March 28, 2009
“He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)
Failure is one of the most feared and dreaded experiences in life. The fear of failure drives millions of people all day long, every day. There are many ways to fail. We can fail in our work, in our marriage or as parents. We can fail personally by feeling we’re not living up to our expectations or our potential. We can fail morally. When we fail what do we do about it?
The third verse of this psalm gives us a prescription for failure. David knew what it was to fail. When he needed a restoration he tells us how his Shepherd restored him when he wrote “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” He had already written that his Shepherd leads him to still waters. When he uses the word “lead” for the second time he uses a Hebrew word that means his Shepherd “drives” him into the paths of righteousness.
What David is telling us here is that when we need a restoration we should not seek a cheap one or an easy one. Rehabilitation means “to invest again with dignity.” He was implying that his restoration was a matter of being driven into the paths of righteousness for some time-perhaps even for years. His Shepherd used those paths of righteousness to restore his soul or to give him an opportunity to invest again with dignity.
By application, when you fail and need a restoration don’t seek a cheap one or an easy one. Let the great Shepherd lead you into the paths of righteousness that will truly restore your soul.
March 19, 2009
“…rejoice in your sufferings knowing…” (Romans 5:3 NIV)
Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, into grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.
Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world and we never access that grace. According to Paul, because God loves us He permits suffering to enter our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on this grace we can access by faith.
Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance. When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is “By hanging in there.” That is the essence of the meaning of this character trait of perseverance.
When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can and sometimes He does. But He often does not. When He does not it may be because it is His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.
March 13, 2009
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
These familiar words of consolation and exhortation are found in the context of a great calamity described by the psalmist. Many believe this calamity is prophetic and relates to the great and terrible Day of the Lord. By application these words, and other words of consolation in this psalm, can be related to any calamity we experience as the people of God.
As the hymn writer declares this calamity to be a total devastation, in the midst of this devastation he exclaims, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in times of trouble.” Since Hebrew is not as precise as Greek, the New American Standard Bible offers helpful alternate readings in the margins throughout this psalm. The alternate reading offered here consoles us with the thought that God can be a very present help to us in our “tight places.”
The helpful alternate reading presented alongside verse 10 is “Relax, let go and prove that God is – and what His will is. He is God and He wills to be exalted among the nations and in the earth.”
When you find yourself experiencing calamity be still long enough to experience these great realities: that God is God, that He is there for you, and that He can help you in the tight places of your calamity. So relax, let go, and prove Him. Then ask yourself how your response to your calamity just might align with what He wills; that He might be exalted among the nations and in the earth through the way you live your life here on earth for His Glory.
March 6, 2009
“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say ‘who will show us something good?’” (Psalm 4: 5, 6)
David wrote these words in the middle of the night because he could not sleep. Like many of us he was doing the expedient thing and not the right thing. That kept him awake because he was a man of great integrity.
In the middle of the night he had a little “board meeting” with himself. He then resolved to make whatever sacrifices he needed to make to do the right thing. He was doing the expedient thing because he didn’t see how he could possibly survive if he did the right thing. That’s why in addition to doing the right thing he resolved to put his trust in the Lord.
His motivation for this values clarification was that he knew he was governing people who were hoping and praying that their leader would be a man who would do right no matter what it cost him.
In our world of relative morality with no universal, absolute truth regarding right and wrong there has never been a greater need for those who lead believers to resolve to make whatever sacrifices they must make to do what is right-and then put their trust in the Lord.
If you are a spiritual person facing a similar kind of challenge if you would implement David’s resolution it would be an example to a lot of people-and it would glorify God-big time!