Page 5 - May 2021 - Truth & Tidings
P. 5

different word indicates the contrast be-  shepherds locating verdant pastures, and
        tween what the Lord called “my church”   in the barren wilderness of this world,
        against which the “gates of hell” can never   where “the pleasures of this life” disap-
        prevail (Mat 16:18), and the vulnerable   point, our Shepherd provides the luscious
        local assembly which “grievous wolves”   nourishment that is sourced in Scripture.
        can infiltrate, “not sparing the flock”   Again, local elders should ensure that
        (Act 20:29). Hence the need for vigilance,   such is available – a balanced diet of teach-
        and my burden is to encourage local   ing to stimulate growth and ensure spiri-
        shepherds to have Jehovah-like care as   tual health. One shepherd fed his flock
        expressed in Psalm 23.                among the lilies, a pleasant environment
          David asserts that his Shepherd catered   (SoS 6:3). Similarly, in feeding the little
        to every need: “I shall not want.” If true   flock, the “sound speech, that cannot be
        of Old Testament saints, it is certainly true   condemned” (Titus 2:8) must be presented
        of us. God has given us His Scriptures to   attractively to encourage compliance and
        enlighten us, His Son to empathize with   not resistance.
        us, His Spirit to empower us, and His   Elders must be proactive in arranging
        servants to encourage us; we lack nothing.   scriptural outlets for testimony. Inactiv-
        Practically, local shepherds must ensure   ity is not an option, but the flock can be
        that every need of the flock is met. It is   overdriven (Gen 33:13) and has “to rest
        encapsulated in Paul’s exhortation to the   at noon” (SoS 1:7). Thus, robust outreach
        Ephesian elders, “Shepherd the assembly   should be balanced with repose in the
        of God” (Act 20:28 JND), or Peter’s com-  green pastures lest there be a lack of spiri-
        mand to elders, “Shepherd the flock of   tual energy and impetus.
        God” (1Pe 5:2 ESV). Jehovah’s attention   Refreshment
        to detail should be reflected in the meticu-  The Shepherd feeds, but He also leads,
        lous concern of every elder as he takes care   and visits to refreshing streams are crucial;
        of the church of God (1Ti 3:5).       nourishment and refreshment go together.
          Repose                              Jehovah provided manna in Exodus 16
          Our Shepherd makes us to recline in   and water from the rock in chapter 17.
        green pastures. The grazing is over, and   Elijah’s bread and flesh was washed down
        at His instigation, the well-fed sheep are   by water from the brook (1Ki 17:6). The
        in repose. In Scripture, bodily postures   Bread of God of John 6 offers rivers of
        are used to illustrate spiritual truth. We   living water in John 7. Together, hunger
        are companions, walking with God until   and thirst are accommodated until the last
        translated (Gen 5:24); competitors, run-  book of the Bible – “they shall hunger no
        ning until the crown is won (1Co 9:24);   more, neither thirst any more” (Rev 7:16)
        combatants, standing until the smoke of   – and so in the spiritual realm, God allies
        battle has cleared (Eph 6:13); and converts,   spiritual nourishment with refreshment.
        saved and sitting with Christ in heavenly   The water of the Word has an emotional
        places (Eph 2:6). Walking, running, stand-  and uplifting effect that is refreshment for
        ing, sitting – and here, as contented sheep,   the hour, but longer term, it is converted
        we are lying down; spiritually, all these   into spiritual muscle and energy, for it is
        should be true of us simultaneously!  “able to build you up” (Act 20:32).
          In arid conditions, sheep depend on   In assembly life, amidst the need to
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