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Resting in the Power and Love of the Risen Shepherd!

Read: Psalm 23

 

There it was once again this morning. That same question yet again. I was talking with a family member about a loved one who, as far as can be humanly known, is close to death. The saddest thing about it is that, as far as we know, Wayne doesn't yet belong to Jesus. That was when I heard those same words again. The very words that the Gideon representative referenced last Sunday and the very words my husband and I had often spoken: "have we done enough?" "Could we have spoken the truth differently?" The beauty of those words is that they frequently come from the lips of someone who longs for another person to come to understand his need for the Savior and also receive Jesus' provision to meet that need, John 14:6.

 

How often that question is spoken with an ache inside because our hearts are beating in tune with God's heart. After all, He longs for all to be saved, and He takes no pleasure in the death of those who perish without Him, 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11. Even though I know and believe those precious truths, that question still sometimes rolls around in my thinking. Then, this morning, I had a thought I have not previously had. “The LORD is my shepherd. Yes, my risen shepherd.”

 

I have thought of Psalm 23 in different ways concerning the way the Shepherd cares for His sheep, but for today, I am considering the truths from the psalm that reminds us that He guides, leads and sustains us. Specifically concerning His command to tell others about the hope we have because we belong to Him, 1 Peter 3:15.

 

Before going any further, let's rejoice in the truth that we are Jesus' sheep. It is elementary of course, but none of the precious truths of Psalm 23 mean anything if we don't belong to Jesus. The Risen Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep knows and cares for His own, John 10:11; John 10:14. Yes, it is true that sheep lack pretty much everything from a way to protect ourselves to the ability to right ourselves when in peril; therefore, praise God for the all-powerful and loving Shepherd. Okay, how does being Jesus' sheep connect with that question that most of us have probably asked?

 

The answer that came to me is that we are being guided and led. Led onto paths of righteousness by the Shepherd Who has gone ahead of us to clear the way for us. He has made sure that the paths He takes us on are free from any obstacle that would hinder us in His work. When we have broken places, He brings, in His way and in His time, soothing help. He does not drive us. Instead, He provides everything we need to live a life that pleases Him, 2 Peter 1:3. Our competency to speak to others and tell them about our precious Savior comes from His enabling, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6. One beautiful truth in Psalm 23 is that the Shepherd is all about guiding His own. He puts the sheep in places of the fruitfulness He desires that they have. So, if there is a door blocking our movement, even if it looks like there would be fruitfulness behind that door, we can rest. Knowing that the Shepherd hasn't cleared the way for our passage into that area.

 

In Acts 16:6-10, we watch as Paul and those with him are first prevented from going where there were no doubt people who needed Jesus. Two times, the Shepherd guided them away from what might have appeared to be ministry opportunities. Then He led them to the destination He had chosen for them. Because they were led and empowered by the Shepherd, Paul and those with him were successful. Able to speak to those God put in their paths. For example, Lydia, Acts 16:11-14.

 

So, how do we know if we have done enough? I don't mean to make this question to seem simplistic or trite. There are no doubt other directions that we could go. Deeper than these few words that I hold out. Yet when considering our Risen Shepherd and His meticulous care and guidance, what if we continue to ask Him questions. Perhaps instead of asking if we have done enough, we might ask Him if there is a door open for today. He might bring us into the life of someone we have spoken to previously or He might provide a new opportunity. Or, today might not be a day where we experience any open doors. That is guidance too. His paths of righteousness are about resting in His leading. That looks different each day. After all, the Shepherd leads for His Name's sake so that His wonders will be seen through His dependent sheep. Sheep don't necessarily have answers, but our loving dependence on the Lord might point people to the One Who does.

 

David who knew what it looked like to have a shepherd's heart loved to laud his Shepherd. David knew the work and care and affection that were a part of tending sheep, and he honored God for His abundance of loving care and power that He bestowed upon him. This same Shepherd will not fail to guide us into places of sowing seed for Him. He is the Guide Who shows us where to rest and helps us up when we fall down, Psalm 37:23-24.

 

Lord, it is a gift to us each time we are enabled to share the hope You have given us. Whether we have shared Your truth one time or ten, we know that it is the Holy Spirit Who opens hearts and brings new birth. Once we have had the opportunity to sow even one seed of truth, it is there and by Your power, it can grow, Zechariah 4:6. Each of us no doubt loves someone whom we have told about Your unfathomable love. May You continue to draw each one to Yourself.

 

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

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