“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy…” Psalms 16:11 KJV. We saw yesterday how “the path of the just shines brighter and brighter”. Here the writer says that God will show him the path of life. But let’s consider: How does God do this? Does He do it with everyone regardless of their attitude towards him? In this Psalm, it becomes clear ‘how’ and ‘to whom’ God reveals the path of life. It is not for the sinner or hypocrite. It’s not to the outwardly religious person. It is to the saints on earth, in whom He delights. It is to those who put their trust in Him and honor Him as Lord of their lives. This path is for those who bless the Lord with their lips and with their lives. It is for those who are willing to receive the counsel of God through His Word and walk in obedience. He reveals this path to those who place God before themselves. This means that we live according to what He wants rather than what we want. His will and way is to be honored above our own. There is great joy in walking on the path of life, because it is on this path that we can enjoy the sweetness of His holy presence. By God’s grace, let us be those people who walk each day on this path of life. As we do, we will experience the joy of God’s abiding presence.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18 KJV. In these verses, 14-19, the writer is comparing the paths of the wicked and just. The path of the wicked is dark. It is filled with sin, violence, confusion and stumbling. But for those justified by faith in Christ, their path is bright and getting brighter! Their minds are being enlightened by the truths of God’s Word. Their hearts are lightened by personal union with Jesus, Who is the Light. Their path, while sometimes passing through dark valleys, is always pointing towards the perfect light of God’s holy presence. So the key for us is, to stay on the path! We must determine to keep going forward. And thank God, we can press on day by day with this confidence, that it is better farther on! One of the biggest challenges believers face is, that they get weary and quit making progress. They settle down somewhere along the path rather than continuing on it. But this promise is conditional. It means we must never cease making spiritual progress, we must keep pressing on day after day. So toady, it you are passing through some dark place, remember, as you press on with Jesus, your path will grow ever brighter.
“…For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:52 KJV. The story of Joseph is a great example of how God can use the most difficult places of our lives for our good and for His glory. He was in a place he did not chose to be in, doing what he would never have wanted to do. And yet, because God was with him, and he remained faithful and humble before God, Joseph was able to be greatly blessed and used by God to bring blessing upon many others. In our lives, there will be times when we face circumstances that are not what we would choose. To us it may seem like it did with Joseph, like it is a place of affliction. And yet, if we will be faithful and walk humbly with God, He will make us spiritually fruitful even in those difficult places. He will use even the most trying times of our lives for our eternal good and for His glory. Our God is still able to make our deserts to blossom as the rose. By God’s grace, let us be faithful in the trials of life and God will make us fruitful for His glory.
“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 KJV. When most people read the words ‘I shall not want’, their minds go to material and physical things. But we should understand from these words that the writer, David, is not talking about material things. Rather, these words are intended to express a profound contentment with the One Who is his Shepherd. David and most of the saints of God mentioned in the Bible knew very well what it was to go without physical and material things. David, like many others, had suffered great hardships and deprivation on many levels. But the truth spoken here is about contentment of heart and soul. Because he was completely satisfied with his Shepherd, he wanted no other. As a spiritual sheep he did not desire different pastures or to walk on a different path. He was content because He knew His Shepherd was perfect in all of His ways. In a world that is running after all of the physical things they desire, let us ask ourselves, “Are we truly satisfied in Jesus, our Good Shepherd?” By God’s grace, let us find contentment in Him. Then we will know the joy and contentment of the songwriter when he wrote the hymn, “My soul is satisfied!”
“…we went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalms 66:12 KJV. In these verses the psalmist is describing some of the trials and afflictions that God has allowed to come their way. He is confessing that it has not been easy nor pleasant. But even in this, he knows by faith, what Paul would write later in Romans 8:28, that ‘God will work all things for good to those who love Him’. He knows that the trials are meant to purify and refine our lives, even as silver is refined in the furnace (vs 10). So when he talks about God bringing us to a ‘wealthy place’, he is describing the richness of a closer walk with God. This is not talking about material riches as so many fleshy minded people think in our day. Rather, this is describing the true spiritual riches of a redeemed soul that is able to walk close with God in personal relationship! So when we are in the trials of this life, let’s remember, that our Father in Heaven is refining our lives so we can experience more of those exceeding great riches in Jesus Christ. These are the riches that do not fade away.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV. When we face times of trouble and it seems the enemy has come in like a flood, it is easy to get discouraged and think our feeble efforts don’t matter. This thought makes it difficult to carry on. We become weary in well doing. So it is very important to remember that everything we do for God matters! Every day we live for the glory of God matters! Every good deed, every act of obedience, every kind word, every sacrifice we make for others, it all matters because God sees it all. We need to realize as children of God, that we are not living for worldly success or even the good feelings that come from a job well done. We are living for God because of Who He is and what He has done for us. We serve Him in love Him because He first loved us. So it should be our devotion to Him that keeps us stedfast in the midst of difficulties. Let it be our love for God that makes us immovable when the forces of evil rise against us. By God’s grace let us continue faithfully in this good work He has called us to.
“For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat…” Isaiah 25:4 KJV. As the prophet thought about God’s wonderful works, he was reminded how God had been all of these things to His people and so much more. When Joseph was in great distress, rejected by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned, God had been his strength. When Moses was a poor shepherd, God made him rich with His presence, power and glory. When David faced a storm of adversity from his enemies, he found God as his refuge. When the fires of persecution came upon the children of Israel, God became their hiding place and shelter. And the good news is, God is just the same today! What He did for them He will do for us. Who He was to them He will be to us. So even as the days seem dark around us, may we be encouraged, that our God will always be to us ALL that we need! When we’re down, let us look to Him and be lifted up. When we’re sad, look to Jesus and receive the joy He has for us. When we’re troubled, lean upon Him and experience the peace only He can give. By God’s grace we can discover He is ALL that we need.
“Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?” Psalms 94:3-4 KJV. Several times in the Psalms the writers are asking God about the apparent success of the wicked. He sees that they afflict the righteous and destroy lives. He hears their cruel words. And here he asks the question “How long…?” He knows God is a just God Who sees and knows all things. He knows that the day is coming when the wicked will be put down and righteousness will be exalted. But still he wonders, “How long?” Today as we look around at this fallen world, filled with so much human pride and wickedness, at times we wonder “Lord, how long?” We see evil doers rise up and bring persecution upon God’s people. We see the good suffering and the wicked prospering and we ask “How long?” And in our shortsightedness and impatience we sometimes forget that God is taking account of all that is going on and He still promises that judgement and justice will come. So when this question comes to our mind, let us remember the answer. It’s not going to be very long! The proud will not be lifted up for very long. The wicked will not triumph for much longer. So what we must do, is hold on! Until then, let us hold on to Jesus.
“The LORD is my Shepherd…” Psalm 23:1 KJV. As we consider these words, the first and most important thing to do is to realize WHO it is that promises to be our Shepherd. As you read through this beautiful Psalm, take time to notice WHO the writer is focusing upon: “HE makes me lie down… HE leads me… HE restores my soul…”. It is only as we recognize this PERSON Who is our Shepherd that we will find the comfort and strength in these words that God intends. But let us consider, the One being spoken of is the LORD of all creation! He is the Mighty God! He is the One Who has all power in Heaven and earth. He is the One Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the One Who rules over every atom in the universe. His glory transcends anything our minds can comprehend. He makes the storm a calm. He is the One Who has never lost a battle. He has never failed in anyway. He is Faithful and True. What He says He will do. Our Shepherd is the One Who left Heaven to come and lay down His life for the sheep! He loves and cares for us more than we can imagine. Dear one, if you are trusting in some mortal to be your shepherd, then certainly you have need to fear. But if your faith and trust is in the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ, then you can follow Him and be at perfect peace. By God’s grace, let us recognize and rejoice that Jesus is our Shepherd.
“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 KJV. One of the challenges of this verse is that it is so familiar we tend to overlook its incredible depth. And because of that we miss the great blessing God has for us in actually applying these words to our lives. But think of the result when we humbly accept, that I am the sheep and Jesus is my Shepherd. It says, “I will lack nothing!” Those words are so great that we struggle to believe this promise is true. Most people try to rationalize them and think of them as poetic language that sounds good but can’t be applicable in daily life. But in doing so, these words become meaningless to us. So the first issue is, will we believe what God’s Word says is true and it is for me? Will I quit trying to be the shepherd of my own life and accept that Jesus is my Shepherd? Will I believe that as a sheep all of my care rests upon Him? All of my provision is the responsibility of my Shepherd! He is the One Who protects me, guides me and meets my every need. My part is to listen to His voice and humbly follow. Only then can the promise be ours, “I will lack nothing”. By God’s grace, let us open our hearts to the great blessings of having Jesus Christ as MY Shepherd.