Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

4 Rest on the Right path Part 2

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Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me, Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Valleys are typically surrounded by high mountains that can cast shadows and keep us in the dark. These mountain barriers seem to keep us from reaching our goal and the valley seems like the best path through. Psalm 23 says that the Shepherd is with us, so we may assume that this means that the path we are on is due to His leading. Sometimes this is the case, He does take us through difficult things, yet more often than not we are walking through the darkest valley as a result of following our own leading. So often the dark valleys are our own choice “I walk through” Romans 5:12 tells us that “when Adam sinned, sin entered the world” Adam and Eve chose death and darkness. Sheep stray into the valley of trouble, “We like sheep have gone astray” Isaiah 53:6. They do not see the danger because they are distracted by their own desires.  Our normal response to the dark valley would be fear, yet because He is with us we are not afraid. Darkness scares us because it blinds us causing us to stumble and fall and we are afraid of the unknown, what we can’t see. We need light to see and darkness is a barrier to that light, darkness distorts yet His presence parts the darkness for He is light. We have peace in His presence because His presence provides the light of perspective. In the darkness our perception is dimmed but His presence pierces the darkness with life giving light. Shadows try to steal our joy but the Shepherd surrounds us with His love. When we have the Savior, shadows are just an illusion, they are not real and do not have to rob our joy. The greatest shadow is death and for many it is the scary shadow that spreads fear yet with the Savior it is just that a shadow, it is not real. Jesus said in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We win because we walk in the light. Death Shadows don’t scare the Lord, Philippians 2:8 tells us that, “He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross” Death is only a shadow, it doesn’t have to scare us because we have a shepherd that saves. I love the message of Revelation 1:18 “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” The Shepherd does not watch us from outside the valley or call to us from the other side. He does not leave us in the valley but walks with us. Our present troubles may be tall like the mountains and barriers that block us seemingly on all sides but there is a path through the problems. In John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life” Even along the pathway of problems we have a provider who is personal, He shows up and it is His saving presence we need.  Psalm 23 reminds us that there is an opposition, the existence of evil, the Bible tells us that evil is spelled with a D, “Devil” It is this evil that is in conflict with you but you don’t have to let evil scare you. In John 10:10 Jesus reminds us that the devil is a thief who comes only to steal, kill and destroy but that He Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it to the full. Today one of the reasons we have little rest is because we will not resisted the Devil. We end up robbed of our rest. We cry out for God to clean the cob webs out but instead He kills the spider. What if we would recognize the real power of redemption, its conquering and commanding power? What if we would stop focusing on the on the darkness and the devil and instead allow the Lord’s light to illuminate our day. So often we give our day over to the devil before it ever really begins because he has already deceived us into hobbling along in hopelessness.  The darkness disorientates us, he throws up road blocks but impassible does not mean impossible for our God. You cannot expect defeat and think victory is impossible. Stop being tripped up and trapped by Satan’s trickery, start focusing on the Saviors strong arm to save. We must “resist the devil” James 4:17 and that requires removing things from our life “Abstain from all appearance of evil” I Thessalonians 5:22 and resting in the Shepherds protection. The Lord has weapons, His rod and staff, the sheep have no weapons of defense or attack. Usually when people read “rod and staff” they assume they are the same thing, but each is a very different instrument. The word “rod” is more than a stick, it is a club to beat off enemies, it is protection against attacks. Where the rod is used primarily because of negative situations the “staff” is used as a positive tool. It is used for direction, assistance in walking, pointing, and lifting. One is for battle the other to build, they provide help and comfort. When His rod helps us we feel comforted, when His staff directs us we feel assured. The secret of victory and rest for the sheep lies in the shepherd, my Savior in Heaven can beat Satan in Hell. Today are you resting in the power of His redemption? Today let me invite you to pray psalm 23 with me again:

Lord because you are my Shepherd, I commit my needs to you. Provide green pasture for me to lie in and still waters to sooth my soul. Restore and refresh as You love me by leading me in right paths for Your name’s sake. Deliver me from danger as I walk through wickedness. Protect me with Your power and prepare a table to feed me so my enemies can see Your provision. Anoint me with the oil of Your healing as I drink from Your full cup of peace, secure in the knowledge that goodness and mercy will always follow me and I will live with You forever. Amen

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