Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Enjoy the Love Letter

Slow down and enjoy the love letter that God has written to you! Take one verse of the Bible and go through it slowly, meditating on just one or two words at a time. This only takes 10 minutes or so to do. Then you bask in the love of your Father and in what He has revealed to you for the rest of the day!

Our Pastor spoke on the 23rd Psalm this past Sunday. This Psalm is poetic and beautiful. Unfortunately, it is often thought of only when comfort is needed or in times of distress. To be sure, this beloved song is a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness to our every day! Let's look at that first verse...

“The LORD…” Yahweh…the covenant name of God. As God made covenant with the Israelites in the Old Testament, He has made covenant with us through His promises rendered possible by the saving blood of Jesus Christ. This Lord…this God…cannot go against His character. He can never fail you when you are found faithful in Him. It is not man, not circumstance, not luck, not other outward powers, but it is “The LORD” and Him only that stands all-powerful, all-knowing, all-able in our lives!

“…is…” Such a little word, but used here packs a powerful punch! The Lord IS, not can be, not may be, not will be…but, IS! Not some time in the future, not only in the past, not just when I am getting things right, not when He is not busy helping someone else…but, IS NOW!

“…my…” Again, another small but potent word to the understanding of David’s thoughts here. He is MY shepherd! What separates our God from the pack is that He is a loving, personal God desiring an intimate relationship with each one of us. I am part of the Christian church as a whole and there are responsibilities and blessings from God that result from that association. I also possess an individual soul that is extremely important to God. He is intimately concerned with my growth, my maturing in righteousness, my walking in godliness as a unique being.

“…shepherd…” When David was young, he tended his father’s sheep. Here he likens that relationship to God and those who love Him, those who desire to follow after Him. The image of Christ as a shepherd is an intimately personal one. In other places of scripture, He is described as Lord, King, a Shield, a Rock…but here He is described as One who meets the needs of those in His care. Sheep trust their Shepherd and we can trust in ours! Jesus shepherds us throughout each day when we listen to His voice. I need not walk in fear because my Shepherd goes before me and prepares the path for me to walk on. I listen to Him as He guides and am careful to follow in His direction, not my own. When sheep are left to their own care they have a tendency to do stupid things. An entire herd will follow one sheep off the side of a cliff. That is why shepherds are so important to their sheep. That is why listening to and following after the wooing of the Holy Spirit is so important for this lamb. My desire is to reach the pasture the Shepherd wants to lead me to. I must listen to His voice and not just follow after my fellow sheep. The journey to the destination can be eased by sojourners, but only as long as we listen to THE voice. Otherwise, there will be confusion, misleading and panic as we look to each other to find the way to go. More than one sheep has followed another down a cliff.

“…I shall not…” The word “not” here is used to contradict a previous statement. Thus, instead of “I shall…” it is “I shall not…” In the Bible, this negative word is used frequently in regards to describing God. What I found particularly interesting is that the root word means “to be faint, weary”. Regardless of my state of emotional being, even if I am leaning towards that faint or weary place, the Shepherd’s ability to provide is never doubted.

“…want.” I will not have lack, need or decrease. I will not become empty or deprived. Psalm 34:9, 10 “For those who fear Him, there is no want. But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.” Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

We cannot walk into any experience where Jesus has not first been! “But he…is a shepherd of the sheep…the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:2-4.

Trust the Shepherd who goes before you and listen to His word. Commit your day to Him and thank Him for His guidance.