Friday, July 26, 2013

Trusting God's Guidance

From the Painting "The Good Shepherd" Copyright 2013 S.D. Harden All Rights Reserved.
 Trusting God's Guidance

Psalm 23 is known as The Shepherd Psalm. It’s one of my favorite Psalms in the Bible.
Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. He said, “My sheep respond to my voice, and I know who they are. They follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from me.” ~ John 10:27,28
Sometimes our Good Shepherd may ask us to go down a path we may be afraid to follow. Yet God’s word assures us that Christ always leads us in paths of righteousness. (Psalm 23:3). 
The dictionary defines the word “righteousness” as “justice, decency, honesty, blamelessness, virtue, and morality.”
The NIV bible translates Psalm 23:3: He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
The way I understand it, God won’t ever guide us to do something that is contrary to His word.

In my painting above, I have illustrated the idea of our Good Shepherd inviting His child to go with Him on a journey. 
Detail: "The Good Shepherd" © SDH
He looks gently into her eyes and she gazes back at Him as He holds her hand suggesting that they are good friends.
Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)  Jesus loves His child deeply. Because He is the Good Shepherd as well as her Creator, He knows what is best for her. He encourages her to do what He knows is the right path for her.
Yet the child hesitates to go with Her Master. There is that tiny sense that she does not fully trust the Good Shepherd.

She stands just behind him in the painting. Her feet seem paralyzed and rooted into the sand like some sort of petrified tree as her Shepherd lovingly assures her that He will always be with her throughout the journey and that His rod and staff will comfort her.
Detail: "Good Shepherd" © SDH
Though she has given one of her hands to her Lord in partial submission to His will, she holds the other behind her back, symbolizing her reluctance to step out in faith with Him on their journey and her inner fears. Yet He lovingly smiles at her. He knows every weakness, every fear. He nether judges, nor condemns her.

How often do we, when presented with new unsettling challenges to our faith, or a new dark journey in life, question the wisdom of God? How often do we hold back from fully trusting our Lord when He asks us to follow Him down a new unfamiliar path?
Like the little child in the painting, we have given Jesus one of our hands, but we reluctantly hold the other behind our back and stand with our feet rooted in the ground when He asks us to please trust Him though we may not understand the way He is asking us to follow Him.
Jesus once told His disciples on the cusp of His crucifixion: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” ~John 16:12
He then said that the Holy Spirit would come to them and lead them into all truth.
Our Lord asks us to walk by faith, to trust Him and to listen for His voice every day, one day at a time, with our hands in the hands of our Good Shepherd. 
Just as the little child in this painting is walking with her Shepherd, so we must walk. And though like her we are often afraid, despite our fears, like her we must keep our hand in our Shepherd’s hand and our eyes on Him, abiding in Him in our hearts daily if we are to hear His voice.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” ~John 16:13
Detail "The Good Shepherd" © S.D.Harden All Rights Reserved.

*Lord Jesus please help me give You both my hands in total surrender when You ask me to journey with You down the road You have prepared for me before the foundation of this world. Help me not doubt but believe all of your promises to me and live by faith. In Thy holy name I ask. Amen.

*I have reproduced a copy of my painting "The Good Shepherd" on a greeting card and it is available through my Etsy Shop online.
Cards can be shared or framed. If you would like to purchase a copy please visit my Etsy store at

“The Good Shepherd” Illustration © Suzanne Davis Harden 2013 All Rights Reserved.
Unto The Least of These: Trusting God's Guidance © 2013 Suzanne Davis Harden, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Create In Me A Clean Heart

Photo source: Internet

 Create In Me a Clean Heart, Oh God

Psalm 51:10-12

” Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

King David penned Psalm 51 after the prophet Nathan confronted him with the terrible sin he had committed against God. In the Bible, 2 Samuel 11 & 12 tells the sad story of how David, the man after God’s own heart committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba. She became pregnant and then David had her husband Uriah murdered to try to cover up his sin. God was very grieved with what David had done. He sent Nathan the prophet to confront the king with his sin and to tell him what his punishment would be.
David did not foolishly try to deny what he’d done, or hide his sin. Instead, he immediately confessed and repented. He asked God to forgive him. He wrote:
“Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.” ~ Psalm 51:1-4

Though David repented sincerely from the heart and God forgave him, he still had to bear the consequences of his sin. The child that Bathsheba bore to him became sick and died, and God told David that from that time on “your family will live by the sword because you have despised Me by taking Uriah’s wife to your own.” ~2 Samuel 12:10

David loved God with all his heart, but there came a time when he got his eyes off the Lord and onto the things of this world. And that is how he became so vulnerable to the temptations that brought his downfall. The story of his family becomes very sad after this time. Nathan’s prophecy against David proved all too true. David’s own son Absalom committed treason and tried to kill him. His son Amnon committed incest by raping his sister Tamar. Then Tamar’s brother Absolom murdered Amnon. All these were David’s kids.
All of David’s bitterest family troubles might have been prevented had he kept his eyes on God and his heart loyal to him. And he knew this when he wrote Psalm 51.
“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, renew a steadfast spirit within me…
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
~Psalm 51:10,12
Though our sins may be different from David’s, still there is not one of us who cannot identify with this beautiful prayer he wrote!
“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.” ~Psalm 14:2-3
Long ago the prophet Isaiah wrote: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” ~Isaiah 53:6
The “him” Isaiah wrote about is Jesus Christ, our sin bearer.
Isaiah was prophesying about his coming. And when He at last came into the world, Jesus said:
 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17
God knew that not one of us could ever be perfect, even David who was “the man after his own heart.” Even that man stumbled and fell into sin, though he loved God so much.
That is why we needed a Savior who would bear our sins, become the righteousness of the Law that we could never measure up to because of our imperfections.
Jesus Christ shed His spotless, sinless blood for all people so that whoever believes in Him could become cleansed through His holy sacrifice for their sins.
He once said that He would never reject the person who came to Him seeking forgiveness. Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.” ~John 6:37
We may not have committed the kind of sins David committed, but according to God’s word, we have all sinned and need for God to cleanse our hearts.
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” ~1 John 1:8-10
Today if we pray that beautiful prayer David wrote,
“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, renew a steadfast spirit within me…”
God will honor that prayer.
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” ~Psalm 51:17
And may we all remember that there is not one human soul on this planet that is without sin. Only Christ was without sin and He bore all our sins so that we could be forgiven for our sins and live forever in eternity with Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your one and only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. May you create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me today. Please give me a heart that is willing to abide in You and obey You always. In Jesus’ holy name. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

*Prayer Song/Video: "Create in Me a Clean Heart": I have temporarily removed my prayer song/video so that I can remake it. The original video that I posted here was created for our church Prayer Night in only 3 hours! I will re-post the video as soon as I finish making it again. I apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience, my friends! God bless! ~Suzanne

Unto The Least of These, Create in Me a Clean Heart, Copyright 2013, Suzanne Davis Harden All Rights Reserved./ Photo Illustration: The Internet