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The Fundamentals: Divine Sustenance Part 3

The Shepherd The Sheep And the Shortage

Divine Sustenance Part 3

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.  6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

As we continue this great series on Psalm 23, we need to be reminded of what we have seen so far.  We see the three things we began with and by which this series of studies receives its title. 

THE SHEPHERD, THE SHEEP AND THE SHORTAGE

This is also known as The Fundamentals of the Christian Life.  Jesus provides us as sheep with the necessary things needed to survive and maintain our existence as a sheep.  Did you know that Jesus is the Shepherd and BISHOP?  That's right.  1 Peter 2:25 says that "you have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."  That’s amazing.  What is a Bishop?  The word Bishop is "overseer".  From the word overseer we get the word "visit".  The word visit is found in various places and one of them is in James 1:27. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."  Great words.  VISIT, it does not mean to go see someone and have a cup of tea and a cookie.  That may be included, but it really has the meaning of coming to the aid of someone.  To find out exactly what they need and provide it.  It is a kind of overseeing and correcting and providing the things which the bishop or shepherd or overseer have found to be lacking.  Hallelujah!  This is what Jesus does for His sheep!  What the Christian needs these days is a divine visitation from the Shepherd, the Bishop of our souls resulting in the supplying of our lack causing us to survive and flourish.  "I shall not want".  It's all there!  To not lack is to have what we need!  What I think I need may be not be a need, but an actual want or desire on my part.  HE KNOWS WHAT I NEED!  My parents knew what I needed, and sometimes that meant the application of the "board of education" to "the seat of knowledge".  If you get my drift!  Discipline is sometimes what I need.
So, what do I need?  At the top of the list for sheep is FOOD AND WATER.  Divine Sustenance.  From The Farmers Register; Vol. 3, it states: "Besides feeding, watering Sheep is considered to be of the greatest moment i.e., importance, and so receives the attention it requires."
He makes me lie down... do you see that?  As we have stated in past lessons, lying down is not eating.  The lying down assumes they have eaten.  Sheep lie down AFTER they have eaten because they eat standing up.  So, why lie down?  Digestion.  Ruminating.  Chewing the cud.  That means for us that we meditate on what we have eaten or read in the Word of God.  Meditation, musing, and waiting on the Lord, squeezing out the nourishment of the Word results in that Word becoming a part of us and our constitution.  Hallelujah!  It is important that sheep graze quickly.  Why?  Sheep eat standing up, head down, and therefore are vulnerable to predators.  When lying down, they are more alert, heads up, eyes up and the enemy is at a disadvantage.  Wow!  What an insight.  Meditating on the Word I have heard and read, will lend itself to the ability to detect error, and keep the enemy at a disadvantage.  Perhaps we are unable to detect error because we have aborted our time IN the Word and our time chewing on that Word.  How true it is when the scripture says in Psalm 119:11, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee."
Did you know "Cud-chewing" has a couple more benefits to the sheep?  Yes, it does.  Cud-chewing is the time when the wool on the sheep grows the most!  The scripture says: "Desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow thereby."  Wool keeps warm.  Wool is used for other people's benefit.  Wool protects the sheep.  I am sure you can apply that in many ways.  But the cud-chewing also promotes THIRST!  Yes, thirst.  It says: "I need something else!"  Hallelujah!  Yes, we do need something else!  There is more to be experienced in God.  That something else is water.  Listen to it: "He leadeth me beside the still waters."  As you read the gospels you will see Jesus.  Experience Jesus.  But as you get closer to the book of Acts, in the gospel of John chapter seven and verse thirty-seven, you will hear Jesus say these words:
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.  He that believeth on me as the scripture has said, out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water.  (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"  John 7:37-39
What tremendous words!  Don't read over that too quickly.  Jesus was speaking of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit.  Listen to Isaiah 44:3:
"I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." 
How great is this!  I can hardly contain myself at the moment.  I am sometimes overwhelmed at how supernatural His Word is and how it brings the Old Testament together with the New Testament.  Scripture interprets scripture.  They blend together.  They agree together.  What powerful words.  But that's not all:
"In the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and, upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."  Joel 2:28-29
Oh, it's just getting better and better!  In Acts 10:44,45 it says:
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all of them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."
This agrees with Isaiah.  "...I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."  Praise the Lord!  It's for us and our offspring!  Oh, how we need the water of the Spirit!  And how did we get there?  We were feeding on the Word, meditating, and ruminating on that Word and we were LED to the WATER!  WHO is the Word?  Jesus is the Word.  Jesus leads me to the WATER!  Look at it again!  "He leadeth me beside the still waters."  So, we need BOTH the WORD and the SPIRIT.  These are vital.  These are fundamental.  They are NOT accessories.  They are necessities.  And why do we need the Word and the Spirit?  In order to be restored in our soul!  HE RESTORETH MY SOUL is coming up next.  Look at the following diagram.
It is a pendulum that swings back and forth like that on a grandfather clock.  In our Christian life, as the pendulum swings to the left, the WORD side, we receive what we call Reformation.  The Word of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  As it swings to the right, the SPIRIT side, we receive Rejuvenation.  Jesus said we will receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon us.  In Acts chapter 4 the people prayed for boldness to continue to preach the Word and as a result, they were filled with the Holy Spirit!  In Ephesians 3:16, we find these powerful words that speak to rejuvenation.  "That he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;". I must go on!  Listen to the scripture in Isaiah 28:11,12: "For with stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people.  To whom He said, this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing."   WATER is just that!  REFRESHING!  Can anyone deny the greatness of this Psalm?  No wonder He gives us food and THEN water!  Do we see a divine order here?  YES!  Back to the diagram.  When the pendulum is in the center, not only to one side or the other, but in the middle, we have BALANCE!  We need the Word and the Spirit in our diet to bring balance to our life.  Notice in the second verse of Psalm 23: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures" (WORD).  "He leadeth me beside the still waters" (SPIRIT).   And notice, then, "HE RESTORETH MY SOUL!!"  A balanced diet brings restoration.  Wow!  I can get pretty excited about this stuff, can you tell?  Reformation, Rejuvenation, and Restoration.
When I speak of this water, what do I mean?  I take you back to the verses we have mentioned earlier.
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink...but this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified."  John 7:37-39
There is an experience available to the believer after salvation that is referred to in the scriptures as a baptism in the Holy Spirit!  Yes, John the Baptist mentions it in Matthew chapter three.  Listen to it:
"...but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.  He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire."  Matthew 3:11
Jesus also bears this out to be true when He spoke to the disciples who were believers at this time.  They were born again!  They were already Christians, as we would say.  Saved!  After you are born again, you are eligible for this power from on high.  Listen to Jesus words in the book of Acts shortly before He ascends back to the Father.
"For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence [not many days from now]."  Acts 1:5
Hallelujah!  THERE IS SOMETHING MORE!  When you got saved you received LIFE!  Jesus gave that to you by His Spirit.  But there is something more.  There is now available to you as a born-again believer, POWER!  Take it from the lips of Jesus Himself:
"But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."  Acts 1:8
Oh wow!  This is amazing!  Yes, it is!  You may be saying, "Pastor Jerry, do you mean to tell me there is something more?"  Yes, there is something more!  And HE is leading YOU to it!  It is a refreshing!  It is power from on high.  But maybe you say, I am in prison and that can't happen to me here.  OH yes it can!  I just received in the mail a testimony from one of you taking this course, that they were just baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.  How great is this?  I am about to jump out of my chair just thinking about it.  Woo!  How great is our God!
Let me share with you another testimony.  I was pastoring in Port Clinton, Ohio, some years ago.  It was on a Sunday evening and in the door walked a young couple in their twenties.  They had never been to our church but enjoyed the service that night.  After the service, I introduced myself to them and they proceeded to ask me questions.  The young man said that they were saved and loved the Lord, but recently they have been longing for more.  He said, "There must be something more!"   My fellow believer, did you hear that?  "There must be something more."  Then, he said these words, "Do you think it could be this tongues stuff?"  I said, "No, I don't think it is, I KNOW it is!"  His eyes lit up and the expression on his face let me know that he and his wife wanted to know more of this Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  We invited them over to our home, and we talked from 6:30 PM until 11:00 PM about this powerful experience.  They came back the next week.  We did it all over again.  As we were finishing our discussion on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, they said "We want it".  I said, "Now?"  They said, "Yes, now!"  We laid hands on them and within a few minutes time, they were both gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit!  To make a long story short, that young man and his wife went into the ministry and became our associate/youth pastor in time to come.
I share this testimony to drive home to your heart that there is something more!  It's available for every born-again believer.  Yes, even you.  You are reading this, and you have been saying for months there must be something more.  That's because you are thirsty.  And Jesus is about to quench that thirsting in your soul.  How can it happen?  Let me give you some scriptures.  First, we must believe and be born again.  We have seen that already, haven't we?   Then, Jesus said in Luke 11:13: "...how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask?"  So, we see that we must ask.  So, ask!  But, then Jesus said in Luke 24:49:  "I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."  Tarry means "wait".  Wait in prayer, praise, and worship.
The Bible tells us in Acts chapter one, that they all continued in prayer and supplication.  Supplication is a form of deep petition and asking.  It speaks of great sincerity.  They believed it was for them.  And it is for you!  It is for every born-again believer.  Really?  Yes.  It is the something more you have been craving.  As you continue in prayer and praise you begin to sense a stirring in your spirit.  Yes, a stirring.  A rising inside.  It kinda feels like a nervous rising.  Like just before I had to give a speech in High School.  I like to say it this way.  It's like when you were a kid, and you had a bottle of pop in your hand.  You placed your thumb on the top of the opened bottle and shook it.  Do you remember doing that?  Of course, you do.  But the "fizz" did NOT come out as long as you held your thumb on it.  BUT, when you took your thumb OFF, what happened?  YES!  Out it came in a sudden burst of spray all over everybody who was standing close to you!  Listen, as long as you kept your thumb on the bottle nothing came out.  In like manner, as long as you keep your "thumb on the bottle" nothing will come out.  But as you sense that bubbling up in your spirit, that's the time to take your "thumb off the bottle" and open your mouth and allow Him to bring to the surface that wonderful burst of heavenly language they experienced in the book of Acts that only He can give.  Acts 2:4 says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."  They did the speaking, but the Spirit gave them the "wherewithal," the "impetus," "impelling force," "impulse," or "stimulus".  When you sense this, give in to it.   There is something more and it's about to take place in you!  Yes, you!  This promise is for you, and for your children and your children’s children.  Listen to it:
"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."  Acts 2:39

"But Peter, standing up with the eleven...said...but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and upon my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy." 
Acts 2:14-18
Whoa!  How great is this!  I ask you, are we living in the last days?  You better know we are!  We are in "those days".  And that only proves once again that it is for you!  Yes, you were right, there IS something more.      
                                                                                 

OLD TIME POWER

Written by:  Charlie D. Tillman

They were in an upper chamber,
They were all with one accord,
When the Holy Ghost descended,
As was promised by the Lord.

(Refrain)
O Lord, send the power just now,
O Lord, send the power just now,
O Lord, send the power just now,
And baptize everyone.

Yes, this power from heaven descended,
With the sound of rushing wind;
Tongues of fire came down upon them,
As the Lord said He would send.

Yes, this “old-time” power was given
To our fathers who were true;
This is promised to believers,
And we all may have it too.


A Better View From The Strong Tower


In 2 Kings chapters 18 and 19 we read of a king by the name of Hezekiah.  He lived about 700 years before Jesus Christ's earthly ministry.  He became king of Judah at the age of 25 and reigned for 29 years.  The Bible has a lot to say about him.  Unlike so many of the other kings of Judah and Israel during that time, the Bible says that Hezekiah did, "...that which was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father David did."  He took a bold stand for God.  Hezekiah removed and broke up all the idols and images that the people had been worshiping in place of the One True God.  The Bible also says that he trusted in the Lord God and kept his commandments, and because of this, the Lord was with him, and he prospered in whatever he did.  That is quite an amazing testimony!

Others saw the stand that King Hezekiah took for the Lord and did not like it at all.  In fact, they mocked and threatened him.  One of those threats (which was not an empty one) came from the king of Assyria.  The Assyrians were a people who did not serve the One True Living God, but instead served man-made idols.   They were a cruel nation that were known for burning buildings, torturing prisoners and enslaving women and children.  Because of their brutal reputation, they were able to conquer other peoples without a fight by using fright.

It was from the King of Assyria that King Hezekiah received a nasty letter.  The letter was full of threats and intimidations.  He wrote that Hezekiah should not trust God, for God would deceive him by telling him that He would deliver them from the Assyrians.  He also reminded Hezekiah of all the terrible deeds the kings of Assyria had done to other peoples in the past by utterly destroying them.  He said that the gods of the other nations never delivered them, so the Hebrew God would not be able to deliver the people of Judah either.  This was one very intimidating letter.
How would you handle this letter?  Perhaps you would quickly throw up the white flag of surrender.  Maybe you would roll up your sleeves and come out with fists flying.  Or, maybe you would pick up your phone and text everyone on your friends list asking them what advice they could share with you in the matter.  Let's look to see how Hezekiah handled this very real threat.  In verse 14-19 of 2 Kings 19, we read exactly what he did.  It says that after Hezekiah read the letter, he,
"...went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel ...thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.  Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes and see:  and hear the words of Sennacherib [the King of Assyria], which hath sent him to reproach the living God.  Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire:  for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore, they have destroyed them.  Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only."
This is the action of a man who knew his God.  The is an action of a man who wanted to see the situation through the eyes of His Lord.  Hezekiah knew that he and his army were no match for the hordes of Assyrians, but he also knew that God was on his side.  This was not the gods made by human hands, but The One True Living God, who made the human hands and all of the heavens and the earth.  In reality, the Assyrian King was throwing his full attack against the Lord God, yes, also against Hezekiah and his kingdom, but to insult the Living God was the greatest offence.

During this difficulty, Hezekiah got away from the distractions around him and placed himself into the presence of the Lord.   There in that place he could see more clearly and seek the direction from the Lord.   He knew the truth of Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and is safe."  And so, we see here, Hezekiah climbing up into the strong tower of the Lord's name - He separated himself into the house of God and spread the problem out before the Lord.

We can learn from Hezekiah the importance of running to the Lord with our problems, laying them at His feet, and seeking Him for wisdom.  In Psalm 62:5, we read "My soul wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him."  And in Psalm 37:7 "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." As we wait patiently on the Lord for His direction, keeping our eyes and hearts focused on Him, He will give us a peace for our heart and an answer to the need.
Hezekiah got his answer.  In the following verses it says that the prophet (a man who speaks for God) named Isaiah, came to him with a Word from the Lord.  The Lord informed Hezekiah that He heard his prayer.  The insults that the King of Assyria had made against the Lord stirred the righteous anger of God.  Through Isaiah the Lord said that the King of Assyria would not make it to the city.  He would not shoot any arrows there, nor come before it with a shield.  Nor would he build a siege ramp against it.  Why?  Because the Lord would defend the city for His own sake.  In fact, he stated that the evil king would leave just the way that he had come.  Do you know the power of God to work?  Do you understand that when He speaks it comes true?  Where is Hezekiah?  He is not out preparing his troops for battle, he is peacefully trusting the Lord to do exactly what He said He would do. And that is exactly what the Lord did.  An angel of the Lord smote 180,000 Assyrians in the night.  And the next morning the remainder of the army along with their king headed back to their own land - defeated by the hand of the Lord!  The Lord of righteousness kept His word and defended the assault against His own name.  Hezekiah took that same name and headed into it as his strong and mighty tower.  From within the presence of the Lord, his perspective was put in place, and he saw the Lord work on his behalf.  Not only did he see the Lord work, but the kingdoms of the earth (to you and me today), can see the might of the Lord and know that He is God.

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