Sunday, December 11, 2016

Our Welcoming Shepherd

Note: Computer problems prevented my sending this on Friday, December 9th.
Chuckle: "Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever!"
Good Quote: "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." --C. S. Lewis

"You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings" (Psalm 23:5 NLT).
In the ancient Near Eastern culture, special guests were often honored with a banquet out of respect and courtesy. It was the custom to use a fragrant oil as a lotion applied to the head of the guest. In those days, the host was responsible for keeping his guests safe from all enemies during their stay.
In our passage, we move from the sheep pasture to the royal palace where the image of our Lord changes from the Good Shepherd to the Gracious Host. Dr. Paul Powell, says the image may refer to an ancient Bedouin custom that requires a sheikh to invite any wanderer who passes his tent to be his guest for up to three days. After three days the sheikh travels with the guest to the border of his territory and is no longer responsible for him.
In any case, the psalmist paints a beautiful word picture of God's provision of physical needs and the unfailing protection for those who belong to Him. As an eternal guest of our Lord, we have absolutely nothing to fear from the satanic enemies in this life or the life to come. He offers us supernatural protection and comfort even when enemies surround us.
"The story is told of a believer, Frederick Nolan, who was fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution in North Africa. Pursued by them over hill and valley with no place to hide, he fell exhausted into a wayside cave, expecting his enemies to find him soon. Awaiting death, he saw a spider weaving a web. Within minutes, the little spider had woven a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave. The pursuers arrived and wondered if Nolan was hiding there, but on seeing the unbroken and undisturbed piece of art, thought it impossible for him to have entered the cave with out dismantling the web. And so they went on. Having escaped, Nolan burst out and exclaimed: 'Where God is, a spider's web is like a wall. Where God is not, a wall is like a spider's web.'"
God is the loving Shepherd and caring Host. At the beginning of this psalm, the sheep looked to the Shepherd for leadership, guidance, and protection. In the end they are welcome guests resting securely in the safety of the Lord's sanctuary. They are enjoying the Shepherds eternal protection and provision even in the face of life's dangers and enemies. I pray you are facing life with the same confidence as that expressed in this psalm.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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