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The Promised Shepherd

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on

In my personal devotion time with the Lord this morning, I came across a passage from Jeremiah 3:15 which says, “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” This is a great passage for me, and for you as well, because it is a promise that brings tremendous hope and encouragement for the future. I know that many have searched for a place to call home, and many here at The Bridge come from church backgrounds and religious traditions that have left them disillusioned about the future and the possibility of actually having a family in Christ. Take courage, friends! God has promised to be with you, and to provide Shepherds for you after His own heart.

Allow me to expand on this promise for a moment.

  1. God promises to give you a shepherd. The first observation I have is this: shepherds must be rather important from God’s view of things, or else He wouldn’t have wasted His time promising them to us. Therefore, it is very important that you find a man to be your shepherd. God says so! Having a shepherd is critical to God’s eternal redemptive plan for your life, so you need to make it your top priority to find one. What about those who have taken the time to look for one, but have come up empty handed? Good question. There are many, even now, who may be wandering around looking for a place to be cared for, looked after, and nourished –where they know they will be loved and taken care of. This may have been going on for years, and they just might be on the brink of despair. Don’t despair! God promises that He will give you a shepherd. Do you need to stress over whether or not such a man exists? No, because God has spoken and promised that He will provide such a shepherd for you. The man exists; you merely have to trust God and search for him. God says that He will give him to you. The man exists, and he is a gift from God. There’s nothing you need to do but love and trust in God. You don’t need to do the Christian equivalent of a rain dance to make the sky pour down rain, or a pastor-chant for a pastor to pop up out of nowhere. All you need to do is love God, trust God, and wait on God. Maybe you have already searched for a man to call Pastor and have not found him yet. Maybe you have been through all the churches in Kamloops, and still you have not found him. Be patient. God will keep His promise. He will give you a Shepherd.
  2. God promises to give you a Shepherd. God has promised to give you a shepherd. Do you want a place to be loved and cared for? Do you want the gift of having a man in your life who will look after you? Do you want someone around that will offer counsel and guidance, a stirring and encouraging word in times of distress, a friend that will love you and take care of you no matter what mess you might inadvertently get yourself into? Do you really want that? Most people will say “Yes, I’d love to have a friend like that.” But, truthfully, they really don’t. A friend like that will love you in such a way that he will not be able to bear it when he sees that you are making decisions which have as their inevitable outcome the sure destruction of your life and the harm of many of those around you. A true friend will speak. He must speak if he loves you. Like a shepherd, he will use a rod and a staff (Psalm 23:4). What’s a rod for? It’s for whacking the sheep when they need some motivation. What’s the staff for? The staff usually has a crook on it so that the shepherd can loop it around the neck of the sheep from a distance and tug him in the right direction. The Psalmist says that the rod and staff are comforting to him. Here’s a modern day translation: “The whackings and neck-jerks that you give me are a comfort to me. Thank you for whacking me and jerking me by the neck on occasion.”  I find it incredibly odd that so many should pine away longingly for a shepherd convinced that God hasn’t provided one for them when clearly He promises that He will. Could it be possible that you’ve said “no” to God’s shepherd due to your hard and rebellious heart? Could it be that you’ve said “no” to God’s shepherd in your life because you refused to listen to the warnings and admonition that he gave you? Could it be possible that you’ve said “no” to God’s promised shepherd because you didn’t want to be shepherded?  God promises to give you a shepherd. If you really want to have a shepherd in your life, and you want to see God keep His promise of giving you a shepherd, then perhaps you should get busy being a submitted sheep. Perhaps you need to work on your humility a little bit, and try a little harder to being open to the gentle corrections and appropriate admonitions from a Godly shepherd.
  3. God wants you to have a shepherd after His own Heart. This is where the Word of God begins to cut both ways. It’s easy from a pastor’s perspective to exhort people to find a place of worship and get involved in a local church, and it would be too easy for me to recommend that they come to the Bridge. Before any such recommendation can be made two pivotal questions must be asked: What does it mean to be a shepherd after God’s own heart? Are the other elders here at The Bridge men after God’s own heart?
    1. What does it mean to be a shepherd after God’s own heart?
    2. Are the pastors here at Bridge Baptist Church shepherds after God’s own heart?

I think I’ll save the previous questions for another post for another day. I think that the encouraging word that we can draw from this portion of the text is that God promises to give godly shepherds who are men after God’s own heart. I know that God has demonstrated Himself faithful in this regard. All throughout history the shadows of deception have threatened to plunge humanity into a dark age where there would be no understanding of God, yet God has always preserved a spokesman to speak to His people on His behalf. ALWAYS! So we can trust that if He did it once in the past, He will do it again in the future. He has, and He will! From my own personal experience, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen the leadership from one church stray from God’s heart and suddenly another is lifted up to a position to speak truth to God’s people. God always begins a slow and tedious process (slow and tedious to us because it usually takes four or five years at a minimum, but five years is nothing from God’s perspective of eternity) of removing the offending shepherd and raising up a new shepherd in his place.  So if you find yourself in a church where it is apparent that the leadership has strayed from God’s heart, then take courage in the promise of God to provide a shepherd after His own heart and start searching for a man who follows God’s heart. He’s out there! And if you haven’t found him yet, then be patient because God will keep His promise.

**For me, this is a special moment of introspection. Am I a man after God’s own heart? I hope and pray that this is the case. As Paul says, “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) Likewise, I am not aware of anything against myself. But what should I do if the day comes that I fall before the Lord in failure? What should I do if, after preaching to others, I myself become disqualified? (1 Corinthians 9:27) I have watched so many pastors, deceived by the allure of sin, insist in the middle of significant moral failure that they still deserve to shepherd God’s people. They have clearly fallen from the Heart of God, and they now insist on continuing in a position of leadership. These men only further compound the problem. The church is always harmed, and the advance of the gospel is always slowed down in such situations. Here’s what I’ve decided to do if I am ever caught in moral failure and it is necessary that I must resign my position (I pray that I will follow through with this plan if that day, God forbid, should ever come.): I will use what standing I have left to guide the church towards the shepherd that God has promised to raise up, the shepherd that is a man after God’s own heart. If I sense that God has departed from me and has chosen to raise up a new leader, I want to get on board with God’s plan. I don’t want to be consumed with murderous rage like King Saul. I hope that I will have the heart to trust in the promise of God which is to give a shepherd after His own heart. I pray that I will have the heart to believe this promise and to obey this promise by guiding others towards the shepherd that God lifts up. It is this desire that actually prompted me to put my morning devotion into writing via this blog post, because I would like others to be able to use this blog posting as a tool of reasoning with me should the day, God forbid, ever come that I need to step down. If I fall from being a good pastor, a shepherd after God’s own heart, then may I have grace enough to guide others towards the promised shepherd who will replace me. When you, the members of Bridge Church, pray for me, please pray that I will always strive to be a man after God’s heart, and pray that I will always have the grace to step aside, should the day come, but still use my God-given intellect and knowledge of scripture to guide us toward the promised Shepherd. This is what I want you to pray for me for.

Tags: leadership, pastor, pastoral ministry, faithful, trustworthy