I Give Myself Away: Ability vs Assignment

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John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”

Eph 4:1 - I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

As we continue in this year dedicated to the power and authority of God, today I want to talk from the message title “I Give Myself Away” And for a subtitle “Ability vs Assignment.”
These two passages of Scripture may not seem to go together, but if you give me just a little time, you’ll understand it better by and by.
We have words of wisdom and instruction from two major people in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul who wrote more than half of the New Testament and Jesus, the Christ, the one he was writing about.
In our text in John, Jesus refers to himself not only as the shepherd, but he says he is the Good Shepherd. He is the shepherd of all shepherds.
So what is a shepherd? If you break the word down you get sheep herder. Webster simply defines a shepherd as “one who takes care of sheep” he also says that a shepherd is a “Pastor”.
The Strong’s concordance lists the duties of a shepherd, “A shepherd in the Near East was responsible for
• watching out for enemies trying to attack the sheep,
• defending the sheep from attackers,
• healing the wounded and sick sheep,
• finding and saving lost or trapped sheep,
• loving them and
• sharing their lives to earn their trust.”
Being a shepherd is not a 9-to-5 job. The shepherd follows the sheep, protects the sheep, and leads the sheep.
The shepherd makes sure the sheep have water to drink, grass to eat, and a safe place to sleep.
Shepherds were gone for days, weeks, even months at a time.
In the spring, they helped deliver the lambs, they kept predators away, and they either walked or rode a horse across the great landscape to keep their sheep well cared for.
In Jesus' time, shepherds led a solitary life, away from the core of their communities. They would go into the villages to reconnect with people after spending the majority of their time in the wilderness.
But their reward in all of that solitude was the beauty of the sky, the clear waters of the streams, and encountering God’s whole creation as it unfolded in their gaze. They knew the land intimately. The shepherd was all about the sheep.
This remote life also gave them plenty of time for reflecting and meditating. Some shepherds became poets, musicians, or writers. Many times the villagers looked upon them as strange, rowdy, or silent. While they appreciated the work the shepherds performed, they were wary of the worker.
Aside from Jesus, the most famous shepherd we know was King David, the man after God’s own heart. He was a shepherd boy who fought and killed a lion and a bear protecting the sheep.
When Samuel came to town looking for the next king amongst Jesse’s sons as he had been instructed by God to do, David’s own father didn’t even consider him worthy to go before Samuel.
Samuel had to ask, “Do you have another son?”, To which he responded, “Yes he’s with the sheep.”
Samuel then said, “Go get him, we won’t sit down to eat until he gets here.” When man devalues you, just know God knows your worth.
Being a shepherd was not a glamorous job, but it was important. Now allow your mind to fast forward to some of today’s shepherds in the church. We’ll come back to that. But that was how the shepherds of old tended the sheep.
Now, let’s look at the sheep, after all you can’t be a shepherd without sheep. Webster describes sheep as timid, defenseless creatures.
When referring to a person, he says, a sheep is a timid docile person especially one easily influenced or led.
Strong’s describes a sheep as a tame animal, accustomed to grazing.
Another source says while we may think of them as passive and cuddly, they are gregarious (social), cantankerous creatures who like to stick together.
I looked up some synonyms for cantankerous and here’s what came up; irritable, argumentative, crabby, difficult, unreasonable, complaining, and belligerent. That’s a far cry from the cute little lambs we see in pictures.
Cantankerous. Does that sound like any of the people in the churches you’ve been in? And they stick together, people recognize their own kind and it’s not just about color. Spirits recognize their own kind. Dare I say, they seek out their own. In the world, they would say “game recognize game”. Can you imagine trying to shepherd a group of cantankerous people? Pray church.
But wait, that’s not anybody here at Love Christian Center. Right?
In these definitions, we can see why Christ likens Christians to sheep. He’s not saying Christians are to be timid and tame, but what he was trying to get across to them then and to us now is, sheep are to follow the shepherd.
• It’s not to follow blindly or without question, but sheep are to follow.
• They are to stay prayed up, but sheep are to follow.
• They are to pray for the shepherd, but sheep are to follow.
• They are to beget more sheep, make more disciples, who will follow.
• They are to study to show themselves approved, but sheep are to follow.
• They are to rightly divide the word of truth, but sheep are to follow.
• Sheep are to follow the shepherd.
That’s why the sheep need to study! Because in following, if they’re not careful and if they don’t exercise wisdom, sheep can and will be led in the wrong direction. If they don’t study for themselves, they may find themselves being led to the slaughter, costing them their very soul.
There’s something else you need to know about sheep, they’re not always going to be happy. So don’t be surprised if one day you walk in and your brother or sister or pastor, is not as friendly as you might think they should be. You gotta love them anyway. And who knows when you may be having a cantankerous moment, so exercise grace.
All in all, the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is very special. Jesus said my sheep hear my voice and a stranger they will not follow.
Who are you following? I would encourage you, like Paul said, to follow me as I follow Christ. But where are we going?
When my granddaughter was younger, before she had the option to stay home, she would ask questions like, “Where are we going? What are we gonna do? And then what? And then what? And then what? That would go on all day if we let it. While it could be a bit irritating at times, she was not far off the mark.
There are times when we as sheep, have many questions for God and sometimes will not move until those questions are answered. So we miss out on some things. Sometimes we must trust that God knows best. Oh did I say sometimes? How many know God always knows best, but we act like we can pick and choose when He’s right and when He missed the mark? Come on somebody.
Then there are times when sheep should ask more questions. When they should be more inquisitive and more eager when it comes to some important things in life.
For instance, when looking for a mate, there should be a whole list of questions that need answering.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying sit down with the potential mate and your list and grill them. But what I am saying is this… if this person is the one God has for you or you even think they are, date long enough to see your questions answered, not hear them answered.
How many of you have asked your significant other something and felt like they just told you what you wanted to hear, but it was not necessarily the truth? They just wanted the discussion to be over. They just wanted to get their way with you. They were, to put it plainly, a liar.
When you give yourself in marriage, you vow to do so for the rest of your life. So don’t you think some extra time on the front end of the relationship will help add time to the back end of the relationship?
• A little extra time on the front end of the relationship, will get you through those rough times that will come.
• A little extra time on the front end of the relationship will get you through the temptations that will come.
• A little extra time on the front end of the relationship will get you through the frustrations that will come.
• A little extra time on the front end of the relationship will get you through the grief that will come.
• A little extra time on the front end of the relationship will get you through the success that will come.
Wait a minute, success can be a problem? How many couples have you seen when one experiences success, the other can’t handle it and acts out? Whether they have an affair, attempt to sabotage their partner, or some other destructive behavior.
Or on the flip side the one who experiences the success decides their partner is no longer at their level and they need to get them someone else. When the fact of the matter is, they are only where they are because of the sacrifices their partner made.
Here’s a little advice given to King Solomon, you’ll find these words in the fifth chapter of the book of Proverbs beginning at the fifteenth verse, “15 Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. 16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? 17 You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers. 18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? 21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.” Whew! That was deep. And ladies the same advice goes for you.
So don’t be in such a hurry, you have the rest of your life to be with them. You’re giving yourself away to make what you hope and pray is a great family and a great life. One filled with love and joy and happiness.
When you look for a job, you need to spend time on the front end researching the requirements of the job. After all, you’re going to spend most of your waking hours in that place so isn’t it prudent to find out what it’s about?
You’re looking to see if you have the skills to do the job.
Then you want to know if you have the desire to do the job.
Have you ever applied for a job knowing it was just a stop on the way to the next place? Sometimes we fail to see the full potential when we look at a place of employment.
Let’s take McDonald’s. I worked there when I was in High School. But for me, I knew it was just a stop on the way to the next phase of my life, which was not going to be in the town I was living in. So, for me, McDonald’s was a job.
Now, let’s look at McDonald’s as a career. The job at McDonald’s is about flipping burgers and dropping fries. But when McDonald’s is a career, you’re not only learning the basics, you’re learning about the intricate details of the business.
• How to manage the work schedule.
• What is required at each station?
• Knowing that there are stations.
• Learning how to manage inventory.
• You acquire knowledge about what corporate expects.
• And so many other things, because the goal is one day to own your own restaurant.
So when you get your own restaurant you know what needs to be done from the inside out, top to bottom, and side to side.
You pay attention so you can gain personal experience in that thing and you become an expert in that arena.
Sometimes our focus or attention can be so low or so narrow, we can’t see the possibilities. We can’t see the forest for the trees.
Lift up your head, open your eyes and your mind to the possibilities of more, to the dream of greater. It could be that what you are calling a job is really a career but you don’t see it because your focus is too narrow. McDonald’s is a great company that encourages ownership and has programs to help you get there.
Are you seeking a job or career? Because, when you go to work you give yourself away for 8 – 9 hours (and sometimes more) per day. What are you giving yourself to and why?
Work and family – those two things take up the majority of your time. But where does Christ fit in, where does the church fit? Matt 6:33 says, seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. I think that’s pretty clear.
God is first. He wants the first of everything…
• the first of you,
• the first of your time,
• the first of your talents
• and the first of your money.
Oh watch out now preacher, you meddlin’. Yes, we are to give God the first of what we think is our money (but the truth is, it all belongs to him, he just lets us hold it for a little while. It’s in the book.
God made a promise in Mal 3:10 when he said, “Bring all the tithes [a tithe is a tenth] into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”
You are to sow your tithe into the church where you are a member. Now some of you may be saying I can’t afford to tithe. But I would tell you this, you can’t afford not to. When you trust God and dedicate your first to Him, He takes care of everything else. He promised.
Start your day with a prayer for direction and guidance. Ask God to order your steps so they are smooth and fruitful. Why fruitful? Because we are supposed to be bearing fruit, we are supposed to be increasing the Kingdom of God.
We’re supposed to go into all the world and make disciples – and I’ll tell you this, the world, your mission field, starts wherever you are. It’s not necessarily in some far away distant place.
Yes, they need Jesus too, but to them this is a far away distant place. Your mission field may be the street you live on, your neighborhood or the Brook Valley apartment complex. Start where you are, start with your circle and go from there.
Jesus says he is the good shepherd – He’s not just any old shepherd he is the good shepherd he takes care of his sheep even up to and including laying down his life for them.
Not every shepherd was, let’s bring it on home, not every pastor is good.
Some aren’t necessarily thieves, but they have been careless in their duties.
Some have taken advantage of the flock using them to satisfy their own selfish desires.
Others have preached one thing to the flock while living another.
There are pastors who have failed to protect the flock from predators and still others who have been the ones to lead the flock into the hands of predators.
And their carelessness and neglect and lack of character and lack of fear of the Lord has hurt the flock.
We see careless pastors today and that carelessness causes some sheep to fall away. But all is not lost. If the sheep can only remember, if they can figure out where their help really comes from, they can recover if their leader fails.
The shepherd has a responsibility, but if the sheep can just remember that their sufficiency is not in the man or woman of God, it’s in Jesus.
If the sheep can just remember, the pastor is not their savior, they can stay on their journey with the Lord, even if the pastor stumbles and falls.
But what every pastor must remember, is when they damage or hurt the sheep, God will hold them accountable. So every pastor must strive to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.
As we do what thus sayeth the Lord and make disciples, remember ,it is Jesus who draws the sheep when we lift him up. He said, if I be lifted up I’ll draw all men unto me.” Love Christian Center we are beginning to reap a harvest. We’ve had eleven years of planting and watering and nurturing and praise God I can see the harvest beginning to come.
The song said
How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer King Jesus gave the key.
He said if I, if I be lifted up from the earth
I’ll draw all men unto me
You want to reach the masses? Let’s lift up Jesus and watch them come. Then when they get here, let’s love them and teach them and show them what thus sayeth the Lord.
You are not here by accident, God chose you, He loves you and He trusts you. God trusts you. Sounds a little strange doesn’t it?
We always talk about trusting God, but did you know He trusts you? If he didn’t He wouldn’t have given you such awesome responsibilities.
• God trusts you to have dominion over his creation.
• God trusts you to make disciples.
• God trusts you to teach them his commands.
• He trusts you to love his children the way he loves them.
• He trusts you to say, “Everything I am and everything I have Lord, it all belongs to you. I give myself away, so you can use me.”
When you allow Jesus to use you it’s not like when man uses you. When Jesus uses you
• Your life gets better
• Your mind becomes more clear
• Your thoughts become more positive
• Your time becomes more structured
• Your words become more encouraging
• Your tone becomes more loving
• Your heart becomes more forgiving
• Your life becomes more abundant
When Jesus uses you, you’re the one who benefits. He’s not taking from you, he’s giving to you.
When man uses you he takes, sometimes until there’s nothing left, but when God uses you, he gives. He gives you everything you need, to do what He called you to do. So, what has God called you to do? What vocation have you been called to? And know this, your vocation is not just what you do at church.
God has called you to do something. And sometimes he has called you to do some things. And it’s not to say you’re going to be comfortable doing everything He calls you to do, in fact, much of what He calls you to do is going to take you out of your comfort zone.
But guess what? It’s not about you. You have to be confident that God has not only called you, He has equipped you, and He is with you.
Now the question is – Will you be obedient to the call, will you respond positively, will you allow him to shepherd you, to lead you into the life He has laid out for you?
God gives abilities and he gives assignments. So what’s the difference? You can have the ability to do something, but it may not be your assignment.
I have abilities.
• I’m an editor.
• I’m a realtor.
• I make jewelry.
• I make silk floral arrangements.
• I write books.
• I build things, just to name a few.
I have many abilities. But my assignment…is to be a pastor and now an overseer. It’s not that God doesn’t bless me in those other areas, but when I’m walking in my God-given assignment, he has prepared my way.
Because here’s the thing, and you may have heard this before, but it’s worth repeating.
• The Lord is my shepherd - that’s relationship.
• I shall not want - that’s supply.
• He makes me lie down in green pastures - that’s rest.
• He leads me beside still waters - that’s refreshment.
• He restores my soul - that’s healing.
• He leads me in right paths - that’s guidance.
• For his name’s sake - that’s purpose.
• Even though I walk through the darkest valley - that’s testing.
• I will fear no evil - that’s protection.
• For you are with me - that’s faithfulness.
• Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - that’s discipline.
• You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies - that’s hope.
• you anoint my head with oil - that’s consecration.
• my cup overflows - that’s abundance.
• Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life - that’s blessing.
• and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long - that’s eternity.
You can find some good things on the internet, when you look in the right place.
Are you aware that God had a plan for your life before the foundation of the world? He knew you’d be here, in this place at this time. His plan for you includes
• joy
• and peace
• and abundance
• and rest
• and blessings
• and more than you could ask or think, according to the power that works in you.
But first, you must be willing to give yourself away. You must give yourself to the master.
• Jesus gave himself away when he took off glory and came to earth through a virgin
• Jesus gave himself away when walked the earth for 33 years to show us how to live a righteous and holy life
• Jesus gave himself away when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane until the sweat dripped like drops of blood
• Jesus gave himself away when he said Father if it be your will let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thy will be done.
• Jesus gave himself away to pay the price for your sins and mine.
He died because the penalty for sin is death and it started all the way back in the Garden of Eden when God told Adam the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall surely die.
We needed a savior then and we still do today because, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are sinners, in need of salvation and all we have to do is recognize and acknowledge that need.
There is an order to life and in this Christian journey, before you can walk worthy of your vocation, you must first repent and invite Jesus to be Lord of your life.
How do I do that you may ask?
Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was born of a virgin, that He died but most importantly, the action that separates us from any other religion out there, is believing that Jesus got up with all power in his hands.
He conquered death, hell, and the grave for my sake and for yours. He ascended back to his place at the right hand of the Father and he is still interceding on our behalf, Jesus prays for us – Glory to God.
He gave himself away so that we could have a right to the Tree of Life, we are no longer enemies of God, he calls us friend. We are no longer just sinners doomed for eternal damnation but we are sinners saved by grace and on our way to heaven.
Jesus gave himself away, will you do the same for him, He is inviting you to come – he’s inviting you to give yourself away so you can begin your journey and your assignment.
Yes, you may indeed have many abilities, but what is your assignment? But first things first, if you’ve never asked Jesus to come into your heart, just pray with me, Lord God, I confess I’m a sinner. Please forgive me and come into my heart. I believe Jesus is your Son who came and gave his life for me. I give you my life to use as you please. Jesus I thank you for saving me, in your name I pray, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer for the first time, welcome to the family of God. Now find yourself a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church where you can grow spiritually and get on the mission field for the Lord.
For our online viewers, whenever you watch this message, please like, please share and please support this ministry and I thank you in advance.
If you’re here in the sanctuary, and you’ve never accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, today is a good day. If that’s you, and you’d like to accept Jesus right now, you can raise your hand right where you are.
Perhaps you’ve already given your life to Christ, but you need a church home where you can continue your journey with a family who will love you and support you. If you’d like Love Christian Center to be your church home, you can raise your hand where you are.
And finally, you may have been walking with the Lord and for whatever reason you strayed away and you’d now like to rededicate your life to God come and let us pray with you.
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