Shepherding God’s Flock (28)
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.16
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 2 Corinthians 12.15
Jonathan Edwards applied a curious image to the shepherds of God’s flock. He said they were like suns in a solar field of souls: “But so are ministers honoured by their great Lord and Master, that they are set to be that to men’s souls, that the lights of heaven are to their bodies; and that they might be the instruments and vehicles of God’s greatest goodness, and the most precious fruits of his eternal love to them, and means of that life, and refreshment, and joy, that are spiritual and eternal, and infinitely more precious than any benefit received by the benign beams of the sun in the firmament” (The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister).
The focus of a shepherd’s work must be on the souls of God’s people, to light up their souls with the light of truth and warm them with the fire of God’s love. Shepherds do this, like John the Baptist, by bringing the true Light of Jesus continually to bear on their flock. Only when God’s people connect with the true Light of Jesus in the depths of their souls, will they begin to grow and bear fruit for Him. Our calling is to help them realize that goal.
The pastor may be seen as the sun in the solar system which is his congregation. But Christ is the true light which lightens them all, even the sun. The Spirit is the power to illumine the soul. And the Father is the Giver and Receiver of glory—the light which shines from us into the world. It pleases the Lord to use ministers and shepherds as agents of light to the souls of His people. Certainly we must all read and study our Bibles and join with others to discuss and learn. But the shepherd is a touchpoint of truth in his church, ministering the light of Christ to open the way for the Light of the world to flood our lamps.
Light and heat come from Jesus, to and through His servants, into the souls of His people, and from them, to the world.
Resources for Shepherds
For a bit more on aiming our ministries at the souls of God’s people, check out the recent Insight offering on the Resources for Shepherds page at our website. For a much more thorough study on caring and nurturing the souls of God’s people, download the 26 detailed studies in our ReVision series, “Strong Souls”, by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Having returned home from six years in slavery, Patrick would have been content to remain there for good. But not God:
My family rejoiced at my return,
and when my tribulations they had learned,
they begged me, as a son, to stay with them
and never leave our happy home again.
And so, no doubt, I would have been content
to do, but God was pleased I should be spent
in other ways; for while I tarried there
amid my leisure, He worked to prepare
me for a larger task. There came to me
one night a vision. From across the sea
a man appeared; Victoricus was his name.
He had in his possession as he came
so many letters, and he gave me one
of them. The heading on it left me numb:
“The Voice of the Irish,” it proclaimed. As I
began to read the letter, deep in my
imagination in that moment I
could hear the voices of the people by
the wood of Foclut, which is near the sea
in western Ireland, and it seemed to me
that they were crying out, as with one voice,
“O holy servant boy, we would rejoice
for you to come and walk among us.”
- Patrick Confession
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We all have a calling from the Lord. First, to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12), then to seeking His Kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6.33), and ultimately out into our own Personal Mission Field. To learn more about calling and how it works, order a copy of our book, Poetry Calling by clicking here. Learn about why poetry is so important to God and how each of us has at least some calling to verse.
Check out the prayer by Columbanus, skillfully set by our webmaster, Travis McSherley, by clicking here. And don’t forget to download your free copy of Columbanus: A Devotional History, by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.