HE RESTORES MY SOUL

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Ps.23:2,3

Before we met Christ, our souls were in a continuous state of shambles. Our pride and sin had blinded our eyes, our tragedies and offenses had wounded us. Our conversion began the work of restoration in our lives. Only the Shepherd could restore our soul. Here is a thought from Adam Clarke on this restoration.

“Brings back my life from destruction; and converts my soul from sin, that it may not eternally perish. Or, after it has backslidden from him, heals its backslidings, and restores it to his favor.”
After conversion we still need the restoring work of the Spirit in our lives. Temptations, offenses, and calamity tend to take their toll on all of us. Only the work of the Spirit can restore our souls so that we can walk with our Shepherd. Here is what Spurgeon says about the restoration of our souls.

“When the soul grows sorrowful he revives it; when it is sinful he sanctifies it; when it is weak he strengthens it. “He” does it. His ministers could not do it if he did not. His Word would not avail by itself. “He restoreth my soul.” Are any of us low in grace? Do we feel that our spirituality is at its lowest ebb? He who turns the ebb into the flood can soon restore our soul. Pray to him, then, for the blessing—“Restore thou me, thou Shepherd of my soul!”

The Apostle Paul says in best in Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”.
So, how is it with your soul today. There is renewal and restoration available for us every time we step into the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit. These are the waters of rest that the Shepherd gently and faithfully leads us to. You may feel tired or drained emotionally, there is renewal in the Holy Spirit for you. You may feel like the work of the ministry is just too much for you, good news, these are waters of rest as well as restoration. He will bring rest to your soul and strength for tomorrow’s journey. He is restoring our souls and making all things new again.

SHALL NOT WANT

Psa. 23:1 ¶ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

Learning to trust the Lord for my provision was a very important part of my early Christian journey. Parris and I went to Bible School in California shortly after our marriage. That first year we had our son Jeremy and learned the importance of trusting God for provision. There were food bills, Bible school tuition, rent, medical bills for Jeremy’s birth, plus all the other car and clothing costs. The amazing part of that season in our life, we never did want for anything. The Lord provided and taught us that He was the source of our supply. He is our Shepherd. Here are some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on today’s verse. 

“I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve? I shall not want for spirituals, I know that his grace will be sufficient for me. Resting in him he will say to me, “As thy day so shall thy strength be.” I may not possess all that I wish for, but “I shall not want.” Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
Maybe you find yourself in a place of worry and fear today. You don’t see how you can possibly have enough to get by, let alone not even want. We must look to the God of David. He learned about trusting the Lord as his Shepherd when he was living in exile running for his life from King Saul. David saw God’s continual supply in impossible circumstances. When David was old he thought back at the faithfulness of the Shepherd and this was his conclusion, “I have been young and now I am old but I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread

MY SHEPHERD

Psa. 23:1 ¶ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

This has to be the greatest of all Psalms, the Lord is my Shepherd. This was about as personal as it gets. David spent years caring for sheep. He endured heat, cold, and loneliness; he fought off the lions and the bears, he had given and risked his life for the sheep. He protected them, provided for them, nursed them to health in sickness, and sought them when they were lost. David knew what it was to be a shepherd, the Lord had become a shepherd to Him.

Long after his years as a shepherd, David found himself alone in the wilderness, running from King Saul. He looked to the Lord for protection, provision, shelter, and guidance. In his years of exile the Lord had become David’s Shepherd. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.

“A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. There is no “if” nor “but,” nor even “I hope so;” but he says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father. The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, “My.” He does not say, “The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock,” but “The Lord is my shepherd;” if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer’s position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.”
I love that, a sheep is not a wild animal but an object of property. I am a sheep of the Lord’s pasture, I am the property of the Chief Shepherd. Since I belong to the Lord I live in a state of constant safety. What enemy can separate me from the Shepherd’s care? Sickness can’t, poverty is helpless against Him, my enemies run in terror before Him. He provides for me, protects me, shelters me, and directs my steps. Yes, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

FILLED #2

Eph. 5:18 ,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Continued from yesterday,
“Be filled” is plural and thus applies to the body of Christ collectively. God’s people collectively are to “be so ‘full of God’ by his Spirit that our worship and our homes give full evidence of the Spirit’s presence: by song, praise, and thanksgiving that simultaneously praise and adore God and teach the community”.

The Spirit filled life is closely connected to our Christian community. It is veritably impossible to stay full of the Spirit if you are not around Spirit filled believers. I am not talking about people who say they believe in being Spirit filled, I am talking about actually drinking of His Spirit corporately. Who you fellowship with will determine your ability to stay full of the Spirit.

Eph. 5:18-20 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“It ( the phrase. Be filled) is passive and thus could be translated, “Let the Spirit fill you” (NEB). There should be such an openness and obedience to the Holy Spirit that nothing hinders him from filling us.”

This is critical. Yielding, learning to be in a receiving mode, is key to receiving more of His presence. Many get stuck in a doing mode. Humility stays in a receiving state, I need Him in my life

DRINKING IS STEPPING INTO THE RECEIVING MODE

“It is a present tense and thus carries the idea of an ongoing action. As our physical bodies need the constant renewal that sleep brings, so the body of Christ needs the constant renewal that the Spirit makes possible.”

This passage could be translated ‘be being filled’. Be baptized or immersed into the Spirit is a continual thing. Paul is calling us to a lifestyle of drinking in the new wine on a continual basis.

Eph. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.
At the end of the day our life depends on being filled with the Spirit. Take time to draw near, you will benefit by His presence.

FILLED #1

Eph. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Paul draws a comparison to being under the influence of alcoholic beverages and being continually filled with the Spirit. There is an incredible pressure to drink in our present society. Those who don’t drink are often perceived as odd. Our society in America, as well as world wide, is changing rapidly. I became a Christian in 1973. Just in those years since my conversion things have changed extensively. In 1973 it would have been scandalous for a Christian to drink alcohol. Today it is not only accepted and normal, it is actually encouraged in many Christian circles. There was a reason drinking has been unacceptable for Christians, drinking brings all sorts of problems. Paul said there was a better way.

Rom. 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Gal. 5:16 ¶ But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

In the Life in the Spirit Commentary today’s passage is explained. It describes the alternative to drinking alcoholic beverages, being filled with the Spirit and the importance of being Spirit filled. Check this out.

“It is an imperative and is thus a command. Being filled with the Spirit is not an optional or tentative suggestion, as if we are at liberty to take it or leave it. It carries an urgent weight of importance.”
Paul tells us the urgency of being filled with the Spirit. Without the Spirit prevalent in our life we will easily succumb to the spirit that is in the world. Our purity and Christian testimony is at stake.

A. The Spirit within
John 4:10,13,14 – Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

B. The Spirit upon

John 7:37-39 ¶ On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

To be continued….

ENTER THE JOY

Matt. 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

Ever since Christ came into my life I have thought about the day when I will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master”. That will be the beginning of uninterrupted joy that will last for eternity. Or will it be the beginning? Actually I have been shocked repeatedly at the availability of heavenly joy in this present age. Not the kind of joy that comes from checks in the mail, unexpected gifts, or even falling in love with the love of your life. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those things as much as the next person but there is a joy much greater, infinitely greater, than anything this life can afford. This joy that is available for us in Christ today is only a taste, a foretaste of the unspeakable joys of heaven. One of the early Puritan pastors, John Trappe, relished this joy. Here are some of his thoughts on heaven’s joy.

“Here is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God’s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end.”
Trappe said that words are too weak to utter the greatness of this joy we find in Christ. Peter called it glorified, unspeakable joy. This joy is the definition of ‘too good to be true’; but it is true. This is the joy we were born to enjoy; only this joy can finally fulfill us and answer the eternal questions that swirl inside of all of us. This is the joy that empowers the Christian to live godly in this filthy world. Rather than settling for the foolish pleasures of this age, we drink of the cup of the age to come that delivers us from the false joys of this evil world. This is the joy that constrains us to share Christ to whomever will listen to us. We have tasted the pleasures of God and want everyone we know to enjoy it with us. Yes there is a greater joy just ahead for all of us but the joy we have today in Christ is bigger than any of us had ever dreamed. Go ahead, enter into the joy of the Lord.

ENJOYING GOD ?

Psa. 16:11 ¶ You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. It was the fall of 1994 and I was having the time of my life. To say I was surprised has to be a huge understatement. I had been experiencing extreme joy for over a month. Joy was one thing but this was totally out of the box. It was laughing while preaching, when doing office work, during prayer, Bible reading, and church. Especially in church. This joy was of a different nature of anything I had ever known; it was spiritual or supernatural joy. I guess the contrast was what really got me. It was church work and its troubles that had caused me such pain and sorrow. Now I was caught up in extravagant joy. Jonathan Edwards tasted this joy from simply reading a verse of scripture. Listen to his explanation of this heavenly joy.

“The first that I remember that ever I found anything of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, 1 Timothy 1:17, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen.” As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the divine being; a new sense, quite different from anything I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was; and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be wrapt up to God in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him. I kept saying, and as it were singing over these words of Scripture to myself; and went to prayer, to pray to God that I might enjoy him; and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection.”
Did you catch that? He said he had lived in this joy since it began. This is true spirituality. Not a new code or plan for success, but rather being filled with the extravagant love and joy of the Lord. This is my life, to spend my days in the pursuit of joy in God alone.