Tag Archives: psalm 23

Slowing Down

I like to say that I’m one of the busiest people I know. I hate down time and being unproductive. It’s been that way since I was a kid. I remember hating taking showers or even having to go to the restroom because they were wasting my time. I grew up to work for a company that embraced busyness and expected it. Most people there didn’t just work 9-5. They took work home and did it in the evening and at night at the expense of family time. With high expectations of busyness and productivity, I thrived and felt at home. Busyness has become a badge of honor, not just at that company, but in our world. We’re constantly on the go, juggling more balls than we can handle, and we’re teaching it to our kids.

I think that’s why so many of us are struggling with being quarantined with this pandemic. It’s forcing us to slow down and rest. It has fundamentally altered our life and schedule, and so many people are feeling unproductive because of it. I believe it’s part of God’s plan to make us rest and reset though. He’s the one who instituted a day of rest even before the fall of man, but we haven’t been good about honoring that commandment. To me, this is like God slowing us down to teach us that life goes on even if you’re not busy. The bonus is that you get to rest and reset your priorities in the process.

Psalm 23 is one of the most famous passages in scripture, but have you really listened to the 2nd and 3rd verses? They say, “He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life)” (AMP). The way I memorized it said, “He MAKES me lie down…” God’s plan for us is not to be busy, but to restore us and to refresh us. If we won’t take the time to do it, He’ll lead us into those places of rest. If you’re going nuts during this time, change your perspective to see that God is leading you to green pastures so that you can get unbusy and rest. Let Him refresh your life and help you to reset how you live going forward.

Photo by Hector Gomez on Unsplash

If you’d like to read up on how to do that better, my friend Dr. Garland Vance wrote a book called “Gettin’ Unbusy” to help you. Buy it here.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Preparation And Conditioning

In high school I had a coach that was tough. He would spend an hour and a half of a two hour practice conditioning our team. We would run laps outside and sprints inside. When we would beg for water, he’d say, “You can’t stop a game to get water.” After we would practice our plays for about 30 minutes, we’d finish practice with more running. Before you left, you had to make 100 free throws. He would tell us, “We may not be the best team on the floor, but we will be the best conditioned team.” I can tell you he was right. We ran the other teams out of the gym because they would get tired. When we held the state championship trophy, it was all worth it.

God, like that coach, is always looking ahead in our lives, seeing what we can’t see. He knows what it will take to condition us now so that we will endure the things that are coming. Preparing and conditioning are never easy, nor are they fun, but they build in us the endurance to push through where others fail. They get us in shape spiritually for the spiritual battles that we will face. At times during conditioning we can feel like giving up or want to start questioning why we aren’t spending more time practicing the things God is going to use us for. I’ve learned that if the enemy succeeds in destroying our witness, he can keep us from giving the message. We must be able to endure the pressure first.

I love the way The Passion Translation words Psalm 23:4. It says, “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!” God’s path rarely goes where we think it should. Many times it goes into dark places of testing and conditioning because God wants to build your trust in Him before the enemy attacks. What you learn in the valley will sustain you in the battle. Preparation and conditioning are necessary to make you more than a conqueror. The greater God’s plan is for your life, the greater your preparation and conditioning will be.

Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Being Shepherded

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Psalm 23 has to be the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Like me, you may have memorized it as a child. If you’ve seen any funeral in a movie or TV, you’ve definitely heard it being read. When something like that is ingrained in us, we tend to glaze over it when we hear it. We know we know it, so we don’t really pay attention to what it’s saying. If you stop and think about it, there are some powerful truths just in the first few verses.

In the first verse, we read, “THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack” (AMP). Think about that. The Lord watches over you personally like a shepherd watches sheep. He makes sure that you are fed, protected, and on the right path. You have everything you need in Him. There’s no need to panic today because your shepherd is watching over you making sure you have everything you need.

Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” God knows we all need times of rest and refreshing. We are constantly on the go, looking for greener pastures. God says to us, “Follow me and I will give you rest.” You don’t have to go looking for them, you just have to be willing to be led by Him. You have to give up your rights and submit to the authority of your shepherd. When you do, you will find the greener pastures and rest you’ve been looking for.

Verse three confirms that by saying, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.” Not only does God refresh you, He restores you. He gives back what has been taken from you. He also leads you into the paths of life that please Him. He does all of this not because you’ve done anything. He does it because He loves you and cares for you.

Even if you’ve been the sheep that has gone astray or fought against being shepherded, we know that God loves you enough to find you where you are, in the condition you’re in, to lovingly bring you to the fold. He doesn’t wait for lost sheep to find Him. He’s proactively looking for you because He knows your life will be better with His flock. He will leave 99 to find just one sheep. That’s the kind of shepherd we have. He gives us everything we need, He leads us to restful places, and He restores our lives. We just have to be willing to be a part of His flock and to submit to His shepherding.

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Faith Over Feelings


Everyone of us has had some dark valleys that we’ve walked through. There are those days, months, and years where we just wish we could see a ray of hope. We want to know that we are not alone. That God has a plan. That He hasn’t forgotten us. We want to know that this time won’t last forever. In those times, it’s critical that our faith over rides our feelings. Our feelings interpret circumstances, but our faith dictates them.

I remember walking through a long, dark valley. God spoke to me and said, “I see you where you are. I have not left you or forgotten you. I’m walking with you through this. I am not in front of you or behind you. I’m right beside you.” Those words boosted my faith over my feelings. They reminded me that even when I can’t see or feel God, that He is with me no matter what. When my prayers feel like they’re falling on deaf ears, He hears them because He’s a whisper away. He’s walking with us in the darkness. 

In Psalm 23:4, David gave us some words to remember this truth. He wrote, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT). In the valley, our feelings produce fear, but our faith produces peace and reassurance that God has not left us. We don’t have to fear or fret in the valley. God is walking right beside us each step of the way. He has not forgotten us. Trust your faith over your feelings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Lord Is My Shepherd

  
Psalm 23 has to be the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Like me, you may have memorized it as a child. If you’ve seen any funeral in a movie or TV, you’ve definitely heard it being read. When something like that is ingrained in us, we tend to glaze over it when we hear it. We know we know it, so we don’t really pay attention to what it’s saying. If you stop and think about it, there are some powerful truths just in the first few verses.

In the first verse, we read, “THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack” (AMP). Think about that. The Lord watches over you personally like a shepherd watches sheep. He makes sure that you are fed, protected, and on the right path. You have everything you need in Him. There’s no need to panic today because your shepherd is watching over you making sure you have everything you need.

Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” God knows we all need times of rest and refreshing. We are constantly on the go, looking for greener pastures. God says to us, “Follow me and I will give you rest.” You don’t have to go looking for them, you just have to be willing to be led by Him. You have to give up your rights and submit to the authority of your shepherd. When you do, you will find the greener pastures and rest you’ve been looking for.

Verse three confirms that by saying, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.” Not only does God refresh you, He restores you. He gives back what has been taken from you. He also leads you into the paths of life that please Him. He does all of this not because you’ve done anything. He does it because He loves you and cares for you.

Even if you’ve been the sheep that has gone astray or fought against being shepherded, we know that God loves you enough to find you where you are, in the condition you’re in, to lovingly bring you to the fold. He doesn’t wait for lost sheep to find Him. He’s proactively looking for you because He knows your life will be better with His flock. He will leave 99 to find just one sheep. That’s the kind of shepherd we have. He gives us everything we need, He leads us to restful places, and He restores our lives. We just have to be willing to be a part of His flock.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Psalm Of The Living

I’ve never understood why Psalm 23 is solely used at funerals. I believe it is a Psalm for the living. David didn’t write it for a deceased friend. He wrote it to thank God for being his guide in this life. David’s path had twists and turns, ups and downs just like yours and mine.looking back on his life, he realized where God had been right with him in the hardest of times and when God had brought rest when he needed it most. God still does that today for you and me. Let’s look closer at this Psalm today to see how it applies to our lives.

When the first verse says that the Lord is our shepherd, it’s implying that we need someone to feed, guide and protect us. Sheep need help pretty often. The shepherd doesn’t get upset with the sheep for messing up or getting lost. He goes after them and brings them back to safe pasture where they can flourish. It’s a great image of what God does for each of us when we wander away from the path He has for us. He searches for us and returns us to where He wants us and can protect us from the enemy.

I like how the Message puts the next couple of verses. It says, “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and you send me in the right direction.” God knows that there are times in life when we get so busy that we need a break. He intervenes in our lives constantly trying to take us to those still waters causing us to lay down. He wants us to catch our breath and rest from time to time so we won’t burn out. When we’ve caught our breath, He points us in the right direction and sets us loose again.

Sometimes that path goes through the darkest of valleys, but we don’t have to be afraid. The New Living Translation says, “I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” God doesn’t abandon us in the darkness of life. He’s right beside us enduring it with us. When we are in the valley, he is there with his rod and staff to protect and comfort us. He’s not way out ahead of you in the sunlight saying, “Come on! Hurry up and get here.” No. He’s right there with you in the darkness, by your side saying, “I know you’re hurt and I feel your pain. I won’t leave you here in this place.”

In verse five, the Message says, “You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.” No matter who is against you or what life brings in the valley, God has a plan. He has times of refreshing ahead for you. He gives you what you need to sustain you in those times, then He takes you to place where you will know joy once again. He revived our heavy hearts and lifts our spirits. When we look up, we will see that our cup full of blessings is overflowing with God’s goodness. We don’t have to feel forgotten or lost because God still gives blessings in the darkness of the valley.

David wrapped up this powerful Psalm by saying, “I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life. (GNT)” He knew because God had been faithful to him. He could trust God because God had never let him down even in the valley. We too can know that God’s love and goodness will be with us all the days of our lives. The New Living Translation says that God’s goodness and unfailing love will pursue us. He will not stop being with us or pursuing us with His love in this life. So you see, this is a Psalm of the living more than the dead. God is with you right now no matter what part of the path you’re on. Trust in Him and His plan. He’s watching over you like a good shepherd. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Walking Through Death Valley

Psalm 23 is probably one of the best known chapters in the Bible. It’s one of the first ones we memorize as kids. It’s in almost every funeral scene on TV and in the movies. They always quote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” When we hear it so many times or have it memorized as kids, we lose deeper meaning in it because it is in our rote memory and not in our hearts.

I recently read that chapter in the Message to see a different angle beyond my rote memory. I saw something I had never caught because I had always looked at it or thought of it in King James English. If we look at the scripture quoted above and the end of the one before it in the Message, we see, “(You) send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk by my side.”

What I see in that is the “right direction” that God sends us in can lead us through Death Valley. We like to equate good times with being in God’s will and bad times with being out of it. Here we see that the direction God sends us in can lead us through difficult times. The good news is also that we don’t have to be afraid in those times because God is by our side. He’s there walking through the valley with you.

I know I’ve shared this before, but this made me think of the promise God spoke to me as I walked through the darkest valley of my life. He said, “I have not left you, nor forsaken you. I am by your side walking through this with you. I’m not in front of you or behind you. I am by your side walking with you.” I had never seen that word from Him in connection with this scripture until now. I just knew that when He spoke it, my fear of an uncertain future left.

The Amplified version refers to Death Valley as “the deep, sunless valley.” In those dark days when there is no light, no future, no promises to hold onto; God is there walking with you. He sees the road and uses His rod to protect us and His staff to guide us. When there is no light, you learn to fully trust Him to get you through Death Valley. You rely on Him to show you where the path is that leads out of that valley. Your faith and trust in Him grows deeper than it ever could in the light on a mountain top.

If you’re in Death Valley today, don’t assume it’s because you’ve taken a wrong turn. Even Job’s friends tried to convince him that he had hidden sin that caused his time in the valley. He was one who was upright and walked through Death Valley with God at his side. You can too. God is by your side in that deep, sunless valley today. He’s there to protect you and to guide you. Don’t leave His side. He hasn’t left yours. The “right direction” will soon lead you out of this temporary time in the valleys it’s a deeper trust in Him.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized