|Volume 18 Number 5 May 2016||
One of the most beautiful hymns ever composed (and a personal favorite of mine) is the hymn “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.” This hymn was written in 1875 by Fanny J. Crosby and Robert Lowry. The message of the hymn is the blessings and rewards that come to one who chooses to hear and follow (i.e., obey) the voice of the One who is both Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Both the appellations of “Savior”’ and “Lord” affirm that Jesus Christ is the Leader that all should (and must) follow in order to receive blessings from God in the here and the now as well as ultimately in eternity. “Savior” denotes the fact that Jesus Christ is the only One who can lead us out of sin (Matthew 1:23). “Lord” denotes that Christ must direct or govern our lives (Luke 6:46). Yet, there is a third great appellation applied to Christ which affirms that He is the perfect Leader for our lives, and that term is “Shepherd” (John 10:11ff; Psalm 23).
The Bible describes us, as human beings, metaphorically as “sheep.” This is an apt description because sheep are creatures that cannot lead themselves; they need guidance. Sheep need a shepherd to guide them. The same is true of us as humans. The Bible plainly declares that it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23). Man needs guidance, spiritually; man needs a shepherd. Thanks be unto God that He has provided us with the perfect Shepherd, Who is also Lord and Savior – His Son, Christ Jesus.
In this brief treatise, we will consider the need to ever follow Jesus, the Christ who is both Lord, Savior and Shepherd by briefly analyzing Psalm 23. By doing such, we will better understand why it is we sing “All the Way Yy Savior Leads Me” and why all should let Christ be the Shepherd or Leader in all things.
One, by submitting our lives to Christ and following His voice (His authority – the New Testament), we will, like David affirmed, “not want” (v. 1). We will have all of our needs met spiritually in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Just as a shepherd provides for and meets the needs of his sheep, so too does Christ provide and meet our needs spiritually.
Two, when we hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd, we will find rest (v. 2, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”). In accepting and responding positively to Christ’s wonderful invitation through obedience to the Gospel, one finds rest in Christ from the terrible burden of sin. When one continues to abide in Christ by following His voice (authority), he will continue to experience that rest as a result of keeping sin purged from his life.
Three, He provides us with perfect leadership and direction (v. 2, “leadeth me beside the still waters”; v. 3, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness…”). Christ does not lead His sheep into trouble. He leads us in such a way that we can enjoy peace and tranquility. Life is full of troubles and trials, but if we follow the Good Shepherd, we will enjoy the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We will know that we are in a saved, and therefore, safe condition. We will be following the paths of righteousness as a result of being guided by the Word (Romans 1:17).
Four, He provides restoration (v. 3, “He restoreth my soul”). When we hear the voice and respond to that voice of Christ, one is revived spiritually. One goes from being ‘dead in sin’ to being “dead to sin” (Romans 6:2). To be alive in Christ is to enjoy the abundant life that He came to give (John 10:10).
Five, He removes fear (v. 4, “I will fear no evil”). We are to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13); as followers of the Good Shepherd we do not fear anything man can do to us because the Lord is our Helper (Hebrews 13:6).
Six, He will never forsake His sheep (v. 6, “for thou art with me”). When we follow the Good Shepherd as His sheep, He will never depart from us or leave us. God is faithful to His promises (Hebrews 13:5). We can be assured we will not be walking alone in this life if we follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Seven, He will lead us into the heavenly house of God (v. 6, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”). This is the reward for faithfully following the Good Shepherd. If we stay on course, that is continue in the way (John 14:6), heaven will be ours.
I hope this brief glimpse into Psalm 23 will give us a better understanding as to why we are to obey and follow Christ; I hope that we are motivated to follow Jesus Christ. I hope as Christians we truly appreciate the fact that He is our Good Shepherd, and I especially hope that each who reads this truly will allow the One who is Lord, Savior and Shepherd to lead him all the way through this life into the life that is to come in heaven.
How to Stop Worrying
Ronald D. Reeves
Within the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave admonitions relative to the treasures we may accumulate (Matthew 6:19-34). With respect to temporal wealth, He exhorted us not to lay up treasures on earth (6:19). With respect to enduring wealth, He exhorted us to lay up treasures in heaven, for where our treasure is, there will be our heart also (6:20-21).
In order to achieve this worthy spiritual goal, we must maintain an outlook of the soul that focuses on heavenly things (6:21). We have two choices relative to this context. We will either maintain a spiritual eye that is good, and thus be full of light, or one that is bad, and thus be full of darkness (6:22-23). We cannot maintain both at the same time. Divided service is impossible (6:24).
The right choice is clear. Place the Lord first, and He will provide for us as needed (6:25-34). Therefore, with the Lord as our security, we are thus admonished not to worry about life, food, clothing and tomorrow.
To worry is to be characterized by an extreme uneasiness of mind or fear about a possible or unforeseen occurrence. It is concern that has been overwrought. I suppose that all of us worry at times and find it rather difficult to not do so. Yet, we often seek out practical things that we can do to assist us in obeying this divine admonition, as well we should. I would like to suggest some things that we can do that may assist as we are from time to time tempted to worry about things, despite the Lord encouraging us to do otherwise.
One author suggested that as we face the prospect of being engulfed by worry that we should live in “day-tight” compartments. In support of this, he quoted Thomas Carlyle who said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand” (James 4:13-16). This is not to suggest that attention to the future is hereby discouraged but that we should, when looking to the future, do so in a positive, timely manner. There are indeed occasions when looking to the future, especially in a negative manner, is unwise.
We should shut out the past, the dead yesterdays (Philippians 3:13), and shut out the future, the unborn tomorrows when the combined load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, being carried today, will cause the strongest of us to falter. The load we choose to bear must be regulated by the strength we have to bear it. Sometimes our strength is limited, and therefore, we must be careful about the load we take upon ourselves today.
The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow (Matthew 24:45ff) is to concentrate with all of our intelligence (Matthew 22:37) and enthusiasm (Titus 2:14) on doing today’s work (John 9:4) superbly today, including what should be done today in preparation for tomorrow. May we begin the day with “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). May we also use our time (Ephesians 5:16) in working on today’s problems rather than on fretting about the problems of yesterday.
Good thinking deals with causes and effects (Matthew 5:29-30) and leads to logical, constructive planning (Luke 14:28-32), while bad thinking frequently leads to tension and nervous breakdowns. Therefore, as the prospect of worry arrives, let’s think logically and constructively. Perhaps it would be wise to think of our lives as hourglasses, and thus take daily tasks one at a time and let them pass through the day slowly and evenly, as do the grains of sand in the hour glass. As has been said, “Every day is a new life to a wise man” (Romans 6:4). “This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Someone suggested the following three-step approach as we face troubles in life that may lead to worry. (1) Analyze: discover the very worst that can possibly happen in this context; (2) Reconcile: reconcile self to accept the very worst, if necessary (the Book of Job); (3) Devotion: devote your personal time and energy to improve upon the worst case scenario already accepted.
We should remember that worry destroys one’s ability to concentrate on those things that need and deserve our attention, being fostered by a refusal to accept what we fear may come. Furthermore, the above three-step approach puts our feet on solid ground; we know where we stand. When we have accepted the worst possible scenario, we have nothing more to lose; we have everything to gain. From that vantage point, let us work diligently to achieve the very best possible as we face the problems of life.