The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:1-2 NIV)
I've recently been reflecting on Psalm 23. Of course, it's a very well known Psalm and one quoted by Christians and non-Christians alike. As I've read it, I've seen again how much it describes the loving nature of our Heavenly Father and his constant care and provision for his children.
In a turbulent world, it's very reassuring for us to know that we have a Shepherd who provides all we need. It is interesting to me that this provision is in a place of rest or stillness. To me, this means we have to stop and be still. We have to stop chasing after what we need and let Him be our Provider.
In fact the Psalmist is insistent. We are compelled to lie down in the safety of the pasture and then, in that place of rest and stillness, there is provision. This is re-iterated by Jesus in Matthew 6. If God cares for the birds of the air or the flowers of the field, how much more does he care for us and knows what we need.
This is a Psalm that speaks of God's presence and the provision we find as we rest in that presence. Today, I encourage you to find that place of stillness in which you will discover the Father's provision for you.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5 NIV)
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.(Romans 10:10 NIV)
How important it is for us to live from our heart. It is the place of deep encounter with God, it is the place where all significant relationships are held. It is deeper than our mind or emotions take us. Our heart is the place of true connection. Of course, our emotions and mind are very important, they are a vital part of our makeup or temperament but they are not the core of who we really are. They belong to us but they don't define us. Or do they?
If we are not able to live from the heart then maybe we do allow ourselves to be defined and controlled by our mind or emotions. Maybe they become more a part of us than they should.
It is as we live in love and experience an ongoing homecoming with the Father that we discover (perhaps for the first time) the need for a renewed heart. A heart transformed by the power of love where the Holy Spirit motivates, or causes, us to walk in the Father's ways.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)
Love always transforms. The Father is constantly pouring his transforming love into our heart; it will change us. As we receive this free gift we are set free to walk in the glorious freedom of our sonship. And so today, I encourage you to find time to make a simple, yet life-changing request, "Father, will you pour your love into my heart".
Last week I highlighted the restlessness we often settle for. The constant searching for more: either to do more, to have more or to be something more than we are. This desire for self-generated "more" will lead us into a shame based life which is so far removed from the way the Father intended us to live.
He wants us to live a life of rest where we can know there is nothing more we need to do in order to feel loved, valued or accepted. It has always been his intention to be with us; it is his presence that takes away the striving and leads us into a place of rest.
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. (Exodus 33:14-15 ESV)
Like Moses, I want to seek his presence and live in rest. This is nothing to do with being lazy or unproductive, it's bringing your heart to a place of stillness and contentment.
This is what Jesus talked about when he promised a light and easy burden. He wants to lead us to the Father so we have a revelation of who he is. That revelation leads to us taking on the mantle of the Father's work. It leads to us finding the ultimate place of security and peace where the inner turmoil in our soul can fall away and we find rest, true rest.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 1:27-30 NIV)
This is what I want! What about you?
It's not too long after Adam and Eve left the garden of Eden that we read of the consequence and implication of their actions. It's in the story of their two sons that we are given a vital glimpse into the state of mankind's heart after the fall. We see what our new nature looks like, the nature of a broken heart which continues to haunt us today.
After Cain has killed his brother, Abel, God comes to him and asks where his brother is. At first Cain tries to avoid the issue and in particular to take responsibility for his actions. He pretends it's nothing to do with him (a bit like his father did in the garden). Eventually he realises the truth can't be hidden from God and it's then he is told the consequences of that action.
Cain is to become a 'restless wanderer on the face of the earth' (Genesis 4:12) or as the Amplified Version says "a fugitive and a vagabond, roaming aimlessly on the earth, in perpetual exile, without a home, a degraded outcast".
What a tremendously sad outcome! A tragic end to a story which had begun so well.
This is how so many people feel today. It's how we all feel to some extent until we come to the Father. We know deep down, that we are unsettled, we are wandering, searching for something. We wonder if, or where, we belong. We are trying to find home.
The restlessness we feel can only be satisfied and taken away when we allow ourselves to come home to the Father. In Matthew 11 Jesus invites us to do that, to come home. "Come to me and you will find rest". That invitation is set squarely in the revelation of the Father. It is as we receive that revelation in our heart that we can come home and find the rest we yearn for.
When we are restless there is always something more we need to do in order to feel loved and accepted. When we are at rest, there is nothing more we need to do.
If you recognise that restlessness in your heart then I invite you to come home. To come to the Father and allow his love to replace the empty restlessness with the rest of his presence.
A Father to YOU is a signpost to the heart of the Perfect Father. When we became Christians we were given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, many of us fail to take up that right and instead continue to live as slaves or orphans. But our true destiny is being sons and daughters who have a permanent place in the Father's family. This blog is an encouragement to help you know who God really is and who you really are.