A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF THE 23RD PSALM

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

I memorized these verses as a teenager.  I was reading them the other day again and realized that all these verses hinge on my Lord being my shepherd, and my allowing Him to lead me.  Here is what this verses mean to me when I look at them in that regard.

God, you are my shepherd, so why do I try to lead?  I keep forgetting that you are to lead me.  I get in the way of your leading, God.  Please forgive me. 

Your word says that since you are my shepherd I shall not be in want. When I allow you to lead – I will be satisfied. 

When I allow you to lead, I will know to “lie down” in the right place – you would never lead me to the wrong place, and any place you lead will be “green” – it will be good for me. 

When I let you lead me I need to be still; that taking time to stop is what allows me to be restored, as I spend that quiet time with you! 

When I allow you to lead – you guide my paths; you show me the right path that I would never be ashamed to be on, for it is the path that brings glory to you.  Give me the wisdom to step out of the way God, and follow you in the paths you want me to go. 

When I allow you to lead me – I will never fear death; even when it is near, or the evil that may surround me.  If you are leading me – you are always with me!  You correct me when I need it and you comfort like no one else can. 

You love me so much that even in the midst of my enemies, I’m dining with you! Because of your love, I feel special, and am blessed so that I can’t contain it all.

When I allow you to lead Lord, anything that happens to me is good- just because you are leading and I am following, and this happens every day of my life.  

And I know for sure that I will be with you one day – when you lead me on to heaven to spend eternity with you.

LAY ASIDE THE OLD SELF

 

Ephesians 4:22 says we are to “… lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit”.   Verse 24 says we are to “…put on the new self, which is in the likeness of God”.  Some of the “old clothes” we wear are immorality, impurity, greed, anger, malice, slander, and abusive speech”.  Many more could be listed here.

As I think more deeply about these things, I realize that we like to make excuses about why we wear these “old clothes”.  The main excuse we use is our circumstances.  We think, “I am angry, or I talk the way I talk because my circumstance is causing me to be this way.  How convicted I was as I read this scripture today!  God impressed upon my heart, that if the first thing I think about, when I get up in the morning, is my circumstance, and the last thing I think about at the end of the day is my circumstance, then I am grieving the Holy Spirit.  I am, in effect, telling God that HE doesn’t have the priority in my life – my circumstance does.  I am totally forgetting that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  When my circumstance consumes my thinking, I am paralyzed and unable to be what God wants me to be; in my family, in my relationships at work, and in my Christian service to Him.   I am indeed looking like “the old self”.

I asked God today to help me put on the “new self”; “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other” (Col. 3:12-13).  Verse 14 of this chapter tells me to put on love.  THESE are the clothes I am to wear! When I put on these “new clothes” daily, I am much more able to view my circumstances with the right perspective.  How freeing this is!  The old clothes become quite heavy and if we wear them long enough, they soon define us.  I am thankful I don’t have to wear the “old clothes”; thankful that I can live each day focusing on Jesus and what He did for me; thankful that HE is the one I can put my focus on daily; no matter the circumstance.  Thankful too, that when I slip and put the "old clothes" back on, all I have to do is run to Him, say I am sorry, and He forgives me.

 

Maybe your circumstance is a health issue that is wearing you down, a relationship that has been struggling, or some other stress that is robbing you of your joy.  Maybe you are like me and need to be reminded once in a while that you belong to a Savior that gave you “new clothes” to wear.  Put them on daily, and watch what God will do!

 

I FEEL PRETTY . . . OH SO PRETTY!

I remember getting a new dress about once a year on my birthday, from my Grandmother.  She always wanted a picture of me in my birthday dress.  Girls like something new – it makes them feel special, and people tell us we are pretty. 

Years have passed since those days and I still feel pretty when I get something new to wear, but I must say a person needs to be cautious about putting a huge emphasis on what the “outside” looks like.  Society tells us this is hugely important, but if we look at Galatians 1:10-11, we can get some insight from Apostle Paul.  The church in Galatia was turning to other gospels, not the gospel that Paul was preaching; it was the poplar thing to do.  Paul is telling them he is not trying to win a popularity contest, but only giving the message God wants him to give.  He says:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

And in 1 Samuel 16:7 when Jesse brought his sons before Samuel and one was to be chosen as the anointed one:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

In a time when fashion is constantly in front of us as we turn on the TV, open a magazine, or walk in a department store, let us remember to put fashion into perspective and not make it our priority, realizing we have an audience of one – our God.  He loves us with or without makeup, with Guess jeans or old faded out, no-name jeans; whether we carry a Coach purse or one from Walmart.   He loves us when we are ugly and deep in our sin – so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for us.  When HE is our audience, and we realize it, HIS applause is the only one we we will hear!

WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR TRUST?

What does it mean to trust? - “to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something”

What or who do you put your trust in?

Maybe your trust is in someone you care about – that they will always be there for you – help you when you need help.  Is it in our job – that it will always be there –to provide the income you need?  What about your vehicle - do you trust that it will get you where you need to go?   Could it be that you are a person who trusts in yourself, leaning on your own intuition and sense of direction. All of these things are good, but they can all fail us at times. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight.

This verse puts things in the proper perspective. Trust in God first – and HE will direct your path.

How do I do that?  Pray to Him and read His word - HE won't let you down.


 

I AM BLESSED (Something I wrote a while back)

Blessed:   divinely or supremely favored; fortunate:

Are you or are we blessed?  I was thinking about this this morning.  I woke up in a warm house, sheltered and dry even though it was coming a downpour outside.  I took a hot shower, knowing when I turned the knob –t he water would be there.  I got dressed in nice clothes and got into a warm car, filled up with gas.  I arrived at my destination and was able to visit with a doctor who is a specialist.  By laying my insurance card on the counter – I was assured he would see me.  I enjoyed a good warm breakfast that I was able to purchase; and got into my warm car to travel back home, pretty confident that it would get me there,  and then on to my job which affords me a salary to live on.

On the way to my doctor’s appointment I saw a man walking – his clothes looked worn and his jacket wasn’t warm enough.  He was walking on a major road leading to the interstate – he had no car. In his hand a sack of possessions.  It made me think about all I am blessed with. 

According to scripture in the Bible:

Psalm 104:24 declares, "The earth is full of Your possessions." In 1 Chronicles 29:11 we read, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours." Haggai 2:8 reminds us, "'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of Hosts." Everything in the ground, everything above the ground, everything in the air, everything that passes through the air ultimately belongs to God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine.

I am tempted to complain sometimes about this or that, but then God reminds me , like He did this morning that I am indeed wealthy – not as society would define it, but I AM wealthy.  Maybe we need to all stop and think – that we are truly blessed beyond measure.  That every day we take for something for granted; our job, our family, the food we have, the clothes we wear.  And that ALL OF IT belongs to Him.

  

ARE YOU A BLT?

Summer is coming to an end.  Many of us have enjoyed fresh produce from our summer gardens.  Corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes, and green beans are plentiful.  God has blessed us with enough rain this summer to provide such abundance, that we have been able to share with others.

I was enjoying a BLT sandwich the other day- bacon, lettuce and ripe red tomatoes.  As I thought about those letters; B, L, T, something came to mind spiritually.  We are to be a BLT!  God created us for this very purpose. 

First, we are to BELIEVE in Christ; that He is God’s son, and that He died on the cross for our sins.  Coming to Him in belief is the first step.  We then ask Him to forgive us of our sins, for all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is when we begin to LIVE like Christ.  Our daily walk should be such, that others are pointed to Christ:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matt. 5:16)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

Lastly, we are to TELL others about Him:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)

 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)

There my friends, is the definition of a BLT. 

                        BELIEVE IT!

                        LIVE IT!

                        TELL IT!

Are you a believer in Jesus?  If so, are you living each day as an example of Christ, to cause others to want to follow Him too?  Are you telling someone about Him?  If not, then why not?  His word tells us our feet are beautiful when we share the good news with others.  Let’s all be a tasty BLT!