Using the 23rd Psalm to Nurture Our Relationships with God-Pt.2

By: Scott Ward

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Psalm 23: Part 2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul…

Part of choosing Jesus as your shepherd is to choose to spend time with Him listening for His voice and observing His ways in nature. Obviously we hear His voice in scripture—that is why we memorize and dwell on the 23rd Psalm—but we can also personally hear the “still small voice” that Elijah heard so many years ago.

The best way to hear God’s voice is to unplug the technology, disengage other people and commitments and escape to nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1 NKJV).” This is the concept of Sabbath as we discussed in the Ten Commandments. Sabbath is time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and commitments. We take a literal Sabbath every week to spend time with God, friends and family at church, but we also need to take personal Sabbath breaks with God every day and at other regularly scheduled times as well. The concept of Sabbath is what personal devotional time is all about and engaging devotional practices is a key part of making the most of this time together with God.
Every morning I take time in a quiet place with God. Sometimes out in nature and sometimes in my office where I have paintings and photographs of nature scenes. I also love going to the prayer chapel at my church where there is a painting of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Using nature and reproductions of nature to remind us of God’s love and care for us is critically important in reminding us of our creator and His plans for our lives and His desire to live with us forever.

I also enjoy spending a half day of prayer monthly in a local Japanese garden where I can listen to the rushing water, see the variety of beautiful plants, trees and fish in the Koi pond while I breathe in the refreshing fragrance of a well watered garden in full bloom. It is truly nourishing to the soul to sit in this environment contemplating scripture, crying out to God and listening for His voice. These times of refreshing are the central part of a devotional life that helps us to continually dwell in His presence and be filled with His peace and they lead to a truly restored soul that is filled with His Spirit.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Jonah was sent to Nineveh to tell the people there about God because they didn’t know their right hand from their left. When we don’t know God, we don’t know His will, and we don’t have any clue which path to follow either. This Psalm builds on itself. When we choose God and make Him number one in our lives by spending time with Him regularly He not only provides for us physically but He gives purpose to our lives as well. Paths of righteousness are the missions God sends us on because of the desire He gives us to reach out to others both physically and spiritually. Every day as I pray this part of the 23rd Psalm I ask God where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do. As a pastor I have many missions I’m engaged in at any one time and I ask God if I’m focusing on His mission rather than my mission and pray for guidance on what to do more of and what to turn away from. I ask for Gods blessing on all my activities praying that my activity will be a part of His activity in the world. To be working in our own power instead of God’s is the surest way to burn out and fail. Jesus wants us to be like the 70 disciples He sent out with His power to preach, heal and cast out demons. “Christ in you,” is the hope of glory—for us and for the world around us (Colossians 1:27).

1. What helps you to hear God’s voice the most clearly?

2. What would help you remember to take Sabbath breaks more regularly?

3. What special time with God would you like to incorporate into your life?

4. What missions do you think God would like you to go on? Whom would He like you to help?

About the Author

Scott R. Ward is a husband and father of two daughters and a son. Scott is also a Youth Pastor and the Public High School Ministries Coordinator for the NAD. Scott loves helping people learn to nurture their devotional lives and challenging them reach out to the world around them by Living their faith. Scott’s first book on the devotional life, Authentic: Committed for Life, is due out August 2012 from Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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