husband to back up and then head down the driveway.

I was very frustrated with her and I could tell she was not impressed with me either.

He did back up the truck, but then he stopped and stuck his head out the window.

About this juncture, I told my lamb that I was simply trying to keep her safe despite her dumb behavior.

Yes, I called my sheep dumb.

My husband called back to me, “You just made my day!”

And laughed!

Putting the truck in drive, he headed out, still laughing.

I had to laugh too.

I let go of my sheep, patted her, and tried to console her from what she thought was extremely poor treatment.

I returned to the chores and thanked the Lord for His blessings this morning, especially catching the skunk and protecting our chickens.

I pictured how funny my lamb and I must have looked as I dragged her away from her impending danger and suddenly realized God is incredibly patient.

How many times have I reacted the exact same way to something that the Lord said?

Then He changed the circumstances, making it far harder for me to return, all the while I act foolishly, and being greatly offended that He would treat me in such a way.

And all He was doing was keeping me from danger.

I praise God for His Sovereignty and the chastisement He has given when I needed it the most.

I am so thankful to the Lord for His faithful care and tireless instruction.

Isaiah 53:6 KJV — All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

I worship Almighty God for His incredible sacrifice, for nothing compares to His salvation through Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the “adventure” this morning, both with our lamb and with the skunk. Lord, I know You created all and I thank You for reminding me of Your Word this morning as I reflected upon the behavior of our sheep. Thank You for Your incredible amount of patience, Your mercy, and Your grace. Thank You that You died to save us. Please help each of us to be focused upon You and Your Word, that we would follow You with willingness, rather than be curious and seek to draw closer to the dangers You call us away from. Lord, thank You for all Your love! You are amazing! Amen.

By the way,

My lamb forgave me and came over to nuzzle my knee.

And the skunk has a new home.

All we like sheep

Isaiah 53:6 KJV — All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Unless you’ve actually raised sheep, these words really don’t hold the same understanding.

As a young teen, my parents bought a very run down property in the country, in another state, and took this city girl and my sister, to a whole new way of life.

I didn’t have a clue about anything which I would need to know, but God is gracious and He teaches.

We didn’t have proper fencing, so moving the flock was always an adventure.

(In case your wondering why we were moving them, it’s because sheep need a rotation of pasture or the fields die back and the sheep don’t have good forage. In fact there is a whole science to field rotation and proper care so that the animals get the nutrition they need.)

We didn’t have a sheep dog.

We didn’t have four-wheelers.

We had my mom, my sister, and me.

The system was one person, no body liked this job because it meant getting trampled, had the large bucket of grain.

That person was responsible to call the sheep, wait for most of them to gather (there’s always at least a few who refuse to come when called), then open the gate, and head toward the new field.

The other people are in the field and ready to “encourage” all the sheep to follow the one with the bucket.

(Sheep startle very easily and you have to be careful how you handle them, as a sheep can literally die from fright.)

As the person leading, you have to continue to call the sheep and shake the bucket.

Even with calling and shaking some sheep will bolt out the gate, nearly knocking down the person opening it, and run as fast as they can.

Where?

Anywhere.

They have no sense of what they are doing, they just know the gate is open and they are “free!”.

Others will follow the one calling only until they spy a weedy plant growing along the road.

They’ll stop and block the road with their bodies because the weedy tough thing isn’t a quick grab a mouthful and keep walking, which causes others behind them to stop and loose sight of the one calling.

Those who are stopped will then become confused and loudly protest their distress, at times turning around to head back and other times running back and forth along the road.

Some sheep will be late coming to the gate and when they see it open will bolt as fast as they can.

They will over take and pass the one leading only to find themselves lost, without any others around them.

This can be terrifying for the sheep, who will then bolt back down the way they just came.

They will even pass the one leading the sheep and will return to the field if it were not for the two people who follow at the far back.

Their job is to get the sheep out of the field and close the gate.

Then to follow the one calling the sheep and encourage those who are lost to follow the leader.

But there were some sheep who would come when called.

They knew the person calling had fed them before and would feed them again.

They knew there’s grain in the bucket and they never take their eyes off the leader.

They knew they need what the leader has, they want what the leader has and they follow, no matter what.

When the sheep are all in the new field the grain is set out, normally more than one bucket worth, for we always had more in the new field waiting.

Of course they would push and shove each other, like we didn’t know how much grain was required to supply each one the proper amount.

Afterwards, they’d start grazing, as if they never noticed the new field was lusher, more abundant than the old.

I can easily see myself in those sheep.

How many times did I hear the Lord call and instead of keeping my eyes fixed on Him, my excitement sent me dashing ahead only to find I’d taken His call and applied my own ideas and plans to the execution of it?

It always left me confused and lost as to where to go next.

How many times have I felt “comfortable” unwilling to make a change, not wanting to hed the call, not willing to leave what I was used to?

Only to find that being slow to respond to Him and having to experience the consequences of not obeying were actually hindering what He had in store.

I still reached the new place, it still held all He had for me, but I brought along regret from my disobedience.

I’ve prayed and will continue to pray that God helps me to be the sheep whose eyes are on the Shepherd.

That I will stop wasting my time, energy, and strength in “bolting” in every direction, but instead to listen for His voice, to answer His call, and to always remain beside the One who calls me to follow.

John 10:27 NKJV — “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for loving us so much more than anyone can possibly love. Thank You for creating sheep, that we might see a small portion of ourselves in them. Lord, thank You for teaching me so much about Your patient endurance and Your faithfulness. Thank You that You are caring for me and all I need to do is follow. Thank You for Your provision, Your salvation, and Your grace. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Shepherd

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6

Anyone who has raised sheep can tell you they “stray” a good deal.

Many a time, as a youth, my frustration over the wandering of the flock would cost me hours of fence repair and regrouping the animals.

When a sheep is wandering outside the protection of the fence, they rarely understand their danger.

Instead it is when the shepherd or caretaker shows up that they seem to suddenly panic over their wandering and will bolt for places unknown.

They can literally run themselves to death or fall and cast themselves which also leads to death, if left in that position.

But did this state of alarm hit them as they wandered through the hole in their protection?

No.

It came when they were face to face with the one who put the protection in place.

The one who actually cares for them and understands all the dangers they do not.

Does this wayward sheep call to the shepherd, or follow them back to their safety?

No.

They bolt.

As fast as their short skinny legs will carry them.

They will blindly flee straight into a dead end and then once at the end will dash madly back and forth, back and forth, all because they left the safety of the fence.

The protection set around a grassy area, supplied with fresh water, and normally cover, all set up for their care.

Do you see yourself in the wayward sheep?

I certainly can see myself.

I can tell you that a good shepherd never ignores the wayward sheep.

Instead they follow and do whatever is necessary to return the sheep to the safety of the fence.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

And He laid down His life for the sheep!

All this knowledge helps me to better understand how I need to handle my walk with the Lord Jesus.

Not to be unaware of the protection He placed in my life through His Holy Word.

To learn not to panic when confronted with an area of my life where I have strayed, but to instead humbly confess and seek the security of the protection and the way back to it by following the Good Shepherd.

To realize I will never completely understand all that goes on, but I can always trust the Good Shepherd.

He really has my best at heart.

As a person who has raised these animals I can tell you, there is only one kind of sheep which does not follow the average behavior.

It’s the one which has been hand-raised.

Whether by illness or some sort of loss, the lamb was raised, not by another sheep, but by the Shepherd alone.

Those are the only ones who will come when they are called.

Will seek the Shepherd when lost.

The ones who will bleat pleadingly when the Shepherd comes into sight.

That’s the kind of sheep I want to be.

4 days till Christmas

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 NKJV

The staff, a simple tool of the shepherd, is a comfort.

Shepherds are no longer common in our culture.

Yet, they still exist, and although each culture handles things uniquely, even now a staff is a useful tool.

Anyone who has raised sheep can explain how each one needs to be guided and often they tend to go their own way.

The staff is an extension of the shepherd and is used to direct, guide, and at times keep the sheep from heading the wrong way.

Scripture tells of a Good Shepherd, one who cares for the sheep.

Psalm 80:1 NKJV — To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Testimony of Asaph. A Psalm. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth! (Emphasis added)

Isaiah 40:11 NKJV — He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young. (Emphasis added)

Micah 7:14 NKJV — Shepherd Your people with Your staff, The flock of Your heritage, Who dwell solitarily in a woodland, In the midst of Carmel; Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, As in days of old. (Emphasis added)

Jesus said:

John 10:11 NKJV — “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

Not only did He sacrifice Himself for each and every one of us, He leads us down the paths of righteousness.

Today’s addition to the Nativity is a shepherd.

Another beautiful picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for each one of us.

The shepherd’s staff is a comfort to those who follow Jesus.

We have God’s Holy Word to guide and direct us.

We have Jesus to lead us.

We are not left alone, scattered and in danger of predictors.

John 10:10 NKJV — “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

As we look on our Nativity and remember our Good Shepherd, let us rejoice!

Our lives belong to Jesus.

When we submit our lives to Him, He becomes King.

With His Kingship, He guides and directs us, He comforts and provides for us.

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NKJV

Singular love

image

My mother has raised sheep for many years.

Countless nights did we spend in the barn or pasture with a flashlight trying to help a ewe and lamb or lambs.

Yet, it has been a blessing when reading the Bible.

I have been able to understand the scriptures about our Good Shepherd better because I’ve been in the field with sheep.

Psalm 23 is my life chapter.

Through good times and difficult ones I’ve found great comfort in the words “The LORD is my shepherd…”

The parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:10-13) has always made sense since I’ve stayed out far past my desired time searching the pastures for a sheep which didn’t come in.

Yet the truth of these scriptures was reiterated in a quote I read.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine

Jesus would have died for me if I was the only sinner.

Yet He loves us all and died for each and every person.

How incredible the singular love God has for each one.

What an amazing awesome God He is!

Shepherd

2013-11-21 16.16.43“The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not want.”

Ps. 23:1

As a girl of thirteen I began raising sheep

with my folks and sister.

I learned so much about what a good shepherd means.

First, I learned, you never have a day off,

unless you pay someone else to watch the sheep.

Second, there are so many things you have to be mindful of:

Briars and blackberries which stick in wool and can tangle and trap them.

Crevices and low places such as a slope that can cause them to lose their footing and get upside down.

How to care for their feet, remove their wool, give vaccinations and medicine…

The list goes on.

So much God has taught through this effort of caring for sheep.

Briars and blackberries would not be such a problem if the sheep would stay away from them, but they don’t.

Instead they push their wooly bodies as far into a patch as possible not realizing they are caught

Until they try to go the other way

With each movement they are torn by the very thing they forced themselves into.

Crevices and low places are so very dangerous for a sheep because they can roll into these and end up laying flat on their back.

Once a sheep is on their back they give up and although nothing is physically wrong with them, they will die if they are not turned over quickly.

A sheep allowed to lie on its back for too long can die even once it has been righted.

Why?

Normally because they refuse to stand up and move.

It’s almost like they think they are no longer able.

Physical needs of caring for their bodies taught a relentless careful eye is needed.

And I have often reflected that if I can keep watch over an animal how much more is the Father keeping watch over me?

I can truly thank the Lord, for He is my shepherd, and

I can trust completely

in Him.