Tag Archive | Lord

Psalm 23

 I love this Psalm because it really does an amazing job of telling us what we can expect from a relationship with the Lord.  Just to give some more depth to this psalm I looked up a little about the history behind it. 

Lamb, Sheep

Looking cute wont make them not eat you =X - via Wikipedia

Back in the days when this psalm was written shepherds were everywhere.  Keeping sheep and cattle was a way of life and most people either were a shepherd, knew a shepherd, or had a shepherd that worked for them. 

The jobs of the shepherd were very simple.  First, he had to lead the sheep to a safe place to rest, eat and drink.  Then he had to watch over them and protect them from harm.  Sheep are rather stupid creatures and will wonder off and get lost and die very easily. With no natural defenses of their own they can not protect themselves against the many creatures that would love to eat them for dinner.  The one thing they did have going for them was that no matter how many shepherds were around calling for their sheep to come to them the sheep could recognize the sound of their shepherd and would only go to him.  Sheep did not follow after any shepherd other than their own. 

All the shepherd would bring with him was a shepherds staff and maybe a sling shot and some stones (and obviously some food and drink and maybe a musical instrument to pass the time).  The staff was used in a gentle loving way to help direct the sheep with the hooked end around their neck to turn and guide them as well as gentle taps on the rump to get them moving.  However, it was also used as a deadly weapon to deter potential threats. They had to kill or chase off lions, wild dogs and other dangerous animals on a regular basis! 

Up close and personal

This isn't even an adult lion! - via Flickr

 The fact that often times the family shepherd was a boy sometimes as young as 8 years old makes that even more amazing!! I don’t know a single 8-year-old today that could face a wild lion or even wild dog and not wet himself let alone chase it off or kill it.  Matter of fact I don’t know if I know a grown man who could, honestly, face a hungry, wild animal with nothing but a stick and sling shot to protect him and come out of it unscathed in the end.

So with all that in mind lets take a look at Psalm 23:

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (I am His sheep, I know His voice, I will follow Him, He will take care of me.)

   2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  (He brings me to places of rest and feeds me, He refreshes me with His Living Water (The Bible))

   3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  (When I am acting like a stupid sheep and wondering off He will turn me around and bring me back to Him, He wants me to walk after Him and be a good example to the rest of His flock)

   4Yea, 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. (No matter what terrible thing I am facing I know I can trust God to protect me and guide me out of trouble.  If a little 8-year-old boy can kill a lion to protect his sheep how much more can God protect me!)

   5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  (I can be so sure of Gods protection that even if I am in the midst of my enemies or in the middle of a difficult time in my life I can rest with him.  God marks me as His own and not only will he give me what I need, protect me, and guide me but He will also give me above and beyond what I need)

   6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.  (This goodness and mercy only comes from following after the Lord. Once we are His we will be His forever.)

 God has so much to offer us.  He wants to protect us, comfort us, provide for us and so much more.  He wants to guide us down the right path and help us live righteously.  When we allow Him to do this work in our lives it does two amazing things.

 

Path

 

First, as we listen to God’s direction he leads us away from harmful situations. We will avoid untold amounts of pain and heart ache.  And if we should ever fall into a hard situation (which we all do) He is there to guide us out of it and help us grow and learn from it.  His word says that he works all things out for the good of those who love him.  

Secondly, as He guides us He is training us to be more like Him.  When we listen and follow His will we are able to be a good witness for Him.  We bear his image and if we have accepted Him as our savior we also bare His name (we are adopted into the family) so the way we act and carry ourselves reflects on Him. 

This is why it is so important to live our lives in a way that would honor Him.  We are His representatives here on earth and with everything that He does and did for us He deserves the very best from us.  Not because He will send us away if we let Him down or fail in some way but because we love Him and want to show others the power of His blessings in our lives. 

When we walk away and try to do it on our own and in our own strength is when we get into trouble.  We are sheep – we can’t protect ourselves from the troubles of this world and when out on our own we will quickly be overcome by them.  We don’t have to live a life full of strife, pain, sorrow, and worry.  If we are following our Shepherd and sticking close to Him, He will take all those things away.  We may still face hard times but we will face them knowing that God is on our side and He is the one carrying the big stick – we get to just sit back and take comfort in Him fighting our battles for us.

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Is there a such thing as a good habit??

As promised, I got together my notes from Maria about our discussion the other day on habits.  I have been so excited about writing this post that I have been thinking about it all day!!

As we talked on the phone Tuesday Maria made some very shocking statements.  She told me about her dream (which I am not going to share – sorry!) and then about how when she woke up she felt pressed to pray.  She began rebuking things that she and I had never considered before to be a demon – habits! As she was praying this she thought to herself – is there even a demon of habits and if so does that imply that all habits are in fact bad? Even the ones we would consider good?  If they are all bad, what is it about the nature of habits that make them so?

The more she talked the more my wheels started spinning and coming up with examples of “good” habits:

Dental floss

Floss Daily - via Wikipedia

 

 
  • reading my bible every day
  • flossing my teeth
  • blessing my food
  • feeding my child on a regular basis
  • changing my undies every day
  • I could go on and on

This strange defensive feeling rose up inside me – “wait wait wait – I have good habits you can’t tell me my good habits are actually bad!”

The conclusion Maria came to was that when you form a habit it takes the choice out of the action.  You are doing that habit as an automatic response.  It takes the love, passion, and desire out. 

At first, you are excited “I am going to read my Bible every night!”  You hop in bed, snuggle into the quilt, grab your Bible and soak up some God Time.  But eventually, a habit is formed and suddenly one night you climb into bed and your bible is in your hand with out you even thinking about reaching for it.  You skim through the next chapter on you bible reading guide and by the time you fall asleep you don’t remember a thing you’ve just read.  Matter of fact the poor Bible is still on your bed getting scrunched up by your pillows! Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but none the less, I think you see where I am going with this. 

As you’re on auto pilot skimming over your nightly read, there sits “bad habit” on your shoulder nodding away “that’s right, you keep reading those scriptures, you better read those scriptures every night!  who cares if you’re too tired.  who cares if you’re not going to remember it.  you better read.”  Then suddenly you have guilt popping up right there with bad habit sayin, ” if you don’t read then you’re letting god down” and now you’re in a real mess because here comes mr.legalist saying, “you haven’t even cracked open your bible all day, you have to read now!”  You are so tired and not even really catching any of the words you are reading so you decide to stop before you finish your chapter and now here comes condemnation, “you never spend time with god. you are so lazy. you are such a looser you can’t even read one chapter. god is mad at you for not finishing that chapter.” Yikes!

 
An explosion

Yea that's about what it felt like - via Wikipedia

My mind just about exploded at this point.  I am suddenly realizing the depth of this issue!  OF COURSE there would be a demon of habit!  If the devil can’t keep you out of church then he will make it as automatic and redundant as possible.  Then once the habit is firmly in place he will use guilt, shame and condemnation against you to the point where you are no longer skipping off to church full of sunshine and joy but instead sulking up the steps dreading the next 2 boring hours but feeling like you HAVE to be there.  Going to church on Sunday is just what you do.  Sunday from 9am to 12pm is the slot of time reserved for church and secret naps while you sit hidden behind the lady with the big hair. You are going because you always go, not because you are expecting and wanting to encounter God and encourage your brothers and sisters.

 

In the middle of this mind explosion I arrived (safely) at home and just had to share all this perspective with my Sweet Dad.  He, in his ‘hmmmm..I don’t know about this’ voice, says, “Interesting…I’m going to have to look into that.”  Which led us on a very spirited Bible search and discussion which I am going to spare you from and just get to the point already!!

We decided that there really is NO such thing as a good habit!  There is only one reference to what might be considered a good habit in the bible, which I will post and discuss under the “daily dose” topic, and aside from that all the rest of the habits are bad in the Lords eyes! 

In both the old and the new testament there are examples of God chastising the Israelites and Pharisees about their tendencies to perform good Godly actions out of habit rather than out of a heart of love and service to the Lord. They do them to be seen of man – because they are supposed to do them – not because they want to connect with God and please Him.

“Wait, Wait, Wait!” My dad says, “You can’t just throw out a blanket statement though and declare alllll habits as bad ones! What about changing your underwear?” (Okay, so his real example was making the bed every day but underwear is just funnier;)) 

Love ? I love love love you.

God wants our heart not just our time - via Flickr

From there we decided that there has to be a distinction between actions that you do that require no heart: brushing your teeth, going to the gym, making the bed, and actions that do require heart: praying, reading your Bible, kissing your honey when they come home from work.  If the action is supposed to come from your heart but comes from a place of automatic reaction it has lost its ‘goodness’. 

God isn’t looking for people to be in the habit of reading His word or going to church.  God is looking for people who love Him and long to spend time with Him.  He is looking for people who talk to Him/pray with fire and passion, people who treasure His word and plant it in their hearts so they never lose it, because those are the ones who can go out and impact the world of lost, hurting people. 

Maria pointed out as she read my rough draft of this post that even heartless actions can’t really be considered a ‘good habit’ so much as just self-discipline.  The more self-discipline you have the more likely you are going to brush your teeth every day or walk the dog.  This might really seem like splitting hairs at this point but I think she is on to something.  🙂

Revelations 1:20-2:1-5

I often will start reading at the beginning of a chapter and read until the first point is made, whether that means one or two verses or a full chapter, and then mull over in my mind what that point was talking about and life applications and such. 

Today, I got a wonderful example of how stopping and starting where the Chapter Markers are is not always the best of plans!   Revelations 2:1-5 has always left me feeling a little uneasy.  I would read it and due to lack of understanding think, “ok, this sounds a lot like if I mess up I could

 

 loose my salvation! YIKES!”  I have always associated ‘lampstand’ with my ‘light’ as in the light of God inside me.  Seems obvious when you look at it sort of squinting while standing on your head, right?

I have even heard other people make this same assumption and had a very dear friend walk away from the Lord because she cited this as proving that even when ‘saved’ by grace there is a chance you are still not good enough so whats the point?  I must admit this scripture has never helped me feel any better about my decision to walk in faith on grace – until tonight!

The Son of Man and the seven lampstands

 My Sweet Dad came up to me, Large Print Bible in hand, and said ” I found some gold! Wanna hear about it?”  OFCOURSE! I quickly finished up getting little E.v.e. her glass of warm milk and honey (mmmmm) and tuned in full attention on what my Sweet Dad had discovered.

 

If you go back a little into the last verse of Chapter 1 Jesus, Himself, explains the mystery of the golden lampstands and the seven stars.  I have read over it a million times (ok maybe only a couple dozen but none the less…) I have never caught it!  The Seven Stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven churches which are represented by the seven lampstands.  Right there in black in white plain as day!

Now, when you hold on to that little clue and then go on down into chapter two where the Lord starts talking to the first messenger you can clearly see that he is not talking to a heavenly being – he is describing a Pastor and by the sounds of it a good one that looks after the safety of his flock.

Church in Maransart (Lasne), Belgium

Image via Wikipedia

Ok, so the star is a pastor and the lampstand is his church….that means that when you get down to verses 4 and 5 (the scary ones!!) he is charging this pastor with forgetting his First Love – God.  This pastor has gotten so wrapped up in his “job” as a pastor that he has forgotten what it is all about and the Lord is telling him that if he doesn’t come back to him he is going to remove….DUN DUN DUUUNN – his CHURCH!!! Lampstand = church = Lampstand not salvation – woo hoo!