Psalm 23:5-6 (part 3)

Isn’t it amazing to be able to trust someone so much that even when we go through dark, dismal places that we don’t need to fear because we are never alone and we have the most incredible loving provider and defender and care taker.

I love this Psalm. There is so much beauty and depth within the words written here.

These last 2 verses resound inside me with their promises and truths.

Imagine being brought to a dining hall and the doors are thrown open and you are escorted in and an incredibly important person shows you the most incredible feast laid out and it’s all for YOU! It has all your favorite foods and drinks and even some that are specifically nourishing to what you need at this exact moment. It’s been laid out perfectly to honor YOU!

Now imagine that your “enemies” – the people who have been opposed to you, or angry with you, or jealous or resentful, or who have been treating you badly – have all been brought in to witness you receiving this great honor. It would be a weird feeling, wouldn’t it? We aren’t used to being extravagantly honoured, especially in front of those who oppose or persecute us!

Can you truly fathom what it is to be honoured by the Creator of all? Think about that for a moment.

It was customary at the time for the host to lavish extravagance on their guests, to provide for their every need and to protect them.

So not only are you being provided for and honoured and exalted, but you know that you are completely safe and can be relaxed and refreshed at the same time.

Having your head anointed with oil was also to refresh and revitalize you; if your cup runs over it means you don’t lack, you have more than enough. There is an abundance of blessing and provision in your life. How amazing is that! There’s something incredible that happens inside of us when we acknowledge truths that we know but may not feel.

We can “feel” a lot of conflicting emotions but when we align ourselves and our “feelings” with His truth there is peace and joy, even in the middle of uncertainty and chaos. The acknowledgment here is that He does refresh and revitalize us and that He provides for us is in abundant ways. We can trust that He is our good Shepherd.

Without a doubt, with all certainty and confidence and assurance……..that’s what “surely” means.

Without a doubt, with all certainty, confidence and assurance, goodness and mercy (God’s tender love that doesn’t give us the punishment that we deserve) will follow me – they will persue me – all the days of my life. I will be chased after by His goodness and His mercy every day for the rest of my life.

And that’s not the end because even when I die, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That’s the hope that we have as believers. That when all is said and done, it’s not just the end. It’s a whole new beginning and we will spend eternity with the one who loves us most; with the one who created us, who gave His life for us.

How incredible is that?

I love this Psalm and the meaning and imagery within it. Take this Psalm and recognize the immediate presence of it. The personalized reality of it…..the relationship between Him and You. Hold these truths tightly and it will change your life.

THE LORD is MY Shepherd, I shall not want. HE makes ME to lie down in green pastures. HE leads ME beside still waters. He restores MY soul.

When we truly encounter the reality of His love and His truth and His presence, we are changed. We can’t help but be changed.

Shattered and Beautiful

I was thinking about times in my life when I’ve felt so shattered and devastated by situations or circumstances.

I’m talking about the times when you feel so beaten down or broken that you don’t even feel like you have it in you to worship or praise or rejoice your way out of the situation. What you want to do is fall on the ground in a heap and either have a tantrum; or sob until you can’t breathe, or both. Or maybe you just want to curl up in the fetal position and hide……have you been there or is it just me?

I love how real David expressed himself in the Psalms. The Psalms are gritty and glorious and real; and filled with emotion and heartache and suffering and joy and praise and worship and even frustration and a desire for revenge. They’ve got it all and when I have no words to speak what my heart is feeling; there’s always something in the Psalms that resonates with me, no matter the situation or circumstance.

In Psalm 51:15-17, David is feeling all the feels and he cries out to God because He knows that praise will help him move beyond his immediate feelings. You’ve got to know that he’s not feeling like praising. He feels locked up, maybe shut down; but He knows what He needs to do.

He acknowledges that God isn’t interested in the surface things like how good we present ourselves or what we offer or give up to make ourselves look or feel better about something.

I think verse 17 is one of my favourites.

Think about the picture it presents. God’s pleasure is released like a fountain bubbling up and overflowing when we scrape up the pieces of our heart and offer them to Him. When we come to Him with all our brokenness and wounding and shattered pieces and say, “Here. I don’t even know what to do anymore.”

Have you ever had someone despise you? It’s an awful feeling. Especially if they are despising your weakness? It’s like getting kicked when you’re already down. But God won’t despise you when you come to Him shattered. The opposite of despise is to cherish, adore, admire, love; that’s how He will receive you when you bring your broken pieces to Him.

Imagine. Imagine feeling like you’ve been broken into a million pieces and you can’t possibly see how you are worth anything to anyone in the shape you are in. You scrape together all the pieces and come before God with all the sadness and hurt and shattered-ness that you are feeling. And He looks at you with such love and compassion and holds all those pieces close to His heart until the warmth of His love softens them enough that He can mold and piece them back together into an even more beautiful masterpiece than what originally was.

May we offer those shattered pieces of ourselves to the One who loves us most. Trusting that He will create beauty from brokenness.

He knows

Have you ever felt like God couldn’t possibly understand what you are going through? I know that I have.

I’ve even said, “But God, you never went through “this”. “This” is huge and awful. How could you possibly know what this feels like?

I remember saying that to God years ago, when I felt so betrayed by some people. And He said to me, “I, too, have been betrayed. I know exactly what that feels like and it’s hard and devestating. Especially when it’s people you think you can trust and who claim to love you.

I remember when Nathaniel died and I wanted to scream “..but you never had a son who died…” oh wait…

I remember crying out to Him, in pain and confusion, “God, I hurt so bad. It hurts to breathe, to move. I feel like I’m dying. When have you ever felt like this?”

Ya, I don’t know that I’m the most reverent when I talk to God but He loves me even when – and maybe especially when – I’m feeling raw and broken.

It was a few days later that I came across this verse and it hit me straight to my heart.

Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. And He knew. He knew he was about to be betrayed. He knew that He was giving
His life for ones who both did and didn’t believe. He knew the agony that was coming. He knew. He wished he didn’t have to go through it all but was willing to because of love.

He said to His friends,

Matthew 26:38 TPT

“My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He knows. He really does know. And because He KNOWS – You can trust that He is with you, staying and keeping watch with you. You are never alone.

He knows.

Psalm 23 (part 1)

This Psalm has really come alive to me recently. Have you ever thought about what it really is saying? It’s such a popular scripture but have we slowed down and really thought about what it means and what it’s really saying and how it applies in our lives. It’s so powerful if you really break it down and make it applicable.

Psalm 23:1-6 NKJV

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

When you break it down, you really start to see the incredibleness of it.

The Lord is my Shepherd

The root of the word that’s most commonly associated used for “shepherd” comes from a word that means best friend. So not only is the Lord referenced as responsible overseer of his flock (that’s us….we are His sheep) but he is our best friend; He never leaves us or abandons us. He is always there for us. He is a caring, loving nurturing father-figure who doesn’t just tend to his flock out of sense of duty but out of a deep sense of love. Shepherds were also fierce protectors of their flocks; keeping them safe from harm and predators. That’s amazing to see it like that. To see the depth of meaning in those five words! It’s so much more than just some random person guiding a bunch of dumb sheep around.

I shall not want.

I will have more than enough. I lack nothing. I have everything that I need. My emotional, physical and spiritual needs are met. I am provided for. What a powerful truth. What would it look like if we truly walked out our daily lives believing this truth and living in it! I’m pretty sure that we’d operate differently than we often do. How much more confidence would we have if we fully believed that everything we needed was taken care of? What would we do differently, if we really embodied this truth? Think about it! Wow!

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

In God’s incredible love for us, He provides a safe place. A place where I can rest, free from all fear, because I trust that He has led me there and is watching out for and protecting me.

He leads me beside still waters.

I can confidently follow where He leads me, because He brings me to peaceful, calm places where I can be refreshed.

He restores my soul.

When we follow the paths where He leads(to the green pastures and still waters) and rest in His loving, safe presence; our souls and lives are refreshed. So often life wears us down as we do our own things, our own ways, on our own; but He wants us to follow His ways, His path and be refreshed and restored!

He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

This phrase actually translates as “circular paths of righteousness.” Did you know that the sheep on the hills in Israel would wander in circles as they grazed and they would slowly circle their way up the hills to the tops. It was so much easier than just heading straight up. Even though it may seem like we are just going in circles and not really getting anywhere, when we follow where our Good Shepherd leads, we gain ground; and in doing so, we bring honor to His name.

How incredible are those first three verses? I’d love to hear what part stands out to you the most.

I’ll share more of my thoughts, on the rest of this Psalm, in another post.

Forgiveness

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness recently.

It’s felt like there was something brewing inside of me and I couldn’t quite figure it out. So today I sat down and really dove in to it.

I know about forgiveness. I know how important it is. Growing up in the church, it’s preached everywhere and often.

I thought I was doing a good job of practising forgiveness. It’s not always easy but you choose to walk in forgiveness even if you don’t feel like it because holding on to un-forgiveness leads to bitterness and resentment and I don’t want to live like that.

I really thought I was walking in forgiveness but today as I searched the scripture, something came alive to me.

Don’t you just love when revelation hits?

It’s so amazing.

So often, we feel wronged. We are human.

It can be something as simple as someone cutting us off while we are driving, or maybe a neighbour takes advantage of our good nature and generosity, or it can be as serious as having someone slander us. There are countless reasons and ways for us to “feel wronged”.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced situations or circumstances where others have wronged us. It’s a pretty human feeling to want them to pay for what they’ve done or to feel like you’re owed something to compensate for the hurt or loss that you’ve felt.

But…..in the Bible, God says that unselfish love is the basis for forgiveness because it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

That means letting go of resentment and giving up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

Giving up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

That’s huge.

Can I do that?

Will I give up my perceived right to expect an apology and any form of compensation for wrongs done to me?

Forgiveness is not an option according to the Bible, it’s a command. We have been commanded to forgive, in the same way that God has forgiven us; and if we don’t forgive then God will not forgive us.

“And when you pray, make sure you forgive the faults of others so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you.”

Matthew 6:14-15 TPT

When I really think about that, it’s sobering. I have been forgiven of so much. He died for me. He gave His life so that I wouldn’t have to die for my sins. And I AM a sinner. I make mistakes. I do wrong, even when I want or try to do right.

I have been forgiven and continue to be forgiven for the wrongs that I do. Will I choose to offer forgiveness to those who wrong me? Will I forgive completely and let go of any desire to be acknowledged or apologized to?

In Luke 23, while hanging on the cross, Jesus said,

“Father, forgive them for they don’t even know what they are doing.”

There was no repentance by “the others”, at that moment. There was no acknowledgement of wrong doing; and even so, He forgave. He continued to lay down His life even though he was being hurt and betrayed by the very ones he was dying for.

He didn’t hold them accountable. He said,

“Father, don’t hold them accountable for their wrong doing. Don’t make them pay. Forgive them.”

In the middle of the hardship, hurt, pain, betrayal; while the offences were still happening – He forgave. He didn’t hold anything against them. He let them off the hook.

What an example! Can we live like that? Will we choose to live like that? I want to.

I know that, in the past, I have looked for “repentance” or a recognition of wrong doing but from what I read and understand, we are to offer forgiveness freely. It’s not based on contrition or apology or acknowledgement of wrong doing. It has nothing to do with the other party!

So what does it look like to give up the right to be compensated for the hurt we have felt or experienced?

What does it look like to forgive?

I guess for me, it’s a choice to continually let go.

  • Letting go of my perceived right to be apologized to.
  • Letting go of the desire to be vindicated.
  • Letting go of the need to punish.
  • Letting go of the want to see the other party hurt as bad as I have.
  • Letting go of thinking that I know what’s right or best.
  • Letting go of expecting accountability.

It’s letting go, giving up, surrendering my wants and giving it all to God to hold and care for.

If you really think about it, there’s such a beauty and freedom in that “letting go.”

In our own strength, forgiveness is impossible but with God, nothing is impossible and we can walk the path of forgiveness with grace and joy.

I’ve been a bit emotional thinking about this all today. It’s really quite incredible.

God is Love

I’ve been thinking about God’s Love recently; and how that plays out in my life.

God Is Love!

1 John 4

God is the embodiment of perfect love. In wanting to be more like God, I want to know His character and have it evidenced by His Love inside of me; in my every thought and action and word.

And God lives in us. Which means that the expression of our lives should be evidence of His Love. And fortunately for us, He gave us clear instructions on what love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I want to be able to substitute my name for Love and have this be a description of myself. That when I think about myself or when others think of or talk about me that this is what they say! I don’t believe the large part is talking about my physical size but rather that Love is Large within me. Although being honest, I’m not exactly a small person, so I guess that fits, too!

Patti is large and incredibly patient.
Patti is gentle and consistently kind to all.
Patti refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else.
Patti does not brag about her achievements nor inflate her own importance.
Patti does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek her own honor. Patti is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
Patti joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.
Patti is a safe place of shelter, for she never stops believing the best for others. Patti never takes failure as defeat, for she never gives up.

That’s quite the passage to live up to; to line my life up to. But, WOW, I can see how beautiful life is, as we operate from a position of love.

Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of our lives and I love the way the Passion translation puts it.

Galatians 5

The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is
DIVINE LOVE in all its varied expressions.

And this goes right back to wanting the expression of God’s Perfect Love evidenced in my life.

I want overflowing Joy in my life, no matter the situation or circumstances.
I want to live a life of Peace, trusting that God’s got everything under control.
I want Patience that endures forever and ever.
I want to be Kindness in action.
I want to live a life full of Virtue, evidenced by high moral standards.
I want to live full of Faith; believing and trusting God, no matter what!
I want Gentleness to be so evident in my life.
I want Strength of body, soul and spirit so I can be confident and boldly move forward in life.

I so desperately want God’s love to be evident in my life in every way. I want my words and my thoughts and my actions to be loving towards myself and others.

Going back to the first verse in 1 John, when God’s love is working in my life and I fully grasp and understand and live a life of perfect love, then I will not be walking in fear.

Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.

There is a footnote in the Passion Translation indicating that the context of the word “Fear” is the fear of correction, punishment or rejection.

So if I’m walking in Love then I won’t be walking in fear. Which means if I’m feeling fearful, I’m likely scared that I’m going to be in trouble, or be punished or rejected.

Often, when I can take a step back from my situation, and think about what I am feeling – that assessment is correct. Fear of punishment, or getting in trouble or rejection is often at play.

The more that I realize that I’m operating out of fear, the quicker I can align myself back to LOVE. Get my focus off my situation and circumstances; and back on the ONE who loves me unconditionally. The One who’s love for me is patient, gentle, kind…..perfect! And when I’m walking in alignment with Him, then I am also walking in Love. So that same love that He gives me, I can then give out freely to those around me. Its such a beautiful concept to think of – His love fills me because He lives in me; and as I fill up and overflow, His love pours out to others. Wow!

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I was berating myself, this morning, for my lack of self control (great start to the day, eh?) and I felt God whisper to me “Just follow my unforced rhythms of grace! I love you so much! I’m not condemning you and you shouldn’t condemn yourself either.

And that stopped me in my tracks.

All of the sudden, I went from feeling shame and condemnation, to feeling loved and treasured.

That’s a huge shift in both feeling and perspective.

I went and found that verse in the Message. I love the way that verse is shared in so many different translations but for this situation, The Message’s interpretation really speaks to me.

No matter the situation or circumstances, if we walk with God and work with Him; if we learn from Him and see how He does “it”, we will learn to live a life of freedom. We will recover. We will rest. Our journey through this life will be characterized by a lightness and not weighed down and burdened.

That sounds amazing to me.

And in His grace and mercy, He will lead and guide; and I can trust that what He asks of me will bring me life. It won’t be a heavy and difficult burden.

And just like that, my whole day turned around.

I no longer felt shamed to force myself to do something. Instead, I asked the Father what He wanted me to do and did that. There is such a joy and peace and “lightness” in following His ways.