May 31, 2014

The joy of being led into new pasture . . .

. . .  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Sheep love fresh pasture. When the shepherd leads them to new grazing places, even the older ones kick up their heels in delight. The shepherd moves them to keep fields from being overused, implying that for each new move, they have munched to the full and are ready for a change.

Christians ought to be the same. That is, when God gives me new truth, I am to read, think, meditate and apply it. Then I am to follow His leading to the next place where He wants me to be fed. In this way, I am nourished in spiritual truth without getting stuck or stale. Because the Lord is faithful to do, as I read and study I can relate to those sheep leaping with delight.

Revealing truth is the work of the Holy Spirit. I learn in stages, and cannot feed in every pasture all at the same time. That is, if I am obedient to what I am learning, He leads me into new pastures, continually feeding me fresh fodder that gives my heart joy. This is as Jesus said to His disciples . . .

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12–14)

God has blessed me in daily devotions for more than forty years. Now He is also blessing me in the theology courses I’m taking. However, in the vast reading required, one thing continues to frustrate me. Many theologians (so called) spend years speaking and writing books in debate over issues they cannot know with certainty. Their arguments are based on opinion only, without any supporting evidence, scriptural or otherwise.

To me, this is a big waste of time and I think of sheep. They move on to fresh pastures that they might flourish. No shepherd would have them foraging on weeds or seeking food in barren places. But they also must eat and digest where they are already placed. This is not difficult for most sheep, but some balk at feeding and balk at moving on. I’m not sure about what goes on in the mind of those sheep, but in God’s flock, it seems that some are more concerning about speculating over pastures that do not exist or that are withheld from their experience rather than eating the food they have.

Of course whenever His sheep hear some theological idea that is new, God wants them to carefully check it out. The Jews of Berea were said to be noble because “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10–12) This suggests that if the Word they received had not been in line with the biblical account, they would reject it, or at least set it aside until the Holy Spirit showed them otherwise.

Debating issues that cannot be known is a waste of energy. Obeying what I do know is challenging enough. God’s fresh food requires all my time and energy, leaving me no desire to wander about in that which has no value. I’m very thankful that the seminary under which I am studying is presenting spiritual truth that passes the test. While a few of their professors make us aware of some heresies and junk that is floating around, the focus is not on that, or even on disproving it. We are given what the Bible says and encouraged to receive and obey it eagerly — like sheep leaping with joy when led into fresh pasture.

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