Lessons From a Shepherd: Tenderness of the Shepherd

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

Many artists have painted pictures of Jesus holding a lamb in His arms. Interestingly, there is no reference in the New Testament to Jesus holding a lamb, though it is easy enough to imagine the Good Shepherd doing so.

Perhaps the idea of Jesus holding a lamb arose from the image of God in Isaiah 40:11. In words of comfort for Israel, God is described as gathering the lambs in His arms, embracing them, and gently leading the mothers “who are with young.” It is a tender image of care and concern—an image that was carried forward by Jesus. When speaking to His disciples of God’s care and provision, Jesus referred to them as “little flock” (Luke 12:32). His disciples were like lambs in terms of their faith—young, mistake-prone, and dependent. Yet He told them that God the Father had given the kingdom of God to them—something they would understand better in time. Jesus is a tender and compassionate Shepherd, ready to embrace His flock.

Take advantage of Jesus’ tenderness as your Good Shepherd. Go to Him and find rest for your soul (Matthew 11:28-30).

Faith is not a distant view, but a warm embrace of Christ.  John Calvin

Overcoming the Faith Barrier

Exodus 3:10-17

God called Moses to do a great work for Him that would also bless the Israelites. Moses’ response to this awesome invitation was to offer excuses for why he couldn’t obey. This kind of attitude—which I call a “faith barrier”—can thwart us spiritually.

In Moses’ life, we see areas of weakness that can create such a faith barrier:

Poor self-image. When God gave the command to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses’ immediate response was to say, “Who am I?” (Ex. 3:11). Perhaps he was thinking of his occupation as a lowly shepherd living in Midian. Maybe he was referring to his upbringing and separation from his birth family (Ex. 2:1-4). Or he might have been recalling his past, when he killed an Egyptian and had to flee (Ex. 2:12). Whatever Moses’ objection was, the Lord answered with a wonderful promise: “I will be with you” (3:12).

Ignorance of God’s greatness. In order to carry out God’s plan, we need to believe fully in the One who has called us. When Moses questioned his assignment again, the Lord answered by revealing Himself as the great I AM and the One who had promised to rescue the Israelites (vv. 14-17). By trusting in the character and promises of almighty God, Moses would be able to carry out this seemingly impossible assignment.

Faith barriers hinder the flow of divine power in our life, slow spiritual growth, and prevent us from fully carrying out the Father’s will. We must remember who He is and where power comes from. We know that our heavenly Father is sovereign over all, and His Spirit empowers us to follow through in obedience.

The Ministry of the Saints

“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

This salutation to those “called saints” at Corinth (the words “to be” are not in the original) makes it clear that all who “in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” are the saints of God. The word “saint” means “one who is sanctified” or “set apart,” having been called to serve the Lord.

That service is varied, and many striking figures of speech are used in the Bible to describe it. In the first place, the saints are “witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8) and, therefore, “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). The words and deeds of believers are to serve as an actual Bible to those who may not read God’s Word. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3).

Christ applied the figure of candlesticks to the churches addressed in Revelation, with Himself in the midst (Revelation 1:12-13). Similarly, we are enjoined to “shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). This light is not merely the light of a godly life, but the light of God’s revealed truth, for we constitute “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

In relation to Christ, we constitute “the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27) and have been presented “as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). One day we shall reign with Him as “kings and priests unto God” (Revelation 1:6). HMM

Your word hath quickened me

Psalm 119:49-64

Before beginning the book of Samuel we will take another portion from David’s Holy Alphabet—the hundred and nineteenth Psalm. Luther prized this Psalm so much, that he declared he would not take the whole world in exchange for a single leaf of it. May the Holy Spirit impress it upon our hearts while we read it.

Psalm 119:49

The Christians hope is wrought in him by the Lord himself and it is based upon the infallible word of God; hence it is a sure hope which will never make him ashamed; for the Lord will certainly remember and fulfil his promises. Yet he does this in answer to prayer: therefore we must plead the handwriting of the Lord.

Psalm 119:50

Good men have their afflictions, and their best comfort under them is quickening grace. Instead of praying, “Lord, remove the trouble,” we should cry, “Lord, quicken me through thy word.”

Psalm 119:51

He refused to be laughed out of his religion. Mans jeers are scarcely felt when the Lord Jesus smiles upon us. If we decline from holiness because bad men laugh, we shall make good men

Psalm 119:52, 53

A holy heart is horrified at sin, at sinners, and at the sinner’s doom: those who think lightly of other men’s sins will soon sin lightly themselves.

Psalm 119:54

The Bible is the believer’s song-book, and sweet. to his ear are its psalms and hymns. Let us all sing more, and complain less.

Psalm 119:55

Singing is for the day, and remembering is for the wakeful hours of night, and in this way the godly make the whole twenty-four hours holiness unto the Lord.

Psalm 119:56

Holy songs and devout memories are the fruits cf obedience. Many other comforts come to us as rewards while we keep in the right road.

Psalm 119:57

The Lord gives himself to us, it is but meet that we should resolve to give ourselves to him.

Psalm 119:58-60

Have we done the same? Is there no neglected duty? In obedience to God, whatever haste we make we shall not be hasty.

Psalm 119:61-63

Those who love good company have some good thing in their own hearts. We ought to choose those for our companions with whom we should be willing to dwell for ever and ever. An aged woman once said, “I cannot believe that the Lord will shut me up with the ungodly, for I have never loved such company. His people have been my friends on earth, and I expect to dwell with them for ever in heaven”

Psalm 119:64

We are full of wants, and sins, and sorrow, therefore it is beyond measure consoling to learn that the Lord has filled the whole earth with his mercy. Let us seek mercy in the most practical form, by asking him graciously to teach us how to live in his fear.


Behold thy waiting servant, Lord,

Devoted to thy fear;

Remember and confirm thy word

For all my hopes are there.


Thou art my portion, O my God,

Teach me thy righteous way;

My heart makes haste to obey thy word,

And suffers no delay.


Where Sin Abounds, Grace Much More Abounds!

Romans 5:20

I’ll never forget the time we were being attacked on every side by the enemy. It seemed like an all-out assault had been unleashed against us. At the same time we were experiencing this attack on our ministry, the city where we lived was in political upheaval. This chaotic situation was so terrible that a bomb was detonated just a two-minute walking distance from our apartment! We could feel our building shake as the bomb exploded. It seemed as if each day was bringing new problems to the nation and more threats to our ministry.

All of this was occurring at a time when the Spirit of God had told us to launch out and take a new step of faith. It seemed like such a wrong time to take such a step of faith. Logic said, “Pull back! Protect yourself! Stop everything until the heat is off!” But the Spirit of God kept telling us, “Dig in deeper! Keep pressing forward! Don’t let up for one minute! This is a perfect opportunity for the Gospel message to be spread even further!”

Right in the middle of all that chaos, we watched as God poured out His grace on us. Although it was a dangerous and difficult time, it was also a glorious moment to be serving in the Kingdom of God! God began to do marvelous new things in the nation where we lived. In that troublesome hour, people were open and hungry to know more about the things of God. They wanted answers and were willing to listen. As a result, people were saved; spiritual darkness was pushed back in people’s lives; and the Gospel was spread further than ever before! As God moved mightily in the nation, that very dark, precarious moment became a spiritually bright time as many were led into the Kingdom of God.

This simultaneous operation of darkness and grace made me think of Romans 5:20, which says, “… Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The word “abounded” that Paul uses to describe this abundance of sin comes from the Greek word, pleonadzo, which simply means more. It denotes something that exists in abundance. The Greek tense describes an abundance that is growing larger and more expansive with the passing of time. The implication is that sin is never stagnant but continually grows, increases, and expands. This means Romans 5:20 could be translated, “Where sin exists in abundance and is multiplying and constantly expanding…” This describes the growing nature of unrestrained sin.

But Paul doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say, “… Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The words “much more abound” are from the Greek word huperperisseo, which describes something that is growing out of measure, beyond proportion, and out of its banks to a far-stretched extreme. It is like a giant river that is being flooded with waters from upstream. Those waters are coming downstream so fast that the river can no longer hold the raging current in its banks. Its water rises, rises, and rises until it finally begins pouring out of its banks and begins to flood everything in sight. This is exactly the idea of the word Paul uses when he says, “… Grace did much more abound.”


This means Romans 5:20 could be interpreted:

“For wherever sin exists in abundance and is multiplying and constantly expanding, that is precisely the time and place where grace is poured out in a far greater, surpassing quantity.”

Regardless of where we live and what we are facing—regardless of how bad the situation around us looks to our natural eyes—the grace of God is flowing downstream, and God is lavishly pouring it forth in abundant measure! In fact, it is impossible for us to imagine, measure, or even dream of the amount of divine grace God is sending in our direction. No banks can hold the flood of grace He is sending our way! It isn’t just “a lot” of grace; it is more, more, more, and much more grace! The flood of grace will always far surpass the flood of sin and darkness!

Satan will try to stop you from doing the will of God, but never forget that the enemy cannot prevail against you if you will only yield to the Lord. You will find that God is supplying more than enough grace to match whatever the enemy is trying to do. If you will surrender to that divine grace, it will rise higher and higher until it eventually floods every area in your life. Instead of seeing the destruction of the enemy, you will see the awesome outpouring of the marvelous grace of God everywhere you look!

So when a situation looks bad, as it did so many years ago when we were living amid troublesome times in our part of the world, don’t be too surprised if you hear God’s Spirit say, “Pour it on! Keep it up! Don’t stop for a minute! Keep pressing ahead! It is in dark and difficult moments like these that I love to work the most! This is when My grace super-exceeds the darkness of the world. Wherever sin and darkness abound is where I really pour out My grace!”


Lord, I thank You for pouring out Your grace in difficult, chaotic times. When sin abounds and darkness tries to reign, that is always when You reach out to seek and to save. Forgive me for giving way to fear and for thinking of retreating at this key moment when You are wanting to make a strategic advance. I choose to push away all my fears and to believe that You are going to do something miraculous to save the day! Let Your grace flow, Lordpour it on! Please shine Your light in this hour of darkness!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that God’s grace is poured out mightily to drive back the forces of darkness during times of difficulty and chaos. God uses these dark moments as opportunities to pour out His grace and to show others who He is! The world may reel in fear and uncertainty, but God is always near. I declare by faith that God will reveal His power and intervene with His grace to bring the solution for this difficult hour!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Have you ever had a dark moment in your life when God’s grace was abundantly poured out in a measure that was far greater than anything you had ever expected or dreamed in your life?
  2. Do you have any areas in your life right now where you need a fresh outpouring of God’s grace to combat the darkness? If yes, what are those areas in which you need this supernatural touch?
  3. Can you think of a time in history when God has sent a nation-shaping revival in the midst of troublesome times? What happened as a result of that revival?

Regardless of where we live and what we are facing—regardless of how bad the situation around us looks to our natural eyes—the grace of God is flowing downstream, and God is lavishly pouring it forth in abundant measure! In fact, it is impossible for us to imagine, measure, or even dream of the amount of divine grace God is sending in our direction. No banks can hold the flood of grace He is sending our way! It isn’t just “a lot” of grace; it is more, more, more, and much more grace! The flood of grace will always far surpass the flood of sin and darkness!


In Discipling People, What Are The Primary Values We Should Seek To Build Into Their Lives?

Is it to help them develop a strong prayer life, or a disciplined pattern of Scripture memory? Or to be a faithful witness to the lost? Very possibly, but…


Infinitely more basic is to help them form rock-ribbed convictions in three fundamental areas (1 Corinthians 13:13):


FAITH — Does your “disciple” believe God?


Does he (or she) demonstrate faith in God by a willingness to lay it on the line when the chips are down, even to the point of climbing into the fiery furnace (so to speak), as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? (Daniel 3) Does your disciple authenticate his faith by demonstrating congruency of life between the secular and the spiritual? (Psalm 24:3, 4)


Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek himThe work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” (Hebrews 11:6; John 6:29)


HOPE — Does your disciple have a “Pilgrim Mentality”?


Is his primary focus on the temporal or on the eternal? Does he, by his life demonstrate the fact that he understands the transitory nature of our earthly existence, and the importance of investing in the eternal?


These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earthlooking for a country of their ownlonging for a better country—a heavenly one… ” (Hebrews 11:13-16-nkjv)


LOVE — Does your disciple live a life of selfless sacrifice?


Has he been so impacted by Christ’s love that he is compelled to live a life of loving service rather than selfish indulgence?


For Christs love compels usthat those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)


By the way, you and I both know that the way you build these qualities into the life of another is by modeling them first in your own life.