November 18, 2008 
My Psalm 23 Season 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
Psalm 23:1 (NASB) “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

Friend to Friend 
Stores are already filled with Christmas decorations. Television ads for the newest and best toys multiply every day. It won’t be long until we are wringing our hands, wondering where the money for Christmas gifts is going to come from, a fact that must sadden the heart of God. To think that our first thoughts of His birth are wrapped in financial distress clearly indicates the reality that we do not understand or trust the sufficiency of God. 

Have you noticed that it is always more fun to pay the bills when you actually have money to pay them instead of holding what my husband calls "The Monthly Draw"?  The Southerland Monthly Draw is held when there are more bills than money. The rules are quite simple. All of the bills are placed in a stack. Dan then rifles through the stack, drawing out one of the bills to pay. This process continues until there is no more money. The rest of the bills have to wait until more money comes in.  Sound familiar?

One morning, I walked into the study and could immediately tell by the look on Dan's face that the "draw" was not going so well. Finances had been extremely tight for a variety of reasons.  Dan and I had prayed our way through that month, knowing that the next few months would only hold more of the same. I debated whether I should stick around to offer encouragement or run for the hills. I decided to stay. "Honey, can I help?" Dan looked up at me with a weak grin and said, "Not unless you have $900.00." Oh, boy! It was worse than I thought. Seeing the look on my face, my sweet husband quickly added, "Don't worry, honey, God always comes through." Now I must admit that at that precise moment, I would have preferred a tangible sample of God's provision. You know - something along the lines of a money tree in the back yard or an oil well in the front. I went to my desk, hoping to find a forgotten check from a speaking event or book sale but came up empty.  An examination of my check register was even more depressing.  Did we really need two children?  Maybe we should sell one! (Just kidding) "Lord, I want to trust You as my Provider but right now, we really need $900.00," I informed the God of the Universe.  How is that for a prayer of faith

Dan did all he could do with the stack of bills and went next door to visit our neighbor while I stayed home, plotting and scheming ways to come up with $900.00. In fact, I spent the rest of the day in what my mother called "a tizzy" because as far as I could see, there was no plan and there was no scheme remotely looming in the Southerland picture that could produce the needed amount of money. And that was the problem.  I was only looking "as far as I could see".

Finally, I left the need at His feet and went on with what was left of my day. As I began to prepare dinner, I remembered that I had forgotten to check the mail and quickly headed outside. There it was, God's perfect provision just sitting in our mailbox, waiting for me to come - an unexpected check for $949.64.  Dan and I became aware of our need that morning.  The check was mailed several days before.  God met the need before the need was evident. He always does! In Philippians 4:19, Paul reminds us that our God will “meet all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 

I often learn the most life-changing lessons at the feet of children. Ellie is the five-year-old granddaughter of a very close friend, Gina, who often cheers me up by sharing what she calls an “Ellie-ism”.  Not long ago, Gina was telling me about the prayer Ellie had prayed the night before at dinner. The meal was ready. Everyone in the family was seated, and Ellie volunteered to say the blessing.  Every adult at the table smiled, wondering what childish offering they were about to hear. What they heard was profound truth from God as spoken through the words of a child.  Head bowed, hands folded, Ellie prayed, “God is great.  God is good.  Let us thank Him for our food.  By His hand, we all are fed.  Give us, Lord our daily bread.  THE END!”  That about sums it up! 

Just as the shepherd meets every need of his sheep, God meets our every need. Just as the sheep totally depend upon their shepherd's care and provision, we would be wise to depend totally upon God.  He is our Provider.  He is our Source and in light of that reality, stress flees, leaving only peace.  As the holidays approach, fix your heart on God, rely upon your Shepherd, and trust Him to meet every need in your life and rest in the fact that He is the beginning … and the end. 

My Psalm 23

Lord, You are my Shepherd 
You are my Identity

I shall not want 
You are my Provision

You make me lie down in green pastures 
You are my Rest

You lead me beside the still waters 
You are my Replenishment

You restore my soul 
You are my Healing

You lead me in the paths of righteousness 
You are my Guide

For Your name's sake 
You are my Purpose

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death 
You are my Strength.

I will fear no evil 
You are my Security

For You are with me 
You are my Peace.

Your rod and your staff they comfort me. 
You are my Deliverer

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies 
You are my Hope

You anoint my head with oil 
You are my Blessing

My cup runs over 
You are my Abundance

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life 
You are my Promise.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord 
You are my Destiny.

Forever 
You are my All in All!

Let’s Pray 
Father, in the midst of preparing for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I pray that I would constantly be reminded of the truth that it really is all about You. Give me the eyes to see those in need around me.  Give me the heart to reach out to the walking wounded.  Help me recognize and be thankful for the amazing journey this year has been and remember that You have been there every step of the way, through every valley and over every mountain.  I give You praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 

  • Psalms 28:7.  
  • How does the psalmist encourage us to praise God? 
  • When the psalmist writes that God is our strength and shield, what do you think he means?  How does that apply to your own life? 
  • According to this verse, what is the right heart attitude that prompts us to praise God?  
  • Notice the psalmist tells us to “give” praise.  What about our feelings?  Will we always feel thankful? 

More From The Girlfriends 
If we based our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations on Psalm 23, I think it would change the way we experience each one.  I am easily distracted these days, especially when my “to do” list grows longer by the minute but I am praying that this year, my heart and mind will be wrapped up in Him alone. In my two new MP3s, The Secret of a Merry Christmas and Giving the Perfect Gift, I share practical ways to make that prayer a reality, and if the holiday stress is getting to you, download my new bible study, God’s Answer to Stress as a gift to yourself.  Blessings! 

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