Summary: HOW THE GOOD SHEPHERD GOES BEFORE US IN LOVE
YOU PREPARE A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES PS 23:5
We need to remember that in this statement the sheep are coming to the high mountain country of the summer ranges.
1. He goes before us to prepare the land. Did you know that the Shepherd takes the time and energy to get the land ready before the sheep arrive? He goes out in the early spring even before the snow has melted and takes a survey of the land and its condition. He will go out and personally explore the land more than once. He has a supply of salt and minerals in which he would take and put in strategic places for the benefit of the sheep. He will find out where the best places will be to camp his sheep while they are there. He wants his sheep to be fed in the best way while they are there. He will check for any poisonous weeds and will plan to avoid those areas. There is the blue Camass white if will be death. The shepherd will pull up these up so they will not be there when the sheep come. This is part of preparing the table in the presence of my enemies.
We see a parallel in the Christian seems clear to me. Why do we feel that we have the freedom to try everything that comes along? We think we the have the right to take a sample of every thing to see what it is like. We believe that even that if we take something that is harmful it is OK. We believe we can go to some places that are not good and it will not hurt us. We believe we can read materials that oppose what we believe and think it will not hurt us. We believe that we can watch a TV program or movie and it will not affect us. We are free. True freedom is only found in Jesus. MK 9:43-47 If your hand causes you to sin cut it off. It is better to enter heaven with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better to enter heaven with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It is better to enter the Kingdom of God half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
These are the strongest teaching on Hell and they come from the mouth of Jesus. This teaching is found in three Gospels. I like to tell it this way.
If your hand offends you cut it off. This has to do with what we spend ourselves doing in our life. The question I need to ask myself when I am going to do some activity is will this take me away from pleasing God? Will it hurt some one else if they see me doing it? Will this activity become a stumbling block to my spiritual life? I read a book this last week and it had a good statement on the difference between good and evil. The author said that good comes from God being in my life. Evil is the absence of God in my life. This helps me to decide if what I am doing is good or evil. If I do not care if God is in what I am doing it evil. I believe the worst thing in hell will be the absence of God and all that is good.
If your foot offends you cut it off. The foot represents where we go. If we choose to go to places that will be a put down for our spiritual life we must choose to do something about it. We had situation in one place we lived that we knew if we stayed there is would hurt the spiritual and social lives of our children. Joan would lose a good job that she liked. We would lose some good friends. They even told us later that they were glad we got them out of that place. When you make plans about where you are going to go stop and ask “Would Jesus would be pleased to go there with you?” We are to be lights in this dark world but we need to be careful that we do not go into places that our light would be of little influence.
If your eye offends you cut it off. This of course has to do with what we see. The eye might be the most precious part of the body. We remember much more what we see than what we hear. I am sure there have been times in your life that you have seen something and you wish you could get rid of the image but once it comes through the eye it is hard to get rid of. I once saw a movie that made a great impression on me. It was monster movie and as I walked home I ran most of the way because I believed when I walked out of the theater I saw the monster standing there. It also affected me days after as I did my paper route in the early morning because when I went past buildings that had basements in them I believed another monster was being made. I am glad as people we can make choices to what we allow ourselves to see.