“The Lord Is My Shepherd” Psalm 23
This Psalm is all about personal faith and trust in God, and the blessed assurance that comes to those living in the will of God. This Psalm expresses what the expectant faith of the obedient believer knows God will bring to pass, in due season.
GOD IS THE SHEPHERD OF HIS CHILDREN, v1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Because of the believer’s personal knowledge of God’s righteousness, God is judged to be faithful in all He has promised.
GOD IS THE PROVIDENTIAL KEEPER OF HIS OWN, v2. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Although our faith teaches us that with food and raiment therewith be content, our experience manifests that God sends “handfuls of purpose” to bless us in our way, as we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THAT WHICH PRESERVES HIS PEOPLE, v3. “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God’s performance of His promises will never mar His name. God’s people have their salvation and their eternal glory, all due to the grace of God. It is by the power of God that those trusting in Him are made to overcome.
GOD’S CHILDREN FIND PEACE IN SUBMISSION TO HIM, v4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Since every child of God is chastened for their own profit, and this is known to be God loving His own, this endears God’s children unto Him. God’s children lean and depend upon the superiority of their heavenly Father. Knowing God is watching over us for our good, promotes love and respect towards Him.
GOD’S PURPOSE TO EXALT HIS OWN, RESULTS IN CHRISTIANS REJOICING IN THE LORD, v5. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” God’s plan is to use the lives of those who have a testimony of faith in Him, to manifest the riches of His grace to a lost world. This involves God doing things that are obviously for the benefit of His children, in the sight of those who are opposed to them. It is the faithful believer’s joy to know that God works all things together for their good, as they honor Him in life.
GOD’S CHILDREN ARE DRAWN TO HIM WITH GRATITUDE, IN FULL ASSURANCE, v6. “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.” For those who love God, God’s house brings them into closer communion with the One they want to know more of, the source from whence all blessings flow. God’s house is preferred above every other place, by those who know the glory of God. A Christian seeks not only to commune with God, to be fed by His Word, but also to enjoy the fellowship of their brethren in Christ, whom they love in the Lord.
The world cannot appreciate God’s house, because the natural man discerns not spiritual things, but rather comes short of the glory of God, knowing only the pleasures of sin for a season.
The net result of one’s experience in God’s house is consistent with their faith, or the lack thereof: “According to your faith, be it unto you.”
To forsake God’s house manifests that one has lost sight of the glory of God’s righteousness, and has become blinded to the incompleteness of their human state. IS GOD YOUR SHEPHERD?SHARING
From Our Church Covenant: “to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay.”
We all know that offenses do happen. They seem to attack as a virus. They appear as an unwanted blemish. Offenses seem to have an energy of their own. No one has to want them, to plan them–they just happen. The things that combine them creep in, like cold air coming through the cracks, that suddenly sends its chill through the air of relationships. Friendships have to be cultivated, but not offenses; they keep showing up uninvited.
Offenses are like wildfires. Any incidental spark will ignite one. Once this fire gets started, it feeds off everything. Anything it comes in contact with is potential fuel for the fire. All the dead things that have no life or meaning anymore suddenly become fuel for the hottest fire. Offense feeds off all the things that have happened in the past that have been lying dead and dried up in a person’s memory. Just as with a wildfire, the incident that started it all may have been the smallest of flames, yet once it begins to feed on the old dead wood, it becomes a raging inferno.
As with wildfires, the only effective way to deal with them is through prevention. If someone drives by your place and throws out a cigarette butt that lies smoldering in the dry grass, the wise thing to do is immediately stomp it out. Likewise, if someone does or says something that is faulty and is offensive, the wise thing to do is to immediately put out the fires of offense. The worst thing one can do is to let it start burning, allowing it to catch all of one’s emotions, feelings, and thoughts on fire. If we don’t put out the fire that someone starts in our yard right away, it will spread to our neighbors’ yards and then get totally out of control, leaving an irreversible path of destruction.
The dealing with offenses requires self denial and faith in responding to them as God tells us to:
(1) “to be slow to take offense”–even to the point of doing good in return to those “who have despitefully used you.”
(2) “always ready for reconciliation”–human nature is quick to take offense and always ready to go to war, and finds the seeking of reconciliation to be against one’s grain.
(3) “mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay”–rather than feed a fire, we are to contain it. Rather than tell everybody about how someone has wronged us, Jesus commands us to contain it and resolve it privately–see Matthew 18:15
Christianity depends on being successful in overcoming offenses.SHARING
The Calendar Of Events Surrounding The Death of Christ
Note: In Biblical days, the 24 hour daily cycle was divided into two equal parts, night and day – the night preceding the day, Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31. The sun controlled the day, and the moon the night, John 11:9. In Biblical days, the day started at 6:00pm (in the evening) and ended at 6:00pm the next evening. Our days are reckoned from 12:00 midnight to 12:00 midnight.
MONDAY: Mark 11:20: Jesus returned to Jerusalem by the same route and sees the withered fig tree. Mark 11:27-Mark 14:1, Jesus teaches and answers questions. Mark 14:1…In 2 days (Wednesday) would be the Passover.
TUESDAY: Mark 14:12-16: The day before the Passover, the Preparation Day. The Jewish Passover began on the 14th day of the month Abib or Nisan, by killing the lamb that was caught on the 10th day of the month, Exodus 12:3-6. The Passover is a type of Christ – 1 Corinthians 5:7. The Passover lasted 7 days. The first day of the Passover (the 15th) and the last day were High Sabbaths (annual.) – Leviticus 23:4-8.
WEDNESDAY: Their Wednesday began at 6:00pm…our Tuesday (see above note.) During this time, Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, and instituted the Lord’s Supper, Mark 14:22-25. Mark 14:26-52, Tuesday evening (Wednesday Jewish time) they go out to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prays and is arrested. Mark 14:53-72, The trial of Christ before the Sanhedrin, in the night hours (our Tuesday, their Wednesday.) Mark 15:1-25, The trial before Pilate and the crucifixion in the third hour of the day, which would be 9:00am Wednesday, our time. Wednesday, He is on the cross. Mark 15:33, There is darkness from the sixth to the ninth hours (12:00 noon to 3:00pm.) Mark 15:42-47, In the afternoon before 6:00pm, His death and burial, which would make it before the beginning of the next day, which was a High Sabbath (not the weekly sabbath)…see John 19:31. So, before 6:00pm Wednesday, Christ was placed in the tomb.
THURSDAY: Matthew 27:62-66: Guards are placed at the tomb.
FRIDAY & SATURDAY: He is in the tomb. Saturday ended at 6:00pm.
SUNDAY: The tomb is visited, Matthew 28:1-7. Matthew 28:1 – as it begins to “dawn,” speaking of daylight. NOTE: Sunday (the first day of the week) had begun at 6:00pm Saturday, our time. Matthew 28:6, The tomb is already empty. He was in the tomb Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights…three nights. He was in the tomb Thursday, Friday, and Saturday…three days, just as He had said – Matthew 12:39-40. This is essential to have the gospel according to the scriptures – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. He arose after 6:00pm Saturday evening, which was the Jewish first day of the week. So, we observe the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day. It is to be observed weekly on the first day of the week, rather than on an annual basis, just as the Old Testament Sabbath was observed weekly. If it were an annual observance, God would command it and it would fall on a different day of the week every year, just as any other annual holiday does…see 1 John 2:21.SHARING
Do You Believe Christ Or Not?
“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” Matthew 12:40
The whole issue is about ONE THING: Did Christ tell the truth, or did He lie? Did He bear false witness? There would have been no reason for Christ to say He would be IN THE TOMB three days and three nights if it were not so. To me, the situation is this: are we going to accept the witness of Christ, or are we going to let man deny the witness of Christ by what man says?
In giving a sign, one is setting forth that which indicates fact, not a misnomer. Had someone in “that evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39) began to rethink what Christ said, and believed Christ’s sign, the one and only sign, that Christ would BE IN the heart of the earth three days and three nights, when would he start looking for Christ’s resurrection, after Christ was placed in the tomb? One day and two nights later, etc.?
If Christ was crucified on Friday, and if a religionist of that day was to repent and believe Christ, he would expect Christ to resurrect three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb, JUST AS HE SAID! So, when would he expect Christ’s resurrection? He certainly would not be looking for Christ’s resurrection early Sunday morning, because at best, that would be half or less of the time that Christ said He would be in the tomb.
Christ said the three days and three nights were the time period he would be IN the heart of the earth. So to believe Christ, rather than some religionist, we accept the fact that the three days and three nights was the period of time Christ’s body was in the tomb, rather than just a range of time that religionists can make out of it what they want to.
To let Christ be true and every man a liar, (Romans 3:4) we accept the fact that He was in the tomb (in the heart of the earth) three days and three nights, just as He said. Should Christ have been crucified on Friday, and was risen before the Christians came to the tomb early Sunday morning, His sign that He gave, His Word that He spoke, His testimony that He gave that He would be “in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” would be false, yes, a lie!
This whole issue can only be resolved by simply believing Christ! If a person is disposed for any reason not to believe the TRUTH that Jesus Himself spoke, certainly there is no grounds or reason to think they will be otherwise persuaded.
All false religion, and all deceit depends on people being willing to follow another line of reasoning other than just go with what God’s Word says. This is how the fall occurred in the Garden of Eden.
The QUESTION to ask and answer is, DO YOU BELIEVE CHRIST, OR NOT?SHARING
We Make It, We Must Bear It
“WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE FAILS, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS”
We have all heard the above saying, and how true it is to life! As humans, we are prone to try everything else before we turn to and trust in the truth.
God’s Word is our instructions for life. It shows us where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. God’s commandments show us how to build our lives, how to live life, and how to outlive all of the problems of this life by faith, unto gaining eternal rewards.
However, due to the flesh lusting against the Spirit of God, there is much living that abides not with the instructions of God’s Word. And as is the case in other things, life not put together according to the instructions, develops many functional problems. As Dr. Phil says, even accidents can be attributed to factors not taken into proper consideration, which in turn contributed to the circumstances that led up to the accident.
When the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) finally made his decision to cast aside the laws of his father to take his life into his own hands, at that moment he felt like the battle was over, having declared his independence from his father’s way. People may wrestle with the difference between what they want and what God’s Word says, unto finally coming out in the open with their decision to do what they want instead of the way God’s Word teaches. When they do this, they get the feeling that the battle is over, that now they can finally get on with living their life their way.
But, rather than the battle be over when the prodigal son declared his position to his father, his battle had just begun! He had thrown aside the privileges, opportunities, and blessings that he could have had for living his life according to his father’s will, unto beginning to bear the burden of his life of sin.
God’s instructions do not prevent our having a good life. They rather prevent us from messing up our lives. And once we put our lives together contrary to God’s instructions, then we are left with the many and often unsolvable functional problems of life, that we will bear the burden of the rest of our lives.
Think about the importance of God’s instructions for life, before you make any decision to put your life together contrary to His instructions.
“For every man shall bear his own burden.” Galatians 6:5
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21SHARING
The Beauty of The Local Church
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Ephesians 3:21
It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ, the local New Testament Church is beautiful, it’s worth determined by it’s purchased price, the perfect shed blood of Christ! See Ephesians 5:25-27
Modern man has set the local church aside as being too insufficient and has put his trust in his multi-funded, big business religious organizations. How long would those big organizations last, if there was to be hard times?
The Lord’s work has come down through the ages in the form of the local church, with one church making possible the perpetuation of another. It has proven itself to be sufficient, with not even the gates of hell able to prevail against it, because the Lord has been (and is) with it always. (Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 28:19-20)
God has always used a plan that has been considered foolishness by the wisdom of man- 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. This is so “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” and “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Those who would turn from the glory of the plan of God, unto the ways and means of men, are not visionaries, but rather those who do not see what God sets before man. Eternity will manifest the difference, as God judges all things according to His Word.
The spirits of our day are projecting that man needs to be catered to, in order to get him to take up with God. The idea being, since men have no interest in the local church, then we should give them a religious program outside of the church, suited to their tastes. So, rather than preaching that sinners need to repent and be born again in order to see and enter the kingdom of God, the idea is to give them a god and a religious kingdom they can see and partake of with the eye and desires of the flesh.
The proud sinner is saying, “God if you please me, I’ll recognize you.” But God’s position with sinners is: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7 The sinner’s alienation from God’s way, is due to his spiritually dead and blind condition. To be saved from this sin condition, one must repent, i.e., have a complete change of mind about himself, see himself unworthy before God, and in contrition and godly sorrow, seek unto God with all his heart, receiving Christ as both Saviour and Lord. Then one can see the beauty of the local church that Jesus purchased with His own blood!SHARING
The Infinitude of God
“Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 5:25
God warns sinful mankind to flee the wrath to come. He does this by asserting His righteous judgment against all unrighteousness, while at the same time proclaiming salvation through repentance and faith.
Some interpret God’s will to save sinners as meaning God loves sinners just as they are. HOW ABSURD! If God loved sinners just as they are, then they would not need salvation from their sin. But God’s love is all about saving sinners from what they are, lest they perish.
Apart from coming to God’s salvation, sinners are under condemnation before God due to Adam’s transgression – Romans 5:18. All unsaved sinners still have the wrath of God abiding on them – John 3:36. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11 God cannot and will not tolerate sin, even though He is longsuffering towards sinners: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” Habakkuk 1:13
There are two grave errors that man’s thinking can lead to. First, the thinking that a God of love would not send anyone to hell; that a God of love would not discriminate against any because of their lifestyle; that God’s love only allows our sins to make Him sad, but that His love for man is unconditional. But Isaiah 5:25 describes God’s response to the sin of His people: “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them and hath smitten them.” Make no mistake about it, God will not give sin a free pass!
The second error, is thinking that since God judges sin, that once one has messed their life up in sin, that there is no hope. But with God, “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 5:25f Even though His anger is not turned away, even though judgment is on the horizon, yet His hand is stretched out still, not willing that the sinner perish, but rather they come to repentance. This is God’s amazing grace, that lies beyond human comprehension. The reason God can have His hand stretched out to those He is bringing judgment against, is that Christ died for all our sins. For all who repent and turn to Christ, the wrath of God is stayed, through the atoning power of Jesus’ shed blood.
Don’t let Satan convince you not to concern yourself with your sin. Nor, don’t let Satan depress you into thinking there is no hope for you because of sin. Believe God. Repent, return to the Lord, and He will have mercy – Isaiah 55:7.SHARING
The Privilege Of Serving
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by the which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:13, 16
It is a God given honor to serve in a New Testament Church: “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” 1 Corinthians 12:18 When two people marry, they must change their thinking process and the way they do things to fully accommodate both parties individually, as well as jointly. To serve in the church, one must be fully minded and wise unto functioning as a member of Christ’s Body with the Body. Some suggestions are:
~Make all the decisions necessary to get yourself in good standing with the Lord and the church.
~Pray about what the Lord would have you do, unto reaching the point of being fully surrendered to Him for whatever it takes.
~Count the cost; be wise to the fact there will be challenges and things that seek to interfere with your serving faithfully, that you must overcome through firm resolve on your part.
~Be of the same mind with the church and it’s leadership. If you have questions, differences, be out in the open and settle them up front. Don’t ambush the leadership with an outbreak of rebellion, discord or offense by taking issue with established policies. Reconcile first before making the claim of being on board.
~Hold yourself accountable and responsible to faithfully perform any undertaking. Don’t take on anything you are not prepared to do faithfully. Should you be unable or unwilling to perform faithfully, remove yourself by stepping down.
~Look not for the praise of men. Do what you do as unto the Lord and not unto men. Look for your rewards in heaven, not on earth.SHARING
Food for Thought…
How is your spiritual economy? Are you in a recession? A depression?
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12SHARING