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Psalm 23 Part Four

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted November 21, 2012

RELIGION – I am blessed to be a good sleeper. I get up earlier, work out daily, and try to be productive for God’s kingdom. And I sleep like a champ most every night.  For many people, however, this is not the case. I have some good friends who sleep avoids like me avoiding a nest of rabid hummingbirds!

Sleep is also not a problem for my cat, Puddy. He sleeps all the time and anywhere.  I have read that that cats sleep 20 hours a day. It kills me to think that Horses can even sleep standing up. Then take bears, which just eat a ton of food and then knock off for a few months at a clip!
Now unlike most of the animal kingdom, I have read that sheep are not natural sleepers. Phillip Keller, in his book “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm,” writes that in order for sheep to even take any rest there must be four things present. “They have to be free from fear of attack, free from friction and tension within the flock, free from aggravations, such as gnat and flies, and free from hunger. If everything isn't just right, they fight sleep. Without sleep, sheep lose weight, their coat becomes thin and coarse, and their health deteriorates.” Though this sleepy sheep is kind of sad, I have found my idea for my children’s book!
Anyways, we are very much the same way are we not? For us to get rest we need for things to be just so. I remember being in Haiti and it being blazing hot all night long, and not being able to sleep. And when I did sleep the sweat would pool in my eye sockets and burn my eyes whenever I opened them, usually to see if morning had come.
But unlike sheep, we can take actions to help us sleep. Some of you will take great naps on Thanksgiving Day do to all the sleepy Tryptophan found in the Turkey. For some people, sleep may come by drinking in too much alcohol, others will take pills, or use noise machines to drown out other sounds. Sadly, none of these things work all the time, so when sleep does not come to us we spend the next day half-awake with dark circles under our eyes. We will also probably be a bit short tempered, and if persistent our health suffers.
It is because sleep doesn't always come easily that God offers the promise of sleep as a blessing to his children.”When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24) I have read that one reason sheep don't sleep well is because, by nature, they’re prone to panic. Think about it, it is because they can’t defend themselves. They must always just be ready to run away. You never see the “Fighting Sheep” as a mascot!  The simple barking of a dog can upset an entire flock, and then every sheep just takes off and runs in a million different directions. Anytime they feel threatened they will keep their eyes open and prepare to flee.
Phillip Keller also wrote how sheep, even though they can’t defend themselves, will still pick on each other. Some big sheep will bully smaller sheep and challenge them to a hardcore sheep death match! They will just bump their warm soft fluffy bodies into each other over and over. But seriously, if these rascal sheep are not dealt with, the entire flock stays in a state of unrest and no one will sleep well.
Does all this behavior sound familiar?

Keller, in addition, wrote how his presence as the shepherd was so valuable in the lives of these sheep “In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field.” Think about that for a moment?  The mere assurance that the shepherd is close by puts them all at peace. They don’t live in panic and fight amongst themselves; they lie down and rest in blissful sheepish slumber!

Now make the obvious application to your life. Keller adds that “Nothing reduces stress like the presence of the Shepherd. When you are living in close connection to Jesus, you can sleep, you can relax, you can have peace. In order to sleep, sheep need to know that everything is all right. So do we. The good news is that you can know that everything is all right. You have a shepherd looking out for you, taking care of you, and protecting you — if you’re willing to let him.”

Let the Shepherd Comfort and Woo you into his loving arms for a wonderful nights rest tonight!

Pastor Phillip

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