• Coming Christmas 2019

Overcoming Bad Days-Psalm 23: Part 4

Green pastures and quiet waters…Ahh!

So far, David has given us a beautiful picture of God’s GRACE in Psalm 23. But if he ended his song here, I think there would be an incompleteness, an emptiness to David’s solution for bad days. (Actually, God’s solution for bad days, given to David. Just to keep God-breathed straight in our minds.)

God’s GRACE is beyond remarkable and I…we…don’t deserve an ounce of it. But, what earthly good is this GRACE if nothing is done about all the wounds we incur out on the battle field of life.

Think of a sheep, a wayward sheep. Said sheep probably has mulitple cuts and bruises because it wandered into rocky areas or a briar patch. This wayward sheep may have a matted coat for lack of proper grooming from the shepherd, since it is a wayward sheep and hasn’t been in the shepherds care for some time. It’s probably hungry because sheep are actually really picky about what they eat and so it wouldn’t have eaten in a nasty muddy field or dried up marsh. And, maybe, it would be thirsty since most water sources are not quiet, but rather boisterous and loud and a haven for wild animals that would love to eat said wayward sheep. And, maybe, said wayward sheep has been hiding for days and doesn’t dare to sleep because a big ole’ bear got a whiff of it a few days ago and the dumb bear just won’t leave the water source!

Now think of a shepherd who goes out looking for this wayward sheep and finds it. Yay! Wahoo! Such a lucky sheep!

Well, this sheep may feel lucky and even thankful at first. But what if the shepherd just plopped it down in the green pasture, sorta close to the water, but then just walked off without a word? What if the shepherd didn’t do anything about the cuts and bruises or the matted coat or the now “scardy cat” sheep who won’t go near any water? Just what kind of condition is this poor sheep in that is hungry, thirsty, tired, has open wounds oozing out puss and a matted coat, even in a green pasture by quiet water?

Said sheep is not doing very good and probably won’t do very good until the shepherd helps it because all of the self effort of the sheep is just not enough to overcome all that has happened to it. Life has just been too hard and it is just a dumb sheep!

BUT, don’t worry! No self-respecting shepherd would ever allow any of his sheep to suffer with hunger or thirst or lack of rest or refuse to clean and bind all wounds or to wash and bathe and groom each and every one of his sheep, especially the wayward ones.

And neither will the God of the Universe, The Shepherd! That is why God doesn’t just leave me in the green pasture by the quiet water where His GRACE resides. He “Restores My Soul”!

He gives me everlasting water and the bread of life! He gives me rest from all my burdens. He binds up my broken heart and pours His soothing healing oil over every open wound.

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

This song is far from over! “He restores my soul!”







Overcoming Bad Days-Psalm 23: Part 2

In his old age, King David looked back over a life filled with the good, the bad and some pretty serious ugly and came to the conclusion of Psalm 23; a song from one shepherd to The Shepherd of his heart and life.

Psalm 23 is the culmination of David’s life. it is the God inspired battle plan for conquering bad days and experiencing fewer bad days even in the midst of great trial and loss.

If God is your Shepherd, if He is my Shepherd, then we can live by this battle plan and be victorious even in the bad days!

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

I don’t think I really believe this, just like a dumb sheep.

When I see a good balance in the bank account and when I see the cupboards full and when I see healthy and satisfied family all around me then I am happy and full of praise and adoration. But in those times, if I am honest, I am confident in me; in what I can accomplish; in what I can produce. I don’t see God’s hand in all that provision and I am not trusting in Him as my Shepherd and I am not living in a spirit of thanksgiving to Him. The truth is, the good days are all about ME!

So, it is no surprise that when the bank balance is getting low or the health fails or the human relationships get dicey that I have bad days, really really bad days. I even get mad at God and blame Him for not answering prayers which may or may not have even been said! If that is not a dumb sheep, I don’t know what is!

“I shall not want.”

King David was the last born son in his family. He was given the worst job a Jewish boy could have, a shepherd of dumb sheep. Then he got the news that he was to be king of all Israel, but He had to wait several decades to finally be king.  In the meantime he was a fugitive on the run, slept in caves, was a leader of the cast offs, experienced hunger and sleepless nights, and faced enemies on every side. And then when he finally was king, it was anything but a bed of roses. Yet, God was David’s Shepherd and this earthly king, this shepherd boy, could in his deepest soul confess that in ALL of his life, he did not want…for anything!

If I am truly going to believe this and live this and rest in this, then I have to believe that David’s Shepherd is also My Shepherd! And I do!! Do you?

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and and the life; No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6

If you reject this about Jesus, then you cannot call God your Shepherd. He is still The Shepherd, but He is not your Shepherd and you will be wanting; not just on this Earth, but for the eternity that waits for all of us or I should say, the eternity that waits for no one.

If you can believe and can claim John 14:6 and John 3:16 and the host of Scripture pointing to Jesus as Savior, then God is your Shepherd, but you may not always act like it. I know I don’t.

Jesus also said, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

The majority of that crowd was mostly lost sheep, they didn’t believe John 14:6. But some in the crowd were Jesus’ sheep but they were acting like sheep without The Shepherd.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is not that He is not my Shepherd on the bad days and therefore I feel wanting; it is that I am acting like a sheep without The Shepherd.

And still, The Shepherd, Jesus, has compassion for me and reaches down and picks up His wayward sheep (me), slings me over His shoulder until the bad day passes. Then He places me back among His fold nudging me with His staff and prodding me with His rod because I am one stubborn and stupid sheep!!

And He does this over and over and over; each time teaching and instructing me while providing in such abundance that I shall not want…for anything!

In Jesus I lack nothing. In Jesus I have all I need. God will not withhold any good thing from me.

That is called GRACE!! And in Part 3 we will see exactly what that wonderful and amazing GRACE looks like!!




Overcoming Bad Days, Psalm 23: Part 3

If there is one biblical hero people turn to for comfort, it is King David! People may not even realize a particular verse was written by David, but if it is a passage about God’s comfort, guidance, strength and faithfulness, then there is a very good chance it was written by David.

Psalm 7, Psalm 18, Psalm 34, Psalm 52, Psalm 56, Psalm 59, Psalm 63, Psalm 142 and our Psalm in this series, Psalm 23, are just nine of the 76 Psalms attributed to King David.

Why do we value David’s Psalms? Why do we gravitate to these songs when we are in trouble and in trials and in pain?

Because David has been where we are and he was real when he wrote about his failings, his sin, his enemies, his family issues,  and his personal doubts. At the same time he was very real about his total dependence on the God of the Bible, The Shepherd. The man after God’s own heart shared deeply about that intimate relationship and we want just a slice of what he enjoyed with his Creator! And we can! That is why God “breathed” the very words into David’s songs so we can come to them again and again for comfort; for teaching; for exhortation…for hope! In Psalm 23, we learn, with David, what God’s GRACE looks like!

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.”

Wow! What great  imagery! I cannot think of a more relaxing, refreshing, satisfying place to be than laying down on a grassy meadow (on a blanket of course since I am not a real sheep) beside a quiet body of water. I’ve actually done this a few times just hanging out in nature away from city chaos. I can say with sincerest honesty that it is a slice of heaven! Very often I am sound asleep within just a few minutes… until a fly buzzes over my head or the ants take over the blanket! (Oh the joys of nature at its best!)

I have also frequented various waterfalls and rapids, like my recent visit to Yellowstone National Park. Wow! Again, such amazing demonstrations of the world God has given us. I was so blessed to stand and be immersed into the heart of nature and all its power. But, I wouldn’t say it was restful. I haven’t found yet a waterfall/rapids area that I would fall sound asleep right next too it. For one, they are super high up and one false “rolling over in my sleep” and that would be the end of said sleep! And two, they aren’t very quiet; deafening is more like it, especially in the spring with snow melts and plentiful rain. You nearly have to shout to be heard by your companions.

It isn’t hard to imagine the difference these two similar (land and water) yet very different locations might affect sheep. Sheep in a grassy meadow and quiet water would be ten times more “at peace” than sheep coming upon a waterfall plummeting thousands of feet below them or the rapids that are at the bottom of that waterfall. Actually, good luck to the person trying to get the sheep near a waterfall. I think they would start bleating and cowering long before they ever got to the falls thanks to the thunderous noise!

And, yet, we as stubborn sheep-like people very often prefer the thrill and danger of waterfalls and rapids over the boring  same old daily routine of a mere meadow and placid water reservoir. I think that is why David uses the terms of “makes me lie down” and “leads me beside”. We are so busy, so overwhelmed with our version of chaos, so burden with life (waterfalls and rapids) that we miss the GRACE, God’s GRACE (green pastures and quiet waters)!

And the very sad thing is, when we miss God’s GRACE we tend to also keep other’s from experiencing GRACE because we haven’t taken our fill of GRACE we cannot possibly extend it to others. So we keep others twirling round and round with us in chaos and burdens and fears and worry and…and…and…

All the while, God has green pastures and quiet waters just waiting for us! GRACE just waiting to embrace us!

David, looked over the years of his life and realized that God, The Shepherd, had to “make” him lie down in green pastures and actually had to lead him to “quiet water”! David did not always willingly go to these most peaceful, refreshing and restful places. He didn’t always see the value in God’s amazing GRACE.  He must have been a Type A personality, like me!

It think it is safe to surmise that God will use whatever method is needed to get us to stay in His pasture, near His refreshing water. It is only there that we can truly experience God’s GRACE! In green pastures and by still waters we are overwhelmed with God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His steadfastness, His mercy…His GRACE! And as others see us living in that GRACE, you know what happens? They want to know where that green pasture is! They want to know how to be refreshed by still waters! All because they see God’s GRACE in us and pouring out of us!

Jesus said…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

“For of His [Jesus] fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16