What’s In It For Me?
We’re living in some trying times, aren’t we? Well, instead of looking at circumstances, let’s look at who God is and what it means to be His, shall we? I mean, after all, if it doesn’t make any difference in the here and now, when things are so difficult, how much incentive is there to be a follower of Jesus? I mean, pie in the sky is nice, but shouldn’t there be some benefits NOW?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I think there should be more money in my bank account just because I’m a Christian. I don’t even have a specific expectation in mind when I say this. But really, what’s so great about being a Christian?
The Bible says that we should be ready to give an answer, doesn’t it? Sure it does. Well, my good friends, have I got an answer for you! This answer is one that has been working its way up to my consciousness over the past several weeks. And even months.
There Is A Plan
I think that one of the reasons God has taken me through this very rough year has been to show me something first hand. We read about this throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New, but you know, there’s just something about personal experience that drives a message home. When a story goes from the third person to the first, you own it.
And when you are as hard headed as I tend to be, sometimes the message needs to be driven home with a sledge hammer.
What is it that has finally made it to my conscious thoughts? That God wants me to not only believe…but to know that I know that I know because I’ve lived it. That is a real benefit today, not just in eternity!
What is it that will encourage your heart if you’re in the pit today, or that you’ll want to remember tomorrow for the dark time that you may not even see coming?
Let me share with you a short little chapter from the book of Psalms. It’s really a pity that some verses are much a part of our culture that we don’t hear them any more. I mean, we HEAR them all the time, but we don’t HEAR them. Jesus said many times, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear”
Listen to this, if you can, with new ears. See if you can hear what David is saying here in Psalm, chapter 23. Don’t listen for what you think I am going to say, just listen to what David wrote, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They are good and rich words for us today….
1 The Lord is my shepherd, ?I shall not want.?2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; ?He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; ?He guides me in the paths of righteousness ?For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, ?I fear no evil, for You are with me; ?Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; ?You have anointed my head with oil; ?My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, ?And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Did You Hear?
Did that speak to you like it does me? That is good stuff, especially for those of us who are in the dark valley right now. There is SO MUCH there.
There is encouragement, and there is hope. And it is not only for tomorrow! As a matter of fact, this is written in the present. This is a promise for NOW! This is not mainly about eternal life and a future of being in God’s presence, as great as that will be! This is NOT about future rewards! This is a promise for today!
I’m going to focus on just a portion of this chapter in just a minute, but let me just say that I can say that this 23rd Psalm is true. I have lived this psalm over the last year…actually more than a year. In the midst of my enemies, in the valley of the shadow of death, He has given me green grass and still waters. He has given me peace. I have experienced His goodness and lovingkindness in many different ways, and I know that He is my shepherd. There is no doubt. He loves me, he provides for me, and he alone is my protection. I would not have made it through the year without Him and His provision of love and strength and peace, as shown to me in times of worship and prayer, and through my family, my church friends, and those of you who have taken the time to write to me and call me.
But for right now, I want to focus on just four words, and they’re the opening words of verse three. Here they are: “He restores my soul”. HE restores my soul. He RESTORES my soul. He restores MY soul. He restores my SOUL! Any way you read that, there’s is Good News in the words!
Let’s Focus On This
So, what I want to focus on right now is the word “restores”.
I love old cars. I’ve always said that if I ever had more money than I knew what to do with, I would have a collection of them. I love the artistry, the style, the sound…even the smell of old cars with their horsehair upholstery. I especially like old cars that have been lovingly restored. Not customized. Restored. Restored to like new condition, with everything as original as is humanly possible. Restoring a car takes skill, patience, and commitment.
Starting a project car…one with body damage, rust, bad paint, with a motor that won’t run and upholstery that has rotted, wires that have shorted out and hoses that leak…that kind of car, starting on a car like that is easy…finishing it is difficult…and expensive.
God RESTORES my soul. He doesn’t patch my soul. He doesn’t just put a fresh coat of paint to hide the rust. He doesn’t put new covers over the old upholstery. He, as my creator, has the original plans for me…His unique and original blueprint that He used to knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knows where I’m broken and how to fix me. He RESTORES my soul.
He brings new hope, new vision, new vigor to a worn and tired and broken soul. He RESTORES my soul even in the midst of the valley. He RESTORES my soul even though my enemies are all around. He RESTORES my soul even though my business has failed or I just lost my job and I can’t pay the mortgage. He RESTORES my soul.
He RESTORES my soul. His presence, His touch, His Word brings life TODAY, brings hope TODAY, brings joy TODAY.
Life is hard. And as long as we live in this world with all of its problems, that will not change. But we have this promise from the lips of Jesus himself, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
HE … restores my soul!
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