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i just wanted to post a special story about psalm 23 - where God really reached down and opened my eyes to His purpose.
it was a cold, snowy day at my church's annual retreat in the beautiful colorado mountains. we were supposed to enter into a 45 minute time of silence where they intended for us to be able to go for a walk - but because of the snow many did not. i, having the firm belief that 'it's never too cold if you have the right gear' embarked on the walk.
i ended up at the top of this hill in a big field. the snow was coming down hard, and all the broken-ness God had been bringing about in my heart for several months was welling up and pouring out. i was very emotional and fell to my knees, sobbing. i opened my bible and randomly found psalm 23.
as i laid in this field and snow fell upon me, i cried out to God in my confusion and misery ... 'where are my green fields?? where is my quiet water ... where is my comfort????'
after a moment of emotional exhaustion and surrender ... i heard a quiet voice ...
'you are in a field of green right now - and water gets no more quiet than when it is snow ... fear no evil, i am with you.'
what an amazing gift of comfort, peace and dependancy God gave me on that snowy day. the knowledge that He is there - every moment - always - even when 'green fields and quiet water' don't look like what i expect them to look like.
i was reminded of this at church on tuesday ... our talk was on the The Wisdom of God - you can listen to the talk at this link if you are interested ...
http://www.tnl.org/events/tnl/tuesday.html

thanks for letting me share - i hope it encourages someone today!
peace!
r

Exodus 5:22-7:25
5:22 So Moses went back to the LORD and protested, "Why have you mistreated your own people like this, Lord? Why did you send me? This is not just the cry of Moses but it is the cry of all of us who have been called by God. One of the things I’ve noticed when we come into the presence of God is that there seems to be a violent upheaval in our lives or in the environment around us. The young boy who the disciples couldn’t heal but who Jesus could and did, shock so violently as Jesus commanded the demonic spirits to come out, that he appeared dead (Mark 9:26-27). There seems to always be an appearance of failure or defeat.

Two passages in chapter six spoke to me loudly. The first is verse nine, “So Moses told the people what the LORD had said, but they wouldn't listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the increasing burden of their slavery,” and verse thirteen, “But the LORD ordered Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and to demand that he let the people of Israel leave Egypt.

After Moses “reasons” with God with his “Why …me?” speech, God reiterates and tells him who He is (God of your father’s, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), what He will do (deliver them from slavery with a mighty hand), and why (He has heard their cry under oppression). God wanted Moses to covey who He was to Israel, yet the text states they wouldn’t listen or couldn’t listen because of the “burden of slavery.” I wonder how this statement plays out today as we try to convey to unbelievers or even believers who are greatly discouraged. Do we work with them to help remove their burdens so they will listen, or do we have to wait until the “finger” of God delivers them?

The second verse, verse 13, speaks about obedience, completing the mission in spite of fear, in spite of discouragement, “But the LORD ordered Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and to demand that he let the people of Israel leave Egypt.”

The foolishness of sin and the sinners who sin, which includes us all at some time, can be clearly seen in the acts of Pharaohs’ magicians. Aaron throws down Moses’ staff, which becomes a snake and the magicians do the same thing. Now I think, at least I hope, that if I threw a rod down and that rod, which is now a snake is one of three that get eaten by another snake, I think I would do some serious thinking about what just happened and wonder about the God that was behind it. So too turning water into blood I hope would cause me to think. And if my main source of drinking water had just been turned to blood, why would the magicians turn more water into blood. This was a contest kept going out of pride, out of trying to out do this God of Israel, which they would eventually lose. Foolishness, foolishness everything outside of God is foolishness.

Matthew 18:21-19:12

The Parable of the “unforgiving Debtor” and the dialogue on Divorce are essentially dealing with the same thing, forgiveness or lack there of. I don’t believe like some that divorce is somehow unpardonable, but I do believe that it should be a last resort. Jesus said except for adultery, and Jesus also said that a man who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Does heart adultery count, or do we just count the actual physical stuff? Now that’s something to think about ‘cause Jesus also said you can commit murder in your heart also.

Back to this unforgiveness thing. We want to get a divorce because our partner has changed in a myriad of ways and we can’t deal with it, so instead of operating out of forgiveness we put them away. This is such a difficult teaching that the disciples state that it doesn’t pay to get married (19:10)
Psalm 23:1-6

One of the things about this much beloved Psalm is that we read into it what is nice and pretty, sentimental and touchy feely. This Psalm talks about God as our Shepherd leading us and protecting us but there is an understated personal responsibility within these lines.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need: We may have everything we need but we kill ourselves trying to get everything we want confusing wants with needs.

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. God may lead us to rest, but do we rest or are we peaceful? Rest and peace are a choice and are we choosing to be at peace and be at rest.

He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name: God my renew my strength and he may guide me along right paths, but again my strength my renewed but if I’ve become a couch potato, I’ve wasted that renewed strength. God may guide me but I have to follow where he guides.

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me: Hmmm, we have left God’s leading and went to “I walking” wondering off from the direction and guidance of the Shepherd. The rod and staff of a Shepherd, especially the staff with its hook, is to pull us sheep out of tight places we have gotten ourselves stuck in when we stray from the flock. And the rod is used to beat back pray that are attacking the sheep. Predators usually hang back watching for the sheep that leaves the flock, but even when we do God, our High Tower, protects us.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings: God has indeed prepared a feast for us, but do we eat? Do we just check out what’s on the table, lick our lips and then choose not to eat of what God has provided because we are either distracted by our enemies and focusing on them, or we are afraid that once it’s gone, it’s gone? Are we afraid to pick up that overflowing cup of blessings because we don’t want to get our hands wet? Showers of blessings, like an abundance of rain, produces rich vegetation which we will have to be maintained, landscaped, and mowed, and that is work. Are we willing to do the work that will come because of our blessings or are we praying for drought? Proverbs 14: 4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Surly your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever: Like Moses, like Israel do we question God’s love for us when the “heat is on?” Do we take a momentary affliction as proof that God has left us, abandoned us because pressure is being applied to purify us, to test us so that we will know what we are made of because God already knows.

Proverbs 5:22-23

We sin because it is pleasurable for a season (Hebrew 11:25), and only a season. It looks nice and pretty and even sparkles; however, there is a immense cost that far exceeds the value of the sin we are in. Verse 22 says that sin has ropes that bind us to it. No wonder we find it so difficult and almost impossible to break free needing a deliverer greater than us, Jesus Christ.

This text also implies that one sins because of a lack of self-control and folly will lead us down paths we will not be able to find our way back from because we are lost. There is this voice, either our own or the people we have chosen to associate with, that tells us to just try it one time, it won’t hurt you just this once. That is a lie from the very pit of hell and there are a lot of people who have paid a price that has cost them everything, including their life.

Proverbs 25: 28 A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.


Grace and peace,
Ramona

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