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    Daily Thread

    Unshakable Security and Overflowing Replenishment

    We’re headed full speed into the holidays, y’all. Someone please tell me how it is already halfway through November. As much as I always hope this coming season is the merriest and brightest, it tends to lean more towards the busiest and most stressful. This go round I’m choosing to lean on Psalm 23 and all its powerful promises in the midst of the full-on chaos. We may be at the end of our blog series, friends, but there is so much more in store within these final verses of Psalm 23! Hope is on the way and I’m praying for us to be able to slow down just enough to rest in these soul-replenishing stanzas!

    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

    If you’re looking for a way to make this personal to you, I like to make this a personal fill in the blank:

    “Even though I walk through (*insert your struggle here: failure, betrayal, loss, defeat, etc*), I will (*choose to trust the Lord, look to Him for wisdom, praise His name, stay the course, etc.*).”

    Why does the Psalm say, I will not fear? Don’t miss this: God is with you. His rod and staff comfort us. 2 Corinthians 1:3 says He is the God of All Comfort. The peace and comfort He provides is not based on our circumstances – it is securely anchored to who He is! We are up against spiritual warfare and a continuous battle in this world, but when we choose not to fear and choose to place our burdens and worries into the hands of the Good Shepherd, fear is trumped, victory is ours and peace prevails – even in the storm!

    In times of trouble, I will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring whose waters never fail. -- Isaiah 58:11

    The Lord will fight for me, I need only be still! -- Exodus 14:14

    So, even though we walk through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’, I will fear no evil because He is with me, just as He promises. His character never changes. It says in Hebrews that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the unshakeable Rock Eternal. You better believe I want to put my hope in something that does not alter or vary. His love for me never changes and His love for you never changes – it never ceases and never fails. Hoping in any other place will end with grave disappointment and remarkable emptiness. 

    Psalm 34 mentions how He is with us in the pain and despair – He is near to the broken hearted and with those who are crushed in Spirit. He is not distant – He is with you and near you. This reminds me of one of my favorite Bethel songs, ‘No Longer a Slave’: I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. I am surrounded by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded by songs of deliverance. There is so much power in those lyrics. God is incessantly fighting behind the scenes on your behalf – all for your good and all for His glory.

    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7 

    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

    For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 41:13-14

    The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. – Psalm 18:2

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. –Proverbs 3:5 

    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? –Romans 8:31

    If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn and relearn more times than I can count, it’s that God’s bold rescue and radical saving of us from our defiance and sin is not the end of our story. He does this over and over and over again. The liberation experience often begins an uprooting of some the darkest crevices in our lives, and thus the restoration and refinement processes have begun! The Lord uses difficult circumstances to transform us from the inside out – to heal our souls and restore the pathways of trusting in Him, even when it isn’t comfortable or convenient.

    Although He is the God of Comfort, His goal isn’t to make our lives easy breezy. Nope—it’s usually quite the contrary. Being comfortable is not where healing or fabulous, eternal fruit grows! What if when we’re busy avoiding risks, pain and hardships, we’re missing out on some of God’s deepest, most hidden treasures? What if pain is the key that unlock the abundance awaiting? We should consider it an invitation to intimacy and abundance, not condemnation or oversight or rejection that leads to scarcity.

    But let’s not forget the enemy is against us. He wants us to think that pain will magically go away if we ignore it. He knows what’s waiting for us on the other side and he doesn’t want us to have anything to do with it. He wants us to wallow and to feel stuck and to let it be the very thing that defines us. We’ve been trained by the enemy to think discomfort is what we should hate and avoid at all costs. But what if the opposite is true though? What if our appetite for comfort could be replaced with an openness to what God has for us? What if God has allowed this painful season to enter your life so that you may draw nearer to Him, to enter His presence and leave this season changed and transformed. 

    You’re a lot stronger than you think you are. God knows this to be true, too.

    “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” Psalm 23:5

    Did you get the invitation? A royal table is set for you by the Highest King! He sets the stage for a Glory Story (glory for Himself and renewal for you)! People are watching; people are always looking at those who are walking through hard times and the Lord says, my beloved, come with me, have a seat and let’s dine. You are my guest. Come and have the best seat at my table. Come into this quiet place just the two of us.

    Can you imagine this exquisite banquet table with me?

    Do you remember that scene from the first Harry Potter movie when the students sit down for their first meal at Hogwarts? Professor Dumbledore snapped his finger and an abundant amount of food appeared on the table in front of them – imagine that times 100, maybe even 1000 and it’s all for you. This table is filled with nourishment and harvest – it won’t just satisfy your hunger, it will satisfy your soul.

    My favorite dinner parties are the ones where I leave feeling renewed and filled to the brim. You know what I’m talking about? The ones where friends allow you to catch your breath, the ones where you laugh so hard you cry, the ones where people look at you and say I see you? Where you are seen, known, heard and deeply loved. Hello, let’s multiply this one times 1000 too. While you’re seated at His table, you are renewed, filled, healed and made whole.

    This Glory Story is not one of scarcity or emptiness. It’s a story perhaps that will change the live of those watching as well. His table is packed with not only sustenance but with life-altering grace, personal intimacy and with relational beauty that is authentic and true. He longs to know you better and for you to grasp how loved and valued you are by Him! He longs to meet our needs and to bless us! So He prepares that table, just for you! He’s waiting for your arrival.

    He begins to replenish you and pour into you at His life-giving table with the hopes that you’ll walk out having “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) and go share your story with others about how faithful He is, what His love can do to a life, to testify of His wonders, His miracles worked on your behalf, and that He uses your pain, your story, your regrets, your loss, your failures to then possibly institute revival in the lives of others around you. “Let the redeemed of the Lord share their story!” (Psalm 107:2) He wants us to be seed planters by sharing our story with others and thus being apart of cultivating relationships for the Lord and watching that we have a purpose-filled place in the harvest! 

    “He anoints my head with oil; my cup overflows!” Psalm 23:5b

    He anoints our heads with oil -- a symbol of blessing you, praying protection, favor, healing and covering over you. And it overflows, y’all!! The Lord is not giving you a stingy cup of wine or a sparing plate of food. His story for you is never about shortage, lack, or insufficiency or believing the lie that God only wants to give you so much. No, the cup He’s giving you overflows. A feast of abundance is set at the table, the wine He pours for you is brimming over your cup – representing rich blessings over you. He is the well and the supply that will never run out. Your cup will quite literally overflow because you are securely attached to the Father – like a root to a tree. In John 15 He says, “I am the vine and you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing.” Jeremiah 17:8 and Psalm 1:3 both promise that we will be like a tree planted by streams of water and we will always bear fruit in any season – even when a drought comes our leaves will not wither or fade. The promise in these scriptures is my cup will continuously be in excesses if I am deeply rooted and secured to the Father. The fruit will grow and overflow in our lives, and our lives will be hallmarked with peace and joy. 

    Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

    The final assurance in Psalm 23 comes highlighted and bursting with mercy, goodness and security. I need that promised mercy every single day! Praise the Lord His mercy on us never comes to an end.

    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness! – Lamentations 3:22-23

    This very last line of Psalm 23 discusses our dwelling in security and safety at all times. The Psalmist boasts throughout this book that the Lord is our Fortress, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Helper, our Rock, our Strong Tower, our Refuge, our Protector, our Anchor, our Firm Foundation, our Cornerstone. All names defining security and of shelter. Even though the storms of life will come, you can know (and trust) that God is always at work, that He is completely sovereign over your situation – He rules over whatever comes into your life and that these are the promises in scripture that we can cling to: we will dwell in security in the house of the Lord forever. We are one of His – chosen, adopted, family, heirs.

    “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” – Psalm 91:1-16

    In closing, I have to share the most beautiful and profound part of Psalm 23 to me: He basically asks us to do nothing. How counter-culture is that? I love it. God doesn’t say to get your ducks in a row before He rescues you. He doesn’t say to clean up before you sit at the table. He doesn’t tell you to mow the grass before you lay down in His green pasture. He actually never tells you to do anything – it’s all about Him and what He does for us. He knows that we weren’t created to manage all of this alone. He wants to take us on the most relaxing spa weekend to get away and not lift a finger. He’s going to take care of all the details, make all the reservations. He says in Luke that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – it is not burdensome or weary or stressful. It is full of peace and blessings and restorations and replenishment. He prepares it all for us and the Great Exchange occurs as he showers you with all you need (needs for your soul, heart and life) -- intimacy, with nourishment, with replenishment, with rest; and at that table, you trade in your mourning for joy, ashes for beauty, shame for honor (His honor) and failures trade in for never-ceasing love.

    Look how much astounding goodness comes out of ONE six stanza Psalm:

    1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,
    3 He restores my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
    4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will 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 anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
    6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

     

    Rescued – verse 1

    Rest – verse 2

    Retreat – verse 2

    Repaired – verse 2

    Restored – verse 3

    Refreshed – verse 3

    Rehabilitated – verse 3

    Rewired – verse 3

    Refuge – verse 4

    Relief – verse 4

    Replenished – verse 5

    Reconnected – verse 5

    Renewed – verse 5

    Rebuilt – verse 5

    Reworked – verse 5

    Recreated – verse 5

    Repurposed – verse 5

    Redeemed – verse 5

    Run-off – verse 5

    Released – verse 6

    Rejoicing – verse 6

    Revival – verse 6

    I hope you continue to wear and gift this Psalm 23 bracelet to yourself and to others as a sign of remembrance for what God has done, from where He rescued you from, for what He IS doing in you and the wonders He performs on your behalf! 

    May the hustle and bustle of this season rustle up in us a must-rest, need-to-stop, cling-to-our-permanent-identity-of-who-we-are-in-Christ moments and truly revel in the promises of Psalm 23 and just what is available to us at all times!!

    Hope y’all have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving next week,

     

    Ripe For The Harvest

    Much like learning how to walk, rest takes practice. From a young age, we have had to formulate some kind of ritual or routine that teaches our bodies when it is time to fall asleep. Our need for sleep reveals to us that we have limits. We are unable to defend ourselves at all times. It exposes the reality of our weakness. We need a guide and a guard. We learned this in verse 1 of Psalm 23, when God, our Good Shepherd, rescues us first.

    “He makes me lie down in green pastures.
    He leads me beside still waters.” (Psalm 23:2)

    This may be a weird question, but has anyone else felt personally victimized by stillness? I was born with only productive bones in my body. Stillness tends to be my worst enemy because even when I have a million and one things to do, my human need to rest eventually kicks in. It’s a reminder that I am finite and God is the only one who never sleeps or slumbers. In verse 2, He doesn’t condemn or judge us after the rescue, but rather He leads us to green pastures where striving ceases.

    My pride has repeatedly attempted to shadow the power of Calvary just by simply striving to do it all, manage it all, and carry it all (parenting, friendship, wife-ing, boss-ing, etc) -- to a standard that God has never set. Striving produces worry, then worry produces stress, stress becomes burden-bearing, burden-bearing turns in to relying on self, and that turns into total depletion! I need regular reminders that this behavior severely cheapens and devalues His triumphant work for me on the cross! He took on all my burdens, all my failures, all my shame. He took it all and freely gave me new life. He gave His life so that I could live in His provision of rest! He's got it ALL!

    In a world where the holiness of rest and unproductivity feel foreign, we are called to submit the humiliation of our limitations to the All-Sufficient, Limitless power of God. I default to doubt and partake in criticizing what the Lord is doing because it typically doesn't look anything like how I would be doing it. We are prone to embrace a faith that if full of thrill, but we won't get away with practices of self-reliance and delusions of personal strength for long. We have to learn how to approach a Savior who invites the weary to come to Him to rest. 

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

    “He restores my soul.
     He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for His Name's sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

    God’s greatest and most profound work is founded in our restoring. One of the more difficult places to recognize God’s faithfulness is when God’s plans don’t look quite like ours. If He has called you into a season of restoring broken places, be encouraged that something magnificent is on the brink. His pursuit of your broken heart and soul demonstrates that He has so much more in store for you.

    Restoration is anything but easy. It’s not an overnight fix. For me personally, restoration of a shattered soul and broken mind has taken years. There was once no integrity in my soul. It was in two pieces. So after witnessing and experiencing God’s supernatural and miraculous mending of those broken places, I can say with full confidence that the Lord is most certainly in the business of restoring souls. The pain is all worth it. The processing through the trauma is necessary. The breaking down of each issue we have and rewiring the soul to Him, His ways and His full redemption are paths well worth the fruit that comes along the way. This is the fullness of love at its greatest extent. He longs to make you whole and to heal you fully. He is developing a “Glory Story” for you to share with others! 

    Let the redeemed of the Lord share their story! – Psalm 107:2

    There is a theme throughout scripture that should bring us great hope: the imagery of trees, seed-planting, harvest and fruit! Restoring a “desolate land” takes time. It has to be cut down first, before it can grow much fruit. In the same way, His restoration process is the foundation of producing a great and abundant harvest in your heart and life. There are so many promises in these nuggets of truth that we desperately need to cling to when we are in a restorative and rebuilding time in our lives. 

    "Never again will you be called "The Forsaken City" or "The Desolate Land." Your new name will be "The City of God's Delight" and "The Bride of God," for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride." Isaiah 62:4

    Look, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

    But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. -- Jeremiah 17:7-8

    The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. He WILL restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. – Joel 2:23-27

    No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -- Hebrews 12:11

    Those who sew in tears, will reap a harvest of JOY! For though they may weep while going forth to plant their seed, if they persevere, they will undoubtedly return rejoicing—bringing their sheaves with them. – Psalm 126:5-6 

    He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. -- Psalm 1:3

    They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. -- Psalm 61:3

    In my absolute FAVORITE passage of scripture, Isaiah 61, boldly says God will "rebuild the ancient ruins that have been devastated for generations". Read: this Psalm applies to you! No matter the depths of trauma in your life, the stress, adversity, depression, anxiety or addictions. You are never too far gone for the Almighty Redeemer to step in and radically change the situation on-the ground. He longs to produce a harvest within you. He longs to produce fruit from your life that He can pour out into the lives of those around you. But first, we must be securely attached to "the vine" (John 15). Before our cup can overflow, we need to rest and be restored. We need to have that replenishment at that table with Him, and then everything that comes next is some of the most beautiful, redemptive, life-giving, resurrection-minded things you could ever imagine.

    Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven. Eternal rewards are promised when we walk through painful situations (read Romans 5:3-4). Our pain is never for nothing. Our suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope. Through the sanctification process, we begin to look more like Him. The reality of your Truth in scripture is always greater than the reality of your circumstances. He never has a plan of scarcity, but one of abundance of treasures, fullness, purpose and of so much good.

    And when you walk out of that thing He rescued you from…head up child! Hand over your shame, your fear, your stress, your doubt to Him. Simply "be still", rest in His presence, relax in His perfect timing, press into the waiting and enjoy the outpouring of restoration, renewal and full redemption He has for you! What's waiting on the other side will blow your mind!

    May your past propel you into your purpose-filled future! I can hardly wait to share with you what comes next in the triumphant, expectant and provisional promises in Psalm 23,

     

     

     

    ***And yes! To all those reading, our Psalm 23 bracelet has sold out TWO times! I am in awe! But don't worry, more are coming and will be back in stock next week! So be sure to stay tuned for that "back in stock" email! They will go quickly!

    The LORD Is My Shepherd

    Shepherd is my favorite name for God, hands down. I know Him by this name intimately as I’ve shared my story in past blogs. A shepherd stops at nothing to keep one his sheep safe, which depicts how the Lord cares for us, how He loves us and how He manages our hearts when we go astray. I love how Psalm 23 begins by reminding us of who He is—trustworthy and lovingly bringing us back into the fold, a gentle yet fierce Rescuer and Protector. 

    So often I get caught up in my own shortsightedness and assume God is not working on my behalf if my prayers aren’t being answered how or when I want them to. It’s our human nature to double fist our fear and doubts in to the picture even when God, time and time again, reminds us that He will fulfill His promises.

    I find a lot of comfort in remembering the story of Joshua and how God tells him 3 times to “be strong and courageous,” because Joshua likely had a thick skull like all of us, prone to forget.

    The book of Joshua begins with God saying: Moses is dead. You’re up for the task. It’s time to take back the land I promised to these people you’re now leading.

    God is sweet in assuring Joshua 3 times that all he needs to do is “be strong and courageous,” emphasizing at least once to “only be strong and very courageous. ” Nothing more. Nothing less. And God will be with him the entire way.

    I know I am guilty of relying on what I can see to determine my level of trust or course of actions to follow. I have the tendency, at times, to assume God is just like us, or like the people that have hurt me before. But our Good Shepherd cares for us and is behind the scenes at work for you, even when it doesn’t look like anything is happening. He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, so let's proclaim that promise by fixing our eyes, not on what is seen because what is seen is temporary, but on the unseen, the eternal promises that God makes to us in scripture.

    He is the Father, “with whom there is no variation and does not change like shifting shadows." -- James 1:17

    One of the most distinct words that come to mind when I think of God as our Shepherd is Rescuer. I know the Good Shepherd isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, because He comes after his lost sheep. The reality, though, is that the rescue the Lord provides comes in various forms. There’s the visible: where God visibly plucked me out of a horrific situation, for example. Then there’s the invisible, which is more subtle, but nonetheless extremely profound (i.e. seemingly unanswered prayer, a season of waiting, etc.). And that’s where the trust has to come in.

    Our family is currently in a season of waiting for several things to happen. I’ve had to catch myself when I start going down the rabbit hole of thoughts like, Where are you, God? Do you even hear me? I’m praying for good things, though! I can’t see what you’re doing, so are you doing anything at all? We get caught up in the misconception that if we can’t see anything happening, then nothing must be going on at all. We’ve been begging the Lord for these good things to come, but what He keeps telling us is, This is my rescue. The fact that I have not answered in the way you desire, I am telling you no. The timing is not now and that is for your protection. I see things that you cannot see. I am your good shepherd, your protector. I have your best interest in mind, I promise. Do not mistake an unanswered prayer, as you call it, or a no as me not paying attention. This is a test for your faith in me, for your refinement and for my glory.

    May we be a people whose roots are so deep in an understanding of who God is that we would surrender all of our desires, all of our prayers, to know that He is sovereign. The enemy wants to tell us is that nothing is happening, that we’re fools for asking for anything. He wants us to feel like we are self-sufficient and the god of our own lives.

    Think of yourself like a tree. In seasons of waiting we feel like we are continually being cut down to the stump. How can anything grow out of a stump? God has reminded me these last few weeks, though, is that we cannot see the root system underneath with our natural eyes. We serve a God who is a living hope. He is in control where we cannot see. Even when we feel like we're really smart, we do not have the full picture, but the Shepherd does and He is standing over us, He sees us and He sees the infinite purposes of our lives. We have to remind ourselves that we are the sheep. We are not the Shepherd. Let us rewire those pathways of trust to know that when it looks like nothing is happening, that some of His most powerful work is being done behind the scenes. Our job is to lean in, pray and trust that He is All-Knowing and All-Sufficient. 

    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:18

    “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

    If you haven’t heard her new album, Look Up Child, already, Lauren Daigle’s Rescue lyrics cut straight to the heart. I hope you are encouraged regardless of your circumstances: https://youtu.be/3U4Q2R7ZZAE

    He is a living and active hope. — 1 Peter 1:3

    Hope is not what is seen but in what is unseen. — Romans 8:24

    The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. — Exodus 14:14

    As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger...yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

    What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him—
    1 Corinthians 2:9 

    We named our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Shepherd (“Shep” for short) to serve as a reminder of God’s faithful promise to lead and guide us. Although he’s only been a part of the family for 8 months, he has been trained up to be trustworthy and obedient to his nature. I am in desperate need of reminders to point me back to the Good Shepherd, who has taken me by the hand over and over and guided me through every season. I can be oh-so forgetful! When I look at Shep I’m reminded of what God has done, that He is good and faithful, that He is constant and my certainty. Constantly saying his name reminds me to declare and claim the Truth of who God is. (Silly, but you gotta do what you gotta do!)

    Don’t believe in the lie of scarcity, but rather believe in the promises that He has something abundant for you. He has a plan for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you and to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) no matter what’s going on.

    Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when He finds it, he joyfully puts it on His shoulders and goes home. Then He calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not repent. — Luke 15:4-7

    Starting this Psalm off with the imagery of a Shepherd sets the stage for all the goodness that’s left to come after the rescue. He doesn’t take you home to condemn you. Instead through His kindness He puts you over His shoulder and says, Let’s go home.

    I can’t wait to take you through this Psalm 23 journey!

    The best is yet to be,

    Anthem of a Striving Heart

    “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
    He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
    He leads 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 mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
    and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever!”
    Psalm 23

     

    Psalm 23 has had a reoccurring presence in my life the last few years and has become a tried and true foundational anthem for my striving heart. The Psalm itself is short and sweet, but it profoundly lays the groundwork for our identity and our faith: come as you are, you have a place at My table, I’ll take it from here. 

    With all its enticements, false promises and ever-changing expectations, the world has set us up for failure. But the Lord, with His never-ceasing mercy, unchanging character, deep love and carefully crafted mighty purposes, has set a table for us. It’s brimming with all we need and overflowing with replenishment, nourishment and intimacy.  He is the ultimate dinner party host—asking us to trust Him and simply relax in His presence. What a luxury.

    Over the last couple of years, the Lord has spoken these healing words from the psalms over me: Be still. I consistently avoided rest, I pursued busyness and I attempted to manage every aspect of my life, causing me to always be tired. It was difficult for me to grasp that Jesus’ last words on the cross were It Is Finished not Go And Do More.

    But God has repeatedly me brought me back to Psalm 23, teaching me to stop, to let my striving cease and let Him do the work. True peace, which lifts burdens and calms the tides of our restless hearts, comes from being still in God’s presence. I had to learn how to create that time and space for intimacy with Him so I could fully embrace His promises, provisions and security for me.

    I will fight for you, you need only be still – Exodus 14:14

    When it comes to Psalm 23, I have found it to be so profound that God literally asks us to do basically nothing. He’s not like, “Hey girl, you need to get this cleaned up before you come to the table.” He never actually asks us to lift a finger but rather tells us to kick off our shoes, throw our feet up (dirty socks and all) and stay a while. How counter-culture. But also, how God of Him. He says in Luke that “(His) yoke is easy and (His) burden is light” – it’s not heavy or burdensome, weary or stressful. It is full of blessings, joy, restoration and replenishment. This bedrock promise is all about Him and what He does for us. It’s not on us. He wants you're striving to cease. He has gone before us and taken care of every detail. He's going to prepare the meal. He's going to prepare the harvest. He’s going to restore, heal, renew, revive. It's about what He has done and what He can do.

    He came not to be served but to serve! – Matthew 20:28

    Amidst all of our daily distractions, I wanted to create a wearable reminder of His foundational truth, His unshakable promises, His immeasurable hope, His endless and immense love for each of us. For years I’ve been on the hunt for an easy gift to give a friend who was in need of a reminder that God sees her. But if we’re honest with ourselves, Christian jewelry hasn’t exactly been pegged as fashion forward—we’re talking cheesy and bulky, or beautiful and pricey. I had a hard time finding an in between, so here we are. First came the Honeycomb Collection and now the Psalm 23 Bracelet. God has used my testimony of messiness and failings to bring me to a place that I still can’t fathom, so it has become my greatest joy to proclaim His Name through conversational and purpose-centered jewelry at Golden Thread. My prayer is that we each continue to seek more wisdom from Psalm 23 and to truly find soul-fulfilling rest in His presence—no matter if this is a calm and relaxing season or more chaotic and busier than ever. Psalm 23 has the most essential cornerstone promises of God that are not based on our circumstances, rather they are freely available to us at all times. Seek, find and accept this rich and priceless treasure you’ve been searching for!

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30

    I hope, with everything in me, that this bracelet is a sweet, sweet reminder for what God has done, from where He rescued you from, for what He is doing in you and the wonders He performs on your behalf. As humans, we can’t hear this enough. Our one true identity is validated in Him and Him alone.

    So as you start preparing for the holidays and Christmas season, I hope you look no further than the Psalm 23 Bracelet. Use it as a tool to help memorize scripture or to prompt Gospel-centered conversation. I am so excited for what God has in store for the expansion of His Kingdom through something as small as jewelry. 

    Before I wrap up, I wanted to share the symbolism of each of the 10 colors in the bracelet in accordance with Psalm 23’s 10 stanzas: 

    White - He is my shepherd, He leads, guides, rescues and protects me
    Green - He makes me stop, lie down and rest 
    Blue - He leads me beside still waters, leads me to refreshment and peace, He asks me to “be still” and ensures me He’s got it all
    Silver - He restores my soul, makes me whole again and provides renewal for my weary heart
    Black - Even though I walk through difficult times, I am not alone and will not fear
    Burnt Orange - He is with me always, He makes me courageous, He is the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3)
    Yellow - He anoints me with oil, He blesses me
    Purple - He prepares a table for me packed with intimacy, nourishment and replenishment
    Red - My cup overflows, He gifts me with lavishes blessings filled to the brim
    Gold - He promises that my life is surrounded with mercy, goodness and love. I dwell in security, safety and He has a mighty and purposeful plan for my life

     

    As we enter in to this holiday season, here’s to knowing who you are in Christ Jesus, what you have available to you in His Mighty Name, when you need Him you know where to find Him, where He is at all times is right next to you and why He has come back for you over and over. It is because of His endless and all-consuming love for you…His Beloved! 

    Next time I write we’ll start going through each verse more in depth. I figured the best way to break it all down was to focus in a little at a time and really press in to some of the key words and phrases used in Psalm 23. We’ll start with verses 1 and 2 (The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters), where I’ll dig deeper in to God’s guidance and insistence for us to rest. We welcomed home our sweet puppy Shepherd (Shep, for short) 8 months ago, whom we named after the Good Shepherd, to serve as just another daily reminder of the One, the only One, who is faithful and trustworthy. I am not at a loss for words on it— I’ll tell you that now! (As promised, here’s a puppy picture!)

    I hope you enjoy and find great hope in our Lord!

    Stay tuned for our upcoming Psalm 23 series,

    Instant Gratification Is Not Our Destiny

    For the past several weeks I’ve felt convicted about my phone being a part of my existence rather than just a tool. This realization came about one day when I noticed my phone was the first thing I grabbed in the morning and the last thing I put down at night.

    I’ve stumbled upon multiple blogs, podcasts and chapters in books recently that have been hitting on this hot button topic of social media and phone usage. It’s safe to say we’re not alone in this mess. But as it keeps reoccurring in conversation, I’ve started to ask myself a simple question: Why am I doing this? 

    Well like any good defense attorney, I have a long list of reasons why I pick up my phone. It’s my calendar, it’s my alarm, it’s how I communicate with my employees, it’s how I stay up to date with friends and family from out of town. 

    But when my friend gets up to grab silverware at lunch, I check for that text. When I’m watching a movie with the kids for the thousandth time, I’m scrolling through Instagram. When I’m waiting in the carpool line, I’m sending an email. If there was ever a time I didn’t want to sit alone with my thoughts, my regrets, my pains or my deferred hopes, I could pick up my phone. My phone has become a habit that never gives me peace but it keeps me occupied, no doubt.

    Welcome to 2018, friends.

    When it comes to social media from my 35 year old lens, I’m not sure I could have handled being a teen or in my early twenties in these days. It’s scary to think of the rejection and comparison we have immediate access to. I’m a mom to three little kids and I constantly have to think about how I’m suppose to raise them up against this social media empire to use it healthily and as a means of encouragement. 

    Instagram has recently rolled out a new update to remind you when you’re all caught up on viewing posts. It’s even starting to let you set a time limit for yourself so the app may remain “positive, intentional and inspiring.” Remember those Push Notifications everyone was telling you to turn on? Yeah, Instagram is actually encouraging you to mute those now.

    To put it simply, our social media pages are generally highlight reels of the good stuff going on in our lives. When we consider that to be a front or a disguise for the reality of our hearts’ condition, I think we’ll each find a lot of conviction in where our approval comes from. In 1 Samuel, we are reminded that the Lord looks at our hearts, not our outer appearance. He wants us to find our validation in Him, which is freely given to us.

    Christine Caine recently spoke on this subject and went in to depth on the dinosaur age of taking your roll of film to Eckerd’s to have your pictures developed. Your film would go into a dark room to be processed—it would have to be forged in the dark on to the negative. If you opened that dark room too soon or if you brought light into it, the exposure would ruin the image permanently. She encouraged us to look at social media in a different way: that upload of instant gratification is not our destiny. We don’t need to be discovered. We need to be developed by God and oftentimes we use social media as a place for waiting for man to discover us. I’ll feel more secure if I get over 100 likes. If this person sees my story, I’ll feel noticed. We don’t need to be discovered by man. We have already been created by the God of the Universe, who has already put His stamp of approval on us. We need to be developed by Him in the dark room, in solitude, not out front for all to see. We need to get comfortable with sitting still and alone before God where He can forge His image into us.

    The Apostle Paul made it a theme in his teaching to speak about the things that can have a hold on us. He often asked believers to think about the choices they made in regards to their body, what they ate or drank, or the day they chose to worship.

    “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12

    I think we could all use that kind of self-examination. What is the output of the input? Where are our thoughts susceptible of going when we get into a trend of bouncing around from account to account? It takes a lot of maturity and humility to ask: Am I okay with not being in the spotlight? Am I okay with being blissfully unaware of not being invited or unrecognized? Can I be content with solitude, silence and stillness before God?

    It’s time to take a breather from the comparison, the measuring up (or lack there of), and the numbing. It’s time for me to intentionally sit down the Lord and focus in on the condition of my heart. Let’s be more intentional with who is physically in front of us.

    A few things you might do starting this weekend that may help you or heal you:  

    Turn off your phone for a few hours.
    Practice a new morning habit that doesn’t include your phone (i.e. make your bed)
    Simplify your life—clean out your closet or maybe just delete old texts out of your phone.
    Go on a walk with a new friend.
    Figure out one thing you really enjoy doing by yourself, and do it.

    I recently read, “when something, no matter what it is, takes more from us than it gives us, we are wise to put it down.” There’s a lot of truth in those words and a lot of freedom in them to lean in to God’s best for us. Let’s be women that care more about the light that is in us rather than the light that is on us.

     

    I’d love to hear what other ways you’re disciplined in this!