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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Wonderful Works (Psalm 40:5)

God works many wonders in our lives.  However many of the blessings we seem to forget and merely focus on current circumstances.  I decided to list 100 of God’s workings in my life.  I know that I probably have missed more blessings than I have counted.  I encourage you to do the same and then share them.

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5)

Many of these are very personal.  I ask that you be quick to read and slow to judge.  God bless.

1. He saved me and all the work that brought it to pass.

2. He removed me from ungodly influences.

3. Gave me my son as a direct answer to prayer.

4. After salvation, he led me away from paganism and settled my feet into Christianity.

5. He gave me my first house.

6. He gave me work in the midst of the extreme recession in the early 80’s.

7. He delivered me from a being killed in a steel mill accident involving a locomotive. 

8. He relieved the financial burden as the recession increased and everything in my life began to crumble.

9. He provided housing in a very desperate time.

10. He comforted my wounded heart.

11. He empowered me to minister to hurting people.

12. He blessed my ministry involvement.

13. I grew in grace.

14. He brought friends into my life to support and help me.

15. He led me to advance my education.

16. He provided transportation.

17. He provided a car.

18. He answered prayers for food and finances.

19. Unemployment was extended.

20. He blessed with me getting called back to work after 20 months of being laid off.

21. He enabled me to by my truck.

22. He guided me through some legal turmoil and enabled me to escape the attack.

23. I moved to my new apartment in Spring City.

24. God blessed my work, ministry service and life.

25. Anthony memorized Psalm 23 before he turned 4 years old.

26. God continued to comfort my wounded heart.

27. He strengthened me to stand strong and live for God.

28. He helped me pass my Greek classes.

29. Helped me through a terrible sickness.

30. Found a better place to live.

31. He caused a person to fall into the pit that they prepared for me

32. Was able to leave the steel mill and be off work on Sundays.

33. Found a new job.

34. Learned maintenance skills that I would later use in God’s work.

35. Received a great promise from God.

36. Graduated from college.

37. Received another great promise from God that would come true seven years later.

38. Married Beth.

39. Signed a lease for an apartment two days before the wedding. (That was close)

40. Lost my job.

41. Found a deer that had recently been hit.

42. Able to sell my truck to pay the rent.

43. Picked up extra electrical side work.

44. Exhaust on car fixed for free.

45. Transmission went, got many rides to work while hitch hiking and had to walk much less.

46. Somebody gave us a station wagon.

47. Found a place to live closer to church

48. Refrigerator broke and someone bought another one.

49. Did not get to adopt my niece and then Beth found out she was expecting just several weeks later.

50. Marybeth Princess was born.

51. Strength as we faced uncertainty with Marybeth’s heart condition.  God gave strength.

52. Somebody gave us a car after the engine seized in the wagon.

53. Anthony enrolled in Christian school

54. Moved to Font.

55. Great ministry days with hundreds of kids attending church

56. Marybeth’s open heart surgery was successful.

57. Injured ankle and out of work for months.  Secured a new job.

58. Promoted at work

59. Went full time into the ministry

60. Able to get away with the wife for a three day vacation

61. Honey bucket of blessings dumped over on us at Christmas

62. Became principal of Landmark Christian school

63. School enrollment increased the next year

64. Bought a house with $1down and 120% financing.  Yep, $1 down and extra cash for renovations.

65. New roof, bathroom, carpet and tons of paint along with residency inspection in 30 days.

66. School enrollment increased by 150% from my first year.

67. Able to buy my first computer

68. Bought a car instead of having one given to us.

69. School increased by another 40%.

70. Moved the school to a larger location and added a library.

71. School maxed out at 257% larger than the first year I became principal.

72. Many learning disabled children helped at LCS.

73. Able to visit the Dominican Republic

74. Able to visit the DR again.

75. Senior class trip to the DR.

76. Able to return to Northeast.

77. Mentored by Dr. Bish…what a guy.

78. Permitted to create the special education curriculum for Northeast

79. Invited to speak on special education issues at Ocean City, MD for the Delmarva Christian school association

80. Big personal setback, but the Lord gave much grace

81. God’s hand of blessing on me

82. Everything began to crumble around me, but God continued to bless my life.

83. Strength to work two full-time jobs

84. Expose to the mental health industry

85. Relief from financial setbacks and back to one job

86. Wisdom, patience and guidance were given

87. Able to go back to school again

88. Leadership to leave Northeast

89. Comfort through disappointment

90. Three meetings on the calendar. No job or money.  God filled up the calendar and met our needs.

91. God blessed to help countless people through speaking engagements as I traveled around the country

92. My wife and daughter were not killed in the auto accident

93. Grace through the painful months

94. Medical insurance obtained

95. Secured work at Devereux

96. Promoted to Treatment Manager (thank you for the financial trouble which exposed me to the mental health industry)

97. Promoted to Learning Specialist

98. Promoted to Learning Manager

99. Promoted to Operations Manager

100. I have great health

Upholding Others (Psalm 54:4)

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God has promised that he will provide to us the help that we need to endure life in this fallen world and face all its perils. How he accomplishes this is different than what we expect. Our mind visions God reaching out from Heaven and miraculous zapping us with his divine strength. However, the Psalmist clearly reveals how his help comes. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. (Psalms 54:4)

God’s help comes from other people. He moves upon the hearts of other believers to minister to us and uphold or prop up our soul. It is their words, actions and prayers that are the helping work that he provides.

As we journey through life, we must recognize that we are both receivers and providers of God’s help. He will be there for us when we need him and we should be there for him when he needs to use us. There are so many people struggling in life who just need somebody to uphold them. Will you be the person that God uses to provide the strength that they need?

A similar passage to consider is found in the New Testament and reveals that this type of living is an essential part of Christian living. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Daily Blessings, Really? (Psalm 68:19)

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Back in the 70’s when I was a kid, a trio that I belonged to was booked at a vacation resort for the summer. In order to play the gig, we needed to be in the musicians’ union. It was not long until I found myself in Chester, PA watching a film strip about the union and all the benefits that I would get from joining it. I was guaranteed certain wages, royalty protection on recordings and a host of other propaganda material. In the end, I felt that with being in the union, I couldn’t lose.

Fast forward a few decades and I again find myself as part of another union. I am not united with a collection of people, but instead with just one. I am united with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6) and because of that union, I have exclusive rights, privileges and benefits.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. (Psalms 68:19)

I could endlessly go on listing each benefit that I have experienced, but since we will do that together in eternity and praise God for each blessing that we share, I will not take time to discuss it now. What I do want to point out is that there are benefits from God every day. The scriptures tell us that God loads or lays upon us blessings each day. Now I will be the first to say that I have experienced many days without seeing any blessing from God. There were times that I tirelessly plugged on through life waiting for God to bless me and nothing seemed to come my way. Is God’s word untrue? Does God keep from fulfilling his word? Definitely not! On the days that I did not see any blessings, it was just that. They were there and I didn’t see them. I was probably looking for something that I wanted and not for the blessing that I needed.

We would be best to keep a daily journal and record the blessing that we receive from The Lord each day and on days that we appear to not receive a blessing, mark in the journal that we failed to recognize what God provided. With some time this practice will yield a closer walk with The Lord and an appreciation for what he is doing in our lives.

I Prayed and Nothing Happened (Jeremiah 33:3)

One of the most difficult times for me as a believer is when I pray to God while in a trial and he seems not to answer my prayer. What is so frustrating is that I do not know why he doesn’t answer. Is it because of sin? Is it because I need to continually pray with importunity like the widow woman and the unjust judge? Or what? Why won’t he just tell me?

This morning, I heard somebody preach from Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. I memorized that verse over 30 years ago. He did quite well. However over the years, it was always presented that God would hear my prayer, answer and provide for me in ways that I would not imagine or think. It sounded really great, but it wasn’t an accurate interpretation. I guess that is why I would get frustrated: unanswered prayers were not great and mighty. I wonder how many thought as I did and had become discouraged while in the midst of their trials.

So, what does this verse really mean? From a quick word study, we can see that God wants us to accost or call out to him. He promises to answer our prayer, but his manner of answering is not a provision that will end the trial or meet the need.

We are able to understand things within our grasp and as long as God works in that manner, we understand him and what he is doing. However, God is transcendent or above and beyond what we are and think. Therefore, he many times will act in manners beyond our understanding. What he promises to do is reveal an understanding to us. From this passage, great and mighty things are things clipped or cut off from our knowledge. God’s transcendent ways are also at an inaccessible height to our understanding. When we pray to him in the midst of dark trials, he promises to reveal things hidden to our understanding. From the understanding that he provides, we will be strengthened in our faith and enabled to endure.

What God is doing in your life may take some time to accomplish. When you pray for deliverance, you in essence may be praying for God to cease his work, but if you call out for help in the trial, knowledge of his working will be provided. It may be in part, but you will gain the understanding that you need. Trials will come and most will stay with us for some time, but rest assure, God will provide to you what is needed to understand him and his purpose.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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Importunity (Luke 11:8)

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where praying for deliverance does not bring results. We continually seek God’s face and prayer for deliverance. How long this prayer continues varies between trials. When the prayer is finally answered, we believe that God did so because of our relationship with him. In other words, he answered our prayers because we are his children.

Albeit, we may be his children and because of that he is moved to answer our prayers, but what we must recognize is that answered prayer hinges more on God maintaining his reputation with man than on man’s reputation with God.

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. (Luke 11:8)

It was the importunity or embarrassment that would be faced that caused the friend to give loaves of bread in the middle of the night. It was not his friendship that moved him but the maintaining of his name that did. Likewise, God maintaining his name among men is of greatest importance to him.

So the next time you feel that because you are not the child of God that you expect yourself to be, remember that God also answers prayer to maintain his good name.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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The Testimony Of Prayer (Part 2)

How long did Zacharias pray? The scriptures do not say. He may have began praying when his wife was still of child bearing age, but as time went on his prayers became a little more earnest. How often do you think he became discouraged? How many times did he want to just give up and accept the fact that he would be fatherless? But instead of giving up, he continued to prayer.

What he did not know was that when his prayer would be answered, his testimony would shine like a spotlight. However in order for his light to shine, God would need him to wait for answered prayer. Had his wife had a child at 40 years of age, people would have said, “Great!” and the brightness of his testimony would be dim. At 50 years of age, his light of testimony for answered prayer would have been even greater, but if she was 60 years old, those around her would have been stunned by his shinning testimony. The brightest light of testimony in prayer will take time. The longer we are willing to wait, the more glory God will get in the eyes of those who witness our answered prayer. The question is are we willing to wait on God?

As you struggle in your trial, continue praying and yield to God. Ask for his strength and let him know that you will trust his will and yield to his plan. He will provide the strength that you need and in his time will answer your prayer. The testimony of what he has done in your life will shine like the sun, but we must wait. Waiting is never easy, but if we can understand why God requires us to wait, the waiting becomes more bearable. This is not the only reason why God delays in answering prayer, but hopefully it will enable you to endure through the night.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

https://www.createspace.com/4441566

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