24. Celebrating the wilderness.

In this world there are a variety of esteemed rewards given to people in fields like academics, literature, art and science. Every year the movie world is rewarded in multiple ceremonies, one more glamorous and entertaining than the other. Achievement is celebrated – public and extravagant. The glitzy parties ooze expectation, and unavoidably disappointment. For each of these a host is carefully selected and announced, who has to add to the sparkle of the event with well-prepared entertainment.

We have already talked about seasons and days to count time and measure life – a fact as old as the concept itself and as certain as every daybreak and sunset.

In the past few weeks God has alerted me again to the “beaten track”, if I may call it that, of the life He prepared for me. In the life of a child of God, nothing is coincidence, a twist of fate or mere luck – good or bad. We know the Author of our story [Hebrews 5:9]. The confirmation of this in Ephesians 2:10 gives deeper insight into the flawlessness of God’s plan for your life.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in

Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them

[living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

God is the perfect host of our whole life and He receives us at pre-planned festive occasions where He awards us the trophies with which we build the confidence to even greater things.

This is a deep truth and a challenge to our renewed mind. We can only truly appreciate our days marked out for us, when we submit to Holy Spirit thinking. Our days are predestined, prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them. They are prearranged by our loving Father Who is goodness and love. Therefore our days are planned from the Source of goodness and love.

Take a Selah-moment [pause and calmly think about it] for the full implication of this statement to settle in your thinking.

Do you live the good life? Who do you know who lives the good life?

More important – what does your good life require? Will you be able to sit at the table of feasting in the deepest dark days of your life and realize this is the life of excellence that was marked out in heaven for you?

How will you respond to God when He questions your life as He does in Jeremiah 12:5:

If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan?

What is the nature of the life of excellence defined by you?

For me, it is, without a doubt, the life God planned for me to live. Then it is up to me to walk in the days set before me, whatever those days may bring.

Please walk with me through the old favourite, the too familiar Psalm 23 – the story of life in God.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.

A shepherd was one of the most common sights in Biblical times and is even today in the near mid-East. It is to be noted that a shepherd never drives, but always leads his sheep to safe grazing. In the dry climate of the Middle East the sheep requires to be led to water. The sheep are fully dependent on the shepherd for their livelihood and protection.

Typical in the Hebrew idiom, the phrase is repeated to explain the truth from another angle. I shall not lack, says the Psalmist with confidence. He knew his history.

Deuteronomy 2:7:

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your walking through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.

And for the future, God promised:

Deuteronomy 8:9:

A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

Psalm 34:10:

 …but they who seek (inquire of and require) the Lord [by right of their need and on the authority of His Word], none of them shall lack any beneficial thing.

 TROPHY #1 – provision for everything in everything.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet water.

Abundance for the child of God might be a wilderness in the eye of the unbeliever who cannot discern the higher way of God for a life of excellence and greater good. God’s hierarchy is super important.

My spirit submits to the Holy Spirit, my mind (will, intellect and emotions) submits to my spirit and my body follows. The body will always follow the mind and the secular world always thwarts this hierarchy to make the body dictate to the mind. For the spirit-filled child of God, the Holy Spirit determines decisions, not his fleshly desires. The more the Holy Spirit dictate, the more we grow in Christ.

According to this Kingdom dynamics the world’s wilderness will become my green pasture and waters of peace and quiet.

Philippians 4: 6:

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

TROPHY # 2 – peace always, in all.

He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.

Isaiah 40:29:

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].

Proverbs 4:11:

I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.

Strength for your path and confidence for the road you are on – without a doubt – a life of excellence.

For His name’s sake – not because we earn it – because He is good and acts according to His character.

TROPHY # 3 – strength for all, in all.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

A valley is often fertile giving higher harvest yields than regular fields. Your deep and dark valleys will yield the fruit of righteousness, experiencing God’s provision and protection.

The staff and rod were instruments of protection and guidance. Moses did wonders with his staff before Pharaoh and by the sea that parted [Exodus 14:16], he called the plagues down on Egypt with his staff, [Exodus 8:16,17, 9:23, 10:13], Aaron’s rod blossomed and bore fruit in one day [Numbers 17:8] and was one of the three elements in the Ark of the Covenant – just to name a few examples.

In Proverbs [13:24] this wonder-rod is mentioned in the protection and guidance of children. Discipline protects children and the instruction of a parent should be the guidance of a young life. (It has nothing to do with corporal punishment). God’s rod is His word and guides our path. Psalm 119:105:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

TROPHY # 4 – protection always in all.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

Seriously? Psalmist – do you mean what you say?

A table of feasting in the valley of the shadow of death. Truly!

In your darkest hour you are received by the ultimate Host of all ages with heavenly hospitality and glorious abundance of love and grace, while you feast on the fruit of the valley. God’s favour is public and unmistakable – in the presence of your enemies.

TROPHY # 5 – feasting in favour and fruitfulness.

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

Your future is guaranteed. All your days are covered with goodness and mercy and unfailing love from the Source of all goodness and love.

The key – to live in the house of the Lord – the presence of the Lord – forever. The presence of the Lord and our dwelling in it is our trademark. It separates us from powerless, name-only Christians and unbelievers.

Exodus 33:15,16:

And Moses said to the Lord, If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?

Goodness and mercy will pursue us like two bloodhounds on our tracks – that is the promise. It will cover our past and determine our future. My past is under the Blood and the content of my future is the promises of God.

TROPHY # 6 – guaranteed success for the future

Psalm 84:12:

O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!

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