It’s a Bad Day; Day 12

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever! Psalm 23:6

This is an amazing ending to this Psalm…this song! The Shepherd King looks back on his life of mountains and valleys…a life of waywardness and thriving and he lands on goodness and mercy being with him for all the days of his life.

And not just goodness and mercy randomly out there being bumped into now and then. NO! The picture here is goodness and mercy pursuing David, running after David, chasing David; you could even say stalking David (in the very best sense, of course!) This king knew that any effectiveness he had throughout his life was directly impacted by God’s goodness and mercy chasing after him; day in and day out; month after month and year and year. In the good days and the bad David was pursued by God in all His goodness and mercy!

There is a sure connection for David between verse 6 and the previous verse 5. If we feast at God’s table, if we are anointed with pouring oil, and our cup overflows…It is ALL God…AND all that feasting, pouring and overflowing pursues us and should be shared and outpoured and spilled over wherever we go and with whomever we meet. We shouldn’t just splash around in the excess and get fattened on the feast. In fact, Jesus has very strong words for any sheep (in or out of His pasture) who settle for splashing and fattening up!

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. Matthew 23:25

Let’s not be Pharisees!!

David was no Pharisee, either! He was a man after God’s own heart. A sinner clinging to his Savior, Shepherd King! He kept his heart turned into God’s sanctuary and looking forward to dwelling in the house of the LORD forever! Eternal life with His Creator was David’s longing and his heart song. Dwelling in God’s Sanctuary was foundational to this shepherd’s day; good or bad. David realized that though there was (and is) an eternal home with the Savior (“I go and prepare a place for you”) that he could and did thrive in God’s presence which pursued him every day of his life!

When I believed that Jesus is the Son of God and that He shed His blood on the cross for my sins, thus paying the penalty I deserved and He paid it wholly and completely with no need of help from me AND when I believed that He rose again on the third day and conquered my greatest enemy…death…AND when I believed He did this by grace alone…through faith alone…In Christ alone…at that very day…in that very moment…on my six-year old knees bowing before the King of Kings…I gained eternal life and have been living this eternal life ever since!!!!!!

Grant it my address is earthly and I am just a stupid sheep pilgrim…for now. BUT, I have eternal life right now and have had it since I was six years old! I am just waiting for God to change my address and my last breath in this life is simply God holding my hand and guiding me into His perfect pastures and eternity with Him in Glory! 

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. Matthew 10:27-29

It’s a Bad Day; Part 11

The question for a disciple of Jesus Christ is not whether the glass is half empty or half full, but rather why isn’t the glass full? And not just full…it should be overflowing. God’s extravagance is always with us, as His sheep, it is always available to us. We should always have overflowing cups! It doesn’t matter whether we are having the best day in our lives or the worst year in a lifetime. Can I get a Year 2020 “Amen”!

I am not talking about an annoying Pollyanna sugarcoating of evil or a head in the clouds denial of bad things happening to us. I am talking about thriving in the bad…in the evil. We can do that. We are actually commanded to do that. We have thousands of years of saint (aka; sheep) witnesses who have done exactly that. I think the disconnect for us is that we have traded in God’s “My cup overflows” for the American version of self-reliance or as Oswald Chambers calls it, self-awareness.

My cup overflows. Psalm 23:5c

In the timeless devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest” August 19/Oswald Chambers…

Self-awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives. Self-awareness is not sin, and it can be produced by nervous emotions or by suddenly being dropped into a totally new set of circumstances. Yet it is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs our rest in Him must be rectified at once, and it is not rectified by being ignored but only by coming to Jesus Christ. If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.

One of the clearest proofs that the Bible is true; both spiritually and historically, is the uncompromising honesty found in the Bible. There is not one biblical hero (as we call them) who has it “all together”, other than Christ, of course. And just for the record, Jesus is no mere hero. So, let’s keep the King of Kings out of that demeaning category, please!

Anyway, the history of the people in the Bible was not sugar coated. They were all basically a mess and in need of a Savior. The basic difference in the lives chronicled by the Bible are those who realized they were a mess and needed a Savior (Sheep in God’s Pasture) and found their cups overflowing in spite of themselves and circumstances. And those people who were a mess, but either didn’t care or didn’t want to acknowledge their messiness and therefore did not look for their Creator, so not in God’s Pasture, and no overflowing cups. And that is all of the human race in a nutshell. One is either in God’s Pasture as His Sheep or one is not.

Can we thrive in bad days? In a bad year or years? For the sheep of God’s pasture, the answer is a resounding…YES!!

The steps of a man are established by the LORD and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One Who holds his hand.  I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their decedents begging bread. Psalm 37:24-26

It’s a Bad Day; Part 10

You anoint my head with all. Psalm 23:5b

Anointing the head with oil is taken seriously in the Bible. It is for specific purposes and administered by specific offices. And those who hold such an official duty must be qualified in their own lives (See James 5:14) to perform this sacred ceremony. It is not something we should participate in flippantly or for show or out of superstition. Anointing the head with oil is an extension of prayer and fasting; it is not a magic trick or bartering with God. It is a sign of God’s extravagant protection, provision and eternal prosperity for His anointed.

David, knew all about having the head anointed with oil. When his own head was anointed by the prophet Samuel, David, the shepherd, knew firsthand the symbolism of such a ceremony. David would have anointed his father’s sheep regularly to ward off insects and disease which could have quickly and painfully disseminated an entire herd. This anointing was not just a “little dab will do ya” either! Oil was poured and rubbed in all over the sheep’s head for its protection and the prosperity of the herd.

As oil dripped down his own face, David would realize the divine protection and authority and comfort covering him not only for his eventual kingship but for the days, which turned into years, leading to his coronation. Surely the myriad of moments in which God protected David and orchestrated his life were on the Psalmist’s mind when he wrote; “You anoint my head with oil.” This reflection of God’s anointing is not just about Samuel’s physical anointing of David, the shepherd. It is a reflection by David, the King of Israel, praising God for His continual anointing…of pouring the oil: protection, provision and prosperity. A little dab was not enough for David!

Anointing is seeking God’s blessing, His protection and guidance, His healing. Ultimately it is seeking His will and asking for our faith and trust to be increased to be able to thrive in God’s will, whatever it may be. And if that is true, and it is, I don’t think “a little dab will do ya” is what God had in mind. At least it was never just a dab in our biblical examples. The oil was always poured.

When Mary administered a costly perfume on Jesus’ feet, she poured it…all of it…all over Jesus’ feet! Let’s not forget that a certain disciple (Judas) was incensed over this “waste” of resources. One (Mary) wanted God’s extravagance above all else. The other (Judas) wanted all the world could give him and nothing else, not even God.

Which do I want? Which do you want?