- Facts not feelings. Feelings are immensely fickle.
- A moment at a time and a day at a time.
- Things that ground us in our surroundings
- Being thankful
- Starving the inner critic. Go on, do it!
- Whatever is good, lovely, noble
So, I have got to know psalm 23 well over the past few years. But I never noticed this great promise until today. I SHALL NOT WANT. I think a big question when you are in recovery is, how am I going to get through this? In fact, anyone going through a hard thing can think, what about tomorrow? In fact the Lord Jesus had a few things to say on that.
But here, right smack bang in the start of Psalm 23 is the great promise. With the Lord as my shepherd, I shall not want.
I will not have a time where my needs outweigh his supply.
There will not be a moment where I can justifiably say, he has let me down.
As he gently works on my wants, I will come to see that there is nothing I lack.
How did I miss it? Because God’s word is not just expansive for the scholars and deep thinkers; it is expansive for the believer and you can never wring it dry!
HOWEVER, beware of ‘deceitful desires’ that is another phrase that has come back to me today. Paul mentions this in Ephesians 4. As we are fundamentally broken our desires would throw us about like a ship on a tumultuous sea. We need to be wary that not everything our desires feed us is right. In fact, they could be getting used as the devil’s handmaidens to con us. Our desires are deceitful and so we need to learn to be suspicious of them. When I want something, feel a longing, notice a prod…is that thing actually true and right according to God’s word? Do I need to think about that now? How COULD I choose to think about it using good doctrine. The battle after all, is to have good doctrine rather than bad. And, everything is theological. It is theological because there is a battle raging. Thankfully the adversary is defeated.
So, realise that in the truest and best defined sense, we shall not want. But realise also, that the things you are wanting are possibly handmaidens sent to deceive you. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT.
- We see that sin easily entangles (I have the image of the net thrown by a gladiator). I sort of imagine that getting properly entangled takes time and so I will notice it easily. But no. Sin easily entangles. Had we considered that, we might not have so easily got trapped (v1). But the good news is we CAN ‘throw it off.’
- We have a great cloud of witnesses willing us on. Our true comfort in human terms does not come from sympathetic listeners, but from the fellowship of brothers and sisters who have passed through such trials.
- Fix our eyes on Jesus, as per previous post. We are saved by looking, Numbers 21.
- Did you noticed Jesus scorned the shame of the cross. That is he derided it, snubbed it, put it in it’s place. We also must refuse to be shamed. Shaming is a big thing in many cultures and the devil uses it profusely.
- God disciplines us, because he loves us. Not because he hates us (v5). An African friend of mind said: ‘Simon in my culture we discipline our children, not because we hate them but because we love them.’ He was appalled at the state of our society and his words hit the mark after a rather unruly youth Bible study!
- When we have hardship (v7) we should make ourselves stronger by saying, this could be loving discipline by my Father. It is the mark of being a son (v8).
- v10 it is always for our good and to preserve us in the faith.
- v11 Don’t be surprised if it feels horrible at the time– there is the guarantee of a harvest of righteousness which comes later. Peace is also promised later. How true this has been in my experience. There is a time promised when this seasonal discomfort will end and the malicious thought that it will ‘never end’ is to be fought.
I don’t know about you, but lately I have been having some mornings where I think: ‘I’m totally empty Lord’, ‘I have nothing’ and ‘what is more, I can’t fix this.’
Now, naturally we look at those and go, this feels like a really negative situation. As I say that I have nothing within (as I did this morning), I feel a range of things. Potentially helpless, I feel guilty and I feel like I lack value to God.
But here is the thing. The gospel actually flips all this on the head. You see in the world’s economy, actually in any economy, having nothing is a bad admission. But in the Christian life it is the one qualification for life. I realised this as I started speaking the gospel to myself (which I hope is a habit you are also developing.)
Feel free to happily laugh out loud as you realise how good the gospel is.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
‘Blessed are those who mourn.’
‘Blessed are the meek.’
‘Give us today our daily bread’ (I mean, aren’t we supposed to go out and get it ourselves?)
‘I have not come to call the righteous’
‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor’
ALL OF THESE and more, are reasons why being empty and being full are remarkably close in the Christian life.
Jesus has come for those who know that they are running on empty and far from the fuel station. Those who believe that the electricity metre has run out and there is nothing to put in.
But oh, we might object: ‘Emptiness is only the way into the Christian life’. Now it is true that God fills us with his spirit, but that is not incompatible with feeling spiritually bankrupt. Remember, who the Pharisees were? They were the guys who thought they had made the inside, but were shown to be on the outside, because they believed that they were self righteous.
By looking away from ourselves to a saviour everyday and even having the painful experiences of emptiness we are able to go to another for supply.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.’