One of the most known psalms is Psalm 23. Even people who have never read the Bible have likely seen a passage from this psalm somewhere. When we read the first verse, it declares that the Lord is our shepherd. Then it says, “I have all that I need.” If the Lord is your Shepherd, you do have all that you need.
This is something that we all struggle with because we confuse wants and needs. We take on avoidable debt because of this confusion. We live in discontentment because of this confusion. As the Psalmist continues, he notes that the Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures. I love this visual. If you know anything about sheep, you know that they will not just lay down. The sheep need to be without fear to lie down. The sheep need to be without annoying parasites to lie down. The sheep need to be free of hunger to lie down. Here the Psalmist is declaring that the Lord is our Shepherd and with Him we have all that we need. As His sheep, we are able to lie down because we have all that we need, because we are without fear, because we are at peace, because we are fed and satisfied.
Are you content today? Do you recognize that you have all that you need—that with Jesus alone you are satisfied? This is a struggle for many people. We see people around us. We think we need more. We see a lack in an area of our lives and we think we are suffering. Remember, God has provided all that we need. If you don’t have it, you don’t need it. Remember, if you have Jesus, you have ALL that you need. With Him alone comes satisfaction. May He be your everything!
“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” – Psalm 23:1 [NLT]
Circumstances change. Situations are not always the same. There are moments in life when you may be “on top of the world.” There are also moments when you are at your lowest point. But in any circumstance, in any situation, at any point in life, you can be content. It does not matter where you are at or who you are with or your circumstances. Paul said that he was content in any situation.
I know people who are never happy. They can only list the negatives in their life, yet if I examine their situation I find many blessings I could list. For some reason or another, some people feel dissatisfied, unhappy, broken, or lacking. For me it is hard to understand. I have grown to understand this same contentment as Paul mentions. Life is really different when you can be content in all situations.
Today I challenge you to look around and thank God for your blessings. Did you have at least one meal today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a job? Do you have family? Think of what you have—look at the blessings around you. When you focus on them and thank God for them, you aren’t living with your eyes fixed on your lack. If you can look at the situations that come your way in a positive light, you’ll discover this contentment that is only possible through Christ.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:12 [NIV]
Ever since I can remember, I had a great appetite. I like food. I like to try new recipes. I like to watch cooking shows. And to my downfall, if there’s food to eat I will rarely say, “I’m not hungry.” Thankfully I usually practice healthy eating habits.
Matthew 5:6 says, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.” Other translations say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or thirst for justice. The best meal you’ll ever eat. These people, they will be filled, satisfied. Wow!
Do you have that appetite today? Are you hungry for God? Do you thirst for more righteousness? If not, take a small bite. Then take another. As you continue to eat the Word, as you continue to seek Him, as you continue to pray, your appetite will be more for Him and less for the world. You’ll find yourself developing a great hunger for righteousness, a great hunger for God. As He promises, you will be filled—you will have the best meal you will ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
-Matthew 5:6 [MSG]
Everyone seeks pleasure. We all desire pleasure. There is an addiction to thrills that I am sure we each have dealt with at one time or another. We want to have fun. We want to have a good time. We love the rush. It makes us feel good; however, that pleasure goes away. It never lasts.
As much as we try to be satisfied by pleasure, it is a short time of happiness. It goes away quickly and we feel empty. Think of the great vacation plans and the joy felt in a beautiful environment, the peace felt relaxing on the beach or in a cabin. It is fun while it lasts but eventually you go back to work. Consider the thrill of a roller coaster ride, and then how quick the ride is over. The thrill never lasts.
We cannot get our fill of thrills because they so quickly pass. The void is then there. The only way to truly have pleasure in life, the only way to find satisfaction, is to have a relationship with Christ. With Christ, your life is never empty. With Christ, you are fully satisfied. With Christ, the void is filled. You can spend your entire life trying to achieve a lasting pleasure, trying to fill the void in your life and to be happy, but you will never truly be satisfied in life if Christ is not part of it.
“You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.”
-Proverbs 21:17 [MSG]
“When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” – Psalm 104:28 [NIV]
If you have your hands closed, chances are it is going to be hard for you to grasp something. You have to open your hands up to have something placed in them. You have to have your hands open to receive something. As well, you have to have your hands free for you to help someone. Closed hands aren’t so helpful.
Today’s verse makes reference to God opening His hands to provide food to all creatures. The Psalmist notes that when He opens His hand, His people are “satisfied with good things.” Consider the good things that God has blessed you with—food, shelter, provisions, friends, family, skills, etc. Remember His open hands and do likewise. Open your hands for someone today.
The feeding of five thousand makes note of something the disciples said when they were faced with the issue of it getting close to mealtime and food was in very limited quantity. The disciples thought it was best to send the people away so that they were able to go to the villages and purchase some food. If we look at that part of the passage, we can see that the disciples cared about the people. They were in a desolate area. They did not have the food available. They wanted to send the people away so that they had a chance to eat something.
As we know, Jesus said that they could give them something to eat– to not send the people away. When I read this passage, I think about how we often have good intentions and a good heart, but that we limit God and what He can do in our lives and through us, because we cannot think outside the box. God created the world as we know it, and everything it contains. Yet, whenever we are faced with a situation, we often think with our own human minds what we can do about the problem. We forget we are dealing with the Creator of the universe. We expect what is expectable, rather than what is impossible.
Life may not be what you have expected. At the moment, you may be looking back on things that have happened, and wondering why you did not meet the goals that you have set out for your life. You may be unsatisfied with the fact that things are not going your way. Well I’m here to tell you two things. Firstly, God’s plan for your life is so amazing and you have not seen anything yet. Today is not the end of the road– it’s just the beginning. And secondly, if you read the remainder of the passage, you will note this one word that sticks out to me like a sore thumb. “And they all ate and were SATISFIED” (Matthew 14:20a NASB). They were satisfied. God wants only the best for you, and if you allow Him to work in your life, His promise to you is that you will be satisfied. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it is a promise from our faithful Father.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11 [ESV]