Not in Want

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 9:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 23 (ESV).

Preface

The Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, took on human form, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with grief (See: Isaiah 53). Although there were those who followed him, in the truest sense of the word, the many turned away from him, and sent him to the cross to die, although he had done no wrong. They killed him because they didn’t like his message, and for the reason that he claimed to be God and to be equal with God, and because he confronted them with their sins; and also due to the fact that he did not join with them in their hypocrisy. Those who opposed him the fiercest were the religious leaders in the temple of God, and so it may be with many of us today.

Yet, when Jesus died on that cross, it was for a purpose. “For our sake he” (God the Father) “made him” (Jesus, the Son) “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). And, that is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died, as well, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who conduct our lives not after the flesh but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, while we hold on to the promise of heaven when we die. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). Yet, Jesus called us out of the world, to be separate.

So, for the Lord Jesus to truly be our Shepherd, we must repent of our sins, turn to faith in Jesus Christ, and walk in obedience to him. He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

Paul reiterated this in his letter to the Romans. He said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). A saved life is a crucified life with Christ in death to sin, and it is a life resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6). The old has gone, the new has come.

My Shepherd (vv. 1-3a)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.

So, if we are truly in Christ, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, then he is also our shepherd (ruler, teacher, guide, pastor, counselor, nurturer, helper, protector, provider, physician, encourager, comforter, parent, and fortification). And, this is why we shall not be in want for anything, because he is our all-in-all, i.e. he is our all-sufficiency for everything we need to survive in this world. He is our satisfaction, and we need no other. We find our joy and fulfillment in him, and we are not lacking for any good thing that he has for us.

When we truly trust in Jesus Christ to be our all-sufficiency, and we don’t feel that we have to solve all our own problems, or look to the things or people of this world in order to be fulfilled, then he fills us with his peace. If I had to picture a scene in my mind that represented peace to me, it would be this picture painted for us here in this psalm. For me, the thought of lying down on a grassy hill beside the waters, with a shade tree to give me shade and protection from the heat of the day, is my picture of peace. Yet, the beautiful thing about this is that we can have this kind of peace even if all around us is pure chaos, because this peace that Jesus gives is not conditional to our circumstances, but only to us resting in him.

The Valley (v. 3b-4)

He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even 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.

Jesus leads his followers in his righteous ways, but we must still choose to follow him. That is why he said that daily we must take up our cross and follow (obey) him. Daily we submit to him, and we surrender to his will. It is of necessity that we choose to go his way rather than our own way. The more we walk according to his righteous ways, the closer we grow in our relationship with him, and the greater our understanding is of his will for our lives, and the more our desire is for him to do his will. And, there is no better way to live than to walk in his ways; in his righteousness. Amen!

Yet, the closer we get to our Lord, and the more we conduct our lives in the power of his Spirit within us, and according to his truth, the greater the opposition will be against us. In other words, as long as we are just living our lives middle down the road, and we are not standing out for Jesus, and we are not sharing the full gospel of salvation with the lost, but we are living primarily to please ourselves, Satan is not threatened by us, and therefore he is not as apt to come strongly against us.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12 NIV84).

But, when we are forcefully advancing the kingdom of God through the teaching of the Word, and through living godly and holy lives, set apart from (unlike) this sinful world, the greater the enemy’s attacks will be against us. Satan opposed the prophets of old, John the Baptist, Jesus – God the Son, and Jesus’ apostles, and he will oppose us, too, if we are doing and teaching what they did and taught with regard to God’s eternal kingdom and his righteousness and holiness. Yet, we don’t have to be afraid of the enemy’s attacks against us, because the Lord is our Shepherd, and he will never leave us or forsake us, but he will comfort us and will give us all we need to stay strong in our faith, to resist Satan, and to keep on following Jesus.

You Prepare (vv. 5-6)

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Though our enemy (enemies) may come against us in powerful ways, which they are doing now, and they may threaten to undo us, we have to remember that God/Jesus is still on the throne, that he is absolutely sovereign over all he has made, and that he has complete authority over every power, rule and dominion on this earth, and in dark places (See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22).

We have to remember, as well, that they will one day meet their doom unless they repent of their sins and turn to faith in Jesus Christ, and that we have the hope of heaven when we die. They may kill our bodies, but they can’t kill our souls. So, we must keep on in the strength of the Lord, and in the power of the Spirit within us, in doing the will and work God has for us, and trust him to work it all out for our good, and for the salvation of human lives. We must endure with Christ in suffering for the sake of the gospel, and leave our enemies to God to work his will in their hearts and lives. And, we need to pray for our enemies to be drawn to faith in Jesus Christ.

For Our Nation / An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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