You Prepare a Table Before Me

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.”

Jesus Christ is my Lord, he is my shepherd, the one who leads me in the ways of righteousness and who corrects me if I begin to go the wrong direction, and in order to pull me back in step with him. He teaches me his ways, the ways that he has for me to walk in them. And he counsels me through his Holy Spirit, who is living within me, in the ways I should go.

He trains me by his grace to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life while I wait for his return. He gifts me with spiritual gifts to be used for his service in sharing the gospel and in ministering his love and grace to the body of Christ. And he has assigned me my part in the body, and he empowers me to do that part.

And where he has called me to his service and to walk in his ways he provides and he equips and he empowers. I am not on my own to just try to figure it out for myself. He gives me all I need to be faithful in service to him. For it is him working in me for his glory as I yield control of my life over to him and as I cooperate with his work and as I do what he says to do.

He also fills me with his peace when Satan is trying to come against me or when my body fails me or when evil people scheme against me. He reminds me that all the days ordained for me were written in his book even before they came into being, and he reminds me, too, that he is fully sovereign and in control over all things that enter into my life, and he will see me through.

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.”

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, will go through trials and tribulations on this earth. We will face heartaches and disappointments, and people will be mean and cruel to us, and life will not always be fair. And some people will judge us by themselves or by the standards of this world and of the flesh. And they will try to convince us that we need to be like them.

Some of us will face abuse, and we will be sinned against by others, even sometimes by those within our own families. We will face mistreatment, betrayal, false accusations, unkind remarks, misjudgments, and the like, but not just from our blood relatives but also from our church family, many of whom do not really know Jesus but who just think that they do.

But no matter what trials we may go through, no matter how minor or how major (severe) they are, if we believe in Jesus with genuine God-given faith, and we are walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we have no reason to fear evil, for our Lord is with us, and he will guide and comfort us in the way that we should go.

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
forever.”

Yes, we will have enemies, and not just Satan and his demons. We will have flesh and blood physical enemies who will hate and reject us, who will persecute and sin against us, who will say all manner of evil to and against us, and who will plot evil on their beds against us, too. For they are also enemies of the cross of Christ and so they hate all that Jesus stands for.

And the thing of it is here is that I am not just talking about the people out in the world who have made no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. For who were Jesus’ greatest enemies? They were his blood relatives and members of his own family and race and faith and of the house of God. And they were the rulers in the temple of God who today would be pastors and elders.

And in today’s world, particularly here in America where I live, where taking God and his word seriously and actually living what it says is considered “taboo,” or it is spoken of as something evil, we are not going to be well liked by many people who call themselves Christians but who are following a man-made religion and are not truly followers of Jesus Christ.

They are not going to understand us much like the Pharisees didn’t understand Jesus because he wasn’t like them. He didn’t talk like them or about the same things, and he didn’t do the kinds of things they did, the way that they did them, and for the same reasons. He was an oddball to them and they didn’t like him and they wanted nothing to do with him.

And if we are living lives separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus, and because we are walking in fellowship with him, those who are following the traditions of men and their cultures and their religious customs, they are not going to understand nor accept us as “one of them,” and we may even be invited to leave.

But, although they reject us and have no need of us nor want of us, the Lord has want of us, and he has something for us to do. And sometimes their rejection of us actually turns out to be a blessing in disguise because then we are free to be who God wants us to be and for God to use us in ways that don’t follow the norms of traditional institutional religion.

For, remember that Jesus didn’t follow the traditions of men nor institutional religious norms, which is one of the reasons that they hated him and rejected him because he didn’t conform to their ways, but he was different. And they didn’t like different. They wanted conformity with them. But we are to conform to Christ and to his word not to the traditions of humans.

And so, in spite of their rejection of us, and their casting us aside as unwanted and not needed by them, if we are willing, and if we will obey, God will delight in using us in ways that are his ways, and in ways we may never have even thought of before, although perfectly in line with the word of God and with the character and divine will of God for our lives.

In other words, where men may slam doors shut in our faces because we don’t conform to them and to their ways – and I am speaking here of people within the church, including pastors and other church leaders – although they have no use of us, God will anoint us for service and he will use us in ways he had planned for us from even before the creation of the world.

And God will use us in other people’s lives who are interested in what we have to share, and who want to learn what the Bible teaches, and who are willing to break away from the norms of institutional religion in order to follow Jesus in his ways, and according to his truth. And God will bless the work he is doing in and through our lives for his glory and praise.

And one day soon Jesus is going to return to the earth to judge and then to take us, his bride, to be with him for eternity. But not everyone who professes his name will be with him for eternity. Many who say, “Lord, Lord,” do not honor him as Lord of their lives, and so he will say, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you!” So, don’t be like them, please.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

There’s a Stirring

By Annie Herring

There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?

I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet

Is that His voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’

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