September 10, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He sees all my ways and counts all my steps.”
Lord, Make Me Aware
“Lord, make me aware of…
Sunlight filtering through the trees
The song of the wind
Crickets at twilight
Water splashing in soapsuds
Yellow daffodils in a crystal vase…
The aroma of fresh coffee
The first day of spring
Green peas and red beets
A dewdrop on a rose
Freckles on a grinning face.
Lord, make me aware.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Today’s Study Text:
“I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own.”
Psalm 23 – Part 2
“Aware of the Details”
“The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of gulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep.”
Laurence J. Peter
Have I looked for my Shepherd’s touch and listened for His voice in the details of each day?
“Huge mountains are made up of little specks of earth. The ocean contains many little droplets of water. Indeed, our lives are but little moments, single thoughts, small actions, and minute details, yet when combined can be used by God to reflect His complete wholeness at work in us.”
“So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way around – He is looking for us.”
I’ll never forget the day of my first class in watercolor painting with Betty Carr – who is the artist that so graciously does all the artwork here in Transformation Garden.
She began our class by taking a blank white board and demonstrating for us the techniques that we needed to use when painting our own piece of art and believe me, I use the word “art” loosely for my picture certainly was not worthy of the title “art,” as we know it.
As I watched Betty’s gorgeous painting come to life each day, I marveled at the expertise which took a blank, white board and turned it into the most majestic reflection of multi-colored flowers. But, Betty wasn’t done yet. She had another surprise for us. As she got very close to finishing her classroom display, she stepped back from the picture, carefully scrutinizing it. And of course, “Miss curiosity,” Dorothy, had to ask, “What are you doing?”
Betty pointed out that she was going to make certain all the little details were perfectly highlighted, for as she shared with her students, “It is the perfectly placed details that add the crowning touch to a piece of art.”
This statement really struck home with me for Jesus made a similar comment when He was talking with His disciples. He pointed out that, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16: 10, N.I.V.).
Details matter. They can change a picture as well as a life. Albert Einstein, remembered for his amazing mind, made reference to a “superior spirit,” which I call God, my Father, by saying that (God) “reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” Coming from someone like Einstein, I must admit that I find his point to be well-taken. I’ll freely admit, my mind simply isn’t expansive enough to even begin to comprehend all God has to share about Himself. I wish it was for I have a personal thirst to take in all my Father has to give. But here’s the catch – and it’s something that I have witnessed in my own life over the past 10 years here in Transformation Garden. The more time that I have given to the study of the Bible and other spiritual volumes, the greater my longing to learn more. Amazingly, the more capacity I have had for God to open up new avenues in my mind and to fill me with ideas, thoughts and perceptions of Himself, the greater has been my understanding of concepts that several years ago, I would not have been able to comprehend at all. And for me, this has not only been a blessing – it has transformed my life. Everyday, I long for my study time with God and I thirst to drink from His fountain – which He promises will never, ever run dry. I know the same thing has happened to you for many of you have told me about changes in your life, too.
Possibly you are wondering why I have taken so much time writing about “details” today. The reason is that if I had worked on a series about Psalm 23 even five years ago, I’m afraid we would have been paddling around in the shallow end of the pool. We would have been skimming on the top of the water, never diving down into the deep waters where the pearls of truth are found. As I’ve studied Psalm 23 over the years, much to my surprise, I’ve often found myself saying, “How did I miss this lesson? How could I have never read this before?”
While there may be some “details” that are new to me, which you have already studied, I just figure that in the thousands who read the devotionals each day, there will be someone, even one person like myself, who will say to themselves, “It was worth diving deep to find the buried treasure today.” So when it comes to Psalm 23, I want to begin with what, at first glance, didn’t even register on my radar screen and it is this – the placement of Psalm 23 in the Bible.
In his second letter to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Every Scripture is God-breathed, given by inspiration and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness, in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action” (2 Timothy 3:16, Amplified Bible).
I’ve shared this text with you before because I find it to be a vital passage of Scripture, which reminds us that God was with the authors of the books found in the Bible. But I’m going to add one more thing. I believe that God’s spirit guided those who compiled the Bible, as well. Let me give you just one example. What if Revelation had been the first book in the Bible and Genesis the last? How would we feeble humans have made sense of a book that started with Revelation, which talks about the end of time, and ended with Genesis which talks about the beginning of time as we know it? While I realize that the books in Scripture were written many years apart, when it came to putting the Bible together, I believe with all my heart that God’s Spirit guided those who assembled the books, the chapters, and the verses. And to undergird this belief, Psalm 23 stands as an unending beacon of light down through the ages, for the placement of this Psalm is to me one of the most striking illustrations of God’s guiding hand at work in the Bible.
In his book, The Lord Is My Shepherd, author Robert J. Morgan draws attention to a fact which is repeated by other Biblical scholars as well, “There are 150 Psalms, but as we study each one, it’s helpful to notice the one preceding it and the one following it. Often there are enriching links.” And then Robert Morgan draws attention to the fact that Psalm 23, “is not merely floating around in Scripture like a cloud. It’s secure location between Psalm 22 and 24, is not by accident.”
As I’ve studied the specific placement of Psalm 23, I learned that it is part of what is called a “trilogy of Messianic Psalms,” which all make reference in the Old Testament to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, found in the New Testament.
I like the way Robert Morgan explains the way Psalm 22, 23, and 24 are so closely tied to one another:
“These three chapters present the whole story of the Gospel of God’s grace and answer our three greatest questions: What about my past? My present? My future? There in lay all our worries, for every problem is either behind us, around us, or before us.”
As I read these words I just felt overwhelmed by the mercy and grace of my heavenly Father who tells me in Psalm 22 that He has taken care of my past on the cross on Calvary; in Psalm 23 that He is my loving Shepherd, guiding my footsteps today; and last but certainly not least, in Psalm 24, we are encouraged with the assurance that “while everything about this world is transient, everything about the New Heavens and the New Earth is transcendent,” for we are promised, as the Apostle Paul assured the Christians in Corinth, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2: 9, K.J.V.).
The bottom line is that one of the seemingly small “details” we find reflected in Psalm 23, when we dig deeper, is that by the placement of this Psalm, our heavenly Father makes certain we understand that He has taken care of our past – He holds today in the palm of His hand – and He’s planning to spend eternity with us in a special place prepared for those who love Him. And oh, by the way, our Father has planned such a grand future for us that our “frail and feeble minds” as Einstein called our knowledge, isn’t big enough to even begin to understand what’s in store for us when we love our Father. WOW! This is my first response! But close on the heels of “WOW!” is “THANK YOU!”
In describing Psalm 23, author F. B. Meyer shared that “this Psalm has sometimes been called the psalm of the crook. It lies between the psalm of the cross and the psalm of the crown.” How grateful you and I can be today for the cross, the crook, and the crown. Praise God!
“O trembling heart, look away and look up! Your sorrows have been multiplied indeed by looking at difficulties and second causes. Now cease from all this. Talk no more about the walled cities and giants, about lions and robbers; but think of the love, the might and the wisdom of the Shepherd. Love that spared not its blood! Wisdom that named the stars! Your salvation does not depend on what you are, but on what He is.”
F. B. Meyer
The Shepherd Psalm
God Let Me Be Aware
“God, let me be aware.
Let me not stumble blindly down the ways,
just getting somehow safely through the days,
Not even groping for another hand,
Not even wondering why it all was planned;
Eyes to the ground unseeking for the light.
Soul never aching for a wild-winged flight.
Please, keep me eager just to do my share.
God, let me be aware.
God - let me be aware.
Stab my soul fiercely with others’ pain,
Let me walk seeing horror and stain.
Let my hands, groping, find other hands.
Give me the heart that divines, understands.
Give me the courage ,wounded, to fight.
Flood me with knowledge, drench me in light.
Please – keep me eager just to do my share.
God – let me be aware.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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