[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:5-6"]You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever [/ecko_quote]
With this devotion, I would conclude our meditation on the twenty-third Psalm. In this Shepherd’s Psalm, double portion and running over blessing is described in this way- Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over (V5). The Lord prepared a table for Job in the midst of his friendly enemies and from that point on, Job’s life was a constant party. Before Job died at a ripe old age, God had given Job greater riches than he had in the beginning, seven new sons, three beautiful daughters, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren too numerous to mention. His head was anointed with oil, all right-oil representing the presence of the Holy Spirit- and his cup blessings overflowed all over the place.
With all that happening, we can be sure of the truth of the last verse of the Shepherd’s Psalm; Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (v6). This is a fact as indisputable as it is encouraging, and therefore a heavenly verily, or "surely" is set as a seal upon it. This sentence may be read, "only goodness and mercy," for there shall be unmingled mercy in our history. These twin guardian angels will always be with me at my back and my beck. Just as when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer. Goodness and mercy follow him always -- all the days of his life -- the black days as well as the bright days, the days of fasting as well as the days of feasting, the dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.
Moreover, I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. "A servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever." While I am here I will be a child at home with my God; the whole world shall be His house to me; and when I ascend into the upper chamber, I shall not change my company, nor even change the house; I shall only go to dwell in the upper storey of the house of the Lord for ever. May God grant us grace to dwell in the serene atmosphere of this most blessed Psalm!
As Christians, we can move forward into an unknown, uncertain future saying, “Surely,” because the Lord is our Shepherd! Verse 1 reads, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The word “want” means lack. Surely our Shepherd will supply our every need! There will nothing lacking in our lives. Psalm 34:9-10 says, “O fear the LORD, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” The apostle Paul says it another way in Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
With the Lord as our Shepherd, there is No lack for intimacy. David said “my shepherd.” A little girl once said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that is all I want.” There is a real truth in that statement. A shepherd knew each of his sheep by name. There was an intimate relationship that formed between the shepherd and his sheep!
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Have you ever thought of verse 6 as a promise? The Lord, our Shepherd, has promised to provide or supply goodness and mercy everyday of our lives, all of our lives! The problem is, we often fail to recognise it! We are so trained to think that we must chase after what we call “good things,” like a big screen television. It is foreign for us to think about good things chasing after us! God has a scheme of beauty and love, nipping right at our heels, but our eyes are not trained to see it in our lives. So often we miss it.
Jesus, our Shepherd, is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Knowing Jesus can warm and gladden our hearts in every situation.
[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:5"]You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies[/ecko_quote]
The next step in the Good Shepherd’s training of the sheep is the preparation of a banquet table. The verse five says “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”. Why is the table prepared in the midst of my enemies? So, I can invite them to come and eat with me! That is a pretty potent reminder that the Lord’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
When I first became a King’s kid, I had an enemy. However, I had committed myself to being a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only (James 1:22), and because he had despitefully used me, I made myself pray for him ( Matthew 5:44). It was not exactly a joyful or a sincere prayer at first. It was one of dogged obedience. I had say, “ Lord, bless so and so”. Even while I was praying, I had been hoping He would not do it. However, eventually the grace of God got through to me, and I worked up to the point where I could meet the man on the street and not send flaming darts in his direction. As I followed the instructions in the Manufacturer’s Handbook (Bible), the hate left me. And after I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, the impossible happened. Love took the place of hate.
Now, I am not pretending perfection here. Paul confessed that he had not arrived all the way (Phil 3:13), but he knew he was headed in the right direction, and we can know it too. Circumstances can set in and I can crank up an instant poor-me pity party. When things go bad, and trust me they will, our most common response is to start having a poor me pity party. But it is soon called off as the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am only a dumb sheep and that the Good Shepherd who loves me is in charge of everything that happens to me. For that, I can say, “Praise the Lord”- and I do. That effectively douses any pity party and turns it into a glory party with the Lord himself providing the refreshments. A glory party is better that a pity party any day.
Do you remember all the bad things that happened to God’s servant Job? Every kind of disaster you can name; his children were killed, his cattle were destroyed, he broke out in boils, and his wife told him to drop dead. As if that was not enough, his former friends turned into such creeps; he had no need for enemies. Instead of comforting him in his afflictions and distresses, they told him it was all his fault.
It is a long story, and you can read all about it in the Manufacturer’s Handbook in the Book of Job. However, what’s relevant here is that in the end, God had Job pray for his “friends”, and God sent the “friends” out to get the steaks for a party (Job 42:8). Moreover, the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. Also, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
To be continued...
[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:4"]Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me[/ecko_quote]
As I submit myself fully to God’s leadership in the paths of righteousness, I don’t find myself in a restricted kind of life. He allows me lots of choices. “Lord,” I tell Him, “here are two ways I can go in this situation. They look almost opposite to me. My wisdom is not good enough to sort them out; my trust has to be in you. I am going to take the path that seems most reasonable to me, but I will trust you to block it if that’s not in line with your best will for me”. I don’t sit and shiver and quake, fearful that I might slip-up. I get the body in motion because there is no way you can steer a parked car. If I keep moving, God can lead me.
Suppose I make a wrong turn? I have done that, more than once, and God has always been faithful to correct me. Often, I have had to make a wrong turn in order to find the right road. God never promised to make us goof -proof ( blunder free) overnight. That’s what Shepherd’s staff is for, to fish the sheep out of trouble.
The Psalmist seemed to know that we might land in dire circumstances from time to time. The next he says is “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (v4). Death is a shadow, an illusion. In addition, death for the Christian is graduation day, nothing to be feared. My mother graduated that way. She slept in the night and woke up across the border. King’s kids can graduate with no fear of evil. I know that personally because I have encountered certain death on a number of occasions since I have known Jesus. I feared no evil right in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.
The absence of fear always means the presence of the Lord, just as the Psalmist went on to say: For thou art with me (v4). The sheep and the Shepherd are walking together now because the sheep has learned to pace his walk to that of the one who can keep him from all harm. Thy rod and they staff they comfort me (v4). The rod of correction that had to be used to force the sheep into submissiveness is no longer a torment to him because now he finds it a great delight to do the will of God. The chastening that had been such a hard thing for him to take has brought joyful results.
When a properly submissive spirit has been cultivated within us, the corrective measures of God are always a comfort to us. If we have any feeling of uneasiness in the face of God’ authority, that’s a sure sign the spirit of rebellion is lurking inside us, waiting to go into action, doing its own thing. It is far more blessed to have our wills so in line with His that the rod and staff are a comfort. They make us not afraid of getting into trouble, or revealing our imperfections because we know His crooked pole can fish us out, time after time, and set us back on the straight path.
Do not ever feel that you must be a perfect Christian. It’s not possible. But Jesus in us is perfect, and by the process of our dying to self and letting Him live His life through us, we will more and more resemble Jesus. The end result of this process is exciting. Look at what John wrote about it “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is (1 John 3:2)
To be continued...
[ecko_quote source="Psalms 23:2-3"]He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake[/ecko_quote]
As we seen in our previous devotion the first two verses of twenty third Psalm. Today, we will focus our devotion on next few verses. Before we can ever go out on our own, we must learn to follow where He leads us. He leadeth me beside the still waters (V2). In the natural, turbulent waters would look a whole lot more exciting and appealing to us, but a sheep is so dumb he can drown himself trying to wet his whistle at the edge of turbulent waters.
We learn to obey the Shepherd as we consent to be led by still waters at first. A young sheep, just learning his place in the fold, cannot handle big meetings or large campaigns without being beaten by his own swelling self- importance.
He restoreth my soul (V3)- The unrestored soul generally blocks the best God has for us because it goes by feelings instead of faith. Often when we say “I don’t feel led,” to do a certain thing, that’s our soul crying for attention, resenting the fact that it’s not in charge of proceedings. The soul cannot run out and do its own thing when it is submitting to the Good Shepherd, and it's free choices die hard.
When the Good Shepherd restores our soul, He brings it into its proper relationship, subordinate to the Holy Spirit. Feelings must be ignored, for the most part. Even feelings of blessings and the feeling of anointing are strictly second best, because they detract our attention from the leading of the Good Shepherd. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is no longer soulish enslavement to feelings, there is the release of spiritual liberty (2 Cor 3:17)
Once the Good Shepherd has restored my soul to its proper place, He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for name’s sake (v3). There is only one way to become righteous, and that is to become identified with the one who can be our righteousness inside us ( I Cor 1:30). If I became righteous on my own I had have to glory in my righteousness. That’s what I did back in the days when I had myself fooled into thinking I could somehow be in a partnership with God. I was trying to steal a little glory from Him. But God wants all the glory for Himself, and He gives all the blessings to His people. When it comes right down to it, I need blessings every day, but I would not know what to do with glory if I had a whole warehouse full of it. Glory belongs to God, No one else can handle it.
To be continued...
[ecko_quote source="Psalms 23:1-2"] The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; [/ecko_quote]
In the twenty-third Psalm, God has given us a description of the process He uses in training King’s kids (we are the King’s kids). It’s true that we are instantly transformed into new beings when we are born again. In this new dimension of Christian life, soon after the new birth comes either stagnation or growing toward maturity. This growth is dependent on our willingness to cooperate with what He wants to do in us. Let’s look at what happens in the lives of those who choose to grow
The Lord is my Shepherd (v.1): These first two verses of the Psalm acknowledges Jesus as the Lord. King’s kids in training take every one of life’s circumstances and acknowledge Him to be in charge because once they have become new creatures, “all things are of God (2 Cor 5:18). Knowing that, Kings kids never have to bog down in appearances or feelings; they can rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is in control. The first three words make a positive statement of fact, “The Lord is”. Those who come to God must believe He is, the Scripture says, and that He hears and answers prayer (Heb 11:6).
When the Lord is the Lord in and of our lives, we can say, I shall not want (v.1): These words of the Psalm means that I refuse to be caught lacking for anything in my life. It does not guarantee that I will get everything I ask for, but that I will have everything I need. Most of us would be in a mess if we got everything we asked for. But God is not afraid of saying no when what we request is not His best for us. However, sometimes He lets us have our way in order to teach us something.
In the next verse, we come to the first step of training a sheep, or a King’s kid: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures(v2). According to me, after I had become a King’s kid, I thought I was supposed to run all over the beautiful green pasture, doing my own thing in perfect freedom. But the Lord said, “Down, boy. And stay down until I ask you to move”. Obedience is the first lesson we have to learn in becoming Kings kid in action. We have to obey His instructions to wait when everything of self in us is protesting. We might think “But I have got to get out there and get busy for you, Lord”. Getting ‘busy for the Lord” with all kinds of programmes is one of the commonest ways of evading God’s will. It generally means that we are doing our own thing, and God never honours that.
God has given us a number of persuasive checkpoints for determining whether we are doing our thing or His thing i.e. doing His will. When a servant of God comes back from an assignment totally exhausted, we can know that he has been working like a bee out there operating his own programme, under his own power. But when God’s servant has been out there forty years and is still as fresh as Moses was after the wilderness, we can know he is been operating in the power of God. We can tell it every time.
Learning to lie down and do nothing is the hardest thing imaginable for a King’s kid who is all fired up, raring to get out there and serve Jesus. Early in my Christian life, I did a lot of complaining about it. “ Lord, you are wasting my time, “ I’d point out to Him, “ you must not have understood how valuable I am to your kingdom”. It seemed as if He said, “ I think I do”. Elijah complained to God one time in about the same way I did ( I King 19). He said, in effect, Lord, it’s a good thing you have got me on your team. Without me, why, you’d be out of business, because I am the only one left who is faithful to you”.
Did God say, “ That’s right. I can’t afford to lose you?. No way, What He said was, “ I have got news for you, Elijah, I have got seven thousand more who have not bowed their knees to Baal. I can wheel them out of the crack any time I need them. And since you think you are all that indispensable. I am going to have to put you on the shelf for a while. I will prove I can get along perfectly well without you.
I can use you if you will be obedient, of course, but you have got to learn to lie down and wait before you can walk in my victory. Before you can be led by my Spirit, you have got to get to the place where you are willing to obey me in spite of circumstances. Before we can ever go out on our own, we have to learn to follow where He leads us.
To be continued...
[ecko_quote source="Jeremiah 33:3"] Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know [/ecko_quote]
The prophet Jeremiah was not a popular man. When he declared the truth, God had given him - that Judah would soon start seventy long years in captivity - people threw him into prison.
Yet in such dire circumstances, Jeremiah learned something profound about prayer. Jeremiah 33:1-3 says: "The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 'Thus says the LORD who made it, the Lord who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."'"
Prayer is a significant part of a vital relationship with God. It is not for some special spiritual elite; it is for you. Three principles within these verses can transform your old notions about prayer into something fresh and new.
First, God says, "Call to Me." He wants to hear from you. His all-loving, omnipotent heart desires to hear your innermost thoughts and feelings. He wants to hear from you in the hard times and also when life is going on smoothly. In fact, your sweetest times of prayer happen when you come before Him simply to praise and worship and give thanks for what He has done.
Second, God says, "I will answer you." Do you believe that? Perhaps you once asked God for something He did not give you, and since then, you have harboured secret worries that He did not hear or did not care to answer. But God Himself says to you, "I will answer you." That answer may not take the form you anticipate or come when you desire, but He will respond. He might say "yes," "no," or "wait." You may not understand the reasons behind His answer - but you can trust that they are best for you (Rom. 8:28).
Third, God says, "I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." You have finite wisdom and understanding; God knows all. He knows the big picture; you see merely a tiny piece. When you ask Him to guide you, He works to direct you as a part of His higher vision and calling.
If you take that first step of calling out to Him, prayer can become an important part of a dynamic relationship with almighty God. Do it today - He waits to hear your voice.
Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Dr Charles Stanley
[ecko_quote source="John 15:15"] I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me [/ecko_quote]
Years ago, there was an old German Professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them decided to find out by resolving the secret of it; so, one of their student's hid in the study room where the old Professor spent his evenings.
It was late, when the Professor came in. He was exhausted, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer and finally by closing the Book of books, he said,
“Well, Lord Jesus, we are on the same old terms”.
To know Him is life’s highest attainment and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be “on the same old terms with Him”.
The reality of Jesus comes because of a secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and understanding. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.
It's simple. Intimacy is close or confidential friendship. And God, far from making it mysterious or unobtainable, has sought that kind of relationship with us from the beginning: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). He revealed Himself to the patriarchs and prophets; He led the Israelites in the wilderness by cloud and by fire.
God’s ultimate invitation to fellowship with Him was in sending His Son to pay the price for our sin so that we who believe could be called His children. To seal His presence in us, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
God continually invites us to respond to His love and a desire to have fellowship with Him. He longs to love us because only He can, and He wants us to know Him in all His fullness. His commandment to us is "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Dt. 6:5). He wants us to be intimate with Him.
Those saints—past and present—who have enjoyed exceptional closeness with God are first of all those who have deeply longed for it. God promised in Jer. 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
David’s longing for God was insatiable. Even when enemies pursued him, he did not seek deliverance or a change in circumstances; he sought God.
A desire to only know the Lord and His character must be our motive for intimacy. If all I seek are His gifts or whet He can do for me; then I have a self-centered relationship based on God’s "performance" in meeting my perceived needs. Instead, my desire to seek Him must be based on a longing just to know Him, to fellowship with Him, to enjoy His company.
Someone once said that "The essence of holiness is not that we are perfect, but that we never stop pursuing it." If I truly want to draw closer to God, then my heart’s desire will be to please the Lord and to bring Him glory in all that I do.
Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Cynthia Heald-Bible.ORG; Steams in the Desert