Thursday, August 31, 2017

Three ways we're like sheep

My family went to the fair this summer and we had a great time! Now I’ve been to many fairs, but I think this fair had the most food I’ve ever seen. I was impressed with how many different hot dog stands one could visit. I also saw options for fried food that I had never thought about battering up and deep frying.

We didn’t only eat food. We also rode some of the rides. We rode the ferris wheel as a family and it was so beautiful. It’s amazing to have a ride like that on the beach; it left me breathless. We also played the games. We walked through displays, saw the pig race, and had a blast.

But as I look back on the fair, there was an area that is a magnet for my kids. It’s the animals. We looked at chickens, rabbits, turkeys, goats and cows. There are more types of chicken than I ever knew about. (My favorite kind of chicken is chicken strips). As we continued looking at the animals, we made it to the back of the barn. There were less people back there and we found the sheep. I knew I’d be preaching on Psalm 23 so I began looking at the sheep. And after looking at the sheep, I made some observations.

Sheep are delicate

Sheep need to be handled with care. If you look at their legs and their wool, you can see how delicate they are. Sheep also scare easily. I read about a story of a shepherd who experienced a great loss when his sheep were scared. All it takes is one sheep running and the rest will follow. One day he had a sheep run and it ran off a cliff. All the other sheep followed because of herd mentality. This shepherd experienced a great loss.

Sheep are also prone to getting parasites and worms. If sheep are not cared for in the right manner, they may look good on the outside but they will have issues going on inside. An unclean water source can give a sheep get worms, parasites or other micro bacteria that are in the water. Because sheep are so delicate, it is extremely important they are cared for and looked after closely.

Sheep are helpless

The next thing I noticed at the fair is that sheep are helpless. They have no sharp teeth (pic). In fact, they only have a bottom row of teeth! They have no claws. Sheep have no defense mechanism. They have no way to defend themselves, which renders them helpless in an attack. Now we have a puppy and she has sharp teeth. She can also bark to scare people away who might enter our backyard. I don’t think the baaaa of a sheep is going to scare a fierce predator. Sheep also get what is called “cast” easily. It’s when they fall over and can’t get up (picture). If this happens, and no one helps, they will die.

Sheep need constant protection because they are helpless. They need a shepherd to watch over them. There can also be internal problems in the herd. Sheep will fight against each other. They will establish an order where sheep will head butt other sheep. But once the good shepherd comes around, the head butting stops. They are anxious without someone to lead them. They also need to be lead to food and water. Theydon’t excel at providing for themselves.

Sheep are dirty

The last thing I noticed at the fair is that sheep are dirty. They can’t clean themselves like a cat. How many cat people do we have here? Cats are always licking themselves; sheep, not so much. They literally were laying in their own poop at the fair. It was gross. They have this thick coat of wool that we love to wear but the reality is, they are dirty (pic). They live in harsh environments where they can lay in dirt all day long. They don’t take showers. When it rains they don't have umbrellas. When I talked about them being delicate, we talked about parasites. Sheep are also prone to getting ticks. The ticks will get in their ears, near their eyes, under the hoof and in their wooly coat. Because they are helpless, sheep, have defense against them. The sheep must rely on the shepherd to care for their needs.

In all of this, we must remember that sheep are valuable to the shepherd. It could be easy to dismiss sheep as worthless but that is far from the truth. One sheep can produce two to thirty pounds of wool each year. In 2013, the average price paid for wool sold in the United States was a total value of $39.2 million. A ewe lamb, as a baby, costs around two to three hundred dollars. But then you can sell the wool each year and later sell or eat the sheep. When I told you about the sheep that walked off the cliff, that shepherd lost approximately $100k.

When I look at these three ways I realize that people are delicate. Some people need a "handle with caution" sign on them at times in their life. In fact, we all need this sign at times in our life. I'm delicate right now with the loss of my dad. People are helpless. I am helpless without the saving power of Jesus in my life. We are all helpless to get to Heaven on our accord. Finally people are dirty. We have bad habits, make unwise choices and there are times that we just plain smell.

Even with all of these things it's wonderful to know that God is our strength when we are delicate, that God protects us when we are helpless and that Jesus has cleansed us with His blood that was shed on the cross.

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