The Lord is My Shepherd
Day 1 ...
Sometimes life can be like a wilderness. Isn't it wonderful to know that we don't have to walk through our "wilderness" alone. Our devotions this week have a few questions in them. You can answer the questions by filling in the blanks or you can just think and reflect on the questions without writing...the important thing isn't the writing...it's the thinking. Try to find a few quiet moments today to reflect on this verse.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want..." Psalm 23:1
Here in Texas we see a lot of cows, but we don’t see many sheep…at least where I come from. Maybe you know a little about sheep…not me…so I did some research. It didn’t take long to learn that sheep just can't make it on their own. I mean really! If they don’t have a shepherd they are history.
Back in the Bible days, sheep needed a shepherd just as much as they do now. Without a shepherd they would fall off cliffs, drown in wadis (a wadi is a narrow canyon that is dry except for in the rainy season…then it’s full of roaring water), they would be eaten for supper by jackals or leopards. Sheep depended on their shepherd for everything...I mean everything...because…now pay attention here…sheep are pretty dumb critters. And to be a sheep…in the wilderness…without a shepherd…it just didn’t get much more dangerous than that.
Life is a lot like that for us...and like the sheep we just can't make it on our own. We need a shepherd.
Does your world ever feel like a dangerous wilderness?
When the going gets rough and dangerous do you have a loving shepherd that you follow? If you do...think about how it helps.
If you don't...think about what it would be like to have a loving shepherd lead you.
During the day the sheep would follow their shepherd...but as it became night the shepherd would walk with his sheep…right there…next to them. They knew he was there. They could hear his voice and they felt calmer…safer. At night he would lead them to their sheepfold and then he would lie down in the gate. He guarded them through the night and kept them safe.
I have a Good Shepherd…and he is with me through each day and night. When the "night" comes...you know... those really tough, hard times that we all go through...the times when we can't see our way... what we need most is to find our shepherd and be comforted by his presence. He's always there, calling, waiting, for us to follow Him. He is my shepherd…and I am his sheep.
Let’s read Mark 6:34
(Jesus compares a group of people to sheep).
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34
Jesus knew the people were like sheep without a shepherd...and just like Jesus felt compassion for them...he feels that same compassion for you and for me. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Jesus feels compassion for you and me. There is a Shepherd…all we have to do is choose to follow him.
Good for you...you finished Day 1. It didn't take that long did it? As I drift off to sleep tonight, I am going to think about my Shepherd, Jesus... guarding the gate to keep me safe while I sleep. What a loving God we serve.
Day 2 ... One thing we have in common with sheep is that we get hungry each day. Try to find a few quiet moments today to reflect on this verse.
"He makes me lie down in green pastures;" Psalm 23:2
The pastures of Israel are definitively not like the knee-deep lush, green fields of Ireland. They don't look like pastures at all. They look like rocky, barren hillsides. Have you ever hunted for Easter eggs? Well that is what it is like looking for grass in the wilderness. It's there but it's scattered amidst the rocks. The sheep would starve without the shepherd to find enough grass for them each day.
Somehow when I was growing up I never pictured sheep grazing in the wilderness…but that is exactly what they do. The fertile land in Israel is used to grow crops. Sheep graze in the wilderness…or on the edge of the wilderness. That puts a whole new picture on so much of the shepherd language in the Old Testament. Talk about trust! Every day the shepherd would have to find the grass for the sheep and then lead them there. And the next day he would do the same. And the next. And the next. It was a daily reliance on the shepherd for their very survival…what an incredible picture.
As followers of Jesus, God wants us to trust Him day by day. The Good Shepherd doesn't promise us a life that is problem free, but he will give us the green grass we need for this moment...for this day. Do we really trust Him?
I know that there are times when worry and despair seem to wash over me. When was the last time you were filled with worry about tomorrow? We have a shepherd…and we can trust him. We just have to remember that he IS REAL…and that we can follow him. In Matthew chapter 6 we find the "Lord's Prayer"...some of you may know it as the "Our Father". In verse 11 Jesus talks about each day's need for bread.
Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
Are we told to ask for monthly bread, weekly bread...or daily bread?
God so wants us to bring our worry to Him. It is a daily walk...a daily relationship. You may not see it now, but a new tuft of grass will be there in the morning. He really is our Shepherd.
Good for you! You finished Day 2. When you wake in the morning the Shepherd will be right there with you.
Day 3 ... There is one thing we need each day even more than food. That's right...water! Now I know some of you say you don't drink water...but you do...just look on your soft drink label...see there it is...water. Try to find a few quiet moments today to reflect on this verse.
"He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul." Psalm 23:2-3
Ok...let's pretend...it's 5:30pm Friday afternoon and you’re at Wal-Mart...(I know your smarter than to go to Wal-Mart at 5:30pm on Friday but it's pretend) and you've been in the checkout line for 45 minutes...it's hot...you're tired...you're thirsty...you reach for a bottle of water (Coke, Dr. Pepper etc.) and just as you pick up your bottle the entire drink machine jumps off the ground and body slams you to the ground. Not a pretty picture is it. Aren’t you glad this was only pretend!
What do you believe is the most frequent cause of death in the wilderness? Did I hear you say starvation, thirst…maybe heat stroke? Would you believe that that most wilderness deaths happen because of floods? That's right...drowning in the desert. The sky can be clear, the sun shining, and suddenly a wall of water can roar through the narrow canyon. Anyone in the wadi will be washed away. That is what can happen to a sheep who finds his own water without the shepherd. Instead of getting a drink he is slammed to the ground and swept away.
It seems that people are so thirsty today…and they don’t always drink safe water…sometimes they try to quench their thirst with money, people, and power. And then there are those that stand in the middle of the wadi…while the flash flood siren is blaring…and quench their thirst on sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no quicker way to drown. Dangerous waters...safe waters...the choices are ours.
What are some of the "waters" people are thirsting for today?
Only our Shepherd knows what waters are safe for us to drink. There is a part of every person that is empty or "thirsty" for God. I want you to read Psalm 63:1-8
. It was written in the wilderness. If you have ever been really, really, thirsty try to think of that time when you read these verses.
A Psalm of David When he was in the Desert of Judah.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; withsinging lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right handupholds me. Psalm 63:1-8
In verse 5 the writer says "My soul will be satisfied..." Isn't that what just about everyone you know is searching for....they may be looking in the wrong places...but they want to get to a place where there is no anguish, worry, rejection, or pain. Maybe you can tell someone about that verse this week...someone who is really searching for satisfaction and peace...someone who needs a shepherd.
Good for You! You finished Day 3. I can think of nothing safer…warmer…than to sing in the shadow of his wings...thank you Lord.