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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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?

Why Do People Come to Jesus?

Why do people come to Jesus? Most people in society believe that it is the result from someone scaring them to death about hell. But is that really the reason? Surprisingly, it is not.

In Matthew 5 and Luke 6, Jesus speaks of certain conditions in life that are considered blessings to man. Blessed are you that are poor; blessed are you that are hungry;blessed are you that weep: these doesn’t sound too promising to me. I don’t see people lining up to be poor, hungry or sorrowful, but still Jesus says that these people are blessed.

Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.

Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. (Luke 6:20-21)

The reason these are blessings is because when people find themselves in these types of situations, they are unable to deliver themselves and are forced to look outside of themselves for hope.

Before coming to Christ, I had everything that I have ever wanted, but I was miserable and sorrowful inside. That sorrow moved me to seek Christ. Renowned apologetist, Ravi Zacharias, was in a hospital bed after a failed suicide attempt and soon afterwards trusted Christ. I have met many successful businessman with cash just flowing through their hands, but their hearts were dry and the dry emptiness turned them to Jesus.

Surprisingly, most people do not come to Christ out of fear, but they come to him because they recognize the need for God to be in their lives. God wants to be in people’s lives so that he may do his miraculous work, but in order for that to occur, he first must conquer the sin that separates us from him. The message of Christ is still true. He died on the cross to make a complete payment for your complete lifetime committing sins. His life for yours. When we trust him to do this, the sin debt is gone, but he does much more than that. The poor become kingdom rich, the hungry souls are fed and the sorrowful laugh with joy.
Think about it. Why did you come to Christ? Or haven’t you yet? You can today by simply calling upon him to save you from sin and do this miraculous work in your life too.

Religion Still Doesn’t Work

Since nearly the beginning, sin has separated man from God and with it has brought sorrow, sickness, and emptiness in the heart of man. Throughout time, man has sought to overcome these troubles in his life and to accomplish it created religious acts or rituals, which were intended to appease God of his wrath or at the least turn away the consequences of sin that he faced.

These acts involved offering to God everything from crops to human sacrifices, the punishment of sinners or the punishment of themselves. Always, the results were unsuccessful. David described it best when he spoke to the Lord concerning his own condition.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (Psalms 38:4)

The load of sin that looms over the head of every man is so great that no religious act could ever remove the effect or its debt.

Several decades ago, a teenaged girl attended a local carnival. When she failed to return home, a search was made and eventually her lifeless body was found. For more than 30 years, law-enforcement searched for the suspected killer: who was eventually found. Should he be held for trial? Of course he should! Regardless of how long ago the event occurred, he should still be held accountable.

But what if he was found living a respectable life? What if he, for the last 20 years, had been doing a great humanitarian work? Should he still be held for trial? Should he still be charged even if he has been so sorry for his crime? The answer is a resounding, Yes! He committed a crime and the penalty for that crime must be paid.

For the last 6,000 years, man has been trying to avoid paying the penalty for his sin. But regardless of what he does, the holy righteous God still requires complete payment for sins committed. The only hope for all men would be for God to determine a way for someone else to pay the debt that man owed. God did and that person was himself. He came to earth as human. Born of a virgin, he live a lonely life and yet did not sin. Throughout his entire life he did not commit one sin. For the remaining three years of his life, he taught and performed miracles to declare who it was and the purpose for his coming to earth. Then as foretold by God, he was rejected by his people, judged by the government and punished on the cross.

However God’s purpose for allowing all this to occur was so that he could place all the sin of humanity upon himself as he hung on the cross. The beatings and torture done to Jesus were extremely grave, but nothing in comparison to the punishment that God, while still yet also in heaven, punished himself as he lived as a human hanging on the cross.

Only until Jesus cried, “It is finished!” was mankind given any hope. When Jesus finished, he was finished paying the wages for our sins – yours and mine.

For those, who continue striving to pay for their own sins or are relying on religious acts to appease God’s wrath for sin will continue to fall short and carry the burden of their sin debt. Those who call upon Christ to bear there sin, will find the relief that they need. No longer is the burden of sin going over their head or too much to bear, the burden has been removed and the payment has been made. None of their sins committed have gone unpunished. Instead of them paying the debt, someone else paid the debt for them.

In America, we have discovered that countless people have been falsely charged, found guilty and sentenced for crimes that they had never committed. Society, unknowing of their wrong, was still satisfied because the penalty of the crime was being paid.  

In your case, Jesus willingly took the charge, allowed himself to be found guilty and then paid your complete payment for sin. So that your salvation could take place when you call out to Jesus and trust that he will save you.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Fearing God vs Being Afraid of God

There is a difference between fearing the Lord and being afraid of the Lord. The former recognizes the greatness of God and his ability to do whatever he chooses. Therefore, he submits himself to the one that he recognizes as sovereign. Those who are afraid of the Lord, do not submit themselves to a sovereign God to rule over them. They instead perform actions in an attempt to keep God from exercising his anger upon them. The former will have a love relationship with God: the latter will struggle with love and acceptance. 

How did Job respond when his world caved in upon him? He continued to fear the Lord. He remained steadfast in trusting God’s sovereignty and continued to submit himself to him. (Job 1:21) Had Job been afraid of God, would his actions have been the same? Most likely not. His actions would have more been in line with those of his accuser. If a person lives in fear and governs his actions to keep God from punishing him, how would he react when God does exercise wrath? As the accuser stated, “He will curse thee to thy face.” It would be in that manner that he would act.

God wants you to fear him, but not be afraid of him. Fearing God is respecting God for who he is and the power that he possesses. Those who fear the Lord will recognize God’s ability to raise up and to put down, to love and admonish or to rebuke and chasten, and to exercise his will because what he desires is for the benefit of those he created.

When you are afraid of God, you have a difficult time accepting his love. Being afraid and accepting love cannot cohabit because perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18). Recognize that God loves you and that any actions that he has towards you will be motivated by his love. As we seek him for our lives, blessings will flow to us from his love, but if our steps begin to slip, he by love will take whatever actions are necessary to keep us from ruining our lives.

Living a life of fearing the Lord is a joy and blessing, but living a life afraid of God is a struggle and burden.

Loving the God We Cannot See (1 Peter 1:8)

Love: a word used so freely today, but what does it mean? True love is the desire that a person has to meet the needs of another without expecting to receive anything in return. With that, a great question arises. Can you love someone with whom you have never met face-to-face? 

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:8)

The answer is simple. You can love someone that you have never seen, but only if you have had the opportunity to interact with them.

In the early 20th century, a man in America, named Charles, began to correspond with the young woman, named Minnie, who lived on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Their many letters shared the events of their lives: their likes, dislikes, problems and struggles. The letters also contained hopes, dreams and passions. All the time as the letters were shared something began to happen. Each began to be concerned for the other and desired to be with them so that they may experience life together: to share, help, care and love. They fell in love and one day, decided to marry. They never met face-to-face until the day that she came off of the ship on America’s shore. To them, it didn’t matter what the other person looked like: they knew each other and recognized the beauty that each possessed within. Several decades later, I met them and marveled at their story of love.

We too can love someone that we have never met face-to-face. Through our interactions with the Lord, we can experience him in times of trials and testing. The words that he has recorded for us speak to our hearts and encourage us in the deepest of struggles. When sorrow comes, only his words bring comfort. When others have rejected and cast us out, his words of love and the promise to always be with us draw our hearts close to him. When nobody understands or cares, he does and he tells us to cast our cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). When we are confused and searching for direction, he sheds light on our path to brighten the way. Each of these interactions bring us into a greater understanding of the person who saved us and through it all we begin to love him. 

One day, we will embark off of the ship on eternities shore and will take part in the marriage between Jesus and his church. But until then, our hearts rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory all because we know and love this person that we have never seen.  

Fainted and Scattered (Matthew 9:36)

It is not difficult for anyone to see that the lives of so many people today are just a mess. How did they get this way? Why don’t they just get it together and do whatever needs to be done?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

From this passage, it appears that people become weak in life’s struggle and instead of continuing to fight on, they relax their resistance and faint. When this occurs, the person’s life then becomes subject to the problems and trials of life. Their lives get tossed about from side to side being cast about and cast down. This does not occur as a result of the weakness of the individual, because none of us have the ability to stand against the enemy. This occurs because of the absence of a shepherd in the person’s life. Sometimes there is not a shepherd because salvation has not yet been experienced, but other times it is because the person becomes estranged from their shepherd savior. Whether it be by confusion of doctrine, ill treatment from those in the body of Christ, person hurts and losses or sin: the separation occurs.

Today there are countless believers tossed about. They are away from their shepherd and the way to bring them back into the fold is to love them back. Bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2) is the act of you bringing your strength to those who are weak until they can once again gain the strength for living that can only come from their shepherd.