Sacred Spaces 541 – In and out of Psalm 23…

While driving today, I had this thought about Psalm 23:

Have you ever thought about going through the Psalm? Going right through the valley?
Enjoying the green pastures and quiet waters and then walking along the right paths, going through the dark valley, stopping for a meal with your Lord and then heading on forward (surely your goodness and love will follow me…?)

See what I mean?
What if read the Psalm as if it were a journey?
What if certain times in your life you could find yourself in a certain place in this Psalm?

Let’s take a look:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,

You may be in a good place with God. You are close with Him.
You feel content. Feel at peace.

He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.

Adding to that.
You’re in a place of rest and retreat.
A place of revival and renewal.
You feel Him in your very soul.

He guides me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.

You trust God.
You let Him lead you on a journey. He always chooses the right paths for you…

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,

Then comes the valleys.
The dark times, the difficult moments.
But note.
The psalm doesn’t say you stop in the middle of the valley.
Rather you go THROUGH it.
That’s good news, right?!

And something about a valley: Look up, look to the sides. See the sheer cliffs that hang over you. Yes, may you hold your breath? May you stand in awe and think “Wow, God made all of this?”
And then look forward…
Look to the exit of the valley.
There is a summit.
One foot forward at a time.
But you get through? You get to the top.
Where the views are breathtaking!

I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;

Maybe you need to hear that promise?
God is with you.
God is with you.
God is with you.

(Say it over if you need to.)

Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

A shepherd with a rod. See the image? It’s not violent.
I would trust Him.
The God of comfort is near.
Believe it? Embrace it?

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

Then sometimes on the journey one needs to dine.
One needs to pause and just be.
Commune with God.
(Commune with the other saints.)
Stop rushing ahead…
Enjoy the moments. Savour them.

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

A place of abundance?
A cup overflowing… what an image…
You’re not a ‘the glass is half empty or the glass is half full’ sort of guy…
Instead… there is overflowing. Soak in it. Celebrate.
Oh, how people have forgotten how to celebrate?

Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Then the ending is not really and ending…
The goodness and love of God follows you…
God’s house. (That’s His presence with you, wherever you may go.)

And I like the idea… that this was just one of many valleys.
Truthfully, there will be more.
After all, life is a journey – there will be more difficult times.
There will be more times of refreshing
There will be more times where you feel very close to God.
There will be more meals with Him. With others.
There will be more breathtaking views.
There will be more.

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Sacred Spaces 522 – Same old, same old – familiar verses…

I chuckled to myself recently; realizing that so often with these Sacred Spaces, I use the “same old same old” scriptures and that even my themes (topics) seem to be recurring…

I write about the likes of:
– creation
– the nearness of God
– the practical “ness” of the gospel
– not treating Christianity like a market place

and I use:

– Psalm 46: 10
– Acts 17: 28
– Romans 1: 20
– Psalm 118: 24
– John 15

So, I wondered about that.

Maybe there is comfort in the familiarity?
Maybe it’s the simple truth, that God doesn’t change?
Maybe the topics that I cover, are the basics… and people long to go back to basics? Because maybe following Jesus has got so cluttered lately?
Maybe it’s because creation is still the “loudest” (and quietest) sermon?

I’d like to think it’s one of those.

BUT ALSO… I know that I have not yet arrived…IMG_20170122_090603_837.jpg
I still have lots to discover in my faith journey.

And there are still incredible verses (treasures – How is that for Christianeze?) to be found in God’s word.
When last have you and I delved into His word?

(definition of delve: “reach inside a receptacle and search for something.”)

 

So what do you think about this whole same old same old thing?

Sacred Spaces 392 – You may be over here…

 

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Sacred Spaces 392 – You may be over here…

13 August 2013

 

The ‘season’ you currently find yourself in, may look like this:

 

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise,

Busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise, busy, noise…

 

And you need desperately need some relief from that.  Maybe you need a river, will you let Him: Jesus lead you…

 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters; he restores my soul…”

(Psalm 23)

 

Will you go with him?  It may even be a physical place.  Or if metaphorical, will you pause and go there too?

 

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Enough is enough!!!

Sometimes in chasing; whatever you may be chasing…

Rather looks like a dog chasing its tail.

 

Come with me to the Psalms, to a truth you may have heard before… and BE reminded:

 

Psalm 46:

 

Be still and know that I am the Lord

Be still and know that

Be still and know

Be still

Be

Just be

Be

Be

Be

BE

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Sacred Spaces 324– Rest for the weary

Sacred Spaces 324 – Rest for the weary
7 February 2012

[I write this Sacred Spaces sitting here at a coffee shop called JAVA, here in Durban North. It’s interesting watching the cars drive by and here the general buzz of people out and about. Indeed, a different feeling to sitting in the Eagle & Child pub (Oxford) or some other random coffee shop in the UK, but life is on the move. “Because in Him we live and move and have our being”Acts 17: 28 (How, I pray that verse becomes more and more real for you and I.]

Part 3 our theme of “Looking to Jesus”
We catch up with Him carrying a yoke. Could that be “your” yoke He is helping carry? Or does He offer another sort of yoke?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

Are you like me? Always when I read words from scripture that talk of rest or being restored or giving peace, my heart skips a beat. I want in on that offer. An offer of rest for this busy heart and mind of mine, yes please.

ENTER: Jesus.

He is that rest.
I know a bit about other religions and I have not heard of any of them “offering rest”
Religions throw a “keep working hard to be okay with your god” idea at you. That’s not freedom to me.
Then in Matthew 11, I see and hear of a freedom in Jesus.

Let’s break down the scripture a bit. Jesus invites us to “come” meaning we have to act on our part. Jesus always invites, but so often we can be so stubborn and not “go” to Him. Jesus is not gonna drag us… going to Him, needs to be our choice.

Weary and burdened. I think no one is immune to those. We so often carry burdens. Life here in the world can be hard. Deadlines, bonds, education, health, family, provision, decisions, worry, need for safety… all of it creates stress.

The invitation is for REST. My favourite picture of rest is from the well-known Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not be in want,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me besides quiet waters,
He restores my soul.”

Can you feel this imagery? How we all want our souls to be restored.

“Take my yoke upon you” What does Jesus mean here?
This is brilliant when we know what a yoke is (because no one wants egg thrown on them):

From the picture we see that a yoke is used for oxen to carry a load.
What is interesting is that it’s for 2 oxen. (NOT one!) This is important for us to remember. Jesus walks with us and helps us with life’s burdens.

That’s brilliant!
Yet I noticed something else; Jesus said to “take my yoke” upon you. Not our own yoke?

So what does that mean?

Is it possible that we “carry” the wrong “load” in life so often? We fret about the wrong things. Where did stress come from? Is it God made? No way!

Stress is man-made. We run around chasing our tails too often! We run after the wrong things. We sponge our worries. Why oh why?

Jesus challenges us at the end of His sermon on WORRY in Matthew 6: 33 to “seek first his kingdom and all his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I believe this! Do you?
And how I do struggle to put Him first…
So I know the solution to doing life well lies in Him, yet I am foolish so often, I forget to seek Him first.

So in taking Jesus’ yoke, we are not “ignoring” our life’s hassles, yet in seeing life through Jesus’ eyes, we gain new perspective, we learn to put our energies in the right things.

This is the gospel, the good news. Believe it, embrace it!

“For I am gentle and humble in heart”

You can’t pretend that doesn’t sound inviting…

Humble? Huh? Well look at all these books that are about “self-help” and “seven ways to living effectively” or whatever other nonsense is out there… how arrogant!

Jesus is humble, that’s what I want in on.
And finally we are told His yolk is easy and His burden is light. Truth is there is still a yoke to carry and a burden to lift. We can’t and should not want to live a life in a “bubble.” (Heck, that wouldn’t be living.)

So life has things to carry, HOWEVER with Jesus we learn to carry the right things, and we are given strength to deal with those “loads” because “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil 4: 13)

And at the end of the day, knowing what a yoke looks like, we see as we CARRY things in life that Jesus is by our side. How beautiful!

Hearing His promise “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5


TWITTURGY

Rock of Ages,
Show me how to lean on You
My strength, I give to You
Let me be weak
And yet so strong in You
May I stand firm
Solid foundation