“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
Herding sheep in David's time was hard work. There was nothing romantic about the night shift. Shepherds did not relax on balmy evenings under the twinkling stars. They braved numbingly cold nights and worked hard to protect their sheep from predators. Night and day, they were never passive toward their flock. Shepherds had to lead, tend, feed, protect, and nurture the animals in their care. They provided everything necessary for their flock’s safety and well-being. To appreciate the size of this challenge, remember that sheep are fearful, defenseless animals. They will drink from any body of water that they stumble upon - dirty or clean. They will not lie down unless they feel entirely secure. Sheep are susceptible to certain diseases. Indeed, sheep need lots of care.
The Bible tells us we are like sheep. On our own, we are defenseless against the power of sin and death. Without guidance, we will drink from any source of information and entertainment. We look everywhere for security, and we're vulnerable to diseases of our spirt, our emotions, and our mind. We, too, need a lot of care. I thank God for appointing Jesus to be our Good Shepherd.
A New Perspective
“From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 Are any of you a beach, mountain, or woodsman person as I? Do you like to stare at the stars or marvel at cloud formations? I do! How do you react to satellite pictures of the earth and of galaxies far away? In these situations I am reminded how small we really are. The vastness of the ocean, the grandeur of the mountains, the distance of the stars, the movement of the clouds, the immeasurable nature of the universe - these help us put our lives and our concerns in perspective.
This is especially true when we let these amazing aspects of creation point us to the Creator. Although we don’t like to think about it, human beings are frail and weak and life’s pressures and pain can overwhelm us at times. God is greater than all our problems and He is undaunted by our worst trials. When David was feeling overwhelmed, he asked the Lord to “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Let’s follow that example and let God help us see things from His perspective; the perspective of our all loving, all wise, all powerful heavenly Father.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Rom 12:17)
Despite our best intentions we occasionally say and do things that hurt others, even those (sometimes especially those) we love the most. Often our pride and fear – the same things that usually created the mess to begin with, keep us from properly making amends.
Pride tells us our hurtful words and actions are justified and we have nothing to apologize for. Fear tells us to protect our image or we will be disrespected, dominated, or deemed inadequate. The result of this pride and fear is a battle for control that only prolongs bad feelings and undermines the trust needed in a healthy relationship.
Scripture clearly teaches us to “be humble and not hold ourselves in higher esteem than others .” Phi 2:3 The combination of these two qualities - humility and strength - is called meekness. Let us be people that surrender our pride and apologize. It shows obedience, courage, humility, love, and strength.
Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24) What a privilege is ours, the privilege of prayer!
Just think, we have the incredible privilege of approaching the God of the Universe, the “Most High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy!” (Isa. 57:15) We can only do this because Jesus Christ has opened the way.
We pray in times of adversity, lest we become faithless and unbelieving. We pray in times of prosperity, lest we become boastful and proud. We pray in times of danger, lest we become fearful and weak. We pray in times of security, lest we become self-sufficient.
Pray, believing in the promise of God’s Word that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) The Lord gave us this invitation in the book of Jeremiah: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3) Prayer is a privilege given to the child of God. So pray with fervor, pray with energy, pray continually. Don't ever give up praying, because you never know what God will do for you!
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.” Isa 54:17
You may face a situation when someone is talking badly about you, even slandering your name. The first inclination is to defend yourself and retaliate, however Isaiah tells us no one can injure us with words and accusations. Be firm in your beliefs and stand up for your righteousness. Words can be weapons - they can hurt deeply, but God will protect you and there is nothing they can say that will damage your relationship with Him. HE is the only one who knows the hearts men, God and God alone. HE has a special place prepared for His Christian servants and no person and no weapon can destroy it.
People have mocked, ridiculed, and harassed Christians for thousands of years and they will continue to do so. Have no fear, God will punish the wicked according to his will. You don’t have to take matters into your own hands and seek vengeance. Simply pray that the attacks, lies, and harassment stop because in the end God will take care of evildoers.
“So also, the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire.” James 3:5 “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 The tongue is a tool that has two extremes, to build up or tear down. Let us choose our words carefully.