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Psalm 23
THE SHEPHERD PSALM

Psalm23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want."

God will take care of us. The Hebrew word for "want" implies it is our "needs" God fulfills. God does not supply us what we want, some or most of the time those things are not good for us. God supplies us what we need, and nobody knows what we need better than Him.

Sheep usually in the Bible represent believers. Either people who believe, or people who will come to believe. Here is the truth about sheep: They are dumb and they are dirty and they are timid and defenseless and helpless. That is us Christians. That is why it is necessary and God wants us to be independently dependent upon him, to need him alone.
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Psalm 23:2-3a
"He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul."

Sheep will only lie down when they are well fed, fully watered and feel safe. God provides these basic needs for the the sheep and us Christians when we feed on God's word and rest in Him. We feel full and satisfied - restored.
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Psalm 23:3b
"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." NIV

"The Hebrew word translated "paths" means "a well-defined, well-worn trail." That indicates again how stupid sheep are, because even when the trail is well laid out, they still need a shepherd. They are still inclined to wander away, no matter how obvious the path may be. The shepherd knows the trails. He has been there before, and the sheep trust him." - David Roper

Why does God do this? Why does God guide us down the path of the Christian walk? Does he do it because we deserve the guidance? No, God does it for His name's sake. It is for His Glory. If we could follow the path on our own, or conform ourselves into the image of Christ - it would take from God's Glory, and God shares His glory with no one.
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Psalm 23:4
" Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me."

Notice we are walking THROUGH the valley of death. It is only a shadow, and was conquered by Jesus for believers at the Ressurection. We do not fear death (evil) for the sting of death is gone - as believers we have eternal life NOW.

We don't doubt, because Christ is with us, and He protects us with the rod - never used on the sheep - but to drive off marauding predators (evil, sin, satan). The staff is used to pull the sheep from harm, to gently direct the sheep, and occasionally disipline the sheep. It is a comfort to know the Lord is looking out for us on our Christian walk.
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Psalm 23:5-6
"You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever."

You provide our needs while we are in the midst of the World. We are acknowledged as chosen by you (anointing), and our blessings overflow - as you provide us with everything we need.

goodness and love do not just "follow" us - in the Hebrew it is literally those things "pursue" us.

Ultimately we will dwell in the House of the Lord (heaven) forever and forever. Amen.

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2008

Proverbs 5:22-23

"The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
the cords of his sin hold him fast.

He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own great folly."

The advice in proverbs 5 is given to the son and hopefully will be heeded.

What about his counterpart? the man who does not believe in God, does not love God, does not follow instruction.

He is described as wicked. The wicked man is ensnared by his deed of sin.

Jay Adams counsels: "Sinful habits are hard to break, but if they are not broken, they will bind the client ever more tightly. He is held fast by these ropes of his own sin. He finds that sin spirals in a downward cycle, pulling him along. He is captured and tied up by sin’s ever-tightening cords. At length he becomes sin’s slave."
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Paul says the wages of sin is death. The wicked man will die, led astray by his great folly (lack of wisdom) in not believing in God, loving God, and following God's instruction.


Exodus 6-7

When things don't go well for Moses and Aaron, Moses complains. 'Hey - you said you had my back, would provide all kinds of support and it ain't working. What gives?'

God is patient. Moses is still a baby believer - there is much work to be done on the clay. God just tells Moses what to do next.

Give Moses some credit. At least he went to God and complained. At least Moses did not just run back to Midian sulking and hurting.

How many times do Christians doing the work of God - find that things are not quite working out the way they think they should be in their works. How many times do we just say the "heck" with it, and run back to our perceived safe place hurting, sulking and mad at God? Thus disconnecting ourselves from God's fellowship.

Perhaps we need to go to God - go ahead and complain to God in prayer, then shut up and listen to God. Ultimately we need to trust in, rely on, and depend on God.
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Hardening Pharoah's Heart

The last two years, I have had people emailing saying what is fair about this? God is not allowing free will. God is setting up the game for His Glory? What gives?

There are two ways to look at this:
First - this is judgment time for Egypt, their gods, and the people who worship those gods. There was centuries of time for free will to be enacted by the Egyptians and a lifetime for the Pharoah. God is merciful and God is patient, but their comes a time when the cup of sin is full. Then comes judgment. There is no second chance - to say - oh - I had no idea, why didn't you warn me about this judgment? I want to change my mind.

I often think Pharoah and Egypt is a picture of the unbeliever. Here they are dead in their sin. After death for an unbeliever: There is no second chance, there is judgment. There is no purgatory, there is no excuse making - Rejection condemns them in this life, and how bad is the punishment - God will judge them on what they knew, and what they did with what they knew.

The penalty for rejection of God is death (spiritual) - in the OT, for rejecting the Gospel, and in Revelation. It never changes.

Second option: God is merciful. There are three Hebrew words for "harden" used in this story of Pharoah and the plagues. Initially, pharoahs chose to harden his own heart (I believe for the first six plauges), for the next three??? God just reinforced the predisposition of Pharoahs heart - so there would not be a false conversion. Finally on the last plague Pharoah had corossed the line, and God hardened his heart so that the judgment would be final.

How is this a picture of an unbeliever. We have choices, and when an unbeliever hears the Gospel and rejects it he is hardening his own heart to God. The more chances they get to come to Christ, the harder the heart, until in the end God hardens the heart for them because they had crossed the line - they had rejected God too many times. They had been given plenty of chances. It is time to face their judgment. (just my speculation).
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Plagues

Just want to encourage everyone to go to link below, and scroll down to footnotes. there is a chart there outlining the plagues and the Egyptian Gods that were being mocked as powerless and judged.

Also in the coming chapters notice that there is mercy by God. Their are Egyptians that came to believe during their tribulation and they left Egypt with Moses and the Hebrews for the Exodus. Their is always a remnant of the people of the World (Gentiles) then and in the coming Tribulation.


http://bible.org/page.php?page_id=138

Matthew 18
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Note: "seventy times seven" is a Hebrew idiom for infinite number.

questions on this parable revolve around whether the servant was a believer or not?

I believe the servant was a believer.
- He asked for forgiveness from King (God). It was given to him, and he was sent out into the world forgiven.
- He was expected to forgive the fellow servant (brother) just as he had been forgiven. Someone who does not believe (been forgiven) would not be expected to forgive as God forgave. The first forgiveness had to be effective, because that's the substance on which the expected forgiveness of the servant is built.

This after all was the question of the apostles (believers) to Jesus in the opening verse.
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Punishment

What about the punishment?

What the beleiver did was a sin (not forgiving). It is even stated in the Lord's prayer. And I believe the believer was given over to chastening (inquisitors: under the stress, difficulty, and pressure of chastening).

"He could never pay the whole debt--even an unbeliever could not pay it--so at that point the physical parable cannot convey the full understanding of the spiritual truth. I think the intent of the parable is simply to say that the king put him under chastening pressure until he paid what should be paid in light of what he had done. And I believe that all it is saying is that the Lord delivers us to chastening, something which we all have experienced." - John MacArthur

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