VIDEO The Best From Psalm 23: Paths of Righteousness

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

This simple sentence contains two astounding facts.

First, the Lord guides us in the right paths, knows how to direct us, and shows us the decisions that are best. Just as a shepherd goes before his flock, so the Lord goes before you. He prepares the future for you, and He leads you into opportunities He has arranged. It’s like the old hymn says: “He leadeth me, He leadeth me; by His own hand He leadeth me: His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.”

Second, He leads us for the sake of His own glory—for His own Name’s sake. Yes, He wants what is best for us, but He intends to gain glory for Himself in the process. He doesn’t lead us to glorify us—but to glorify Himself!

What does this mean for us in practical terms? It means we should offer our total lives to God, seek His guidance in every decision, and use every opportunity to serve Him—giving Him all the glory.

To believers, the Twenty-third Psalm is to live a life of victory, a life of joy and peace, a life triumphant in prayer, in Bible study, in service. Robert C. McQuilkin

Safe and Sound – Psalm 23 – Skip Heitzig

A New Beginning

Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. Psalm 120:2

“Christian consciousness begins in the painful realization that what we had assumed was the truth is in fact a lie,” Eugene Peterson wrote in his powerful reflections on Psalm 120Psalm 120 is the first of the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120–134) sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. And as Peterson explored this in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, these psalms also offer us a picture of the spiritual journey toward God.

That journey can only begin with profound awareness of our need for something different. As Peterson puts it, “A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. . . . [One] has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”

It’s easy to become discouraged by the brokenness and despair we see in the world around us—the pervasive ways our culture often shows callous disregard for the harm being done to others. Psalm 120 laments this honestly: “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (v. 7).

But there’s healing and freedom in realizing that our pain can also awaken us to a new beginning through our only help, the Savior who can guide us from destructive lies into paths of peace and wholeness (121:2). As we enter this new year, may we seek Him and His ways.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How have you become accustomed to destructive ways? How does the gospel invite you into ways of peace? 

Loving God, help me yearn for and work for Your ways of peace through the power of Your Spirit.

God’s Great Providence

Even when we don’t understand the mind of God, we can trust the heart of God John 6:43-51

I was signing books one day when a young man came forward for an autograph. He told me he had been on the verge of killing himself but then heard me speaking on television about suicide. After listening, he laid the gun down and dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.

I’ve heard similar stories of the Lord’s intervention in other lives. God does this by leading a person to the gospel. The messenger isn’t responsible for the individual’s salvation. Only God can draw someone to Himself, transform a heart, and change a sinner into a saint. 

The world talks about accidents, luck, and fate, but all these terms imply we’re victims of circumstance. The truth is, God is sovereign, and the entire world is under His control. Anything that enters our life—whether it’s blessing or trial—comes because the Lord has a use for it in His plan, which is always for our good. 

Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t put an end to our troubles and hardships; He has the power to do so. But He’s working every event in our life according to the counsel of His will. We won’t understand it all until we see Him in glory. So until then, we must trust Him and His good purposes.

Heavenly Calling

“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:48)

In a wonderful sense, Christians are just passing through this world on their way to the permanent home awaiting them in heaven. “For our conversation [or ‘our citizenship’] is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Christ has prepared a “place” for us there (John 14:2), and it is there that we have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).

In view of such a glorious future, we ought to live not as those who are “earthy” but, as our verse says, as “they also that are heavenly.” We have, indeed, been made “partakers of the heavenly calling,” and so should always, in all we do, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1), for He represents us even now in the heavenly places. He has gone “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), and we have, in effect, already been made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We may not appear to be very heavenly now, in these poor bodies made of Earth’s dust, but “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). As Paul vividly expresses it, the Lord Jesus Christ “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Christians, indeed, constitute a heavenly people with a heavenly calling, even while still on Earth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). HMM

Faith and Fear

Matthew 8:23-27

IN the eighth chapter of Matthew, Jesus says to the alarmed disciples who have wakened Him in the storm at sea: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” They had cried out in alarm, “Lord, save us! We perish!” according to Matthew; according to Mark: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

How true to human nature is that fearfulness of His disciples! After all the mighty works which they had seen Him do, here they could see only the immediate danger. Some have used the sleeping presence of Christ in the boat to indicate that Christ is in every believer and “needs only to be called into action by stirring up the gift of God within us.” But such an interpretation beclouds the matter. It was fear rather than faith that called upon Him here; a stronger faith would have let Him sleep. There is more faith in a quiet dependence upon the indwelling Christ than in an excitable anxiousness that would awaken Him in every storm, as though any real harm could come to us when He is within.

Many believers need to learn that faith delivers from fear. Theoretically, we believe in the Christ within, but when the crisis comes we grow panicky and cry, “Master, we perish!” But faith and fear are contradictory. In proportion as we have one we do not have the other. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). Since love is the outward working of faith, it follows that faith, working by love, drives out fear.

How the Master would cry to us timid and alarmed disciples as He did to these: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” “How is it that ye have no faith?” “Where is your faith?” No Christian need fear anything, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). We fear misfortune; we fear criticism; we fear others; we fear to undertake things, to speak for Christ; we fear for financial security; we fear sickness; we cross bridges before we reach them; we fear the future. But for every fear, “faith is the victory.”

We are not thinking of fear merely as a feeling, but as an attitude that paralyzes the will and restrains and cramps the life until one becomes a cowering slave. Neither is faith merely a feeling, but the attitude which steps forth in dependence upon God even though feelings and circumstances may point the other way. The conquest of fear is not wrought in a day. The Christian who sets out to live by faith will find many nervous qualms and inhibitions trying to choke his courage, but as he exercises faith the faith grows stronger and the fear weaker until it no longer becomes a serious problem. Here as everywhere else, the practice of His presence plays its part.

Some believers make the mistake of waiting until they feel all fear disappear before they venture forth by faith. But they never reach the high hills that way. Faith sets out in the very teeth of adverse circumstances and contrary feelings and makes fear disappear by continually assuming, asserting and practicing the attitude of faith until it becomes real and fear has been broken. Of course, it is all done through the indwelling Spirit, but still there must be practice and persistence. God will empower and sustain, but the decision of the will is our part, and all the prayers and devotional readings on earth will not make up for our definite stepping out upon the promises.

“My God, in Him will I trust.”

Psalm 91

Our last reading showed us Noah saved from amidst a drowning world. This may well lead us to consider the special protection which the Lord grants to his own people, of which the psalmist sings so sweetly in—

Psalm 91:1

When through the blood of Jesus a soul is brought into sweet fellowship with God, its real dangers are all over: it is, and must be, for ever safe. Noah was secure the moment he entered the ark, and so are we so soon as we are in Christ.

Psalm 91:4

What a tender picture. We, like the little birds, hide beneath the wings of God.

Psalm 91:6

As from apparent dangers so from concealed evils God’s people are preserved. There are heresies which would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect; but they shall not be deceived, for the Lord is their keeper.

Psalm 91:7-8

Noah saw the utter ruin of the ungodly world, and this, no doubt, led him the more devoutly to bless the grace which had rescued him from the like sin and doom.

Psalm 91:13

Those who sought our destruction shall themselves be overthrown. Their power and subtlety shall not avail them.

Psalm 91:15

Trouble we must experience, there is no immunity from that, but prayer meets every case, and brings suitable succours under all dangers. Conquered trials honour the Lord who helps us through them, but they also put the honours of experience upon those who have been exercised by them.

Psalm 91:16

The years of the righteous may be few, and yet they may live long, for men’s lives are not to be measured by the years through which they breathe, but by the good they accomplish, the favour of God which they enjoy.

Let us, as a family, thank God that our lives have been preserved from infectious diseases, from sudden death, and from fatal accidents. God’s providence is our inheritance. The throne of grace and a promise of being accepted when we approach it are among our choicest treasures. If we be indeed God’s children, angel guards are hovering over us at this hour; and we may rest assured that whatever ills may be abroad, we are safe beneath the wings of God. We ought, therefore, as Christians, to be very calm in troublous times, and show by our holy courage that we have a sure ground of confidence.

Parents, store this Psalm in your hearts, and ye children and young people treasure it in your memories; it is more precious than the much fine gold.

He that hath made his refuge God

Shall find a most secure abode,

Shall walk all day beneath his shade,

And there at night shall rest his head.

Then will I say, “My God, thy power

Shall be my fortress and my tower:

I, that am form’d of feeble dust,

Make thine almighty arm my trust.

Feeling Right: Not the Same As Being Right

The lord of that servant shall come… and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.... Matthew 24:50, 51

It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right!

The glaring disparity between theology and practice among professing Christians is a more destructive evil in its effect upon the Christian religion than communism, Romanism and liberalism combined.

So wide is the gulf that separates theory from practice in the church that an inquiring stranger who chances upon both would scarcely dream that there was any relation between them.

An intelligent observer of our human scene who heard the Sunday morning sermon and later watched the Sunday afternoon conduct of those who had heard it would conclude that he had been examining two distinct and contrary religions!

Christians habitually weep and pray over beautiful truth, only to draw back from that same truth when it comes to the difficult job of putting it in practice.

The average church simply does not dare to check its practices against biblical precepts. It tolerates things that are diametrically opposed to the will of God. This can be explained only by assuming a lack of integration in the religious personality. The mind can approve and the emotions enjoy while the will drags its feet and refuses to go along!

And since Christ makes His appeal directly to the will, are we not justified in wondering whether or not these divided souls have ever made a true commitment to the Lord?