Girlfriends in God - Oct. 14, 2009

October 14, 2009 
Faith in the Shepherd 
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Psalm 23:1-6 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides 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 love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (NIV).

Friend To Friend 
Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? Stores are already filled with Christmas decorations.  Television ads for the newest and best toys multiply every day.  It won't be long until we are wringing our hands, wondering where the money for Christmas gifts is going to come from, a fact that must sadden the heart of God.  To think that our first thoughts of His birth are wrapped in financial distress is a clear indication that we do not understand and live on the sufficiency of God. 

Have you noticed that it is always more fun to pay the bills when you actually have money to pay them instead of holding what my husband calls "The Monthly Draw"?  The Southerland Monthly Draw is held when there are more bills than money. The rules are quite simple. All of the bills are placed in a stack. Dan then rifles through the stack, drawing out one of the bills to pay. This process continues until there is no more money.  The rest of the bills have to wait until more money comes in.  Sound familiar?

One morning, when I walked into the study, I could immediately tell by the look on Dan's face that the "draw" was not going so well. Finances had been extremely tight for a variety of reasons.  Dan and I had prayed our way through that month, knowing that the next few months would only hold more of the same. I debated whether I should stick around to offer encouragement or run for the hills. I decided to stay. "Honey, can I help?" Dan looked up at me with a weak grin and said, "Not unless you have $900.00." Oh, boy! It was worse than I thought. Seeing the look on my face, my sweet husband quickly added, "Don't worry, honey, God always comes through." Now I must admit that at that precise moment, I would have preferred a tangible sample of God's provision. You know - something along the lines of a money tree in the back yard or an oil well in the front. I went to my desk, hoping to find a forgotten check from a speaking event or book sale.  I came up empty.  An examination of my check register was even more depressing.  Did we really need two children?  Maybe we should sell one!  (Just kidding)  As I racked my brain for some way to "provide", I realized that I was stepping dangerously close to Sapphira Territory. "Lord, I want to trust you as my Provider but right now, we really need $900.00", I informed the God of the Universe.  How is that for a prayer of faith? 

Dan did all he could do with the stack of bills and went next door to visit our neighbor while I stayed home, plotting and scheming ways to come up with $900.00.  In fact, I spent the rest of the day in what my mother called "a tizzy" because as far as I could see, there was no plot and there was no scheme remotely looming in the Southerland picture that could produce the needed amount of money.  And that was the problem.  I was only looking "as far as I could see".

Finally, I left the need at His feet and went on with what was left of my day. As I began to prepare dinner, I remembered that I had forgotten to check the mail and headed outside. There it was, God's perfect provision just sitting in our mailbox, waiting for me to come - an unexpected check for $949.64.  Dan and I became aware of our need that morning.  The check was mailed several days before.  God met the need before the need was evident. He always does! In Philippians 4:19, Paul reminds us that our God will "meet all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." 

I often learn the most life-changing lessons at the feet of children.  Ellie is the five-year-old granddaughter of a very close friend, Gina, who is known to cheer me up by sharing an "Ellie-ism".  Not long ago, Gina was telling me about the prayer Ellie had prayed the night before at dinner. The meal was ready.  Everyone in the family was seated, and Ellie volunteered to say the blessing.  Every adult at the table smiled, wondering what childish offering they were about to hear.  What they heard was profound truth from God as spoken through the words of a child.  Head bowed, hands folded, Ellie prayed, "God is great.  God is good.  Let us thank Him for our food.  By His hand, we all are fed.  Give us, Lord our daily bread.  THE END!"  That about sums it up! 

Just as the shepherd meets every need of his sheep, God meets our every need. Just as the sheep totally depend upon their shepherd's care and provision, we would be wise to depend totally upon God.  He is our Provider.  He is our Source and in light of that reality, stress flees, leaving only peace.  As the holidays approach, fix your heart on God, rely upon your Shepherd, and trust Him to meet every need in your life and rest in the fact that He is the beginning … and the end. 

My Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd 
You are my Identity 
I shall not want 
You are my Provision 
He makes me lie down in green pastures 
You are my Rest 
He leads me beside the still waters 
You are my Replenishment 
He restores my soul 
You are my Healing 
He leads me in the paths of righteousness 
You are my Guide 
For His name's sake 
You are my Purpose 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death 
You are my Strength 
I will fear no evil 
You are my Security 
For You are with me 
You are my Peace 
Your rod and your staff they comfort me. 
You are my Deliverer 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies 
You are my Hope 
You anoint my head with oil 
You are my Blessing 
My cup runs over 
You are my Abundance 
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life 
You are my Promise 
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord 
You are my Future 
You are my All in All 
(Mary Southerland)

Let's Pray 
Father, thank You for meeting every need in my life, just as a shepherd meets the needs of his sheep.  I turn to You as my Source.  I celebrate Your perfect provision and praise You for being my Shepherd.  When I am afraid, help me to remember that You are here.  When life is uncertain, help me to depend upon the certainty of Your Word.  Today, I choose to rest in Your care, knowing that You are enough.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn  

  • I challenge you to read Psalms 23 every day this week.    
  • At the end of the week, make a list of the ways God has provided for you and met your needs.   
  • Evaluate your role as a "sheep." Are you a willing follower of the Shepherd or do you tend to "do your own thing?"  How is that working for you?  Be honest.   
  • What change do you need to make in attitude and behavior in order to experience the perfect provision of God in your life?

More From The Girlfriends 
As the holidays approach, the stress level in my life tends to rise.  Is the same true for you?  For many, this holiday season is especially stressful as people deal with the loss of jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Just this week, I have made a new commitment to read Psalm 23 every day this month as a way to prepare my heart for the holidays.  Will you join me? 

Need help?  Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, is based on Psalm 23, includes a chapter-by-chapter study guide and will encourage you and help you deal with the stress in your life.  Be sure to check out Light for the Journey, Mary's weekly online bible study.  Make plans today for the best holiday season of your life!  Blessings!

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Wednesday, 14 October 2009.