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!

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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.

Forget Karma: God is Watching (1 Samuel 26:23)


If the Lord gave you what you really deserved, would you be ready for it? Would you look forward to it with joy or does the thought frighten you? What we fail to recognize is that it is not just a hypothetical question. 

The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: (1 Samuel 26:23)

These were words spoken by David when he interacted with King Saul who sought to kill him. He knew that God was sovereign and would return upon men that which they have rendered to others. The same still holds true today. The New Testament describes the principle as sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will also reap. It may take some time before it arrives, but it is coming. Just like it takes all summer for apples to grow and ripen on a tree, it may take most of a person’s life before they reap what they sow, but be sure, they will reap.  

Much of this principle concerning sowing and reaping is in relation to how we treat other people. If we sow righteousness towards others, then we will get righteous treatment back, but if we sow wickedness then wickedness awaits us.

Some may ask, “What guideline could I follow that would aid me in sowing righteousness?” The answer would be to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39). If you allow your actions to be motivated by what is best for another person or make decisions that enable you to meet the needs of someone else instead of focusing on yourself, you will most consistently sow righteousness. This doesn’t require you to give all of your money to the poor or even to live a dejected life. It only requires you to start focusing on others instead of yourself. Give somebody recognition. Show patience and mercy, try looking at situations from the other person’s perspective or even take time to listen to people and their problems are opportunities that each of us have to sow righteousness. It will not cost you one penny, but it will be an investment worth millions of dollars.

For you, the world of people is a field ready for planting. What kind of seeds will you sow?

Be All That You Should Be


Have you ever lived in the shadow of a parent or an elder sibling? If so, you constantly strove to either be like them or to overcome their accomplishments. As you may have discovered, it is a very frustrating way to live. What you or those people need is to be yourselves. This problem happens with so many people in the world, but it also happens in the spiritual lives of many.

You are what you are because it is what God is making you to be. If You follow him and allow him to work his will, he will continue to work in your life to make you exactly as he planned. You should not allow others to force upon you what they think you should be, what they want you to be or even what they may need you to be. Your goal should be to dwell in Christ and allow God by grace to work in your life and produces fruit as he sees fit.

As always, sin can destroy you and God’s plan. You can escape it’s clutch by heeding to God’s word. (Psalm 119:9). You cannot do this in your own power, but as you recognize your weakness and look to God for strength, he will deliver you from the temptation.

Trials and difficulties will come, but you must recognize them as God’s instruments for pruning and cultivating you so as to grow and produce more fruit. Each day, you should grow more in his likeness and whatever that may be, it will make you be what you are and that will be according to his plan.