Showing posts from March, 2016

23. The Sanctuary of Eternal Blessings: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6b
March 31             As I finish the 23rd psalm, today’s lesson is perhaps among my favorite of this psalm and of all of the Bible. I shared my testimony last night and the need I had which led me to my salvation was simply this: I wanted to go to Heaven! I still want to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I am a little jealous when I go to a funeral and while there is still work to do here on earth, Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain. The Persuasion:“I will dwell…” God wants me to be assured of my future dwelling place. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things have I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” Yesterday we saw the surety of earthly blessings, but our eternal blessings are equally sure. Eternal life would not be very long if you could lose it. Paul was persuaded than nothing could separate him from the love of God (Rom. 8:38). He told Ti…

22. The Surety of Earthly Blessings: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

Psalm 23:6aMarch 30 The promise. As we finalize the last verse of this short but rich psalm, there is surely a promise of protection of God’s goodness and mercy. This word “surely” is not like our “surely” which we use today. You know, the “Surely, you can’t be serious!” phrase. There is a certainty in this final word of encouragement.
The protection. The promise of protection is two-fold: goodness, which is the extension of God’s kindness, His righteousness, and bestowing of good things; mercy is the withholding or retraction of God’s punishment and anger. Goodness is revealed when we are obedient. Mercy is revealed when we are disobedient.
The pursuit. Since the shepherd always leads in front, there must be “sheep dogs” who follow behind. Those two rearguards of goodness and mercy are like the hounds which pursue the fox. In fact, the word “follow” is more often translated as “to pursue” or even “to chase.” The word is literally a dogged word (Please do not groan so loudly). 

21. The Superabundance of the Spirit: my cup runneth over

Psalm 23:5d March 29I said something in my sermon the other day that wasn't in my notes but my point was supposed to be that often times we as Christians stop at the resurrection and don’t go on to the fullest purpose of our salvation. We are glad enough to go to heaven that we don’t appreciate the ultimate goal of Christianity.

            If eternal life in heaven was our ultimate goal, then why not go there now? What is the point of this life, just to decide where we will spend eternity? No, we have to go back to the fall, and the reason why Adam was banned from the Garden of Eden in the first place. “'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.' Therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
           He didn’t banish us from the Garden to punish us, but to bless us by not allowing us to eat of the t…

20. The Sanctification of the Spirit: Thou anointest my head with oil

Psalm 23:5cMarch 28
    Why would a shepherd literally anoint the head of a sheep with oil? For a practical reason, Phillip Keller, who worked as a shepherd, rather graphically explains, “Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly. They buzz about the sheep’s head, attempting to deposit their eggs on the damp, mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If successful, the eggs will hatch in a few days to form small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head, irritating and inflaming their heads. But if the oil is applied to the sheep’s head and nose, the flies never get the chance to implant the irritating eggs.”
     But beyond literal practicality, there are symbolic and spiritual applications: 
A.Oil is repeatedly a symbol of the Holy Spirit. 1)Other things also symbolize the Holy Spirit, such as the dove or water, but the anointing with oil physically demonstrated a spiritual reality and prepared the person for God to use them. “Then Samue…

Were YOU There?

“Were you there?” The song has a haunting melancholy flow to it that makes the singer or listener ponder our own sinfulness that led up to Jesus’ crucifixion. I was at a Good Friday service listening to this song and it caused me to think...

     “Were you there” when Jesus asked the disciples to pray? Have you ever been weary and lax in praying, falling asleep when you needed to be vigilant?

     “Were you there” when opposition came to arrest Jesus? We all have had times when we could have stood with Jesus and yet we fled. From a distance we warm our hands at the fire, while Jesus is beaten and mocked. Our gaze leaves the security of the fire only to lock eyes with our Lord who looks at us not so much when condemnation we deserve, but with eays saddened and grieved by our abandonment of Him.

     “Were you there” when mockers questioned whether Jesus was the Christ? No, we wouldn’t taunt Him, but we have questioned him. We’ve been angry with Him. We have put Christ on trial wh…

19.The Surrounding of Adversity: In the presence of mine enemies

Psalm 23:5b March 24

The Opposition’s Presence- Jesus never promised that this world would be easy. Nor did He say that His sheep would live without the presence of the enemies of God. Why would God allow evil in the world? We are not of this world, but we are to bring light to the darkness, and not the other way around.             Sometimes THE enemy, that is, Satan, can use our friends, our family, even ourselves. The phrase, “We are our own worst enemy” is not entirely true. Our worst enemy is the devil and he just uses others to get at us. Jesus said in John 17: 11-21 “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. …I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world….As thou hast sent me into the world, even so …

18 (pt. 2). The Supply of Nourishment: "a table before me"

Psalm 23:5a March 22
By now (perhaps long before now), many of you reading this may say this is way too much analysis. Perhaps, but I simply share what God shares with me. I love the 23rd Psalm, perhaps as much as I love the Gospel of John. Hence I write as though something, perhaps His great love, compels me, not really caring who reads this or what is thought of my rambling writings. Lesson 18 became way too long, so I expanded this part of verse 5 as 5a, part 2. The Provision: God provides a table of spiritual nourishment. Nowhere in the Old Testament is the word table used for a “tableland” of grass. Clearly the table is symbolic parable for spiritual food which the Lord prepared for me. This “table” is filled with abundant spiritual nourishment. When Peter professed his love for Christ, in his three-fold restoration at the Sea of Galilee found in John 21, Christ responded with one command “Feed My lambs…shepherd My sheep…Feed My sheep.”
The Apostle Paul also was concerned that th…

18. The Supply of Nourishment: "Thou preparest"

Psalm 23:5aMarch 21
Psalm 23:5 keeps the intimate second person language which began in verse 4, with the sheep addressing the shepherd directly. In all, there are ten lessons to be learned in these tender two verses. As I, His sheep, communes with my shepherd, I see the prepared supply of nourishment, despite the surrounding of the enemies. In this verse, I see my Shepherd anoint my head with the overflowing abundance of His Spirit. 
The Preparation: God has prepared for me a table. The word “prepare” means to “lay in order.” He has been expecting me and prepared a table as I come out of the Valley of the Death Shadow.
God prepared my salvation and chose me in Christ. Ephesians 1:4 – “He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” He invites the entire world to His prepared table, but some will not come. Matthew 22 says, 4He sent out his servants, saying, ‘Tell them “Behold, I have prepared my dinner: … all things are ready, come to the marriage.” I love how the servant…

17. The Solace in Correction: "they comfort me"

Psalm 23:4f
March 20              Have you ever literally breathed a deep sigh of relief? That’s what the word “comfort” literally means. When translators were putting this verse from Hebrew into the Greek they used the word which is translated into English as to encourage, or to implore. Elsewhere in the Hebrew the word means to repent, relent, or to feel sorry. Have you ever been so anguished where you could not breathe? The word "comfort" is a word that was used when someone was in deep sorrow and anguish and others come along side and try to lift that person up.             How can a rod, used for correction, and a staff, used to support, lift up and provide protection, bring such comfort in times when there is such anguish that I can barely breathe?             There is a solace in God’s correction. In Job 5:17-18 it says, “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects: do not despise the chastening of the Almighty: For He bruises but He binds up, He wounds but His hands make…

16. The Security of His Protection Thy rod and Thy staff

Psalm 23:4eMarch 19 A rod is used for correcting the sheep. The same word is used in Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
The rod is also used for counting the sheep, as in Lev. 27:32, “whatever passes under the rod, a tenth shall be holy to the Lord.” The shepherd would count his sheep not just for making sure that he had them all but also so that he would also give back to the Lord a tenth, or that which was holy to God. In ministry we count people because people count. Numbers are important to the Lord because each number represents a person. The rod also reminds me to count whatever the Lord has entrusted to me, whether it is time, money, abilities and other resources, and wants us to count it as holy to the Lord.
The rod is used for commanding the sheep. The word for rod is also translated as scepter ten times. For instance, Ps. 45:6 says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteou…