• 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!!

 

 

 

It’s a Bad Day

If you’ve ever had a bad day, raise your hand? Come on!

You know you have! Raise that hand high!

That may not help you be better right this minute, but admitting you are having a bad or that you do have bad days is a good start to not having as many bad days. It is when we pretend that everything is fine and dandy so that we look good around others or because we think God will be happier with us if we pretend, that we actually bring dishonor to the very grace of God.

Of course, the flip side of pretending that we never have bad days is when we languish in our bad days and nurture our bad days and so much so that we fail to see any grace from God’s Hand and that is also a dishonor to our loving Father.

I have my share of bad days; everything from a flu bug to a relational stresser to a flat tire to tragic news can plop me into a bad day. And then there’s the most common reason I have bad days, I argue with God about what He is doing in my life or in the lives of those I love.

Just being honest.Though God is big enough and wise enough and gracious enough to handle my arguments just fine, if I persist and resist the Holy Spirit’s truth to me and refreshment for me, the consequence is a bad day. 

I’ve too many bad days recently; too much arguing with God about what He is doing or…in my finite thinking…not doing. I’ve resisted taking the steps and willingness to thrive in the Holy Spirit’s process.. Now, I am finally tired of the bad days and I want to participate in the steps to have fewer bad days and when they do come, to not stay in them as long.

And I know where to go to start in that process and to take those steps: God’s Word. There is an abundance of Bible Heroes who had bad days and plenty of guidance from God’s interaction with them for me to learn and re-learn how to handle bad days.

My circumstances have not changed. Nothing is new on the horizon that those circumstances will change.  And, maybe, you are in the same place…But God…

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the quiet waters.

He restores my soul; He guides in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

 

I hope you will join me and rediscover God’s amazing grace and mercy for us all!  Next time, David will tell us more about overcoming those bad days.