THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Part 7

By Bill Click

Jesus said, "I

am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth His life for the Sheep." We will now complete our endeavor to apply the Shepherd's love and oversight to the more personal, individual aspects of His presence and purpose for our lives. Continuing on . . . .

"My cup runneth over." God always gives more than enough for His purposes. He purposely does so when we are obedient in order to demonstrate His righteousness to those who scoff at it and are cynical of His ways. Lately, however, we have been acutely aware that many cannot truthfully make that testimony– that they seem pinched beyond any other time in their life– in heart, in provision, in the church, or in ministry. God's word seem"s not to apply (so goes the accusation against their thoughts and hearts). What can be said about this?

Paul said "I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Php.4:12) Could it be that many have not learned to conserve, to steward, to respect that financial provision in ministry or personal income from the workplace is not be squandered on self, image, pride, or luxury, but is instead a tool of resource for the Kingdom? (Dt.8:18). Indeed, doesn't it belong to God Himself? (Psa.24:1). After all, what God does provide and place in our hand is the result of the work of either ourselves and/or others. Much of this work is unpleasant, undesirable and requires God's grace to persevere in that it be gathered and accumulated. All of us should respect that God is obligated to Himself, and that His self-obligation freely includes us when we function according to His purpose, for His covenant, by His grace (Dt.8:18)

The spirit of debt must not be allowed to influence our thinking; we must be free to obey God in every circumstance. Some of what that means is that there will be times we must postpone what we believe to be "right now" in order to remain in the flow of God's provision and timing. If we will, when we are released into what has been shown (which certainly will come to pass in His timing), it will be established without the stress and uncertainty which borrowing against the future always brings. This is wise today, especially in ministry, because of the flighty nature of what I call the "31 Flavors" segment of the body which continually floats around for what is sweet to their "right now" but leaves them malnourished and in need of extensive spiritual dental work. How many times have we seen ministries built on a temporary giving base, the church turn inward to protect its interests (i.e. keep everyone on board) only to see the ones on whom all (seemingly) depends then "fly the coup?"

In the same way that God heals what He reveals, He provides where He guides, bestows for what He shows and pays for what He orders. Although God is unlimited, we need to be zealous to protect His interests by honoring His economy through stewardship which allows Him to increase us as we prove faithful in our present circumstance. As we continually do this, we will enter the realm of His sufficiency, then blessing, then an Abrahamic abundance which showcases His ways as a witness and means of providing in the Kingdom (Lk.19:15f).

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." David was confident that life would be as God designed. Fromwhere did that confidence come? One thing is certain, it did not come from circumstance. David's life was often trepidatious at best, and perilous much of the time– even after He was made King over all Israel. David's confidence came from God's presence. Early on, David developed the resolve that kept him looking toward God. As a result, what developed was a self-image and understanding of life resulting from His intimacy with the Good Shepherd. He gauged his "status" in life by the present dynamic of His relationship with the Lord. Reading through the Psalms he left us easily verifies this. As David experienced overflow, he was continually convinced of the goodness of God which always accompanied him and graced him with the Spirit. As a result, this did not change when he fell short and needed to repent. How we need such a walk with the Spirit by the Body of Christ for a witness of the Lord today!

"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Commentator's can make theories on the significance of this– whether it refers to his love for the Ark and the Tent, his hope of eternity, or his desire to build the Temple, or even be entombed within it. But there is something else at work here. David is expressing not only his confidence in God, but His commitment to Him as well. David has discovered the key to life: the way of God and the passion for experiencing God's best as infinitely superior to a life of his own ways, means and purposes. Being fully accepted by God, chosen as a son and called to rule with Divine authority has settled the issue– David will make his bed with God . . . regardless. How we need to demonstrate, establish and reproduce such a resolve today.

Our acceptance from God through Christ, His choice of us as sons and daughters and the measure of His faith, grace and love within and through by the Spirit should settle it once and for all with us, just as it did with David. Our unflinching commitment must be to God. We must not tolerate any inner doubt. We must insure that we will not give way to what we may have to experience. We have a Good Shepherd, THE Good Shepherd, and He is perfect.

This paraphrase of Psalm 23 has emerged:

The Lord is my Shepherd of shepherds (Leader of leaders). The Lord not only did lead me, or will He lead me, but He leads me now. I will never lack shepherding direction because of His leadership. I was designed by Him to be refreshed in the midst of Him, experiencing His beauty. He absolutely requires me to receive that restful love and attention. He does not stop with offering me love, He leads me into inner quietness and serenity with Him as well. It is by following His lead that I arrive at the place of His peace. The result of His peace is complete alignment of my mind, will and emotions with His will. His direction for me brings me into righteousness; the paths He chooses are good for me. His direction for me is purposefully intended to bring about His Glory. To be led by Him in the Spirit is the result of experiencing Him and allowing that intimacy to transform my mind, will and emotions. 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. His leadership, direction and accompaniment render fear an ineffective enemy tactic against me. I see Him at work in every part of all life; By His grace I am God-conscious in every situation. But it is as absolutely necessary for me to receive correction as it is that I seek direction from the Lord. All that God does in my life takes place right in the middle of whatever Hell that may want to stop it. God always gives me more than enough for His purposes. As I experience overflow in the Spirit, I am continually convinced of the goodness of God which graces me with His Spirit, even when I fall short and need to repent. My acceptance from God, His choice of me, and the measure of Him within and through my life settles it forever: I have a Good Shepherd, and He is perfect. I'm forever His.