When the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want for provision

“My cup runs over.” Psalm 23:4b

When David says, “My cup runs over,” he is not picturing someone spilling water in his lap. He was thinking of the care and consideration that a faithful shepherd has for his sheep. Sometimes a shepherd found a very deep well from which to draw water for his flock. Many wells were one hundred feet down to the water. To draw water, the shepherd used a long rope with a leather bucket at the end. The bucket held only three quarts. It had to be let down and drawn up hand over hand, and then the water poured into large stone cups beside the well. It was a long laborious process.

If a shepherd had a hundred sheep and the well was deep, he might have to draw water for two hours if he allowed the sheep to drink all they wanted. Sheep do not like to get wet, and it was a mark of special kindness to keep the cups filled to the brim so they could drink with ease.

The Shepherd of this Psalm drew and drew and drew, and filled the cups to overflowing! He is untiring in His efforts to satisfy His thirsty sheep. Our God is a great Giver! With Him the robe is the “best” robe (Luke 15:22); the calf is the “fatted” calf (Luke 15:23); the joy is “exceeding” (Psalm 43:4); the power “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20); and the peace “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). God does not measure His goodness by drops like a pharmacist filling a prescription. It comes to us in floods.

If only we appreciated the lavish abundance of His gifts. Perhaps there has been a time in our lives when we did not know where the next meal was coming from. At the last moment God provided a bowl of rice or a loaf of bread for us. And we were thankful – very thankful! But when He supplies food for us so that we have to count calories to keep from eating too much, we sit down at the table and utter an unthinking word of thanks and then complain about how difficult the day was. It can be a great challenge for us to live in the light of God’s goodness.

God not only provides an abundance of goods for us, He also provides an abundance of spiritual blessings to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. You can read about them in Ephesians 1:3-14. Our cups overflow because of Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us.  

Before closing in prayer, I want to share a poem I read this morning whose author I do not know.  

He directs your day.

He helps you carry out His plan.

He makes your life a green pasture, not a barren, rock-strewn field.

He refreshes you in the dreary grind of life.

He puts you at rest regarding your eternal destiny.

He restores your soul in spite of the way you have pushed Him out of your life.

He takes away the fear of your own death.

He comforts you with His presence and power.

He protects you from the dangers of life and provides for your daily needs.

Prayer: Lord God, I must first confess my sin of ingratitude to You. There are people in the world today who do not get to enjoy three meals a day, yet I complain about the food I have to eat. There are people who are isolated from others because they have COVID-19, but I whine about not being able to meet with other Christians face-to-face at church. Forgive me my gracious Shepherd for failing to live in the light of Your abundance goodness to me. Lord, Your goodness is beyond measure. You are the greatest Giver in the universe! I praise You because my cup overflows with Your goodness and mercy. Thank You for providing for all of my needs in Christ Jesus my Lord. Thank You, Father, for planning Your relationship with me. Thank You for Jesus’ redeeming blood which saved me from an eternity separated from You. Thank You for Your gift of everlasting life. Thank You for the Holy Spirit Who comforts, empowers, guides, seals, and teaches me.  Please open doors for me to share Your abundant goodness with those who are longing to be blessed by You through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Have you asked God to bless you?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed.’ ” I Chronicles 4:10a

In Hebrew, the name Jabez (יַ֠עְבֵּץ) means “Pain” or “Painful.” Why did his mother name him Jabez? Perhaps it was a difficult pregnancy or delivery; or due to emotional pain – maybe his father left during the pregnancy or died. Whatever her reason, this was not a good start for this boy. 

We don’t have to let our past determine the present or even our future. Maybe your parents told you you’d never amount to anything, you can’t do anything right, you’re nothing but a pain. Don’t listen to those lies. Jabez did not. He turned his pain into gain. How?

He handled his problems by handing them over to God. He chose to live a life that was honorable to God in spite of his painful beginning. He prayed to the God of the universe. It’s as if he was saying, “God you know me, you know my mom called me a pain, and at times I have been. But now I want to break out of that rut and I know the only way I can do that is if You will bless me. I want to live a life, God, that is more honorable to You.” 

To ask for God’s blessing means to ask for His supernatural favor, His kindness to be poured out into our lives. “Oh, God pour out Your goodness into my life.”  

The word “indeed” (תְּבָרֲכֵ֜נִי) is like adding five exclamation points. “Bless me not just a little, but a whole lot! Pour it on, God!!” He does not tell God how to bless him. He doesn’t ask for money or popularity or a new house. He lets God determine how to bless him. While all his friends were content with being average and mediocre, Jabez said, “God I want you to bless the sandals off of me! I want you to do something big with my life!” Jabez did not want to be average or ordinary. He deeply wanted God’s blessing on his life. 

A lot of Christians just drift through life today. They have no goals and no ambition. As a result, they never accomplish much for the Lord. They are merely existing. Every one of us needs a dream from God. If we are not dreaming, we are drifting. When we stop dreaming, we start dying. When we stop setting goals, we stop growing. God made you for growth. He wants you to stretch and develop. God never created you to go through life with a halfhearted attitude, wondering what you are doing and where you are going. God wants you to have great ambition. He dares you to ask for big requests. 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Paul says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). This means you cannot out-ask God. You cannot out-dream God. If you could stretch your imagination to the greatest limits of what you think could possibly happen, God can go far beyond even that. He can go beyond your imagination. God says, “Trust Me. Ask for things. Get a big dream.”