Where are You Satisfied?

Psalm 23:2a AMP “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures.

Ezekiel 34:14 AMP “I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.” 

The Psalmist, David, himself was a shepherd. He knew what his flock needed and because he cared for them, he made it available. He knew they needed a nice place to rest with plenty of food. He would want that grass to be green, fresh and tender, exactly what his little lambs would desire. It would not have been easy to find those kind of places, so the shepherd would have to be knowledgable about what was available and where. But a good shepherd would do just that. He would that good grass, a place to be filled, a place to find rest.

Our Good Shepherd knows exactly where we can be satisfied. He feeds us with “the fulness of grace in Christ.” He gives us “nourishing food”, “milk for babies”, and “meat for strong man.” He gives us food that is “sweet to the taste”, and “health to the bones” Our Shepherd gives us good pasture, a lush feeding place. We, like the Israelites, have received manna, ours is the true Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. We are satisfied in Him because He continually nourishes us. We can find rest in Him. (Quoted descriptions from John Gills commentary)

The shepherd finds a safe fold for the sheep to stay in. A place where they are protected from bears and wolves. The fold is a place where they can lie down and rest, without fear. David himself spoke of killing bears and lions to protect his flock while shepherding (see 1 Samuel 17:34). The shepherd, himself, would lie in the doorway of the fold to be their protector, to keep anything of danger out. Jesus talks about being “the Door” in John 10:7-9,  

So Jesus said again, I assure you, most solemnly, I tell you, that I Myself am the Door for the sheep. All others who came [as such] before Me are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not listen to and obey them. I am the Door, anyone who enters in through Me will be saved(will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely] and he will find pasture.”

Our Shepherd gives us places of rest and protection. John Gill in his commentary on this speaks of the church as being the fold. He says, “the sheep of Christ are gathered into churches; where they lie together, are united and knit together in love, and where they have communion with one another, and keep each other warm, and stir up one another to love and good works”. There we can find spiritual rest, ease, and safety in the growing love of the body of Christ. What a beautiful picture.

The Lord our Shepherd desires to guide us to a place of satisfaction in Him. He wants us to be nourished, to have rest, to have love, and to have communion. He knows we need all of these. He wants us to know full contentment in Him. He knows as we wander searching elsewhere to get our needs met in unhealthy ways, we will end up disappointed, hurt, and still hungry for what we really need.

Look to the Lord, look to our Shepherd God to satisfy you, to feed you His Truth, to teach you His will, and lead you in His ways. Be satisfied in Him.

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The Lord is my Shepherd

Psalm 23:1 AMP “The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide and shield me], I shall not lack.”

Psalm 23:1 KJV “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

Psalm 23 is a favorite psalm of many, as it is one of mine. This psalm shows us so much about our Lord. Verse one in the Amplified version, gives us a little insight into the ways He shepherds us. He is our Provider, He is our Guide, and He is our Protector.

The Lord is my Provider, I shall not lack anything I need.

Philippians 4:19 says,”And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

He will supply all our needs. God knows our need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). I know from personal experience, there are many times, that I have a hard time separating my wants from my needs. But the Lord knows exactly what my needs are. He knows of my physical needs, my emotional needs, and my spiritual needs. He meets me in my neediness with His ultimate supply that fits within His perfect will for my life. He uses each need to teach me more about Himself. Time and time again I learn that He is my All in All. We cannot have a need too great for God. Even so at times I am tempted to find my need met elsewhere in disobedience, impatience, or lack of trust. It is good to be reminded in this Psalm that my Shepherd is my Provider and I do not need to look in other places.

The Lord is my guide, I shall not lack direction for life.

Psalm 32:8 AMP “I  [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

Each day brings multiple choices and questions of what to do, how to handle this or that, where do you turn? Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to rely on our own insight or wisdom, but rather acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths, making clear the way we should go. The sheep must follow the shepherd, or they are apt to get lost, get tangled, or even fall over the edge of a mountain. We are so much the same. I lose my way in wrong choices, or get tangled up with desires that pull me into temptations and sin. Sometimes I fall head over heels into sin, over the mountain, because I am not focusing on my Shepherd’s path. Yet, I have learned that when I seek Him for guidance and understanding He grants me wisdom for good decisionmaking beyond what I even asked.

The Lord is my Protector, I shall not lack refuge or security.

Psalm 46:1 AMP “God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

There are many dangers in this life. Physical dangers like car accidents, robberies, illnesses, etc. There are also spiritual dangers like temptation, and doubt. We can depend on the Lord in every kind of trouble. This is not to say that nothing bad will ever happen to you, but I have learned that when the difficult trials, accidents, or illnesses come, the Lord is there with me to hold me and encourage me. He is also with me in the midst of temptation. His Word tells us that He even offers us a way out (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). The problem is, we are often not looking for a way out, the temptation is just too inviting. And even when we doubt His care or ability, we can cry out to Him to help our unbelief as the boys father did in Mark 9:24. He is our Refuge and Strength, He is the One who protects us. He is always present to protect us from evil and from the Evil one. He works for our good because of His great love for us.

Our Shepherd is there to help His lambs with each need and through each situation. He only wants us to know Him more, to know He is always there to meet each of our needs. He will provide, guide and protect.

The Lord is my Shepherd, and because He is mine, I know that in His love for me, I have all I need. Thank you, Lord.

Help me Lord to keep my eyes on You as I walk each path in my life. Help me to know Your voice and listen for it as You speak to me. Help me to trust You and follow in obedience close by You, not straying from Your will. This is my desire Lord, help me in it my Shepherd.

Take time to tell the Lord what is on Your heart.

 

 

Is Your Soul Thirsty?

Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water.”

Is your soul thirsty? Whether you know it or not, the answer to this question may be yes at various times in your life. When you feel a lack of contentment within you probably are experiencing soul thirst.

Donald Whitney describes three different ways our souls may thirst in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.

The first is the Thirst of the Unbeliever. An unbeliever’s soul is empty because he has no desire for God. The emptiness within leads him to seek satifaction in many things in this world. He doesn’t realize his real need is God, instead he goes from one thing to another.

The second is the Thirst of the Dry Soul. This is the thirst of a believer who has experienced the “rivers of living water.” This thirst of the dry soul can happen in one of three different ways according to Whitney. One way is when the believer goes after the ways of the world more than seeking the ways of the Lord. Another way is when the Lord seems to desert the believer. Whitney explains this as the Lord sometimes withdrawing “a conscious sense of His nearness.” And thirdly, dryness of the soul can occur when the Christian is experiencing mental or physical fatigue. I  think it is easy to find my soul in each of these situations at different times in my life. I am thankful that in each I have found my way back to the Living Water.

If your soul is thirsty, it may mean a new awareness of your need for God, so “seek Him while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” as the Scriptures tell us in Isaiah 55:6.

St. Augustine understood the thirst of the soul. He said this about the Lord, “Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”  Yes, restless, needy, and thirsty for You, Lord.

The third type of soul, Whitney speaks of, is the Thirst of a Satisfied Soul. This soul’s thirst is fully satisfied by the Lord, and this believer only thirsts wanting more and more of Him. This soul knows that his satisfaction can be found nowhere else.

As believer’s we realize our constant need for the Lord, for His grace, for His love, for His comfort, for His peace, and on and on it goes. We can never be too full, there is always more of Him to know and more to need. He is are all in all.

Our souls need God. F.F. Bruce explains it this way, “The soul’s deepest thirst is for God Himself, who has made us so that we can never be satisfied without Him.”

Is your soul thirsty? Know your needs can be met in our Lord. Pour out your heart to Him and allow Him to meet the needs of your thirsty soul.

Relate

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

 

Do you desire to know more of the Lord’s presence? I do. I want to abide in His presence, but I don’t often find myself there.

 

Psalm 16:11 says “You will show me the path life, In Your presence is fulness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

There is a certain peace in having connection with God. Being in His presence gives us strength to deal with what is ahead and from that peace our hearts are filled with joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is when we abide as branch in the Vine that we can find our hearts being filled.

Have you ever visited a friend’s house only to have her hardly ever sit down with you? Rather, she is busying herself, running around, doing this or that. It makes it hard to converse, somehow the continuity of the conversation gets broken up. When someone is distracted  or preoccupied with something it is nearly impossible to be at rest in each others’ presence.

The Lord waits for us, He isn’t bustling around. He waits.

Jeremiah 50:6 says, “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountain, they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.”

We are a people, like sheep, gone astray, following after our own paths, our own interests, our own idols, following the ways of this world. We wander off, distracted, too busy, too tired, trying to escape, overwhelmed, whatever the case may be, we lose sight of our “resting place” too. We can’t rest when we are going from one thing to another, looking for _____…(you fill in the blank).

We need to find His presence and rest with Him, abide with Him. We need His guidance and direction. There with Him we can find the love, care, and protection we need. We can then, like sheep, rest in safety and comfort.

We can come to know Him more as we rest and abide in His presence. Being too busy fights our ability to be aware of the Lord being with us. Our busyness also keeps us from being available.

So, sit down, put on your favorite worship cd and be drawn in. Move towards Him in your inner being, stop at the cross and confess your sins. Engage your heart. Find His love there for you. “In His presence you will find fulness of joy.” Be filled! Find relationship there.

 

 

Connection: What draws you near? What helps you know His presence more?

Reflect

“The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”                                                                                           Thomas Watson

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Psalm 119:15

 

Reflect…Meditate…Chew on it. We call it many different things. “Meditation is defined” by Don Whitney as “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” (Spiritual Disciplines, 48)

Colossians 3:16 tells us to “have the word of Christ dwell in you richly”.  When we meditate, we read God’s word, filling our minds with it, and pondering its meaning,. We can seek godly wisdom on how to apply the Word in our own personal lives when we take time to reflect on it. I know I definitely need that, how about you?

It is so easy to read the Word, and shut the Bible without taking away anything from it. Or, if there was something to take away, within an hour or two or sometimes less, I can’t even remember what it was because I did not take it to heart. The Lord wants us to take His word to heart, He wants it to have an impact on our lives.

Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” I want to be like that, truly treasuring the words and promises of our Lord. I want to take time to ponder its truths, repeat it to myself, and purposefully seek ways to make application. It doesn’t come naturally. I need to be intentional about it if it is to happen at all.

When I make a point of doing this, I have found that the portion I have taken to heart is a plumbline for my actions, reactions, and responses.  This plumbline is a determining factor of whether I am following in a path of righteousness, or slinking down sin alley.

I have found the book The Soul at Rest by Tricia McCary Rhodes very helpful in growing in a more intimate relationship with the Lord. I would highly recommend it to all desiring to find ways to grow in their spiritual lives as Christians.

I pray that you will be encouraged to take time to reflect on the verses or chapters you read in the Bible and really take it to heart.  Romans 12:2 tells us to be transfromed by the renewing of our minds.  God’s Word renews our minds so that we might prove God’s perfect will. Let’s make it real in our lives.

 

Connection: Do you warm yourself at the fire of meditation, reflecting on what the Word speaks to your heart? What will you do to become more intentional about this?

 

Receive

Psalm 85:8  “I will hear what the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people and to his saints, but let them not turn to folly.”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Psalm 85 is a prayer of the psalmist. He begins this prayer to the Lord feeding on God’s faithfulness, remembering the mercies He had shown them. Then the psalmist goes on to tell the Lord what is currently going on. It is after this that we get to verse 8. Here we see that the psalmist waits and listens for the Lord to respond. He waits to receive an answer, to receive understanding and help.

How often do we find or take time to listen, to receive from God? How often do we wait with expectation to hear from Him? One of my favorite lessons on this is from 1 Kings 19 about Elijah. Elijah had just come off of a mountaintop experience with the Lord showing that He is the One True God. But following that Elijah’s life is threatened, and he becomes distraught. In fact, he is totally ready to give up, asking the Lord to let him die. Instead, the Lord meets him in this place nurturing his body with the food and drink he needs. The Lord also gives him the rest he needs. The Lord knows our frail humanness. The Lord asks Elijah what he is doing there.  Elijah tells Him all that has been going on. The Lord responds by telling Elijah to go to the mountain, now it is the time and place for God’s lesson. There, on the mountain, when God passes by, there is a great wind that even breaks the rocks, and then an earthquake, but the Lord is not in either of those. Next, there is a fire, but the Lord is not in the fire either. Often we expect that the Lord will do some great powerful thing in response to our prayer, but I am learning that more than anything He is in the business of changing our hearts. The Lord whispers to Elijah in a still small voice. Again, Elijah is asked to tell the Lord what is going on, why is he there? Elijah repeats his story. It is then that the Lord gives Elijah direction as what to do.

The Lord wants us to remember Who He is in the midst of our problems. He is Almighty God, Who can change things with a word. He saw Elijah’s desperation and neediness. He listened and listened again, then showed Elijah His power and might. Elijah’s problems had taken front focus in Elijah’s mind, it seems that He had lost sight of Who God is. I know from experience that I allow the same thing to happen to me. It is in Elijah’s desperation, in his almost giving up on life that he finds his way back, God does not fail him. The Lord tells Elijah what he needs to know, but gives him more than that, He gives him a reminder of His omnipotence. It is as if God says, put your problem alongside My power and see if you still have a worry.

Elijah was desperate. Many of my prayers do not come from a place of desperation and I think in that I lose sight of my true need for the Lord, as well as, my need to receive from Him. Too often, I don’t look for a response, but I am learning the importance of receiving from the Lord. Receiving wisdom, receiving conviction  receiving comfort, receiving direction, receiving whatever He has for me.

Habakkuk 2:1 “I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.”

I am learning that He desires my wholehearted presence before Him, He wants me to wait with expectation. He desires me to know Him more intimately, and in listening to Him, I am also learning to know myself in a deeper way. He is showing me “great and hidden things” that I didn’t know. These things help me to live more wisely and respond more lovingly. He is renewing my mind and changing me.

The Lord desires to speak to us. He desires to speak peace to us, He gives a gentle answer. He sets us on the paths of righteousness, He wants us to follow a sure way and not return to folly, to sin. Are you receiving from Him? Are you waiting expectantly? He waits for you. He waits to restore your soul with His windwords to your heart.

 

Connection:  How is your soul being restored as you receive from Him?

Rest

Psalm 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Classic Amplified Bible  “Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vine [though] the product of the olives fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation. The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincìble army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not stand still in terror] but to walk and [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

Psalm 23 is one of my favorite psalms. It is a beautiful psalm that David wrote as a shepherd. We can learn a lot about sheep from this Psalm. We can learn a lot about ourselves as well. Sheep are very easily frightened, even the noise or motion of fast moving water can scare them. The wise shepherd leads them beside still waters. Sheep also need help to find food that is good for them.The good shepherd leads them to green pastures. Just like us, unfortunately what they think they want may not be good for them. Our Heavenly Father knows what truly satifies, He knows what is best for us. Our Good Shepherd guides us according to His perfect will, but we must choose to follow Him. He leads us along paths of righteousness. Too often we get off on our own paths, seeking what we think may satisfy, but all too soon we find we are left empty.

Emptiness, hunger, fear, neediness, stress, and worry all are barriers to getting the rest we need. This world is a scary place, and becoming more and more scary each day. Evil abounds. Yet, even in the midst of all of it, the Lord calls us to “Be still.” Just stop, in some Bible versions it says, “Cease striving.” When life becomes overwhelming just in the general day-to-day agenda, we find ourselves striving to make it through. And, when life throws a major obstacle in our path, like death, serious illness, or a broken relationship, we strive to find a way to get away from the pain. When a sheep gets entangled, rather than waiting patiently for the help of the shepherd  they will struggle and struggle to break free. When they can’t find what they want to eat, they will wander off, even in the face of danger, to find that perfect morsel. We, like sheep, struggle and strive against our Shepherd to get what we want.

The Lord desires our trust in Him. He wants us to rest in spite of all of life’s problems and know that He is in control. “Be still and know that I am God.” The prophet, Habakkuk, was facing major trouble, possible crop failure, meaning no food, also no cattle, and without a flock, no wool. Life depended on these things, fear clutched Habakkuk’s heart. But, in thinking about all of the what-if’s, he remembered Who God is. He was then able to say, “I will rejoice in the Lord.” even if all of those catastrophe’s happen. He knew God is a God of victory. He trusted the Lord to be victorious.

Oh, to have faith like that. I pray that I can live from a place in my heart that truly knows that God is God. He is in control, no matter what happens, and I pray that because of that knowledge I will learn to cease striving. I want to rest in Him no matter what is happening in this world, and no matter what is going on in my life. The sheep learn to trust the shepherd. They learn to know his voice, to follow his lead, and to see that he cares for them. I am learning to follow the Lord, our Shepherd’s, lead, trying to stray less, and I am learning to realize the magnitude of His love for me. Growing to know all of that helps me rest, but it is a life long lesson. I am glad the Shepherd stays with me.

He makes me to have the feet I need for the path He has for me. What an awesome God we have. Find rest in Him.

Connection: Are you striving? What do you need ro know from our Shepherd in order to rest?