Tomorrow evening I will have the great honor and privilege of speaking on behalf of the earthly shepherd God used to save my live 5 short years ago – Pastor Luther Howard of New Providence Baptist Church. I would like to share with you, what I will be speaking about, to show you what ministry and service is all about and how God can change ANY life.
Let him who is greatest among you become the least and the leader as the servant.
First giving honor to God, who is my everything in and of Himself.
Honor to the Ministers and Pastors in the pulpit, friends, family and guests.
And, certainly last but not least, to the great man and woman of God we are here to honor tonight.
Did you know, the word Pastor (and it’s derivatives) was used only once in the New Testament as a way to symbolize a shepherd.
Not the capital S-Shepherd, our God, but as Jesus said in Luke 22:26, “Let him who is the greatest among you become the least and the leader as the servant.”
You see in Jesus’ day, the shepherd was a nobody, he had no status, he served in a lowly and humble way. Indeed, he had a very important job, but earned little or no respect.
Paul said in 1 Peter 5:1-4, “The elders who are among you I exhort… Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade.”
Now I ask you, does a shepherd exist without his sheep?
Can a shepherd be a shepherd without sheep?
Of course, I’m not talking about our Great Shepherd. He is, was and always will be… He is Elohim, El Shaddai, Jehovah, Yaweh.
But, what about our earthly shepherd, our Pastor? Can he be a great shepherd without his sheep?
I’m certain this man could do anything, but could his ministry be bigger and better?
Ministry is a Two-Way Street
For the great, godly men that God has called into service, you… the church, the body of Christ, the children of God are a direct reflection of their ministry.
The sheep reflect the shepherd, just as we reflect our God to those who do not yet believe. So too, do we reflect the ministry of our Pastor.
You are a part of the whole, led by the shepherd. You are the number of voices that take your Heavenly Shepherd’s good news, as it is shared by this man, your earthly shepherd.
Ministry is a Two-Way Street in honor, submission, and service.
Start to Honor God by Honoring the Blessing of the shepherd He has chosen for you.
Yes, chosen. Make no mistake about it, you have not chosen God, He chose you.
Isaiah 43:1 tell us, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are Mine.”
You are not here under this man’s counsel by accident. I am not here by accident. God has chosen me and you, directed us to this specific church as our covering, for specific purposes.
God tells us, in Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Counselors can also be understood as wise servants of God, elders of the church, Pastors, leaders… This man, your earthly shepherd is a great, wise man of God called to lead you.
When you honor your earthly shepherd, you honor the blessings and sovereignty of God’s will for you in this church.
Submit to your earthly shepherd’s leadership, in obedience to God’s divine order.
Submission. People do not like that word. Most do not even understand it.
Atheists will have you believe submission is a tool used by believers to oppress the weak.
Feminists will have you believe submission is a tool used by men to oppress women.
Submission is not evil, it is the sinful nature of man in a godless, corrupt world that makes it appear to be the root of all evil. Submission is about divine order… protection… covering.
Submission is rooted in the infinite wisdom of a mighty, loving Father who would know best about His own creation.
You purchase an owner’s manual from GM for your classic Cadillac, because GM knows Cadillac best.
Our owner’s manual, the Bible tells us that just as Christ submitted to God, man to Christ, woman to man, child to parent… You as the flock of a heavenly Shepherd are to submit to the leadership He has provided for you.
It’s for your own good, because He knows best, He knows everything. Proverbs 15:3 tells us, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
He knows why He has placed you here, under this man’s counsel. He knows every step you will take and the exact moments you will need to hear a message from your earthly shepherd that teaches you, comforts you or provides you with His peace.
Yet, at every turn you lend a deaf ear to the wisdom and guidance that He provides our shepherd, for you. Maybe you don’t like the “order of things,” you don’t like how things are ran, you don’t like who they let serve, you don’t like the music, bulletins, temperature or whatever else you can find on any given Sunday.
Like dumb sheep, we fight our earthly shepherd when he is simply serving us as he was called to do by God.
Let’s put it in perspective, if Jesus told the Pharisees and all those listening to submit to a wicked, godless man like Cesar when it comes to paying taxes – how much more are you to submit to a man who has been called to lead you, a man with a humble, servant’s heart… a man who loves each and every person in this room?
Matthew 22:15-22 tells that story, saying “And He said to them, ‘Render all things to Cesar that are Cesar’s and to God all things that are God’s.’ When they had heard these words, they marveled, left Him and went their way.”
Some of us have been like the Pharisees, marveling and going our way… seeking any opportunity we can find to entangle our earthly shepherd’s words and ministry.
Submit to God by submitting to the leadership of your earthly shepherd.
Serve with a joyful heart to share your Shepherd’s ministry.
God has called ALL of us to be a reflection of His light, salt on the Earth, to go into the world and spread the good news of the Gospel… but to do it with a joyful and grateful heart for all He has already done for every one of us in this room.
I know some of you think your job makes you good, your education makes you better, your pretty clothes hide the stench of your dying flesh or whatever you hold onto in this world. But for God, He “is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
The ministry of our great shepherd can only go as far as his one voice, right? Wrong.
Our shepherd’s ministry can only go as far as the many voices of his sheep and the things that we do with the gifts that God gave us to serve with.
You have the power to multiply the reach of our shepherd’s wisdom. You have the power to help our shepherd spread the Word and save lost souls destined to an eternity greater than anything any person in this room should wish on their worst enemy.
I was one of the lost. Before my God brought me to this great man and his church…
I was a child repeatedly abused – mentally, physically, and sexually;
I was a 14 year old girl angry at the world that my father left me as a baby for his new family and my mother chose my abuser of 10 years when given an opportunity from the courts;
I was a violent, thieving, lying, anti-social criminal who had no self-respect or respect for others – spending most of my youth and young adulthood in juvenile lock-down and jail;
I was drug abusing alcoholic who found herself running from more abuse at the hands of my first husband, with two small children;
I was a defeated, worn out robot who literally lost her mind, ending up in a local mental hospital for a short stay because the pain of life was overwhelming;
I was a woman struggling to make yet another destructive marriage work as the sole provider;
Soon falling into a lifestyle that included cocaine binges, Hollywood venue parties, managing the prostitution of other drug addicted women for celebrities, and the go-to girl if you wanted to party at all hellish levels in Los Angeles;
Until God introduced me to my earthly shepherd, I was told…
I was told by the system: you are beyond help, you are not redeemable;
I was told by abuse counselors: you are mentally ill and beyond repair;
I was told by friends: you are only worth the drugs and party you bring us;
I was told by my family: I wish you were never born;
I was told by men: you are a trashy ______ and just a smile with ______
I was told by my husband: it’s time for me to go to the next level, but not with you, I need to step it up;
And, of course the enemy had to get in the mix, I was told by him: why are you even here, if all the people genetically programmed to love you and vowed to love you for life, don’t want to… God has failed you.
But for God… God introduced me to my earthly shepherd who washed my aching soul with the Words of His promises:
like Psalms 103:11-14 — I have forgiven you for EVERYTHING, you are white as snow.
like Isaiah 43:1 — Don’t worry who doesn’t love you, I have chosen you, you are mine.
like Psalms 71:6 — I have cared for you even before the time you were born.
like Hebrews 13:5 — I love ALL of you, I will never leave you or forsake you.
like John 8:10-11 — Others thought you were unworthy of the next level, but I will take you to levels beyond your imagination.
and like 1 Corinthians 13 — Others say you are not worthy of love, you can’t learn how to love because of your past. But, I will teach you what REAL love is and love you unconditionally.
My Shepherd, my Alpha and Omega, my God blessed me with an earthly shepherd who has washed me with the Word and spoken life into my very existence.
James 5:19-20 says, “Brethren, if anyone among you [that means anyone – emphasis mine] wanders from the Truth, and someone turns him back, let them know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from [certain – emphasis mine] death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Some people will take lightly the blessing we have in this great shepherd, but every woman I counsel and minister to;
every drug addict;
every battered wife;
every lost soul;
the thousands of women who will hear my story this year alone…
We will never take lightly the delicate threads of our God’s sovereignty and Will has He changes their lives because the earthly shepherd He gave me, saw past my mess and allowed God to use him to save my life.
Because he was willing to serve as God called him to do, I am the first person in my family for generations to be saved, giving me the opportunity to be first in a long line of coming generations who WILL serve God.
My children are saved and baptized by this great man and I have the honor and privilege of spreading the good news to other women who desperately need someone to show them the awesome, mighty and forgiving Savior who can change their lives.
Like David, I am glad I was afflicted; I rejoice in His all-knowing, all-seeing, I-got-it-under-control-if-you’d-only-wait-and-see power.
Because His love, mercy and sovereignty brought me all the way through my mess, from Oregon, through the pits of hell in Los Angeles to New Providence Church and the care of my Pastor and his awesome wife.
Thank you Pastor and Mrs. Howard for honoring God, submitting to His will in your life, and serving people like me.