Jesus is My Shepherd
Psalms 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.”
When we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, and we believe on Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to God and to his righteousness, Jesus becomes our shepherd, and we become his sheep (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (Lu 9:23-24).
Now we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and to follow him is to obey him. It is to be who he has called us to be, and to go wherever he sends us, and to do all that he commands us to do. But to know what he wants us to do we have to be reading his word and we have to be listening to what it teaches us, and we must then do what it says (New Covenant teaching).
For, he can’t be our shepherd and we can’t be his sheep if we aren’t following him wherever he leads us. We can’t say with the Psalmist that the Lord is our shepherd and therefore we are not in want if we are not with him, but we are off somewhere else doing our own thing, following the lusts of our flesh, and living for selfish desires.
Our lives must be surrendered to Jesus Christ. We must be living in submission to Jesus as Lord, we must forsake our sinful practices, and we must go with him wherever he leads us. And then we are not in want because he supplies all that we need. We are led by still waters because we are trusting him with our lives and with our circumstances.
And he can only lead us in paths of righteousness if we are dying daily with him to sin and to self and if daily we are following him in obedience. For the ways of righteousness are opposed to the ways of the flesh. We can’t go our own way and go his way at the same time. That is like trying to go right and left at the same time. It doesn’t work that way.
And notice with me what it says here about being led by him in paths (ways) of righteousness (holiness, godliness, moral purity, uprightness, honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and obedience to God). It is for His Names’ sake. Yes! This isn’t all about us. What we do and how we live is to be for the glory and praise of God, to honor him with our lives.
Even in Bad Times
Psalms 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.”
When we have this kind of relationship with our Lord Jesus (God), as was described in the previous section of this writing, we are going to be hated, despised, and rejected by those who do not have that kind of relationship with Jesus, even by many who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who are not walking in the paths of righteousness, which includes some pastors, too.
And if we are holding on to the truths of the gospel that Jesus taught and that his NT apostles taught, and if we are sharing those truths, we are going to have many people who profess faith in Jesus who are going to oppose us because so many of them today are following a man-made gospel which is a half-truth diluted gospel intended to appeal to the desires of the flesh.
We may even be invited to leave certain church gatherings or small groups which are following man-made religion and not the truths of the gospel. For so many such gatherings today are based off of marketing schemes on how to grow their churches or they are following books written by mere mortals who are not writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Many of these book authors, although they claim to be Christians and pastors, are teaching humanistic philosophy, psychology, and a diluted gospel which does not require us dying with Christ to sin or us living to Christ and to his righteousness, for it is all “me focused,” and not God focused. For it does not honor Christ as Lord but pacifies the flesh.
So, if you are being led of Jesus in the paths of righteousness, and if you are his true sheep, following him wherever he leads you, you will not be welcome in many of these modern gatherings of what is often falsely called “church.” But that is okay because we are supposed to come out of Babylon and be separate so we don’t share in her sins and in her punishment.
So, we can just hold on to Jesus, and put our trust in him alone, and stand on the truth and on righteousness and holiness, and walk in his love and grace, and do what he says, because he is with us strengthening us and helping us and comforting us every step of the way. So, we don’t have to fear what man/woman may do to us, but we are to rest in the Lord.
In the Presence of My Enemies
Psalms 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
Sadly, our enemies will be the same as Jesus’ enemies were. No, they may not be the Jews, at least not personally. But they will be those who profess faith in the same God as we profess to follow with our lives. But they will be those who are not following Jesus with their lives but who are still following the flesh. They may perform religious duties but still be dead in their sins.
Jesus’ enemies were the religious, but they were also the rulers in the temple and the teachers of the law. So, our enemies will also be pastors and elders of church congregations (or of what is falsely called church) because they will be like the Pharisees in that they are going through the motions of religious performance while they are engaging in all manner of evil.
They will be going through the forms of religion without it truly impacting their daily lives. For, so many of them are following the cheap grace gospel which says that we can just make a profession or a confession of Christ as Lord and Savior or that we can just accept his love and affection for us and now we are saved, forgiven, and bound for heaven while we live like hell.
So, since they do not submit to Christ as Lord, because they believe they don’t have to, and thus they do not honor God with their lives, for they feel his forgiveness gives them license to continue in sin without guilt, they are the Lord’s enemies, and thus they are also our enemies, and they will oppose us, reject us, mistreat us, and ostracize us for we don’t “fit.”
But despite all of this, if we remain faithful to the Lord Jesus, and if we do not compromise our faith in order to be accepted by the religious establishment, and if we are willing to be hated and rejected for the sake of Jesus and for his righteousness, the Lord Jesus is going to use us for his kingdom work despite the rejection of the religious establishment.
In fact, God may use the rejection we face to advance his kingdom work. For now we will be sold out to him and to what he has for us to do and we won’t be tied down with all the institutional religious activities that have nothing to do with sharing the gospel and leading people to true salvation from sin. We will be free to please God in all that we do, and he will get the glory.
For me personally, the Lord allowed me to go through much rejection in institutional religion before I finally realized that is not where God wanted me. And then he opened a door for me 17 years ago to be his free servant in writing out what he teaches me each day and then to place these writings on the internet to encourage others to walk with Jesus in obedience to him.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
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