Rest in God

The 23rd Psalm opens with refreshing words that paint a lovely portrait of a serene meadow. We can feed off the nutrient rich pasture and be sustained. We can stretch out upon the tender new grass, so soft we can lay down our head and rest. It is a place of safety and comfort under God's mighty hand of protection. The great shepherd watches over us charged with our care. The peaceful still waters nourish and refresh our souls. Within this pleasant habitation, our every need is met beyond what we could ever dream or imagine. Nothing truly good is withheld from us. The land therein is inexhaustible and prosperous, guarded by an all-knowing, all-powerful God who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
(1 Timothy 6:17)
There are many metaphors in the Word of God, but the shepherd is a very personal one. The shepherd very actively watches over and protects his flock. He tends to their every need. He considers the sheep to be his responsibility and doesn't take his job lightly. He resides with them, day and night, assuring their safety and well-being.

"When the Bible speaks of a great or rich man,
it does not tell us how much money he had or how
much land he owned, but how many sheep he possessed."
(All the Trades and Occupations of the Bible Copyright 1969 by Zondervan Publishing House Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Just as sheep have value to the shepherd, we have great value to God. I might add, our value is not determined by our accomplishments but by God's great love for each one of us. We see this in the words of Jesus Christ:

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners
for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying,
This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them,
doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness,
and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it,
he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home,
he calleth together his friends and neighbors
saying unto them, Rejoice with me;
for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth,
more than over ninety and nine just persons,
which need no repentance.

It doesn't say God rejoices in our sin, but He rejoices in our repentance. He rejoices when the lost sheep are redeemed [bought back] and returned to Him when they're born again. He rejoices when the Believer who has turned away from God, turns back to Him. Therefore, God not only leads us beside the still waters and in the paths of righteousness; but He rejoices when we follow him there. After all, Psalm 23:2-3 above both state He "leads" us. He doesn't drag us kicking and screaming through our own lives. Our adversary does that if we give him that power. He steals peace IF we let him and will replace it with fear. I've spoken with people who want to restore fellowship with God, but they're afraid. They've been taught they don't deserve it. None of us have earned the privilege of following God and receiving His provision, protection and peace. Yet, it is ours to claim in the accomplishments of Jesus Christ.

If you think God is just waiting for you to turn back to Him so He can condemn you for your mistakes, perhaps you should read the following verses:

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father,
Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together,
and took his journey into a far country,
and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all,
there arose a mighty famine in that land;
and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks
that the swine did eat:
and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said,
How many hired servants of my father's
have bread enough and to spare,
and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son:
make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,
and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven,
and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe,
and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it;
and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again;
he was lost, and is found.
And they began to be merry.

How many times do we wander away from the peaceful meadow and abundance of God, thinking the grass is greener on the other side. From a worldly perspective sometimes it may seem that way…until we realize it isn't. Below is an excerpt from a poem written by my Grandmother who shared her own experience.

"The Birth and Rebirth"
Katherine Mathews

"…and build himself an earthly house
to love and worship with his spouse
He'll try his hand in every greed
and gather all his worldly needs
He'll think he's happy for a while
and live in luxury in his style
He'll brag about the things he's done
and hide his errors from everyone
Then he'll begin to feel a need
for something more than gold and greed
A sorrow comes for all his sins
As he begins to search within
A sudden cry and a child is born
into the spirit of the Lord
He's cried for mercy from his God
He's seen the road that he has trod
Soft words appear before his eyes
of understanding to his life
Old things are softly gone away
A new peace given him today"

The poem above describes a journey from the wilderness of the world to the tranquil peaceful meadow, of which the Psalmist spoke. There is only one way that leads to bountiful green pastures and peaceful still waters; and there's only one source who can provide the type of provision, peace and protection referred to in the 23rd Psalm. The source is God, and the way to access Him is Jesus Christ.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me

God so longed to restore fellowship with us that He made a way to reconcile us [bring us back] to Him. (2 Corinthians 5:18)
14 For he [Jesus Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one,
and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity,
even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;
for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body
by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off,
and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access
by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the saints,
and of the household of God

Today we have the ability to get born again and permanently receive the gift of holy spirit within us and all the benefits. We have a new dwelling place in the House of the Lord and what we have available is even greater than what the Old Testament Psalmists had.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath
raised him from the dead,

thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The 23rd Psalm is an accomplished reality. It is available right here, right now. God's provision, peace and protection are available day and night independent of our current circumstances. When Jesus Christ said, "It is finished" he meant it. (John 19:30)
All of this is available, but it's not automatic. Our lives don't shift to autopilot when we're born again. God lovingly encourages us to study and act upon His Word. He gently leads us beside the still waters; but as the old saying goes, 
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"
When God leads, we do well to follow. I have to remind myself of this consistently. We now have access to the life sustaining green pasture, a safe passage in a crooked world. We have a new dwelling where every need is met before we even know we have a need. Within that dwelling, we have a Household filled with brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where no counsel is, the people fall:
but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.


Psalm 23:5 says, "…my cup runneth over."

I see a parallel in this verse with New Testament
verses, which refer to being filled with the holy spirit.

Hovering over the word "complete" in verse 10 reveals a pop up window, displaying the KJV Strong's Concordance. The greek word for "complete" is 'pleroo', which refers to being filled to capacity. This is the same greek word translated "filled" in the following verse:

We are complete and filled to capacity in the gift of holy spirit when we are born again. Our cup is filled, but we determine if it overflows or runneth over.
The word 'filled' in the above verse is a different greek word than in previous verses. It is the word, 'pletho', which means filled to overflowing. In the Grace Administration in which we live today, the man who manifests the gift of holy spirit within and brings it forth to be evidenced in the senses realm, is the man whose cup runneth over. 
The Book of Psalms was recorded in the Old Testament before the day of Pentecost. There was spirit "upon" available, which was conditional and temporary. Today we receive spirit within when we are born again, and have the choice whether we will manifest that gift. It's always there. I don't need to pray for more holy spirit. I need to manifest what I already have. The cup has been filled. If my cup isn't running over, and I don't see God in my life, He's not the one who moved. God patiently leads and guides us to the path of righteousness but it is my choice to follow Him. In the words of Joshua:

Joshua 2:15 
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD,
choose you this day whom ye will serve;
whether the gods which your fathers served
that were on the other side of the flood,
or the gods of the Amorites,
in whose land ye dwell:
but as for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD.

Within the accuracy and precision of God's matchless Word and the manifestation of the gift of holy spirit within God's Household, lies our new dwelling place. God has always been there. He never moved. This is where we need to be if we want to follow Him. He will lead us to the green pastures, beside the still waters, along the clear path. He will rejoice when we get there. Get comfortable in your new dwelling. Learn to love your new brothers and sisters in Christ in a new way. Get comfortable being honest within God's Household of Believers. Get comfortable in seeking help and wise council. Get comfortable with meekness in the realization that we function together as a unit, as one body; and we all have a place. We don't have to know everything. We don't have to be the best at everything. When our brother or sister has a long suit  build them up even more. As we allow the love that God has so freely given to us, to overflow to others, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.
And that brings…

This is the first teaching in my new "Psalms of Grace" SeriesI began writing on this topic as a result of a wonderful conversation I shared while witnessing to a new believer. She was particularly blessed with Psalm 121, and God opened the door for witnessing concerning our new life in Christ. The conversation was gently led of God from the old to the new. As a child, when I was struggling and seeking God in a specific situation, I would turn to the book of Psalms. I know others who have done so, also. I turned to Psalms because it was relatable and Psalms forms dramatic mind pictures of the matters of life. Even someone who has never picked up a Bible may know of the story of David & Goliath, in which the power of God triumphs over the power of the enemy. People quote the 23rd Psalm, and sometimes they just pick up their bible and read through the verses. Old Testament scriptures are for our learning.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime
[prior to the day of Pentecost]
were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort
of the scriptures might have hope

We are now in the Grace Administration. The New testament introduces the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, beginning with the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. However, the Grace Administration began on the day of Pentecost, when the new birth was made available. Today we are in a spiritual competition and I enjoy seeing the parallel between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I enjoy how Old Testament studies can give us insight and tremendous learning concerning our present day spiritual competition. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. The victory has been won and Christ is the way!

References and Links
Bible Gateway
All verses are linked to Bible Gateway for quick reference.
The King James Version of the Bible
All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise stated.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Hover over Psalm 23 at top to reveal Strong's definitions.
All the Trades and Occupations of the Bible
Learn more about the shepherd.

Photo Credits
Angela Garcia-Salas. Horse by the water in Peten, Guatemala.
Sharing information is at the bottom of the page.