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Psalm 23 Part Five

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted November 21, 2012

RELIGION – We continue in our studies this week of Psalm 23 looking at Vs.2. Last week we saw the difference the shepherd’s presence made in the lives of the fold. I have read that “Flocks typically graze throughout the morning. In the afternoon, with their stomachs full and their thirst satisfied from the gentle water of a nearby stream, they take a leisurely nap in the cool shade. And they know that when they awake, everything will still be all right. Nothing is quite as peaceful as this.”
This sounds pretty nice right? With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas ramping up, I could go for this! The good news is that the same experience of these sheep can be true for me and you. God desires to lead us to green pastures and still waters, if we will only follow his plan for our lives. Sadly, in Isaiah 53:6 we read “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--everyone--to his own way…” The prophet Isaiah also continues this thought in Isaiah 59:8  “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.” So our ability to lead and guide ourselves is an abysmal failure!

If you are tired of your own path and want to follow God’s path and be lead to the peace of green pastures and still waters, here is what you do. 

First, surrender daily to Jesus’ plan for your life. I have read how sheep can’t lead themselves. Phillip Keller wrote about buying a poorly managed sheep farm. He noted how the “ fields were overgrazed, the slopes were eroded, and the trails had become gullies ... all because the previous owner had left the sheep to struggle for themselves. He merely put them in a field secured by a fence and left them to graze and drink and rest on their own. The result was land that could no longer sustain a flock.”

Phillip Keller also wrote how he tried to lead his sheep to a flowing stream for water, but some sheep insisted on stopping to drink at every mud hole along the way. The water was dirty and unsafe, but the sheep couldn't tell the difference.

Sheep can't lead themselves very well and neither can we. When we are left to ourselves, we will always wind up eating too much, fighting too much, and ruining our most important relationships. We selfishly hurt the people that we love.  We make a mess of things and we create a lot of unhappiness for us and everyone else. This is the sad reality of life on our own apart from the Shepherd.
All this begins with daily realizing that God knows more than you do. We all must understand that God is a far better planner than we are and that He can run our life far better than we can. We teach people that they surrender to Jesus at conversion, this is right, but this surrendering to Jesus is also a continual reality. Understand in the same way that making your vows on your wedding day means you keep them and remember them for the rest of your married life. Also know that the life God leads you to and the paths He may guide you to may not always be easy, but your shepherd will there to lead, guide, love, and protect you.
Second, learn how to be refreshed. We all have certain activities that make us feel refreshed and reenergized. God wants to lead you to enjoy these things. What things refresh you? For me it is having time to exercise and then read a book (or watch Gold Rush on the Discovery Channel, if you don’t see my column one week, know I have packed up the family and headed to Alaska in pursuit of Klondike Gold!) 

Though everyday does not permit time to do these things,  I do encourage you all strongly to make daily time to spend in the Shepherd’s presence. This will include a few minutes (15 to 30 is prefect), to read the Word, pray, and spend some quiet time in meditation about your life. If you're not doing this on a regular basis, you're missing out on a lot of peace in your daily life. I would also add here that you should start trying to begin the habit of having a Sabbath, a day of rest and worship. This means you strive to have one day a week to not be focused on work, but your focus is to enjoy God and the life he has given you.

We all know that by nature we are not peaceful creatures. We are very quick to stress and obsess over every little problem. But for the children of God and the sheep of His flock, we should experience life differently. It is not that you will be absent of problems, you most certainly will have problems. But in the midst of stressful times, you can still experience God's peace. Each day He’ll lead you to a quiet place, a place of rest and renewal, where you eat till you’re satisfied and sleep securely, knowing that your Shepherd is always near and that you are safe in His care. He will lead, but the question is will we follow?

Pastor Phillip

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