1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1–3, NKJV)
The Divine Shepherd supplies His sheep with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Every provision for the soul comes from our Shepherd’s loving care. He gives rest to those wearied by sin’s burden, refreshing the soul with heaven’s mercy and forgiveness. He tenderly heals the broken spirit, binding the wounds of sin and replacing despair with hope’s joy; He restores my soul. He is a sure Guide as He leads His sheep away from sin’s danger and shows the righteous paths to walk. His name is honored and His holy purposes confirmed by such righteous care over us. Like David, we depend on the Lord to shepherd us through life’s trials and to save us from sin’s struggles. He alone restores the soul ravaged by sin. Seasons of refreshing from His presence await every soul who comes to Him through faith, repentance and baptism’s conversion (Acts 3:19; 2:38).
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NKJV)
Like any good shepherd, David had a close relationship with the sheep under his care. He fed them, led them and defended them (1 Sam. 17:15, 34-35). His father’s sheep suffered no lack of care while under his watch. David the shepherd keenly viewed himself as a sheep and Jehovah as his shepherd. He had a relationship of trust in and dependency upon the Lord. Like a sheep, David trusted God to know and supply his every need. Like a shepherd, God feeds His sheep, gently caring for them, protecting them, leading them (Isa. 40:11). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jno. 10:11). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sacrificed His life for you so that you may have eternal life. He supplies all your soul needs to be sustained now and forever. Will you let Him lead you and give you eternal life? If so, hear His voice and follow Him, for “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;…” (Jno. 10:27-28).
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10–13, NKJV)
I need God’s mercy, and so do you. We all do, because having sinned, we deserve death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Yet, the simple lesson of loving others as God has loved us was lost on the Pharisees – and on some Christians even now (1 Jno. 4:11). Jesus did not tell these sinners, “you get what you “deserve”. Instead, He showed heaven’s love and taught them of heaven’s mercy. Jesus did not cast aside sinners. Neither did He coddle them, condone their transgressions or compromise with their sin. Jesus called sinners to repentance by teaching them God’s truth (v. 13; Lk. 15:1-7). We must this kind of mercy to sinners, remembering it is God’s mercy that saves us that He expects us to show to others. “So it is that Jesus looks for the self-satisfied Pharisees to show compassion to the outcasts instead of rejecting them so firmly” (Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, 222, Eerdmans).
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29, NKJV)
God’s choices are unlike those initiated by human wisdom and expectations. Yielding to the temptations of pride and conceit prevents many from humbly believing and obeying the word of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18). Those consumed by worldly wisdom consider the gospel as “foolish things”. Those driven by power see the gospel as filled with “weak things”. How people assess the gospel does not diminish its wisdom or destroy its power. To those who hear and heed God’s call, the gospel continues to be God’s power and wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). God has chosen things that are opposite of human wisdom and preference in order to turn our attention to His wisdom, greatness and grandeur. We must never boast before God, but always humble ourselves in dutiful and submission obedience to His will.
…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… (Hebrews 1:3, NKJV)
Jesus told His apostle Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jno. 14:9). And so, we look at Jesus in order to understand God. The Son of God reveals the brilliance of God’s glory by His every word and deed. Jesus is the impress of God’s real nature; the express image of who God really is. This does not refer to His physical features, for “God is Spirit” (Jno. 4:24). Jesus is the impress of the mind, the character, the will and the purposes of God. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (Jno. 1:18). In order to hear and know God you must listen to the word of Christ and follow Him (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 11:28-30; Eph. 4:20-24).
But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:31, NKJV)
Jesus was about to give himself up for arrest, humiliation, torture and death. He sacrificed himself out of love for the Father and in full obedience to the Father’s commandment. Thus, Jesus teaches us what He expects of us when we claim to love Him – the full surrender of ourselves in complete obedience to His commands. “If you love Me, keep my commandments” is our directive from the Son of God, not a suggestion for our consideration (Jno. 14:15). Let us devote ourselves to loving Jesus the way He loves the Father, with total surrender and complete obedience to all His commands.
24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25, NKJV)
As Christ predicted the desolation of Jerusalem (which occurred in A.D. 70 at the hand of the Romans), He warned of deceivers who would try to persuade God’s people to follow them. Although that period of trial has passed, there continue to be false teachers whose enticing messages mislead, deceive and destroy souls. Be ever vigilant to examine what you are taught using the Scriptures to know whether it is truly from God (Acts 17:11). Eloquent elucidations may please the ear and warm the heart, but if they contradict the word of God they must be rejected as error. Jesus has warned His followers not to be seduced by the siren call of false christs and false prophets. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jno. 4:1).
11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:11–12, NKJV)
Paul urged the Galatians to observe his earnest and sincere zeal for them by noting he had personally written this epistle. Perhaps it was poor eyesight that prompted the “large letters” he used (Gal. 4:13-15). Notwithstanding, some counted him as an enemy because he told them the truth (Gal. 4:16). It was not Paul but the false teachers (who were binding the circumcision on Gentiles) who had a hidden agenda. They tried to ease their own persecution at the expense of truth and upon the backs of faithful Gentile saints. Furthermore, they wanted to boast in seeing the Gentiles yield to circumcision (see Gal. 6:12-13). Beware the religious teacher who comes with personal agendas. Hidden agendas are eventually exposed by the light of truth. Because the hidden agendas of error wreck havoc they must not be tolerated; they must be opposed (Gal. 2:4-5). Be careful only to boast in the cross of Christ and His truth; nothing else (Gal. 6:14-15). Our only agenda must be to honor and follow Jesus Christ.