The Good Shepherd is kind. He gives us rest. He pours out so much love and grace on us.
When you think of what we deserve versus what we get, you marvel at how kind He is. We were His enemies. And yet He takes us to the best of His pastures.
“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice!” (Psalm 97:1)
The best news is that God is in charge. There is no better scenario than having God in control. You couldn’t nominate a being who would be better at reigning than God. You couldn’t even imagine a being who would be better.
That’s what we mean when we say God is good. God has His attributes in perfection. So He defines good. He is ‘the goodest.’
He is the most loving, the most gracious, the most merciful.
The whole earth ought to rejoice that God is reigning, there’s no better news.
He gives us rest, He gives us food, He gives us everything we could need.
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:11)
The world is pretty shaken up right now. We had the quake here in New Zealand last month and now this massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, with the threat on nuclear meltdown.
As Christians who are serious about the Bible, we know God is in control. When bad things happen, we know they are still inside of His plans.
We also know that while these tragedies and the loss of material things seems earth shattering, there is a much bigger problem… living in sin against God. While this seems like a lot of suffering, it’s much worse to be in rebellion against God.
I love how simple Psalm 23 is. David beautifully states his complete trust in the Lord.
“I shall not want” could also be translated, ‘I shall not fail’ or ‘I will never lack.’
It’s closely related to the statement that all things work together for good for the believer (Romans 8:32). And to the assertion that God will not keep any good things from us (Psalm 84:14). I know I mention these verses a lot, but they’re key to helping us deal with life and they’re related to this idea that we will not want.
(Okay, I admit, these promises from Psalm 23 are not going to be super cryptic!)
“The LORD is my shepherd.”
I sometimes get to meet shepherds, with their super gnarly calf muscles and their pack of obedient dogs. They generally farm on very rough countryside as they care for their sheep. It’s a physical job.
As you’ve probably been told in half a dozen sermons, being a shepherd in Israel in 1020 BC was quite different to New Zealand in 2011. Back in the day, you had to move your shepherd through unfenced wilderness. You had to fight bears and lions off! At night you had to sleep in the gateway to protect the sheep.
When David says he has a shepherd, it’s big. There’s so much involved in the word he used. A shepherd is a ruler, a protector, a provider, someone Who cares and tends to His sheep.
Some things are too popular. Like Amazing Grace. I cringe every time I hear a heathen singing it. They belt out an emotional version of it, but without any understanding of what they sing about. It’s over done.
Then when I go and sing the song myself I’m amazed at the depth of it. It’s a beautiful telling and praise of the gospel story.
Psalm 23 is like that for me. It feels too popular, secular people know it and they even read it at their funerals. But man, it’s packed with awesome truths!
2010 started with so much exciting promise and possibility. It goes down as the clear winner for worst year of my life. (I guess a pessimist would add ‘so far’ but I’d rather not look at it like that.)
I won’t go into any detail about what made it such a rotter. It’s enough to know some of my dearest hopes and dreams were dashed and there was general horribleness.
One of my closest friends also had the worst year of his life (completely unrelated circumstances). As we look back on 2010 we feel victorious. Sure we were down, and we didn’t do everything right. I’m sorry I spent days angry, a few weeks depressed and several months downcast. But on the whole we did have victory. Our theology was tested and our faith was made much deeper.
By now many people are one day closer to not achieving their new year’s resolutions. There’s plenty of chatter around about why resolutions don’t usually work.
Instead I’d like to share four prayers I have for the year.
They’re things that have needed work for a long time. While I have prayed about them sporadically in the past, it’s time to get serious.
This morning when I was going to bed I started to earnestly pray about these. And over the coming months I know God will be faithful in helping me. I believe that, because Jesus promised it. Continue reading 4 Prayers For 2011→
Encouraging Christian young people to get serious about serving the Lord.