Green Pastures, Still Waters, Restoration

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 refreshes 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. 5You 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.  (Note: This study is focused on the green pastures, still waters and our restoration.)

Green Pastures

The 23rd Psalm says that God will make you lie down in green pastures, and lead you to still waters. He does this because He wants to restore our souls and guides us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Why does our Father look out for us day and night, week after week, year after year until we leave this earth? He is our parent. He sees our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We watches us run to and fro all day long, every day. When we are still, our minds are still racing. When we sleep, we seldom experience REM sleep (deep sleep). Our thoughts are in constant flux. God sees us and knows that it is different to nurture a relationship with us if we cannot be still and focused for more than a moment. He seeks us in the quiet space, a place of peace.

Jesus is our Shepard, He keeps us from want. He protects us and restores us when we feel empty and lost. The beauty is that Jesus is here for us when we experience success, and love life, as well as when we are in the valley.

When you read then phrase green pastures, what do you envision? My green pasture has green trees surrounding it, and flowers all around. The grass is green and tall enough to blow in the breeze. There is quiet, yet the sound of nature, the breeze, birds chirping, and bees buzzing permeates the pasture. It is a peaceful place. The sun shines down on it, and when you lay in the grass, you feel it’s warm rays and the coolness of the soft grass.

The Lord’s pasture is not myopically designed, it can exist in rural communities and in urban environments. The pastures blanket all parts of the world. In other instances, people may define a pasture to fit their setting. Parks equate to green space and are rightfully fields, reminiscent of pastures; you see these people laying in the grass in parks. Green space exists as part of oases in some parts of the world as well as mountainous plateaus. We can define our own pasture, as the place the Lord instructs us to experience calm. But why must we lay down or envision ourselves laying down you may ask because it is part of Gods prescription for us to unwind, slow down, and experience Him. This is a place where He restores our soul and gives us fresh air to breathe in and exhale to slow our heartbeat and gentle anxieties. It is a place of peace, where time is not the governor of your next move.

Still Waters

Jesus also leads us beside still waters. Still, waters can be interpreted as a pond, a lake, or a tributary, and when I was young, a flooded part of the park after rainfall or melting snow, part of the seasonal change. We are led to still waters that are, like pastures, defined by the terrain around us. When I experience still waters, my mind clears and the activity of the day cease to exist, it refreshes me. It is a place to escape our normal daily activities. It’s the place you hear birds chirping, small animals drinking at the water’s edge, and is the most comfortable environment we can lavish in and recognize that God created it for our benefit.

As adults, we are (generally) not afforded the time during the day to visit a pasture or still waters, we are, however, provided with the image of both. During breaks at work, or home in the midst of chores, we are able to escape in prayer and meditation, imagine laying in our pasture/field/green space, near still waters, exhaling and spending time with our Lord as he restores our soul.

Soul Restoration

The scripture continues with, He restores my soul. It is during these restoration moments that we can discard the chaotic energy and listen for our Lord’s voice. It is the time when we can hold a conversation that would translate into more than 140 characters. As our soul is restored, we become stronger and intentionally more dependent upon our Lord. It is through these experiences that we begin to understand that we cannot go it alone and be present with the Lord. Relationship success is determined in part by proximity. Our soul is restored when we are in close relationship with the Lord, only He can heal our soul. It is our responsibility to maintain and cherish the relationship. God is always waiting for us to call upon and spend time with Him. Through His righteousness, we are saved.  through His righteousness, we receive the benefit of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

Images –  Psalm 23, Dust Off the Bible; B. Blair; LAB Photos
Scripture – BibleStudyTools.com
Resources – Psalm 23, Hayford’s Bible Handbook; The Twenty-third Psalm, Charles L. Allen; Nelson’s Quick Reference, Bible Commentary, Warren Wiersbe

We Are Not Going to Hell

Psalm 16 9-10

I like the Message Version because it is clear and to the point. My ticket to hell has been canceled. It is not my destination.

I’m happy from the inside and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—that’s not my destination!
Psalm 16:9-10 MESS

Why was my ticket to hell canceled? Christ died on the cross to cancel our destination, i.e., hell. The Old Testament dispensation did not allow redemption for our sins. Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. There were no second chances in the Old Testament. Once guilty, always guilty.

When Christ visited the earth in human form, experienced what we experience and then was crucified, He did so to provide a path of repentance and redemption to righteousness. Forgiveness from God is essential for our relationship with God.

The crucifixion of Christ changed our relationship with God. We were no longer bound by the atrocities of sin that man has committed since the beginning of time. In today’s lexicon, ‘God gave us an out.’ If we are truly remorseful for whatever sin we committed, we can go to God in prayer and ask His forgiveness; we will be washed clean. 1 John 1:9 says,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 51 stresses that God can blot out our transgressions and cleanse us from our sin. psalms-51-1-2He can create a new heart in us and renew a steadfast spirit within us. He will not cast us away and will not take the Holy Spirit that dwells in us away. He will, upon praying, restore our joy in His salvation and uphold us in Christ.

The Unforgivable Sin

Psalm 51-3The only unforgivable sin is the sin of rejecting God and refusing His offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. This is the only unforgivable sin because it means we are saying that the Holy Spirit’s witness about Jesus is a lie.

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Luke 12:10

Jesus is God in human form and when we deny Jesus, we are denying God Himself; we limit Him and assume He is unable to save us.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. John 1:18

The main reason it is serious to reject Christ is that Christ is God’s appointed means of (our) salvation. Our greatest need is to have our sins forgiven; if we don’t, we have no reason to expect God to welcome us into Heaven. But by His death and resurrection, Christ provided the way for us to be forgiven and cleansed of all of our sins.  (What’s the Unforgivable Sin? Billy Graham. Billygraham.org, April 12, 2016)

Psalm 16 IMG_6780 (2)

Praise our God. We are not doomed to go to hell unless we commit the unforgivable sin. Less that, we are not hell bound.

Images – Google Images; LAB Photos
Scriptures – Biblica.org; Biblegateway.com
Resources – Billygraham.org; Biblestudytools.com; Crosswalk.com

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