I shall not want

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want...I shall not want.

Lately when I read, think, dwell on, Psalm 23 I stop there; I shall not want (ESV).

I shall not be in want (NIV). There is nothing I lack (HCSB).  I have all that I need (NLT). I shall not lack (AMP). 

Why do I often find myself in want; wanting something, longing for something different and/or more? Is it the Shepherd or does this sheep often follow the wrong shepherd?

This last month as I've been preparing to leave January 1st, to walk the pages of the Bible, where God meet, called, rasied up, lead, provided for and to countless insignificant sheep, to follow Him to do mighty things in Israel, the first line of Psalm 23 keeps beating in my heart.

I could list all the wants; what I want to be, what I want to experience, know, have. I bet we'd all have a long list. I want to go to Israel and the Lord will make that a reality in just a few days. I'm estatic. But I also know if I put all my hope and want in something else, in an experience, a trip, possessions, or in someone I will always end up disappointed wanting more.

I hear my Good Shepherd whisper to me, 'I am your Shepherd, you have all you need and lack nothing, you shall not want.' And I feel the weight and grieve of my own disappointment in still wanting. He never fails. He never disappoints. He is faithful and trustworthy. He is unwavering. I have all that I need in Him and I rest and cling to that in such a dissatisfied world. I can let go of any worry if something will disappoint because yes it may, but He never does. All my fullness is in Him.

When I remember and dwell on that, it's like I'm breaking through the water after struggling to get to the surface from the deep. He is light. He is refreshing. His burden is light.

The reality of battling wants is part of the daily battle of my flesh in this world and my spirit longing to be with Him, being sanctified with every step here.

"I will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven...if I will accept them, unfulfilled longings will increase my longing for God and for Heaven." Nancy Leigh DeMoss

"He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...his sheep follow him because they know his voice...I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Jesus, the Good Shepherd, John 10

What shepherd do you know and listen to? What shepherd knows you and has your ear? One that is unwavering and trustworthy, brings fullness of joy, peace, strength, sustains you? Or is it the shepherd of the world that disappoints and never has enough for you?

Brings me back to "Those who cling to worthless idol forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8 from a previous post. When I'm wanting, where and to whom do I turn to? Am I clinging to worthless things that cause me to forfeit his grace, Lord, Shepherd my heart always.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack (AMP).

He is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

I long to go meet my Shepherd in the very fields and places He spoke and called Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, the disciples, Paul, ...Ashley. He meets me here, right now, right in this moment. In every moment. I hear Him. I know Him and His voice and I look forward to meeting Him there in Israel.

"we can succeed because the Lord is our Shepherd. God designed us as we are so that we would see our need of Him. In Him, we find all that we need." Kay Arthur

In Him I have all that I need. When I follow the Good Shepherd I shall not want and I don't need to stop there because when you follow this Shepherd, you have the rest of Psalm 23 as well..

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,
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 overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 119

Psalm 119

I have spent these past few week dwelling in Psalm 119. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It's like fresh rain coming down on a dry and weary land. Life giving. I have spent time both reading the pages and listening to it on audio Bible. I have found such a love of listening to the Word audibly speaking to me. Reading and listening to it in different versions brings a fresh word every time.

I want to put every verse here for you to read, instead I'm hopeful this will point you to spend time in it yourself, so here are just a few. And this song, I Will Exalt keeps ringing in my heart, mind, and spirit as I've been dwelling on these words.

The Psalmist uses different terms for the law or the Word of God: law, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, commands, laws, ordinances, word, path, promise, utterance. Every verse except verse 90, 122, and 132 mentions at least on of these terms.

Read it. Study it. Discuss it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Live it. Teach it. 

119:1-2 "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and see him with all their heart." 

119:9 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."

119:18 "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." My hearts prayer every moment I'm reading, dwelling, thinking on the Word.

119:29-32 "Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."!

119:33 "Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end." 

119:34-38 "Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."

119:54 "Your decrees are the theme of my song."

119:89,91 "Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens...Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you."

119:103-104 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth; I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path."

119:88,93,116,149,154 "Preserve my life according to your love...I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life...Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed...preserve my life, O Lord, according to your laws...defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.

119: 111 "Your statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart."

119:114 "You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word."

119:130 "The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

119:165 "Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble."

a challenge and a reminder for gratitude and eucharistic living

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Chronicles 16:34

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. Psalm 75:1

November, the month of giving thanks.
...it's the month of thanks and I have chosen to begin an intentional journey of cultivating a heart of gratitude. I'm going through the book One Thousand Gifts and have started my own list.

1,000 gifts may sound daunting to list, but I challenge you to start a day at a time. List 7 things a day, for 7 days you are thankful for and see as gifts. Be specific. There is power in naming something.

I will give thanks to the Lord will all my heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

I have a great little booklet to carry around in your wallet or purse to keep with you always to write things down as they come to mind during the day. You can do your own list or if you want this here is the link to the booklet PDF to print and fold (there's a trick so I can show you)

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trust, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.  Psalm 28:7

I have started my list. Here I will make my list of a thousand gifts and things from the book as I'm reading it. Watch a heart of gratitude and thankfulness grow, your perspective change, and your affection and gratitude for Christ grow, for He is our greatest gift!

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them...Luke 22:19

he gave thanks in the original greek is Eucharisteo, this word contains the greek word for grace, charis  and chara means joy. Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle.

Eucharisteo...thanksgiving, grace, and joy living. Eucharistic living, that's what I want to cultivate in my heart and life.

"The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows." p.58

and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the same of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. Revelation 11:17

recent pages

the recent pages of this year have done a work in me. To live a better story, be a willing/intentional instrument of change, to remember eternal perspective, of what a maturing Christian looks like, remember my need for grace and the gospel everyday,  and truth...

"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

As Donald Miller was approached about making his book "Blue Like Jazz" into a film, he learned and processed what makes a good story to be made into film and seeing that played into his reality; he saw he was not living a very good story and desired to live out a better story. 
Knowing the elements that made a story meaningful [are] the same that [make] a life meaningful.

This was such a great refreshing look on the stories we are living. Reminding me to process what truly makes a life a good story and am I living that? Am I giving of myself?
If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, 'Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter and you can create within it even as I have created you. 
We were designed to live through something rather than to attain something and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. 
People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.   
The stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living...stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions...the ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  
Misery, though seeming ridiculous, indicates life itself has the potential of meaning, therefore pain itself must also have meaning. 
A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, he invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story. 
What do I want to be known for? Christ's love and grace. Refreshment. Life giving. Eternal perspective. Approachable. Giving.  Joy. Intentional.  Others minded. Authentic. Teachable. Trustworthy. 
I was a tree in a story about a forest and it's arrogant of me to believe anything differently...the story of the forest is greater than the story of the tree. 

"Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul David Tripp

We are all people in need of change. We are all in process. In that process we get to join, encourage, push, and walk alongside those also in process. 
Suffering belongs to the Lord. It is an instrument of his purpose in us and for others. The way we suffer must put Christ on center stage. The Redeemer own our disappoint, fear, rejection, aloneness, etc. It all belongs to Him for His purpose. 

The purpose of our sanctification, making us more like Christ and the purpose to draw people out of darkness to point them to Christ, the hope of glory!

There's purposeful suffering to experience God's comfort with the ability to comfort others to offer a community of hope.  
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Love - Know - Speak - Do

Enter the person's world
Incarnate the love of Christ
Identify with Suffering
Accept with Agenda - God's grace is always grace leading to change. 

Knowing a person Biblically
The Situation - What is going on?
The Responses - What the person does in response to what is going on?
The Thoughts - What does this person think about what is going on?
The Motives - What does the person want out of, or in the midst of what's going on? 

Rebuke is the word the Bible uses for bringing truth to where change is needed. 
We all need loving, honest rebuke because of:
the deceitfulness of sin
wrong and unbiblical thinking
emotional thinking
view of life tends to be shaped by personal experience

In the confrontation process, first filter through whose agenda drives your confrontation.
Confrontation process:
Consideration - what does this person need to see that they do not see? 
Confession - if people have looked at themselves in the mirror of scripture, they should have identified sins of heart and behavior that need to be confessed.
Commitment - the first step of the "put on" phase
Change - focuses on the how. How should these new commitments be applied to daily living?

We do want people to see, know, and understand, but we also want them to apply that insight to their daily life...Here we teach people to be dissatisfied with the gap between their confessional and functional theology. 

"Heaven" by Randy Alcorn

Understanding Heaven doesn't just tell us what to do, but why. What God tells us about our future lives enables us to interpret our past and serve him in our present. 
We are pilgrims in this life, not because our home will never be on Earth, but because our eternal home is not currently on Earth. It was and it will be, but it's not now.  

Perspective is life changing. It changes the way you look at life, at everyday, at the people you are surrounded by,  at the situations and circumstances of life you have no control over, at the unfulfilled longings of our hearts. Eternal perspective is something I so desire to always walk in and regularly talk about and want to encourage others in. 

I had put off reading, tackling, this book for awhile because it was intimidating in my mind. How can I grasp heaven and eternity from a book. This book did wonders as God has been growing in me the last several years a greater eternal perspective and greater longing for what I was made for. I'm not going to spend the amount of time here on this book as I really would like because there is sooooo much I want to chew on and share and process here with you but I think i'll write later a post just about eternal perspective and will probably use this book a lot there. 
God is the source of all joy - all other joys are secondary and derivative...God designed us to need each other. What we gain from each other is more of God because we're created in His image and are a conduit for his self-revelation. 
Desire is a signpost pointing to Heaven...Every longing for romance is a longing for the ultimate romance with Christ. Every desire for intimacy is a desire for Christ. Every thirst for beauty is a thirst for Christ. Every taste of joy is but a foretaste of a greater and more vibrant joy than can be found on Earth as it is now.  Our desires simply correspond to God's intentions, because he implanted his intentions into us in the form of our desires. 
I know our instincts tell us that this fallen world isn't our home - we were made for someplace better.
Not only will death separate us from Christ -  it will actually usher us into his presence. Then, at the final resurrection, Christ will demonstrate his omnipotence by turning death on its head, making forever alive what appeared forever buried...If you believe this, you won't cling desperately to this life. You'll stretch out your arms in anticipation of the greater life to come. 
In order to get a picture of Heaven - which will one day be centered on the New Earth - you don't need to look up at the clouds; you simply need to look around you and imagine what all this would be like without sin and death and suffering and corruption.  
Following Christ is not a call to abstain from gratification but to delay gratification. It's finding our joy in Christ rather than seeking joy in the things of this world. Heaven - our assurance of eternal gratification and fulfillment - should be our North Star, reminding us where we are and which direction to go. 

"Spiritual Maturity" by J. Oswald Sanders

This is the part of great series, Spiritual Leadership, Spiritual Discipleship, and the third Spiritual Maturity. I have re-read the others and hope to always come back to these rich books on Leadership, Discipleship, and Maturity. A reflection from scripture for practical principles of spiritual growth for ever believer. 

A look at the each person of the Trinity; at their character and what practical applications and implications this should look like for maturing believers. The overruling providence, prostrating vision, undiscouraged perseverance, discriminating disciples, perfected strength, moral antipathy, and satisfying compensations of God. Christ's supreme vision, transcendent worthiness, unfinished work, ideal of character, and His terms of discipleship. The Spirit-Breath of God, the transforming power, purging fire, mighty dynamic, missionary passion, giftings, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. 

Awed to repentance by the infinite holiness of the Father. Challenged to surrender by the triumphant humility of the Son. Energized to service by the transforming power of the Spirit. 

"The Great Exchange" by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington
My Sin for His Righteousness

What an undeserving, beautiful exchange it is, and offered to all! This is an exposition of the atonement of Jesus Christ patterned after the apostles doctrine of the atonement. 
He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
This book took me awhile and I'm glad I slowly went through this one. I'm a doer. The tendency of my flesh is to want to earn my way, to "do" the right things that give me value. I need the gospel daily. 

This book works through our total depravity and need for Christ's atoning work on the cross, reconciling us to the Father. He died in our place as our substitute and representative. 

After walking through what sin is, pointing to our need for Christ, the foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament through sacrifices and prophecies, then a walk through most of the New Testament starting with Acts and working through most of the epistles showing the position and focus in each book of His righteousness, for my sin, what an exchange. 
What is sin?...missing the mark...failure to live up to the righteous standard's of God's holy law...a rebellion against authority...sin is a rebellion against God's sovereign authority, a despising of his Word and his person, and even a defiance of God himself.  
All our efforts toward spiritual growth should flow out of the realization of what he has already done to secure for us our perfect standing before God. 
We fail to see that our anxiety, our discontentment, our ingratitude towards God, our pride and selfishness, our gossip, our unkind words to or about others, our preoccupations with the things of this life, and a whole host of other subtle sins are an expression of rebellion against God and a despising of his Word and person...the truth is that even most mature believers continue to sin in thought, word, deed, and especially in motives. 
The term reconciliation refers to a state where two alienated parties are reunited by the satisfactory removal of the cause of estrangement or offense.  

Salvation rescues us, pulls us out. Redemption is to buy us out from something and into something. Propitiation is the satisfactory price that has to be paid. Justification is to be declared right with God, free, giving us the Righteousness of Christ.  Justification depends on redemption. Redemption depends on propitiation. All an outpouring of His grace, given to us personally by faith through the work of Christ on the cross. 

By the work of Christ on the cross, we are offered salvation, rescuing us from the power of sin over us, redeeming us from sin and into new life because Christ blood is a propitiation, a satisfactory payment, our ransom to redeem us, so we could be declared right, be justified, have right standing with God, called righteous, to be sanctification, on going process of making us more like Christ during our days here until glory. 

1. This righteousness is actually an accomplished fact.
2. The twofold nature of the Redeemer as God-man was necessary in order to accomplish the transfer of the righteousness of God to sinners.
3. Though operating through aspects - his life and his death - the righteousness of God transferred by the God-man is one, indivisible, finished work of one Christ.
4. The standard of this righteousness is the law of God and divine justice.
5. The righteousness of God is substitutionary righteousness, lived out by Christ in our place and for our benefit; the death of Christ is a substitutionary death. 
6. Sinners are born spiritually dead and remain dead and incapable of any aspect of sanctification until faith unites them to Christ. 
Our eternal life is in Christ. It is from Christ as the source, through him as the means, and to him as the ultimate destination. 
Our deliverance from the law of sin and death is a unilateral act of God. This deliverance is not due to something we have done; it is due to something God has done. God is the originator and source of the atonement. He sent his son. It was his act. It emanated from him like water from a fountain.
Ransom is the purchase price, and redemption is the purchase process
1. The buyer is the God-man, Christ crucified. 
2.  The price - the ransom for our deliverance from captivity to sin's curse and dominion - is too high. We cannot pay it ourselves. 
3. The receiver of the ransom is God. 

The fact that we are ransomed means that our old ways will necessarily change. We become the property of the one who redeemed us. We have a new master - Christ. We can never be the same once our lives are touched by his precious redeeming blood...Christ offers us redemption from all these dead-end rabbit trails, false treasures, and broken cisterns that will never satisfy.

"Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey

After all the truth and studying and refuting and supporting a biblical worldview, I love how she ends the entire book with the last section "What Next? Living It Out."  In all that you can study, know, defend, debate, at the end of the day, if your life does not match the gospel you preach, you loose all credibility and effectiveness in bringing people into the Kingdom. 

"We may do a great job of arguing that Christianity is total truth, but others will not find our message persuasive unless we give a visible demonstration of that truth in action." p. 354

"A verbal presentation of a Christian worldview message loses its power if it is not validated by the quality of our lives." p. 355

"How do we know whether we are producing life or death? By whether our lives exhibit the beauty of God's character. When people see the way you live, are they drawn closer to God or are they alienated from God? When they observe the way you treat others, do they find the gospel more credible or less credible?" p. 361

"Having a Christian worldview means being utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world." p. 370

"The church is meant to be the "plausibility structure" for the gospel. When people see a supernatural dimension of love, power, and goodness in the way Christians live and treat one another, then our message of biblical truth becomes plausible." p. 355
"The church is called to be a witness to the gospel through an authentic demonstration of love and unity." p. 378