Though we may never understand how or why certain things occur, everything continues to follow our Omnipotent Father's perfect plan. Sudden events arise, leading us to make decisions and bringing us face to face with change. It is in moments like these we find out what we are made of. For what's inside each of us cannot help but manifest itself once enough pressure is applied.
Before ever considering trying to judge or correct another, we must first look closer at what may need to change in our own life and how we personally need to grow. You have the power to determine whether you become better or bitter in every situation you go through. The time has come then to regather our focus where it belongs. This can begin by a visit with our Shepherd:
1 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.
Though these words are so familiar to us, we cannot help but feel a renewed sense of peace as the inspiring meditations of the Psalmist run deep into our reflection. This Psalm is believed to be written by David during a time when he was fleeing from Saul. How one truly feels about God is revealed by the way he handles himself in the midst of trials. The more intimate we are with God, the more strength we will find, especially in difficulty. Knowing God is with you as your Shepherd, not only brings comfort but heightens your awareness of His presence in your life. You can know for yourself that God only wants what's best for you, humbling you to the point where you will do whatever it takes to receive His greatest blessings. The quality of work God does within His people who love Him, not only increases our knowledge but increases our effectiveness in serving others. It is made visible within those, who no matter what they face, can shine in righteousness for His glory.
So even when we discover we've been close to an enemy, we can know that our good Spepherd allowed it as a test for us to pass, resulting in greater opportunities and blessings. The concern among Israelites must always remain upon spreading peace among our brethren, with whom we will dwell "forever".
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
We can become more content while at the same time, find the way to our deepest desires, when we better understand more about Who our God is- HERE HE IS OUR SHEPHERD, OUR UNLIMITED PROVIDER AND PROTECTOR. In vain, we as Israelites are trying to do too many things outside of Him. Ultimately we should not "want" anyone providing anything for us outside of His direction. What an uplifting testimony of how David only wanted God's guidance and provision. This expresses his calm dependency upon Yahweh, as David (having been a shepherd himself) fully recognized the level of trust the sheep possess in their shepherd. The only major difference being that our Shepherd is not only with us, but that He Himself is within us as well. Identifying Yahweh as your Shepherd is being convinced He lives inside of you. How do we know? Because David says, "I shall not want." Only one who embraces the invisible God living within them will ever come to know they have it all, seeing themselves as not lacking anything.
Sheep need a shepherd to care for, protect, and even control them. If you ever tend to sheep yourself, you will find that they are not the smartest of God's creatures. And when it comes to spiritual things, at first, neither are we very smart. Sheep can be very stubborn. You may want them to go in a certain direction, while they will not even turn around. Yet once you finally do get them headed the right way, they tend to want to go too far. Therefore those who want the Lord to be their Shepherd, must learn to look for His control from within.
Now we know it is Yahweh God in the Person of Yahshua Christ Who is our Shepherd- the Eternal, Ever-Present, Self-Existent One, Who cared enough to lay down His life for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. There is no excuse for us to not want to please Him. He created us to feel and enjoy His presence. As our Shepherd, He is responsible for us and we must answer to Him.
If all you knew was that He was your Shepherd, would that be enough for you? If so, then you have found a key to having the Shepherd's best for your life. Having Him in His proper place in our hearts and minds provides His sheep the ability to follow Him as our Shepherd. Deliberately give Him control over where you go, what you do, what you say and even the attitudes by which you live, and there are no limits to what the Shepherd can do thru you:
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
We may not see it at first or even want to admit it about ourselves, but many of us are somebody else's puppet. Yet we can can cut thru all this carnality by submitting to the control of our Shepherd. Following the Spirit and living by faith are the same as being under God's control or allowing Him to "make" us do what He wants. All you must do is acknowledge you are free in Christ your Shepherd, by simply surrendering to the complete control and possession of the Holy Spirit of God. The only way this is possible is thru humility and personal submission. When God tells you to do something like lay down, what do you do? You lay down. When He leads you somewhere or to do something, how do you respond? You follow His command.
Sometimes we settle for things which serve a purpose, but come to realize it really wasn't "green pastures" or is no longer the Shepherd's best for our life. It kept you fed, but don't you want something you can enjoy, like a sheep enjoys having a never-ending supply of lush green grass?! God will give us what we need to get by and survive if that's all we expect, but He can also lead His sheep to where we can be healthier, more full of vitality, and actually rejoicing in our Christian experience. All you must do is recognize this and not be satisfied until you are lying down in the midst of those green pastures.
Though we never look forward to it, from time to time we find ourselves beside troubled waters. We begin to recognize something is brewing as storm clouds gather, taking whatever precautions we feel we must. Then the storm comes and the troubled waters begin to rise. The good news is, the troubled waters are meant to pass. Eventually, the storm clouds depart, the sun breaks thru the sky, and even the birds resume with their singing. Then comes the Shepherd to lead you "beside the still waters".
The opportunity will come for you to look into the still waters. When the time is right you will soon know when to appreciate the peace only God can provide, by letting go of all that may be troubling you. ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT THINGS FROM BECOMING TROUBLED AND BITTER IN YOUR HEART. Appreciate the newly lit horizon and the destinations God can bring you to, by receiving the cleansing you need. What do you have to complain about when our Shepherd always leads His sheep to greener pastures?! How can we ask for more than when He leads us to have peace again?
Our Shepherd knows what we have need of before we ask Him. He is the One Who lives within us and leads us by faith. We may have reasoned many times we would always be where we've always been. But as we grow in our faith, our deepest desires come into focus, inwardly leading us in a much better direction. The more we realize this, the quicker we will stop forcing ourselves in the opposite direction, following our flesh. Who cares about those troubled waters once we put them behind us. Our Shepherd has blessings and peace for us, getting us on course, for the best is yet to come! If you recognize He is leading you to greener pastures and still waters, YOUR PART IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ARRIVAL- JUST "LIE DOWN".
Stop worrying about the best you think you can do and begin focusing on His best! And never forget when you do get to His best in your life, that means you still owe Him your best. If He provides the best woman for you for instance, then He's going to expect for you to give your best to that woman. In the meantime, just lay down my Brother and rest in the assurance that Christ alone is your Shepherd; you're doing your part, just keep trusting Him- He has so much more for you. You must continue to listen to your Shepherd when He speaks:
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
On a much broader scale, we cannot expect any real change until our race is restored inwardly. We cannot expect too many changes for the better in our own families and lives, until we each of us want to experience real change within. Our people keep falling short, time and time again, by making everything good we learn from the Scriptures into some dogma or system, rather than just living it out consistently and in power. Indeed our skin is our identification. Yet the Adamic soul, which is who we are within, is what really matters the most. What's going on inside of you, in your soul? Are you weary, are you confused? Then come to the Shepherd Who can give you a whole new beginning, leaving the pain and darkness behind. You need His touch within as He is the only One who can truly restore you. Get in tune with the inner man you know deep inside God wants you to be, and let go of all the carnal attitudes which is your ego.
Even when we perform God's will it may not set well with other Christians. But if you've done what God has told you to do, come find this restoration, receiving that deep assurance that you've done your duty, and now it is time to leave the rest to Him. We cannot do in others what only God can do. When we begin to strive with others and force things, we are wasting our time trying to achieve things only our Soul-Restoring Shepherd can accomplish: "Vengeance is mine I will repay" He has said. Let go of the frustration and rest.
Ultimately nothing touches us without His permission as He is looking after us from the very depths of our being, Him being the One Who fashioned us in the first place. When we have peace in our soul, everything else is alright and we know we have nothing to fear. Don't worry so much about the wrong path other sheep have chosen to follow. Our Shepherd is the One Who will correct and chasten all the other sheep who need it. He Who holds all of our souls has everything well in hand.
In your life, once and for all, what path do you want to travel; paths of pressure and reoccuring frustration, or paths of peace led by your Shepherd? Our Shepherd never leads us in paths of contention and anger, which require us to carry ourselves in the energy of the flesh. No, David says our Shepherd's best way to travel is "in the paths of righteousness". Remember righteousness is the opposite of sin. AND THE ONLY WAY TO WALK IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BY FAITH. Sheep who refuse to live by faith are frustrated, retaliatory, and miserable, never knowing why. But those who dwell in the paths of righteousness are walking with God, glad to be at the Shepherd's side. The paths of righteousness are hidden to those who always end up taking matters into their own hands, refusing to trust the Shepherd. But those who walk in His paths know when to leave things alone and are sure to arrive at a more abundant life on a much higher plane.
Why is it so important that we walk in these paths? David says it's "for his name's sake". Our remaining in these paths is to have a clear testimony of faith as one of His sheep. With every step we take, every word we say, and every deed we perform, we represent the Name which is above every Name. Prove that you see the bigger picture by always carrying the name 'Christian' with dignity. BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT CHRIST'S NAME THAN YOUR OWN EGO. Walk by faith in paths of righteousness and you have nothing to worry about, or fear. As others carelessly diminish His Name, more worried about their own pride or temporal interests, it only proves they are not in the paths of righteouness, neglecting the "sake" or cause of Christ. Sheep who have the Shepherd's best interest at heart, care about how they represent God's Holy Name. Restoration of our soul keeps us from getting bitter and lingering in anger, maintaining our integrity, while building a better reputation for those who stand for the message.
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.
Some of us have been in some dark places. Let those places leave your heart, remaining behind you in the past. Most live their lives based on worries, doubts, and fears- let it be gone. For thanks be to God, our Shepherd found us on the brink of certain death, lifting us up out of "the valley" to make our stand against "evil". How did our lives turn around in such a way? How do those who once enjoyed evil so much become those who hate it all the more, now standing for all that is true and good? OUR SHEPHERD WAS THERE- as David said, "for thou art with me". How do we know God is with us? When we are able to look and see that "the valley of the shadow of death" is in the rearview, and that His Spirit has carried us all the way "through"!
Though we sometimes cannot avoid "the valley" that does not mean we must try to stay there. Unfortunately it seems some merely exist to wallow in "the valley". They try to sell how 'spiritual' it is to suffer, while spreading their misery. Rather it is for us to overcome and powerfully "walk thru the valley of the shadow of death", following our Resurrected Shepherd to green pastures and still waters by faith. LEAVE THESE PITIFUL SOULS ALONE AS THEY SEEK TO DRAG YOU DOWN. Only the Shepherd can correct and convince them that He isn't that way. OUR GOD IS NOT THE GOD OF TROUBLE AND FEAR, BUT THE GOD OF FAITH AND VICTORY- FOR BY HIS STRIPES WE WERE HEALED. He is not a god who wants us to dine on trouble, but Who wants us to emerge out of the valley better, more joyful, and stronger than ever!
In the valley we can find "comfort" in our Shepherd's "rod" and "staff"; His correction and protection. Ultimately, sheep cannot protect themselves and are unable to correct one another many times. Though we may try to help, there comes a time when we must realize only our Shepherd can perform the necessary correction, especially in the most serious cases. In addition, there is only so much sheep can do to try to remove the threat of wolves who infiltrate a sheepfold. Sheep can make noises to warn those who threaten the health and well-being of the flock. But one sheep or any collection of sheep cannot perform this function of protection. Ultimately God does have a purpose for us in each valley we enter. There is something for all of us to learn and grow from each time. With our Shepherd's protection, we have nothing to fear. Though we may presently be in a valley, we can walk thru it to a higher calling and greater blessings:
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
We are always thankful when the waiter brings us the food. As we see here, there is Someone else Who prepares this table. No matter how great we want to think some men are, undershepherds are only to be the messengers; it's the Voice of the Shepherd alone the sheep need to listen to. God's anointed men are not only set apart to rightly deliver His Word but to live a holy life before all men.
God is the One Who fills the table with what our souls are to hunger and thirst for. But just like in any house, if we get a bit too relaxed and comfortable, we'll start putting up with things at the table which shouldn't be going on. In this verse, there's nothing wrong with what's being put on the table to eat, but there is something quite wrong with the atmosphere. Sometimes we just don't know who else is sitting at the table. We come to realize there is an unwelcomed "presence".
No matter who delivers it, the truth we know came from God alone. But God did not give us this truth just so we can remember who His enemies were in days gone by. THIS TRUTH IS FOR OUR PRESENT BENEFIT AND PROTECTION; TO IDENTIFY THE PRESENCE OF ENEMIES AT OUR TABLE TODAY. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" our Shepherd has clearly instructed us. Bad fruit which are revealed as unacceptable "before" us, must be addressed and dealt with as a priority. WE MUST REFUSE ACCEPTING ANY CONSISTENCY OF FRUITS WHICH DO NOT BEAR WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRIT, NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY MAY BE DESCRIBED ON THE MENU- THEY MUST BE REJECTED. We've all come too far and been thru too much to knowingly fellowship with wolves in sheep's clothing. Yet when something like this occurs, it is no news to God.
What we must accept is that it is no accident when we find ourselves in the presence of our enemies, even at the table which God has prepared. Look at all the lost sheep who are sitting in judeo churches with the enemies of God at their table, and don't even care. Will we be naive as well? As we see, David was no stranger to this: FOR GOD IS THE ONE WHO SETS IT UP LIKE THIS. We shouldn't be surprised when a goat is exposed among the sheep, or a judas among the disciples of Christ. But we better be ready to pass the test by immediately recognizing their presence and dealing with it when it becomes a problem. Obviously, if He sets the table in the presence of our enemies, He expects us to be ready to act when need be. One thing we must all be convinced of is that our Shepherd is in complete control. Therefore we must seek to be blameless and recognize that He prepares the table like this to teach us to be sharp.
Yet in all of this we must keep a balance. We can't get so obsessed trying to detect our enemies that we scare genuine sheep from the table. The sheep who better recognize the wolf's presence show that God wants what's best for the whole flock and has a special place of service for you in it. While knowing that God sets it up this way should keep us all from getting too shook up and emotional when the time comes to handle this in the future.
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.
Are you convinced the Shepherd always wants what's best for you? David had an assurance that his Shepherd always wanted the best for him. How would you like to have this assurance? Romans chapter 8 says, "And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." "Oh I love God, I'm an Identity Christian, I love racial truth." Then how come you don't have this assurance? How can we know we really love God? There's one way for sure and John outlines this in the fourth chapter of his first Epistle: "If a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him. That he which loveth God love his brother also." So the key to you becoming convinced the Shepherd wants what's best for you, is by you loving our people. Start making an effort to personally love some of your white kin, and see if it doesn't change your attitude and give you this assurance.
David is saying in our text, that God's abundant blessings are there for you, but only if you are willing to go after them with your whole heart. "Surely" you can see the Christian life is meant to be more than just hating non-whites and losing faith in your own people. There is "goodness and mercy" available for you "all the days of your life" and it begins by changing your attitude and the way you think. How do we know this is what David is talking about? Because notice, he is so excited about spending eternity with all his white brothers and sisters. As Israelites we "will dwell in the house" or family "of the LORD forever." Therefore since all our white family is going to be together anyway, it is the Shepherd's best for us to go ahead and start loving them now. If you know in your soul that you have obeyed the voice of your Shepherd, no matter what others may say or do, just look forward to brighter days ahead.
What do you want to be your reputation, to "follow" you: controversy and trouble, or "goodness and mercy"? "SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE" ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE LOVING OUR BRETHREN. Stop settling for anything less than God's best. For all Israel shall be saved and we will all dwell together "forever".
We are only required to follow the Shepherd, no one else. He is the One to Whom we owe our allegiance as He is both perfect and holy. Blessed be the Name of Yahweh for sheep who want to dwell in peace and unity. Always strive to become better and draw closer to God, no matter what valleys or challenges you may face.