‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’. Psalm 23
Trusting in the Lord and leaning not on our own understanding can be very difficult. It was for me. I was always in need of help and couldn’t work out why. The spiritual realities of God just threw me. I didn’t know how to trust, how to pray, and my mind literary just froze at the idea of depending upon what I couldn’t see, hear or feel. I needed something to do, my life needed something tangible. I needed application and couldn’t conceive the idea of just living by faith alone.
Many church leaders thought I was just a hard head. I took that on board like a personal veil of resistance. There was an internal conflict, I thought I was created in an incomplete measure, unlike other people that I almost idealized. They appeared to super-abound in Christ. It seemed so easy for them. I felt I was under a personal penalty with an irreparable emotional conflict. Therefore my life’s work was fully defined by the wonders of torturing others with my invariably conflicted disposition.
It was the simple spiritual things that got me stuck. Just knowing and trusting God’s voice and being sure I heard Him clearly. To know the difference between my own thoughts and His, to know when it was God, and know how to act and obey Him. I wanted to see Him and know that this was surely my God, and to obey Him and ‘walk in’ His ways.
Yes! That was very difficult for me as a young believer. I saw that in spiritual terms, I was more than at the bottom of the mountain, I was in the ditch! Actually more like a deep underground cave, miles south of the terrible deep, long and dry valley, that lay at the base of the great and wonderful, enormously high spiritual mountain, called, ‘The Realities of our Lord’. I understood when I was young that if I was to follow after Him, this wasn’t going to be an easy trip.
I really did throw myself into it, ‘hook, line and sinker’, to use an old kiwi idiom. Now, thirty years on I have learned a few of life’s hard lessons. I have had a great reality check, and discovered that I am truly of the same genetic lineage as every human. Where I was very hard on myself, singling myself out as an enigma, some type of half breed, I have discovered the only real thing that separated me from everybody else, was my sincere honesty before the Lord.
Of a truth, every human born into the earth is in a sense hard headed. That’s why we struggle over these spiritual things and are so easily led astray by those who make great promises, but never deliver. No they don’t produce results they are simply using words to keep you in agreement with them. You my friend are a vessel of the Most High God, able to hear His voice, able to walk with Him, just as many powerful men and women of God have walked with Him. Every leader of failure fears you, because we are all eaqually His sheep. The only thing that sets us all apart, is ‘What do you believe?’
It is incredibly easy to say, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’. We can make out that we are great Christians, that the word is alive within us, and that we are obedient to God’s voice.
Yes, but if for a long time you’ve said these things and not lived by them, your conscience must be suffering a haemorrhage by now. Your spiritual life will be dwindling, personal anointing waning and your feeling of peace diminishing. Maybe everything you do or touch seams problematic and contentious, as trouble invades you everywhere. But why would a person even confess these troubles to themselves, let alone anyone in the family?
Do you want the promises of the Lord as your shepherd?
Take some time out to purposely come before the Lord. Not to impress others by proving how long you can fast or pray, not to build your faith up, so that ‘Pastor Big Note’ sends you a certificate of merit. Rather take time, to locate yourself in God. If you want Him to truly be your Shepherd, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you should be afraid of sharing with Him. And for everything troubling you, resisting you, belittling you, confusing you, suppressing you, tormenting you whatever it is, come before your Lord in worship, prayer, just whatever it takes to get you in the Spirit, and find a way to lay it all before Him.
Get desperate for Him to truly be your loving Shepherd and get fervent to get out of the valley and climb up that mountain. Only the Lord can guide you out into a wonderful walk of peace with Him. Be committed to whatever it takes, however far you have to go. You are going to find Him and in finding Him, you will begin to bathe in that peace that surpasses all understanding. And you will know you have been in that river, by the way you treat your family and neighbours in times of great personal stress. Yes, there will again be fruit growing on the tree of your life.
‘In ALL things become one of the Lord’s sheep! Be a member of His fold, feed from His holy hand, and let Him lead you beside those pleasantly abundant still waters.’ Because the Lord Jesus wants to be your shepherd.
There are seven great promises to those who are truly His Sheep.
Like David, Ezekiel was privileged when the word of the Lord came to him telling him of an uncompromising place of refuge and declared, ‘He, The Lord, will make a covenant of peace with them’.
Oh how people search after a refuge! They desire peace with passion and are even willing to kill for it! Sadly though, many of us who are labelled ‘the house of faith’ miss a quiet and unassuming life, this place of ultimate peace, the eternal sanctuary of our soul.
Jesus invites us into this place when He says, ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’. Matthew 11:29.
Many of my brothers and sisters are living lives filled with striving, over performing in every way. I sometimes wonder just who is jerking their chords. Spend more time before Him in prayer and in His Word. Roll your burdens onto Him, the Shepherd of your soul.
In John 10:1-21, Jesus brought the Shepherd parables to life by restating the prophecy of Ezekiel who was the only person the Lord called ‘Son of Man’.
Jesus encourages us to ‘Enter the sheepfold, through the only Door’, that is Christ Himself. In that fold as one of His sheep, we will find, ‘Life and life more abundantly.’
In chapter 34 Ezekiel shared the seven sure benefits of being one of the Lord’s Sheep.
1. He will clothe you. 2. He will feed you. 3. He will strengthen you. 4. He will heal you. 5. He will bind all brokenness, bringing healing to your soul. 6. He will bring you back after being driven away. 7. He will stop you from being merchandised and used. These seven promises are a contract, a guarantee between Jesus and the person who chooses Jesus as their Shepherd – the person who refuses false control over their soul.
We see in the Ezekiel, how jealous Jesus is for His sheep and how He stands against those who call themselves shepherds of the sheep but fail to deliver any of the promises a shepherd is called to bring. (Ezekiel 34: 2-8)
The word of the Lord to the house of Israel targeted failing leaders and spoke of their futility and demise. The Lord likened those shepherds to the fat sheep in verse 20 saying, He would judge between the fat and lean sheep.
If you are putting your trust in man, if you think highly of your man shepherd, if you think a man is your boss, if you think he has a mantle to lead you, a mandate from God to lord it over you. Then think again!
Think according to the words of the only true God. Ezekiel 34 can be your looking glass, for discernment and bring you into the light, to a place of understanding. Are the ones you trust truly the Lords anointed? If not, are they taking unfair advantage of your situation?
Ezekiel, ‘Son of Man’ explained ‘the fat sheep’ is a Ruler in Israel. A fat sheep was a Ruler who used their position to benefit themself, and did very little to fulfil the desire, central to the Lord’s heart, which was to establish the ministry of His House.
Prophets like Ezekiel, established an understanding of the practical out workings of the Law in real life. How can we know the difference between the Law and the prophets? The Law is the mechanism of God’s principles telling us how His principles work. While the Prophets give us real life applications to demonstrate how the Law applies to life’s situations. In the prophets we get to understand how God applies His principles to our everyday lives.
The law is the mechanism, the prophets the application, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the full manifestation of both the Law and the Prophets. Throughout the New Testament this teaching continues, as Jesus and the Apostles build on the teaching Ezekiel had brought.
1. Cloth the naked. 2. Feed the hungry. 3. Strengthen the weak. 4. Heal the sick. 5. Bind the broken. 6. Bring the lost back into the fold. 7. Protect the innocent and weak – protect them from being preyed upon.
What we have now in many contemporary churches is sickening, I am sure the Lord Himself is not pleased and there will come a day of reckoning as a result of intolerable excesses. If you are a church leader and think for a moment that you are not going to be held responsible by these words of Ezekiel, you are living in a fantasy world. When He returns, those who are faithful to the call will also be rewarded. This will be an amazing event.
The seven attributes of a shepherd’s ministry speak not just of a natural order they speak also of spiritual things. Food refers to the refreshing of Word of God. Healing is as much spiritual as physical. Protection is mostly talking about spiritual matters, it can be physical, but Governments of nations carry a mandate for citizen’s protection.
There are many pastors that will never visit a sick person, unless it’s their mother. They will never pray for healing, unless it’s on a grand stage where everyone can see. Yet when their sheep are feeling beaten up, tired, confused, just undone and over-burdened, how often does the Pastor ring you and say, ‘Brother, sister, you are on my heart, I will pray for you right now and will stand in agreement with you for your needs.’ If you say too much to some pastors, they’ll refer you to a psychologist, but that is not the way it’s meant to be.
The fruit of a true shepherd of the Lord’s sheep is also seen in the ministry of our Lord. He Loves you when you are not productive, helps you when you are in need and prays with you when you are overburdened and worn out. A true Shepherd takes his work seriously and loves being among Gods people, helping them whenever possible. But we have many leaders today, that you can’t even get an appointment with, unless you are important. They prove that they just really don’t care and only want you to participate in the brand, to make a greater name for themselves.
I can tell you with absolute authority Jesus will never ask you to do anything He would not do Himself. It’s just that simple. He has left His example for us to follow.
I believe those of us who are in Christ are complex creatures, because we are now able to relate to two worlds. The only One who has the right to nurture and protect us is Jesus Himself. He alone has the power and authority to do so. It is an incredibly complex task as there are so many believers. However He has many people with Him, working in His sheepfold, some we know and many we don’t. He is there to help you in every way. You are very important to Him.
I want to challenge you, if you are the Lord’s sheep, if you are truly depending upon Him for your life. Then these things will accompany that reality.
1. You will have adequate provision and plenty left over to help others.
2. It will always be on your heart to help others with what you have.
3. You will be strengthened through every trial and find victory, because He will always look after you.
4. You will always find healing, I am not saying this will be without medical help, but look to your Shepherd, He will lead you to what you need, because healing is central to Who He is.
5. He will heal your brokenness and if you think you have none, you are still young in the journey.
6. He will bring you into a place of Godly fellowship. Everything is established in this earth by two or three witnesses, He desires every child to be in a family. Isolation can sometimes be for a purpose but it never is the ultimate end.
7. He will give you the keys to help others to freedom, so they also can walk under the divine Shepherding arm of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There can be no person, no matter how great they are, who can achieve these seven things alone. No one operates in such divine supernatural anointing and knows all your needs and desires. The Lord is jealous for you and desires to be the Sole Provider and Protector of your total being. He will send people, His ministers, of different types, to help you. We need to be sensitive to know, who He is sending along our pathway in life.
He loves you, incredibly and totally. He has made so much available to you, so that you can have a life of fellowship in Him. Life in Him can be rationalized, even when we are off track, make sure it is truly, truth and life that you’re living in.
Ezekiel concluded this thought on shepherding saying, ‘I will raise up for them a garden of renown; and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,’ says the Lord GOD.’ Ezekiel 34:29-31 NKJV
This promise was not only to Israel, but to us who are adopted into the House, when Ezekiel said, ‘the flock of my pasture; you are men, and I am your God’. This promise has been made alive to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
– You will not be ashamed among the unbelievers.
– You are His flock. He provides and cares for you.
– The land will not overwhelm you and consume you, because you’re living in that ‘Life of God’ and the world is becoming subdued not vice versa.