PSALM 23 – PART 14 – CORRECTION AND GROWTH –

PSALM 23

PART FOURTEEN

CORRECTION AND GROWTH

“Thy Rod…comforts* me”
PSALM 23:4

Without correction and accountability personal growth and fruitfulness becomes stagnated and stunted. Men who refuse correction cease to grow and cease to live. Jesus said “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. We see this truth so aptly revealed in the world around us. Everything concerning life needs to be channelled in order to have direction and purpose. A river without banks is a flood, electricity without a path and a purpose we call “static” and a believer in God who has no personal vision or “mark” (Philippians 3:14) is one who will be without discipline or purpose. A good landscaper prunes his garden that it may grow and become all that he has purposed and envisioned it to be when he planted it. Jesus said that His father was the Vinedresser and they that are of this Vine (Jesus) are to bear fruit that the Father may be glorified. Therefore Fruit is anything that pleases and glorifies the Father.

It is in us receiving of His correction that we grow in fruitfulness and the inherent ability to bring forth expressions of the Son to glorify the Father. Let us hear the admonition from God’s Word; “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11 – 12) The proof of God’s Love and His ongoing investment into our lives is REVEALED IN HIS ROD. We read In the Old and New Testament of the evident Hand of God actively expressing His Love and correction in the lives of people; some were EXERCISED by it and others refused it with eternal consequences. Men who refuse correction choose a life that eventually comes to ruin. God’s Word has summed up this truth in one powerful verse…

“He who keeps instruction (Hebrew: correction) is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray”
PROVERBS 10:17

Does this not convey to us the reason behind the apostasy in our land today? Is there not a reason that the LOVE OF MANY has grown cold and indifferent? People are content to go through the motions of religion while failing to realize that we are here to BEAR FRUIT unto HIM who has called us out of darkness into HIS LIGHT that we might ever live to GLORIFY HIM.

God’s Word to HIS PEOPLE today is one of grave importance; one that reveals and lays bare the reason that we are in such disarray, impotence and apathy….

“I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets,
daily rising up early and sending them.
Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck…
This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God
NOR RECEIVE CORRECTION.
Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”
JEREMIAH 7:25 – 28

It is a Day for us to turn, to receive correction and to be EXERCISED in it that we may come forth as Gold tried in the Fire; purified and freed from our own agendas to DO THE WILL OF HIM that there may be Glory and Honour in His House.

King David knew well the power of change and repentance found in the ministration of truth from others in His day and the fruit that comes from the receiving of it.

“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me: It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it”
PSALM 141:5

Ω

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,
baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession,
absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,
grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 13 – THE NEED FOR CORRECTION –

PSALM 23

PART THIRTEEN

THE NEED FOR CORRECTION

“Thy Rod…comforts* me”
PSALM 23:4

Freedom, Peace and Confidence are not possible without authenticity. Authenticity is the result of truth. Truth by its very nature must reveal and make manifest that which is false and superficial. Men may have knowledge and information concerning God without ever touching the TRUTH of God; for it is the Truth that reveals all untruths within me and the world around me. I can have great understanding of the scriptures and yet be totally blind to the true condition of my heart. This is deception of the highest order. It is called “religion” and never are we more susceptible to deception than within the realms of “religious truth”. Instead of the scriptures penetrating our hearts with the Holy gaze of His Presence we use them to “support” our own agendas, weaknesses and carnality; as a cloak to hide ourselves from the very truth that was meant to deliver us. It is to the honest of heart that the Word of God works to uncover and free from all that would hinder us in our growth and desire to SEE HIM. Purity of heart is the pre-requisite of seeing Him!

“For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”
HEBREWS 4:12

Authenticity (TRUE BEING) is not the result of a man being true to himself rather it is the fruit of a life that (by God’s Grace) has become TRUE IN GOD. It is in the seeing of HIM that I know myself (see Isaiah 6, Revelation 1:12 – 17). HE is the TRUTH and it is in the seeing of HIM alone are we changed from the corrupted Adam into HIS LIKENESS!

“But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
II CORINTHIANS 3:18

The ability to understand and see truth is an issue of the heart not of the intellect. Therefore not only are we unable to see truth by our own efforts, we by nature hate truth because truth is that which exposes the ” untrueness” of all that we are (see John 16:18). When Jesus said “I AM The Way, The Truth…” He revolutionized the definition of truth. The religious Pharisees considered truth in terms of having knowledge of the scriptures and because of that they COULD NOT see HIM who is the truth standing before them, of which Jesus said…

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life;
and these are they which testify of Me”
John 5:39

My knowing of HIM (who is TRUTH) is directly related to the degree that I truly know and see myself in the light of HIM.

“…but then shall I know even as also I am known”
ICORINTHIANS 13:12

It is because of these things that the Rod of our Great Shepherd is so important in the development of our life with HIM. There are times where I have missed God. I have misinterpreted HIS will and purpose for me and it was HIS mercy that prevented me from walking in the error of my own wrongness. David declares in Psalm 119 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” and again “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” and yet again “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me”! Our God is Faithful, Merciful and True and how vital it is that we acknowledge our need for His correction, rebuke, reproof and discipline in our lives. For all HIS dealings with us is to the end that “we may be partakers of HIS Holiness”!

Men who are only interested in being right will never be able to receive correction or instruction. In reality they do not have a LOVE FOR TRUTH but in fact (as of old) they have a desire for knowledge and understanding that can be used to support their agendas and their way of living. Well has the scriptures declared that there is a people who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”.

It is in our journey into the discovery of HIM that we learn in truth who we really are. This is a journey filled with much of His correction and discipline and it is as we receive these expressions of His love that we are made soft and pliable in His hands. It is here that we grow in mercy and brokenness before Him and tremble at His word. These are the fruits produced by His Rod in our lives and the essential quality of heart that is greatly desired by our Heavenly Father!

“…but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word”
Isaiah 66:2

Ω

“When a man’s heart is right with God
the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him.
Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect.
It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart”
Oswald Chambers

* See Psalm 23 Part 12 for the definition of the Hebrew Word used here

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 12 – THY ROD and THY STAFF –

PSALM 23

PART TWELVE

THY ROD and THY STAFF

“Thy Rod and Thy staff
they comfort me”
PSALM 23:4

We see here that the ministration of His Rod and His Staff are meant to have a profound effect upon our lives. We must realize in all of the scriptures that change and growth are to be the normal Christian experience. The word in the Hebrew that is translated “comfort” here has a lot more to do with the ability “to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion” (BDB Hebrew Definitions) than with what our word comfort means in the English language.

This Hebrew Word is translated 104 times in the KJV; 67 times having to do with the various forms of the word comfort (comfort, comforteth, comforts, comforted….) and the majority of the remainder being translated in various forms of the word repent (repent, repenteth, repents, repenting…). Strong’s concordance when defining this word says the following… “A primitive root; properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue.” The purpose of God working and transforming our lives is to MAKE US men and women who reveal HIM in truth and in character. The Rod and the Staff of the great Shepherd is to produce in us a condition of heart that reveals Him in the everyday outflow of our lives. Without becoming our lives will always be an act of trying to “appear” righteousness; a labour of great and continual effort to show a semblance of righteousness rather than simply being the real thing.

The Rod and Staff are the tools of the ONE loving Shepherd. They are both manifestations of the SAME HEART and in fact the Rod is also the Staff. It is how it is used that determines its expression. The same gracious God who administers correction is the same one who heals, restores and leads us to “green pastures”, “quite waters” and in the “paths of righteousness”.

All of God’s dealings with us are to one end; to make us expressions of HIS GLORY by what we are. It is in becoming HIS righteousness that we can in fact DO righteousness. Therefore we do not faint in His dealings with us for that is the only means by which we may grow.

Those who have been able to see the purposes of God in the daily grind of life are able to find the grace to submit themselves under the “mighty hand of God” and thereby profit in wisdom, understanding, and the character development that is necessary in this journey.

The true purpose of teaching is to produce right thinking and right thinking must bring forth right living. The scriptures declare that we are to be “…transformed BY the renewing of our minds…” Unless the ministry of truth is producing CHANGE within the people of God it is a vain thing. Faith comes by hearing and by faith alone will this life of becoming be possible.

“In the destiny of every moral being there is an object more worthy of God than happiness.
It is character. And the grand aim of man’s creation is the development of a grand character,
and grand character is, by its very nature, the product of probationary discipline”
Austin Phelps

Brian Troxel

NEVERTHELESS

“Nevertheless”

“And Simon answering said unto him, Master,
we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing:
nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net”
Luke 5:5

True living faith will never be conditioned by experience. Faith, to be faith, must always find its dependence in God not ourselves. Though experience says one thing the cry and purpose of faith must remain undaunted. “Nevertheless” is the word of a man who sets aside his own resources, strengths and abilities and believes God in the moment. This faith must birth a doing in the now. “Nevertheless” is a word that gives way to the doing of a thing regardless of our past experience. It is a word that comes to those who believe, and by that believing there is a response in the now of our life. It is not the “faith” of Mary who said Lord I know “… in that day…” something will happen, for the Christ stands in our midst speaking “I AM the resurrection and the life…”

Let this word “nevertheless” speak to us of better things than what our experience would teach us; for those who listen and regard their experience cease to walk and live by faith. “Today if ye will hear HIS voice…” is the creed by which we must live. Men who don’t do won’t hear. The Word is to those who “have ears to hear” for with every hearing there must be a corresponding act of doing and obeying HIS WORD.

The Spirit of God is HERE to press us beyond our circumstances, our former experiences, and our own resources into the glorious provisions of a God who is constantly calling us to deeper waters, a higher vision and a greater dependency upon HIM. How good is our God! How gracious are HIS ways; the thing we are confronted with is HIS doorway into greater things in HIM!

Faith, to be faith, must always be fresh, living and beating within our hearts. Faith IN a teaching or an idea will eventually become stagnant and dead; the faith of the living Son is active and real! It is never static for it is always moving from one faith into a greater. Every living thing grows and everything static and stagnant remains the same.

“So David went on his way,
and Saul returned to his place”
1 SAMUEL 26:25

Two men; one ever moving on in the WAY of God the other set in ways of stagnancy, disobedience and compromise.

Ω

“Belief is truth held in the mind;
faith is fire in the heart”
Joseph Fort Newton (1880–1950)

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 11 – THOU ART WITH ME –

PSALM 23

PART ELEVEN

HIS PRESENCE

“For Thou are with me”
PSALM 23:4

His Presence is the chief end and summation of all things. While some may seek recognition and the approval of men a new generation is arising; one that will know the full purpose of God in Christ is to bring forth a people who live and walk in HIS PRESENCE. The storm that is about to break upon our land in such fury and devastation will necessitate that we have found that deep place of abiding in HIM. This is not a doctrinal statement; it must be the reality and truth of our everyday life. HE IS OUR SALVATION, not a teaching or doctrine. To be a people of HIS PRESENCE requires brokenness, humility and a heart that is compatible with HIS.

“…but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit”
ISAIAH 66:2

If our inner life is right there must always be a revelation of that in our daily life. What we are we do. To be a people of HIS PRESENCE we must grow in the apprehension of truth inwardly and outwardly; the one must precede the other. Religion is only concerned with the outward; truth to be truth must become that in the secret places of our lives… “thou desirest truth in the inward parts…” This is why righteousness is such a critical issue in this hour as it can only be the offspring of a life that is growing in its submission to the leading and the purging of the Holy Spirit. Right thinking must produce right living.

“LORD, who shall ABIDE in thy tabernacle?
who shall DWELL in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness,
and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour,
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned;
but he honoureth them that fear the LORD.
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury,
nor taketh reward against the innocent.
He that DOETH these things shall never be moved”
Psalm 15:1 – 5

To Abide in Him is the longing of every true heart. This abiding in HIM, growing in HIM and living in HIM requires a work of grace to bring forth the transformation necessary to live with HIM in truth. How we need to grow in that sensitivity to the promptings and moving of His Spirit in our daily lives!  Without obedience this sensitivity can never be developed. May we become HIS in the daily outflow of life that we allow Him to interrupt our schedule to do His will, listen to His voice and be instructed in the way of His Life within us.

“Thou art with me” is more than a nice religious cliché; it must become the substance, the verity and the truth of whom and what we are. To know of this presence that enables us to WALK through the valleys of difficulty, to become impervious to the fear of the evil we must face, it is essential that we know of a surety that HE is with us! Our depth of abiding is revealed in the life that we live, how we treat others (especially those of the household of faith) and the thoughts and motivations of our hearts. It is a day to seek Him, a day to ask Him to search us and know us and to free us from the hidden things that offend in our lives.

“Blessed are the pure in heart
For they SHALL see God”

Ω

“When we live in God’s presence, when we are in the all for the All relationship,
and surrender our own will and ways to God’s will and ways, only then,
no matter our physical and material circumstances, are we truly and fully alive.
Only in God’s presence are we able to enjoy the unique experience of holy freedom”
Brother Lawrence

“I will fear no evil
For Thou art with me”

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 10 – FEAR

PSALM 23

PART TEN

FEAR

“I will fear no evil…”
PSALM 23:4

Fear is a common reality felt from the poorest of men to the richest. Fear, in itself, is not a sin. If fear were not a part of our everyday life words such as courage, bravery, overcoming and fearless, among others, would have no value. It is what we DO in the face of fear that determines whether a thing is commendable and worthy of honour or cowardly and worthy of shame. The Hebrew Word used here יָרֵא occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament; here as a verb but also (though less) as a noun and is used interchangeably to describe the Fear of the Lord or fear of a particular circumstance or situation. We read throughout the Sacred Scriptures of the Fear of the Lord being the principle part of Wisdom. We also read of those who, because of the fear of the Lord, obeyed Him, served Him and loved Him through the actions it produced in their lives.

In this Psalm we read of an individual following and loving their Shepherd and, in that following, they find themselves walking through the valley of the Shadow of Death. It is in the midst of this experience that we hear the declaration that they will not be deterred in following Him. The fear of this place of evil and darkness will not prevail or have any effect upon their decision to walk through this valley! These valleys are not crossed over because of the absence of fear; they are crossed over in spite of the fear! The love of God displaces the terror and the grip of FEAR enabling us to pass over, to walk through, and to overcome the thing that would prevent us from obeying HIM!

God’s people should never feel ashamed when encountering fear; what matters is what we DO in the face of it. Countless martyrs throughout the ages have faced the fear of torture, persecution and even death yet they found the strength and the courage to be faithful to walk through the realities of these things. They are not moved by the fear because HE IS WITH THEM. There is a peace and a power that holds their souls in adversity; a presence that imparts GRACE to stand, to walk and to hold the course in spite of all that rises up to meet them in the path of following Jesus.

“through whom also we have access BY FAITH into this grace
in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope”
ROMANS 5:2 – 4

It is HIS GRACE that enables us to stand and this grace is only accessed through the portal of FAITH. Without faith we have no access to this Grace; Grace not only to stand but to rejoice and glory in tribulation! Such things are too high for the ability of man within himself. These things are reserved for those who are growing in the seeking, pursuit and abiding in HIM!

God has an answer to the fears that would cause us to falter in our way.

HIS answer is HIMSELF.

“I will fear no evil;
For You are with me”

Ω

“Fear. His modus operandi is to manipulate you with the mysterious, to taunt you with the unknown. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow—his arsenal is vast. His goal? To create cowardly, joyless souls. He doesn’t want you to make the journey to the mountain. He figures if he can rattle you enough, you will take your eyes off the peaks and settle for a dull existence in the flatlands.”
Max L. Lucado (1955– )

Brian Troxel

RIGHTEOUSNESS

RIGHTEOUSNESS

PART ONE

“The Gentiles shall SEE your righteousness”
ISAIAH 62:2

We live in a time of great religious activity within the landscape of a secularized Christian “church”. Within this environment “righteousness” has taken on a profession of a faith that is to be stated and debated rather than a life that is actually to be lived. To the normal Christian “righteousness” is a term and a legal standing that we have because of the incredible sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross; a powerful truth and the STARTING PLACE for all of God’s people. However we are exhorted to LIVE and GROW in this righteousness because of the LIFE of the Risen Christ who is the power and the source for us to LIVE in righteousness by the New Law made available to us; “The Law of Life that is in Christ Jesus”!

We see here in Isaiah that the real prophetic purpose of the New Covenant is to bring forth a righteousness that is real, true and actual in our daily lives. The “Gentiles shall SEE” this righteousness for it is not based on a teaching; it is revealed in the everyday life of EVERY believer! Righteousness first and foremost is CHARACTER. It must become the essence of what we are to such an extent we reveal HIM unconsciously in how we conduct the affairs of our life. Fruit is the expression that flows from character, from what a thing IS. An apple tree brings forth apples because that is the revelation and the offspring of what it is in itself.  Apples are the RESULT for fruit is simply the expression of the latent life of any organism. Love, Joy, Peace… are the EXPRESSIONS of a righteous life and godly character. The futility of trying to “do” or “express” the fruit of the Spirit without being connected as a branch to the vine is the horror and angst of a powerless religious life.

“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river,
was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits,
each tree yielding its fruit every month.
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”
REVELATION 22:2

This “TREE OF LIFE” is the revelation of all that HE had purposed in the Creation of the World. We see it in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and we see it standing teeming with LIFE and FRUITFULNESS in the City of God! HIS purposes have not altered and HIS provision for this to BE the reality in our own lives is rich and full because of the Resurrection Life of the SON. This TREE is nourished by the RIVER of LIFE and so must our lives ever move more and more to that end. Trees grow from tiny seeds to a majestic stature, and so must we. The provisions we have and the wisdom of our great Shepherd in HIS dealings with us as we travel through this dark world on the path that ever leads onward and upward is for us to BECOME SONS of God by a new and living WAY!

“…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified”
ISAIAH 61:2

It is in receiving HIS BEAUTY for our ashes, partaking of the Oil of HIS Joy that comes from mourning and lamenting our selfish carnal ways, that we are garmented in the PRAISES of HIM who is ABLE and WILLING to cause this to BE the substance of our lives. This life of BECOMING is one of trial, temptation, failure, victory and joy. It is a journey that must eclipse that which we now walk in… for a man’s vision must always surpass that which he currently knows.

Ω

“Brethren,
I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…”
Philippians 3:13 – 15

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 9 – THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH –

PSALM 23

PART NINE

THE VALLEY
OF THE SHADOW
OF DEATH

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
PSALM 23:4

The Valley of the Shadow of Death is a place that we are to walk through. Valleys are places where our vision is reduced, our world shrinks, we are hemmed in by steep mountainsides and there is little or no room for others. It is a place of walking without being able to see; a place where the sun rises late and sinks early, a place of darkness and distress. It is here that we also catch the fragrance of the “Lily of the Valley” and though we cannot see Him there is a lingering sense that we are not far from His care.

We all love the mountaintop experiences where our vision sees far and our faith soars as we see the purposes of God in Christ. It is on the mountaintops that we see beyond where we now stand and the wind of His Spirit blows upon our face. The heart rises in eagerness to go from where we are to distant lands of promise, power and relationship. These are good moments and necessary ones as our Great Shepherd stirs our hearts to a greater longing for more of Him! It is these experiences that give us vision but it is in the valleys that WE BECOME the life that we see in Him from the heights. This journey of faith is one of becoming through identification with HIM. Many love the teachings, the visionary aspects of the Christian landscape, but THE CALL OF GOD is one of picking up our cross and following HIM! It is a life of discipline; a life of following the Lamb wherever HE goes. It is not about us, it is about HIM. It is the valley that separates the disciples from the adherents. It is the place of becoming where we learn in full measure that within ourselves dwells no good thing. In the learning of this we begin to grasp the wonder and power of a love that surpasses understanding, a forgiveness that is unmerited, and a joy in God our saviour.

It is in the Valleys that the metal is forged and faith becomes an unshakeable substance within the life of those who would dare cross over. It is here that the prisoner Joseph becomes “Zaphnath-Paaneah”.

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him”
PSALM 105:18

Time is not sufficient to speak of the countless others all over the world (even at this very moment) who are enduring persecutions, trials, testings and even death for HIS NAME SAKE. These valleys of great sorrow and suffering, though grievous and heartrending, are the means to new places of LIFE within HIM. It is the broken pitchers of Gideon’s army that revealed the inner light causing the hosts of Midian to flee and bringing great victory to the people of God. Those that are broken in the hands of their God can never be broken by the experiences of life.

It is the Valleys where the stamina is wrought into the life of the overcomer. It is in the Valley of experience that the end of man ushers in the strength and glory of God. It is here that we learn of a truth that HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!

The secret of the message of the valley is that we walk through it. We do not succumb to it, we do not spend our life sitting in it; we walk THROUGH IT. We keep moving, trusting, and walking until the DAY dawns and HIS GLORY is seen!

Ω

Lord, we pray for the very substance of your faith to empower, enlarge and encourage every one of your people who at this moment are walking in the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the Glory of WHO YOU ARE will be their fortress, their Rock and their High Tower in this time of need. May there be a new seeing of you, learning of you and worship of you arise from this place that in the end of the journey may come forth the declaration of FAITH…

“Great and marvellous are your works, Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!”
REVELATION 15:2 – 3

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 8 – THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH –

PSALM 23

PART EIGHT

THE VALLEY
OF THE SHADOW
OF DEATH

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
PSALM 23:4

Throughout this Psalm we read of Him leading us to places of quiet waters and green pastures, in paths of righteousness and yet in the midst of all this we read here of walking “through the valley of the shadow of death…”! How can these things be? Is He not our Shepherd? Is He not in charge and in control of all the things going on around us? We are so struck with the contrast and the suddenness of this verse that we rarely embrace its context within this Psalm. We often hear it quoted because we see all around us God’s precious people walking in, enduring and experiencing this valley that is to them the very dark and real “shadow of death”. How difficult it is to relate this to the purposes of God, to relate this to “Our Shepherd” in whom we are to place our absolute trust. We question, we struggle and we wrestle with the “whys” and the “purposes” of such suffering and often in these experiences we know silence and a seeming sense of aloneness. It is here that we must draw upon HIS character and discover that the “Valley of the shadow of death” is really an extension of the “paths of righteousness” and that HE who loves us most is not deterred in His purpose to MAKE us sons of God by causing us to walk in the same paths that HIS only begotten Son walked. HE walked in them to “become” the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10); we walk in them to “attain” the reality of HIS life and salvation!

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”
PHILIPPIANS 3:10

The “power of HIS resurrection” is the life that springs forth from identification with HIM in HIS death. May God work in us the growing realization that the “valley of the shadow of death” is the door way into the knowing of HIM and the power of HIS resurrection! It is the means by which we experience the greatest depth of fellowship with and in HIM! The life of the true Christian is one filled with contrast and contradiction; strength OUT of weakness, beauty FOR ashes, the oil of Joy FOR mourning, light shining OUT of darkness, victory OUT of seeming defeat, love IN the midst of hatred, forgiveness IN the face atrocity and hate, and resurrection life OUT of death! Who is sufficient for all these things? ONLY JESUS the RISEN CHRIST! It is HIS life in us that gives us hope for the dawn. It is HIS life that is the resurrection life and as we walk in the “paths of righteousness” we are found walking in the way of the discovery that HE is in fact “our hope of Glory”.

The “valley of the shadow of death” is the way by which we come to know and trust in HIM in all things. Such knowledge is not learned quickly, it is not learned by sermons and teachings, it can only be known in personal identification with HIM as we WALK with HIM who is “the WAY, the Truth and THE LIFE”.

We (if we have “tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come”) are all pilgrims and fellow heirs of this life and this walk and as such we must discover the need for greater depths of fellowship and relationship than what we see around us today. For if we are truly in fellowship with HIM it must be revealed in fellowship with those who are walking in this way! “If we walk in the light in the light AS HE is in the light we HAVE fellowship one with another”. The verity of one is revealed in the reality of the other.

Brian Troxel

PSALM 23 – PART 7 – PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

PSALM 23

PART SEVEN

THE PATHS
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake…”
PSALM 23:2

A path is not a destination. It is a way by which we travel to a specific destination. The “paths of righteousness” indicate a journey by which we travel to a desired end; a journey into HIM who is LIFE. The concept of a journey, a life of growth and development, a goal that we are seeking to attain (Philippians 3:7 – 15), has been lost in the teaching of our day. Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted to WALK in righteousness, LIVE in righteousness and GROW in righteousness. Jesus tells us to “SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God AND HIS Righteousness”. In other words, this should be the primary focus and desire of our hearts. We must see here that we are not just wandering in a religious wilderness filled with doctrines and concepts of men in our search for righteousness. We are plainly told that HE LEADS US in the paths of this righteousness! To grow and live in the paths of righteousness is the RESULT of following HIM! It is a life of discovery, a life of HIS provisions, and a life filled with the wonder of HIM who is THE LIFE! Growth and development are the revelations of this life. A life that is not growing and changing is a life that has become stagnant in its heart. It may breathe, may say all the right words but in the very essence of its core it has “settled” in its quest for more of HIM. This journey is one that causes us to become pilgrims concerning the things of this world. It causes us to ever be attentive to HIS VOICE and HIS direction. It is the governing principle by which we conduct ourselves in this world. It also causes us to be aware that we are a living part of all those who have gone on before us; that in truth we are the children of the promise, the true offspring of Abraham who are looking and seeking for a City “whose builder and maker is GOD”.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off £were assured of them,
embraced them and confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland”
HEBREWS 11:13 – 14

As we read the promises of God in the New Testament we must realize that there are tremendous promises yet unfulfilled. Such being the case we are exhorted over and over to seek, pursue and “press toward the mark” for the attaining of these things. Should not that cry be found within our own hearts? The WAY of God in Christ is a way of life and wonder. It is a WAY filled with change because it is a relationship with the INFINITE GOD of whom there is neither beginning nor end. It is an eternal call, for no real and vital relationship ever ceases to grow and develop.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth MORE AND MORE unto the perfect day”
PROVERBS 4:18

This path is filled with an ever growing light. This light beckons us on to greater things in HIM and a desire to PARTICIPATE in the thing HE is doing. To touch the CRY of HIS HEART for the life of another, to be co-labourers with HIM in the development of life (HIS LIFE) in our brothers and sisters is a joy that is ours in Christ. How can we not “run with endurance” for the Joy of knowing and walking with HIM? “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (ROMANS 1:16) thus describing a faith that is growing from one stage to another.

A people of the Way are ever on the move, they are growing and they are discovering the bonds of relationship; the worth of knowing others who are also on this journey. The fruit of that fellowship is deep, powerful and filled with the pulsating life of the Son who is the author, sustainer and end of this journey!

Ω

“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon,
but only to hold a man’s foot long enough
to enable him to put the other somewhat higher”
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895)

Brian Troxel