Reading Time: 7 minutesThe Gentle and Caring Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. Isa 40:11.
True workers walk and work by faith. Sometimes they grow weary with watching the slow advance of the work when the battle wages strong between the powers of good and evil. But if they refuse to fail or be discouraged they will see the clouds breaking away and the promise of deliverance fulfilling. Through the mist with which Satan has surrounded them, they will see the shining of the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
Work in faith, and leave results with God. Pray in faith, and the mystery of His providence will bring its answer. At times it may seem that you cannot succeed. But work and believe, putting into your efforts faith, hope, and courage. After doing what you can, wait for the Lord, declaring His faithfulness, and He will bring His word to pass. Wait, not in fretful anxiety, but in undaunted faith and unshaken trust.
“If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32.) Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.
The faithful discharge of today’s duties is the best preparation for tomorrow’s trials. Do not gather together all tomorrow’s liabilities and cares and add them to the burden of today. . . .
Let us be hopeful and courageous. Despondency in God’s service is sinful and unreasonable. He knows our every necessity. To the omnipotence of the King of kings our covenant-keeping God unites the gentleness and care of the tender shepherd. His power is absolute, and it is the pledge of the sure fulfillment of His promises to all who trust in Him. He has means for the removal of every difficulty, that those who serve Him and respect the means He employs may be sustained. His love is as far above all other love as the heavens are above the earth. He watches over His children with a love that is measureless and everlasting.
In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, have faith in God. He is working out His will, doing all things well in behalf of His people. The strength of those who love and serve Him will be renewed day by day.
He is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the help they need. He will give them the wisdom which their varied necessities demand
The Tenderness of the Shepherd
And when he has found [the sheep], he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Luke 15:5, RSV.
In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message.
Teach the people, He said, “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation.
No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ’s servants to teach. “The law and the prophets,” with the record of His own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world. Christ’s name is their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing that does not bear His superscription is to be recognized in His kingdom.
The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Those whose course has been most offensive to Him He freely accepts; when they repent, He imparts to them His divine Spirit, places them in the highest positions of trust, and sends them forth into the camp of the disloyal to proclaim His boundless mercy.
He would have His servants bear testimony to the fact that through His grace men may possess Christ-likeness of character, and may rejoice in the assurance of His great love. He would have us bear testimony to the fact that He cannot be satisfied until the human race are reclaimed and reinstated in their holy privileges as His sons and daughters.
In Christ is the tenderness of the shepherd, the affection of the parent, and the matchless grace of the compassionate Saviour. His blessings He presents in the most alluring terms. He is not content merely to announce these blessings; He presents them in the most attractive way, to excite a desire to possess them. So His servants are to present the riches of the glory of the unspeakable Gift.
The wonderful love of Christ will melt and subdue hearts, when the mere reiteration of doctrines would accomplish nothing. . . . Christ is sitting for His portrait in every disciple. Every one God has predestinated to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29). In every one Christ’s long-suffering love, His holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth are to be manifested to the world
Christ is Everything to Those Who Receive Him
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27.
The transformation of the human character makes the yoke of Christ easy, and His burden light.
Through faith everyone can, if he will become one with Christ in his obedience and his service.
It is God’s prerogative to command; it is the duty of man to obey. Nothing is forced upon any soul. The honour of duty is a thing conferred upon him as a Son of God, an heir of heaven. He is to labour for God in interested, true-hearted, glad, honourable service. In obeying all His commandments, a spirit of love for God is revealed. In this very atmosphere of love Christ lived and worked.
Each word, each action, is a work for God. Here is faith in God, and faith in people. Christ would never have given His life for the human race if He had not faith in the souls for whom He died. He knew that a large number would respond to the love He had expressed for humanity. It is not every heart that responds, but every heart may, and can if it will, respond to that love that is without parallel. “My sheep hear my voice,” Christ said. A heart yearning for God will recognize the voice of God. God cannot respond to one soul that does not respond to His grace offered, His love bestowed. He is waiting for a response from souls. . . .
The issue rests wholly with themselves. He bids them to the marriage feast; He sets before them the banquet that will satisfy every want. His word is full of marrow and fatness. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”. . . Then the Lord will give an outpouring of His Spirit as on the day of Pentecost. . . .
Communion with God is for each one personal and direct.
The heart under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will burn within them with the love of God. They are like trustful children. Christ looks not for merit. O if all would come just as they are, and let Him make the preparation in taking them as His. The Lord only wants them to receive Him and learn to wear His yoke, and lift His burdens, that heaven may behold that they are labourers together with God. Why cannot every soul that needs help and rest come to the burden bearer, that he may have light and life.
Christ could not help being bright and shining. His very work was to shine. I am come, He said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” In Me is no darkness at all. . . . Light means revelation, and the light is to shine amid moral darkness. Christ is everything to those who receive Him. He is their Comforter, their safety, their healthfulness. Apart from Christ there is no light at all. There need not be a cloud between the soul and Jesus. . . . His great heart of love is longing to flood the soul with the bright beams of His righteousness.
Christ Came to Seek the Lost Sheep
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32.
While on earth, Christ accomplished the work for which He left the throne of God in heaven. He worked for humanity, that through His work, humanity might be elevated in the scale of moral value with God. He assumed human nature, that He might elevate the human family, make them partakers of the divine nature, and place them on vantage ground with God. His every action had been in behalf of the fallen world–to seek the sheep that had strayed from the fold, and bring it back to God. . . .
The Lord saw us in a sad condition, and sent to our world the only Messenger that He could trust with His great treasure of pardon and grace. Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the delegated messenger. He was ordained to do a work that even the angels of heaven could not accomplish. He alone could be trusted to do the work required for the redemption of a world all seared and marred with the curse. And in this gift the Father gave all heaven to the world.
What a change was this for the Son of God, Him who was the adored of angels, the Light of heaven! He might have gone to the pleasant homes of the unfallen worlds, to the pure atmosphere where disloyalty and rebellion had never intruded; and there He would have been received with acclamations of praise and love. But it was a fallen world that needed the Redeemer. “I came not to call the righteous,” said He, “but sinners to repentance.”
He came to represent the Father in bringing the message of hope and salvation to our world. He lived not for Himself; He did not consult His own ease and pleasure; He did not yield to temptation; and He condescended to die in order that sinful men might be redeemed, and live eternally in the mansions He was to prepare for them. His mission was to teach souls who were dying in their sins.
This work Christ has laid upon every one whom He has purchased. The Lord will give ample light to all who will be true and loyal to Him. . . . His mercy and the gracious influences of His Spirit remain the same for all who will receive them. His offer of salvation does not change. It is man who changes His relationship to God. Many place themselves where they cannot recognize His grace and His salvation. . . .
God has left nothing undone that He could do for us. He gave a perfect example of His character in the character of His Son; and it is the work of Christ’s followers, as they behold the incomparable excellency of His life and character, to grow in His likeness. As they look unto Jesus and respond to His love, they will reflect the image of Christ