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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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.

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.

Is Depression a Sin?

Hurt and sorrow are not emotions that you can control and store away. When they are present, it is for reason. Some may suggest that you must turn yourself around or rise above the circumstances of your hurt and sorrow. This may seem correct and may be in part, but as a whole this thinking is in error.

God has given us a comforter and he is able to lift us out of hurt and sorrow or at the least give us joy intermingled with our hurt and sorrow. Sometimes our ability to rise out of sorrow or to experience his joy is limited by two conditions or circumstances. These conditions or circumstances are time and the ministering of truth by another person.

I have heard some say that we are to have joy in the midst of our circumstances. To this I somewhat agree, but recognize the joy may not be experienced right away, but only until after hurt and pain has followed its course.

To illustrate, imagine that a person is severely punched in the face leaving the victim wincing in extreme pain. Immediately afterwards, he was approached by a believer who points out the beautiful sunset and tries to get the victim to rejoice in the power and wonder of God. As you can guess, that most likely is not going to happen.

However after the initial pain begins to subside, the victim may be confused as to why he was rejected and wounded in such a manner and then as he looks to the sunset, lifts his heart to God and rejoices in the fact that he who created such beauty loves him and will always be with him. He eventually rejoiced in his hurt and sorrow, but only after hurt or sorrow followed its course. It is not that he would not rejoice in God, but that he could not at that time rejoice in God.

Another reason why some cannot rejoice in the midst of their hurt and sorrow is because the burden is greater than they can bear. The Lord has promised that he will not allow us to be tempted above that we are able to bear because at the same time he will provide a way of escape. For these individuals, the way of escape is truth.

However while being crushed under the heavy load of hurt and sorrow, the believer may not know the necessary truth needed to overcome or they may not recognize it. It is in these circumstances that other believers are instructed to bear the burden of others. Just as the Holy Spirit (parakletos) comes along side us for comfort, we are to come alongside other believers and help them bear of their burden. We can do this with empathy, love, patience and the sharing of truth that will encourage their heart and point them to the Lord. It is not a truth of telling them what they need to do, but a truth of God upon which their faith can cling. When this occurs, the Holy Spirit can continue to do his work and lift her heart from hurt and sorrow. Rejoicing will follow, but it will only be able to occur as a result of at least one person ministering to another.

Remember how those at Thessalonica were sorrowing over loved ones who have passed away? Did not the apostle Paul come alongside the believers and comfort them with the truth that one day they would be reunited and be together with the Lord? (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)

Also, did not Paul recognize the man who was being swallowed up with excessive sorrow and experienced this because believers did not exercise the truth of forgiveness when he repented? (2 Corinthians 2:7)

Some may deem the person struggling in hurt and sorrow as being in sin and that their hurt and sorrow, which today we call depression is in fact sin. To say that the person struggling with deep hurt and sorrow is in sin could be a sin in itself. Instead of trying to label and identify people, let us first pray to God and ask him to use us to bring truth to those who for the time being are struggling with hurt and sorrow so that their faith may cling to this truth and bring the comfort in the midst of their hurt and sorrow.

Working Through the Lost (Psalm 39:3-4)


There are two ways to view the lost and how they treat you. At first, David saw the lost as his wicked enemy with their words and actions wounding him. These wounds began to consume his thoughts until a fire burned deep in his soul at which point he reacted and spoke revealing his frail and vain condition.

My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Psalms 39:3-4

Later, David’s view changed. He still saw the lost as wicked and desired deliverance from them, but one thing was distinctly different. David viewed the actions of the lost as God’s strokes upon him (vs. 10). Instead of reacting against the wicked, he yielded himself to God. He allowed God to purge him from sinful acts.

The former reaction is a struggle and battle with the world and with no benefit, but the latter works good out of evil and brings hope, correction, and strength to the humble.  

As you face the hardship of living the Christian, strive to recognize the handiwork of God: even in the lives of the lost.

Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)



A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

Knowing Leads to Trusting

Years ago, the GI Joe cartoon had a slogan, “Knowing is half the battle.” That slogan is true for believers as well. How do you know or view God determines your level of trust. 

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalms 9:10)

If you know God as one who is quickly angered at you and ready to judge, then you will have a difficult time trusting him. However, if you have experienced God’s faithfulness and see him as a loving father full of mercy, then you will wholeheartedly cling to him in times of trouble.  

The secret to the Christian life is not trying harder or laboring to mustarding up faith, but instead to get closer to him. Just as you and I can trust true friends but shy away from trusting strangers, we will more comfortably trust God as we move from a practically stranger relationship to one as a son resting in the bosom of his father.