THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Part 6

By Bill Click

Jesus said, "I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth His life for the Sheep." How often we need to reflect on that "Truth" and "Life" which The "Way" has made for us (Jn.10:11; 14:6). We will move toward completing our efforts to build on the corporate understanding of the Shepherd's love and oversight by applying it to the more personal, individual aspects of His presence and purpose for our lives. Last time we continued looking at one of the most familiar portions of Scripture, Psalm 23, reading through it devotionally. In this segment we will continue with 23:5, We will finish the Psalm in the next message.

To this point these dynamics emerged from reading verses 1-4 of Psalm 23:

1. The Lord is my Shepherd of shepherds (Leader of leaders).

2. The Lord not only did lead me, or will lead me, He leads me now.

3. I will never lack shepherding direction because of His leadership.

4. I was designed by Him to be refreshed in the midst of His beauty.

5. He absolutely requires me to receive that restful love and attention from Him.

6. He does not stop with offering me love, He leads me into inner quietness and serenity as well.

7. It is by following His lead that I arrive at the place of His peace.

8. The result of His peace is complete alignment of my mind, will and emotions with His will.

9. His direction for me brings me into righteousness; the paths He chooses are good for me.

10. His direction for me is purposefully intended to bring about His Glory.

11. To be led by Him is the result of experiencing Him and allowing that intimacy to transform my mind, will and emotions.

12. His leadership results in my walking through processes of self-death, not only within myself but with others as they are called to follow Him completely as well.

13. His leadership, direction and accompaniment render fear an ineffective enemy tactic against me.

14. I see Him at work in every part of all life; By His grace I am God-conscious in every situation.

Continuing on with Psalm 23:5 . . . .

"Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." The imagery is vivid if we will allow ourselves to see it. The rod is the means by which disciplined is administered; the staff is what is used by the shepherd to gently assist the sheep in staying on course (& out of trouble). David is thanking God for correction, not just direction. And by this inspired Scripture, God is alerting us to the absolute necessity of receiving correction as well as direction from Him.

As a younger believer with a prophetic anointing, I majored in direction but often did my best (I see now) to shun correction. Reading this verse then, I would not have seen what I see now. Since then much has transpired, however. I can look back on several seasons of change and increase as a Christian. In doing so, I can say with all honesty that nearly all of them were preceded by receiving corrections in important ways. Sometimes the correction was in terms of how I viewed myself or others, how I treated others or myself, the way I proceeded with what I perceived to be God's will, or the way I did not discern that I was going beyond His grace. I needed much correction to bring Godly discipline into my life and make me one who desired to walk humbly in God's way as well as His will. At times I still need correction. I always will, if I am to remain a legitimate son of God (Heb.12:4-11)

I only found the direction of the Lord a true comfort as I learned to receive correction. At the beginning, the Lord's direction for my life seemed unfair, harsh, even cruel (like I'd been singled out for suffering more than others for reasons I could not comprehend). I constantly had to fight against complaining to God that He was unfair with me, asking more of me than others. Much of what He asked of me was seemingly so different than others that I repeatedly fought against feeling alienated, rejected, so I often wanted to isolate myself. But as I learned to see the value of the Lord's Shepherding as more then just guidance for what I was to do, I began to see over time that all His ways are perfect. Now, I tend to understand His will less than ever before (in some instances), but at the same time I am able to trust His wisdom more fully and with much less information to go on. He's proved Himself to me time and time again– through both correction and direction.

"Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies." All that God does in my life takes place right in the middle of the Hell that wants to prevent it from taking place. Over and over again, the Lord has progressed, blessed and demonstrated Himself to us in close proximity to those who didn't think we were doing what He wanted, or those who didn't care what He wanted, even those who just didn't like us and wanted us to decrease so they could increase. God works on my "stuff" right in the devil's face, in religion's place, and for every naysayer and false prophet to become angry about. But since we're sure we're not the only ones; we do not have a persecution complex. And God has designed the church for this (Eph.3:9-12). Jesus is building His Church right in the middle of the mess of every opposing lie and effort (Mt.16:18-20).

"Thou anointest my head with oil." God truly does what the Psalmist says He will do. His anointing refreshes and energizes me for walking closer to Him and for an increasing intimacy. I am so often amazed at just how differently He treats me by His presence than I feel in being worthy to abide in it. Sometimes, in the midst of warring with Him against that which wants to prevent us from establishing His truth, I can feel more like the tail than the head– even when the battle is over and He has (again) won. And by then it's time to prepare to minister, but His anointing begins to come and as we prepare there is a pool of His presence which appears. He keeps gathering Himself to us and then looses Himself in abundance to say and do what no man would conceive of or accomplish with out Him.