Friday, March 17, 2017

Why Are You Cast Down O My Soul! Hope Thou In God

A cast sheep is a sheep that has fallen on its back, legs straight up in the air. It can't rise on its own and will die within a few hours if the Shepherd doesn't find it in time.

Phillip Keller, author of "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23" says, "a sheep becomes cast when it rolls on its side to relax after lying down in a hollow or depression in the ground. It is during this time gravity in the body shifts and when it turns to get back on its feet, it discovers its feet can no longer touch the ground. It begins to panic and paw frantically. As it lies there struggling, gases begin to build in the rumen. The gases will cut off blood circulation to the extremities of the body, especially the legs."

Notice, the sheep became cast when it decided to relax on hollow grown. The word hollow refers to a hole or empty space. It can also refer to something that is valueless, worthless, futile or fruitless.

As Christians we often find ourselves resting or relaxing in hollow places. Places that are futile, worthless, fruitless and valueless. Hollow places can be time spent in bad relationships, living with bad habits, seeking or pursing mammon/money before God. Unfortunately, when we try to get up and move on with our lives, we find ourselves crippled with troubling emotions, empty pockets, ruined relationships or bad health.  We discover we are unable to walk like we used to or we discover we can't correct the situation as easily as we want to, so we panic and that makes matters worse.

Thank God the Good Shepherd is diligently looking for cast sheep.  Don Baker, author of "The Way of the Shepherd", says, when the shepherd finds a cast sheep he begins to massage its limbs and body. The gases are dispelled, the blood begins to flow and within time, the sheep is back on its feet again, running off to join the rest of the flock.

Notice, the Shepherd doesn't scold the sheep for being cast but lovingly begins to help it and take care of it! And so it is with us, the sheep of God's pasture. We can rejoice for we have a shepherd who loves us and desires to take care of us even when we fail and become cast down!

Take a look at what David said to the sheep of God's pasture.

Psalm 100:3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 100:4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 100:5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Yes, let's be thankful that our Shepherd is good and full of everlasting mercy. His mercy, forgiveness, and willingness to help us never ends and that's the truth for all of us!

Friday, March 10, 2017

What Kind of Sheep are You?

Some of us claim the "The Lord Is My Shepherd" but what kind of sheep are we! Are we happy and contented sheep or sad discontented sheep! 

Happy and contented sheep follow the shepherd, because they trust him. They know he loves them and will do whatever it takes to protect them and supply their needs. However, discontented sheep seem to be "restless" they have the propensity to wander. Author of "The Way of the Shepherd", Don Baker says these, "restless sheep have insatiable cravings that cause them to wander from the rest of the flock."   

He notes "the Shepherd will hang a bell around the neck of discontented sheep because during the night he may hear what sounds like the Morse code of bells. A single clang of the bell means that a discontented sheep is trudging off. It may be in search of greener pastures or purer water. If the clang is rapid it means the sheep is running-sometimes of danger but usually, it is just dissatisfied."

Discontented sheep leave the shepherd and the flock because they are not satisfied with the shepherd's provision. Baker says, "sheep don't need much, however they often want more than they need. Their cravings can make them drunk if they eat too many grapes, sick if they drink polluted water and die if they bloat themselves from too much alfalfa."   

When sheep decide to disdain the shepherd's guidance they flee the flock.

When they want more than He's provided they decide to make a run for it and become prey for wolves.

Believers place themselves in danger when they decide to leave the flock to pursue greener pastures in the world's system. 

Trust the Good Shepherd. Decide to be content with the things/life He has provided for you, because He knows what's best for you at this time. 

Rest in His care today, because all is well with the man or woman who submits to the One who boldly said to Mary,  "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Her brother was dead but Jesus the Good Shepherd told her to believe because with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). You must believe He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and that He will withhold no good thing from you (Psalm 84:11)!  

Be satisfied and content with Him today! Don't leave the flock and the presence of the Good Shepherd for worldly pleasures and pursuits. For you shall see the glory of God if you continue in his kindness (Romans 11:22) Yes, continue/remain in His loving care for all is well with thee!

Today I declare that  you will see the goodness of God in the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It's Time to Have The Reproach Rolled Away

In Joshua 5:9  we notice a very important principle. The passage says, after the Israelites received the mark of the covenant, (circumcision,) God rolled away the reproach of Egypt off of them. The word reproach means- the act of finding fault in disgrace, to treat with scorn, or condemn, criticize with an attitude of fault finding with the intention of shaming.

God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with a mighty hand and promised to take them to a land that flowed with milk and honey. However, 40 years later they were still wandering in the wilderness. How embarrassing! 

The Egyptians were laughing at them, they were being condemned and shamed into believing they had been duped into following God into the desert. Some of the Egyptians left Egypt with the Israelites, scripture calls them the mixed multitude. They were so impressed by God's power and miracles they left Egypt. 

However, when they arrived in the desert and all they had to eat was manna they were not happy. They encouraged the Israelites to whine and complain, actually telling them they had it better in Egypt. (Numbers 11:4-6).

I bet some of the them left the Israelites in the wilderness and went back to Egypt and said "Let me tell you about what's going on with the Israelites and their God. They don’t have any real food all they have is Manna. It's some weird stuff that falls from the sky onto the ground, it's there when the dew evaporates in the morning."

"They gather it in the morning, they can't have left overs or save any for later, they can only take what they can eat or the rest will spoil (except on the Sabbath)."

"They are still walking around with the same old clothes and shoes they had when they left Egypt!"
The Israelites had become a joke and an object of scorn before the Egyptians and the surrounding nations. But on this day God said "I have rolled away the reproach of Evil off you". You will no longer  hang your head in shame. You will no longer be the subject of cruel jokes. This is the day the promises of Deuteronomy 28 will overtake you. This day you are the head and not the tail above and not beneath a lender and not a borrower.

Notice in Joshua chapter five, that after they kept the Passover the Manna ceased, it stopped coming down. They reached the promised land and it was time for abundance.

And so it is with us when we receive the mark of the covenant, "Jesus" our Savior is our Passover Lamb! He said "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

It is time for us to reach the promised land. Don't believe the lies, you have not been duped into following Christ.  Don't let the scorn of others make your journey more difficult. Remember your life and times are in God's hands, He orders your steps, He opens and closes doors.

At the right time God will roll away the reproach. The time is now and its all because of the mark of the covenant. If  you receive or have received Christ as your sacrificial Lamb, the reproach has been rolled away. God is not treating you with disdain or scorn. He's not condemning you but loving you.

A personal relationship with Him will enable you to inherit the promised land. You can experience the personal, individual plan He has for your life. For while you were still in your mothers womb He knew you and had plans to prosper you and not harm you. (Jeremiah 1:5 and Jeremiah 29:11)

Yes, God  has rolled the reproach off you!