When I was drafted/volunteered for the Army as a young man, I was stationed for a year at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was attached to a support group for an artillery battery. My fellow soldiers and I would load onto a truck the artillery rounds used in fire practice at a place called an “ammunition dump”or depot. We would transfer the rounds from the earthen bunkers the truck and take them to the shooting range where the artillery would practice by shooting the rounds at stationary targets. There were many underground bunkers where the rounds were stored and it was separated by native grasses. Because of the highly volatile material stored, no lawnmowers and no smoking were allowed at the facility. The Army used sheep to keep the grass low which still sounds ingenious and very low tech, but it worked.
This was my first encounter with sheep and it was strange. The sheep were not friendly and would run at the slightest movement. If a truck would start, they would run away. If there were people going back and forth,but the sheep would run away when anyone approached. They were lost. They had plenty of grass and water was available, but they did not seem happy. Their physical condition was deplorable. Some of them limped and others had eyes that were blinded. I would not have taken any of them to a state’s fair. I felt sorry for them and asked who took care of them. There turned out to be a special unit at Fort Sill who was had veterinarian training. Whoever was responsible, the sheep were to say the least mangy .
This brings us to our readings for today. Mark 6: 34 “When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
This passage comes just before the feeding of the five thousand. It is strange and similar that there were so many lost sheep in Jesus time and today in ours. We have a society today that is in desperate need of a Good Shepherd. This includes every country on earth, as well as, the United States.There are many directions the reading for today could take you but here is where the Spirit is leading me today.
Lost sheep! Jesus took pity on the lost sheep of His time. Today, we are His hands and feet to shepherd the lost sheep of this day and age. (Hebrews 13: 16 ) “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.” and later in ( Hebrews 13 : 20-21 ) ” May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do His will.”
How do we know what the will of God in our lives is? Pause and think for a moment.
I will submit a partial answer and there are some things that are basic like the ten commandments. If you look around you will encounter sheep(people) young and old who are lost. As always, pray before you act.You are doing it out of love. There are plenty of lost sheep in the lives of my family and extended family. There is always the trap of enabling them and I have fallen into that trap more than once where they continue on some other path other than walking with the Lord. Pray, and pray some more. Monetary help if you can. Spiritual advise and seek others help if you can not help yourself. Hebrews 7:25 “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through Him since He lives forever to make intercession for them”
The Psalm today brings the total scripture readings for today home, because there is a reward and blessing for attempting to do the will of God in your life. A World War II Naval veteran, that I once knew by the name of “Buck” Phillips pointed something out about the 23rd Psalm. He was a LCVP landing craft driver on Omaha Beach. He pointed to the line “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows”. Now my wife, Anna, will tell you about the kitchen messes that I have made and will be quite descriptive of the results, but picture for a moment the blessings bestowed by the Good Shepherd to the point that your cup cannot contain all the blessings. “Buck” Phillips knew those blessings and so do you. Think of your life not in terms of years spent but in terms of doing the will of God in your life. If you listen to the Good Shepherd, try to do His will and your cup will have so many blessings that your whole life will be blessed in so many ways that you cannot contain it. There are plenty of lost sheep in our generation today who need those blessings and so do we. We know that Good Shepherd is willing to give us those blessings to those who do His will.
It sounds pie in the sky attitude but if you read the whole 23rd Psalm again, you will see God’s blessing in your life and maybe an opportunity to do God’s will to the lost sheep of this generation. Hopefully the Good Shepherd message will help you and may the Good Shepherd blessing pour down on you until your cup is overflowing.
Prayer: Please reread the 23rd Psalm.
Readings: Hebrews: 13-15-17, 20-21; Psalm 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; Mark 6:30-34