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Fundamentals Of a Christian Life

The Shepherd, the Sheep and the Shortage

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:  thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  6Surley goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


We begin a new series here at LIFE-LINE CORRESPONDENCE.  How exciting to be a member of this great family called the Kingdom of God, and if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are right in the middle of it!  We want to thank you for being an integral part of LIFE-LINE CORRESPONDENCE. 
By way of introduction, Psalm 23 is a Psalm of David.  The most beloved shepherd of the Bible.  Do you know this man, David?  Of course, he is also known as the King of Israel.  But David was a shepherd before he was a king.  Being a shepherd prepared him for the time when he would take the throne as Israel's King.  Yes, King David!  The sweet Psalmist of Israel.  Psalm 23 is one of the most loved and read psalms in the Bible.  It is often quoted at funerals or life celebrations of loved ones.  It has a tremendous lesson for us as Christians in this day and age.  An in-depth study of this great psalm will benefit us greatly as we consider our walk with the Lord.  In fact, it is FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR SURVIVAL!  The Shepherd of our souls will be seen as the One who makes up the shortage in our lives and supplies just what we need so that we will never lack for that which is vital, or needful to our survival as sheep. Come and journey with us into this great Psalm and discover "The Fundamentals of the Christian Life" as we discuss the Shepherd, the Sheep, and the Shortage.
Why do we title this series the Shepherd, the Sheep, and the Shortage?  Well, look with me at the first verse:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
The Lord is my Shepherd.  Ah, there it is!  The Shepherd.  His name is Jesus.
The Lord is my Shepherd.  Ah, there it is!  My Shepherd.  I am the Sheep.
I shall not want.  Ah, there it is!  No want.  No lack.  Shortage.
Many sheep are experiencing a shortage in their lives.  Jesus wants to fill that void and bring spiritual growth and development to your life.
You will notice that this is the main clause.  "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want."  What is a main clause?  It is also known as an independent clause.  It can stand alone.  It has a subject and a verb.  It is a complete thought.  It can have a dependent clause with it which has a complete meaning as it is connected to the main clause.   So, The Lord is my Shepherd, and because of that fact, I do not lack for anything that is necessary to my survival as a sheep.  "The Lord is... I shall not want."  That suggests leadership!  That says He knows what I need.  The wording here is not in line with the modern selfish notion of felt needs.  Jesus knows what things we have need of before we ask, as it says in Matthew chapter six.  Since He is the Shepherd, HE knows.  And because I am His sheep, I shall not want!  Case closed.  And YOU shall not want!  Hallelujah!  Anxiety is now lifted!  Worry is brought under the power of the Holy Spirit and made subservient to the ONE who is in charge of your life.  It is time to stretch your mind and heart now!  It is time to grow and flow!  It is time to stop remaining stagnant in our Christian experience and march onward to develop into the mature SHEEP OF HIS PASTURE.  He is the supplier of all your needs.  You will not lack what you need to survive where you are!  I hope someone hears that!  Listen to it:
"The Lord thy God knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee, thou hast lacked nothing!"  Deuteronomy 2:7
Again, someone needs to hear that!  Listen, He has taken care of you, has He not?  He has supplied your needs.  Notice, needs, not wishes, or mere desires.  What you and I think is needful - felt needs - is different than what God knows is needful.  Listen to it:
"And thou shalt remember all the way the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart... He suffered thee to hunger and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not... thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee."      Deuteronomy 8:2-5
So, the children of Israel needed not only food but chastening.  I am sure they did not think they needed the chastening!  But God knew.  He knows our need also.  The scripture tells us in Hebrews that the Lord chastens us or disciplines us because we are his sons and daughters.  What a compliment!  Thank the Lord, He does not let me get away with anything.
Also, take notice of this most important feature of Psalm 23.  The Lord is my Shepherd.    This Psalm talks about HIM!  It is all JESUS!  We see Him.  The Lord!  Look at the all the names of God in this Psalm.  Is it coincidental?  I think not.  Go through the Psalm again with your Bible in your hand and see the Lord in this!
  • The Lord...my Shepherd.     Jehovah-Rohi.                      The Lord Our Shepherd.
  • I shall not want.                           Jehovah-Jireh.                     The Lord Our Provider. 
  • He leads...still waters.               Jehovah-Shalom.                The Lord Our Peace.
  • He restoreth my soul.                Jehovah-Rapha.                  The Lord Our Healer.
  • Paths of righteousness.              Jehovah-Tsidkenu.              The Lord Our Righteousness.
  • Thou are with me.                      Jehovah-Shammah.            The Lord Who is There.
  • My enemies.                                 Jehovah-Nissi.                     The Lord Our Banner.
What a powerful Lord and Savior.  Jesus the Lord God almighty is all over this Psalm.  This is nothing but the Divine hand of God.  Yes, it matters who our Shepherd is.  This sheep in Psalm 23 knows its Shepherd.  Do we?  He knows what a good Shepherd is and consequently what a bad Shepherd is.  Jesus tells us there is a difference between a shepherd and a hireling.  A hireling runs when trouble comes.  He leaves the sheep to fend for themselves.  He is only interested in the paycheck.  But a shepherd, Jesus said, "lays down His life for the sheep."  Lord, give us shepherds who can feed the flock so that they may never lack for that which is FUNDAMENTAL to their existence and survival.  The Lord Jesus is that Shepherd!  He is the Chief Shepherd as the Bible tells us.  He is the Bishop of our souls.  Try to find those phrases in the Bible.  "Chief Shepherd" and "Bishop of our soul."  Pastors are under shepherds.  We need good under shepherds.  Pastors are under shepherds who are responsible to feed the flock of God.  Pray for your chaplain, and the pastors you know or have known in the past who have fed your soul the unmixed word of God.
Important to this Psalm is the way in which the Shepherd makes up the shortage.  What do I mean?  I mean the Divine order of the supply.  He makes up the shortage in my life and knows exactly which should be first.  As we move along, we will see that He does not leave anything out that is VITAL, or NECESSARY!  What does that indicate?  It indicates to me that the church, the under shepherds, must get back to the necessities of the Christian life.  Some may say the BASICS!   Many Christians have been satisfied with the ACCESSORIES more than the NECESSITIES.  Let us be straight forward.  Too often we have been more concerned with our outward appearance than our inward condition.  A sub-title for this series could be, "Do My Shoes Match My Purse?"  LOL.  Really?  Yes.  I remember when I was in the hospital and had to have a minor surgical procedure.  I had to wear a gown that was open in the back with strings.  It was not something I would wear to a dinner party, for sure!  They did not seem to care how I looked.  Why?  Because fashion is not their passion when they are trying to KEEP YOU ALIVE!  In the church we have become enamored with accessories and not fundamentals!  We seem more concerned with our shoes matching our purse, or our tie clashing with our socks.  Sadly, the fundamentals have become accessories and the accessories have become fundamentals and the sheep are being eaten by wolves!  Has the church and the ministry become more concerned with their image in the community rather than being conformed to the image of Christ?
So, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  There it is.  The rest of the Psalm goes on to tell us about this Shepherd and what HE deems necessary, fundamental, and vital, to our survival as a sheep in this wolf infested world.  He says what is necessary.  The fundamentals are what He says is fundamental.
Now, what are those fundamentals that He provides that will make up the shortage in my life?  I will list them in order as they appear in the text.  Are you ready?
  • DIVINE SUSTENANCE
  • DIVINE RESTORATION
  • DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS
  • DIVINE PRESENCE
  • DIVINE PROVISION
  • DIVINE ANNOINTING
  • DIVINE JOY
  • DIVINE GOODNESS
  • DIVINE MERCY
  • DIVINE HABITATION
How great is this?  I think you can see that this could take a long time to get through, right?  Absolutely.  So, buckle up and get ready for the Shepherd, the Sheep, and the Shortage.  He has a plan for your life, and it is no coincidence that you have decided to walk through this with us.  Do not lose heart.   Try to memorize this Psalm.  You will not regret that.
"Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee."   Psalm 119:11
There is an old song that I love to sing.  It is a simple one and the words go like this:
All I need is Jesus; all I need is Jesus.
All I need is Jesus; He holds me in His hand.
He supplies all your needs, my friend.  HE does.  This Psalm will make that clear.  Notice in this Psalm how many personal pronouns refer to JESUS, the Shepherd.
  • HE makes me lie down...
  • HE leads me beside...
  • HE restores my soul...
  • HE leads me in paths...
  • HE is (thou art) with me...
  • HE (thou) prepares a table...
  • HE anoints my head...
The sheep have a shortage only the Shepherd can supply.  

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."
"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

John 10:11 & 14

A Strong Tower Of Salvation

Life.  Life has so many different facets.  Just think of all that you have experienced, joy, sorrow, beauty, pain, expectation, loss of hope, trust, fear, and the list goes on and on.  Everyone of us seek and cling to the "positive" times of life.   Those times when everything is going smoothly and life is good, it all seems to be in our favor.  We have the perfect job, everyone we know loves and appreciates us, our tummies are full and yesterday, today, and tomorrow is a sunny vacation.  In reality, we know that this is not the way life goes.  The difficult times will come:  our boss lets us go, a loved one dies, a family member seems to turn against us, the loan comes due, the car hic-ups for the last time, we are searching under the couch cushions for grocery money, and everything we touch seems to turn to dust.   These difficulties may come so "deep and heavy" that we feel like we are buried without a hope of ever "breathing" again.  Have you experienced this?  Are you experiencing this right now?
Friend there is hope for you!   You may not be able to remove the difficulty in your life, but you can "run" to a tower of hope.   In Proverbs 18:10 we read,
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and is safe."
Flip back to Psalms 61:3 and you will find,
"For thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy."
How is the name of the Lord a strong tower?  How can we run to it and be safe?   And who is this enemy?  These are great questions and as we answer them, may the Lord open your heart to the hope you can find in Him.  A hope that stands against the fiercest opponent for we are promised in His Word, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world."
When you hear the words, "strong tower" what pictures does it bring to your mind?  I think of the Middle Ages, a time of castles, knights, danger, and battles.  I picture a tower of stone built on a hill surrounded by fields, and in those fields peaceful working peasants, harvesting their grain so that they would have food to survive the winter.  They always work within sight of that strong tower that stands on the hill.  I think of an urgent warning sounded to the coming of danger, and all the peasant folk dropping their tools and running toward the tower, a place of safety from whatever is coming.  How about the strong doors closing as the last person enters separating them from the impending evil?  All this followed by the assurance that they are safe because they have made it into the strong tower.  In fact, we find a portion in scripture that describes this very thing:
"But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower." Judges 9:51.
We can see that safety is in that tower.  Remember back to Proverbs 18:10 "The Name of the LORD is a strong tower..."?  So, the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be the tower that is in your and my life.  Most importantly, He must be our tower of SALVATION.  Scripture makes it clear that we are all born sinners and we are in need of a Savior.
"For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23.
Jesus came, and because of His love for you and me, paid the price for our sins as it tells us in Romans 6:23
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Praise the Lord for who He is and what He did out of His love for us.  Now how can we have this great salvation?  Again, we find in Romans
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Whosoever means anyone.  Anyone who recognizes the sinful life they are leading.  Anyone who is sorry for and repents or turns away from their sin shall be saved.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."    Romans 10:9-10
This strong tower on the hill, He is your salvation.  The Lord Jesus Christ is your only hope.  Without Him as a strong tower - your strong tower, you would be separated from God and spend an eternity in hell.
My friend the choice is yours, are you willing to heed the alarm I am sounding for you?  Are you willing to run to Jesus Christ the "Strong Tower" for your soul?  Don't delay, your enemy is seeking whom He may devour.  Climb into Jesus, find safety within His walls.
"...whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21
The wonder of what you gain from Jesus, your Strong Tower, firstly is your salvation from sin, and then as you grow as a Christian, as you grow in Him, you will find that you continue to face trials in your daily walk.  Your Strong Tower, Jesus is available to you as each trial comes.  He offers to you, strength, joy, power, and a perspective over your problems that you never had before.

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