December 11 2022
Today, Sunday December 11
“The Paths of Righteousness”
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Psalm 23 has brought comfort and peace to millions of people over the centuries as they have heard it read or quoted. It is a timeless poem that is beautiful and full of meaning but is not meant just to give us a warm fuzzy good feeling when we are down or sad. It is a wonderful thing to say, “The LORD is my Shepherd”. But the secret to a happy life that is found in verses 2-3, is not in just hearing this Psalm or even quoting it yourself, but in practicing and living in the daily reality of what it means to follow the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first message Jesus preached in the Gospels was “Repent” (Matthew 4:17). When we repent, we turn from our way to His way. We are sorry for our sins and put our faith and trust in His atoning work on the cross of Calvary. The next message Jesus gave was specific to those who would be His disciples and it was, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). When we repent the Lord Jesus becomes “My Savior”. When we hear His voice calling our name and He is asking us to follow Him, we have the daily opportunity and privilege of saying, “My Shepherd”. (John 10)
How do we know that we are following Him? First, He gives us rest as we lie down in green pastures. Jesus taught us in Matthew 11:28-30 that there is a “rest” He gives and there is a “rest” you must find. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Jesus gives us a “salvation rest” and peace when we come to Him by faith and trust. But the “rest” we must find only becomes a daily reality when we place ourselves in obedience under His yoke to do His will and His service. When we spend daily intimate time with Him and learn true humility and submission to the Father’s will. That’s when we begin to follow Jesus.
As we continue to follow our Good Shepherd, He quenches our thirst so that we are not lusting and desiring the temporary things of the world anymore. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:13-14, that if anyone would drink of the water that He gave they would never thirst again. You know you are following Jesus when you are living for the eternal rather than the temporal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We know we are following the Good Shepherd when we are going down the “paths of righteousness”. The “path of righteousness” is the path to right thinking. It is the path of right praying. It is the path of right living. It is the path of a right attitude. It is the path of a right spirit. The “path of righteousness” is living a life of faith because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
The “paths of righteousness” is the path of daily obedience to the Good Shepherd. We hear His voice and follow Him. We are making “right” decisions about life, relationships, and everything, because He is our life, our wisdom, and we desire and want to do His will rather than ours.
The “paths of righteousness” is the path of sacrifice. It is the “way of the cross” which means death to self, and like Paul we say, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). And we can also say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
We know we are following our Good Shepherd in the “paths of righteousness” when we are willing to “give up the only right I have, and that is the right to give up the right to myself” (Oswald Chambers). My friend, this is the only path to real joy, real peace and happiness. Are you on it?