Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Lord is my Shepherd

It's one of the most beautiful and most well-known passages in the Bible. A prominent passage in many children's Bibles. A psalm memorised by many children at home, in church or in school. Verses that give hope to those who have lost their way and are looking for guidance and help. Words that have been put to song in many languages and that have become a classic hymn. Truths providing comfort for many who  are mourning and grieving the loss of a loved one. Words of life. Words for life.

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

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

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

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.

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

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.

As stated in the first verse, the truths of this beautiful psalm apply to those who know the Lord as their Shepherd. However, from the Bible and from our own experience we know that "all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6a). Just like a sheep that leaves its shepherd and is helplessly running into destruction, so our sin of turning away from God has also brought us to the place where we are headed for destruction and are helpless to save ourselves. Our only hope would be for God, our Shepherd, to come looking for us and to save us. This is exactly what God did by sending His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that He "is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). In order to save us, Christ gave His life for us on the cross. That is why Jesus is called the Good Shepherd: "I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

One important question remains: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Shepherd?

If you do, then the truths of this psalm apply to you.
If do not, then you can come to know Him today as your Shepherd. Simply cry out to Jesus and ask Him to save you and give you a heart of faith and repentance. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Who painted the sky this morning?

This was what the sky in North Cotes looked like this morning:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
(Psalm 19:1-6)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Meditation on death

Very quickly there will be an end of you here (Job 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Luke 12:20; Heb. 9:27); look what will become of you in another world. Today man is; and tomorrow he appears not. And when he is taken away from sight, he also quickly passes out of mind.
Oh, dullness and hardness of man's heart, which thinks only upon the present, and does not rather care for what is to come! You ought to order yourself in every act and thought, as if today you were on the point to die. If you had a good conscience you would not greatly fear death (Luke 12:37). It were better to avoid sins than to flee death. If today you are not prepared, how can you be tomorrow? Tomorrow is uncertain, and how do you know if you shall have a tomorrow?
These words are quoted from a book entitled The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, a monk who lived in the 15th century, before the Reformation. As I was reading through the book, these words reminded me of the theme of my blog: "Here today and gone tomorrow". The Imitation of Christ is divided into four books. The quote above is from the first book ("Admonitions Useful for a Spiritual Life") and the 23rd chapter which is entitled "Meditation on Death".

Death is not a topic we like to think about a lot. But the day of your death is the day of your destiny.The Bible makes very clear that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So while we have this life on earth, we should be preparing ourselves for that day. Are you ready to meet your Maker? What will be said of you on that day of judgment? Will you stand guilty in your rebellion against God before Jesus Christ, the Judge, and be condemned to an eternal punishment in hell? Or will you stand righteous before Him and have entrance into heaven, not because of any good deeds you have done, but because of His mercy in forgiving your sins and covering you with the righteousness of Christ when you trusted in Him as your Lord and Saviour? Jesus Christ still holds out forgiveness and everlasting hope to you if you will only turn to Him in faith and repentance. He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). If you know Christ as your Saviour, you need not fear death. Will you come to Him today?

Thomas à Kempis closes his chapter "Meditation on Death" with the following words:

Labor now to live so that in the hour of death you may rather rejoice than fear. Learn now to die to the world, that you may then begin to live with Christ (Rom. 6:8). Learn now to forsake all things (Luke 14:33) that you may then freely go to Christ. Chastise your body now by repentance (I Cor. 9:27) that you may then have sure confidence.
Ah, fool, why do you think to live long, when you have not one day that is safe? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched from the body! How often have you heard them saying, That man has fallen by the sword; that man has drowned; that man by falling from a height has broken his neck; that man died while eating; that man has come to his end while playing! One perished by fire, another by the steel, another of the plague, another at the hands of robbers; and thus death comes to all, and man's life suddenly passes away like a shadow (Job 14:2). Who shall remember you when you are dead?
Do now, my beloved, whatever you are able to do; for you know not when you shall die, neither what shall befall you after your death. While you have time, heap unto yourself everlasting riches (Matt. 6:20; Gal. 6:8). Think on nothing but your salvation; care for nothing but the things of God. Keep yourself as a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth (I Peter 2:11), and as one to whom the affairs of this world do not belong. Keep your heart free, and lifted up to God, because you have here "no continuing city" (Heb. 13:14).
The quotations above are from Thomas à Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ, New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who desires to have a closer communion with Christ and to be an imitator of Christ. The book includes many helpful prayers centred around Christ and His work.