Rest Beside the Still Waters

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ; He leadeth
me beside the still waters ; He restoreth my soul .” .
Ps. xxiii. 2 , 3.

~ a synopsis and modern translation of George Matheson’s writing

Would it be an easy thing for a person to confess the Lord to be their Shepherd when brought to green pastures beside still waters? Who would not rejoice in the peace and contentment, surrounded by such a peaceful surrounding? In truth, one must sound the depths of one’s soul because no one can lie down in peace until one has received a restored soul.

It is as equally difficult for an unrestored soul to lie down in green pastures as to wallow in barren wastelands. Do you think that an unrestful heart will have more rest in prosperity than in adversity? No, an unrestul heart will carry itself into everything. Prosperity is not found in the greenness of the pastures — adversity lies not in the barrenness of the wastelands; they both lie within.

The joyous heart will make all things joyful, its pastures will always be green, its waters will all be quiet. The restless heart will make all things unrestful: the calmness of the outward scene will be its source of pain.

We cannot fly from ourselves by changing our circumstances: we can only change our own circumstances by fleeing from ourselves. The sweetness and bitterness of life are alike within us, and we shall receive from the world just what we bring to it.

Oh my soul, if you would have green pastures, if you desire quiet waters, if you should seek for a place where you can lie down and rest, then you must first be restored. You must set aside your own self before you can find a scenery of repose.

Then when you are at rest, all things can be yours — the world, life, death, angels, principalities, powers — you can claim them as your servants. You can extract joy out of sorrow, sleep in the ship of life when the storm is raging around you. You shall spread your table in the presence of your enemies.

Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life when your soul shall have been restored.

*** Reference: George Matheson, “The Secret of Peace”, Moments on the Mount, London: James Nisbet & Co.1884, pp. 67-69

*** Photography by Alfred Derks at Pixabay

“To Be Of God”

The Sun Also Rises by Melanie Wells
In a poem “Au Lecteur  (To the Reader)”  by Charles Baudelaire, a preface to his collection of poems entitled “Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil)”,  the French poet presents a pessimistic view of humanity’s condition, envisioning a world of hypocrisy, death, sin, boredom, and utter decay, watched over and promoted by Satan himself. This view mirrors the Bible’s perspective of the heart and nature of  mankind without God, as well as the existence of evil, which aims to defeat God’s good and loving purposes in human lives.

The Apostle John writes to Christians at Ephesus to assure them of eternal life through their faith in Christ, emphasizing that they are “of God” while the whole world ” lies in the power of the evil one.”

John portrays the world as under the influence of Satan, an evil power reigning over all its aspects. Satan is diametrically opposed to God, and his ultimate objective is to turn us away from the Creator, using all kinds of maneuvers to disrupt our relationship and fellowship with Him. “The world” is anything that would try to deceive us to feel satisfied without our need for God.

To be “of God” is in complete contrast to the state of the world, and the Apostle seems to imply that it is the only possible dichotomy.  It means that Christians have been taken out of the clutches of the evil forces of Satan’s army. We are initially born into this world under the dominion of sin and darkness, but through the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son at Calvary, we are delivered and brought into God’s marvelous light.

In a positive sense, it implies that we belong to God, His realm, and His Kingdom. Our sins have been forgiven, and we have entered into an entirely new relationship with God, being reconciled to Him through Christ. We are no longer controlled by the evil one, but are under the direction of God and His Spirit, with outward manifestations in our lives.

How then, shall one distinguish between one who is “of God” and one who is not? The great St. Augustine said that the first test of the Christian life, and the second, and the third, is humility.  It is to be like Christ, who, though He was equal with God, thought it not something to be grasped at. He humbled himself to be born into this world like one of us. Humility, then, is the litmus test because the worldly spirit is the very antithesis of it, where pride, arrogance and self-confidence are highly prized, promoted, and encouraged.

To be “of God” means that we are destined for God, to spend eternity with Him. And because of this assurance, we are filled with a sense of awe and wonder at the manner of love that our Heavenly Father has towards us — that we should be called children of God.

Scripture Reference:

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  I John 5:19 (New American Standard Bible)


Charles Baudelaire,  “Au Lecteur / To the Reader” in “Fleurs du Mal / Flowers of Evil”, Paris, 1857.  Available at

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Life in Christ, Studies in I John”, Crossway:Wheaton, Illinois, 2002, pp. 691-712

Photography:  “The Sun Also Rises” by Melanie Wells

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:14-15

In the Gospels, Jesus Christ talked about the Kingdom of God in parables: as a mystery, something that is not outwardly manifest and understood by logic and physical observation.  And characteristic of this mystery is that it is something that is completely beyond anything that natural man can ever conceive of or imagine.

Since this mystery is outside the reach of our own natural abilities to comprehend, it is something that must be revealed to us. The Kingdom of God is to be desired and sought after, and at all cost, for there is no hope outside of it.  It is what  Christ likens to as the “pearl of great price”.

Why is it then, that not everyone is pursuing the Kingdom of God?  What are the hindrances to approaching and understanding this mystery?

A previous post on this blog elaborated on two obstacles to grasping the message concerning the Kingdom of God:  1) intellectual pride, and 2) prejudice.

There is a third reason, described by Jesus in these words:  “This people’s heart is waxed gross”. “Their heart is enfattened”, according to John Wycliffe’s translation: a visual of a heart with so much fat around it that the surrounding muscles and tissues eventually are not able to work properly.

What did Jesus mean?

Hearts are “waxed gross”  from eating too much and drinking too much, excessively indulging in the physical senses, leading to a degeneration of the mind, of morals, and of spirit.  It is the result of being overly concerned with the “cares of this world”, and the deceitfulness of things and riches, that the concepts of God and the mystery of His Kingdom become increasingly alien.

Enfattened hearts suffering from obesity and atrophied, become a real hindrance to understanding the mystery of the kingdom of God, which surpasses the here and now, a kingdom which transcends the present,  short-lived realities experienced in one’s  living physical body.  A heavenly kingdom which deals with the soul and our eternal destiny, beyond our earthly lives.

Intellectual pride, prejudice, and enfattened hearts are the obstacles to confronting the mystery of the Kingdom of God.  The tragedy resulting from these hindrances is the blinding of human hearts to the content of this mystery: the good news about God’s healing, of restoring a broken mankind into wholeness through Jesus Christ: the mystery of the purpose of salvation that God planned for us before the very foundation of the world.

Reference: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Kingdom of God, Crossway Books, Wheaton Illinois, 1992, pp. 87-104.

***Photography by James Jordan : Cornfield at Sunset @Flickr Commons