Psalm 16 Part 6

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6

Contentment in Jesus, is this not what the Psalmist is leading us to? So far we have seen in Psalm 16 that God is our protector. God is all together good, apart from Him I can do nothing. We delight in God and his people. Idols multiply sorrows. God is my all in all.

I’m doing a little survey of my heart right now and if I’m going to be honest, contentment is easy when things are going good; money in the bank, health is good, no inconveniences, everything in working order, but we all know that if we do have moments like that, they won’t last long before something breaks down or someone gets sick, or relationships get broken, or any number of afflictions.

How our heart responds when the going gets tough is a reflection of our level of discontentment. I don’t mean to say that when things are going south that anger or sadness or depression is a sign of discontent, it most certainly is not. Our feelings are our feelings. Jesus felt all these things, but he didn’t let those feelings rule. He walked in obedience and faith in the midst of his trials. The peace that the world talks about is not the peace that God defines. Peace with God is, though we feel the longing, even the ache, we have full conviction that this is not the final word. Our beautiful inheritance is awaiting. Our God reigns.

Contentment is saying, not I, but YOU LORD!

“If I become content by having my desire satisfied, that is only self-love; but when I am contented with the hand of God and am willing to be at His disposal, that comes from my love to God.”

Jeremiah Burroughs – The Rare Jewel of Discontentment

I would argue that discontentment is the root of all sin. I don’t want a little discontentment to take root. Lord help me to find my rest in You no matter the circumstances that come upon me. I’m an heir to the King of Kings!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Psalm 16 Part 5

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Psalm 16:5

The other night, I had such an unquenchable thirst. I just kept drinking water and it wouldn’t go away. It was not a pleasant feeling. I wondered how much water I was going to have to drink for it to go away. I just wanted satisfaction!

In reading verse 5, I quickly thought of the woman at the well.

Jesus said to the woman, “if you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”

The woman was confused and only looking at the external. Jesus then went on to expose the spiritual and what he was rightly speaking to.

This lady had had 5 husbands and another one in the works.

This lady clearly was trying to fill her cup with something that would never satisfy.

One husband, then another and another…

Jesus is saying, “I’m that living water, you will not go thirsty again.” He is the only one that fills this excessive thirst within.

There is an old Christmas movie called the Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant. Cary Grant is an angel sent down on a mission to help a couple find their way. In one scene the angel is having a drink with some others and the mortals notice that even though they are drinking, their cups keep refilling, and they never get drunk, but they are so joyful and fulfilled.

I love this scene because it’s a good attempt of an illustration of what Jesus is to us. He is all we need. We will never thirst again. Nothing else, no matter how pleasurable it is will every fully satisfy. Remember verse 4 from the previous blog, we are warned about what idols will do. When we keep drawing water from any other well, it will never do. We will be caught in a downward spiral. Jesus is saying I have a gift for you! What will you choose?!

Our future is sure when we make the choice to drink from the Well–Jesus!

“Fill my cup Lord. I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup. Fill it up and make me whole.”

Psalm 16 Part 4


“The sorrows who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their name on my lips.” Psalm 16:4

A “god” is anything you give yourself over to completely. It occupies your thoughts, time, your money, your talk. A “god” is something that has a hold on you. A “god” is something you serve. A “god” is anything you aren’t willing to give up under any circumstances.

From the beginning, our creator God made us with the desire to worship. We were created to worship God alone.

St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

God has given us so many wonderful blessings on this earth, but our hearts, while always thankful for the gifts, should ever gaze on the giver—this is where our hearts are contented. When we try to fit anything into the place only meant for God, we will add misery, restlessness, and sorrow. The weight and price of sin is too much.

Every breath is given by our creator. We don’t take one step without God giving us the grace to do so. His mercies are new every morning.

I have to ask myself, what areas in my life do I need to examine? What distractions are keeping me from worshiping God with my all my heart.

We are not perfect and God knows this, and he is giving us grace upon grace every moment. We are not alone. Jesus has taken the weight of sin upon himself and we don’t have to carry it. This is the greatest gift.

All glory to God alone for He alone is worthy! In Him is fullness and life! Nothing else compares.

Psalm 16 Part 3


“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom all is my delight.”

“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones”

We, who are in Christ are part of a body and in that body we aren’t meant to be in isolation. A leg or arm is not of much use unless it’s attached to the body. When we are working together in unity there is delight! There is excellency!

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Our greatest capacity of displaying Christ to the world is in the whole body of Christ.

When our delight is to love the Lord and serve him with our whole heart, we will delight in being part of the body, working in unity. It feels as right as breathing. When our goal becomes more self centered and our ego gets in the way, this is where the harmony gets broken. The alto wants to be the lead voice, except the alto is no good as lead voice, but what beautiful harmony it provides when it’s glorifying God in its right function. And how missed the alto part is when it’s not providing its function that was set before it.

There is excellency when all is working in unity. No chaos or fighting for position. Each part is special and unique and God created us to walk in the function he set before us as part of the body.

John 17:23

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“In whom all is my delight.”

Our joy will be multiplied when we are serving and working together as one in the body glorifying God. We will be strengthened and encouraged. We will grow and mature in Christ when we are in unity with the body. The enemy knows we are stronger together, and he wants to do all he can to keep us isolated. Don’t let him distract you from keeping in step with the body and performing the function God designed for you.

Ephesians 4:16

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Psalm 16 Part 2

Psalm 16:2

V2 “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

“You are my Lord.”

I’m quickly drawn to John 15 where Jesus talks about Himself as “the vine”, and we are the branches. We are chosen! We cannot even say, “you are my Lord” without Him revealing Himself to us first. We were dead in our sin—dead branches, but God spoke and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1

He is first. He is the Cause. He is the First Cause; our choosing is only in response to Him calling.

John Piper put it like this:

“What if Jesus had said, “I did not choose you; you chose me?” What would most likely be the point of saying that? Wouldn’t it mean, “I’m not bound to you. You wanted to come along. If the going gets rough, don’t come whimpering to me. It’s your choice, man. I didn’t stake anything on your success.” But Jesus said the opposite: “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” And so the meaning probably is: “Your presence here is my doing and so I take full responsibility.”

I love that last line and I take great comfort in it. He takes responsibility. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to fret that God will abandon me. He will never leave me or forsake me. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you.”

“I have no good apart from you.”

We were chosen to bear fruit. We were created to bear fruit, but a branch can’t bear fruit apart from the vine. We aren’t the source, He is. Just like I can’t even say, “You are my Lord” without Him calling first, likewise I can’t bear fruit without the Source giving me resurrected life. Whatever good I do, it is because He has given me the grace to do so.

God is the source of all good, God is all together the definition of good.

What have I to give?

Spurgeon wrote, “The work of our Lord Jesus was not needful on account of any necessity in the Divine Being.”

Father God, in his great love, for our sakes redeemed us through the work of Christ.

So I needn’t worry about what I can do. He has finished it. I can rest in Him and let Jesus work in me.

I love this last verse of this beautiful Christmas Carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

“What can I give Him,

  Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

  I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

  I would do my part,

Yet what I can I give Him,

  Give my heart.”

Psalm 16 Part 1

I have broken down Psalm 16 and it has edified me and helped me see God and His character. I hope it may be a help to you.

I will break down each verse into a separate devotional.

V.1 “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge”

Do I believe that God is going to keep me safe and in him I really can find refuge? I admit that I take matters in my own hands much of the time. This one verse requires faith, but it also requires patience and waiting on Him. We have our timing and God has his. Being still and waiting on God is not easy. Our patience wears thin and we jump in and say, “well God you don’t seem to be coming through, so I better step in.”

“Preserve me”

Who can preserve, but the one who breathed life in me? Who knew me in my mother’s womb? Who knows every hair on my head? I don’t even know myself like God knows me. Only the creator can preserve. Every breath I take is sustained by the grace of God. I must remind myself of this. When I remember this, I know that I am hiding under the wings of my savior and Lord.

“For in you, I take refuge”

Refuge is shelter, but I also see it as a safe home. When I was a kid, being home with my family, I felt safe. The old phrase “There is no place like home” rings true. As a Christian, I realize that our home is not on this earth, and the more we try to make it home the less we look to God as our ultimate refuge. He has set eternity in our hearts. He is our refuge and shelter from trouble and danger. Nothing that this world can offer will give us this. I can’t do one thing on my own to give myself refuge.

Do you believe God is preserving you? And do you believe he is your refuge?

He is.


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I love this verse so much that I have it hanging in my hallway. The thought occurred to me that even though the Apostle Paul says, he boasts gladly in his weakness, he isn’t saying focus on your weakness or talk about it all the time.

I don’t believe God wants us walking around prefacing everything with “I’m so weak” or “I’m so incompetent.” He doesn’t want us lowering our head and beating ourselves up about our weaknesses. This is just another way to draw attention to ourselves and keep us from ultimately pointing to Christ and giving Him glory. If we keep rehearsing our weakness and focusing on that we can’t effectively have our eyes on Him and serve Him with all our hearts.

God has given us gifts, and he entrusts opportunities to utilize our faith, but faith always looks to Christ. Our faith is exercised when we recognize the deficiencies and weakness and we step out joyfully with confidence in the midst of it, looking to Christ alone not looking down at our circumstance or ourselves.

God wants us holding our heads, hearts and hands high with confidence in Him. Not hanging our heads low with sackcloth and ashes, announcing our weaknesses and incompetencies all the time either to ourselves or to others.

I know my need and I’m willing to step out in faith where God leads me. When I do this I know God’s grace will sustain. The attention will point to Christ not on the weakness.

So when the Apostle Paul says boast in your weakness, we need to read what came before that. It wasn’t just boast in your weakness. The Apostle Paul wasn’t focusing on the weakness; he was like, Wow!!! Look at what God has done! His power is made perfect! God is getting glory! If my weakness is part of this equation, I’m all for it! Let’s do this Jesus!

I see the verse in a whole new light now. I see it as Paul was excited at what God was doing and he just said, yes Lord, I am all in! I will gladly boast in my weakness because you are being lifted up!

Step out in joyful “God-fidence” declaring Christ; not in and of ourselves but knowing that God is getting the glory! Isn’t this what loving the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind means?

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Theological Reflection On Forrest Gump

Ken Harris & Johanna Russell, A Father/Daughter Team Presents:


“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17B-19 HCSB)

Johanna’s Theological Reflection on Forrest Gump: Part 1


Have you seen the movie, Forrest Gump? All good thoughts in it show that filmmakers know what is good and what is bad. The goodness we see is God’s own, for all of it comes from Him. (James 1:17)

I like to look for ways that stories reflect the greatest story. Don and I watched Forrest Gump recently. I haven’t seen it all the way through in a long while. During this viewing the thought occurred to me, ‘What makes this story so amazing is seeing a selfless, child-like man go through a life that is often not good and innocent; but through the good, bad, and the ugly Forrest selflessly impacts the lives around him. Now, that is good! This is Christianity!


The major theme throughout the movie was Forrest’s relationship with Jenny from childhood and into adulthood. His unconditional love for Jenny is such an example of selflessness. He always treated her with kindness and never kept a record of wrongs. He was always seeking her good. If he thought she was being hurt or mistreated, he didn’t think twice to defend her. Time and time again she treated him pretty badly and used him. Jenny, in all of her messiness, told Forrest he didn’t know what love was, but in fact he knew it better than she did. He just kept loving her in all of her mess. I’m sure it’s not too hard to see the reflection of Christ and His love for us in this story.


How many times have I mistreated Jesus? Like Jenny, getting mad at Forrest; she said, “Forrest, you can’t keep trying to rescue me all the time.” Jenny was doing what she wanted and didn’t want anyone interfering, but Forrest saw that it wasn’t good and he couldn’t just sit back, he said, “I can’t help it. I love you.” God knows what’s best and He is working everything together for good, but we stomp our feet and say, “No, God, I know better! I don’t want you coming in and rescuing me all the time.”

It breaks my heart to know that I respond to my Savior in this way. God is saying, I love you too much to let you do this or that. I love you too much to just let you sit in your mess. I’m coming in to rescue you, because I love you. Shortly after my husband and I first met, Don and I were out on a date, and Don couldn’t resist anymore to declare his love for me, he said, “ I’m going to love you whether you like it or not.” That won my heart!


God wants your heart. He is going to love us whether we are going to like it or not and sometimes that love means that God is going to step in where we think He shouldn’t; but if we will trust that God truly loves us unconditionally and has our best in mind, we can freely say, “I love you too, and I will accept your loving rescue.” “If God is for us who can be against us….Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:31b, 35a)

Pray for this love in your own heart.

The Via Dolorosa

The health and wealth prosperity gospel is appealing. I get that. We all long for Eden. We long for ultimate happiness and fulfillment. We long for all to be right. We wait for the day when we don’t have to suffer. No one wants pain, but this gospel is not The Way. There are no shortcuts. You can’t tithe yourself into utopia here on earth. You can’t self motivate yourself into fulfillment.

Do we really want just a beautifully wrapped package that gives us good feelings for a moment and then when the the contents are exposed, we are left wanting?

This is what Is at the center of false doctrines of alleged Christianity and it’s also at the center of other religions.

The Via Dolorosa is the thing that makes Biblical Christianity different. The Via Dolorosa is believed to be the route In Jerusalem that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixton.

Jesus walked in suffering, not because he wanted to. Jesus even said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Yet, He gave himself in obedience, knowing that the Via Dolorosa was the only way for us to have reconciliation with God the Father.

Biblical Christianity offers a hope and a comfort of a God that is not distant or beyond comprehension as some other religions. God knows our pain, our suffering. He doesn’t like it. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

The God of the Bible knows our pain. Jesus went to the cross on our behalf and because of this we do have a way out, but it’s not the prosperity gospel way or through any other religion. Our way out doesn’t mean all our pain is vanished on this earth but it does mean that our eternity is secure and we have a God on our side that is taking us through the storms of this life to prepare us for the next.

I want a God that empathizes and is giving me the grace and strength to endure the race, don’t you?

That God is the God of the Bible. Through Jesus we can take hold of that which took hold of us.

Recently you probably saw the news about the young 18 year old black guy that forgave and poured out his love and grace for the white cop that murdered his brother. This response could only be done through the power of Christ!

The Via Dolorosa is the only way. He has walked it and he is carrying you as you make your journey.

To God be the Glory great things he hath done! So loved He the world that he gave us his son! Who yielded his life, an atonement for sin

And opened the Life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Let the earth hear his voice; let the people rejoice. Oh come to the Father through Jesus His Son and give him the glory; great things he hath done!

A Childless Christian

It is the cultural norm for married couples to have kids, so when you are married with no kids it can be isolating, where those around your age, much of their lives are centered around raising kids.

There is nothing wrong with this of course, but I turn that around…..does that make something wrong with me or us as a married couple to be childless?

Sadly, as Christians, I think the judgment might come even more.

Being fruitful and multiplying was a command in the beginning for human flourishing, but nowhere in the Bible does it mean that it was the will of God for everyone. I believe it is for most.

I have mulled this over in my mind for years. I’ve had many wilderness moments over it. God has always given me the grace to deal with the isolation, the judgments, the feelings. I truly believe that God is working this out in our lives for good according to His will.

I have prayed to God, about it, asking am I being selfish or unloving? Will my life not be fulfilled here on earth without children? Will I have no one to care for me when I’m old? Will I never know real joy the way those with children say?

On being selfish and unloving, I have a follow up question, is having children automatically the cure for selfishness and not being loving? I’ll leave it at that.

On an unfulfilled life due to not having children, my follow up question is much like the last, who is our ultimate fulfillment? Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” No amount of kids will fill the void that is meant for Christ alone.

On wondering who will care for me as I age, I am thankful that God has given me a husband and we care for each other in sickness and in health, the fact remains that one of us will be left. My follow up question is two fold, we really should not have kids with the thought of just having someone to care for us when we are old, that would be in itself a little selfish, and who can say that the kids won’t put you in a home only to carry on with their busy lives?

Who can we really depend on? The answer is God. He will provide, he will supply our needs. Do not worry about tomorrow for today has troubles of its own.

On will I never know real joy, Isn’t the joy of THE LORD my strength?

I’d like to make it clear, I love kids. Don and I are both teachers, and I don’t see my job as a surrogate to having kids, but I do see it as my ministry and kingdom work. God has ordered this whole thing in my life I am convinced of that. I won’t go into the whole story of how I became a piano teacher, but it was a God thing and He has shown me so much of Himself in this journey, and He has taught me more treasures than I can count. As Christians, it’s not having kids that is our number one commandment, it is being followers of Christ and shining His light to all the world.

Before she passed away, I talked with my childhood piano teacher/friend who also never had kids. She mentioned to me that she often wondered if she would have been able to give of herself to her students and families the way that she did had she had kids of her own and I could really relate with her on this.

What I see in my life so far is places God has taken me that have required total dependence on Him. If I would have had it my way and my comfort style, I would not have known the loving graciousness of God and my total need for Him. My feelings of isolation and not fitting in, my anxiety, my feelings of incompetence, these are all places God has brought me to know Him and trust him more fully. God also knows me better than I know myself and he knows what is best for me and how I will be the most fruitful in His kingdom. Some things He says yes to and others He gives a resounding no.

So I am here to say, God may or may not have children as part of your future. I know one thing, we can rejoice in knowing that God has a unique plan for everyone and it is good!

We all will face our places that God will bring us to and through, whether with kids or without. God knows our need.

He is our ultimate fulfillment!