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By White Nation correspondent, Brackenfell 03 February 2015
One of the most quoted Psalms is Psalm 23 which begins, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…” What a beautiful picture this paints of us walking with God in beautiful, lush, fragrant pastures. It is a picture of peace, security and contentment. But then, the very next verse talks about very different surroundings. In a seemingly abrupt transition, verse four reads, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
How in the world did we go from green pastures to the valley of the shadow of death in a single verse?
You know, sometimes life is like that. Unexpected circumstances, tragedy and trials take us from one place in life to another in an instant. But no matter where we are in life, no matter what has happened, God is still there. When we look to Him, we don’t have to fear. He always brings peace. He always brings comfort. And notice that it says, “Though I walk through…” It doesn’t say, “Though I end up in the valley of the shadow of death.” We have to remember that the dark times don’t last. We don’t have to live in the valley of the shadow of death; we are just passing through. Sometimes, when circumstances are so overwhelming, we can begin to feel stuck and limited. If you feel that way today, let this truth sink down into your heart: you are never stuck in the valley. He is leading you to a place of safety and rest. There may be seasons of uncertainty, but that’s when trust kicks in. There may a season of mourning, but God is near to the brokenhearted. He is near to all who call on His name. Lift your eyes to Him, focus on His goodness, and let faith rise up in your heart again. Know that God is good. He is not the author of confusion but of peace. John 10:10 tells us that the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came to give us everlasting and abundant life. God is always on a mission of hope, healing and restoration-a mission of love.
3 Things The Good Shepherd Does
Jesus told this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Luke 15:3-7
Jesus, as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), does three things for His sheep:
1) The Good Shepherd Searches
– Notice that the shepherd is anxious to recover the lost sheep — He leaves the ninety-nine immediately to go after the one who is lost.
– Notice the shepherd doesn’t give up until the sheep is found — He goes after the sheep “until he finds it”.
– Notice the shepherd isn’t angry at the sheep — He is joyful when he finds his sheep.
In the same way, Jesus came to “save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) He “came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
2) The Good Shepherd Finds
– Notice the shepherd carries the all the weight — The sheep is carried “on his shoulders”.
– Notice the shepherd holds the sheep safe — The sheep are safe, held firmly in his grip.
In the same way, Jesus carries the weight of sin for us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He also holds our salvation safe and sure, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)
3) The Good Shepherd Brings Home
– Notice the shepherd shares his joy of finding the sheep with friends — “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!”
– Notice the shepherd brings the sheep all the way home — “…and goes home.”
In the same way, when a person comes to Christ “there is rejoicing in heaven” And Jesus leads us to heaven, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)
Today, I encourage you to turn your thoughts to the Father. Ask Him to show you His love in a fresh, new way. Get a picture of Him standing before you with His arms stretched toward you, ready to lead you through the valley to the place of peace, rest and victory.