Tag Archives: Phillip Keller

Thou Preparest a Table

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 “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

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.

Feeling “All Shook Up?” Part 2

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“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:2 KJV)

 

“Many of the places we may be led into will appear to us as dark, deep dangerous and somewhat disagreeable. But it simply must be remembered that He is there with us in it. He is very much at work in the situation. It is His energy, effort and strength expended on my behalf that even in this deep, dark place is bound to produce a benefit for me.” (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller)

FLASHBACK: As the tech wheeled me down the long halls of Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, all I could think about was finally having an answer.   An answer for the plethora of bizarre medical symptoms I had been experiencing for months. I had four little ones at home ages 1-8 years, and they desperately wanted their mommy back.  She wheeled me into a room; the doctor walked in, closed the door, and began speaking to me as if I were a naughty toddler.  She explained to me that the EEG was completely normal, as well as the other tests. She condescendingly informed me that I did not want to have seizures, because “people who have seizures are not allowed to drive.” She likewise explained that I did not want to have Myasthenia Gravis either, because “it is a terrible disease that sometimes leaves ones in wheelchairs.”

Did she honestly believe I was there because I really WANTED to have some terrible illness?!

She then let me know they had ruled out the possibility of there being anything organically wrong with me. She had also taken the liberty of making an appointment for me with one of their leading psychiatrists.

As she spoke, I felt myself slipping into a black hole. My world was “ALL SHOOK UP!”

Even after arriving home, all I could see was the blackness of the situation. I couldn’t see how any “benefit” could come from this “deep, dark place.”

About an hour later a friend dropped off some food and a sticky note. The sticky note read: “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

After reading that simple verse from God’s Word, …my perspective changed. Jesus knew what was happening; He was with me in the trial, and in the end I would “come forth as gold!”

Friends, our Good Shepherd promises us “green pastures and still waters.” But we must follow Him, even when it “appears to us as dark, deep dangerous and somewhat disagreeable.”

Fast-forward 15 years: I now have a diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis and a seizure disorder. I’m not allowed to drive right now, and the Myasthenia Gravis does affect my daily life. But thankfully it forces me to “lie down in the green pastures and rest beside the quiet waters.”

What about you? Is your life “ALL SHOOK UP!”?

 Follow Jesus (our Good Shepherd). “This deep, dark place is bound to produce a benefit!”

 

Fear Factor!

IMG_1147He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:2 (NASB)

 

Are you crazy busy? I challenge you to stop your frantic pace and “lie down in the green pastures and sit beside the still waters.”

 

 

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at PSALM 23, Phillip Keller says, “Sheep refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear.”

 

Have you considered the root of your frantic pace may be fear? Do you worry that if you stop over-achieving your life will no longer have value? Are you running hard in order to avoid dealing with past and present hurts? Do you fear that if you lie down in the green pastures you won’t be able to get moving again?

 

We all need soul-rest with our Creator, and we must be intentional about making it happen.   I used to run all day every day, refusing to listen to friends who exhorted me that I was doing too much. The Good Shepherd finally got my attention when I fell flat on my face. After many years of doctors and counseling, we finally realized my problems were three-fold: physical, spiritual, and emotional. I am doing so much better, and can now see how my neuromuscular and seizure disorders force me to take that precious time in the green pastures and beside the quiet waters with my Good Shepherd.

 

Living at a frantic pace? Take a minute to journal about any fear factors you may have. Like sheep, we cannot rest when we are fearful.

 

Phillip Keller said, “nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field.”

“In the Christian life there is no substitute for a keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby.”

 

Take an inventory of your fear factors and talk to a friend or therapist about them.

 

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 (NASB)

 

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NASB)