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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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)

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.

Your Story (Luke 8:39)

Our lives should be showing the great things that God is doing in them. It isn’t what we are now doing with our lives, but what he has done to us on the inside.

Religion can cause people to serve and even clean the inside of the cup, but God’s hidden work can never be duplicated. We can never fill the emptiness, but God can. We can never remove our shame, but God can blot it out. The nets of fear and insecurity, which grip us can never be escaped, but God can deliver us from them.

The struggles that brought you to Christ are the very areas of your life upon which he has done his greatest work. This is what your life must declare.

The maniac of Gadera was delivered. The woman with the issue of blood was cleansed. What’s your story?

Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. Luke 8:39

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)

Pleasing to God (Colossians 3:20)

The scriptures inform us that the action of children obeying their parents is well pleasing to the Lord. 

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

It does not say that children who obey their parents are well pleasing to the Lord, but that obeying parents is pleasing to him. As a child of God which positionally puts you in Christ, God is always pleased with you. However, there may be things that you do that may be displeasing to the him.

This can be difficult for some to understand. They are locked into the thought that if a person does something that is displeasing to the Lord, then the Lord must also be displeased with them. 

What we must understand is that God does not exist in linear time. This means that God is not stuck in time like you and me only moving forward from one day to the next. Time does not affect him: he can see from the beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning.

My children, as all children, have done things that are pleasing to me and also displeasing. Some of these actions were faults and others we sins. However when I look at them and assess whether or not I am pleased with them, I am able to see and recall much of their past and even with their faults and sins, I can still truly be pleased with them.

God looks at us from eternity future. The complete workings of salvation have been accomplished and from that standpoint as he looks at you in today’s time, you are pleasing to him. You are pleasing to God because of Christ and whenever he sees you, he sees you in Christ. The actions you do may be displeasing, but you are still pleasing to him. If you remain in disobedience and continue to act in ways that displease the Lord, he may chasten you. He will do this because he takes pleasure in you, and he cannot allow you to ruin your life.

Remember, your relationship with God is completely based on the works of Christ. There is nothing that you can do that will make you any more or less acceptable to him.