23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
A key scripture we are using as a guiding principal on this journey to transformation is Romans 12: 2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Today’s text gives us an anecdote to 7 of life’s major stressors.
4. Multiple choice
6. Pluralism—diversity of belief systems and ideas
7. Fear of the future
Stop worrying--Look to God to meet all your needs. Ps 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (emphasis mine). Find security in something that can’t be taken away or that you can’t lose -- God or God’s love. Romans 8: 35-39,“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And vs. 32 suggests that since God has given us Jesus, who died for us while we were still sinners, God will give us everything else we need.
Stop hurrying--Get rest as God has commanded. Right up there in the 10 commandments with the things not to do like murdering, lying, stealing, cheating is something to do: take a sabbath rest. Rest your body, reset your spirit through worship, and reset your emotions through recreational activities that refuel your energy or spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
Get away from the crowds. Recharge with beauty. God created a beautiful world. Get out in it. Ps 23: 2 and 3- He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside the calm and quiet water. Nature refreshes, but so does art in all the ways it presents itself. Start the day with focus on God (wake up with your mind ‘stayed’ on Jesus), not texts, emails, morning talk shows or cable news. Intentionally incorporate the beauty of art and music in your environment. Phil 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (emphasis mine). Whatever you give your attention to will shape you and increase or decrease your stress.
Go to God for guidance when too many choices get you down. Ask God for wisdom to choose and be assured that God will guide you at the right time. V.3 He leads me in right paths. Be sure to put yourself in a position to be led through prayer and Bible reading.
Trust God in the dark valleys of loss. Fear and grief are natural responses to loss. It’s ok, even necessary to grieve as grief is the emotion that gets us through the hard moments in life. Fear, on the other hand, leads to paralysis and we can get stuck in the valley. V. 4, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear.
In the age of pluralism and diversity of thought, let God be your defender when conflicts arise. V. 5, in the presence of your enemies, God will lift you up. It takes a lot of faith, humility, and discipline to rest in God when under attack, but you need not always have the last word. We are most like Jesus when we don’t retaliate or seek revenge when maligned or assailed. Pray for wisdom when confronted, to know when it is Godly to seek justice and when is it more Godly to leave the matter in God’s hands.
Answer your questions about the future with the assurance offered in v. 6- surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and beyond. Jesus promises to be with us even until the end of time, and even then, we get to dwell in the house of God forever. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says “Come to me all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you”—not so we can take on more of his burden but so that he can lessen ours. When we are yoked with Christ, we move in the same direction and at the pace that Jesus knows is appropriate.
Philippians 1:6 promises that the One who began a good work in you will be careful to complete it. God isn’t through with any of us yet. Rest in that promise and move from fear to faith and from being stressed to blessed! Amen
I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad (Fortunate Fall, 2013)
From the love of my own comfort From the fear of having nothing From a life of worldly passions Deliver me O God
From the need to be understood And from a need to be accepted From the fear of being lonely Deliver me O God Deliver me O God
And I shall not want, no, I shall not want When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want
From the fear of serving others Oh, and from the fear of death or trial And from the fear of humility Deliver me O God Yes, deliver me O God
And I shall not want, no, I shall not want When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
No, I shall not want, no, I shall not want When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want I shall not want I shall not want
- Rev. Adonna Davis Reid
** This series has been inspired by and adapted from work done by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and is about our potential and possibilities in God with an eye to making the best of the rest of our lives.