What We Believe Matters
SALT - Psychological - What To Believe
Emotions are never bad. Expressing emotion is not showing weakness. It takes a man who is confident to express emotion in public without feeling embarrassed.
Feeling grief and pain and other emotions that you might consider bad or negative, as long as these are true expressions and not put on for some selfish reason, are healthy and good. Our emotions are a reflection of what we believe and of our true self, who we really are.
The lessons we are studying together have been helping us to understand where our emotions, our actions, and our attitudes come from. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we act the way we act?
The lesson we are looking at this week is called What to Believe.
What we believe matters. What we believe shapes our lives and directs us in life. What we believe about God, and to a lesser extent, about ourselves and about others will determine the life that we live.
God made us with certain needs. Our greatest need, as I understand what the Bible teaches, is to have a relationship with God. We were created to live in a relationship with Him. We need to know, to believe that God loves us and accepts us.
At the same time, we need to understand, to believe that God is truly God. He created us and we must respect Him and His position. We need to believe and live as if He is the rightful Lord of our lives.
No one has ever lived a life that was always lived as if these two things are true except for Jesus Christ. He lived his fully human life in perfect relationship with His Father, our Creator and Lord. He was fully God and fully Man. He came to show us how to live and to make it possible for us to be restored to a proper relationship with Our Heavenly Father. He did this by taking upon Himself the penalty for our failure to live in a perfect relationship with God. God fulfilled His need to be Just and true to Himself by coming down and dying in our place.
Believing that God loves us is to believe that Jesus died for us. Believing that He is the rightful Lord of our lives is to believe that we are to follow Jesus, to be like Him in loving the Father and loving other people.
What we believe matters, because it is in choosing to accept these truths that we can be restored to the relationship with God that He created us to enjoy.
One of the best loved and most quoted passages of Scripture expresses these truths. Written by a shepherd, David, it expresses his belief that God loved him, cared for him and led him through life. In Psalm 23 David tells us:
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
4 Yea, 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NKJV
When I read this poem, I know I am listening to the heart of a man who knew God, who walked in a relationship with our Creator. He believed that God loved Him. He trusted God to lead him.
The very first line states it so well. The Lord is my shepherd. What does a shepherd do? He loves his sheep and he leads them to green pastures and still water. He protects His sheep. He never leaves them. I will fear no evil for you, God, are with me. Not because there are no wolves, but because the Great Shepherd is beside me as I face the wolves of my life.
I think if David were here today, he would tell us that he could not have expressed what he believed about God any better than he did the day he penned these words.
What we believe about God should be the foundation of our daily lives. We need to start each day expressing to ourselves, and to God, these truths. God loves me. He will lead me in paths of righteousness.
Believing is a choice we make. One illustration the Bible uses about faith is the difference between walking by sight and walking by faith.
So often it seems God shows us only one step ahead. We want to have everything planned out way in advance. God wants us to learn to trust Him one step at a time. He is with us. He will not leave us. He will not forsake us.
As I was reading this passage the line that says He makes me lie down in green pastures struck me. He MAKES me lie down in green pastures. He Makes me lie down. He does not just allow me to lie down. He makes me.
How often do I not know when I need a break from the struggles that make up my living from day to day? Yes, God is with me in the presence of my enemies. He is with me as I face down the world and the flesh. So many times I need a break and I want to keep pushing ahead, get it done. My Shepherd makes me lie down and rest. He refreshes my soul with a green pasture, an unexpected space to relax and remind myself who is in charge of life.
When my stomach is in knots and I cannot see the way ahead… when I want God to come and face the enemy with me and He says to relax, take it easy, life is about more than fighting the battles and moving ahead. Life is about believing that He loves me and wants me to trust Him and enjoy just being in His Presence.
The battle is the Lord’s. I, too often, think of the battle as being mine. I want to have the answers. I want to know what to do next. I want to have a plan laid out before me, and God makes me lie down and just enjoy Him. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
What does God want more than anything else? What is the greatest commandment? Love Him. Just love Him.
John makes it clear in 1 John that we love Him by obeying Him. The rules are important, but the relationship with Him is more important. We are to obey Him. We have to be listening and following Him.
What we believe is important. Do we believe that God loves us and truly desires to have a relationship with us? Yes, He is Lord, and that is a good thing because He loves us and his yoke is easy and His burden is light.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul. It is this relationship with Him, this peace that we enjoy because He loves us that saves us and restores us.
It is this relationship with Him that must be the source of our fruitfulness in life. When you look at your life what do you see as the good that you have done? How do you judge yourself?
God has created us with a need to be useful, to have significance. What do you see as the source of your significance? Is it the family you have raised? Is it the work you have done? The things or money you have laid up? What do you believe gives you significance in life?
What we believe matters. What we believe gives us value, or fails to give us value, is important.
David said, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”
The value of a thing is determined by the value placed on it by those who would pay for it. Is your value determined by you? Do you think that your value is determined by other people?
I think one of the things God was saying through His servant David, was that our value is placed on us by our Creator. He valued us enough to bring us into this world. He valued us enough to come and die for us.
Who determines how much a person is worth? God says He loves us.
Do you believe God loves you? What you believe matters! Is your value determined by what you do or fail to do?
Do you believe God loves you and it is a good thing that He is the Lord of your life?
David did not live a perfect life. He failed to live up to God’s standards in many ways. God still loved Him. God used Him to bring comfort to many people. God used Him to tell us that He loves us and that He wants to have a relationship with us.
Do you believe? Have you accepted what God says is true? Are you living as if God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you? What you believe will determine what you value, what you think, what you feel.
What do you choose to believe?