SHALL NOT WANT

Ps.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The world lives in a state of want. Enough is never enough. Billionaires never seem to have enough money, fashionistas never have enough clothes, collectors never have enough stuff. You get the picture, something inside of humans is always wanting. It has to do with the created in the image of God thing. We were created to lean and depend on Him for everything. In our present fallen condition that just doesn’t seem to be working. There is never enough stuff because stuff is not what we need. Our need is supernatural. In other words only God will do. Only when you are made new by the Spirit and become a sheep of His pasture will the wanting stop. When Christ is your shepherd, you can say with David “I shall not want” Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“I might want otherwise, but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?…..Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because “The Lord is my shepherd.”

He satisfies us completely and supplies for us continuously. The world’s markets may crumble, but I shall not want. There could even be droughts and famines but there are ravens and widows set aside for His sheep. If you are His child you can say with David “I shall not want”. No matter what circumstances face you, the Lord is your Shepherd.

HAPPY

Phil.3:8 – More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

This verse gets to the very heart of life, the pursuit of happiness. That basic motive in everyone’s heart is often that huge elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there but no one would ever acknowledge it. That is except for Paul, he had been chasing that elusive elephant all his life. If you still don’t know what I am talking about let me be really specific; all humans are directed, motivated, and empowered in the pursuit of happiness as the basic drive of their life. Many are not even aware that this is what motivates them but it is always present. Paul is saying he found out why that desire for happiness is the common denominator in everyone’s life. The businessman in pursuit of success is pursuing happiness. The athlete in pursuit of a championship is after the happiness that would bring. Even the prostitute in her humiliation is looking for happiness at what lies after the next trick. Drug addicts, alcoholics, policemen, and politicians (and preachers too) are looking for happiness they hope their choices will bring. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“Young people commonly seek pleasure in company, and oftentimes spend much of their time in mirth among their companions; but none have such delightful company as those that live in the exercise of religion, and virtue, and holiness, for they have their conversation in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ has become a friend and companion. Oftentimes when they are alone and seem to the world to spend their time solitarily, they indeed have company enough. It is their delight to withdraw from all the world, the more freely and intimately to converse with Jesus Christ…. The Father and the Son come to seek young people and walk and make their abode with them, and manifest themselves to them. They have an intercourse with heaven by meditation, and prayer, and other duties of religion. They with a spiritual eye do see Christ, and have access to him to converse; and Christ by his spirit communicates himself to them, so that there is a spiritual converse between them and Christ Jesus. And must not this needs be the pleasantest and the happiest company?”

Edwards spoke about young people in their pursuit of happiness among friends. Edwards said that even the youth could find their greatest happiness in the pursuit of the Lord. So Paul and Edwards came to the same conclusion, ultimate happiness is found in Christ alone.

NEARNESS TO GOD

Ps.73:28 – But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

The Psalmist recognized his need for God. He concluded that being in God’s manifest presence was the “good” in his life. This revelation changes the emphasis of your life. He is not talking about a one time event or even occasional experiences, he is describing a walk with the Lord. Here is how Montagu Villiers describes this way of life.

“To draw near to God. It is not one isolated act. It is nor merely turning to God, and saying, “I have come to him.” The expression is draw. It is not a single act; it is the drawing, the coming, the habitual walk, going on, and on, and on, so long as we are on earth. It is, therefore, an habitual religion which must be pressed and enforced upon us.”

That was the lesson of Enoch, Enoch walked with God and God took him. Tasting the goodness of God puts us on a new track in life, we are now on a pursuit that is only content in nearness to Him. Charles Spurgeon also spoke of the blessing of being near, check this out.

“The greater our nearness to God, the less we are affected by the attractions and distractions of earth. Access into the most holy place is a great privilege, and a cure for a multitude of ills. It is good for all saints, it is good for me in particular; it is always good, and always will be good for me to approach the greatest good, the source of all good, even God himself. I have put my trust in the Lord God.”

Notice what Spurgeon said, not only is His presence the source of all good, it is also a cure for a multitude of ills. Much of our struggle in life starts with being discontent. That malady leads to all sorts of bad choices; sexual activity outside of marriage, consumption of alcohol, drug and substance abuse, and even a lust after the riches and treasures of this world. Yes, restless hearts wandering through life, drinking from the wrong wells. Jesus taught us to focus our hunger and thirst toward Him. It is in the nearness of God that our souls find contentment and finally begin to rest.

DELIGHT – COMMIT – TRUST

Psa.37:4,5 – Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

This language is foreign to the lost man. He knows about delighting in football or fishing; he knows about the delight of hamburgers, jambalaya, or ice cream; he even knows about the pleasures found in a bottle or in the arms of a lover. To delight in God, that is something unexplainable to the lost soul. You must be born again if you are to know what it means to delight in God. Adam Clarke said, “Delight thyself also in the Lord. Expect all thy happiness from him, and seek it in him”. John Bunyan described this phenomenon like this, “The desires of God, and the desires of the righteous, agree in one; they are of one mind in their desires”. So where does this radical shift come from? It is the fruit of being born again, only the new creature can enjoy and delight in spiritual things.

This passage also talks about committing your way to the Lord. This is how Dick Mills describes what it means to commit your way to the Lord.

“ galal (gah-lahl); Strong’s To roll, roll down, roll away, remove. In Gen. 29:3, galal refers to rolling the stone from the well’s mouth. In Josh. 5:9, the reproach of Egypt is rolled off from Israel. In this text, the reader is encouraged to roll his works into God’s care). The picture is of a camel, burdened with a heavy load; when the load is to be “removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side, and the load rolls off.”

Once you begin to find your joy in the Lord you begin to recognize His ability to carry you through anything. Roll whatever you are carrying over on the Lord, He will carry your burden and carry you through your troubles.

David also said to trust the Lord. I love this; DELIGHT – COMMIT – TRUST. Trusting the Lord comes from getting to know Him. Here is Charles Spurgeon on trusting Him.

“Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Our destiny shall be joyfully accomplished if we confidently entrust all to our Lord.”

So this is your pathway to joy- Delight, commit and trust; you will live in the joy of the Lord.

CLOTHES, FOOD AND HOME

jim-digritz-2454.jpgCol. 3:11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

If you get down to it our basic needs are food to eat, clothes for our body, and a home to live in. If we have these things in life we can pretty much be content. Or can we? Actually those things alone are just pictures or shadows of what we really need in life. We need Christ to be our food, we need to be clothed with Christ Himself, and the Lord should actually be our dwelling place. Our basic physical needs just mirror our profound spiritual needs, to be totally swallowed up in God Himself. The reason we know this is from our experience; no meal could ever permanently satisfy us, no home is ever quite good enough (it stands in need of renovation), and our clothing wears out. Christ has to become all of this to us, like Paul said, Christ is our all in all. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this.

“We want clothing, and Christ does not only give us clothing, but he gives himself to be our clothing, that we might put him on.

We want food, and Christ has given himself to be our food; he has given his own flesh to be our meat, and his blood to be our drink, to nourish our soul. Thus Christ tells us that he is the bread which came down from heaven, and the bread of life. In order to our eating of his flesh, it was necessary that he should be slain, as the sacrifices must be slain before they could be eaten; and such was Christ’s love to us, that he consented to be slain, he went as a sheep to the slaughter, that he might give us his flesh to be food for our poor, famishing souls.

We are in need of a habitation; we by sin we have, as it were, turned ourselves out of house and home. It is promised to God’s people that they should dwell in the temple of God for ever, and should go no more out; and we are told that Christ is the temple of the new Jerusalem.”

So go ahead and feast on Christ, move in to your heavenly dwelling place, and clothe yourself with Christ. Only these eternal provisions could ever complete the longings of our hearts.

FATHERLESS GENERATION

Gal. 4:6,7 ¶ And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

One of the great tragedies of this generation is the absence of fathers. The fatherless family is a picture of the breakdown of our culture. I was blessed to grow up in a home with a mother and a father that stayed together throughout their lives. Now our family wasn’t perfect, far from it, but there is a huge advantage and blessing to having a strong father in place in our lives. All of us have a need for the love, protection, and example of a father. This mirrors the basic need all of us have at the very core of our being. We all long to know our heavenly Father. Jesus promised His disciples before He left that He would not leave them as orphans. He said He would send the Holy Spirit into their lives. Paul called this the Spirit of adoption or the Spirit of His Son. If you are a Christian, you have received this Spirit of sonship. You have become an heir, an heir of God. Listen to Adam Clarke’s powerful words on this verse.

“Thou art no more a servant. Thou who hast believed in Christ art no longer a slave, either under the dominion of sin or under obligation to the Mosaic ritual; but a son of God, adopted into the heavenly family. And if a son, then an heir. Having a right to the inheritance, because one of the family, for none can inherit but the children; but this heirship is the most extraordinary of all: it is not an heirship of any tangible possession, either in heaven or earth; it is not to possess a part or even the whole of either, it is to possess Him who made all things; not God’s works, but God himself: heirs of GOD through Christ.”

What an amazing reality. We are no longer Fatherless!!!. We have been adopted into His family. His Spirit is in our lives. God Himself has become our treasure. This is the answer to the dissatisfaction and restlessness that has become epidemic in our world. We are no longer orphans; God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and we are sons of God.

HAPPY EVER AFTER

HAPPY EVER AFTER

Eccl. 2:26 God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God.

Contentment is a great but elusive gift. All of us have experienced the rat race of striving after contentment in this life. As a child it may have been a new toy, that joy would last a few hours. For the teen age boy it may be the latest video game (maybe content for 1 or 2 weeks). The young woman may be looking for those special jeans or those must have new shoes. You catch the drift, the compulsion gets more and more expensive as we get older. For some, its alcohol or drugs, for others it may be a car, a motorcycle, new watch; the list is endless. Solomon knew a little about this hopeless obsession, he said it was “all vanity and striving after wind”. Martin Luther explained this dilemma that even faced his congregation in the 1500’s.

“Whenever someone is able to feel content with what they have, it’s a gift from God. God gives those who please him contentment without having to strive for it. Besides the gifts he gives to all people, God gives wisdom and discretion to the faithful. On top of that, he adds joy. The faithful are content with what they have and are not tormented by the same kind of thoughts and desires sinners have. On the other hand, sinners are always troubled. They are preoccupied with gathering and storing up wealth, but they’re never satisfied. Even if they’ve been given wisdom and skill, so many difficulties are mixed in with these gifts that they feel more like punishment. Sinners don’t enjoy their work, whether it’s farming or building—even though others enjoy doing these things and find happiness in them. What sinners produce cannot be used in the right way by anyone except those who have God’s approval. So whatever sinners accumulate belongs to those who have God’s approval. The faithful know how to use God’s gifts with joy and thanksgiving, even when they have very little. Sinners don’t even use what they have, in spite of all the trouble they go through to accumulate their possessions. In the end, faithful people truly own the whole world because they enjoy it with happiness and contentment. Even when they possess a lot, sinners have nothing.”

The point of the whole matter is this, nothing but The Lord Himself will satisfy our hungry hearts. Paul said he had learned the lesson of being content. He said he was content with plenty of possessions and content with nothing ( he wrote about this contentment from prison). Paul was content because Jesus was his treasure. So whether you are rich or poor, married or single, young or old; rejoice in The Lord! He is your treasure and your contentment is found only in Him.

HE HAS IT SORTED

HE HAS IT SORTED

Mark 6:39-40 ¶ Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.

Sometimes the world can be a scary place. In fact, sometimes it seems like things are totally out of control, or even worse, dependent on us to sort every thing out. That scenario could only be possible in a world without God (which is also impossible- the world came from somewhere or someone). At the end of the day, no matter how things appear to you, He has it all sorted. In a world that seems to be spiraling out of control, our God is sovereign and He upholds all things by the word of His power. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed and He numbers the hairs on our head. When Jesus fed the 5000, things appeared to be out of control. As the story unfolded we see that things were always very much in control, The Lord loves these kinds of situations to display the glory of His grace. Check out Charles Spurgeon’s comments on this miracle.

“God has laid down in the book of his everlasting purposes, written by him of old, everything that shall occur in the great economy of his grace, and from that he never swerves. His purposes ripen at the proper time, and his plans are carried out according to the wisest method. Providence, which so often looks wild and blustering, is not so by any means: it is working in harmony with grace for the salvation of as many as Christ has bought with his most precious blood, and for the accomplishment of the grand intentions of electing love. The raising up of this minister and of that, the building of this house of prayer and that, and even the bringing of a certain number of people at one time to listen, and the bringing of such and such persons rather than others, and the moving of the preacher’s heart to speak in this wise and not in that, and to dwell upon that subject and not upon the other – all these things are so ordered that, when the story of the Lord’s great grace-banquet shall be told we shall say to ourselves, “It could not have been better. He hath done all things well.”

Now that brings us to your life, do you really think The Lord has forgotten you? Impossible! Do you think that your situation is beyond His ability to deliver? Unthinkable!
He has you, your family, your health, your finances: He has them all in His hands. Sometimes when we are in the midst of difficult times it is hard to see God in our circumstances. That is where our faith kicks in. We know Him; His kindness, His generosity, His power, and yes, His sovereignty. As you get past these dark times and look back you will see clearly, HE DOES ALL THINGS WELL. He has had it sorted all along.

SATISFIED WITH CHRIST ALONE

SATISFIED WITH CHRIST ALONE

Rom. 9:23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

Knowing that I belong to The Lord brings ultimate peace and tranquility to my life. Like Paul said, “If God be for me, who can be against me?” I may face quite miserable circumstances from time to time in my life but I know this one thing; God has an ultimate destiny for me in this life as well as in the life to come. He is drawing me to Himself. Even my supposedly worst problems in my life are ultimately bringing me to a place of conformity as well as to a place of incredible joy found in Christ alone. For a number of years in my Christian walk I was side tracked. I had bought into the deception that my life was defined by my accomplishments in life. Being in the ministry, my accomplishments were supposedly spiritual. Somehow, over the years I had come off of the rails. I was in pursuit of His blessing and gifts but had forgotten the joy found in Christ alone. It wasn’t His gifts that I needed, it wasn’t accomplishments for the kingdom that my heart was really hungry for; it was The Lord Himself. He alone is the pleasure our souls can be satisfied with. Jonathan Edwards spoke often of this Biblical truth, here is a quote from one of his sermons.

“God designs His people for glory. God had chosen the children of Israel for His own peculiar treasure; and it was His design to bring ’em out of Egypt to Himself, to bring ’em to Mt. Sinai, and to bring ’em to Canaan, to His holy habitation, for He was determined and resolved upon it. So it is His design to bring all His spiritual Israel to the heavenly Canaan and Mt. Zion so that there they may dwell in glory forever. The glory of the saints consists in God’s bringing them to Himself. His bringing them into nearest union to Himself, His bringing them to a perfect and sinless conformity to Himself. His bringing them to His immediate, glorious, presence, His bringing them to see Him, and His bringing them to the full enjoyment of His love. In these things exist the highest possible blessedness of the rational creature… Whatever men design with respect to God’s people, yet this is God’s design; their enemies often design other things. Satan designs quite the contrary; wicked men often design nothing but their calamity and misery- but God designs their perfect and immortal glory and blessedness. They are vessels prepared foreordained to glory.”

There really are adversaries in this life that try to distract us from what really matters. These enemies are seen and unseen, but they are totally ineffective to the heart that is enraptured with His love. So God does have a plan, His plan is my total delight and satisfaction in Christ Alone. As He carries me along toward His ultimate plan, He is glorified and I am satisfied, satisfied with Christ alone.

CONTENT

CONTENT

Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to. 1 Corinthians 7:24

Contentment is quite elusive. The aged Apostle Paul said from his imprisonment in Rome that he had learned the secret. He had learned to be content in whatever circumstance he found himself in. He was happy with plenty and he was happy with little. What was his secret? Here it is, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ”. Did you see it? It is the value of knowing Christ. Everything else pales in comparison. Here is Luther’s comments on today’s verse.

“Everyone has a calling in life. Believers serve God when they whole-heartedly take care of these responsibilities. An official who governs well serves God. A mother who cares for her children, a father who goes to work, and a student who studies diligently are all servants of God. Many overlook this God-pleasing lifestyle because they consider simple, day-to-day work insignificant. They look instead for other work that seems more difficult and end up becoming disobedient to God. God requires that believers work hard at their callings without worrying about what anyone else is doing. Yet few people do this. A poet who reflected on what people are like once said, ‘The farmer would like to be a shopkeeper, and the shopkeeper a farmer’. Few people are satisfied with their lives. The person in the pew wants to be a member of the clergy. The student wishes to be the teacher. The citizen wants to be mayor. Few people are content with their callings. However, there is no other way to serve God except simply living by faith, sticking to your calling, and maintaining a clear conscience.”

You see, the natural man of this world judges himself, his worth, and his happiness by his perception of what he does with his life. Is he a student, a professor, a business man, an athlete, or maybe a rock star? Each one of these carries some sort of stigma or mark of importance and, in the world’s view, success and importance. Paul had been there and done that. He remembered bragging about his tribal connection, his status as Pharisee, his tutelage under the famed Gamaliel, even his Roman citizenship. By the time he was jailed in Rome those bragging days were far gone. Where had they gone? They were swept away by Paul’s revelation of true importance found in his calling as a Christian. You may be a banker, a seamstress, a poet or a king. You may be a superstar athlete or a sanitation engineer, but none of these things determine who you really. These are not the source of your joy or your identity. Contentment is found in the preciousness of embracing the calling to know and love Him.