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In the past few posts, we’ve been considering Psalm 23 as a Model for Living. There are at least four values in this Psalm by which David patterned his life. This post brings us to the fourth and final value.
At the close of Psalm 23, David stuns us with a novel thought. He writes, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Notice all the ways David sites in which the Lord graciously served him. This particular value recognizes, “It’s not about my service for God, but about His service for me!”
This is a difficult value for many of us to swallow. We may feel like we “owe” God big-time. Obviously, we do owe Him our lives and everything He gives us to enjoy. But we do not “owe” Him in the sense that we can pay Him back or even attempt to do so. Why? Because salvation (complete forgiveness and restored relationship with Him) is God’s gracious gift to us. To even suggest that we should try to pay Him back is foolish and would diminish the magnitude of His free gift. God is not the beneficiary of our beneficence; we are the beneficiaries of His. [Read more →]
November 8, 2012 No Comments
In the previous three posts, I’ve introduced the idea that Psalm 23 serves as a Model for Living. We’re looking at four values from that Psalm by which David patterned his life. This post brings us to the third value.
David reminds us that as God’s children, we bear our heavenly Father’s name. He “guides us” or “leads us” in “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This value states that we glorify and represent the Lord well as we follow Him in paths of righteousness, or in right-living.
The apostle Paul reminds us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10) We are to live in a manner consistent with our heritage—we are the Lord’s children. We bear His name. [Read more →]
October 5, 2012 No Comments
The second value that David gives us for living he expresses like this, “He leads me…” That is, “The Lord is the one who is leading me, which means that I follow Him!” Many of us go through life making and following our own feeble plans. We may long for God’s approval and presence with us in our plans, but we’re asking Him to join us—or follow us— as it were. “Lord, bless my plans!”
I know of no better way to ensure God’s presence with us than by following Him! It’s no coincidence that the Lord Jesus said in John 10, “I am the good Shepherd. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” And by the way, following Jesus is precisely what it means to be His disciple. So the value here is, “He leads I follow.”
© 2012 Rob Fischer
October 2, 2012 No Comments
First, David shares with us, “I find my ultimate satisfaction in the Lord” (period!) Now, David worded this a bit differently. He said, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need!” The “quiet waters” and “green grass” that God gives me—those are just a bonus! But the real reward and riches are in knowing Him! “I find my satisfaction in the Lord.”
The apostle Paul expressed the same thing when he declared, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8) [Read more →]
September 26, 2012 No Comments
Last week, legislation that would’ve banned sex-selection abortion failed to pass in the House of Representatives. Whether the bill itself was well-constructed is another matter. Of course, I contend that all human life is sacred and that abortion is nothing less than the willful murder of a baby. Now the American people are wrestling with sex-selection abortion, which is already widely practiced in China and India. Isn’t sex-selection abortion (i.e., abortion based on the gender of a child) the most extreme form of gender discrimination imaginable? And since sex-selection abortion historically favors killing baby girls, how is this practice not the most heinous crime against women? What do you think?
June 4, 2012 2 Comments
21. Small groups provide a way for us to be involved in something greater than ourselves! This past Christmas a small group rallied around a family that was hurting financially due to an onslaught of medical bills. This small group gave generously to provide a Christmas for this family! The noteworthy thing about this incident is that the majority of the small group members had never met this needy family. Small groups truly do give us opportunities to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!
22. Small groups cultivate an environment in which the Lord is present with us! Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When the Twin Towers came down in the awful terrorist attack on the US in 2001, my wife and I met a couple of days later with our small group of young single adults. With the emotions of this horrible tragedy still raw in our minds and hearts, we gathered together that evening to worship and pray to the One who could make sense of it all. We spent the evening simply worshiping God, praying for the victims and their families and for our nation. The sense of God’s presence among us was overwhelming. [Read more →]
March 9, 2012 No Comments
16. Small groups are like the “mud room” in the farm house! Come as you are! A small group must be a safe place to be transparent and honest. In the small group we cry and laugh together. As long as we live behind a facade before others, we will not grow in Christ and we cannot help others grow in Christ. James said, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
17. Small groups provide us with the accountability that we desperately need! A few years ago, I was leading a men’s small group over the lunch hour. One of our guys (I’ll call him Kent) came in late and was noticeably troubled. We greeted Kent and I asked him what was wrong. He blurted out that he had just had a fight with his wife. I asked him if he had reconciled with her, to which he answered no. He explained what their argument was over and it was crystal clear to all of us that Kent was being extremely unreasonable and unloving toward his wife. Playfully, we told him to get back home and make things right with his wife and to let us know how things went. To Kent’s credit, he did! Kent was grateful for our tough love for him (and so was his wife!). [Read more →]
February 27, 2012 No Comments
11. Small groups exhibit Christ in the home to our children, neighbors and friends. Acts 2:47, they were “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” Our singles small group used to meet on our back patio on warm summer evenings. We sang praises to God accompanied by a guitar. To be honest, I was a bit self-conscious, concerned that we might be disturbing the neighbors. On the contrary, our neighbors loved the fact that these young people were singing praises to God! Also, over many years of leading small groups, our children watched, participated and took it all in. Today they are leading, participating in and understand the importance of small groups because of what we modeled for them.
12. Small groups demonstrate that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts! Two Small groups raised over $10,000 to dig a well in Uganda and in the process impacted hundreds of people. Their efforts even made the evening news on television! [Read more →]
February 22, 2012 No Comments
6. Small groups help fulfill Christ’s design for us to be part of His family. We read about that in Ephesians 2:19-21. We can be a part of a large church, but we may not experience family unless we’re part of a small group.
7. Small groups follow Jesus’ example with His twelve disciples! Jesus chose twelve men…that they might be with Him…(Mark 3:14)Jesus spent time with many others too, but he focused on the twelve. There is a limit to the number of people we can impact deeply with our lives. Small groups provide a great environment in which to influence and impact a few deeply. [Read more →]
February 4, 2012 No Comments
We now come to our final request in the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” At first glance, the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation,” seems a bit strange or out of place. The reason for this is that God would never tempt us (James 1:13). Some have a distorted view of God and think that He’s waiting to trip us up or expose us to sin’s lures. But that is not God’s way with us. He may test us through hardship, but he does not tempt us with sin.
In the Lord’s Prayer we are asking Him for strength to resist temptation. The New Living Translation renders it, “And don’t let us yield to temptation.” Another way to put it might be, “Lord, please lead me out of and away from the things that tempt me!” Jesus warned His disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) As we’ve seen elsewhere in this prayer, we are dependent on our heavenly Father and in this case, we’re dependent on His strength to resist temptation. [Read more →]
November 21, 2011 No Comments