If He is Our Shepherd
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.
Is the Lord our shepherd? For him to be our shepherd, we have to be his sheep. And, Jesus said that his sheep know him, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. They are led by him, and they don’t follow strangers. And, he gives them eternal life, and they shall never perish (Jn. 10:1-30).
So, for Jesus to be our shepherd, and for us to be his sheep, we have to listen to him, not just with our ears, but with our hearts, and with our actions (our conduct, our behaviors).
And, we know him intimately by God-given faith him, which submits to him as Lord of our lives, and which follows him in obedience, and which walks in his ways, under his guidance and direction, and which leaves our sinful lifestyles and our idols behind us.
And, we don’t follow (obey, surrender our lives to) strangers. And, a stranger is anyone who is working in opposition to Jesus Christ and to his gospel message, as he and as his NT apostles taught it, in its entirety.
So, that means we follow the gospel that says we must die to sin and live to righteousness, to have eternal life with God. And, we don’t follow the gospel that says we can profess faith in Jesus Christ, but it doesn’t matter how we live our lives on this earth, but that we still have the promise of heaven (See Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
For, he leads us in his righteousness. And, if we aren’t being led in his righteousness, then perhaps we aren’t his true sheep.
So, those who think that Jesus is just a free ride to heaven and that they have to do nothing – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender of our lives to him as Lord – they have a big surprise coming to them, and it is not a good one. They will reap what they sow – if to the flesh, then destruction – but if to the Spirit, then eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6).
The church that has become market-driven and flesh-driven is teaching a gospel of grace absent of the cross of Christ in our lives – in death to sin. And, it is leading many people to believe that it doesn’t matter how they live their lives. So, it has halted (stopped) the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts and lives, and it has supplanted the true gospel of salvation with a cheap grace substitute that requires no walks of obedience to Christ.
Thus, that church is utterly destroyed. But, I believe it can be revived by the grace of God if they will repent of their sins, and if they will surrender their hearts to Jesus Christ, and if they will now walk in his ways and in his truth.
So, when we are his true sheep, and we are following him in obedience, and we are listening to him, and we are not shutting out his voice, then we have his comfort, his peace, his security, his provisions, his guidance and wisdom, his help, his strength, and his empowerment, etc. He, thus, gives us all that we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, to draw near to God and to walk in obedience to him. And, he gives us eternal life, and we will never perish.
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.
We who are humans, who live in flesh bodies, will have times when things don’t go so well, and in fact, they may go very badly. We will have dark days. We will go through tough times and serious trials and afflictions. It may even feel sometimes as though everything in our lives is coming all “unglued.” And, we may even despair of life, as Paul did. And, we may wonder if we can take more without breaking.
Our families may be falling apart. Personal relationships may be strained because of someone’s sinful practices. We may be experiencing financial hardships or deaths in our families. Or there may be an impending divorce someone is facing, or the acknowledgment of an adulterous relationship which has broken or destroyed trust between a married couple. Or, there may be a sick child or a personal disaster, and the list goes on.
But, if we are the sheep of his pasture, and he truly is our shepherd, he will carry us through. We just have to trust him with our circumstances and believe that he is God, that he is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and that he knew these things were going to happen even before we were even conceived. So, he has a plan. And, he will work all things for good for those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose. But, know that to love God means that we obey his commandments.
So, we don’t ever have to be afraid of what we are going through, or of the future and what it may hold for us. We just have to take it one day at a time, trusting the Lord in all ways in every step of the way. For, he has this. Worrying never solves anything! It just means we don’t trust God. We don’t believe that he is in control. So, we need to trust him and rest in him. And, he will comfort us with his love.
My Cup Overflows
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
Our enemy’s goal is to make us afraid, to take us out, and to get us to turn tail and run. He hopes to make us fall or to get us to give up and to abandon ship. And, he is very skilled at what he does, too.
Yet, our Lord supplies us with everything that we need. He comforts and he helps us. He pours out his spiritual blessings upon us, too, and he shows us that he loves and cares about us. And, he does this in the presence of our enemies. Thus, they may even be jealous of us, or hate us because of it, like Cain hated his brother Abel and so he murdered him.
So, we may face even greater persecution and opposition because God is using us, and our enemy and his followers hate us for it. And, especially if we are teaching the true gospel of grace, and not the cheap grace, we will be opposed, and we will be falsely accused and even persecuted.
So, God’s goodness that follows us all the days of our lives does not ensure us that we won’t have difficulties or trials or persecutions. It just means he is with us, carrying us through every one of them, using these times of testing to make us holy, to purify us, and to grow us in him and in his grace.
And, he will even use what seems like impossible situations for his glory, and he will use us as his instruments of his grace and righteousness in the lives of others, even while we are going through our own hardships, if we are willing, and if we are obedient, and if we are surrendered to him. And, then one day he will take us home to be with him forever, and all that we suffered in this life will be no more, and we will be at peace.
Our God, He is Alive
Music and Lyrics by A.W. Dicus
Secure, is life from mortal mind,
God holds the germ within His hand,
Though men may search, they cannot find,
for God alone does understand.
There is a God, He is alive,
In Him we live and we survive;
From dust our God created man,
He is our God, the great I Am.
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