The Shepherd Leads to Restore

Did you ever get in your car to go somewhere only to recognize that you had taken the wrong route and out of habit started driving to work? The route back on track is quite simple for a trip like this. However, if you were taking an extended trip and missed a turn some 25 miles back, the way to get back on track would be more difficult and time consuming.

Sometimes, we find ourselves turned away from God. Depending on how long we are in that state before recognizing or desiring to return will affect the route back to God and how long it will take. Regardless of whatever the situation, if you are turned away from God, the shepherd will provide leadership to restore you.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

The way back to the lord will vary slightly from person to person, but the shepherd will guide you back in the same basic manner.

First, the shepherd will lead you to recognize that you are away from him. This may seem basic, but it is not. It is the Lord who gives repentance and when he reveals to you that you have drifted or turned from him, he is doing a mighty work in your life that only he can do. (2 Timothy 2:25)

It is at this point that you must yield to him and if you do, he will continue to lead you on and his leading will bring you to see the stumbling blocks that you have allowed into your life. He will point out things such as people, places, entertainment or indulgences that are keeping you from victory and experiencing the joy that he has for you. By the power and leading of the shepherd, he will lead you to remove those obstacles.

The path, that the shepherd lead you back to himself, will bring you to resources for victory. Because truth brings victory and freedom, he will lead you to the truth that you need. You will find it in the Scriptures which may be revealed by friends and spiritual leaders. Evidence that you are following the shepherd towards truth will be when you are seeking truth from the Scriptures and attending services in the church. Truths from the word of God will usually encourage your faith and may instruct you as to what you may need to put off or put on in your spiritual life. (Ephesians 4:22-32; Romans 13:12; Colossians 3:8-14)

Another source of truth may come from spiritual music, which can minister to you and equip you with your worship and walk with the Lord. Your times of rejoicing in the Lord will be greater steps of progress on your way back. As your heart is lifted up in song, it is actually the shepherd interacting with you and lifting you up as he lead you along the path back to himself and to victory.

While you were fallen away from God, you hurt yourself and others. The Lord will lead you to repair the damaged relationships that your sin has caused. The shepherd is not only interested in delivering you from actions of sin: he also wants to restore you to himself and to others because he is concerned about relationship. It was his desire to have a relationship with you the caused him to seek you out and to lead you to trust his son. His desire and concern for relationships did not stop there. Relationships are vital to the Lord. The church, your family, your life as a child of God and your interactions with the world are all relationships that concerned him. The only way for those relationships to be right is for your relationship with him to be right and as a shepherd, he will restore you to that relationship by leading you to himself.

Remember, the steps back to him may be many or few, but they will involve recognizing your condition of being astray, removing stumbling blocks from your life, obtaining resources of truth for victory and repairing relationships.

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The Shepherd: He Restores My Soul

I remember my first trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania. It was a snowy day and I was walking along the top of the mountain. When suddenly, my foot caught ahold of a root under the snow. I tripped forward and after a number of staggering steps, I finally caught my balance. That is when I realized I was in a very bad situation. Because the wind was blowing hard, the tracks behind me were cleared away. I was spun around and lost.

From my location, I walked in various directions trying to get to the edge of the mountain, which would lead me back to camp. I was unsuccessful, cold, lost and darkness was fading in. I was spin around and I really needed somebody to turn me in the right direction.

Life is much the same way. We live with everything appearing to be just right and then it happens. Some event knocks us for a loop, spins us around, and we find ourselves farther away from God than we want to be. How did it happen and how do we get back?

We can find ourselves turned around and away from God for a few reasons. One way we get turned around is by deceit. We can be deceived by people who teach us things contrary to the Word of God or we could be deceived by our traditions. Regardless of the source, unbiblical doctrine can cause you to end up far away from the Lord. If you are trying to live up to a standard so that you can be or feel accepted by God, you have been spun around. Instead of walking toward God, you are walking away from him.

Another major cause for believers to get turn about and away from God is by not being prepared . We are admonished to put on the whole armor of God. When we are not equipped, we get overcome by our past and present failures. Our sin nature has the ability to rise up and take control of our lives and we can easily find ourselves turned around by sin, simply because we were not prepared. But there is good news.

Remember, when life turns you around, it is only God who can turn you back around. He restoreth my soul… (Psalm 23:3)

It is God who can turn you around and he may use different ways to accomplish it. One thing we know is that he will use his powerful word because it is perfect and it can convert or turn around the soul. (Psalm 19:7) There can be instances where we may resist his working and when that happens, he may use acts of chastening to accomplish what is best for us. Regardless of how he does it, it will always be because of his mercy. (Psalm 85:4-7) Thankfully it is new every day.

How did I get turned back around on that mountain top? I remembered that in the morning the sun rose from behind the cabin. Through the snow clouded sky, I spotted where the sun was ready to go down. I used the sun as a guide to get me back to safety by keeping my back to the sun and began running. Eventually, I made it to the mountain’s slope edge and to safety.

It is the same for me today. When I get turned around, I look for the son—the Good Shepherd—and he always leads me back.

Praise the Lord! He restoreth my soul.

It Is All in the Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)


What would it take to make you happy? People may give various answers to this question, but what each answer reveals is the longing that people have in their hearts. If you could sum up for all people as to what would make them happy, it would be that their hearts would be full and without want. For some people, it may be to be out of debt. For another person, it may be to have a spouse. If you asked a person living in an impoverished situation, their answer may be to have enough food to eat each day.

King David said it wisely, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This statement is insightful in that David recognized the shepherd was everything that he needed and that because he had the shepherd, he did not have any needs. This does not mean that he was in possession of everything that he ever would need. He recognized that it is the shepherd who would supply his needs and that because he had the supplier of his needs, he really had everything he would ever need.

Have you recognized this for your life? You have everything you will ever need in the shepherd: everything for your marriage, child raising, work, ministry and personal happiness. When you are abiding in the shepherd, your heart will be satisfied and lack nothing. However, if you find your heart becoming barren and longing for something that you just cannot identify, it is because you ceased abiding in the shepherd. You begin to want because you wandered from the shepherd.

If you want to be like David and in your heart experience the joy of being without want, consider the following.

1. Recognize your need for a shepherd.  

2. Decide to trust the shepherd. For some, it may mean them accepting his payment on the cross for their sin as what they need in order to be saved and accepted by God. For others, it may mean that they will cease from trying to create their own security in life and will now trust him to provide for them.

3. Follow the leading of the shepherd. Life is not a brightly lit way down a path of lovely flowers. It is filled with darkness, evil and heart ache. When you follow him, he will lead you in the path that is best for you.

4. Feed on what the shepherd provides. Spend time with him in prayer and reading his word. From it, you will gain strength, nourishment and guidance.

5. Sit at the feet of the shepherd. I am reminded of a German Shepherd that I once had. She would lie down at my feet and look up at me in adoration. I was strong and she loved strength; I am loving and she loved my attention. She would look at me and wait to be noticed. When I would reach out to touch her, she would soak up the attention. Did you know, that God wants that with us. He wants us to sit at his feet and look to him. He wants to pour out his blessing of fellowship and love and when we experience this, we will recognize that everything we would ever want or need is found in him.

6. Rejoice in what the shepherd has provided to you. When you do, this rejoicing will be revealed in every aspect of your life. The lost and the saved will see it, but best of all, your heart will be drawn even closer to the shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Really?

Oh yeah. Really!

Never Too Big (Psalm 23:1)

I remember a song from my childhood. The opening line was, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” If there is one lesson we all probably have learned is that it is not good to be without friends. Most of us have had many acquaintances, but only a few close friends.

Similar to having the need of friends, we have an even greater need. Most people will never recognize this need: they may feel the effects of it, but never really identify the need. The need to which I am referring is our need for a shepherd. David recognized this need and spoke of it in the 23rd psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalms 23:1)

Think about it for a moment. This is David, the great giant slayer; the man who wrote so many songs that have been a blessing to believers for centuries; and the eventual king of Israel. It is this man who states that the Lord is his shepherd. What an amazing statement, but even greater truth can be derived from his proclamation.

Regardless of how great you may be, you still need a shepherd. Since Adam plummeted mankind into the grips of sin, everyone of us is unable to guide our way through life without hurting ourselves or hurting others. Our nature to sin lead us away from God and the right way. (Ez. 34:12; Isa. 53:6) However for our good, God wants to lead us and be a shepherd to our souls. (2 Peter 2:25)

Consider this, wouldn’t you like to know the right way to go or the answer to the difficult situations that you face? Everybody wants that, but again many will miss out. The reason for this is because in order for each of us to have a guiding Shepherd, we will need to give up the rights and control of our lives to him. This will take humility.

The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. (Psalm 69:32)

In order to truly seek the Lord, you will need to humble yourself: that is to recognize that you do not have the ability to successfully live and fulfill the purpose for which you were created. When you recognize this and turn to the Lord, he will become your shepherd. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, he will lead you to trust him and he will continue to guide you throughout the rest of your life.

Misplaced Faith

From our childhood, we have heard the story of Adam and Eve. They were the first two humans created by God and lived in the garden of Eden. When God made them, he declared that they were very good. By these words, he was describing the wonder and magnificence of his creating act. As they lived together, they were sinless and acted according to the will of him who created them. You would think that because they were sinless, they would just continue to live a sinless life. However if you know the story, you know that they failed terribly and plummeted the entire human race into sin.

Why didn’t Adam and Eve stay sinless? What was the core problem or cause for their failure? This may come as a surprise to you, but their core problem was their faith. Stop and think for a moment. At one point in time, Adam only knew God. He did not recognize he had a need, but he did and the need was that of a companion. Adam saw God meet that need and present woman to him. His life in the garden of Eden was complete and fulfilling.

But then the serpent came using alluring words: words that promised an even better existence then they were already experiencing. At that point, Adam and Eve had a major decision to make. Would they believe the serpent or would they believe God.

As you know, they believed the serpent, ate the fruit and became sinners. The goodness of their creation and being could not prevent it, because the action which led to the fall first began in the heart. 

Because man fell in this matter, God made his redemption and way back to him to be in the same way. Man fell because of misplaced faith, man will be rescued from sin by right faith. God will not require a man to be faithful for salvation, but instead he requires man to put his faith in the only person whoever was faithful: Jesus Christ. God is not looking for goodness because there is not anyone who is good: Matthew 19:17 …there is none good but one, that is God. Romans 3:10 There is none righteous, no not one.

God is looking for people who will believe and trust in his promise of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. Ask yourself this question, “Do I have faith?” If your answer is yes, ask yourself, “Am I placing my faith in me or in Jesus Christ?” It can only be one way or the other.

Fruits of Righteousness (Philippians 1:11)


At one time, I was traveling each week to some point in the country for a speaking engagement. At first, my trips were ill prepared leaving me many times at a hotel without all of essentials that I needed. Eventually, I created a packing list. It was a listed all the items that I needed for traveling and the list remained in the suitcase. In the event that I traveled and discovered that I had a new need, I would add that item to the list. Eventually, I had the perfect list. All I needed to do was check and make sure that everything on the list was packed and if it was, I was set.

Some people try to use the same process in their spiritual lives. They have a list and it contains the “do’s” and “don’ts” for righteous living. In their minds, if they do the things on the “do” list and refrain from items on the “don’t” list, then they are spiritual. I really wish it were that easy, but it is not.

Being spiritual is when a person lives as God expects them to live. In other words, the actions of the person’s life will be righteous. The problem is that any action that may appear to be righteous can also be sinful. For example, is giving to the poor a spiritual or righteous action? It could be, but it also could be sinful. If a person gave because God led them to give, then the action would be spiritual or righteous. However, if the person gave so that they would be recognized, then the same action would be sinful.

Being spiritual cannot be reduced to a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Instead, the spiritual life of living as God expects and desires is accomplished by abiding or dwelling in Jesus. When we do this, Jesus lives his righteous life through us. This is know as grace living. Grace living is when God empowers us by living his life through us and the righteous actions of our lives then are really though Jesus Christ.

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)

Instead of trying to manufacture a righteous life, why not instead focus on abiding with Christ. As you do, he will enable you to live beyond your ability. If you don’t, you will experience so much frustration and failure, because without his empowerment, you can do nothing.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Sweetarts in Life (2 Samuel 19:4-6)


Do you remember your childhood favorite candies. One of mine was Sweetarts. I remember when they came out. They were a two inch disk that packed the best of both worlds in candy: sweetness and tartness. This candy reminds me much about life: it is filled with sweet events and also events that are tart. Things have changed since then: both my tastes and also the size of the candy, but life is still the same.

For the believer, blessing and sorrow come in the same package, it is in times of deepest hurt and sorrow when God will be present to strengthen and comfort you. The problem for many is that because their focus is so much on the hurt and sorrow, they fail to recognize God’s presence or working in their lives. David experienced just such an event.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 2 Samuel 19:4-6

He sorrowed so greatly over the loss of his son that he failed to see his victory blessing and the goodness of the Lord in the people that supported him.

As you face difficulties in your life such as financial strain, an unwanted diagnosis or any type of loss, remember that the event–as a two sided coin–has more that one aspect to it. Trials and struggles will come, but the Lord has promised always to be present with you even in the midst of the struggle and he promises to see that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

What you can do as you face trials is to stop and pray to the Lord. Acknowledge that you know he allowed this event to occur and you believe that he wants to work and manifest his presence in the trial. Pray for him to guide you and to help you recognize his workings. Rest assured: although it may take time, he will answer your prayer.