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From a spiritual standpoint -- Jesus the good shepherd prepares the best table for us. Gives us the best spiritual food.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

And all done “in the presence of” – in full view of our enemies. In world but not of the world.

In full view of the terrible lion – the devil himself

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

In full view of the wolves – evil doers ready to tear and scatter the flock

Luke 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

In the presence of the vicious dogs – trying to keep us under the old law.

Phil 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

In the presence of the serpent – Satan with his crowd persecuting saints on earth.

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Sounds scary doesn’t it – just stay close to, in the hand of, the shepherd and we’ll be fine!!

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Next a good shepherd – will anoint the heads of his sheep “thou anointest my head with oil” with an oil-based mixture (olive oil, sulfur, tar) to give them relief from flies and scab.

And Jesus the good shepherd anoints us with the oil of joy and gladness.

Isa 61:2-3 (quoted in Luke 4:19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

The soothing oil of joy and gladness -- helps us forget our troubles and life’s irritants.

And under the care of our good shepherd -- our “cup runneth over” – our life will be filled to overflowing with joy, and we will look beyond the trials to the goal.

1 Peter 1:4-8

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

Vs 6 says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” Now we have the end result of the leadership of the good shepherd -- Under the care of the Good Shepherd -- our lot in life is secure.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

And as a result of God’s undying love, His goodness and mercy will surely follow us always – can’t get away from it (not that we would want to).

The goodness and the mercy of God -- started us on the right way to salvation.

Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

And by following the shepherd, the goodness and mercy of God -- will continue to be with us and maintain us in the right way.

2 Thess 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness.

Sheep, if left to themselves – am told can be the most destructive of all livestock – can ruin and ravage the land almost beyond repair.

On the other hand – sheep, if properly managed under a benevolent Shepherd – are the most beneficial of all livestock – eating down destructive weeds, leaving behind fertilizer to enrich the soil, and providing wool for clothing.

What kind of sheep are we – do we leave the landscape improved – or do we leave the landscape destroyed?

Do we leave behind a trail of good works, or self-satisfying fleshly works?

Do we leave behind a trail of spreading God’s word, or spreading turmoil and conflict?

Do we leave behind a trail of blessing and joy, or sadness, hatred and pain? Is the world a better place because we passed through?

The measure of our appreciation for the goodness and mercy of God – can be seen in how we show goodness and mercy to others -- If we show mercy to others – we will obtain mercy.

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

The Psalm opens -- with the most comforting and reassuring words.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”

And the Psalm closes – with the highest possible comforting and reassuring promise.

“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”

We need to strive to be one of Jesus’ sheep – and we will dwell in his house forever. Who really are the sheep of Jesus?

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

We need to hear his voice and follow him, and then we will be sheep under the loving care of the Great Shepherd.

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