October 24, 2014
The Deserts of Marriage
1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.
October 22, 2014
Making Healthy Choices
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.
Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday. Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten. One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly.
The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior. That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church? Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions? We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God.
Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food. I’m certainly no exception there. We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end. Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices. And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us. All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices. They can be good or bad depending on what they produce. One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.
Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life. If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.” Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made. We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come.
Are you making healthy choices spiritually today? Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily? I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chosen Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own. “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).” May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.
October 21, 2014
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.
Why is there power in the words, “Thank You,” or in the words that express thankfulness and thanksgiving? If these are words from the heart then they convey the attitude of deep appreciation and gratitude. We have discussed in the past about praise and worship, but where do these come from if it is not from an attitude of thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a gate, it is an entrance, and it is a condition of heart that makes us ready to really appreciate and express that appreciation to our Lord. It is like the precursor to praise and worship as well as being a part of it. Are we going to praise and worship what we don’t appreciate and aren’t thankful for?
It is important that thankfulness is a constant attitude of our heart. Psalms 30:4 says, “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Psalms 18:49 reiterates with, ” Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” The Psalms are alive with scripture that exhorts us to be thankful:
Psalms 75:1 Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, [unto thee] do we give thanks: for [that] thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
Psalms 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Psalms 92:1 [[A Psalm [or] Song for the sabbath day.]] [It is a] good [thing] to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
Psalms 97:12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psalms 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Psalms 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Psalms 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, [and] to triumph in thy praise.
Psalms 107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
These are among a few of so many that extol thankfulness to the Lord.
Jesus even demonstrates the importance and attitude of thankfulness, when He broke bread when feeding the multitude. Even at the Last Supper He gave thanks as He broke the bread that represented His body that was soon to be broken and offered in the sacrifice of His life at Calvary.
Our giving thanks at meal times is a constant reminder to us of where our blessings and supply comes from and who we depend upon to provide our needs, as well as the expression of appreciation to Him who has so graciously provided it.
The New Testament exhorts us as well in the area of Thanksgiving:
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:13 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When we give thanks in all things aren’t we acknowledging that God is sovereign upon His throne and in control of all that touches our lives? Aren’t we declaring His faithfulness regardless of circumstances and conditions? Isn’t our thankfulness an acclamation of His Lordship?
Hebrews 23:15 continues this thought, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.” 1 Timothy 2:1 continues the theme of how our thankfulness ties into our praise, worship, ministry and intercession before the Lord, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;”
The relevance, significance and importance of thanksgiving is not just an earthly principle, it is a heavenly one as well that continues on through eternity, precious to the heart of God. Revelations 11:16-17 speaks, “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
On the other side Romans 1:21-25 speaks of the ungodly and unrighteous who knowing about God fail to have a thankful heart, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Ungratefulness leads to a hardened and perverse heart. It is the fools gate and entrance to wrath and judgement. That lack of thanksgiving can take us out of the right perception and acknowledgement of who and what our God is in relationship with our lives.
As we acknowledge our God today and each day let us do it with a heart that is thankful and appreciative of the matchless grace and abundance He has worked in us. Sometimes we get focused so much on the adversity and the negative in our lives we loose sight of who still sits on the throne and is in charge of all that affects us. While we are not thankful for the evil that befalls us we are forever thankful for our God that brings us through our adversities and is perfecting us in the process. Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
October 17, 2014
We the Many are One Body
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
It is important that we all realize our importance to the body of Christ. Many of us Christians, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, really don’t see ourselves in ministry and service to the body of Christ. We quickly look to all of our faults and failures and think how could God ever use someone like me. If we all thought that, the body of Christ would quickly disintegrate and you definitely wouldn’t be reading this writing right now. We don’t serve the Lord because we are so good or better than anybody else. We serve because He is so good and it is His sufficiency. It is the gifts and abilities He has placed in each one of us that enables us to minister and bless the body of Christ in whatever area the Lord has graced us. The Lord wants us all to realize how important and vital we all are to one another. He didn’t give anyone of us all the goods. He gifted each one of us with different gifts and abilities so that we could not be high-minded and think of ourselves more highly than we ought. He made us interdependent on one another for a reason, so that we could function as a body. Each one providing what the other one needs. Only our head, Jesus Christ has all the goods and even He has incorporated in His plan the need for a body and a bride made up of born again, blood washed believers. It is all of us under the headship of Christ and the direction and enabling of the Holy Spirit that flow together in love together for the health and vitality of the body as a whole and not just individually. We are in a symbiotic relationship wherein there is a giving out and a taking in, a mutual benefiting of one from another. All the members of our body function in their own office and the abilities for which they are designed to bring full health and functionality to the body. If I have a lazy eye that doesn’t want to focus and work with my other eye. It becomes a detriment and a hindrance to my body. It is a burden to overcome its deficiency. If I have cells that are out of control and not submitted to the order of the rest my body I may have cancer and we know how detrimental that can be to the body. There is such an order with God and everything functions through love, because love seeks not its own but the good of others.
The Lord is not asking of us for what we have not, but to be faithful with what we have. If we are always taking and never giving back then we are only draining strength and resources from the body that could be used in more positive and constructive ways. When we are babes in Christ it is to be expected that we will be taking and not giving, but as we grow and mature it is time to grow from selfishness to selflessness. The Lord has invested talents in each on of us and we have a spiritual responsibility to use those talents for the increase of the kingdom of God. We are accountable for there use, misuse, or lack of use. Let’s take the time to pray and seek the Lord to comprehend and act on what we can give back to the body of Christ. You are important to the Lord and to His body. We all need what you have to give. Start out even in the little things and let the Lord give you the increase. He will help you and direct if you submit yourself and your talents to Him.
Let us put aside our differences that serve only as a human and religious detriment and hindrance to the body as a whole. Let us see the larger picture of all the saints in the body of Christ and not just our particular religion or denomination. Christ is not divided; He is one Spirit even as we should be of one Spirit. Roman 12:16 says, “[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” It is a time for us to humble ourselves and become servants of one another that the body may built up in love. Let’s seek the practical ways this can happen through what each one of us has to give. You were created to be a blessing. Let the Life of Christ flow through you, beginning today, to be that blessing.
October 14, 2014
Fear of Man
Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me; all day long they press their attack. 2 My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride. 3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me. 6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life…
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise- 11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Fear is a powerful force. Most all of us have been influenced and moved by it. But ironically it is the fear of God that will move us to faith, while the negative fears that we harbor and allow, touching and influencing our lives will move us away from faith. If we think about it most anything we fail to trust God for is either an act of disobedience through rebellion or it is disobedience out of fear. Faith is a confidence in God and His Word, fear is the doubt and apprehension that God will fail us. Romans 14:23 tells us that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” One of our greatest fears is what others think about us, how they will accept us and what they can do to hurt us. Fear is one of the strongest instruments at the enemy’s disposal. It undermines our faith and gets our eyes and our confidence off of Christ and back on to us. It causes us to see after the natural rather than the supernatural.
There are different levels at which fear can touch us from the most surface levels of fear to the deepest levels of psychological trauma. On the surface levels we all deal with fear of social acceptance, failure and insecurity. Think about a baby in the mother’s womb. It knows no fear there. It is safe, it is warm, provided for, accepted and secure. It has all of the things that we loose the guarantee of as we come into this world and are forced into self- responsibility. When these basic needs or wants are threatened it causes us to fear. We fear when we are not in a safe environment. We fear for our health, our daily provisions and needs as well as the needs of those we are responsible for. We fear when we feel insecure and threatened, physically, emotionally or even spiritually. Thus fear becomes a very powerful motivator and influence in our lives. Jesus addresses this fear that stems out of worry in Matthew 6:25-34, “”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Is all fear bad? No, we can’t say that all fear is bad, because it is often fear that can motivate us to right actions or even protect us from things that could harm us. The fear of God is a good fear because it moves us into Him and the more that we move into God the more we learn to trust Him. He can bring us again to that place of peace we had as infant only it won’t be without conflict. It won’t be without many things, people and circumstances coming against us, as they attempt to rob our peace and confidence in the God that we’ve come to know, love and serve.
Many of the challenges to our faith come through the fear of man. We fear that others will not accept us so we focus on what will be pleasing to the world. Many of us get our self worth and esteem from what others think. We often fear man so much that we let society and our circle of influence shape our values, our opinions and form the standard for how to act, what to wear, what we can and can not talk about. In Jesus’ day people were fearful to talk about Jesus. John 7:13 says, “Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” Many of us fear to speak openly of Jesus today for fear that others will be offended or not accept us. We want to have the heart that David had when he said in Psalm 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Our flesh avoids pain and seeks pleasure. We fear not living up the standards others have for us for fear of rejection. Many of us live in a constant state of worry and anxiety, which is fear. Yet the word teaches us in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Fear will always focus us on the natural and take our eyes off of our faith in God. Deuteronomy 31:6 exhorts God’s people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” God speaks His Word into us to disperse our fears. Isaiah 41:10-14 says, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
It is our faith in God that gives us boldness in place of timidity, that gives us eyes and a heart to see beyond our fears as we embrace the realities of God’s promises and His Word. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” And again in 2 Corinthians 4:18 he says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal. “ The fear of the Lord will bring us into faith for it will cause us to exalt God’s ways above man’s ways and it will embrace His Word as truth even in the face of opposing natural evidence. Our hope, our confidence and our faith are in the Lord. When we embrace who we are in Him, then the fear of this world looses its power over us, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. (1 John 5:4)”
October 13, 2014
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
There is a place in the Lord where He is leading us and causing us to rest. It is the green pastures of His rest. There He causes us to lie down as we feed upon His life and truth. There He keeps us safely under His watchful eye.
Some of us are still searching for this green pasture. It seems all we have known is the wilderness, living from blade of grass to blade of grass, thirsting for the waters of life. Our outlook and attitude is usually dim and pessimistic as we trudge on, one foot in front of the other.
It is interesting that the children of Israel were not so unlike a great flock of sheep whom the Lord brought out of Egypt. Often they were so taken by their circumstances and what they saw as their lack, that they failed to recognize, acknowledge and reverence the hand of the Great Shepherd that was over them. When God does not meet our need in the way and time frame of our thinking our first inclination is to begin to murmur and complain. Our minds become filled with the thoughts that God is not faithful. ‘He has led us out here to let us die. We should have never trusted Him. We should have stayed where we were; at least there in Egypt or the world, we knew what we had.’ Perhaps God has you and I in that place today where, like the children of Israel, He is proving what is in our hearts. In Exodus 15, after a mighty deliverance, God led the people of Israel to the waters of Marah. The waters were bitter and the people could not drink. Have we ever tried to trust God through a situation and it seemed that He had led us to a place where we worse off than before and everything seemed to be against us? Instead of His blessing, it may have seemed we had been cursed. Perhaps these are our waters of Marah or bitterness where He is proving what is in our hearts. Exodus 15:25, says, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, [which] when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them.” Can we find the rest of His green pastures even in those times of trial and testing? Can we find the pools of still water in the midst of the turbulent rapids that are swirling around our lives? Do we get anxious and panic? Do we get angry, frustrated and murmur against God, because it appears He has forsaken us and failed us in our time of need. Those are the places where He wants us to find the green pastures of His rest. Calvary provides the only tree that can make the waters sweet again. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Those green pastures speak of His life. That is the substance of what we must feed from? Isn’t it His Word and His Truth?
When we go out to buy a used car won’t we walk around it, look it over real good, kick the tires and test drive it? We are testing it for integrity and service. We want to know that it is reliable and won’t fail us in our time of need and dependency. God often proves our faith the same way. He is not just looking at the paint job and the high gloss wax; He is proving the inward parts. He wants to know the overall integrity and faithfulness of our hearts. Not only does He want to know, but also more importantly we need to know who we are in Him. It is through our travels of faith in Him, He often leads us to these waters of Marah or bitterness, where we are tested, but oh how sweet it is when we finally pass the test. When we hold fast to His Word and His promise through the time of testing and trial and then we see His deliverance and provision. It is in those times that we experience the green pastures of our rest where we have just laid down in Him, where we have snuggled up in His faithful arms and just declared God, you are God in my circumstances. No matter what happens, You change not, You are no less God and You are no less faithful.
Perhaps the green pastures of His rest are there, but with our natural eyes all we are seeing is desolation and wilderness. Faith is what leads us into those green pastures where we lie down beside the still waters, because our rest and our completion are in Him and not in us or the world around us. Psalm 23:3-6 goes on to say, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over 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.” Our security and our rest are not in this world or in our circumstances, but only in Him.