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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Following Close Behind The Shepard

“He restores my soul:
he leads me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:3 AKJV

Some nights I go to bed too late and I wake up too early the next morning. When my sleep pattern has been so totally disrupted I am in desperate need of an immediate cup of caffeine coffee! Later on in the day I may need a short nap or just a time to sit down with my feet propped up for a few minutes. My body is telling me that I am in need of restoration. If I don’t make rest a high priority soon my spirit will be in need of restoration as well! When I am not rested I become a very tired and agitated sheep. I have been told that sheep can be quite irritable and that the least little thing can set them off. I relate! Sheep also have a definite butting order and don’t mind engaging in a little butting action in order to get what they want. I relate!
Even on good days when I am rested I can still take on the characteristics of a discontented sheep. Sheep never seem to be satisfied with their position for grazing. They always seem to think that the grass is greener on the other side. I relate! I imagine that if a sheep could say anything besides baa, baa, baa, their words would be cranky and crabby. I relate! A good shepherd knows when to free his sheep of all distractions and make them lie down in the pasture for RESTORATION. I too am like a sheep and I often need restoration from the exhaustions and pressures of life. When I take my eyes off Jesus and loose my focus, my perception of my circumstances is capable of going way beyond south! I can become lost in self pity, I can become angry, I can cower in the corner in fear, and I can speak words that are not becoming to a Christian. This behavior does not glorify God nor does it honor his name. So it is for his name’s sake, for the protection and honor of his great name that our Good Shepherd calls us to a place of restoration. The Shepherd does this because it is vital that our focus returns to him so that our behavior will glorify him.
I am learning that I cannot move forward in my faith, I cannot be a positive witness for Jesus Christ, I cannot be inspired to write, I cannot encourage anyone, and I cannot be at peace as long as I reject the restoration of the Shepherd. In order for me to move on down the path of righteousness it is imperative that I am routinely restored.
I must admit that at times I am ashamed and upset with myself that I repeatedly fall into this pattern that calls for serious restoration. At times I beat myself up with thoughts of failure and I am discouraged by my lack of Christian maturity. Satan uses this self inflected shame as an opportunity to keep my mind off of my Shepherd.
I am so glad that my Shepherd has made provision for my sinful short comings. He remembers that I am dust. Psalm 103:14b NIV. Yes, the 23rd Psalm is a perfect plan for my growth and development. It is a plan that the Shepherd knew that I would need. Step three in this Psalm of relationship is RESTORATION and it is amazingly built into the Shepherd’s plan. God knew I would need to be restored so that he could lead me down the path of right living. He knew I would be walking a dangerous path of self-destruction unless I had him leading me every step of the way.
You see, the path of righteousness replaces irritable responses with kind words. This path leads us away from judgmental thoughts and replaces them with compassion and mercy. The path of righteousness shows me how to step aside and let others go first; it allows others to succeed and enables me to be happy for their success. The path of righteousness shows me how to avoid envy and jealousy. The path of righteousness takes away discontentment and replaces those feelings gratitude and contentment. The Shepherd’s path allows me to be satisfied with my many blessings and satisfied with Jesus, who is more than enough!  The path of righteousness rebukes my sinful ways and words and it holds me accountable for my behavior. This path calls me away from crankiness and crabbiness. In their place God guides me and gives to me his grace and his power to choose words of love, restoration, encouragement and forgiveness.
Jesus was perfect. I am not. You are not. But those facts do not excuse us from raising the bar in our lives and trying harder every day to choose to behave in a Christ like manner. Choosing to practice godly behavior is not easy. I find that I go along pretty well when I am thinking about it and then something surprises me and catches me off guard and in a blink of an eye I have lost it! My mouth runs ahead of my brain! My attitude jumps to a sinful reaction. Oh how I desire that those times would become less and less frequent! I do not want to mar and cloud the name of Jesus.
Today I find myself back in the garden. This has been a wonderful morning. This morning I have humbly allowed the Shepherd to restore me. I have prayed that God would guard my mind and tongue from quick emotional outbursts. I feel at rest and at peace in my spirit as I sit here among the exquisite roses and superb hydrangea I am contemplating some of the choices that I must make this day. The Confederate Jasmine smells wonderful. I also breathe in deeply the sweet aroma of Jesus. I give thanks for his faithful love and care and I feel compelled to follow close behind my Shepherd, as he leads me down the path of righteousness, for his name’s sake.

  1. Is your spirit in need of restoration?
  2. What event or events have caused you to loose your focus?
  3. Do you find that at times your actions damage the name of Jesus?
  4. Is it the desire of your heart to follow close behind your Shepherd as he leads you on the path of righteousness?

My Dear Sweet Shepherd,
Forgive me for marring your precious name. Today I am desperately in need of your restoration. I admit that I have lost my focus. Please redirect me to a place where I can seek to know you and your ways. Create in me a clean heart, forgive my sinful short comings, and teach me your ways as you guide me down the path of your righteousness. Jesus, how I long to follow close behind you, placing my steps inside your footprints. Thank you that you have provided a plan that allows for my restoration because you know that I am dust. Lord, help me to know that you are always more than enough no matter what my circumstances may be.
In Your Name I Pray. Amen.