Beneath the Snow

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This morning I made a decision. As I looked out at yet another snowfall blanketing the earth, I decided to look beyond what I saw. I did not conjecture about how many days it will take the snow to melt. I did not grumble that the calendar says spring and even my hoodie isn’t keeping me warm. I did not calculate how many snow (and sick) days this winter held. It’s not that those thoughts didn’t hover, I simply chose to replace them.

  • The sun is shining and the pavement is already clear—a wonderful contrast to yesterday’s gray.
  • Sap is flowing through the bare trees—soon they will sprout green buds with the promise of leafy cover.
  • Beneath the snow crocuses and daffodils are pushing upward—their purple and yellow heads ready to break through and dot the earth with color.
  • The dormant grass appears dead, but it’s rousing and will again grow green and lush.
  • Though they now look like bushes of brown sticks, buds are forming and in weeks cascading azaleas will shower yellow flowers.
  • As spring stubbornly presses forward, sweaters, scarves and socks will be traded for shorts, shirts and sandals.
  • Gentle rains and warm breezes will assuredly replace driving snow and frigid gusts.

My choice of thoughts paid off. I feel refreshed, happy. Sweetness replaced my sour mood. Anticipation traded places with lethargy. I highly recommend thought-replacement therapy!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov. 17:22)

Lord, I always have a choice. When my hopes and dreams are buried beneath blankets of disappointment, remind me that your purposes prevail. Seasons are temporary but you are undaunted. Though I may not see it, you are active beneath the snow.

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Behind Me and Before Me

Ps23_6Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…

I can be sure spring will follow winter. I can be sure the sun will rise tomorrow. And I can be sure—absolutely, positively, without a doubt sure—that God’s goodness and love will follow me, tomorrow and every day.

Whenever I turn around, there they are: goodness and love. God’s goodness and love—constant, pure and generous.

Every day, as long as I live, His goodness and love are mine. I may not be attuned to God’s presence; I may not see evidence that He’s there, but He is, following me with His goodness and love.

His goodness is wholesome and right, kind and honest. It makes me more, not less. It blesses my life and adds to it. It’s behind me, pushing me forward, pressing me on, giving me courage, rooting for me.

And His love? Well, when I love people I bless them, think about them, want to make them happy and be with them. I believe in them, think highly of them, encourage and support them. God’s love is greater and purer than that—and it follows me around.

…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If what’s behind me is wonderful, look at what’s before me, in my forever after. I will dwell—reside, make my home and be at home in the house of the Lord. I will be in His presence, at His side, under His shelter, forever feasting on His goodness and love. No longer catching mere glimpses but enjoying full disclosure with ever new revelations of His person and greatness, His beauty and wonder.

Lord, I scarce can take in your goodness and love, following me today and awaiting me in my tomorrows—so generous, so undeserved, so pure, so You!

Fed, Anointed, Blessed

TableBeforeMe

Psalm 23:5

I think of a prepared table as one that’s been given special consideration, set beautifully and bountifully. It stands ready for friends or family who will relax and laugh as they enjoy good food and conversation. But that isn’t the venue for the table described in Psalm 23.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

My enemies are threatening, taunting, tormenting me and in the midst of my affliction, the Lord prepares a table for me. It’s obvious these enemies are of no consequence to my Shepherd. It is also obvious that He expects me to maintain nourishment and refreshment even in the presence of my personal demons – unforgiveness, pity, pride, accusations, doubt, anger, jealousy, bitterness. They are pressing in on me and, still, the Lord prepares a table for me that will satisfy my soul with everything good, lovely and nourishing. And there’s more.

You anoint my head with oil…

Really, Lord? Amid enemy harassment, you anoint my head? Even when my defenses are compromised and I feel depleted, you claim me as yours? You set me apart as honored and destined for a purpose? I am not like those un-anointed. I am marked as yours, selected, blessed, and anointed for service.

My cup overflows.

Yes, it does. I am fed, refreshed, rested, guided, protected, secure, and anointed. I am never hidden from the watch care of my loving Shepherd. My life runs over with His blessings and grace.

Lord, I cannot comprehend the fullness of your love for me. Thank you that you are undaunted. Whether I’m resting in green pastures or bloodied on the battlefield, you are feeding, protecting, and loving me.

To Want, or not to Want

QuietWatersPsalm 23:1-3a

The psalmist makes a bold claim when he says, “I shall not be in want.” Although I aspire to make that claim my own, I haven’t mastered it. Confidence to pronounce “I shall not be in want” only comes when I am mindful of what makes that statement possible—the Lord is my shepherd. Because He sees to my needs, I shall not be in want.

“He makes me lie down.” Sometimes I just need rest. I need to stop running, holding things together, and checking off lists. I need to still my heart, mind and soul. I may deny it, fight it or argue that there’s no time for it, but He always knows my needs better than I do. He lets me, He causes me to lie down. When I yield to the Spirit’s nudging, He alone provides the rest that can refresh my soul, my spirit and my body.

“Lie down in green pastures.” Sheep will not lie down when they’re hungry. Is it any wonder then that He leads me to green pastures for a resting place? It is where I am fed and nourished by the Word (my green pasture). The assurance of the Word calms my soul and gives me peace—the rest I desperately need.

“He leads me beside quiet waters.” The Shepherd quenches my thirst and allows me to refresh myself with clear, cool water. He knows that sheep will not drink from rushing water—they cannot take it in—so He leads me to quiet, palatable water that I can easily ingest. The satisfaction I could not find elsewhere is found at the quiet waters provided by the Spirit.

“He restores my soul.” My restoration—renewal, wholeness, completeness, satisfaction, functionality, energy, fervor—does not come from ordinary rest, food and water, but from my Shepherd’s provision. It is His leading, His nearness and His protection (as we’ll see next time in v4). Restoration full and deep comes from Him alone.

The Shepherd satisfies my needs—I shall not want.

I am restored—made new, useful, secure, not wanting, ready, capable, as good or better than before.

Lord, thank you for causing me to lie down, for satisfying my hunger and thirst, for refreshing me and restoring me. You are my good Shepherd and I praise you.

*For meditations on the first five words of Psalm 23, scroll down past the last two posts.

Oops! I Forgot (Again)

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One thing that frustrated me when my children were young was the need to repeat myself, constantly. I mean, how many times can a mother be expected to say, “Wipe your feet,” “Close the door,” “Say please,” or “Move back from the TV?” Why can’t they remember these simple instructions? Since this is now in my distant past I can assure you, it may be when they enter college, but eventually they get it.

I’m not only frustrated when others forget but I get irritated with myself when I’m unable to remember names, story details, birthdays, recipes, or book titles. But, more significantly, why can’t I remember the big things? Like…

  • Fear not
  • Judge not
  • Forgive
  • Get rid of bitterness
  • Speak words that build up
  • Be still
  • Give thanks
  • Trust God

Although I forget—often, God never says, “How many times do I have to tell you?” Or, “I’m not going to say it again…” Or, “I said it once in Isaiah 43:1—look it up!”

In every changing circumstance, personal failure, and life challenge, God sees my distress. He knows I’ve forgotten (again) and rather than reprimand me, He gently reminds me with consoling words:

  • Don’t be afraid, I’m aware of every detail, down to the number of hairs on your head.[1]
  • You won’t drown, I am with you.[2]
  • Cast those cares on me—I’ll carry them.[3]
  • You’re not forgotten. See, you’re engraved here, on the palms of my hands.[4]

[1] Matthew 10:30-31, [2] Isaiah 43:2, [3] Psalm 55:22, [4] Isaiah 49:16

Photo compliments of zeenews.india.com

Learning from the Angels

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The angels appeared to the shepherds with a long-awaited, earth-shattering, can-it-really-be-true? message: “A Savior has been born to you.” As amazing as this announcement was, a gentle progression preceded their proclamation. Read it for yourself in Luke 2: 8-15.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

The angel arrived on the hillside with an astounding announcement, but before that, he calmed the shepherds’ fears. His first words were, “Do not be afraid.” The angel had the shepherds’ attention but needed to prepare the men to hear the message. It makes me wonder how often fear stands in the way of receiving—in the physical world and in the spiritual world.

The angel still didn’t make his announcement; he stated his purpose, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” There was urgency to the angel’s message, but the heavenly being didn’t rush. His shepherd audience needed further preparation—they were going to hear good news, a message of joy for them and the entire world.

Finally, the announcement was made: “A Savior has been born to you.” The angel proclaimed the history-changing, life-altering, sin-solving message of hope. The proclamation was simple and straightforward, without explanation of prophecy or theology.

The angel concluded with details, which were also a teaser. “You will find a baby…lying in a manger.” He didn’t tell the shepherds what to do, but enticed them to discover the truth for themselves. Then a host of angels appeared and burst into praise, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

With little information and the inspiration of the angels’ song resounding in their hearts, the shepherds were compelled to act.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Isn’t that exactly how God is with us? He calms our fears so we’ll be in a position to listen. He gentles our spirit before speaking His message. He tells us truth, plainly and simply, with information enough to inspire us to go and see for ourselves.

And the angels sing.

Photo compliments of endoftheage.blogspot.com

The Lord is my SHEPHERD…

SHEPHERDsaltandlighttv.org

As a shepherd who is infinitely good, boundless in love, and unlimited in mercy, the Lord supplies my needs.

My Shepherd gives me rest in green pastures and refreshes my soul beside quiet waters. He guides, protects and comforts me.

He provides for me when enemies threaten. His anointing is upon me, setting me apart for His love and service.

My Shepherd’s goodness and love follow me around—every day. I look behind me and there they are, goodness and love!

I will live in His house forever, enjoying unhindered companionship, unrestrained joy and limitless love.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” I lack nothing as I walk this earth and will be fully satisfied when I forever walk beside Him in Heaven. Oh, He is a very good Shepherd!

*Image compliments of saltandlighttv.org

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