Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior, is my guide, the one who directs my life, who leads me in the way that he would have me to go. He supplies everything that I need to live, to survive, and to live for him and for his glory and purposes. I can do all things for his glory through the strength which he supplies. I am not lacking in anything necessary in order to do his will. He is my all-sufficiency for all that is required of me.
My soul rests in him. Yet, when I am troubled in my spirit, I turn to him to supply all that I need to endure, to overcome, and to be at peace and at rest in him. If I don’t immediately turn to him, then he ministers to my spirit through spiritual songs or hymns or through the scriptures to lead me to find my rest in him and to not let the troubles of this world overtake me. He is encouraging me and counseling me before I even voice a prayer to him.
He reminds me of what his word teaches regarding worry, or regarding his promises, and with regard to his power and authority over all that would come against me, his servant. He brings to mind that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that all the days ordained for me were written in his book before one of them came into being. He is in control! He has it all worked out. His purposes will be fulfilled!
Then, he shows me the way that I should think, or how I should regard a particular situation. He counsels me in having the correct attitude or in saying the right words. He leads me to godly responses to difficult circumstances and away from fleshly responses. He enables me to forgive those who have hurt me, who have sinned against me. And, he empowers me to love them with his love, and to not hold on to unforgiveness.
Psalm 23:4 ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
He does not promise me, though, that I will have it easy, or that no trouble will befall me. He doesn’t give me false hopes that I will never have to suffer for the sake of his name, either.
But, what he promises me, in those dark times, when the enemy of our souls is fiercely attacking me, is that he is with me, that he is upholding me, and that he will carry me through it all, and that his purposes in it all will be fulfilled in my life, and in the lives of others whose lives I touch by my life.
Even though he allows these trials and tribulations in my life to test me, to teach me to not rely on myself, but on God, and to make me compassionate towards others who are suffering, he will comfort me, and he will help me, and he will be glorified in my life, and he will make me holy as he is holy. All of this is for his glory, that I might share in his suffering, becoming like him in his death. It is all for my ultimate good, and I must see his hand in it all.
So, I don’t have to be afraid of opposition or of false accusations or of mistreatment of any kind. I don’t have to worry about what people are thinking about me or what they might be saying about me behind my back. I have absolutely no control over any of that. I don’t need to fear persecution or being verbally attacked because of my faith in Christ. I just need to trust my life into God’s hands, listen to what he says, and do what he shows me.
Psalm 23:5-6 ESV
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, we will have enemies. It is a given. We will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and the main persecution we receive may not come from the world, but from within the worldly church and from its leaders. For, those who put Jesus to death were rulers in the temple of God and teachers of the scriptures. They were those who should have known better, but who stopped up their ears.
So, within today’s institutional market-driven churches, if we are serious about our Lord, and about his truth, we will face opposition, even from the leadership. Many of them will tell us to “stay in your own lane,” or to just “bless people” by doing good deeds, and that we are not to confront people with the gospel, but that we are just to be “nice” to everyone and they will see that we are Christians. For, we don’t want to offend anyone.
They don’t want us to speak of “repentance” and “obedience,” for many of them are saying we are teaching “works-based salvation” when we talk about such things as this. And, they may even encourage us to “go someplace else” where we will be a “better fit,” because they were warned about people like us with “strong convictions,” so they don’t want us in their churches.
They don’t want us mentioning sin or judgment or hell, either, because that is too negative. They want to keep everything upbeat and positive so that the people of the world will keep coming back for more. But, “positive” often means “watered-down,” “diluted,” and “adulterated” truth in order to appease human flesh and to make the gospel more acceptable.
I know some people give a bad name to the true gospel because they are far too forceful in their approach with people, way too condemning, and far too negative, and thus they don’t know the joy and peace of our salvation. But, they are few and far between.
But, the majority have swung the pendulum the other direction in that they are so soft on sin that no one is convicted of sin and far too many people are convinced they are going to heaven when they are still living to please their flesh and not God.
So, God is leading some of us to correct this error and to make plain the truth of the gospel so that people won’t believe in a false gospel and hold on to a false hope, and end up in hell instead of heaven. He is using us in the presence of our enemies to share his truths in ways only possible through him. He is guiding us and showing us what to say, for he knows what people need to hear, and he is using us for his glory to move hearts away from sin and toward God – all glory to God!
And, for me, I know God did not choose me because of my goodness. When he called me to this ministry, I had just come out of a time of sinful rebellion against him. But, he turned my heart around. He helped me to shut that door to my former way of life for good. And, he gave me a new start and a new ministry for his praise, honor and glory. And, that is because of his love, and his goodness, and his mercy that I am able to dwell with him forever.
An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.
Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.
Living Water satisfies.
The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.
Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.
Living Water glorifies.
Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.
My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?
Living Water sanctifies.