Green Pastures

October 13, 2014

Green Pastures

Psalms 23:2
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.

Blessings,
#kent

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The Folly of Pride

November 13, 2012

Deuteronomy 8:10-20
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
*19If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.

The Folly of Pride

Moses is giving us a key principle that we don’t want to forget in the light our victories, blessings, prosperity and success. All through the Old Testament we saw the people of God continually failing to keep this principle which ultimately led them to the consequences God promised them if they did in verses 19 and 20.
We are not so unlike the Israelites. Most of us have grown up with prosperity and blessing. We may not acknowledge ourselves as being rich, but in comparison to about 80 to 90 percent of the rest of the world we are considered rich and very prosperous.
Whether it is what we have inherited or the successes that we have gained through life, pride is an ever subtle enemy that we need to be mindful of. It is same subtle sin that attracted Eve in the garden, because it takes our eyes off of God and puts it upon ourselves. The things we used pray and ask God for, we now take credit for having accomplished. Suddenly and surely God is swept to the side as we step into our limousine of self glory, admiring all that “we have done and accomplished.” Now that we have arrived, we are in control and what may have started in humility is now lost in arrogance. God is lost in the background of our self-glorifying shadow.
Often our greatest danger is not in the midst of our battles, it is when we have arrived at success, having obtained our goal. Suddenly our defenses lower, our prayer and faith drop off, we’re on top of the mountain and we think we are invincible. When in truth, we are now most vulnerable, because God will no longer support and sustain us in that prideful attitude of arrogance. How quickly we can forget that without God we are nothing but weakness, frailty, poverty and failure.
Some of us have fought other kind of battles, like addictions, character flaws, poor choices and so on. We might ask the alcoholic, “Why do you still go to AA meetings since you have quit drinking and have been sober?” It because they recognize the inclination to drink and know that if they don’t remain vigilant, in a moment of weakness they can so quickly return to that cesspool of misery. That is why we must ever maintain our vigilant relationship, praise and reliance upon Father, no matter how greatly He blesses or how successful we are. If you don’t believe me ask some of the tele-evangelist of the 80’s or many a great man of God who fell into sin.
Our protection and our covering is in our abiding relationship with Jesus that doesn’t compartmentalize our life into different areas, but it all belongs to Him. We ever walk in humility and utter reliance and faith in Christ. When we step out of the identity of who we are in Christ Jesus then we become vulnerable to identity theft and the enemy is always looking for opportunity to rob it from us. His mission is to bring us down and to do so, all he has to do bring separation between us and our Lord.
Most of are quite familiar with the testing, trials and tribulations of life, but know that satan still works on the other end; in our success, triumphs and victories. That is where we are most vulnerable to folly of pride.

Blessings,
kent

Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

The Stumbling Block of Pride

Pride has been the foundation stone and building block of every rebellion against the Almighty. From the rebellion of satan forward it has been the seed that has exalted itself against God and boasted in its own self. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil and much of evil derives its strength, power and presence from the pride and arrogance of self. One of the dangers of being gifted and blessed with special attributes and abilities is how easy it is to get caught in this ugly snare of pride.
I wonder how many men have approached God, but have heard nothing and received nothing because of the unrepented pride that was in their hearts. If we think that we can approach God on our terms and expect Him to respond to us then we are not only prideful, but foolish as well. How many of us have had children or seen children who approached their parents in this manner? Instead of humbling themselves in obedience and respect to their parents they came with the attitude of usurping their authority and leadership in the home. A wise parent wouldn’t give place to this kind of arrogance and manipulation on the part of child and certainly God won’t meet with us on those terms. We are to come to God on His terms, not our own. His terms are humility, a broken, contrite and repentant heart. This is the attitude of heart that God will respond too. When we are willing to take off this garment of selfishness and lay it down at the altar, then we are in a place where He can meet with us and clothe us with Himself and His vesture of righteousness. Pride is a major stumbling block to those who would desire to know God. Pride focuses our attention away from the Lord and onto us. Thus it robs us of His resources while making us dependent upon the weakness of our own strength and ablility. Many feel they are sufficient within themselves and indeed, in this world, may do well for themselves, but their faith and hope are built upon sand. Sand is a shifting and unstable foundation that will eventually give way to failure. We see Jesus as the rock of our foundation, steadfast and unmovable. He is what anchors us to the Almighty and brings us through every adversity and trial.
Sometimes we are tempted to envy the wicked, because it may seem they are enjoying the entire blessing of this life while we have inherited all of the struggles. Psalms 73 addresses these very feelings and perceptions. “1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure.2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone .3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklaceand clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everythingtheir hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil;in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” 12 Look at these wicked people—enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. 13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;every morning brings me pain. 15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. 21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.22 I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”
Even when God blesses us and gives good success, we must be very mindful of this crafty evil called pride. It can as easily wear a spiritual face, as it can a natural one. Pride builds us up in a false sense of security. It makes us believe we are something rather than giving the glory and the honor to the Lord who has blessed us. God is the author of every good and perfect gift, be sure that the honor and praise always returns to Him. Pride is the balloon that lifts you to ruin. Humility is branch that hangs low, laden with the fruit of God’s Spirit and life. The mountains will be brought low, but the valleys will be lifted up and the meek shall inherit the earth. If you want to find Him, lose yourself and lay down your pride.

Blessings,
kent

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