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The Strength of the Sheep

( [email protected] ) Oct 26, 2008 06:34 AM EDT

Read: Psalm 23; 2 Timothy 1:1-7

For you are with me. (Psalm 23:4b NKJV)

Americans are very upbeat—born optimists, in fact. As a Briton I find this optimism very refreshing, but let's not mistake it for faith. Whereas optimism is humanistic ("I'm strong; I can do it!"), faith is theistic ("I am weak, but God can do it!").

David may well have been an optimist. You've got to be to fight a giant! Yet as we listen to the outflow of his heart, we discern that his reliance was not on his own bravery but on the presence of the Lord. "I will fear no evil; for you are with me

David not only knew his Lord, he knew his Lord was with him. Sheep are comforted when the shepherd is near, for the shepherd knows us personally. How reassuring is the remembrance and felt experience of the presence of the shepherd! It sucks up our fears. Oh, they remain a possibility, but they need not fill our minds or shape our actions. So let's exercise faith. Through it the Lord frees us from enslavement to fear. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear," wrote Paul to timid Timothy, "but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Prayer: Father, grant me in Christ the assurance of your love, and the fearlessness that marks out those who have it. Amen.

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