Psalm 23 – The Great Shepherd

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Shepherd, Sheep

The great Shepherd, The Lord 

In Him I do not lack

I rest in His presence in pastures green, and I am given the water of life

Water refreshing my soul

My guiding light on paths right

Valleys are darkest – I fear nothing
    For the great shepherd is nearest


A rod and a staff, great comfort

A meal is prepared for me and my enemies
    
My head annointed in oil
    my cup overflows


Goodness and love will follow me
    forever,
To live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

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Psalm 23 is one of the best-loved psalms. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful example of David’s child-like trust in his God. We all long for this kind of trust. We should all have this child-like trust and faith in God, as hard as that sounds to have.

Verse 1 The Lord is my Shepherd – A Personal Relationship

We should all see the Lord as David did.  He sees the Lord, the almighty, infinite, holy, and sovereign God, as his shepherd. He is our great and awesome God, David knew that God lovingly watched over him like a shepherd watches his sheep. The Lord is a shepherd. David was more personal in saying, “The Lord is my shepherd.” He was saying that God cares about him. He knows him. He understands him. He watches over him. He protects him. He guides him. He is gentle with him. He nourishes him. He comforts him. He fights for him. He is attentive to him. He is for him. He stays near him. He will never leave him. He would die for him. He is his shepherd.

Whatever your need is, He can meet it. Whatever the burden is, He can carry it. Whatever the decision is, He can guide it. Whatever the problem is, He can handle it. Whatever the hurt is, He can heal it. He’s my shepherd. When the Lord is your shepherd, you can trust in God no matter what happens. He is watching over you. 

He is right there with you. He will see you through. He’s your shepherd. You won’t lack anything you need. You will not be in want of anything when the Lord is your shepherd.

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Verse 2  He makes me lie down in green pastures – Providing Rest

God is a good God. He is the shepherd who takes care of his sheep, who takes them to lush, green meadows so they can eat to their hearts’ content and lie down and rest. God is like the shepherd who leads his sheep to the quiet stream so they can drink the clear, cool mountain water. That’s what God is like. The Lord is the good shepherd. He’s the shepherd who provides for us, who nourishes us, who takes care of us, who gives us what we really need. He’s the shepherd who refreshes us, restores us, and replenishes us. The only question for us is: Do we follow our shepherd? Do we follow him faithfully? How about following him even when the path is hard and the way is dark? Always follow him even if we cannot see where we are going? Do we follow our shepherd no matter what because we see him as a shepherd? Do we follow him because we see him as the good shepherd and we trust him?

God is the God of the lush green meadow. He is the God of the clear mountain stream. Do you see God the way David saw him? He is my shepherd and he is good to me.

Verse 3 The Shepherd Refreshes – Supply, Sustain and Renew

God says to you, ” I will restore your soul. I will reach into the deepest part of your soul, to the place that nothing else can touch, and I will restore your soul. He will heal your heart. God will refresh your spirit.” We all need that. When you are weary and burdened, you need your soul restored. If you are overwhelmed and undone, you need your soul restored. You’re bound feel guilt and shame, you need your soul restored. If you are assailed by fear and worry, you need your soul restored. Wounded and hurt, you need your soul restored. Feeling alone and rejected, you need your soul restored. When you feel angry and rejected, you need your soul restored.

At all of these times and more, you need God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself: heal your soul. Nothing else can do it. Not entertainment. A weekend off. Sports. Exercise. elevision. A vacation. Shopping. Your hobby. Nothing else can restore your soul. But the God who created the universe, the God who breathed life into you—He can do it. He can breathe life into your soul. He can make you alive again. It happens when you meet with God. When you connect with God, you draw close to God. You are alone with God.  When you gather with God’s people and worship. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says to you even now, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Christ can restore your soul.

Verse 4 Through the Valley – Dark and Difficult Times

In this classic expression of childlike trust, David says to God: “Lord, because you are my shepherd, I will not fear. Lord, because you are watching over me, you will protect me, you will defend me, you will fight for me, you will take care of me, I will not fear. My shepherd, even if the valley is filled with darkness, difficulty, danger, or death, I will not fear. Lord, because you will be right there with me in that valley, I will not fear. Because you are beside me, behind me, above me, in front of me, under me, over me, in me, because you are right there beside me, invisible and yet more real than life, I will not fear. Lord, I will rest in you. No fears assail me. I will not fret and worry myself sick. I will not be afraid, because you are with me in the valley.”

Are you in a valley right now? A valley of loneliness? Rejection? Failure? Divorce? Unemployment? Cancer? Depression? Addiction? Physical pain? Financial ruin? Overwhelming grief? Conflict? Mistreatment?

If so, then hear the voice of the Shepherd: “I will be with you. Whatever you are going through, I will be there. No matter how dark the valley, I am right there beside you. I will not leave you. Do not be afraid. I will see you through.” Hear the voice of your Shepherd.

Verse 5 My Cup Overflows – Abundant Provision

God loves a grateful heart. David had such a heart. He could look at his life and smile at God’s goodness to him and blessing on him. Yes, his life had been hard; at times, his life had been excruciating. But God had been good to him, so good. God had filled his cup to the brim, and it was overflowing. David had a grateful heart.

What about you? Has your life been hard, even excruciating at times? It probably has. It’s the way life is on this side of heaven. But God has been good to you, so good. Your cup overflows.

Lord, you have been a Shepherd to me. You have cared for me and provided for me. You have loved me even when I ignored you. Your eye has always been upon me. You have offered me unlimited grace, your own Son to die for me. Freely you gave your Spirit to live in me.  I have access to you at any time. Your life and breath is all we need. have brought wonderful people in my life who  care about me. Freely you forgive me when I fail you. You strength in me ifts when I am weak and needy. Hear my prayers. Delight in my love. I have a secure and eternal future with you.  Rescue me from the pit of hell.  I am chosen by you.  Your gifts and blessings are sufficient for me.  You have called me to a meaningful place in the great battle against the enemy. I have have your protection.  You want me, have given me food and shelter, have been so good to me.  My cup overflows. Thank you, In Jesus name, Amen.

Verse 6 Goodness and Mercy – Pursues Us

The climax of Psalm 23 is in the final verse. “Surely your goodness and love will follow me” Only a person who knows his Shepherd intimately would be able to make such a claim.  David is not naïve. He is not too young to understand. He knows, all too well, that life can be tough, unfair, and cruel. But David knows that God is not like life. God is never unfair or cruel. Others may hurt us and do us harm. 

We may hurt ourselves with our own sin. But not God—God will pursue us in love. God’s goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. Not just some of the days, but all the days. Every single day, we will experience God’s pursuance. We will drink it in like refreshing water. And beyond that, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. There is no doubt about our future. No uncertainty or insecurity. We have a secure destiny—with God.

What an expression of trust. Every phrase of this final verse is filled with trust. David had walked with God for all his life. He had learned, often through painful experiences, that God is good, that God can be trusted, that God’s goodness and love will follow him all his life.

Surely, surely this will take place.

What kind of person talks this way? Only a person who knows his God.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 0 comments

Late Mother’s Fight Against Cancer

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Hi brothers and sisters in Christ

Donate here

I am making a personal appeal for your help for my financial recovery. Why am I in financial distress? My Mom was diagnosed with esophagus cancer in December 2017.

As a family, we pulled together what immediate money we had available to start her radiation treatment plan. But that was the only treatment plan for her. The esophagus cancer was so advanced, the radiation only gave her more time. Time with her that a price cannot be placed on. 

During her radiation treatment, she suffered a heart attack. The hospital costs, radiation costs and the costs of looking after my mom quickly escalated and I had to apply for loans, credit cards, second bonds, just to find the money to give her the best possible chance of a comfortable life.  

As time passed, cancer gripped my Mom’s body. She slowly lost weight, battled to eat at all and she was on constant pain medication and bed rest.  

My mom sadly passed in April 2019. It is truly an emotional rollercoaster not just for my mom, but for me and my family too. Watching your mom slowly fade into nothing and eventually die from starvation is the single most difficult thing I have ever had to face.

2 years later, I am the sole income earner in a household of 4 people and I am near bankruptcy with the amount of debt I am in.

I humbly make an appeal to you all – the debt I made I believed was necessary for my Mom, and, given a second chance, I would do it all again.

God bless and thank you.

Donate here

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, 0 comments

Learning from Christian Persecutions- Radical Faith!

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Christian Persecutions

Persecution of Christians remains one of the biggest humans rights issues in the world. If the recent reports in Afghanistan are to be believed, that is a prime examples of Christian Persecutions. There are millions of Christian’s living worldwide in countries where high levels of persecutions are experienced. We have much to learn from those who are bold enough to witness for Christ – no matter the costs.

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Refusing to worship false God’s

Many people love the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three young Hebrew men in exile in Babylon who were thrown into a fiery furnace for their refusal to bow down and worship an idol.  They violated King Nebuchadnezzar’s order rather than violate their commitment to worship the one true God. Rather than go along with the king’s command, the young men replied with what had to be one of the greatest statements of radical faith ever uttered.  They said:

“Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

It takes great faith to believe that God is able to deliver us from our difficulties. It is,  radical faith, however, to say that even if God does not do that, it’s okay. Believing God for miracles is a great thing, but believing God in tribulation or persecution, when no miracle comes, is faith at a profound level. To have a persevering faith like this may not bring deliverance from our trials, but it will make us “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1)

Living through difficulties

This type of radical faith is not formed through a life of ease, where everything goes as we want it to. It is formed in the crucible of persecution. There are many in the Persecuted Church who may not have an expansive theological knowledge, but they have lived through difficulties that have given their faith the opportunity to become deep and powerful. A faith that is not dependent on circumstances, enabling us to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Persecution gives us the opportunities to develop radical faith.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, 0 comments