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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Promise With Two Parts

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Psalm 23: 6 AKJV

Today as I am sitting in the garden, I am feeling a little sad. The life that Jesus Christ lived on earth was such an amazing example of the way that God wants us all to live our lives. I feel sad because I fall so short! I get caught off guard and my attitude is crummy, my words are not kind, and fear is just a breath away. People make me upset and angry. I loose tolerance towards others who are not like me. Time after time the example is there before me, yet I get it right only occasionally. I know Jesus was perfect and I am not, but God did send an example to mankind so that we would recognize what holy living looks like. That example is Jesus. Jesus’ example is the bull’s-eye that we aim for.

I don’t believe that God demands perfection but I do believe that he wants to see some progress. God desires to see each of us moving continually in the direction of holiness. I am faced with daily choices. I must learn to choose godliness over sinfulness, goodness over evil, and mercy over criticism.

The Psalmist says that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. God’s goodness and mercy has followed me every day that I have been alive. God’s goodness and mercy follows believers and non believers every day. All people experience good things from the hand of God, but it is the grateful believer that will acknowledge that all the goodness and mercy they experience in this life is from the hand of God alone.

The first promise found in Psalm 23:6 is true! God’s goodness and mercy does follow us around like a puppy dog! I am beginning to realize that God’s goodness is always followed by his mercy and this always makes his forgiveness possible. So if I am to be like Jesus then I must also follow the example that Jesus modeled. Jesus always exhibited goodness and mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

I must admit that if I get upset with someone I often take a hike! I pack up my bag of goodness and mercy, leave the person that offended me and head for the nearest exit! As they glance back over their shoulder, I’m sure they are thinking, there she blows! How much better it would be if I could wrap myself in the grace of God’s goodness and mercy and turn around and go back to that person with the understanding that they are in need of Jesus’ goodness and mercy, just like me. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5: 7 NIV My prayer today is that God would enlarge my capacity to be good and merciful.

The second promise in today’s scripture verse is “…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” What will the house of the Lord be like? It will be a safe place and it will be a place of love and welcome. It will be a place where goodness abounds. It will be a place of eternal REWARD.

Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, wants us to hang in there!
He wants us to carry and wave his banner of goodness and mercy. Do I want to be in a place that when others see me coming toward them they view me as an enemy? No, I want them to feel safe and loved. I want others to say, here comes Paula, and she is carrying in her arms goodness and mercy. I want them to be happy to see me. If per chance I am actually able to do that, it is only by the grace of God and the example of Jesus that I am able to have a holy response.

This is a beautiful day for reflection. The garden is quiet. The sunshine feels warm. There is so much beauty it nearly takes my breath away. I am beginning to remember all of the lessons to be learned from the 23rd Psalm. What a marvelous Psalm! It is a perfect pattern for living my life. It is God’s ideal plan for my spiritual growth and development. It is also a Psalm of amazing comfort. Only six little verses but what an impact they have made on my life. Jesus Christ, my personal Shepherd, wants a RELATIONSHIP with me. When I put my trust in my Shepherd and enter into a personal relationship with him he begins the process of REDIRECTION. When I am sitting still before the Shepherd and I am free of distractions he begins to direct my life and lead me down a fresh new path of right living. As I listen to my Shepherd, he begins the process of RESTORATION. He begins to shape my life and restore it back to the way he intended it to be before sin entered our world. There is much in my life that is in need of change but the Shepherd REMAINS with me through all of the dark valleys providing me with the soothing oil of the Holy Spirit which gives me comfort and peace. My Shepherd will be close beside me for as long as it takes me to be able to trust him. He wants me to RELINQUISH to him all that keeps me concerned and worried. He wants all my fears and all my anger. He wants my pain and my suffering. In the moments that we spend together in deep communication, my Shepherd REFRESHES my spirit. I eat from his bountiful table of blessings and drink from his refreshing living water. I accept his lavish love for me. My Shepherd follows me day in and day out with his goodness and mercy. The Shepherd has promised me that at the end of my journey here on earth he will give me my REWARD. The reward is heaven, the place where I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever and ever.


What are the seven “R” words that indicate the pattern God has for your spiritual growth and development?

Which "R" word is the Shepherd trying to get you to pay attention to right now?

What are the two parts of the promise that is found in Psalm 23:6?

Which of the six verses of Psalm 23 is the most meaningful to you? Why?


Dear Shepherd,

I am so thankful that you care for me in such a loving way. According to the words of this Psalm I will want for nothing. Not now, not ever! What a plan! A Relationship with my maker, Redirection for my sinful life, Restoration of my spirit during hard times, and God you Remain with me as you wait for me to Relinquish my needs and all of my difficult circumstances. God you Refresh me and you Reward me! You have cared for me from the beginning of my life and will be with me forever. Only a God like you could have orchestrated such a perfect plan.

In Your Name I Pray. Amen.