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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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.

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.

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.

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.