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Discussion Starter #441

Guys Im really sorry to just provide a link this morning. There have been some major changes with our computers from IT in the name of security so im working with them to change things again because even out work sites are not loading correctly now.
 

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Discussion Starter #442
I fear myself and many other have fallen into the trap that because your a Christian your life is all of the sudden going to be better. In the truest form it is better because you now have a relationship with the creator of the universe and are saved. In another sense you are now going to go through a process willingly and sometimes unwillingly where Jesus transforms you. I don't know about you but, I don't know remember the last time I tried to bend steel with soft pillows. It takes heat, and pressure. Jesus loves us too much to not allow us to have this heat and pressure. I don't want to ever assume trials you face are the consequence of sin. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't and sometimes we may never know why. I have found the book of Job to be one of the best reads when I am facing trials. He suffered for Gods glory and nothing else Its not something easily understood and it doesn't just fix things when trials come. I truly believe Jesus allows the mystery of Job to remain. It has been one of the biggest struggles and blessings to try and wrap my mind around the suffering we and others face. I pray not only myself but others will have the strength to hold on and faith in that HE has not abandoned you during the times of darkness.


March 26, 2020The Valley We Would Not Choose






Staff writer, desiringGod.org
Some realities can become so familiar that we no longer see them. The painting fixed firmly on the living room wall eventually vanishes. What is well-known is not always well-beheld.
So it can be with David’s masterpiece in Psalm 23. The beloved lyrics hang in the living room of the Church, but we can fail to see it after a time. We see it upon so many coffee cups with picturesque backgrounds that we can be left seeing a cliché instead of God-inspired comfort. Without another backdrop — one often not serenely depicted — the peace that this beloved psalm promises remains unseen.
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 23:1–6)
Consider all the terrain in the journey. Staring at the Psalm anew, we consider all is not calm streams and green pastures. David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.” This is the valley of deep darkness. A valley concealing bandits and predators. A valley where enemies lurk disguised, and fear taunts the imagination — not a scene for coffee cups. But it is in comfort’s invasion of even this place that makes the psalm the most beloved throughout history.
Consider who leads there. We do not often consider who leads us into the valley. This path of deathly shadows was not self-chosen. The sheep, sheepish as they are, do not walk willingly into unlit places. They aren’t a lion to be so careless; dark paths are where sheep die. So how did David end up walking there of all places? His Shepherd led him.
Christ, the good Shepherd, lays us down in green pastures, leads beside still waters, and guides us through dark valleys. How important to realize this. When life overwhelms us, we are tempted to believe that — if we were truly his — we would never travel into such places. But David thinks otherwise. When he writes, “I shall fear no evil for you are with me,” David does not see a Shepherd scratching his head wondering where they took a wrong turn. David trusts that his Shepherd meant for him to pass this way.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” His Shepherd, our shepherd, makes his people dine in front of those who seek their life.
Consider that he comes prepared. And the Shepherd shows that he came prepared for this route. In the shadows, David could see the silhouette of weapons. The vulnerable sheep, seeing his Master armed, sings, “Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
David, a shepherd himself, knew these were not for decoration. And he knew his Shepherd well enough to know that he was not a hired hand to flee when the wolf came (John 10:12) — as he had not left him when Goliath charged forth. He knew that the shadows bow to him. David couldn’t see all dangers ahead of him, but he could see who was with him — what should he fear?
Consider why he leads along these paths. Some seasons he graciously allows us to sit in green pastures and enjoy sunny days. At times, he leads beside still waters, not the overwhelming currents that often carry sheep with heavy coats down to the bottom of the river. These are sweet times.
But in all his leading, along his many paths that he brings us, “He leads me in paths of righteousness, for his name sake.” He leads towards things that make us more like him. Sometimes this means learning to rest in green pastures. At other times this means the comfort of walking with him beside still waters. At other times it means following him into the shadows. In all the different paths, our eternal good, his glory, and our Shepherd-likeness are the guiding principles.
Consider one vital word. David uses a well-chosen expression, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” He leads us through. This dark valley was not the final destination. The deep darkness was not his final resting place. It was a hallway leading elsewhere. Surrounded by peril, enemies, and uncertainty, he knows that he will walk through it with his Lord leading him.
Consider where all his paths will lead. Sometimes the Shepherd ensures that these dark valleys remain just shadows. Having sung David’s song countless times, three Hebrew boys defied the bear Nebuchadnezzar, knowing that their Shepherd was there to save them if he chose. But if not, they resolved that they would remain faithful. As they went into the flames, their Shepherd stood with them. And they left untouched.
But sometimes we don’t leave untouched. Death comes. Tragedies fall. Hearts break. Persecution comes. Sometimes the hoped-for deliverance doesn’t arrive. What then? Does he still lead “through” such valleys? He does.
Jesus, the great Shepherd, led Stephen, the first martyr, through the dark valley of death itself to the place that all his paths ultimately lead: to himself. Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” leading him into glory. Goodness and mercy pursued him all the days of his life — including this day (Psalm 23:6).
No matter when death finally comes, Jesus, his Shepherd and ours, leads through death itself to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). God himself is the end of David’s journey in Psalm 23. The valley of the shadow of death, even when it is more than shadows, leads directly to the Shepherd himself. All are but rivers, roads, and valleys leading to our eternal home, him.
 

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Thank you Justin, it's like you found that just for me. All of that is so true, and it's a comfort knowing that He never leaves us or forsakes us. He can't heal us unless we're broken first. That sounds harsh but He does heal the broken hearts and He gives us peace.
 

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Discussion Starter #444
Thank you Justin, it's like you found that just for me. All of that is so true, and it's a comfort knowing that He never leaves us or forsakes us. He can't heal us unless we're broken first. That sounds harsh but He does heal the broken hearts and He gives us peace.
You know I actually got nervous posting it. I learned many years ago when folks are going through struggles don't give them the cookie cutter answer "Don't worry God has a plan etc" And thought WOW this could not have come at a different time in a million years. Just want to encourage you and to know you have many people who don't even know you praying for you. And again I may be a few and a half states away let me know and i'll do my best to help.
 

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Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #446

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
—2 Corinthians 4:17

Deep inside us, there is a sense of something more in life that drives us on. No matter what experiences you’ve had, no matter how wonderful they were, they were just a glimpse of what is still ahead. You are really homesick for a place you have never been before, and that place is Heaven. You were wired this way.
The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). This simply means there is a sense inside of us that there is more to life. That is what keeps us moving forward.
It is sort of like the homing instinct we see in the animal kingdom, like the salmon making their way upstream with such determination. We see it in the way the swallows return every year to San Juan Capistrano. It’s a homing instinct that drives them.
We have the same thing, but it is a homing instinct for a place we haven’t seen yet. It is a homesickness for Heaven. Until that day, there is nothing that will completely satisfy our lives. No matter what happens to us on Earth, it pales in comparison to this great hope.
The apostle Paul wrote, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18 NLT).
This is the hope of the Christian—the hope of a place called Heaven. There is a better world ahead. There is something greater than what we’re experiencing now.
 
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