Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Shepherd

Isaiah 40:11 encourages us that He feeds His flock (us) like a shepherd, He will carry his lambs (us) in His arms, and He holds us close to His heart 

Source: PInterest
I was recently sitting in my favourite chair, in the beautiful morning sunshine reading my daily reading, from a lovely little book that blesses me so much, when one of the verses the book highlighted both blessed me. It took me back to a little incident that happened at the weekend that the Lord used to reveal His Wonderful Character and care for me. The verse was Isaiah 40:11 ‘He will feed his flock like a shepherd, He will carry the lambs in his arms holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young’. I was immediately overwhelmed with the image of Jesus as the shepherd of our lives and all of the different ways that affects us.   

At the weekend we had gone up to a friend’s (John) local farm with our children and we took my daughter in law into the barn where the baby lambs and new moms were being looked after.  It was obvious these sheep were being well cared for and each section of the barn was divided into sections to cater for the needs and development of these little families. There was one section where there were only lambs and I wondered why there were no ewes with them and why they ran to us bleating when they saw us. Next there was a little section where there were two ewes and six lambs between them. One little lamb looked so pathetic, his little knees were pointed in together and he appeared to be all hunched in on himself and slightly shivering. We were both concerned for him and frankly I wondered if he was unwell. However later when we spoke to John and described what we had seen, he explained that the lambs on their own were ones who's mothers had not been able to feed them and they were being hand reared so obviously had learned to trust humans and ran to them. Then even from my faltering description, John knew exactly which lamb I was talking about and assured me that he had been checked and watched, and that he was doing ok.  John is obviously a good shepherd and knows his sheep well. And although, frankly he doesn’t expect to have them with him for eternity, he still puts in so much care tending, birthing and making sure each lamb thrives if it possibly can. Imagine how much the Lord wants to care for you as He is preparing you for eternity with Him.

So why am I saying all this. Well, it struck me this morning that if John does that for his lambs how much more does our Shepherd Jesus know and care for us.  Isaiah 40:11 encourages us that He feeds His flock (us) like a shepherd, He will carry His lambs (us) in His arms, and He holds us close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. This verse has been a comfort to me over so many years.

He feeds His flock

Source: G21
Are you hungry today, are you seeking the Lord, are you desiring to be fed and filled by him? Well, the good news is that as your Shepherd He has promised to feed you. He will turn up to where you are and give to you the food you need. Jesus says in John 6:35 ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again’.  His delight is to fill you with Himself, to feed you from the finest of wheat, to make sure you are well fed and thriving by giving you Himself. When we allow him to feed us with His Word and His Spirit, we really do have everything we need. We are equipped for the long journey of life; we really have more than enough to sustain us. Psalm 145:15 ‘The eyes of all look to you in hope, you give them their food as they need it’.  It is only when we are hungry that we are in a good place to eat a full meal.  Jesus wants us to be full but, if you are hungry that’s great Jesus wants to fill you. If you are not feeling in that hungry place in the Lord at the moment don’t worry, just ask the Lord to stir up your hunger, and you will be amazed at the things He can bring that will make you hungry for him and put you in just the right place to eat a full and sustaining meal from His hand.  

He will carry the lambs in His arms and carry them close to His heart

Oh, this image is the most amazingly comforting picture of the Lord’s love and care for us, He carries us!  Some days I really need a good carry. Just like when I was a little girl and my legs got tired, I would reach up and say, ‘carry please daddy’. Dad would pick me up and carry me till I felt stronger and could walk a bit further by myself again. The Lord carries us; It's ok to be carried by the Lord at times. Its not an admission of failure, it's just feeling a bit tired and weary. If you need reassurance that its ok to need rest in the Lord, put down everything else, give Him all the cares and worries and let Him carry you, just look at where Isaiah says he carries us; ‘Close to His heart’!  Not on His back where He cannot see us and we cannot see Him, not under His arm where we can’t see His face, no, it`s close to His heart where we can experience the comfort of His heartbeat and He can respond to us, up close and personal!

He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young  

For those who still have little children to look after will know how distracting that can be. We sit in church services or try to read and pray with little hands clutching at us and little voices vying for our attention. It's hard to be as focussed on the Lord as we would want with such relevant distractions, but He promises to still gently lead. He will speak to you amidst the distraction if we learn to hear His voice above the rest. Ask the Spirit to hone your ability to hear His voice above everything else.  He is still speaking.  

For us older sheep who now have more time and ability to sit and listen in an undisturbed way, well we know we still have the distraction of our lambs (be that our own children or other people who we might be concerned about), only now we worry from a distance. However, the concern and the distraction is just as real and just as invasive.  Jesus is still our shepherd and still wants to lead us, He is just as aware that we need to hear His voice of love, care direction as much as we ever have.  Ask the Holy Spirit to amplify that voice to us again, fill us again, and direct us again, He is still our guiding and caring Shepherd.

And I suppose finally, if today you find that you have responsibility for shepherding others, whoever that may be; lots of people or just one, the responsibility is just the same.  I could ask John, our farmer friend, about the sleep he has missed, or the days off he would love, but his shepherd heart drives him on.  God has put us all in a family to care for each other and even in this we need our personal Shepherd to help us as we care for others, so that we will know how to love and care for them as He would, how to hang in through their difficult times and how we are to keep connected to the Lord so we can be a true friend to them.  It’s a gift given us by the Lord to care for others and as we are an extension to His hands and feet He again will provide and equip us with all we need to fulfil that amazing privilege to care for others.     

May the Lord lead you and guide you today as you rest in the blessing of being one of His treasured flock. 

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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