Sunday 20 December 2015

These are the Days that try Men's Souls - Part 2

 By Pastor Mike Taylor 

Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

In the first part of this Bible study, we began to explore the deeper meaning of what this Psalm 23 means to the individual and the instruction that God gives to each of us to deal with the anxiety produced by a world that is spiraling out of control. If a person is allowed to follow his human emotions, many of us would be filled with dread and fear of what is coming upon the earth.

Like a good shepherd, our Lord and Savior delivers us from the feelings of anxiety and promises that He will always be with us, and will never forsake us. But first we have to submit to His direction, His leading and realize that we don't know the way through this crooked path in front of us, which is our lives, and that since we don't know the way, we need a shepherd that does know the way. We must look to Jesus for our guidance through this world in which we are but pioneers, sojourners in a land that is not our home.

Turn with me now to Luke 11:34 and listen to what Jesus says,

"If the eye is single, then the whole body will be full of light. If the eye is dual (or evil), how great is that darkness".

What's He saying?  He's reminding us, that we need to keep our eye on Him, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our light and if we keep our eye on Him, then our body and spirit is full of light, but if our eye is dual and looking elsewhere besides Jesus, then how great is that darkness. We will never find our way.

We are commanded to be Holy as we follow the good Shepherd. How can we follow His leadership, if we fail to live as He lived? Turn with me now to Romans 12:1-2:

" I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,

v.2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We have to be willing to submit wholeheartedly to the leadership of the Lord God, our Shepherd. We must be willing to say, "I'll go anywhere, I'll do anything, I'll be anything. I'll carry any load, live anyplace you want me to live, do anything you want me to do. We must be willing to put away sin as He points it out to us. Now that doesn't mean we'll be sinless, on the contrary, but if we are following what the Bible tells us and follow the truth that we have, that's 95% part of the battle (my estimation, not scientific) , and the rest falls into place that is indefinite or unknown.

If we are willing to be brought into conformity to Jesus Christ in every area of our life, and we are allowing Him freedom to work in us, then He will reveal more truth to us. But He won't if we are consciously holding out and defending sin in our lives. He reveals His truth only to men and women with an open, and obedient heart. God desires to lead us into greater and greater righteousness in our lives as well,  and we should be concerned about obtaining His righteousness, as humanly possible, in this life.

Let's look at what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:7,

"For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.".

God has called us unto sanctification and holiness. It is His intention to sanctify us entirely. This verse is referring to not committing fornication, but being sanctified and abstaining from sinful pleasures and acts against your neighbor, your brother, or your sister. We want to know that God is our Shepherd, but we must not tolerate sin in our lives. They may go unconfessed for long periods of time, but if we confess our sins,

" He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and  to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1st John 1:9.

But let's notice something in the beautiful Psalm 23 we are exploring. At the end of verse 3, David makes an assertion. Why does the good shepherd lead us in the paths of righteousness? He guides us "for His name's sake." That is for the sake of His glory, and the reputation of His own name and honor. What kind of reputation would a shepherd in Ancient Israel earn if everyone knew he was careless and irresponsible with his own sheep?

Let me ask you another, more important question. What kind of reputation would God earn for Himself if He were careless with those who belong to Him and are in His charge? Those that are following and faithful to His call and responded to His invitation from the Holy Spirit to accept His free gift of grace? What is His promise? Understand that God's name is on the line here, in your life, and others who have been redeemed by His own blood. He wants to show the world that He is faithful to provide for all your needs and guide you in righteous paths, and lead a holy life, as much as possible, this side of glory.

So far we have seen that the LORD should be trusted as the good Shepherd, especially as One who provides for His own and faithfully guides them as well. But in shepherding in the land of Ancient Israel, it consisted of more than just providing for and guiding one's sheep. The Shepherd must also PROTECT them. This of course, is the focus on verse 4.


 David wrote "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me".  (Psalm 23:4)

The phrase "valley of the shadow of death" most likely refers to the shadows cast by deep ravines with sharp cliffs, possibly in the Jordan valley. There is actually a place along the road to Jericho, I'm told, that is called "the valley of the shadow of death," where robbers would hide and wait for the unprepared and unsuspecting victims.  A shepherd leading his sheep had to pass these dark areas with the Shepherd guiding them.

Maybe this was a time when David was fleeing from Saul, and his attempt to try and kill him, but the point of the verse, is that God uses His rod to deal blows to the enemy, not to His sheep. They are tenderly pulled out of danger with his staff, which was a long crooked pole that could pull a leg away from danger, or a tap on the side to get them back in line, tenderly and with love. He doesn't whack us over the head with this rod, saying, "you bad sheep. Get back in line" and use a heavy rod on us. No, He lifts us up in His arms and gently leads us away from danger, but only if we trust and allow him to do so.

It is not that God will shield us from every harmful circumstance, as this is patently false as many of us can testify. People actually die prematurely, at least in our mind. But even in death, God is with us, so why should we fear something so natural? Death is a part of life and will visit all of us, if the Lord should tarry. But Romans 8:38-39 says:

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

v. 39, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Three things we must know. First nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ, during those experiences. Second, He alone passes approval on what things are permitted to afflict us and the trial we must bear. And thirdly, He will only test us for our own good and deeper knowledge of Him. We need to know that God will never abandon us. He is not the hired hand, but the faithful Shepherd. John 10:1-4  :

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

v2, But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

v3, To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

V4, And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."

Dropping down in the chapter. v. 11-14

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

v. 12,  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

V13, The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

V14,  I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

Can you see how He calls His sheep, and that He is the gate in and out of green pastures? He has only permitted what in His wisdom is ultimately good for you and will never allow permanent separation to come between you and Him. You can trust Him to protect you from anything He does NOT desire for you life.

IN the Old Testament, God the Father is designated as "The Shepherd of Israel." He is the Pastor of the Jewish nation. When Jesus declared Himself, "the Good Shepherd" in John 10:11, the Jewish people knew that He was claiming to be Jehovah, in the flesh and that He was proclaiming Himself, to be God. God has lifted the name of Jesus above every name and He is the good Shepherd of the Church on earth.


Moving onto verse 5 and 6 of this beloved Psalm, the picture here is of God as a gracious host, and throwing a banquet and sparing no extravagance for the invited guest. David says, "my cup overflows." Which could either mean that the quality of the drink is absolutely superb or that the host had provided him with an abundance. Either way, the tremendous grace of God is evident in David's experience here. In the land of Ancient Israel and surrounding areas, no one was more safe from his enemies, as when he was in a Bedoin Chief's tent and a meal had been placed before him. His enemies could not touch him. His head was anointed with oil, a generous gesture from the host and implies honor and favor.

In fact, the implication in v. 5 is that this has been David's experience with God up to this point in his life and verse 6 seems to indicate that David is confident such grace and fellowship with God will continue throughout all his days. And so it will be with us in our time, and in our life.  He says, in verse 6, "Surely (notice David's confidence) goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life". Rather than being pursued by his enemies, (eg. Saul) the goodness and mercy and God's loving kindness will follow him all of his days and he knows that he will dwell in the house of the Lord for as long as he lives. David envisions the direction his life will take as centered around fellowship and communion with His God, our God.  The grace of God can accomplish that in our lives as well. Do we realize how gracious God has been to us in Jesus Christ? He has forgiven us our sins against Him and given us His Spirit to enable us to walk with Him.

Read with me 1st Corinthians 2:12-16:

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

V13, Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

V14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

V15, But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

V 16, For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."

We ought to rejoice in God's grace toward us, rather than be overcome with anxiety over the circumstance the good Shepherd allows in our lives. Even in trials, He is right there with us.


 Psalm 23 "And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Unbroken, eternal fellowship with God! What fellowship! What joy divine! His coming Kingdom is a place where we will be in eternal fellowship with our Shepherd, King Jesus Christ.

Jesus promised in John 14:1-3. "Let not your hearts be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go , I will come again to receive you unto Myself: that where I am, there may you be also." He's building us a mansion right now. And it's not here, but there in Heaven, somewhere, out there beyond the stars. He's coming to bring us to His place, not the other way around.

No one says it better than Kyle M. Yates. "It is all made possible because of the love of God for us and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who paid it all that we might be ransomed. He died in our place. We received eternal life through faith in Him as our crucified and risen Saviour. The condition of our salvation is faith in Him. The real ground of our redemption is the blood of Jesus Christ. He died and rose again for US. Now He lives in US. God the Father is the source of our salvation. God the Son is the channel through which it comes to US. God the Holy Spirit is the agent who makes it effective in US. His provision for US is the costliest transaction ever conceived in the heart of God. It took the precious blood of His own Son to pay the debt. We enter into the full realization of this salvation by complete surrender to Him with the certain trust in Him to provide all our needs. We continue in Him as the Shepherd continues constantly with US." (Preaching from the Psalms, p. 74).

Indeed, this is the only way we can live the Christian life. Our Shepherd has provided us all we will ever need. As we hand over to Him our needs, He graciously hands over to us the provision. All we have to do is acknowledge our needs and surrender them to Him. I exchange my need for His abundant supply.


" Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen."  Hebrews 13:20-21

Think on that: "He has risen from the dead and He has 'equipped you in every good thing to do His will." He "works in us to do that which is pleasing in His sight." It is all done to glorify Him forever and ever.


 "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." 1 Peter 5:4.

The word for "appear" means " to make visible, clear, manifest, know, to  uncover, to lay bear, to reveal." One day he is coming and every eye will see Him. It will be at banquet of awards in heaven. He will honor those who have been "good and faithful," It is another trophy of grace, our crowns of gold upon our heads. Under-shepherds will "receive the unfading crown of glory." It will not be a bouquet of flowers that will fade and die and it won't be a wreath that will fade away in a day or two. It won't be the applause of men that diminishes over time. No, it will be the eternal crown of Glory that we will cast at His feet to worship Him on that day.


If the LORD is your Shepherd, what can you hold onto and be fully confident of?

Because the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not lack any provision of needs in this life.

Because He makes me to lie down in green pastures, I shall not lack nourishment.

Because He leads me beside quiet waters, I shall not lack rest.

Because He restoreth my soul, I shall not lack forgiveness and restoration.

Because he guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake, I shall not lack a right relationship with God.

Because I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, and I shall not lack encouragement and hope.

Because Thou art with me, I shall not lack for a constant companion.

Because Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me, I shall not lack guidance and protection.

Because Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies, I shall not lack honor and respect.

Because Thou hast anoint my head with oil, I shall not lack power and authority.

Because My cup overflows, I shall not lack joy, and an abundant life.

Because goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, I shall not lack contentment.

Because I dwell in the house of the Lord forever, I shall not lack assurance of eternal security in the Lord.

Yes, my friend, the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need of anything.

The LORD is my Guide, I shall be led by Him.

The Lord is my King: I shall be a guest in His palace.

The LORD is coming soon, and I shall be with Him in His Kingdom!!!

Does this world try your soul? Does it drive you to fear and a feeling of hopelessness? Are you at your wits end wanting someone to throw you a life-line? I am throwing you a life-line of eternal life found in only One Way, Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.

Have you found the LORD as your Shepherd? Believe right now, that you're a sinner. Admit that you have fallen short of the mark to stand before a Holy God. Believe in your heart that God has raised His Son Jesus from a grave in resurrection after being crucified on a cruel cross. Believe that He came and died for your sins, my sins and wants only to save you from the penalty of death that we all deserve for sinning against God. Believe that He ascended to Glory to sit at the right hand of the Father God in Heaven and waits only for the signal from the Father to come reclaim what He has already bought with His own blood...His creation, including YOU. I ask you to make that prayer right now, with your mouth, confess the LORD as your Savior, and follow Him in obedience in water baptism.

He will become instantly, the Shepherd in your life, the answer you seek, the filling of an empty space in your life, and in your it today, while there is still time...

Yes, my reader, we live in a time that tries the unanchored soul that has no mooring to anything solid. Cast your cares upon Him and anchor in the solid Rock that will keep you and guide you through the storms that are sure to come. As I think on the cares of this life, and the devastation surrounding every man, woman and child on this planet, I rely on another promise that God gave, that applies to only those found in the loving arms of the Shepherd, my Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 91:

 " A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come nigh thee.

 -Only with thine eyes, you shall look and see the reward of the wicked,

 -Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,

 -No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling."

This is a time that does try a man's soul, but those who look to the "Good Shepherd", need not fear, but confidence by faith, in the provision's of God.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM, should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you will find my Good Sheperd, my Rock in this life. May God richly Bless you. Contact me  for comments, prayer, or biblical answers to your questions. Or visit me online for more biblical teaching from the Word of God at May God richly bless you.

                                           TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET.

These are the Days that try Men's Souls - Part 1

 By Pastor Mike Taylor 

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated" Thomas Paine

The opening paragraph was written by Thomas Paine during the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He was calling to arms those who loved freedom and hated tyranny.  We have reached a similar junction in the road we now are faced with in this age of technology and the upheaval that it has caused to allow our government to intrude on every portion of our lives,. The problem will only strengthen as the days grow more treacherous and dangerous as we continue this journey to the end of the days of man's rule upon this earth.

We live in a world in which many people if not most, are engulfed with fear and anxiety. Some fear the future; and they're anxious about what's going to happen in that future. Others fear the past and they're anxious about what has happened. And still others fear even the present as anxiety has gripped their souls and they cannot imagine how they can cope with the ugliness of present circumstances in their lives. Thousands of people each day wake up with untold burdens to bear and anxiety with which they must deal with. Are you one of these? Are you bearing secretly a heavy burden? Are you worried about the future? Are you worried about your finances? Do you see your way of life slipping away, your families future, or the present world around you? Do you worry about the world stage with ongoing terrorism, the failing world economy (at home and abroad) and life in general with all its trials? The world is fearful of the rise of Islam with it's indiscriminate attacks on a peaceful people. The world has been rocked lately and are fearful with the latest terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, or the attack in Paris, France of armed Muslim thugs who kill "infidels" for their false god, Allah and submit to a god that is the antithesis of a loving God found in Christianity. We fear the loss of freedom and the life we have enjoyed up to this point, as our government appears to be stripping away our basic freedoms.

How can a person cope with what's around them, if they are only relying on themselves feeling so vulnerable to an evil ideology, or for that matter, the evil that resides in our own halls of government  and enslave us to the concept of a "new world order"? Many would take up arms and create civil unrest, or break away entirely from the USA, as Texas has threatened, but is that the path any of us should take?

Please understand, I feel your pain, as many of those who read this are doing what is required of them in this society. There are those who will not assimilate to the culture of the USA or the rest of the free world. They live in another parallel "dimension" that is governed by hateful beliefs of superiority to other religions and only wish to enslave those who only wish to remain free.

Now look at yourself and what are you trying to do? You may have gone through school, some college, got married, working hard, following what is required to make a living in a peaceful world, but you still are anxious about the future and life in general. You have good reason. How should we respond? The most important question then becomes, "how does God want me to respond to the anxiety in my life?"  Thomas Paine wrote the above passage calling on the citizen's physical response to a world ruled by tyranny. I wish to look at how we should respond today, in our time to our world and look at the source of our strength in these troubling times.

Like all the great questions of life, scripture affords us an answer. I've been dealing with Roman's chapter 8 in the last few messages, and now let us go to a promise found in the Old Testament of how we can cope with this world from the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. I'm talking about the promises found in a most beloved passage found in the Psalms.  In Psalm 23, David gives us the example of how we're supposed to trust in God. Most Christians have put to memory this "pearl" of the Psalms, but never take time to ponder its deep meaning and how it applies to our everyday life. Let us jump back in time, to another time period that was fraught with evil and men that shed blood quite easily. Let us look at the time period from shepherd boy that grew to be a king.


There is a lot of commentary on when David actually wrote this Psalm. This was a time when written that David may have been running from Saul, who was trying to kill him, as most people feel this was the history behind this Psalm. Psalm 23 then provides a model for us. It is one of the many paradigms of truth to be followed though-out our lives that is found in your Bible as we respond to all the difficulties and worries that come our way.

The Psalm has two basic divisions, each one providing part of the answer to our question about worry. The first four verses focus on God as the faithful and good Shepherd of His people. It calls us to trust Him as such. The second section made up of the last two verses, focuses our attention on God as a gracious host, preparing a splendid meal for a guest, and results in our rejoicing over His grace toward us.

Take some time and stop for a moment and read this lovely Psalm before you go on. Have you read it? Good, let's move on.

When I examine this lovely Hebrew song in detail, I have the firm conviction that it reaches a perfect climax in the person and the work of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I see in the character of the Shepherd, the sweet fragrance of our Savior as I breathe in His Word. This Psalm may not be strictly Messianic in its prediction of the coming of the Jesus the Messiah, but it suggests thoughts that point in the direction of His coming.

Let's jump over to Isaiah 40:10-11:

"Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

 (v.11)  He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming day when "the Lord God will come with  a strong hand and  His strong right arm ruling for Him. He will come to lead us to greener pasture, and return the earth to her former pure state. There will be no need for fear, as the lamb will lay down with the lion.

Another Hebrew prophet in similar vane  saw the coming of the Messiah as Lord and Shepherd:

"And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I, The LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them: I, the LORD have spoken". Ezekial 34:23-24:

Keep in mind that King David had been dead six hundred years when Ezekiel was writing this prophecy! The prophet is speaking of a even greater One, greater than David. He is the Messiah who will come at the end of this age and He will shepherd His people being of the root of David.


Even though the soul is tossed about with events that are beyond our control, we have solace in the One who walks with us through it all. I am a firm believer that God allows nothing to come against His chosen "sons of God" unless it is in His will and for our ultimate good. I am reminded of the verses found in Romans, and as you may know, one of most favorite chapters that Paul wrote and I must repeat it here:

"For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to them that are the called, according to His purpose.

For whom He foreknow He also predestined to be conformed the image of His Son, that He may be the first born among many brethren,

And whom He foreknew, those He also called, and whom He called, these He also justified, and these He justified, He also glorified.

What shall we say of these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, along with Him, give us all things? (Romans 8:28-32)

 Did you catch that? "along with Him, give us ALL things"....what has God given His only begotten Son? Answer: everything and we will share in that glory. Mind boggling, is it not? It is emphasized in prior verses and these confirm one another:

"The Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed with suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified together.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time, are not to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:16-18)

 It is a glorious promise that God has given to each of us, who call upon the name of Jesus in faith and believing for His Atonement on Calvary's cross and His ultimate resurrection and glorification, sitting now at the right hand of the Father for each of us who embrace this truth.

But you ask, when reading this lovely, poetic verses that Paul wrote, "what can I do right now, in these troubling times?" As mentioned, you need someone to guide you through the mine fields that are the sin soaked earth your feet rest upon. Let us take God's promises, one of thousands listed in the Bible, that let you know God is with you. Jesus leads you and Psalm 23 is a God given promise of being led by God's Holy Spirit in a place where we do not fear, but rely on our Shepherd, Jesus Christ.


"The LORD is my shepherd: I shall not want". Psalm 23:1.

There is security in the presence of the good shepherd. The Psalmist David dares to reach out and call Jehovah his very own Shepherd. It is intimately personal. Our God is a personal, loving Father. He is my Shepherd, and He is YOUR Shepherd. You must have faith, as King David did, that God is your guide in this life.

 David uses the name of the Lord who is always seen as absolutely faithful to His people. He had a vibrant, living faith in the LORD God. Therefore he can say confidently just as God is faithful in meeting his present needs, God will also meet all his needs in the future. With the LORD as his Shepherd, David looks forward to the future. He will never "suffer any want." Just as the good shepherd provides all that his sheep needs, the LORD will provide all that His people will ever need.

Remember Romans 8:32 quoted above? If you possess the LORD, who possesses all things, then you lack nothing. David  thought of God as his protector and provider, but also as his King. He also, thought  of Him as his Shepherd, with all the meaning it had in the Near East in general and in the Law in particular. Because the LORD was David's provider, he lacked or wanted for anything. A good shepherd by his very nature will always supply all of the lamb's needs. In a similar way, a good Father will provide for every need of His children.

Some people mistake what the Psalmist is saying here. I had the same problem at one time. Looking back, this troubled  me as a small child. I thought that David was saying "I shall not want" or David didn't want God as his shepherd, but I came to understand that he was not in "want of anything".


Note that Satan has attempted to portray God, in mankind's history as a begrudging giver who only provides when He must. Satan desires to deceive those who trust in God, and wants them to believe they are lacking and deprived of the good things in life. This is the picture Satan tries to paint in suggesting that God had withheld the fruit of every tree of the garden from Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:1). God is also portrayed as a begrudging giver in the temptation of our Lord when He was in the wilderness for 40 days (Matt. 4:1-11). Why would anyone listen to the author of all lies?

The mentality behind David's words is completely opposed to the Madison Avenue propaganda where we are constantly being told that we have many needs, all of which can be met by buying some new (or old) product. We need "sex appeal" so we must buy a new toothpaste, a new kind of mouthwash and a new brand of soap. We need self-confidence and a better self-image, therefore we must wear stylish clothing determined by the garment industry. Our whole mode of thinking is "want centered". David tells us that to have God as our shepherd is indeed to have everything we need or want.

As we seek God, we are not getting second best from Him. He is a faithful Shepherd to give us only what is excellent according to His own purpose and divine will. Can we trust Him for that?

So then, if we lack anything in our lives, then God is not our shepherd. Simple as that, as there are only two options. If this world is our shepherd, then we are in want. Or if alcohol or drugs are our shepherd, or hard rock music, or money, sex, or pornography, then we are never satisfied. Be honest with yourself, as no one is looking as you read this. You know that we are forever in some kind of want, some kind of need if we are depending on this world. Because if you will own up to it, we never know exactly what is best for us, especially when things go sour and we don't know where to turn to next. Just step back for a minute and look around you, or read the latest horror reported on your locals newscast, or your published newspaper headlines. Do you need a shepherd?

Point being, we are sheep. The idea is analogy of a sheep going astray. Sheep get into everything self-destructive, and they stray easily. Ever been around sheep or goats? Some really dumb animals, but  then God says I am one! Kind of hurts your feelings at first, until you realize, you know, He's right. I am a sheep. Without Him as my guide, I'm forever in trouble. We are all prone to wander. Isaiah said it best in chapter 53 and it's a wonderful  prophecy about the coming Messiah and a description of Him, of His suffering and why He had to take our place.

"We are all like sheep who have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him, the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)

I know my tendency toward self-indulgent individualism, of going my own way and doing my own thing. That's me. I'm a wandering sheep. And if Jesus Christ is to be my shepherd, I have to admit that I need one. It is difficult, but that is where we must start. Once we admit that need, we discover the truth of what David is saying. "We shall not want."

 In this Psalm, David enumerates the ways in which the Good Shepherd meets our needs. The first is found in V.2 and part of V. 3:

"He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still water: He restores my soul."

Our God meets the needs of the inner man. Meditate a minute on that verse and the symbolic picture a flock of sheep beside a still, crystal clear pool of water. There is lush green grass all around and perfect peace and harmony. The sheep are in no fear. For men, it is the feeding on His Word. We draw upon Him and we are satisfied. We look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith. Pools of living water, is synonymous with the Holy Spirit that God gave us on Pentecost. And with His Holy Spirit, we should never fear.

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

v28  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

v29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

v30  They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

v31  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

v32  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

v33  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

v34  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

v35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John  6:27-35)

The Word of God does this for us. It brings us, first, to the person of Jesus Christ. "Beyond the sacred page", as the old hymn says, "we see the LORD." We see Him , and we eat and drink of Him, and we discover Him to be the resource of what we need. Let's now read what Paul says in II Corinthians 4:15-18:

v. 15 "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

v16  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

v17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

v18  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Look at verse 16, "Though the outward man perishes, the inward man is renewed day by day,". Our souls are restored. How you say? As we feed upon Him. As we come to know Him, believe what He says, and act on His Word, we discover that the inner man is fed. We draw strength and courage, because of true faith in the true Shepherd of mankind, Jesus Christ.

Jesus, our Lord, the Good Shepherd does another blessing to each of us and that is to give direction in our lives:

"He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake." Psalm 23:3.

The Hebrew word translated "paths" means "a well-defined, well worn trail." That indicates again how easily led astray sheep are. Because even when the trail is well laid out and well work from use, they still need a shepherd. They are still inclined to wander away, no matter how obvious the trail may be. The Good Shepherd knows the trail. He has been there before, and the sheep trust Him. People worry about the world's future, the direction in their lives and where they are headed. How will  it affect my family, my loved ones around me, my business, my associates? Government tyranny, loss of freedoms, Obamacare, the rise of terrorism even in this country and an economy teetering on the edge of oblivion. We see the loss of jobs, no matter what the idiots in Washington spew out to the contrary. You may have lost your job. You may have lost your home or taken a part time job, or even two or three, just to make ends meet. If you're relying on yourself, then I don't blame you for being scared. There is anxiety at every turn.

There is a classic story of a man undergoing basic training in the army. He was pulling KP and was given the assignment of sorting potatoes. There was a huge mound of them and the sergeant told him to put all the bad ones in one bin, and all the good ones in the other bin. The sergeant came back about two hours later to find the man just looking at one potato. There was nothing in the bins. The sergeant yelled, "What the matter, don't you like the work, soldier?" The soldier said, "Sarge, it's not the work, it's the decisions that are killing me."

I often feel that way and I know you do too. We are not afraid of the work, but we have to make countless decisions, day after day, which touch the lives of our children our spouses, and our loved ones in the extended family. We need wisdom. We need somebody who has the answers. We need someone who knows the trails, and someone whom we can trust. We must submit wholeheartedly, to the leadership of the Shepherd. That is the basic attitude we must maintain. Unless we are willing to admit that we don't know the way through the wilderness and faithfully submit to His leadership, we will never find the way. Just ask any newly homeless person who is lost in despair, or the latest suicide attempt placed on suicide watch at a local hospital what they fear the most. To most is a loss of hope, or a loss of any control over their lives.

Like a good shepherd, our Lord and Savior delivers us from the feelings of anxiety and promises that He will always be with us, and will never forsake us. But first we have to submit to His direction, His leading and realize that we don't know the way through this crooked path in front of us, which is our daily lives, We need a shepherd that does know the way. We must look to Jesus for our guidance through this world in which we are but pioneers, sojourners in a land that is not our home.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Next time, we'll wrap up this up concerning trusting the Lord Jesus Christ in this world filled with evil and insanity that only grows with each passing day....See you then.

This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you will find my Good Sheperd, my Rock in this life. May God richly Bless you. Contact me  for comments , prayer, or biblical answers to your questions. Or visit me online at for more teaching from our Bible. May God Richly Bless you.

                                              TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET.

Monday 7 December 2015

Divided We Stand

Our illustrative and sorely missed Jack once wrote an article entitled "Close Only Counts in Horseshoes (and Hand Grenades)".  I heard the phrase again the other day when listening to The Berean Call's, T.A. McMahon speaking on the rise of the abuses of prophetic scripture.  Namely, the "Blood Moon" and "Shemitah" crazes that recently came and went with all the power of a gentle breeze.

Men like Jonathan Cahn, John Hagee, and Mark Biltz, and others, bilked all these supposed coincidences for all they were worth and are now doing their obligatory excuse tours on every media outlet that will allow them to explain why nothing of any apocalyptic consequence occurred last September.

It got me thinking about all the errors (eschatological or otherwise) we tolerate here in the 21st century.  I mean, even sound teachers, broadcasters, and preachers were getting on board with Jonathan Cahn promoting his views on the Harbinger and the Shemitah.  I for one quit getting excited back in 2011 with every new and passing fad that was making its rounds in the prophetic circles.  Honestly, I just got tired of getting let down by all the hype leading up to Jewish feast dates, long lost calendar corrections, Planet X, etc.  For that, I hope I don't come across as old and crotchety, but perhaps wiser and more discerning, concerning the particulars in regards to Biblical Prophecy.

What we need to be sure of, and perhaps I'm preaching to the choir now, but we need to know without a shadow of a doubt, that when God does do something prophetic, it will align itself perfectly with Holy Scripture.  Close doesn't count when it comes to Bible prophecy.  It has to be perfect because God put His own stamp of approval on it and His credibility is at stake.

In regards to other Christian doctrines, the Church has remained divided over many issues.  I believe, as did Jack, that this was divinely arranged by God from the days of Babel to prevent any one group or individual, from accumulating too much power over many.  Clearly God is omniscient so He would have already foreseen the issues that would have arisen in our age but in His sovereignty still allowed them.  That doesn't give us as believers license to remain in error, as we should strive till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:13)

What I hope to impart to you is the understanding that one of the side effects of living in the Age of Information is all the MIS-information that comes along with it.  I would venture to say, that with all the information we have available at our fingertips courtesy of Mr. Google and Mr. Bing, we can know pretty much whatever we want to know about any given particular subject or any period of time.  But that now comes at the price of sorting through the bile to find the gem of truth.

With all we can know, we can't know is what lies ahead.  We only have ONE source on the planet that can give us divinely accurate information...which is the Holy Bible.

Satan knows this as well, and has invested significant time and effort in this misdirection, starting as early as the first century.  Paul warned the Ephesians...

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:27-31

Although Satan can't see into the future any more than we can, he does have 6,000 years of first hand human history at his disposal.  He knows without a shadow of a doubt who killed Kennedy and why.  He knows what's on the 'dark side of the moon'.  He knows whether Atlantis or Bigfoot really exists, and what really happened to Hitler.  He knows every mystery that has ever plagued mankind since Adam and Eve.  He's been behind every secret society that has every crept along the shadows.  He was present at Creation so he has an intricate knowledge of how things work and why...from beyond the galaxy to the smallest molecule.  He was then, the pinnacle of God's creatio

"You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created."You were the anointed cherub who covers;

I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you.  Ezekiel 28:12-15

He was the pinnacle of God's creation, until the day that God made man in His image and breathed the breath of life into him and gave him dominion over the entire earth. (Gen. 1:26-28) And Satan has never let that go.  His murderous threats and lies only serve one purpose; to thwart God's every move.  Since he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies it only seems in keeping that he attempt to divide, pervert, corrupt, and ultimately destroy this Church that Jesus said He Himself would build.


The trickeries and tactics of Satan are extremely clever and complex.  They are a network of lies, all built upon the premise of misdirection.  If Satan can't get you to fall for a false belief outright, he'll settle for getting you to compromise on an issue (say abortion or immigration) with a group you know isn't Christian.  This has proven especially effective with political conservativism and the Tea Party.  This is how he can get Evangelical Christians to rally behind and give platform to outspoken Mormons (like Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck) because of similar political interests.

Satan is a master of understanding the human condition and knows how to play to the things that we want; power, wealth, relevance, sex, knowledge, and prestige.  Satan is therefore, able to cast a wide net and grab many with false religions and ideologies that are blatantly antichristian in nature because they promote human work and effort; Paganism, Satanism, Islam, Atheism, Hinduism, Human Secularism, New Age, Witchcraft, etc.

Within Christendom, Satan focuses his energy on blurring the line between orthodox and unorthodox.  For the average Christian who has a working knowledge of the Bible, these groups (primarily cults) should be relatively easy to spot; Mormonism, Jehovah Witness, Roman Catholicism.  Although each of these claim Christ, they clearly depart from Biblical teachings.  These groups rely primarily on either extra-biblical sources for their primary teaching tools, or they re-write their own versions of the Bible and focus their center of attention around a person other than Jesus Christ.

Satan has been particularly successful in this next group by promoting extremes in areas such as spiritual gifts, ritualism, and merging of Christian doctrine with the ritualism found outside the boundaries of New Testament theology.  These groups don't so much recruit from outside of Christendom, as they do from within.  Groups in this category would be many in the Charismatics, Hebrew Roots, and the Emergent Church movements.  But for the most part, they claim the essentials of Christianity, but go astray in some other key areas that make them aberrant in their theology.

But as we continue further, the errors get harder to spot because they become much more subtle and aren't limited to groups or denominations.  These are teachings and beliefs that are trans-denominational in nature and are usually relegated with how one interprets (or misinterprets) the Bible. Examples of these would be; theological liberalism, post-modernism, higher criticism, and allegorizing hermeneutics.

What's unique about these, is not that they form their own groups, but tend to infect whatever denomination they already belong to.  This usually has a negative effect on that body of believers because their views ultimately stifle the ideas of Biblical inerrancy and kill the trust one has with the validity of God's word by introducing the seed of doubt.  Examples of the by-products of these views are; Preterism, Amillennialism, and Replacement theology.

Now we come to the issues that divide many, God fearing and Godly men and women that we would consider orthodox in their views, but also stray in issues that don't effect salvation, but stunt or limit their ability to fully mature in the faith. (Eph. 4:11-16)  Examples of these groups would be those who adhere to Lordship Salvation, King James Only, Calvinism, Reformed and Covenant theologies.

I know, some will say Calvinism?!  Hold on, I am a _ point Calvinist.  In regards to Calvinism, there are many famous evangelists and theologians like Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur and John Piper which hold to it.  These five points are;

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

I hold to Total Depravity and Once Saved Always Saved, but since these are Biblical concepts clearly taught in Scripture which predate John Calvin by millennia, I do not consider them exclusive to Calvinism.  My problems with Calvinism are; for example, IF Unconditional Election of Calvinism were true, and some were 'predestinated' to hell and wrath by a completely sovereign God who authored their inability to ever be saved, why bother with the Great White Throne Judgment? (Rev. 20:11-15)  What is there to judge if God created them specifically with the foreknowledge that they were doomed for destruction? As to only the Elect being able to receive salvation, why are we instructed to preach the Gospel unto 'every creature' if only the 'elect' can be saved?  [John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, and 2 Peter 3:9] argue soundly against 'only the elect' concept.

I know, Calvinism is one of those sacred cows no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole, because so many of the greats that we look up too were and are admitted Calvinists.  But let's be honest, the Reformers still brought a lot of baggage with them when they divorced the Roman Catholic Church.  Since then, it has divided Protestants on many issues, such as;

-Infant baptism


-Eternal security

-Instrument/non-instrumental worship

-Speaking in tongues

-Return to observing the Mosaic Law

-The KJV is the only authorized version of Scripture


-Baptismal regeneration

-Sabbath service


Clearly, there are many more issues that divide the Church, but the bottom line is that we've had around two thousand years of theological baggage tacked on to our Christian faith.  Yet, just as Christ predicted, the Church that He is building, has not disappeared.  Christ has received believers from every tongue, tribe, and nation and at some point very soon, will complete the 'fullness of the Gentiles' which make up the Body of Christ.  (Romans 11:25)

While God foreknew that the world would in large part, reject His free offer of Salvation, you can't have the redeemed without the unregenerate.  Sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers all make up this total package we call the human race.  And despite well intentioned people's efforts to make the church better, (which usually only make things worse), Christ is ultimately the author and finisher of His Church. (Matt. 16:18)  Christ appointed Paul to be the architect for New Testament theology of which the Church would grow and mature on.  He says...

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  Eph. 3:8-13

Even So, Maranatha!