He is With Me, or The One on the 23rd Psalm

Today I want to talk about the 23rd Psalm.

Psalms 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

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

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, 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 anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;  and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

NKJV

Verse 4 says:

Yea, 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.

Now looking at those verses, which I’m pretty sure that even if you aren’t a Christian you can probably recognize them.  They are everywhere, and I don’t think a lot of people really put a lot of thought into these verses.

Because they are everywhere they are only ever taken at face value, which I think is a pity.  Now personally I had an epiphany the other day where I was listening to some worship music on my way home from work and that verse is quoted in a song and I just I realized that when the verse is that ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.’ it’s not saying that there will be no valley of death.

Let me say this again: it’s not saying that there will be no valley of death.

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It’s not saying that you will never go through a hard time.

It’s not saying that you’ll never have a season of difficulty, a season of decrease, a season full of the absolute most horrible things that have ever happened to you.

But what it does say is that ‘I will fear no evil for you are with me.’

It doesn’t say that there will be no evil.

It doesn’t say that there will be no evil ever.

It just says you will ‘fear no evil because you are with me.’ and by here I mean God is always with me so what is there to figure out exactly?

‘Your rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  especially in the context of shepherds, the Bible frequently names  guide the sheep to the right place and Rod to have the discipline the sheep.  Because sheep, no offence to any sheep herders out there, sheep are stupid.

U1FF2OID4JYes we are God’s sheep.  We are less than God;  we do not see the full picture.

Therefore we are like sheep, and yeah stupidity is part of that to certain degree.

What I am saying is that God is, like a good shepard, always with us.  It’s saying, ‘He’s going to take care of all of our enemies and I will fear no evil because You are with me.’

And then we get to the next part of the chapter and it says, ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.’ note that it says enemies.

It doesn’t say that there will be no contenders against you, ever.  In fact, it practically guarantees that you will be up against enemies.  And if you have an enemy it’s generally considered that your life is not a piece of cake. It’s usually taken that if you have so much as a nap, you will probably have problems with somebody, whether it’s on the arch nemesis or it’s your high school rival enemy type level is negotiable.

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It doesn’t say that you won’t have any enemies, what it does say is that God is literally going to lay out a banquet for you in their presence and basically rub it in their face that you have prevailed.

It means that you don’t mind if you do have enemies; you are still going to be taken care of, you are still going to do well for yourself, you are still going to be able to continue on with your life, and you are still going to be able to find peace in Him, in His presence.

You are still going to find yourself in a place of increase, and you are still going to be showered with gifts, and you are still going to get all of the things on the planet that you could ever want, ever need, or ever ask for.

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The main thing is, and I think a lot of people continue to forget or just don’t think about it all, is that God has not invited us to a party.  Life is not going to be all ‘let’s go to the disco!’, bustin’ moves and having a picnic, yada, yada, yada, it’s all sunshine and daisies; just because He has canceled out our enemies. And it’s not that God hasn’t invited us to that kind of life at all, but not a lot of Christians get to live that kind of life.

As a Christian you’re basically saying ‘OK. I am going to fight in this war. I am going to have a life of hardship.’

It’s not to say that if you aren’t a Christian you’re not going to have a hard life. More along the lines of, if you’re Christian and hardship comes you will be able to weather it that much better.  You will be so much less phased by anything that can’t happen/will happen etc. simply because you know that God is on your side.

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What did you think happens? I mean really if you die, you die. Boo hoo, you are going to heaven – the eternal realm of party.  Because that’s basically what heaven is; it’s great, it’s wonderful, and we get to be with God every day. It’ll be perfect and I think that’s the best part about those verses. It is that it acknowledges the fact that life isn’t just gonna be all sunshine and rainbows.

It doesn’t matter how great or easy our life is going to be, because God is with us and He is always going to be with us, He’s always going to be a comfort to us, that’s literally one of His names is The Comforter.

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I think that it is really important in this day and age to know that just because you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to have this wonderful perfect life.  Yes we are called to be a light into the world, a light in the darkness.

The only reason you can discern light from dark is because there is dark; that means that there is probably going to be some dark times in your life. 

OUEQ1VGTYUI don’t think that sounds fun – it doesn’t sound even somewhat remotely appetizing. If anything, I think that the real gem of this is that despite the fact that it is reminding us that life is life centre into the world and there are four teams are pretty crummy as far as life goes it’s not what it should be, but regardless of anything that happens it’s all good, because we have God.

His rod and staff are comforting, from the highest of highs to your walk through the darkest valley of the shadow of death.

I will fear no evil for He is with me and He prepares a table, before me, for me, in the presence of my enemies;  there may be enemies, but they are about to be dazzled by exactly how blessed I am, and have always been, and will always be by my God.

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Pure Worship

During worship, one can often feel pressure to raise their hands in praise.

The problem with doing this is when we adopt the posture of worship without actually fully giving ourselves over to the spirit of worship.

‘Pretending to do and feel something you’re not.’…. where I’m from that’s called lying – which is a sin if I’m not mistaken.

We are out right lying in the presence of God – what about that sounds right?

Absolutely nothing.

Now don’t get me wrong, one can adopt a posture of worship in the spirit of hope and expectation and truly be able to enter into a real communion with the Lord and be able to break through into true worship.

It is in that pure expectation and hope that real worship happens.

When you come before the Lord and it’s Sunday morning and you are not really fired up to be honest and it’s like:  “OK.  It’s worship.  What are you gonna do?  You gonna do like everybody else?”

What is the spirit that you are coming before the Lord and offering your praise to him?

That really is the root of the problem; is that you really need to step back and think:  “OK am I’m just doing this because I truly want to give an offering to the Lord God on High?  Or is it just because well, everybody else is doing it, so I suppose I should too.”

If you are doing it for the latter rather than the former then you really need to stop what you’re doing and take a look and see what you can do.  To re-evaluate.  To actually be able to enter into that place to enter in to that high communion with the Lord so that you can actually break through.

Here’s this though: just because you aren’t feeling it does not mean that you should feel ashamed in front of your peers.  (Because let’s face it, you don’t feel bad for not worshipping God in front of God, it’s not really possible.)

Some people though, they have to work against forces of evil and of darkness; and not feeling the presence of God is because there’s really something blocking them.  It’s in that case that you really, really, really, have to just keep pressing close and just find that breakthrough.

However sometimes just like with speaking in tongues,  you just have to work for it you know it’s sometimes with worship it’s a little like a muscle.   Part of that is because it’s a physical act showing your love for God and part of it is just the more you do it and you’re not to that place the easier it will be.

Many people say that speaking in tongues is like using a muscle, worship is totally the same; the more you worship the Lord, the easier it gets to really press into the Spirit. It sounds completely ridiculous, but believe me it’s true.  All you have to do sometimes is just work at it; but you’re not going to be able to work at it and you’re not going to actually be able to press in close, if you are not coming forward with a pure heart and good intentions.

The more you get into worship, the less you care about whoever or whatever could be watching.  The less you care about anything except for just worshipping God; which is just a beautiful place to be.

To Jesus, if you are coming before him with good intentions, with pure intentions, with a pure heart; it’s just open it and say I am here for you.  Not:  “I’m holding up my hands because everybody else is doing it and I’m gonna feel stupid if I don’t.”

It’s really got to be in the spirit of, ‘I really am putting the focus on you right now God.  I am, really well and truly.  Because it’s all about you.’ 

When that happens, you will forget about your friends, forget about everything on this planet, and just focus on the Lord and that I believe is just true worship.

For you to just focus on the Lord and give Him your all.  You can wave your hands, you can dance about until your feet are bloody, you can shout, you can sing, whatever you do.  When you come  before God to worship, make sure that you do it with a pure heart and with good intentions

Blame Game

People always want someone to blame, (or something), always.  You gotta blame something: hurt?  You gotta blame something.  Failure?  More blame.

The problem here is that it has become a gut reaction as Christians; we blame Sin.  Sin and Satan, not bad but often inaccurate.

Newsflash sometimes you only have yourself to blame sometimes people will blame even God. Wow what a shock –  not really.

In divorced families blame continually runs rampant.  It is like a cancer and is also what destroys families.  Children especially, are vulnerable to blame due to a lack of communication or lack of knowledge.  Because of blame, lies fester.

No wonder kids blame themselves.

The problem that I have with blame, aside from the obvious, is that it fixes nothing.  Nothing is accomplished when you blame other people and nothing is accomplished when you blame God.  All that it does is just make everybody feel bad and make everybody sad.  So why bother?  Why is it that we do this?

No-one wants to feel stupid, and above all – no-one wants to admit when they do wrong, This is something that goes back to the original sin, in Genesis.

Nobody wants to look bad – and mistakes tend to make you look bad.  The thing is, as Christians, we shouldn’t be worrying about looking stupid.

God is bigger than the bogey man, if looking stupid is the bogey man.

The Bible tells us not to worry about what man thinks, and to not perform for man alone, but for God who sees all and into the hearts of man.  The problem, in my opinion, comes with a lack of faith; and a lack of trust.

How can you trust that God will fix everything if you have no faith?

God hasn’t invited us to a party, but on a wild ride – if we crack under the slightest pressure and begin to blame everything on and off of planet earth, how are we supposed to be able to part the Red Sea?

A Declaration of Worship 

I had an epiphany recently, one concerning Worship; and to be quite frank I am rather more than a little thankful that I had it.
I cannot sing, not for lack of trying, but I can’t really produce any sound that is pleasant to the human ear beyond, “DINNER’S READY!” 98% of the time.
So while I attempt to worship, and by worship I mean sing badly and quietly, or even just lip-sync; it is pretty safe to say that I will never lead worship unless something truly catastrophic has occurred.
This is where the title of this post comes in handy.
Worship does not necessarily mean singing.
Allow me to say it again:


WORSHIP DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN SINGING.



This is probably not news to most people.
‘Yes, of course there’s more than one way to worship. Are you dim-witted to not have found/figured that out by now?’
True, the most common forms of worship outside of singing are dancing and painting.
But worship is not just always a jubilant song to sing; It can be a declaration.
A declaration of Love for Him who created the heavens and the earth.

A declaration of praise.

A declaration of hope.

A declaration of what has been done and will be done by The Most High God.

A declaration of GOd’s unending, forever goodness.

A declaration of the surety of God.

A declaration that HE IS THE LORD.
So, I leave you with this: Every time you worship, you are making a declaration, and even if you can’t sing, you can still praise Him.

My Cup Runneth Over…

In Palms 23 verse 5 it says ‘my cup runneth over’

Conversely: My family was just blessed with an overabundance of frozen vegetables.  We now have so many that we intend to bless other families with these veggies.

And really,isn’t that what that verse is all about?  God blessing us so much that our only reasonable option is to turn around and bless others when we are blessed?

It’s like those stories you read online of the chains of people just carrying over the blessing of paying for someone else’s coffee in a long line.

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The thing that so many people forget about is that fact that God wants to bless us.  God wants to bless everyone to the point where the whole earth ‘runneth over’ with blessings.

Rather, people remember that He wants to bless them, grouse when they don’t see immediate pay-off and, get this, they don’t even ask to begin with.

Now some might object to asking God for blessings, ‘You don’t ask for Christmas Gifts!’, but God has already given us so much already, (Salvation, everlasting life, or forgiveness ring any bells?).

Mathew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given to you…For everyone who asks, receives..

Even if the only time you ever talk to Him is when you ask for something, He is still happy to hear from you.  Sure, He’d be thrilled to hear from you other times as well, but God is always down to hears from His sons and daughters.

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My Cup truly overflows, it may not be with money or other such things, but its does where it counts and I can only hope that as I learn and grow in Christ, my cup will overflow and that I will be able to pass that overflow into other’s lives as well.  Because nothing tastes as sweet as the bread and the water that He gave us. And that gift is nothing if not worth sharing.

Good Deeds

Mathew 6:1-6    “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.[b]

 

Don’t ‘Facebook’ your good deeds. if the only reason you are doing good is for you own reputation and earthly pride, then you shouldn’t expect anything more as a result.

Which begs the question, if you do something good for wrong or selfish reasons – does it diminish the worth of the act?

I say yes.

When you parade around being all ‘holy’ and doing good deeds – tweeting about it all the while – you are lying.  Lying about the reasons for your actions, lying to your friends and family, and to God.

Because, truth be told – no one cares about your great deeds to humanity.  Sure they care more about your deeds than what you had at Starbucks on Sunday on your way to church, but the point remains.

Even if they did care, they would forget after a while, it hasn’t really affected them to think deeply about you or the reasons behind your actions.

The internet’s, and indeed even humanity’s love and praise is fleeting, God’s is not.