“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalms 23:6 NLT
I have been chased by debt collectors, my kids with their ’mum mum’ tune after me and wild dogs when I lived in my village, but this idea of being chased by the love and goodness of God is unusual, refreshing and powerful.
All who chase us want to get something from us, God, on the other hand, chases us to give us everything. And not just give anything, but love and goodness in abundance.
I think it is the only chase that we can let ourselves be caught with pleasure.
For our lives are but a long chaise these days. We are chasing dreams, people and stuff to help us feel loved and experience goodness, but God is after us with those very things we are so anxious to get.
Can we stop though and let goodness and love overtake us?
Can we be caught and let ourselves be immersed by God’s love and goodness, by his presence and provision? Oftentimes we choose the run, the adrenaline drive of life, it makes us feel productive, useful, important.
But, knowing that we are chased down by love and goodness makes our importance and worth more assured. God loved us so much that he valued our lives worthy of his son on the cross.
What we run to achieve in life is found in being caught by his love and goodness.
For lotions or creams to be effective they need to be rubbed on.
I learned this from my husband’s father who is brilliant at developing and testing different creams and ointments for medical purpose.
If we just applied creams without rubbing them on they are not effective.
You see, the cream needs to penetrate into the infected or sick skin and be absorbed well in order for the healing process to take place.
People approval has infected us all. We carry the scabs and scars of people not being pleased with us deep within our coverage.
We want to be creative and courageous with our lives but the fear of not pleasing all prevents us to proceed. Often times, these people we really want to please are not concerned about us and at times they don’t even exist.
So, what approval shall we focus on that really matters?
In the older days, millennials ago, people respected and acknowledged those people and authorities who were anointed.
Now, anointing can be a foreign terminology to us modern people, but in simplicity, was a ceremony that indicated the favour, pleasure and approval of God in someone’s life and service. It was performed by priests or prophets mainly and done to the kings to show all people the approval and the hand of God in that person.
The oil was rubbed on the king’s head so that the perfume, the glow and the influence of the oil was seen by all. It was a ceremony with big visual effects. It signified authority, honour and power for the person being anointed.
In our modern times, we use the phrases ’he or she is anointed’ in our places of worship mostly, but that is true also for all the people who are very good and calm and at ease with themselves and their assignment or calling wherever they may be.
What we notice in these individuals who impress us in a good way – is usually some very attractive traits like authority and assurance that are not threatening. They are truthful and loving, honest and faithful, confident, but no proud, effective without manipulation or fear, humble and powerful.
We see them as unique, some call them extraordinary and superhuman…
What that really is, is the presence of God through the Holy Spirit which is evident, is visual, and is seen. (See Galatians 5:22-23)
It’s this idea that God has approved and endorsed the person ( singing, praying, preaching, his/her business abilities, writing etc).
And when this is true about any person, based on the scripture, history and my experience – the approval of people fades away for them.
What matters the most to them is the approval, the anointing of God in their lives.
The good news about the anointing of God is that is available to all who are established in Christ Jesus. His anointing, his approval and his empowerment are available to us daily, fresh and in abundance.
So we don’t have to try and tire under pressures of life in order to accomplish our calling by ourselves but daily to be filled an rubbed on with his approval and acceptance.
When we have his approval and favour we are always -His favourite.
Whatever we are and do comes from that seal of approval.
What battlefield are you in the middle of?
What battles are you fighting right now?
Financial battles, health wars, infertility trials, relationship battles, parenting conflicts?
What is eating your life now? What is wasting your strength and energy?
It looks like you need some rest, my friend, rest right there in the middle of the warfare stage.
Help is on the way! God is our help!
He comes right where we are, there, in the field of fighting and conflict with a table and great food to fellowship with us and to honour us in front of our opposition.
Yes, right there, right in the middle of the tough and intense battle that you might be battling right now, God comes with a celebration party.
God loves to throw a good party for his children. There all the delicatessen promises of God are served, well over 5000 of them.
In the battle, he comes to strengthen and encourage you.
Have you savoured and enjoyed a feast like that, my friend? If you are feeling weak and unable to fight the battles you are facing, perhaps you are of need to feast and gain strength from the banquet served by the best host, God. Savour the word of God and know that the victory for every battle you are in is yours and the celebration is already in procession.
Valley in the scriptures symbolises a place of struggle, trials and problems. We all have them. Ether we are in the valley right now, we are about to enter in one or we are coming out of a difficult valey.
We are not promised by our saviour a ‘valley free life’ what we are promised though is even more poweful- His presence in the valey.
And his presence means protection, wisdom, comfort, understanding, advice, discipline, empathy and company as we walk together through our valleys.
He reminds us that; we are not meant to stop and explore the valley, we are not meant to hang pictures and be comfortable with the valley, we are walking through the valley. And as we walk holding our Lord’s hand we are assured of his presence power and providanve with each step.
He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Psalms 23:3 AMP
Our God is master at restoring that which is broken and beyond repair.
What is that needs restoring in your life?
Hope, home, holiness, hardened heart?
He restores it to its original purity, even better than Eden sate.
My soul ( the part of me that thinks, chooses and feels) is prone to hurts and damage. Guilt and shame, sin and bitterness erode our souls daily. We need more than just a positive message, we need a powerful Messiah who turns my:
Hurts into Holiness
Wounds into Wisdom
Bruises into Beauty
Guilt into Goodness
God makes me new, he uses all the good, bad and ugly in my life to form my character like his. If you are in Christ, restoration has happened and is happening daily. On the cross, the guilt and shame of sin were dealt with once and for all and that is just the beginning.
Jesus comes and inhabits in us through the Holy Spirit and the work of restoration continues. Our hearts, will and emotions are restored and renewed daily.
Our bodies, minds and hearts need to slow down and allow God to heal us. He has promised to bring rest to our whole being and to lead us to green pastures. I am learning that sheep are very particular when it comes to rest.
They can only rest properly in places that are quiet, where there are no pests and flies to disturb them, in places where they can lie down and be assured of their safety. They can be lead to such locations by the Shepherd only.
The same is true about our Shepard, who had dealt with all bumps and uneven places to our path so that we can rest in his green pastures.
His finished work on the cross has made a way for us to find that kind of rest and relish on it. He leads us, he stands by us and he guides our steps.
There is no need to worry about the many guilt fleas who want to occupy our minds and distract us or enemies who want our lives, for he is with us and he always will be. So we don’t worry, we rest, for he is in our tomorrows and far beyond our days can stretch, to eternity. He is leading and shepherding us to wholeness.
Now, I am sure a lot of people have heard this psalm in some quotation or song or special reading.
People who believe in God or not have used this piece of literature to comfort and encourage one another in difficult moments. It has been the last words spoken to many people departing from the earthy life.
Henry Ward Beecher, the great American preacher, reformer and activist ( specially known for standing for the abolition of slavery) said this about Psalm 23.
“It [Psalm 23] has charmed more griefs to rest than all the philosophy of the world. It has remanded to their dungeon more felon thoughts, more black doubts, more thieving sorrows, than there are sands on the sea-shore. It has comforted the noble host of the poor. It has sung courage to the army of the disappointed. It has poured balm and consolation into the heart of the sick, of captives in dungeons, of widows in their pinching griefs, of orphans in their loneliness. Dying soldiers have died easier as it was read to them; ghastly hospitals have been illuminated; it has visited the prisoner, and broken his chains, and, like Peter’s angel, led him forth in imagination, and sung him back to his home again. It has made the dying Christian slave freer than his master, and consoled those whom, dying, he left behind mourning, not so much that he was gone, as because they were left behind, and could not go, too.”
“The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.”
Psalms 23:1 TPT
To me,it’s so personal, so intimate, so close like the air we breathe and take it into our lungs. My shepherd, my best friend… my own, mine.
And boy, do we need that? We are all like sheep the Bible says, easy to be afraid and run in the wrong direction, timid, stubborn and always stumbling into dangerous situations. That is why we need a shepherd, a loving Shepherd who loves us unconditionally comes after us when we go astray, cares for us when we are broken and weak, protects us and fulfils our needs and desires.
A shepherd marks his sheep so that everyone knows they belong to him. We are marked with the Holy Spirit, we belong to God and nothing can snatch us from his hand.
Hurt happens, offences come, misunderstanding occurs – that’s life.
Still, hurt, offences and misunderstanding don’t go away because we ignore them or acknowledge them not.
Somehow they find a way to get out of our system. Whether you are an exploder or imploder what we hide eventually surfaces.
What do we do with our feelings and thoughts as they happen is crucial to the life we will live.
I was calling a good friend of mine yesterday and I noticed that there were pauses in our conversation that made me feel uncomfortable.
I felt rejected and ’not given full attention’ which immediately made me start to play that ’rejection’ tape in my mind. I started to be cold with my friend and a bit indifferent.
Because I have been working on ’listening to what I tell myself’ I recognized what was going on inside my mind and I had to stop a few moments to reckon with my thoughts and decide the direction I would follow.
For me, that’s the best way to entangle our internal talk.
Stop and hear the hurt so that the hurt has a chance to be healed.
It’s uncomfortable at times and the urge is to ignore our stories inside our head, but if I didn’t explore my reaction and took deeper my reasoning my friendship with my friend might have been jeopardised. Next time we talked I would have been cold, uninterested and abrupt.
Choosing to listen to our feelings and reactions, to our thoughts and the chain of reasoning, gives us the opportunity to renew them in the light of the truth.
David in today’s psalm has had an internal wrestling and in the end is inviting his friends to look at the truth. The truth about God and his character and how that makes us the people we do much love to be.
“Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening.”
Psalm 22:22-24 MSG
God is forever listening and standing by us. That’s the truth by which we can mirror all other thoughts and emotions we experience.
He knows us and the people we do life with, all the people, he can give us the wisdom and understanding we need to make sure that what we tell ourselves about ourselves and others is accurate.
What we think, we become, what we reflect on, we reproduce in life.
Our thinking is really important, and what is even more significant is that we can choose our thinking. God has given us the ability to choose.
The greatest gift God gave us is- Jesus, the second gift after that is the freedom to choose. He gave us a spirit of love, power and sound mind, and said now you choose. Our perfect alignment is : love, courage and healthy minds. It’s in our hands to wake up and choose the thoughts we will align ourselves to. It is our responsibility and power to renew our minds and thoughts daily with the help of the Holy Spirit.
We look to Jesus, how he even in the most painful moments of his life choose to quote the Word, psalm 22. His life was being poured out and what overflowed from his mouth was – the Word.
Help us, Lord, to fill our minds and mouths with your Word.
Thankful people are joyful people. Science, research and many therapists have acknowledged this truth too.
Gratitude and gladness walk side by side.
We learned yesterday that: pause before ’battle’ declares the presence and the power of God with us. We learn today that Praise ( the time we take to celebrate all that God does in our lives) feels and perceives the joy of God in our living.
Praise, are the little moments and the big moments in life that we stop to give thanks where thanks are due. We standstill to acknowledge and join in celebrating the goodness of God in our days.
It’s the invite between tasks and demands to take in and enjoy what has been achieved so far. Also, it’s the pause we take to thank God for what is right now and what is to come.