PICTURE CREDIT: © Copyright 2016 Jo Smith Creative

“The Lord is my shepherd… He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…”
Psalm 23:1a, 2-3a (ESV)

If you’re running on your own strength, wisdom or ability, then you won’t last long or finish strong. It’s vital that you follow the Lord’s leading in your lives, and that you rely on His strength and wisdom (Ephesians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 1:25; James 1:5). You do not have to do life alone. In this life there are challenging circumstances which can suck the life right out of you. These kind of circumstances seem to crush our spirits (or rather our hearts) and leave us feel deflated, despondent and discouraged. But “He restores my soul.” Your Shepherd is leading you to places of refreshing for your soul (emotions, feelings, or your heart). If we’re following the Lord’s leading then along the journey there will be continuous provision, rest and refreshing.

“Green pastures” are places of safety and abundant provision. “Still waters” are deep waters, which speak of abundant life-giving water. The believer who is following the Lord’s leading will never experience a “drought” as he will always have an abundant supply of refreshing. If you look into “still waters” you will see a reflection of yourself. One of the ways that the Lord refreshed us is by reminding us of who we are. The Bible is also referred to as a mirror (James 1:23). As we look into the mirror of God’s Word we see a reflection of who we are – who God says we are. This refreshes our emotions, feelings and our hearts, and it strengthens us for the battle.

It’s easy to grow tired and weary, and to feel discouraged, but as we focus on who God says we are, it will cause us to be refreshed, encouraged and strengthened.  When our hearts are refreshed our strength (physically) is restored.

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

Living life with Jesus should be a life of rest. That doesn’t mean that you won’t work hard and that you can be lazy – no! But it does mean that your heart will be at rest. You can experience peace and rest on the inside while being busy and even tired on the outside. The Christian life is a life of rest because we’ve ceased from our striving and are trusting in (or resting in) Christ’s finished work. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have physical rest. Physical rest is important. If we fail to get sufficient rest physically, our hearts and emotions will start to be affected negatively.

Are you over-working? Are you striving to make ends meet or make a success of things? If you’re working so hard that it’s negatively affecting your health or relationships with your family, then you need to ask yourself if you’re trusting the Lord to provide for you, or are trusting you to provide for you. If you’re working seven days a week, then I doubt you’re relying on God to provide your needs. You need to take time off to switch off your “work-mind”, to allow yourself to be refreshed and to spend time with your family. It’s also vital that we go to church. You might be doing what God has called you to do, but if you’re constantly tired and weary, then you’re not doing it the way He has called you to do it.

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…”
Genesis 39:2 (ESV)

True success comes because God is with us, not because we work extra hard (and possibly neglect our families and health in the process).  What good is it if we gain everything that the world has to offer (riches, wealth) and yet we lose our souls? (Matthew 16:26).

Thought to focus on for the day:

If we are following the Lord’s leading we will be refreshed, encouraged and strengthened – we won’t be tired and weary. If we’re trusting in Him as our provider, then we won’t be striving and over-working trying to be successful. Reigning in life comes from having our hearts at rest (trusting fully in Jesus for our success), and this is the result of taking time to fill ourselves with the Word. 

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