VIDEO The Best From Psalm 23: Still Waters

He leads me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2

Let’s adopt Psalm 23 for 2023! In his book on this passage, J. Wilbur Chapman suggested a practical way to experience God’s green pastures and still waters. He wrote, “Every day must begin with feeding… and end with quiet contemplation of his mercy…. The day which began with feeding must end in quiet thoughtfulness if we would keep in fellowship with the Lord, and absorb his beauty of holiness.”[1]

What a picture!

There’s no better way to start the morning than by spending time in the pasturage of God’s Word, feeding our soul and gaining His perspective. Some people have only five minutes; others can spend an hour. But we shouldn’t skip our spiritual disciplines at the start of the day. And in the evening before retiring, we can enjoy the still waters of God’s peace as we contemplate His faithfulness through the day.

His Spirit attends us in various ways like “waters”—in the plural number, you will notice—to cleanse, to refresh, and to strengthen. But he cannot be appreciated or appropriated in his transforming power until we have learned the lesson of waiting before him in perfect quietness.
J. Wilbur Chapman

[1] Rev. J. Wilbur Chapman, The Secret of a Happy Day (Boston, MA: United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1899), 43-44.

What Does Psalm 23 Mean to You Personally?

Who Are You, Lord?

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. Acts 9:5

At age sixteen, Luis Rodriguez had already been in jail for selling crack. But now, arrested for attempted murder, he was in prison again—looking at a life sentence. But God spoke into his guilty circumstances. Behind bars, young Luis remembered his early years when his mother had faithfully taken him to church. He now felt God tugging at his heart. Luis eventually repented of his sins and came to Jesus.

In the book of Acts, we meet a zealous Jewish man named Saul, who was also called Paul. He was guilty of aggravated assault on believers in Jesus and had murder in his heart (Acts 9:1). There’s evidence he was a kind of gang leader, and part of the mob at the execution of Stephen (7:58). But God spoke into Saul’s guilty circumstances—literally. On the street leading into Damascus, Saul was blinded by a light, and Jesus said to him, “Why do you persecute me?” (9:4). Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (v. 5), and that was the beginning of his new life. He came to Jesus.

Luis Rodriguez served time but eventually was granted parole. Since then, he’s served God, devoting his life to prison ministry in the United States and Central America.

God specializes in redeeming the worst of us. He tugs at our hearts and speaks into our guilt-drenched lives. Maybe it’s time we repent of our sins and come to Jesus.

By:  Kenneth Petersen

Reflect & Pray

What guilt are you experiencing or have experienced? How do you sense God is calling or has called you back to Himself? 

Jesus, I’ve strayed from You, but I feel You tugging at my heart. Forgive me of my sins, I pray.

For further study, read The Forgiveness of God.

The Risk of Faith

God empowers and equips every believer who trusts Him enough to act on His Word. Matthew 14:22-33

Sometimes obeying the Lord feels as if we’re taking a chance. Like Peter, we may find ourselves in a precarious situation, overcome by fear. Although life is filled with uncertainties, biblical truths never change. As we focus on them, we’ll be able to obey with confidence—not in our desired outcome, but in the Lord’s faithfulness. 

We can count on God being with us. It’s impossible for believers to live a single day without His presence because our relationship with Him through our Savior Jesus Christ is a permanent one (Heb. l3:5). God’s love for us is deep and abiding, and His promises are sure. When He calls us to leave our “comfort zone,” we can obey because He’s there at our side. 

God’s enabling power is ours. The Holy Spirit gives us divine strength to do what the Father says. Obedience isn’t achieved by self-effort but by complete dependence on the Lord. His grace is sufficient for every situation, and His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Is there something God wants you to do that you’re resisting? The Lord has provided everything you need in order to obey. So fix your eyes on Him, and step out in faith.

God Remembers

“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged.” (Genesis 8:1)

This verse contains the first mention of the beautiful word “remember” in the Bible, and it tells us that God remembers! During the awful cataclysm of the Flood, the most devastating event thus far in the history of the world, God still remembered the faithful obedience of Noah, and He even remembered every living thing!

We may forget many things, but God remembers: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name” (Hebrews 6:10). Nor does He ever forget a promise. The first mention of “remember” in the New Testament is the Spirit-inspired testimony of Zacharias: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:68, 72-73). That promise had been made 2,000 years before, but God remembered.

God even remembers the sparrows: “Not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6). And He certainly remembers His own children: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

Even after the children of Israel had gone deeply into idolatry, He could still say, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness” (Jeremiah 2:2).

God remembers the evil as well as the good, of course. The one thing He chooses not to remember is the sinful past of those who have come to Christ for forgiveness. “And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). HMM

The Law and the Prophets

Matthew 5:17

OUR Lord’s relation to the Mosaic Law has been misunderstood grievously. He declared that He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17), and that is the key to the whole matter. Some speak slightly of the law, as though our Lord roughly disannulled it, but He regarded it as sacred. The law was the bud and He the blossom fulfilling it, but both bud and blossom are perfect in their own way.

The law is “holy, just and good,” but believers are not under law but under grace and in-lawed to Christ—”married to another” (Rom. 7:4). Christ was born under the law (Gal. 4:4), lived under the law, kept the law perfectly, bore the curse of the law in His death, and thereby redeemed us from it that we might be dead to it and bear fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4).

In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord set forth His relation to the Law and the Prophets. Far from disregarding the law, He declared that every jot and tittle should be fulfilled. Our righteousness must exceed the law-righteousness of the Pharisees, and it does because Christ Himself is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 1:30).

Then our Lord went back of the law to show that the real offense lay in a persons evil motive, the cause of sin. He showed that murder went back to hatred and anger, adultery to lust. He then laid down the only reason for divorce: fornication. Frivolous swearing and serious oaths alike are set aside in favor of letting “yes” and “no” suffice. He condemned revenge and set forth the ideal of the other cheek and the second mile. Much argument has raged as to how far we may practice this injunction in the present age, but the spirit of the second mile should be in every believer instead of that all-too-common “chip-on-the-shoulder” attitude. Impartial love to friend and enemy alike is the spirit of Christ, but, alas, we still love most those from whom we hope to receive.

Our Lord concluded this portion of His discourse by saying, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Here the idea is that of completeness, not sinless perfection. But even at that, the Sermon on the Mount sets before us an impossible ideal except for Calvary. Idealists and dreamers through the ages have tried to create communities where people lived by the Sermon on the Mount, but the ventures have been pitiful failures. Tolstoy and his colony were examples of this misguided impulse which has led many astray. Many preachers today follow only the Christ of the Mount, but we can only reach the Mount by way of Calvary. Christ met the demands of the law, and it is only Christ living within the believer who can live out the principles He Himself laid down. As I receive Him by faith and abide in Him, the Holy Spirit produces in me the fruits which the law demanded but could not create.

Nothing is more discouraging than the Sermon on the Mount unless we see it through the light of the cross. Only Christ can meet His own ideals, but this He will do in everyone who receives Him. Even then, we believe that the literal application of this sermon awaits the kingdom age to come—but the spiritual application is for us now, and is met by Christ through the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer.

“The wages of sin is death.”

Genesis 3:1-19

The present portion of Scripture contains the sad record of the Fall, in which through our first parents we all fell

Genesis 3:1

The devil often begins as if he were an enquirer.

Genesis 3:3

She should have been more precise. God did not say, “lest ye die,” but “ye shall surely die.” Error commences in little departures from truth.

Genesis 3:5

He cruelly slanders God. He hints that God was afraid that man would grow too great.

Genesis 3:6

See the progress of sin, she listened, she saw, she took, she gave to Adam. She had been wiser if she had turned away at first.

Genesis 3:12

He throws the blame on God for giving him a wife. Alas! what wretched ingratitude.

Genesis 3:13

Sinners are ready with excuses, and yet they have never a good one. Open confession of our wrongdoing is far better.

Genesis 3:15

Here a blessed promise lies like a pearl in a shell. The serpent’s curse is for us a blessing, for Jesus our Saviour is therein foretold.

Genesis 3:17

See how obliquely the curse falls. It glances rather on the ground than on man. Wondrous is God’s mercy.

Genesis 3:19

Thus sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.

Yet, mighty God, thy wondrous love

Can make our nature clean,

While Christ and grace prevail above

The tempter, death, and sin.

The second Adam shall restore

The ruins of the first,

Hosanna to the sovereign power

That new creates our dust.

The Flock of God: Safe in Jesus Christ

Feed the flock of God which is among you… And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5:2, 4

The people who want to know God and walk with God, those who have learned to recognize the voice of the good Shepherd, will always be at home in a Spirit-filled congregation.

It is sad indeed that some have never heard the voice of the Shepherd. His voice is as tender as a lullaby and as strong as the wind and as mighty as the sound of many waters. The people who have learned to hear and recognize the voice of Jesus—that healing, musical, solemn, beautiful voice of Jesus in His church—are always at home where everything centers around Him.

The true Christian church can be a conglomeration of everything under the sun. That is, we may have Calvinists and Arminians and Methodists and Baptists and all sorts of others, and yet we are all together on one thing—Jesus Christ is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption! He is All in all, and the people of the Lord who have learned to hear the voice of the Shepherd gravitate towards that kind of church!

They may not be so sure about who else is present, but they know the Lord is present and they are sensitive to that.

Do you find your own heart sensitive to the Lord’s presence or are you among those who are “samplers” “and “nibblers”? God help you if you are, for the child of the king is a sheep who loves his Shepherd and he stays close to Him! That’s the only safe place for a sheep. Stay close to Jesus and all of the wolves in the world cannot get a tooth in you!