Revive Our Hearts Podcast

I Shall Not Want

Leslie Basham: God’s goodness is easy to believe while reading Bible stories. Why does it get harder when it involves our own stories? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “It doesn’t have to be.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If He needs to send ravens to feed you in your retirement, He can do it. You think God could only do that in the Old Testament?

If God wants to use a penniless widow to meet the needs of your family, God can do that, because He lives in the realm of the supernatural. Not the explainable, but the supernatural.

We get so stuck in what we can see, what we can understand, what we can explain, what we can figure out; and if the dollars and cents don’t add up to us, we freak out. We get terrorized. But the psalmist says, “I’m living in the realm of the supernatural.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 4.

A woman came to our listener blog and wrote this about the program that aired yesterday on Psalm 23: “This psalm is one that I have read over and over and memorized, but I have never dissected it in this way.” She went on to explain how much she appreciated this kind of dissecting and that she learned so much about verse one alone.

Let’s get back to the series The Lord Is My Shepherd. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: As we get to know who God is and what He’s like, it’s important for us to realize that everything that is true about God, everything that’s true of His character, has an implication for our lives. We need to learn to live our lives in the nitty gritty, practical, everyday aspects of life in light of who God is and what He is like.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” That’s true about God. He’s a shepherd; He has a shepherd heart.

The next question is, “So what?” What does that mean for me? What does that mean for us?

Psalm 23:1 that we’re studying this week gives us the answer. “The Lord is my shepherd.” The “So what?” is, I shall not be in want. “I shall not want.”

Because the Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in want. I will never lack for anything I need. That’s the implication of the fact that He is a shepherd God. He has a shepherd heart; I will always have everything that I need.

If the Lord is your shepherd, you will not be in want. This morning I was reading Proverbs 13:25. It says, “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.”

So again, this is a promise that only applies to those who have a sheep-and-shepherd relationship with the Lord. But if the Lord is your shepherd, the implication is that you will never be in want.

That’s because a shepherd assumes full responsibility for his sheep. Jehovah is my shepherd—Jehovah, the possessor of all things. If you have Him, you lack nothing, because everything is in Him. Every area and detail of your life is under His control, under His direction.

There’s a certainty about the way David states that, isn’t there? “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” It’s not a question. It’s a statement of fact. It’s something he’s very sure about.

He recognizes that because God is my shepherd, I have everything I need, and therefore I can be content. I can be at rest. I can sleep at night. I can be satisfied, because the Lord has promised to meet our needs. I shall not want—not now, and not ever.

Now, we usually do okay with where we are at the moment, but sometimes what gets us down is thinking about the future. “What if this happens? What if that happens?” I shall not want.

You have fears about the future? The Lord is my shepherd now. He will be my shepherd then. I shall not want now; I shall not want then.

  • What about when I get old? I shall not want.
  • What if my husband leaves me or dies? I shall not want. The Lord is my shepherd.
  • What if my retirement funds run out? The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I think about the story of Elijah. As God’s prophet, God’s obedient servant, he went through a period of famine and drought in the land just like everybody else did. But God had amazing ways of taking care of His prophet. He had ravens come and bring him food. He had a penniless widow who fed him. I mean, just the most unlikely places and supplies of provision.

If he needs to send ravens to feed you in your retirement, He can do it. You think God could only do that in the Old Testament? If God wants to use a penniless widow to meet the needs of your family, God can do that, because God lives in the realm of the supernatural. Not the explainable, but the supernatural.

We get so stuck in what we can see, what we can understand, what we can explain, what we can figure out; and if the dollars and cents don’t add up to us, we freak out. We get terrorized. But the psalmist says, “I’m living in the realm of the supernatural.” The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I was talking with a friend some weeks ago who was telling me about some of the circumstances that were going on in her life at the moment. She had been really struggling with—it’s kind of like, when it rains it pours.

It was a miserable set of circumstances. Her daughter had made some wrong choices and was reaping some of those consequences. Her husband was having to work long hours and away from home a lot in order to make ends meet. And she was having to work full-time at the moment.

She said, “I was struggling with this fear of the future. Is it going to be like this forever? Are we going to have to live in this kind of desperate, dire situation forever?”

She said, “I had to make a conscious choice not to go there, not to live in the future. I’m not there. God has grace for me right now. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want now. The Lord will be my shepherd then. I shall not want then. I will have what I need.”

Because the Lord is my shepherd, not only will I not be in want (all my needs will be met); but also because the Lord is my shepherd, I will choose to be content with what I have. That means, if the Lord is my shepherd and I’m living in this kind of sheep/shepherd relationship with Him, there is no room for complaining.

  • There is no room for murmuring.
  • There is no room for discontent.
  • There is no room for anxiety.
  • There is no room for fear or worry.

That’s all natural to do, but not if you’re living in the realm of the supernatural. The implication of this verse is, I will choose to be content with what I have, knowing that He is my shepherd and that He will provide all I need as long as I am following Him.

Now, you’d better make sure you’re following Him, because sometimes He does let us experience want as a consequence of having gone our own way. When He does that—when He sees that we’ve strayed and He lets us experience want—His goal is to restore us to a place of following Him, to restore us to that intimate sheep-and-shepherd relationship.

I shall not want. That’s a statement of faith. Sometimes you have to say that when you can’t see that it’s true. You can’t see it, but you trust the Shepherd.

I think it’s important that we learn to counsel our hearts with the truth; to say in your circumstance, in your season of life, in your situation, whatever that may be today, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I will not be in want, and I will be content with what God has provided.

I am safe. I am secure. Whether you feel like it or not, you are if the Lord is your shepherd. All my needs are met and will be met by Him. He will direct me. He will protect me.

Tell yourself the truth whether you feel it or not, whether it seems true or not, whether it makes sense or not. He has promised to provide.

Remind yourself of that however many times a day you need to. He is able to provide. He has never failed to provide for you or for anyone else. He never will fail. He can be trusted. He has proven Himself.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more helpful that track record is to me, because now I can look back on 40-some years of being His sheep, and I realize the Lord has never failed me.

I’ve been through some hard times. I’ve been through some times when I thought, “If I didn’t know the Lord was in this boat, I’d be really afraid we were going down in this storm.”

But we never have gone down. The boat never has gone down. He’s never failed me. He’s never failed to provide.

So now I counsel my heart, and I say, “You know, I don’t think today is going to be the first time that the Lord lets me down.” It’s not going to be. He’s never failed me or anyone else.

Now, you may think or even say, “But my needs aren’t being met. We can’t pay our bills. This circumstance in our marriage or my life is desperate; it’s hopeless. My needs are not being met.”

Or what about those Christians who live in third-world, war-torn countries? Are their needs being met? Can they say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”?

What about the apostle Paul? He said there were times when he was hungry and penniless and in distress and in prison. Could he say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”?

Well, let’s listen to what he said in one of those moments, written from a Roman prison, without the conveniences that we know in prisons today, relatively speaking. Philippians 4:11, Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need.”

He’s thanking the Philippians for having sent him a little gift. He says, I appreciate it, but I’m not speaking out of want, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am [with or without your gift] to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied. I have all that I need.

He goes on to say, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (verse 19).

Now it’s possible, if you’re feeling, “I am in want; the Lord has not met my needs,” you may need to redefine need not by American standards and not by material standards. Because the fact is, if you have Christ, you are rich in the ways that matter for all of eternity.

You may need to learn contentment with what you have. It’s okay to have less than others around you, not just materially but in other ways.

You say, “Why does that person get to have a happy marriage? Why do they get to have easy children to raise?” God wants us to learn contentment with what we have.

You may need to ask yourself, “Am I in this position because I didn’t follow my Shepherd?” I get a lot of emails from people who are in want. They’re in desperate, dire circumstances and need.

But in many cases (not all), the reason they’re in that situation is because they didn’t follow the Shepherd. They made choices that were not biblical. They went off on their own. You can’t expect God’s protection and provision if you aren’t following the Shepherd.

And then remember, if you’re feeling that you are in want, remember that God can see what’s ahead that you can’t see. He knows what He intends to do and how He’s going to deliver you.

I referred a few moments ago to Elijah and the time of drought, the three years that the nation went through drought because of their sin. Elijah was a prophet of God, but he lived in that same nation, and he had to experience that drought.

The Scripture says in 1 Kings 17 that God had sent Elijah to a brook where he was sustained. But the day came when the brook dried up.

Elijah could look at that brook and say, “Yikes! How am I going to survive? The nation’s under the judgment of God. I am in want. The brook is dried up. There is no more water.”

But the next verses say, “Then the word of the Lord came to him telling him, ‘Go to Zarephath, and there’s a widow who will minister to your needs’” (verses 8-9, paraphrased).

You see, God knew all along what He was going to do. God had prepared that woman there to supernaturally be available to meet Elijah’s needs. Elijah didn’t know. He couldn’t see, when the brook dried up, what was beyond the dried up brook.

And you may not be able to see (you probably can’t) what it is that God intends to do. But He has it in mind. He knows, and He will do it.

I’ve referenced numerous times on Revive Our Hearts one of my favorite spiritual heroes of the faith: George Mueller. During the 1800s in Bristol, England, he cared for hundreds and then thousands of orphans with nothing but prayer and faith, just trusting God to provide for the needs.

You think your children are a lot of mouths to feed. Imagine feeding all those mouths! He never worried. He was never anxious. He was never distraught. He just waited on God and trusted that God is a good shepherd; He will provide.

One day a man saw George Mueller out walking, and he said, “Had I not known him, I should have said that he was a gentleman of leisure and without a care, so quietly did he walk and so peaceful and stately was his demeanour! The twenty-third Psalm seemed written on his face.”1

Wouldn’t you love that to be said of you? Does your way of responding to life’s circumstances and pressures and problems and stresses make people look at you and say, “The Lord is her shepherd; Psalm 23 is written all over her face”?

And then verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

The literal rendering of that phrase is, “He leads me beside waters of rest.” I like that. Waters of rest. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside waters of rest.”

That doesn’t sound like the hectic, harried, frantic, pell-mell culture we were just reading about, does it? I think there’s something about that culture and the way many of us live that is just not what God intended for us. He leads me beside still waters, waters of rest.

Green pastures. Still waters. I think this verse is speaking of God giving His sheep rest and refreshment.

And He leads me there not just one time but regularly. I have to keep coming back to those green pastures and those still waters.

Now, as we’ll see in the rest of Psalm 23, we don’t always live in green pastures and by still waters. But He leads me back to them. He keeps taking me to them. We go into times that are more dry, and times that are more hectic or have greater responsibilities or greater pressure.

But then God leads His sheep back to those green pastures and beside those waters of rest. So we need to keep following His leading back to those places of rest and refreshment.

Before sheep can be productive for wool or for meat, they have to be healthy. They have to be mature. They have to be well developed.

But our problem is that we tend to put productivity first. “The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me lots of work to do—a family to take care of, a class to teach, work to do at my church, people to win to Christ. He makes me a good wife, makes me a good mother, helps me get my work done.”

That’s not what this psalm says. The Lord is my shepherd. First He makes me lie down in green pastures and He leads me beside still waters.

Why? So we can get nourished. So we can get nurtured. So we can get food and drink. So we can have something to offer others.

Some of us are spiritually malnourished. I meet a lot of women that have that written all over their face. It’s in their tone. It’s in that panic-stricken look in their eyes. And all too often I see it when I look at myself in the mirror. Spiritually malnourished.

We’re trying to be productive. We’re trying to meet everyone else’s needs, but we’re falling apart—burned out, overextended, overloaded, over-exhausted, overcommitted, stressed out. We don’t have time for meaningful conversations with people, including God; we’re just always rushing, always running.

You see, people in our culture are impressed by busyness, by hurry, by how many activities you’re involved in or how many activities your kids are involved in, by how much you get done. It just sounds kind of lazy and unproductive today to talk about lying down in green pastures, hanging out by still waters.

Swenson says in his book Overload Syndrome,

I’ve thought long and hard about the issue of speed and have come to believe that it is as much responsible for the problem of personal and societal dysfunction as any other single factor. Virtually all of our relationships are damaged by hurry.

Think about that.

We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast, and then announce, "Sorry, I’ve got to run." The trouble is, God’s not running after us. He knows that speed does not yield devotion.

I think I would not be far wrong if I were to [say] that our sense of the presence of God is in inverse proportion to the pace of our lives.

In other words, the more hurried our pace, the less intimate will be our sense of God’s presence. Hurry. It’s the enemy of spiritual intimacy. It’s the enemy of intimacy in your marriage too, or any other relationships.

Have you ever noticed in the gospels that Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry? You never read about Him running. We do read about Him walking. We read about Him sitting—sitting at the well in Samaria, sitting down to teach His disciples. We read about him reclining at meals.

It’s a whole lot different from the way I eat most meals. You know the single lifestyle. You’re standing in the kitchen just grabbing it on the run or driving through a drive through.

You read about Jesus reclining at meals. You even read about Him sleeping in the boat with a storm raging around and the terrified disciples.

Hurry is just not conducive to godliness. It’s not Christlike. It’s not conducive to healthy relationships. It’s not conducive to spiritual growth.

Godliness and intimacy with God are not cultivated on the run. They require time, meditation. We don’t sing that old hymn often enough today: “Take time to be holy; the world rushes on. Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.”

Those constant interruptions and distractions are not a blessing, either, when it comes to intimacy with God. Constant cell phones, email, pagers beeping, always having to be on call for everything . . . we have more means of access to us today. It’s not healthy.

I’m not saying those things are sinful. I’m not saying they’re wrong. But I’m saying that those things can control our lives.

And I guess I know what I’m talking about, because this is something I wrestle with a lot in my work—being under the dominion and the control of all these things making noise and clamoring for my attention, and not taking the time to be still, to be quiet, to listen to God.

In fact, sometimes I find my heartbeat going so fast, my adrenaline running so high, my pace so fast that when I do sit still, I can hardly stand it. There’s something wrong with that, with living in the red with the high RPM all the time. It’s not healthy for our bodies.

That’s why we have so much heartburn and a lot of those issues. It’s not healthy. It’s not the way God created us to live.

The problem with sheep—and the problem with people—-is that they don’t know when to rest. They just keep going until they fall down with exhaustion. That’s why the good shepherd makes them lie down in green pastures.

When does your soul get rested? When does your spirit get fed? I want to tell you, if it’s not first thing in your life and first thing in your day and first thing on your to-do list, then you will end up frazzled and frustrated and frantic all of your life.

I’m telling you, some of us are going to look back at the end of life and say, “I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off all my life, but what did I accomplish? Do I even know God? Do I know my family? Do I have any close friends? Have I really loved people well?”

We have to be taking time in green pastures, taking time beside those waters of rest. If you and I don’t sit at the feet of Jesus at times and just listen to Him speak, as Mary did there in her home, we will end up like Martha—frantic, running around, barking out orders, mad at the Lord, mad at God [see Luke 11].

“Lord, tell my sister to come in and help me. I’m irritated. I’m frustrated.” We’ve all been there, and it’s because we don’t take time.

Now, you can’t spend every moment of your waking life sitting at the feet of Jesus. There are meals to prepare. There wasn’t anything wrong with Martha being in the kitchen. The problem was, she was trying to be productive without having been to the green pastures and the waters of rest.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Leslie: God offers you true rest if you’re willing to take the time to slow down and meet with Him.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing the peace that comes from being in God’s presence. She co-wrote a workbook that will lead you into God’s Word each day. It’s called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

One of our listeners wrote to call this “the toughest and most rewarding study I have ever done.” Well, it is tough because it leads you into important topics, like humility, honesty, and repentance.

It leads you through a process of forgiveness and clearing your conscience; and that’s the reason it’s also rewarding. Once you tackle these topics, then you experience true peace and true joy.

We’ll send you this Bible study workbook when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Ask for Seeking Him when you call with your donation. The number is 800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

You’ve heard the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Everyone is searching for rest, but the search will always be exhausting unless God leads us. We’ll hear about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1Spiritual Secrets of George Muller—Selected by Roger Steer, Harold Shaw ( Wheaton) and OMG Books (PA), 1985, 23.

 

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