Monday, September 10, 2018

Psalm 23: The Good Shepherd

Photo by Antonello Falcone on Unsplash

The 23rd Psalm

Some of us know it. A few can quote it.

Whether it's familiar to us or we're discovering it for the first time, it has a deep richness we might have missed.

Many scholars suggest David wrote this psalm when he was trying to comfort Saul during the years he was so ill. Others think it might have been written during the difficult days when he was hiding in the caves to save himself from Saul's threats to murder him. 

In either case, can you see the reassurance and the deep faith in these words? 

During the years of Saul's insanity, David might have sung these words to calm Saul's spirit. During his days in a dark cave, perhaps David sang this psalm to the God he trusted above all.

I've been in difficult relationships and I've been trapped in a few dark caves. These words are so amazing to me because I'm not sure these are the ones I would say to God in those situations. Mine would probably grow out of frustration and fear. David's words came from his faith-filled heart.

With these beautiful words, David describes his deep relationship with his Shepherd.

His Shepherd. Our Shepherd

Before we explore Psalm 23, let's consider Jesus, our Shepherd. He is the shepherd who was willing to give His life for His sheep. A Shepherd who became a lamb. 

Jesus is the Lamb - He died on the cross and He rose again.
What is your view of the Risen Jesus? To me, He is radiant, majestic, a glorious King, seated on the throne by the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
And then I read Revelation 5:
Then I saw a Lamb looking as if it had been slain, 
standing in the center of the throne, Revelation  5:6

Thousands of angels surround the throne and proclaim, "Worthy is the  
Lamb who was slain
 to receive power and wealth and wisdom and 
strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:11-12
Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

Perhaps Jesus sits on the throne, not as a radiant King, but as the Lamb who shed His blood to cleanse us of our sins.

When I heard about Jesus, I looked back at my life and I could see the mistakes, the poor choices, and the selfish, hurtful things I'd done. How could I ever make up for those things?  Jesus took care of that!

Jesus was slain, killed on a cross, to erase my sin - your sin. He offers total forgiveness. When you ask Him to forgive you, He cleanses you of all sin and you stand innocent before God.

How amazing! Jesus was willing to die to take your penalty for sin and to offer you freedom.

Jesus died and was buried. Then comes the joy of Easter morning.

Jesus rose from the dead - He is alive, seated on the throne in Heaven with God. Because He lives, you are promised eternal life - you will spend forever with Him.

If you haven't come to Jesus and asked for His forgiveness, please do it now. 
He longs to spend eternity with you.

In my next post we'll rejoice in Psalm 23:1:

The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Strong in Persecution

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

Blessed (loved and favored by God) are they (the ones) which are persecuted (pursued with continued acts of hostility)  for righteousness' sake (because of a heart right with God, faith in God, and actions pleasing to God) for theirs is the kingdom (royal power and dignity) of heaven (eternal and consummately perfect region where God dwells)

I was perking right along feeling great about everything until I got to this last beatitude. God could have ended with the peacemakers and I would have been just fine. 

God never candy coats the truth. He never tells us only what we want to hear. He prepares us for real life, the good and the bad. 

He does, however, make sure we trust Him, are assured of His love, and have faith in His character rather than overwhelmed by our circumstances.

Look at the promises He has made us through the previous seven verses.

  • Righteousness given to us when we believe in Jesus. Matthew 5:3
  • Comfort in our sadness. Matthew 5:4
  • A glorious inheritance. Matthew 5:5
  • Perfect satisfaction when we crave Him. Matthew 5:6
  • Mercy when we are merciful. Matthew 5:7
  • God's peace when we bring peace to others.  Matthew 5:8
  • His presence and fellowship when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Matthew 5:9

How does the idea of persecution sound now?

When we are persecuted, we can stand on our righteousness through Christ, be comforted in any circumstance, focus on our heavenly riches, be perfectly satisfied, receive mercy when we stumble, be bathed in peace, and walk in His presence and fellowship.

Persecution isn't desirable. It's painful, it causes us suffering, it often leaves us standing alone, it requires difficult choices, it brings fear, and it is heartbreaking. 

It is all those things but God, in His infinite love and grace, has given us the ability to stand in the face of the attacks we experience.

 We might not be joyful in suffering, but we can feel secure in God's promises.

Things might feel like they're falling apart, but we can stand on His firm foundation.

We might be terrified, but we can have faith in His presence.

We are clothed in Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. 

God is faithful, and He will keep His promises!

Therefore put on the full armor (promises) of God, so that when the day
 of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you 
have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13
(Addition is mine.)

Please share how God has brought you through difficult days.