ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE PSALM 23 ADVENTURE, Part 27
February 3, 2017
Once again, Good Morning! Greetings and Salutations!
Have to tell you another “granddaughter story,” before we resume with our discussion on the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Trinity just turned the ripe old age of 5 this past week. In years gone by, we’ve talked about the precociousness of Jessica when she was this age (now a teenager). Trinity has some of those same traits. She is our singer. She just loves to sing. She’s heard Della (Grandma) and me sing every so often in the Spirit and has asked what language we are singing in. We’ve explained to her that we simply allow Holy Spirit to take control of our tongues and pray or sing in whatever language He picks, and that we do not understand that language.
We’ve explained to Trinity that she can do the same thing. All she needs to do is to release her tongue to whatever Holy Spirit wants to say or sing, and she will begin to sing just like we do. More than any other song, she sings (almost daily) the Scripture song that Rich Warren (part of our worship team and bassist) did this past year, Arise, Shine, For Your Light Has Come.
This morning, she began singing one of the songs she likes to sing and suddenly began singing in another language. I think it must have caught her by surprise because she stopped after a few phrases and said to me, “Grandpa, is that Spanish?” I laughed and said, “No, Sweetheart. I don’t know what language that is.”
She was a bit puzzled but decided it was OK and tried singing some more. Look out world! Here comes a tongues-singing Trinity!
The events that transpire in our lives in this place are the proof text of what has been established in the first five foundational phases of our developing relationship with Jesus Christ. Although I don't intend to get into these with any specificity today, it is important to understand that what happens in the valley of the shadow of death is that we discover that we need "fear no evil."
The reason? "For Thou art with me." But there's more.
"Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me."
The objective of the valley, therefore, is to demonstrate to us that we have no reason to fear -- AT ALL! The place of the valley, however, is also the place of learning the value of the rod of discipline and authority, and the staff of guidance by the Holy Spirit.
As I said, we won't get into the "fear no evil" aspect of the valley today, nor the significance of the rod and staff. Let's just talk about the valley.
You'll notice that David refers to this as the valley of the SHADOW of death. The word occurring in the Hebrew text of this verse for shadow is: úå†îÈìÀöÇ - tsalmaveth (tsal-maw'-veth). This word comes from two roots in Hebrew: ìöÅ -- tsel (meaning: to be overshadowed, to be dark and opaque), and úå†îÈ -- maveth (meaning: death -- both natural and violent. Maveth, however, is used frequently throughout the O.T. to denote pestilence and ruin.)
Thus the shadow isn't death, but rather the threat of it. It isn't necessarily the threat of being killed (in a physical sense) as much as it is in being stricken with some deadly disease, or brought to financial and economic ruin.
Remember what we quoted a couple weeks ago where Jesus talked about this very thing?
Matthew 6:31-34: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles [nations of this world] seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Do you see it? The threat of insufficiency, the threat of not having enough, the threat of being stricken in some way or another -- and even the threat of being killed -- are all balderdash to the believing Christian. The key word, of course, is "believing."
The paths of righteousness are going to take us into the valley of the shadow of death deliberately. God doesn't take us there to kill us off, nor does He take us into the valley to see what we are made of. His objective is to do us good. The valley experience allows us to see what He has accomplished in our lives.
The valley of the shadow of death is a place of threats. It is a place of intimidation. It is a period of time (make that periods of time) in which all that the Lord has established during our commitment to Him is put to the test: our declarations and confessions of faith, our eating of the Word, and our drinking of the Holy Spirit.
There isn't a believer alive who doesn't face valley and shadow experiences from time to time. There isn't a believer alive who doesn't face the threat of death in some way or another -- whether that threat is physical or emotional or spiritual, or even financial. Do we get scared at times? I'd be lying if I said otherwise.
The issue isn't whether we get hit with momentary fear, trepidation, uncertainty or whatever. The question is how we respond. Are we going to be reactionaries and hit the panic button, or are we going to simply respond with the Word of God?
The death-dealing, death-threatening issues that we face at different times are real enough. They are "factual" circumstances. What I have hammered home throughout the past 35 years or so as the Lord has continued to open my own eyes is that "facts" and "truth" are two different things.
The fact may be that you are facing a doctor's report that you have cancer. How are you going to respond to the doctor's report? Are you going to panic and begin weeping because fear overtakes you? Are you going to react with "Woe is me. My father died of cancer, my grandfather died of cancer, and my great-grandfather died of cancer. Guess I'm doomed with the same curse"?
Or, are you going to respond with the Word of God?
Psalm 103:3-4: Who healeth ALL thy diseases, Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.
Are you going toi declare that Word as truth -- THE TRUTH -- which supersedes all facts?
Remember! (And I keep saying this again and again and again.)
Matthew 15:11; Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth the man. (see also Matthew 15:20, Mark 7:20, and James 3:6)
Jesus also put it like this:
Matthew 12:34-37: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (see also Luke 6:45)
If you speak health to yourself, then "by thy words thou shalt be justified." If you speak, "woe is me, guess I've had it," then "by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Understand? I'm not trying to whip a dead horse here by continuing to talk about the words that come out of our mouths; the objective is to drill you -- to drill me for that matter -- with the critical importance of the words that come out of our mouths. This is especially true in crisis situations and in moments of stress. The valley of the shadow of death is just that: the shadow of death -- not death itself. It is the threats and intimidation of the Enemy to see if you will give him rulership in some area of your life by the words that come out of your mouth.
Everything -- and I mean, EVERYTHING -- in your life will be tested in the valley; not all at once, of course: you'd buckle under the pressure. The Word of God absolutely promises that
I Corinthians 10:9: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
That word, "temptation" (or "tempted") in the original Greek text is the word, ðåéñáóìüò - peirasmos:meaning: putting to proof, to test objectively (for failure), to scrutinize or examine. But here is the definition of peirasmos that really hits home: to entice [to lure away from that which you know to be right].
There is a phony-baloney doctrine running around parts of the body of Christ. That doctrine says that God occasionally tempts or tests us to see what we are made of. WRONG!!!
God is not out to lure us away from truth. Neither does He tempt or test us. Neither does He permit (or more accurately, actively allow) situations in our lives which put us to the test. You have to remember that we are created in the image and likeness of God. We have a will of our own which we exercise at all times.
I want to talk more about this, but let me first quote for you from James’ letter to the body of Christ.
James 1:13-18: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
But James doesn't leave it there. He explains why temptation and testing simply cannot come from the Lord:
Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard folks say, "I just can't understand why the Lord didn't intervene in that situation. Why does God allow evil in the earth?"
My friends, this is a lying contrivance of Satan. God DOES NOT allow evil in the earth: WE DO! Let me explain.
Many of you are familiar with the Scripture, The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:11)
But how many of you know the corollary Scripture:
Psalm 115:16: "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men."
Contrary to popular opinion, this is not a contradiction. Let's look at these verses in proper context.
The Lord begins first by creating the earth and the heavens.
Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:3 tells us, All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Then in Hebrews 1:2, Paul writes of Jesus,
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power...
So we've established that all of creation was made by the Lord; and further that He upholds (or holds together) all of creation by the Word of His power.
OK, so far? Any question? I know you are probably wondering what in the world all of this has to do with, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, or the 23rd Psalm, but bear with me. I'm laying some foundations for your understanding.
Let me leave you in suspense today. This is where we will pick it up next week, and I'll explain why we are responsible -- from a Scriptural standpoint -- for literally everything that takes place on this earth.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial(605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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