Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oct 7 - Psalm 23:6a

and I will dwell in the house
of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23:6b

I often pray this Psalm at hospital beds …

… and at funerals.

Through its course, this Psalm talks about the valley of the shadow of death and acknowledges the seasons of grief.

It ends though with triumph. And with confidence.

If you believe this statement, there’s power in your life. I’ve seen it and felt it. Indeed, I’ve watched this power unfold before my eyes – even in the midst of hard circumstances.

Yes, this world may indeed smack you around. Yes, this world may even knock you down on occasion. But when you have this confidence, you know, absolutely, that this world does not have the final word.

In this world, “you will grieve,” said Jesus in John 16:20, “but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy when you see me again.”

What’s keeping you from this confidence?
  •      Doubt? Faith is a choice. Pray, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24, NKJV).
  •      Guilt? If Jesus could forgive those who nailed him to the cross, he will absolutely forgive you. As it says in Romans 5:8, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
  •      Despair? Don’t just look at your immediate trials. Look back and remember all the blessings in the past. If God has blessed you before, he can and will bless you again.

Part of living in this broken world, said Jesus, is that “you will grieve.” Yes, but what will happen when claim the confidence of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever? “Your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy when you see [Jesus] again.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who chooses to not look down …
but to look up in confidence

Friday, October 5, 2012

Oct 5 - Psalm 23:6a

Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life
Psalm 23:6a

I’ve heard this passage all of my life. I’ve always liked the promise of “goodness … all the days of my life.” But I’ve never stopped to think about what it means to have goodness following me.

While I’m absolutely thankful for every past blessing, I’d generally prefer (and eagerly request) for better days to be ahead of me than behind me. So what does it mean, that “goodness and mercy follow me”?

Here’s what I think …

In John 10:24, Jesus says, “My sheep recognize my voice … and they follow me.” The good shepherd is in front of us, and good sheep follow behind.

Now, carry that a step further, if you’re a good sheep, what’s following you? Other sheep.

I’ve not looked this up to see if this is the official meaning of this verse; nevertheless, I invite you to hear today a call to leadership (in addition to the ever-present call to discipleship and following).

It’s been said that every Christian ought to look like a sheep from the front and a shepherd from behind.

Who are you following and learning from? Who are you leading and teaching?

Discover the joy of having those who follow you walk in the paths of goodness and peace.

In Christ’s Love,
a sheepdog,
I try to follow and lead

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oct 2 - Psalm 23:5c

my cup runneth over
Psalm 23:5c

If people remember Jimmy Dean, nowadays, they think of sausage.

I remember him first from the old Daniel Boone television show. (Yes, I was one of the young American boys with a coonskin cap.)

Jimmy Dean’s first claim to fame, however, was as a singer and entertainer. In terms of recordings, this country star is probably best known for his early 1960’s hit, “Big Bad John.”

My favorite song of his, though, is “My Cup Runneth Over.” Also known as “Drinking from my Saucer,” this “song” is really a lyrical reading of a simple but powerful poem of thankfulness and perspective. The second verse is my favorite …

I ain't got a lot of riches, and sometimes the going’s tough
but I've got kids who love me and that makes me rich enough
I just thank God for his blessings and the mercies he's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s been given
more than I deserve
(I’m lapping at the table,
‘cause my saucer’s overflowed)

I never made a fortune and it's probably too late now
But I don't worry about that much, I'm happy anyhow
And as I go along life's journey, I'm reaping better than I sowed
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.
I ain't got a lot of riches, and sometimes the goings tough
but I've got kids who love me and that makes me rich enough
I just thank God for his blessings and the mercies he's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.
I remember times when things went wrong, and my faith got a little thin
but then all at once the dark clouds broke, and the sun peeked through again
so Lord help me not to gripe about the tough rows I hoed
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.
And if God gives me strength and courage, when the way grows steep and rough
I'll not ask for another blessing, I'm already blessed enough
And may I never be too busy to help another bear his load
I'll keep drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Oct 1 - Psalm 23:5b

Thou anointest my head with oil
Psalm 23:5b

Do you know what “Messiah” means?

Wait … before you answer that, do you know what “Christ” means?

Both words refer to Jesus. And both words mean “anointed” – “Messiah” is the Hebrew and Old Testament word for the long expect king; “Christ” is the Greek and New Testament word for the fulfillment of these prophecies through Jesus, the Son of God.

While we’re talking about “anointed,” do you know who, in the ancient world, was normally anointed? Three types of people …
  •      Kings
  •      Priests
  •      And dead people (They were anointed with spices to minimize the stench of death)

By the end of his life on earth, Jesus was all three.
  •      He was a dead person. (Though he would soon rise, Jesus – not just a person, but the Son of God himself – would die to save us from our sins.)
  •      Though he was mocked at his death – a crown not of gold, but of thorns, upon his head – the sign above Jesus as he hung upon the cross was wonderfully true, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
  •       Furthermore, Jesus is not understood as just a priest, but scripture tells us that he is to be viewed as the ultimate and eternal high priest. As it says in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”

Psalm 23 does not refer, however, to Jesus the Eternal King. It refers to David, a shepherd boy who would be anointed an earthly king.

But what does it mean when WE pray these words? Are we kings? Are we priest? Are we dying?

Yes, yes, and yes.
  •      We are priests. We are constantly called to stand between God and the world. We represent (re-present) the heart and teachings of God to a broken world. We represent (re-present) the prayers and confessions of broken people to loving, forgiving God.
  •      We are royalty. God is The King and is utterly unequaled. But when he calls us his children, we become princes and princesses – royalty. What is our realm? From the very beginning – Genesis 1:28 – God has given us “dominion,” kingship, and authority of this earth. The question is … will you be a leader in this world or a follower?
  •      Finally we are dying. For some that’s scary. For some it’s depressing. For you, I pray this realization is hopeful instead. When we come to faith in Christ, we unite our lives and our destiny with his. Inevitably, we will die – just as the human Messiah did – but “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” That’s the hope. That’s the promise. That’s the victory.

In Christ’s Love,
a guy with oil
dripping off his forehead