Psalms 23 Part 5

Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, 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.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

We have looked at the first four verses, today I want to look at verse 5. David wrote, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

When I look at verse five I could very easily do three entries from this passage. David combines 3 separate thoughts into verse 5.

The first thought is …

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. The message translates it this way, “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.”

When we look at this first thought of verse five we need to look specifically at 3 words. They are Prepare, table and enemies.

The word prepare in the Hebrew means to “arrange, to “set in order”, to “furnish”, to “ordain”, to “lay” or to “set in a row”.  The English meaning of the word “ordain” is to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law.

The word table is the Hebrew word Shuehan which means spread which implies a meal. God chooses to prepare a meal or feast for us, right in front of our enemies.

The word enemies means “adversary, be in affliction, besiege, bind up, be in distress, enemy, oppress, pangs, to be in a straight (trouble)”.  So, the word enemy does not just mean a singular force that is against me, like Satan.  It’s much more than that, it’s simpler and more applicable to our lives.  It is distress, pangs of trouble, oppression, affliction.

So think about this… In the midst of great trouble and distress and affliction, in an orderly way, God lays-out and organizes a long table of provision and sustenance for each of us. That is how much God loves and cares for us.

The second thought is you anoint my head with oil.

In most Pentecostal circles when you think of anointing the head with oil you think of praying for the sick. James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

The shepherd used oil for different reasons. The sheep had many enemies that would fly around its head. The shepherd would rub oil on the sheep’s head and it would make the different flying insects leave the sheep alone.

When the Lord anoints my head with oil, I believe that God is preparing our minds for His word or if you are being attacked by the enemy, the first place the enemy attacks is your mind. If the enemy can get your mind to wonder, he can destroy your life. All sin begins in the mind, whether you are thinking about doing something or you don’t take the time to think.

We have to protect the mind. Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take the helmet of salvation…” We have to protect our mind. The enemy will attack your mind. Lust begins in the mind. Suicide begins in the mind. Hate crimes begin in the mind. And I could go on and on. We need God to anoint our heads with oil.

The third thought in verse five is…

My cup runs over. The cup that runneth over is not only full – it is over-full. He who drinks from this cup need not worry in any way about being nurtured for he is blessed with excess, with abundance. The metaphor is clear. If we “seek . . . first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” than we shall not want in any way. Our trust in God – as absolute and uncompromised as we can make it – is all that we need attend to.

God’s desire is the best for all of us. He wants nothing but the best. His desire is that we are blessed. He has many blessings for us. A verse that I read every week is Malachi 3:10. It says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

God says, the blessings I have for you are endless if you will obey me.

David wrote, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemy, you anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over.”

How Would Jesus Feel About the Church of Today?

When you read the gospels and you understand who Jesus really is, ask yourself one question, would Jesus be pleased with the church of today?
When I look at Christ and the way He lived His life and the walk that He walked here on earth, does the church of today exemplify who Christ really is?
Jesus was someone who loved the unloveable. He hung out with the prostitutes. He sat next to the lepers. He dined with the tax collectors, the most hated. Thieves were in His inner circle of twelve. He touched the shameful and forgotten. He blessed the low life. Everywhere Jesus went the outcast would flock to Him.
Today, do our churches show the world the true Jesus. Are we more concerned with drawing people to Christ or taking on the latest church trend? Are we more concerned with reaching lives for Christ or having a social club? Are we more concerned with whether as Christians we can drink or are we striving to be holy?
What kind of church are we today? Are we a church that is more concerned about pleasing people or do we want to please Christ?
As a church that shares Christ, everything that we do should be done to please God. We should point people to Christ. We should win the lost. We should disciple the saints. We should love the unloveable. We should strive for holiness. We all know that we will never be perfect, but we should reach for it.
Jesus never said it would be easy. Jesus never said it wouldn’t be messy. Jesus never said that you would be loved by everyone. We know that he wasn’t. Matter of fact, the people that should have been on His side were the very ones that pushed to have Him crucified.
Jesus spoke the truth even when it wasn’t popular and he loved everyone. The church should follow His example.

Church Shutdown

Yesterday marked the 16th day of the government shutdown and they finally came to an agreement. Think of all the grief and trouble this shutdown has caused people. People weren’t getting paid, resources were depleted and National Parks were closed. People noticed the government shutdown.

Several years ago, the church was the center of a town or community. All the activities of the town were centered around the activities of the church. Sports practices weren’t held on Wednesday nights because of church services. The church was the focal point of the town. The church was a place that civic meetings were held. It was the polling place for the city. I could go on and on about the role the church played in a community. Today that has changed.

My question today to you is, if your church were to shut down, would the town miss it and the role it plays for your community? How important is your church to your community?

We as the church have to make ourselves relevant again. A church is more than a building that is used for worship services. The church is its people. The church is the relationships that it brings. The church is the place that you find opportunities to seek God and to further the abilities that God has given you. The church is the place that you can grow in life and in your spiritual walk with God.

The community needs the church. Are you giving your town a reason to need you? If you didn’t exist would the town or community you are in miss you? If you can’t answer yes, then you need to fix something. Find out what that something is and fix it.

Acts 2:42-47 gives us a picture of what the church should look like today. It says, “42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Where to Start

First of all, let me begin by telling you why I decided to write this. I believe that I have learned many things already during the 5 years of pastoring the small church that I pastor in Arkansas. I want to share my struggles and successes and hopefully I can help other pastors of small churches. I don’t claim to know everything about pastoring a small church but I have experienced many things.
Since this is my first entry, I want to give you a brief background of where I am coming from. I began pastoring the church I am at almost five years ago. This was my first pastorate. My previous ministry experience was mostly as a youth pastor. Before taking this pastorate I had been out of full time ministry for 7 1/2 years. Needless to say my church took a chance on hiring a guy with no senior pastor experience. My wife and I say that our congregation is good to us because they let us practice on them.
During the past five years that we have been here we have experienced both highs and lows, but I know that God is in it because He has brought us through many obstacles.
One of the biggest hurdles that we had to overcome was financial. When I took the church it was in debt to the tune of $200,000. Now this may not seem like a lot to some of you, but the congregation was only running 35 on a good day. The church was in its 35th year and still paying the original church mortgage. Each time that the church would refinance they would take out more money and never paid off the debt. Today, I am proud to say that in 5 or less years we should be debt free.
When I came to this church, I was the fourth pastor in five years. As you can image, even though the congregation was excited to have a new pastor, they were anticipating that I wouldn’t stay long. Who could blame them with the track record of the past.
So now, here I am almost five years later at this wonderful church and we have come a long way. Our finances are up. The congregation is adding new faces every week. Our Missions giving is up. And the church is healthier than it has been in a long time.
In this blog I am hoping to share with you some of my victories and disappointments in hopes that it will help other small church pastors out there who are just starting or looking for a fresh start.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you will find this to be helpful.