Monthly Archives: March 2015

Thou Preparest a Table

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(Flickr Photo Sharing http://www.flickr.com)

 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5 KJV)

I used to delight in breakfast in bed, a charming tray of blueberry pancakes with a pat of real butter and the steamy smell of tea in a hearty mug. However, after just being released from my sixth hospital stay over the last year, breakfast in bed has lost its luster. I don’t want a little table prepared and set before me. I realize I sound like a spoiled brat, but the sight and smell of hospital food sends nausea rising from the pit of my stomach.

My thoughts must ascend to a table beyond description. The awe-inspiring table the Lord prepares for those who love Him.

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller explains that a table (mesa) is the height of the summer range of the mountain.

A mesa (Portuguese and Spanish for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape. It may also be called a table hill, table-topped hill or table mountain. (Wikipedia)

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The Island in the Sky mesa/district of Canyonlands National Park, as seen from the Needles district. (Wikipedia)

Phillip Keller likewise explains that mesas are remote and hard to reach. The shepherd goes up early in the season to survey the wild country, remove poisonous plants, etc. He goes before and “prepares a table” for the sheep. Christ goes before us to prepare a table for His people.

He has spread the feast! Will you come? Though He goes before us and prepares the way, our enemies are ever present. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) As the sheep must stay close to the shepherd to avoid being devoured by a predator, we must stay near to Jesus to avoid being devoured by the evil one. We must stay in continual prayer and communion through His Word. We must walk in the Holy Spirit, not in the flesh.

“Stay close to the Shepherd! The distant sheep, the roamers, the wanders fall prey!” Phillip Keller

After 16 years of living with Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease), I long for physical healing. This last hospital stay was for five days of plasmapheresis. (Plasma exchange). Polluted antibodies were removed, and replaced with fresh plasma. I picture the Holy Spirit coming in and removing my sin and replacing it with more of Himself.

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May I long more for the table He sets before me. The wine representing His cleansing blood, cleansing mine. The bread His body, broken for me, that I might be whole.

By His stripes, I am healed, in this life or the next!

I close with this piercing question from Phillip Keller. Meditate and ask yourself the same thing.

“When I come to the Lord’s Table and partake of the communion service which is a feast of thanksgiving for His love and care, do I fully appreciate what it has cost Him to prepare this table for me?” Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Still Waters

still waters“For sheep, it is the shepherd who finds the water. Very often, he is the one who with much effort and industry has provided the watering places.  Water is essential for the sheep’s well being.”  Phillip Keller

Likewise water is essential for the well being of humans as well, but not just physically. The human soul also has a capacity and need for the water of the Spirit of the eternal God.

Every human soul has a thirst for God, but sadly, many try to quench it with things of the world, which do not assuage the longing.

As St. Augustine said many years ago, “O God! Thou hast made us for Thyself and our souls are restless, searching, ‘till they find their rest in Thee.”

“Only the shepherd knows where the sheep can find still, clean, pure water, water that will truly satisfy.  Unfortunately, sheep will often settle for polluted potholes, where they pick up a disease.” Phillip Keller

Sadly, we humans are much the same.  Like Esau, we often settle for a pot of porridge over our birthright.

Outside and inside the church, addictions continue to rise.  Drug, alcohol, sex, spending, you name it.  Many are trying to satisfy their thirst for God with polluted potholes, which make them sick.

Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (satisfied).”

We must continually eat and drink from the Word of God.

In John chapter 4 we learn the story of a Samaritan woman who has gone to the city well, to draw water.  She encounters Jesus there. He teaches her about Himself (the living water).  He explains that if she receives His Spirit by faith, repenting of her sins, and giving her life to Him, her thirst will be satisfied for eternity. This woman was a great sinner, yet she came face to face with a GREAT Savior.  She had had five husbands, and the man she was currently living with was not her husband.

Friends that is why Jesus came to this earth, to satisfy our thirst and bring forgiveness for our sins! He says in Luke: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32 NASB)

What about you?  Are you restless? Is your heart thirsty? Do you long for the abundant life that Jesus promised?

Is it possible that you know the forgiveness of Christ, but you haven’t forgiven yourself?

Come away by the still waters and find rest for your weary soul.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

I Shall Not Want

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Photo Credit holleygerth.com/free-words/

 

“I have been young, and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25 (NAS)

Many of us have suffered financial stress.  Has any of us had to beg bread?  Has God ever forsaken us?

Meditate on the above promise from Psalm 37. As the “righteous”, (those who have confessed our sins and have had Christ’s righteousness imputed to us) we have His promise that He will never abandon us.

Lift us your arms and release your financial stress to Him, and know that your Good Shepherd will provide.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1 KJV)  What rich and beautiful words penned by the shepherd David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Lord of the universe is a personal shepherd to each of his children and has promised not to leave us needy.
The Greed word for “want” is: husterésis.  It means: an expression or type of lack (temporal insufficiency).  He will never leave us with insufficient funds, we have everything we need for life and godliness!

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at the Psalm 23; Phillip Keller says: “We are to be utterly contented in the Good Shepherd’s care and consequently not craving or desiring anything more.”

1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Seek first His kingdom, look to Him and be content with what He has provided, as this is great gain.

I ask again, have you ever had to beg bread?
Has He ever forsaken you?

I close with the beautiful words of William Cooper’s old hymn, Sometimes a Light Surprises:

1 Sometimes a light surprises

The Christian while he sings;

It is the Lord who rises

With healing in His wings;

When comforts are declining,

He grants the soul again

A season of clear shining,

To cheer it after rain.

2 In holy contemplation

We sweetly then pursue

The theme of God’s salvation,

And find it ever new;

Set free from present sorrow,

We cheerfully can say—

E’en let the unknown morrow

Bring with it what it may.

3 It can bring with it nothing,

But He will bear us through;

Who gives the lilies clothing,

Will clothe His people too:

Beneath the spreading heavens

No creature but is fed;

And He, who feeds the ravens,

Will give His children bread.

4 Though vine nor fig tree neither

Their wonted fruit shall bear;

Though all the fields should wither

Nor flocks nor herds be there;

Yet God the same abiding,

His praise shall tune my voice,

For, while in Him confiding,

I cannot but rejoice.