The_Lord_My_Shepherd08 (1)

The Lord is My Shephered part 8

Well, it has crept up on us all of a sudden. Time seems to escape our grip more and more each year as the months
seem to be summed up in a few weeks that we are able to remember. Thankfully as a Christian we can say that this
time of the year does have some wonderful meaning, especially if we manage to avoid the grip of the commercial
vipers that reach into our homes through our televisions, radios and the insidious internet. Psalm 23 is a small passage of scripture but is so full of truth. The second half of verse 5 says, “You anoint my head
with oil, my cup runs over.” So often our view of this Psalm can be seen in the light of meeting our physical needs
only, however, this section of Psalm 23 reveals to us that God is vitally interested in meeting our daily spiritual

How does all this fit in with our series of studies on Psalm 23? Well, if you have been following with me on our
encouraging journey, you will remember that last month we looked at the last part of verse 5. The shepherd anoints
the head of his sheep with oil to protect his flock from nasal fly infestation and from snake bites by putting a ring of
oil around their burrows.

We realised that this is a picture of our need to be anointed by God the Holy Spirit on a day-by-day basis, to enable
us to walk with God. How did this all come about?

It really goes back to the first Christmas when Jesus came in the fragility of human flesh on a rescue mission from
God. Why? Because it was a rescue mission that was a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE for any man or woman to complete. It
was beyond mankind’s ability, skills or talents to deliver from the bondage of sin.

Christmas is all about bringing the message of forgiveness and mercy to mankind, which are the most amazing gifts
that we could ever receive. They are gifts that no one else but God can give through the baby Jesus. They are
unique and freely given gifts to those who are willing to receive them by faith. Many are disappointed at Christmas
that they have not received a particular gift or received none at all. The gift of salvation, which means to be made
whole spiritually, emotionally and physically, is a gift that is made available to every man, woman, teenager and
child free of charge. This does not mean that the significance or quality of the gift is devolved. In fact, it makes the
gift all the more valuable because God does not discriminate as to who can experience and or receive it.

I find it interesting that some people are absolutely horrified that a loving God would send any one to a place like
Hell! The truth, of course, is that God sends no one to Hell. Rather we need to understand that Hell is the logical
outworking of choosing to reject God’s Christmas gift of salvation. God has done everything necessary to make sure
that anyone who wants to come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and thus secure eternity in heaven,
can freely do so, because of the finished work of Calvary.

Once we have accepted this gift we can claim Jesus as our shepherd, our provider, our carer and protector. As we
see this, we can have a real sense of confidence that God’s goodness and mercy shall follow us no matter where we
go on this planet. We can have confidence that we will experience this goodness and mercy all the days of our
lives. It is not something here today and gone tomorrow, like many of the gifts that are given at
Christmas. Salvation is an eternal gift, and with it comes an inheritance that does not fade or disappear.

I love the psalmist’s declaration of the security of salvation. I find it interesting when people tell us that we can be
saved one moment and then not the next. This sort of teaching denies the very eternal nature of
salvation. Salvation is eternal and those who partake of it by faith also partake of its eternal character. If you can be
saved one moment and not the next then it cannot be eternal. The psalmist was under no illusion that he would
dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The word house is really a metaphor for being in Christ, and it can be applied
to dwelling in heaven forever also.

As you go through this Christmas season you can rejoice in the fact that it is all about bringing peace into our lives
even in the midst of incredible upheaval. It is about experiencing the most amazing gift that anyone could ever

The Challenge team want to wish all of our users and supporters a joyful Christmas and a blessed new year.

Carl Carmody
Challenge Editor

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