Monday, January 13, 2014

Yea Though I Walk...


Ps.23: 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.

The most prominent Christian ministries has presented a false caricature of the faith. Their smiling faces and Hollywood makeup and self help and upbeat messages have communicated to the unbelieving world that we as believers walk through this world with just minor problems. And even our minor problems are just wiped away effortlessly. It suggests that when you follow Jesus you are safeguarded from any deep difficulties. Many people think it’s just one trip to Disneyland after another.

But those of us who truly know the Lord Jesus and imperfectly try to follow in His footsteps know that there are seasons where you walk in valleys, and some them very deep. We have faced many giants and have had spiritual challenges that literally affect our physical beings. How many of us have wept during a time of praise because as we praised the Lord Jesus we were hurting so badly inside? You see, this following Jesus has never been for the weak hearted or for those who are stoic and without emotion or compassion.

And if you desire to walk after the Master be assured that the devil, the world, and the flesh will come against you with everything they can. This is not a playground. This is a battlefield and sometimes wounds are inflicted and need to be healed. And we also bear one another’s burdens. We have spouses and children and other family members whose situation affects us. We have friends and spiritual brothers and sisters who are hurt or get involved with sin which also impacts us deeply. In this world we have tribulation that is common to man such as health and financial issues. And then we see just what is happening to lost sinners as they hurl themselves toward an eternity separated from Christ.

But the valleys which seem to impact us the most are when loved ones reject us or walk away from God or even are dealing with life and death issues. It is during those times when the valley seems its deepest and most challenging. And depression and discouragement seem to cling to us as we try to look toward our Great God. Yes, in spite of all who know about Christ and the Scriptures there are times when we find ourselves carrying some heavy burdens. We know the Spirit is with us, and we know Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and we know many spiritual truths as well. But we are still prone to battle the giants that live in the valley in the strength of our own flesh.

But be aware you who love Christ and wish to follow Him. Perilous times are here and greater perils are on their way. Deception lives around the world with many and varied tentacles. Even the gospel itself has become rare in its purist form. There are great multitudes of professing believers who have no hunger or thirst and even interest in Christ and His kingdom. The outside shell of morality has replaced the inward fire of spirituality. Those who truly follow Christ will walk in many valleys in the coming days. Many have already given their lives and many live behind bars.

But there is still an ocean of God’s grace available to anyone who truly seeks the Son of God and the Risen Christ. And here is a secret unknown to unbelievers and to the prosperity mindset: Many times, if not most times, the Spirit lifts the veil and reveals more of Christ to us during our seasons in the valley. The valley is perhaps the single greatest inner court experience a believer can have. And sometimes as we walk out of a valley and brush ourselves off, we look back and are amazed at how much glory God gave us and how our beings were changed to be more like Him. In the hottest fire that rages without an answer it eventually becomes evident that the fire was used to melt us and allowed the Potter to remake us without some of the self serving dross that had attached itself to our earthen vessels. And even with a long way to go yet, the valley and the fire brought out a little more gold to His glory. 

So take heart, fellow pilgrim. We walk in a world which is the very shadow of death. And that which was once the church now loves that death and seeks to enjoy it and make it part of Christ Himself. But the August Christ is Holy and He will not allow His matchless name or His sinless character be in any alliance with this present world. And we must remember that as we watch millions upon millions of professing believers march in lockstep with this fallen world. And to refuse to be a part of it all surely must mean many valleys along the way. We do not pray for valleys, however when our feet must step through one we must go without fear. And in the end, valleys are a gift of God’s grace where we can glorify our Wonderful Redeemer and allow His light to shine through us into a dark and lost world.

Let us keep our eyes on the valley that was set before our Savior. His valley was set upon a hill called Calvary and on that valley He walked through death and came out alive forevermore! So when we are rejected by friends a foes and even loved ones, keep your eyes upon Him who was rejected of all men. He was despised by those to whom He gave life. And in the depths of the deepest valley that could ever have been imagined, He spoke words of forgiveness and bowed His head and died. He embraced the valley of death so that we could have life. And even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we will fear no evil. Our Redeemer lives so what can man do to us? Amen.


Anonymous said...

Awesome. Thank you Jesus.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with what Rick has written here. Let's also mention that the LORD leads us beside still waters. It's the water of His word that He uses to bless us body, soul and spirit. And He makes us to lie down in green pastures. Yes, He teaches us where true nourishment is. He teaches us that His Word Lord Jesus Christ is our"green pastures" where we can find rest for our souls. Vallies aplenty yes but also other exciting shared adventures too!


Anonymous said...

Spelling correction: Valleys aplenty yes but
also other exciting shared adventures too!

I'm an Englishman. I should do some work on my spelling!

God bless you all!

Annette said...

This post is a blessing to my soul and I stand with J. and James on this one. I cherish Psalm 23 in my heart from the beginning to the end....surely His goodness and His mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives. Praise our LORD.

Lorena said...

This is so encouraging Rick.

Thank you Lord, and may Your Great and Holy Name be praised now and forevermore. Amen

Anonymous said...

Thank you Annette for your words. Psalm 23 should be a Psalm that those who think they are sinless should read.

In this Psalm David testifies that the LORD is involved in restoring his soul. He clearly wasn't sinless! Like David those who are born again still need a Shepherd and their soul also needs restoring.

The final words of Psalm 23 are very powerful. They are: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for evermore. What a testimony. Everyone who believes on Christ, His sacrifice and resurrection and loves the LORD wholeheartedly has this testimony too!


Anonymous said...

I was very blessed by this! I have shared on my Facebook and WordPress. Thank you and may the Lord keep and bless you continually.


Anonymous said...

Shepherd in Spanish is pastor, pastor literally means feeder. To provide food.


Kim said...

The 23rd Psalm is what got me through my brain surgery last year. As I lay on that bed with my head fastened down, afraid to move lest something worse than Parkinson's Disease would result, within the confines of a "halo", i recited it over and over with the Lord himself right there beside me. I couldn't have done it otherwise, and very few other scriptures came to mind. That Psalm and the praise song by Chris Tomlin, "I know who goes before me" were where God's grace met me that day.

Everyday there is more reason to long to go home; sin, hate, sickness, persecution...

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.


Anonymous said...

Dear readers, I would go so far to say that if a man or woman has known Psalm 23 for many years and they don't treasure it, then they don't treasure the God of the holy Bible, for loving the true and only true God, the God of the holy Bible and loving Psalm 23 belong together.

How can a human being not love these words? The LORD of life is my Shepherd.

Unbelievers, there really is a Shepherd who longs to guide you. Do you know His name? Do you know the name of the sacred Shepherd?

Turn to Jesus, turn and learn from the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. Don't camp any longer with those who are stubbornly rebellious and scorn such a precious, pure person.

Kim, it's great to hear your voice again on this blog and that God has blessed you with a strong faith in the 23rd Psalm. It brings joy to my heart that you got through brain surgery last year.

What a wonderful testimony we have when we can say I know who goes before and with me.
What a wonderful testimony we have when we can say with confidence in Christ: the LORD is my gracious, loving, merciful, life enhancing and dignity bringing Shepherd, I shall not want for faith, hope, love, healing and His awesome friendship.

What a friend all true believers have in the risen LORD Jesus who is returning soon to the great delight of all those who delight in His delight bringing name!

Josef Sefton