Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Knowing the Shepherds Heart, part 1

Many of you have requested that I share the lesson I taught at our women's retreat a few weeks ago ... so here is a condensed (but still long) version.

Trusting the Shepherd's Heart -- Today, I'll share two of the six traits I discovered about the Shepherd using Psalm 23 as our main text, as well as throwing in parts of my personal testimony here and there, hopefully enabling us to really know the Shepherd better so we can "Trust the Shepherd's Heart" fully.

Knowing the Shepherd is much more important than knowing the psalm. But, knowing the psalm can help us know the Shepherd.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. " Psalm 23 (NIV)
I. Trusting the Shepherd who Cares and Provides -- "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." (v1)

Many times in our lives, things happen that leave us feeling scared or anxious. We wonder why these things are happening to us, or to our loved ones. Maybe it's a layoff notice, a miscarriage, a sickness or disease, an overdue bill, an empty refrigerator or gas tank, an accident, a destructive fire, or a death in the family...

There have been many times where I have prayed that God would provide for us. And he has. Most recently, having an infant, we have found that finances can be very tight, and can cause a bit of anxiety! But, my husband and I are always praying that God will take the anxiety from us, and whether it has been through a loving parent that takes us out to dinner, or provides us with formula, a sibling that has given us a financial gift, or even when we have thrown a desperate prayer into thin air, and money has popped out of the dryer while folding clothes, the Shepherd who cares has provided. There are no needs that are too small that we can't take them to our Shepherd in prayer.

Look what Matthew 6:25-34 has to say about this: "If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion--do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best--dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers--most of which are never even seen--don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (The Message)

Okay -- that was long, but I love this scripture... especially in The Message translation. "There are far more important things in our life than the food we eat or the clothingHallelujah.. hallelujiah! God will take care of our everyday human concerns!

When we learn to trust in the Shepherd who Cares and Provides, then we learn that not only will He provide, but He will also remove our anxiety and worry from our hearts ... if we let Him! Now, He may not always provide according to our own schedule, or how we expect Him to provide ... but fortunately, He always has something better in mind! And look at the encouragement from this scripture ... it is telling us to RELAX (oh, that's hard!) and not to worry about "getting" so that God can do His thing -- and THAT'S what we can respond to!!!

I would love to stay home with my son... but I worry. Oh, yeah ... me ... worry, worry, worry ... about where the money is going to come from. But we have recently placed this worry at God's feet and we are trusting Him to provide a way. My biggest fear is going back to a life of poverty ... but really ... what's more important? "Materialistic things" or "God things?" Oh ... and did you see the last part of that verse? Yeah -- it's a big one -- Don't worry about missing out, but instead ... Give our entire attention to what God is doing right now!

II. Trusting The Shepherd of Rest and Peace -- The Shepherd who Restores my Soul. -- "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." (v2-3a)

What comes to mind when you hear the words "green pastures" and "quiet waters?" When I think of green pastures and quiet waters, a pleasant scene comes to my mind. One of lush, bright green, soft, fresh and clean smelling grass, with spotted clumps of flowers. A lazy slow-moving stream runs quietly beside the pasture, giving me a sense of peace and stillness.

Many times, when we are faced with difficulties, we try to take care of it ourselves. If you are anything like me, you will fret, think about it, worry, get stressed, and lay awake at night trying to figure out how to take care of the problem. When really, there's probably nothing more that we can do than to lay it down at the feet of the Shepherd who provides us with rest and peace. The Shepherd that restores our worried and fretting souls.

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Philippians 4:6-7 -- "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (The Message)

Oh, my goodness! That is such a wonderful blessing to those like me that worry, worry, worry... Did you hear what I just read? Let God know your concerns ... and before you know it ... A SENSE OF GOD'S WHOLENESS will come and SETTLE YOU DOWN. Does anyone else find the same sudden comfort in this verse that I do? Wouldn't a 'sense of God's wholeness' -- his PEACE -- be a wonderful thing? Is any one with me on this?

I don't know about you, but there have been many, MANY times where I have had to take my concerns to God and BEG him to settle me down. And He does. The second I pass my cares on to him. He immediately takes my worry on his own shoulders, allowing me to feel his peace and quiet rest, because He is the Shepherd of Rest and Peace. He restores my soul.

I just have to constantly remind my self that nothing is too great, or too small to commit into the hands of the Lord. That alone gives me peace. Whatever the circumstance, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our anxiety on Jesus because he cares for us. It's an easy thing to read or say ... but a whole different thing aboutctually do! But the best thing abot that verse is ... He Cares For Us!!!

Tune in tomorrow for another installment of... Trusting the Shepherd's Heart

All Contents Copyright [2005-2006] by GiBee at Kisses of Sunshine -- Please do not use contents without prior permission from the author. Thank you.


Faith said...

AWESOME!!!!! Just as i expected! That is wonderful. You have no idea how I needed to see this today. Trusting can be so hard sometimes. My test results are iffy, so I am struggling today. I go back tomorrow AM and will get the results immediately - so that helps. Thanks for a much needed lesson.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Fabulous! You are a gifted writer...and inspiring speaker!

Thanks for sharing this! I just posted last week about how Psalm 23 re-blessed my heart while flying home on an airplane. His Word is alive!


Heather Smith said...

Beautiful words, Gi Bee! I would've loved to HEAR it taught, but this is almost as good I guess!! I posted today about "Longsuffering." It's a trait that we are to show as Christians, but we'll never show it if we don't trust the shepherd! Thanks again!! Looking forward to the next installment!!

Sandra said...

JUST awesome really spoke to me. Having gone through 2 miscarriages I remember thinking "why me?", I felt desperate and alone and so scared. But I turned to God and when I finally accepted that things happen for a reason and that whatever the outcome it would be OK for me......everything seemed so much easier.

Thanks for sharing this, you are so inspiring, can't wait to read the other installment tomorrow :)

GiBee said...

Faith -- honey, Why didn't you say something??? I'm praying for you right now. Lord, be with Faith. Give her your peace that surpasses all of our understanding. Guide the doctors and give them the knowledge to see what needs to be seen, and to deal with what needs to be dealt with. Calm Faith and remove the struggle with this from her shoulders. Amen.

Faith -- let us carry your burden in prayer! Kisses to you!

Sandra -- you're singing my song, honey... just wait ... I have a few more installments and you'll see what I have to say about giving it to God (pregnancy, etc) ... dito, dito, dito!!!

Morning Glory said...

I'm wishing I was at the retreat to hear this in person. Really good stuff, GiBee!

Sandra said...

Just can't wait for the next installment :)

Btw, I mentioned you on my blog this morning :) If you get a chance, go on over and read it :)

Maria said...

why oh why didin't I read this yesterday?? This is fabulous!! It ministered to my heart in many ways, after the rough few days I have had.

Thank you !!

Shalee said...

Gibee, you really are blessed with God's wisdom. I'm just happy that you chose to share it with us!

Oh, and the "He makes me lie down in green pastures" bit? I always focus on the "makes me" part. Sometimes it is just so hard for me to slow down and enjoy the life He has given me. It's like when I "make" my kids go to bed. They don't want to do it, but I know it is just the thing they need do take on the next day.