Wednesday, May 29, 2013

GPS: God's Positioning System

We are exactly where God intended us to be 

The place in which you find yourself, is exactly where the master desires you to live your life. "Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident: It is the very place God meant for thee."There is no haphazard in this world. 

God leads every one of his children by the right way. He knows where and under what influences each particular life will ripen best. One tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountain-top swept by storms. There is always adaptation in nature. 

Every tree or plant is found in the locality where the conditions of its growth exist, and does God give more thought to the trees and plants than to his own children? He places us amid circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen best. We may think we would ripen more quickly in a more easy and luxurious life, but God knows what is best; he makes no mistakes.

There is a little fable which says that a primrose growing by itself in a shady corner of the garden became discontented as it saw the other flowers in their beds of sunshine, and begged to be removed to a more conspicuous place. Its prayer was granted. The gardener transplanted it to a more showy and sunny spot. It was greatly pleased, but there came a change over it immediately. 

Its blossoms lost much of their beauty and it became pale and sickly. 

The hot sun caused them to faint and wither. So it prayed again to be taken back to its old place in the shade. The wise gardner knows best where to plant each flower, and so God, knows where his people will best grow into what he would have them to be. Some require the fierce storms, some will only thrive spiritually in the shadow of worldly adversity, and some come to ripeness more sweetly under the soft and gentle influences of prosperity whose beauty rough experiences would mar. He knows what is best for each one.

When God chooses a home for us, he fits us for its trials. He adapts his grace to each one's necessity. For rough, flinty paths, he provides shoes of iron. He never sends any one to climb sharp, rugged mountain-sides wearing silken slippers. He gives always grace sufficient. As the burden grows heavier, the strength increases. 
As the difficulties thicken, the angels draws closer. 

As the trials become sorer, the trusting heart grows calmer.

Jesus always sees his disciples when they are toiling in the waves, and at the right moment comes to deliver them. Thus, it becomes possible to live a true and victorious life in any circumstances.
Instead, then, of yielding to discouragement when trials multiply and it becomes hard to live right, or of being satisfied with a broken peace and a very faulty life, it should be the settled purpose of each one to live, through the grace of God, a patient, gentle and unspotted life in the place and amid the circumstances allotted. The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials, but in rightly meeting and enduring them.

The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk, often almost to breaking, is more firmly rooted than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley where no storm every brings stress or strain. 

The same is true in life. The grandest character is grown in hardship. Effeminacy springs out of luxury. The best men the world ever knew have been brought up in the school of adversity and hardship. 

Besides, it is no heroism to live patiently where there is no provocation, bravely where there is nothing to perturb. Not the hermit's cave, but the heart of busy life, tests as well as makes character. If we can live patiently, lovingly and cheerfully amid all our frets and irritations day after day, year after year, that is grander heroism than the farthest-famed military exploits, for he that ruleth his own spirit is better than he that taketh a city.

Yet we must keep through all a brave heart, an unfaltering purpose and a calm, joyful confidence in God. Temporary defeat should only cause us to lean on Christ more fully. Heaven is on the side of every one who is loyally struggling to do the divine will and to grow into Christ-likeness  And that means assured victory to every one whose heart fails not.

"If only we strive to be pure and true,
To each of us there will come an hour
When the tree of life shall burst into flower,
And rain at our feet the glorious dower
Of something grander than ever we knew."

-unknown author

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Glorifying or Gratifying?

If you take notice, the description under my blog title reads: 
"Learning how to bring glory to God as we live our lives together one day at a time." 
As a Christian, this is my life goal - but what does this look like to the average person? A few things may come to mind such as  A+ church attendance, volunteering for community outreaches, Sunday school teaching, attending Bible studies, witnessing, being nice to people, reading your bible every day, going on mission trips, etc. Basically, a lot of things the public mostly sees... right? While all these things are great, God has been shifting the focus for me lately.

I have been contemplating different ways I can bring God glory - with my 'private life' being the focal point. Our private life is an accurate gauge as to where we are spiritually vs. where we may 'appear' to be publicly.  God cares more about what we do and think in secret than we know. Matthew 7:21-23 is a good lesson in the importance of our private life vs. our public life. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you evil people.’ These people 'publicly' confessed their belief that the Lord was their Savior, along with the public display of miracles; however, look how the Lord responds to them on judgment day. He says, "I will tell them 'publicly' I never knew you." The problem with these people is that their works were not a true reflection of what was in their hearts. While they had an 'appearance' of righteousness, their hearts were far from Christ. Only He knows our hearts. "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10). 

I don't want to be partially, yet *fully* committed to the Lord, in that my private life matches my public life. To truly have a heart for God, you must realize that every little decision you make affects your walk with the Lord. Every sinful choice means we have to override our conscious *every* single time. Ultimately, our decision will either Gratify our Flesh or Glorify our God. 

Speaking of decisions -  a few nights ago, my husband and I wanted to see a movie. We made the decision to glorify God and not our flesh by looking up the contents of the movie before viewing it (this counts for Redbox/rentals as well). *Note* MPAA ratings are a worldly perspective as to what is/isn't acceptable. I have seen plenty PG/PG-13 movies that had inappropriate material. God's word tells us exactly what is acceptable and non-acceptable to Him. A movie does not have to be a 'Christian' movie for us to view it; however, the contents should meet God's standards based on His word. Here is God's MPAA rating scale as to what we should watch and listen to.

Let me ask you a question - what movies have you gone to see recently? What TV shows have you been meditating on? Was everything in it pure, honorable and praiseworthy? Would you have taken Jesus to see that movie or invited Him over to watch that episode? Obeying this concept really limits what my husband and I watch - and I will admit - it's hard at times. When we do see something inappropriate, we turn our heads. When I think of the grand scheme of things, it is extremely selfish to whine about sacrificing something so simple compared to Christ sacrificing His life for us. It's just a movie - we can't keep it or take it with us.

I don't know where you live, but currently playing in our theaters are: Epic, Fast and Furious, The Hangover part three, Star Trek into darkness, the great Gatsby, and pain and gain.

I want to share a site we use as a guideline for movie viewing: There are many others, but we use this the most. I encourage you to type your movie in and scroll all the way down to where it says:

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Parents Guide:

 View content advisory »
You may be surprised at what you find and... if you are serious about having a closer walk with God, this is a decision that will glorify Him. 

Continuing with decisions... I do not always make good ones! Today my husband and I fell short when we got into an argument over something so ridiculously, trivial. Are you ready for this? It was over a spot on the backseat of our car! Yes, I told you it was stupid! Out of anger/frustration, we both said something to one another that definitely was not glorifying to God. Pray for me (and my husband) because I want to have more control over my tongue and emotions. If anyone else struggles with *SPEECH* here are some good verses to meditate on:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Matthew 12:36
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
  1.  Our speech shows are heart.
  2. “Unclean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is not presentable to God.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
a.      If displeasing, unclean things come out of our heart/mouth, then we do not love God completely (with all our heart, soul and mind).

Psalm 39:1

I will watch my ways   and keep my tongue from sin; 
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.

John 14:26 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Lastly, to touch on a few more decisions... we glorified God by praying and giving thanks for every meal. Also, while on our way to Knoebels Amusement Park - praise God - my husband turned his head away from a few girls who were dressed inappropriately! I also made the decision to glorify God by dressing modestly - instead of becoming a stumbling block to the men around me. I didn't always do this, but as my relationship with Christ grew, He placed this on my heart. 

Do you feel God calling you to change anything in your life that will bring Him glory?

I thank the Lord for today! I really a had a wonderful time with my family. We ate and rode rides to the glory of God :o) 
Here are a few pictures and a video...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Road to Damascus

Saul of Tarsus

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus (a Pharisee in Jerusalem) swore to wipe out the new Christian church called, "The Way." Early Christians referred to themselves as followers of The Way, a term occurring in Acts six times. It connotes the idea of "the true way of God" or "the way of salvation."

Saul was a malicious persecutor of the church. He is seen in the above picture commending the stoning of the Apostle Stephen, who was falsely accused of blasphemy (Acts 7). The intensity and ferocity of Saul's hatred towards the church compelled him to seek out and destroy the Lord's disciples. He went to the chief priest and asked for letters of authorization to the synagogue leaders in the city of Damascus. Saul wanted to arrest any man or woman who followed the way of Christ and imprison them in Jerusalem.

If you are a true disciple of Christ, you too will encounter *persecution*. Persecution proves you are walking with the Lord and it's Satan's attempt to stop your influence for the Kingdom of God. 

Saul's Conversion

On the road to Damascus (one of the world's oldest cities - located in Syria) Saul and his companions encountered a blinding light from heaven. Saul was immediately struck down, and the Lord spoke to him saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4)

When Saul asked who was speaking to him, the voice replied, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:5-6).

The men with Saul heard the sound but did not see the vision of the risen Christ that Saul did. Saul was left blinded and led by the hand into Damascus to a man named Judas.

What do you suppose the significance of the *three* days represents? Think about it this way... Saul was in complete darkness for 'three' days as Christ was in a tomb of darkness for 'three' days. Jonah was also in the belly of a whale for 'three' days.  I believe Christ gave them that time to reflect on their foolishness and disobedience. Up until that point, they were living for themselves and not doing the will of the Lord. 

Can you imagine what they both must have been thinking while in complete darkness? Saul, for instance, went from persecuting Christians to becoming completely dependent on them (and the Lord). He had to "entrust" himself to those he sought to murder. Imagine the fear that must have fallen upon him. He encountered the God of the universe (the one whom he was persecuting) and now was subject to whatever the Lord willed for him. Would Christ hand him over to the Christians to be stoned? Would he be blind forever? The darkness must have been terrifying!

Sin will always leave us in darkness, but the moment a sinner gives his heart to Christ, he will find peace and 'life' as he continues in the light.  Saul's state of darkness was necessary to humble him and fit him for his work.  God was transforming his heart. Jesus told Ananias, referring to Saul, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15)

On the road to Damascus, Saul's life changed forever. God stopped him dead in his tracts and opened his eyes to the way he was living. Before his conversion, he was an enemy of Christ, and we were too before our conversion! At one point in our life, we were all on the road to Damascus... living in "rebellion."  And if *you* have yet to come to the Lord and trust in Him as your Savior, you are still on the road to Damascus. God tells us where that road leads to:
"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Matthew 7:13).
No one can see they are traveling the wrong way when in darkness. No one can recognize the sin they are wading in, until the light of Christ is shed upon them, exposing their iniquities. Ephesians 5:13 says, "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light." When Christ struck Saul down in light, his heart was exposed, then it was transformed. Saul then became that very light that leads others out of darkness. How about you...

Are you being a light for others?

The dictionary defines The Road to Damascus as: 

A sudden turning point in a person's life (similar to the sudden conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus of arrest Christians)

On the road to Damascus, Saul experienced this dramatic conversion, a "turning point" in his life. He went from being the most viscous persecutor to the greatest missionary! He is responsible for writing nearly half of the New Testament! When you encounter Christ, He never leaves you unchanged! Saul's conversion is so encouraging because no matter what your past may have looked like, Christ can use you for His glory! Satan likes to remind people of their past mistakes to make them feel *unworthy* of spreading the word; however, when he does this... remind him of his future!

After the scales had fallen from Saul's eyes, 
he was given new eyes. He had become a new creation... in Christ. 

Saul even changed his name to Paul. During the *three* days of darkness in which he experienced, Saul died to himself

Have you died to yourself? 

Colossians 3 says:
"Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above... Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth). It is because of these sins the wrath of God is coming. You used to live that kind of sinful life. Also get rid of your anger, hot tempers, hatred, cursing, obscene language, and all similar sins. Don’t lie to each other. You’ve gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, and you’ve become a new person."
Are you a new creation? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So Long, Insecurity!

A blinking cursor, an empty page, and a heart full of concern. This is my release... so I  type away! Thoughts somersault in my mind like a circus. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like life is one big circus with all the crazy things that unfold day to day.

Today my heart is heavy with so many things. To start - I have been reading a book about insecurities. An insidious enemy to both men and women. While we don't like to admit we have them, if we are honest with ourselves, we will realize most of us do! From the perfectionist and overachiever - to the slacker and underachiever, both have insecurities - even though it may appear otherwise. They just compensate for them differently. 

This book had some great insight. For instance, it talked about how women use men as a mirror to confirm their self-worth. I pictured snow white saying, "Mirror, mirror on the wall." She wanted her mirror to validate how beautiful she was. We do this all the time when we fish for comments from our significant other. You know you do! We are constantly searching our environment for some type of approval. Some even go as far as searching for their identity in partners or others in their job or success. I've learned our identity is in Christ and in Christ alone. Lecrae has a good song that goes something like this... 

For the Men: 
"Hair check, shoes check, brand new fit looking cool check, looking in the mirror like "Ooooh yes!" Cover for an insecure dude 'check.' She won't feel me and they won't like me if I ain't in them J's or them brand new Nikes. But lets dig deeper inside my psyche. When it's all said and done - even I don't like me. He live in the gym, and his hair stay faded. Late model car so they think he made it. But he's Christian; he gave his life, but he still ain't satisfied in the Savior Christ. Still finds his identity in looks and cars... if he only knew that he ain't have to look so hard. If he looked in God, though it may seem odd, he'd be so satisfied he could leave it all."

For the Women:

"Got her hair done, toes and nails... is that Her? Well, it's hard to tell cause she's caked up in so much make-up. It's like she's tryna 'make up' for what she ain't, but she's a saint... but so confused cause she's been rejected by all these dudes that tell her on a scale of 10 she's a two - but that ain't true. If she only knew In Christ she is loved - she's secure and accepted. She'll never be rejected by God who's elected her. Her beauty is her Godliness. And she ain't gotta try to flaunt it cause it's obvious."
Sound like you, anyone? I know I've been there. God has taught me so much about this. Isn't it crazy how we let the world creep into the cracks and tell us we have to look a certain way or act a certain way to be 'accepted' or to be beautiful? The world tells us, "Oh just one more degree, a little less weight, a newer car, a bigger house, a couple more friends, this name-brand, that outfit, a few more church activities, etc. The list goes on. How very sad! They have missed the BOAT! Jesus is the prize guys - Jesus.

While reading this book, something the author said stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I read the following, deliberated on it, prayed about it, then I slammed the book in anger. Follow with me:

"I flashed back to another recent communication with a magazine-cover-beautiful thirty-year-old woman who mentioned- almost in passing-that she has to dress up in costumes in order for her husband to want to make love to her. I'm not knocking her pink-feathered heels, but I wonder if she is paying too much for them. I'm just sad that she can't feel desirable as herself."
Notice the last sentence highlighted? There's a reason for that.  Here we have a woman who obviously has a heart for people with insecurities (God bless her). But as I slammed the cover of the book, I saw her picture blown up on the front page. I studied it intently. As I gazed at her eyes, I saw a  set of fake eyelashes. I saw pearly white teeth (veneers?). A head full of highlights and an airbrushed face. Either this woman is unknowingly dealing with vanity issues or she is not being completely honest with herself and is still in bondage to insecurities. I pray I am wrong.

How can you write a book on insecurity and tell women that it's okay to be yourself and feel desirable with the way God has designed you when you appear not to be okay with your natural self? How can you tell a woman that you feel so sad that she has to dress up to feel attractive when you are dressing up putting on a costume of make-up. I feel very upset about this because I see this everywhere. Preachers teach God's word but appear so worldly. I prayed about it hard, and I checked my heart to make sure I wasn't being judgmental - but I cannot take a person seriously when they tell me it's okay to be myself when they obviously do not feel okay about themselves. Why the need for all the falseness? Is she caving into society's standards of what an author should look like? Am I the only one that sees this as a concern? I have to ask myself, is this woman really free from insecurity? This may seem very trivial to you, but I see this every day in my circle of friends and in the world. People are constantly seeking approval from the world. Something is very wrong.

Another thing that bothers me about authors is when they plaster pictures of themselves all over their books. I can't help but think about Psalm 115:1 that a very dear friend shared with me a few years back. It IS NOT about US! While this book contains such helpful information and great insight, God tells us in Job 12:13 - "To God belong WISDOM and POWER. COUNSEL and UNDERSTANDING are HIS"! We are just a vessel guys, the insight, and counsel we offer others is not ours, but God's. Not solely speaking of authors here - but how dare we 'ever' take credit for His work in any task. We are just PVC pipes that carry blessings to others who need deliverance and guidance. I feel so very strongly about this. And hear me out - I am not perfect. I have struggled with perfectionism, with taking the glory and credit for many things, when I shouldn't have. But God has taught me this so that I can teach others. It isn't EVER right to exalt yourself, your spiritual gifts, or your works! Remember, it's the motive behind the deed that makes it great in God's eyes. If your motive is to display your greatness, your works become worthless in God's eyes. Only He is great, guys. We are just blessed that He loves and cares for us. That He even trusts us at all to use us.

As for insecurities and finding our identity - the chorus in Lecrae's song sums it up:
"I'm not the shoes I wear; I'm not the clothes I buy. I'm am not the house I live in, I'm not the car I drive. I'm not the job I work, You can't define my worth. By nothing on God's green earth, my identity is found in Christ".
Well, I got a lot of my chest. I don't know if this will be helpful to anyone... or hurtful. But I pray it's truthful and glorifies God. I had in it my heart for so long... now you know.

Lecrae-Identity Ft. Da T.R.U.T.H and J.R with Lyrics

Monday, May 6, 2013

Forgive me Lord...

For my sins weave your crown of thorns. 
My impure and unrighteous thoughts
Press their razor sharp edges deep into your brow. 

Forgive me, Lord...

For every "little" lie I utter...
A drop of your most precious blood was shed. 
And where I should stand guilty as charged to make recompense... 
You took my place.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Forgive me, Lord...

My hurtful words are like a wrecking ball to glass.
Their shards scourge your holy flesh. 
Every unrighteous, critical, and angry word 
That rolls from my lips...
Is like shrapnel to your body and soul.

 'I' am the cause of all your afflictions.
Every single sin I commit in this body 
is against you Oh, Lord...
And you alone.
Psalm 51:4

"But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

Forgive me, Lord...

When my heart judges another
It also condemns you shouting,
"Crucify Him, Crucify Him!"

Forgive me, Lord...

My every selfish motive, 
Is the spit in your face. 
My every covetous thought, 
Sharpens those cruel nails. 

My foolish pride
and unrighteousness 
Hammer the nails into your flesh.

Forgive me, Lord...

With every greedy thought, I entertain...
I cast lots for your robes.

Forgive me, Lord...

For the weight of 'my' sin, you bore
 on the cross at Calvary... 

Oh, the Love...

My soldier, 
My hero, 
My savior... 

"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life"
 (John 3:16).

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
(God has always provided everything I ever needed, from my youth until now.)

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
(His word has filled my soul with peace and contentment.)

3 He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
(He has restored all my brokenness. He is leading me down the straight and narrow path for His glory.)

4 Even 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. 
(He protects me even when I am afraid. He gives me comfort and courage with His presence.)

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (The Lord has crushed all my enemies and my cup is overflowing with countless blessings.)

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (The Lord has been so good and gracious to me. His love is true and genuine. As I follow Him, His blessing follow me.)

I am so thankful for His love and blessings...

The Lord is my Shepard

John 10:10-14

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly..."

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand isn't a shepherd and doesn't own the sheep. When he sees a wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and quickly runs away. So the wolf drags the sheep away and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand flees because he is concerned about what he’s going to get paid and not about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me".

Jesus contrasts himself to the thief and the wolf. They are both Satan. His goal is to steal your peace, joy, emotional energy, and time. He is doing everything he can to keep you from being 'effective' for the kingdom of God and enjoying this life that God provided for you. He’s trying to kill you physically, emotionally, and mentally. He is literally trying to annihilate you. He wants to destroy your witness and your influence that God has given to you for the Kingdom of God. Ultimately, he wants to destroy the effectiveness that you can have for the Kingdom of God. That’s what he’s trying to do. That’s the thief – but not the shepherd.

The shepherd provides

Verse 1 says: The lord is my shepherd I shall not want – lack. This means during the difficult economic time all of the sudden we feel like we are going to have to provide. You will have fear if you believe that you are the provider. And the thief and the wolf will have a hay day with you. Jesus is the provider. The good shepherd does not always provide what the sheep want, but provides what the sheep need. He doesn't always lead the sheep where they want to go, but where they need to go. Jesus did not provide for the Jews what they wanted, but what they needed. They wanted a political leader – he provided a savior. They missed the provision because they were looking for what they needed. It’s very possible you missed the provision in your life because you were looking for what you wanted and not what you needed.

The good shepherd always provides.

First thing He provides: Contentment

Verse 2 says: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides still waters. Green pastures and still waters refer to peace and contentment. Two  things that mark a believers life. Peace and contentment. Green pastures refer to the rich word of God and contentment that we could have if we feed on God’s word and still waters refer to peace. Do you realize this is why you come to church? To sit besides the still waters in worship and to eat from the green pastures during the word. That’s why. Do you know why people leave church? Because they only sit beside the still waters and eat from the green pastures 1 day a week, 1 hour a week, and they do not do it throughout the week. You can sit by the still waters and eat from the green pastures every day. That’s the only way to live a successful Christian life. Is to allow the good shepherd to provide for you every day.

Second thing He provides: Restoration

Verse 3 says: He restores my soul.

You may not know this, but your soul needs to be restored. When someone makes the statement, “I was crushed when my spouse walked out on me. I was crushed when my child walked away from me. I was crushed when I lost my job.” They are actually saying, “My soul was crushed. My soul, my mind, will and emotions.” When you go through something devastating, your mind gets flooded with all these thoughts constantly all the time. Then your emotions - All sorts of depression and discouragement, worry, fear, and anxiety and then it’s difficult to make right decisions. Your soul needs to be restored. This Hebrew word means to repair or to restore. The root of the word means to return back to the point of departure. God wants to restore your soul back to the way it was before that devastating thing happened. He wants to restore/refresh your soul. He is the ONLY one that can do this. No one else can do it for you.

Third thing He provides: Guidance

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

He leads me down the right path. People don’t walk in peace and contentment because they don’t follow. You can’t drive sheep – they can only be lead. The sheep recognize their shepherds voice and they follow. Sheep won’t follow sheep, they only follow the shepherd. What makes a good lead and a good follower? If you will follow the shepherd, then you can lead. But if you quit following the shepherd and trying to lead others in your path of righteousness that’s when you lose your peace.

Fourth thing He provides: Protection

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Jesus gives us the ability to live beyond fear. Believers should never be fearful. (i.e. economic crisis). God is our provider and Jesus is our good shepherd. This is an insult to our God. He is our provider and protector. Through the valley of the shadow of death, have no fear... Why? Because He is with us in the battle.

I will fear no evil, 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me.

The wolf is afraid of the shepherd – not the sheep! The rod is not to beat the sheep with - it's to beat the wolf with. The wolf catches not the one that’s closest to the shepherded, but the one that wonders away every now and then. The wolf is afraid of the shepherd because He protects us.

He blesses us in the battle 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 

The Lord prepares a table before us, in the middle of the battle/spiritual warfare, and He says to sit down, he can handle the battle.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Refers to being refreshed or strengthened. My cup runs over – there’s plenty of it. Jesus says every time He fills your cup up its going to run over. These are all benefits to following the shepherd. The benefits of not following the shepherd, 

the wolf catches you and the thief kills, steals and destroys.

The shepherd proclaims over you Goodness, mercy, and eternal life (in verse 6).

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

If you stop running from God, His goodness will catch you – not his judgment. His goodness and mercy. 

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 

That’s the sum up of psalm 23. All of this – and I then I get to go to heaven. That’s how the good shepherd provides for us. The last thing Jesus said to Peter before he ascended personally to peter. He said "If you love me, feed my sheep". You know why? Because He loves his sheep. The great thing about our shepherd is He became a sheep. He knows what it’s like to be a sheep. Do you remember what happened to him when he became a sheep? Isaiah 53:7 - He was lead as a lamb to the slaughter. He was slaughtered so you don’t have to be. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. He’s already given His life for you so you could be blessed, protected, and provided for. He proclaims good things over your life. It’s so simple – just follow the shepherd. He saves us so that we can go to heaven, but He provides for us on this earth. What do you need from the shepherd today? Is it still waters, green pastures, or protection from your enemies? He says ask and you shall receive.