Devotions for Psalm 23:1-6 June 19-25, 2017–The Lord is My Shepherd
June 19-25, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
͞The Lord is my shepherd͟ (Psalm 51:1a).
Sandra Connors was impressed by the young intern, Gail McNeil. Gail demonstrated a personal drive, attention to detail and ability to work with others that made her a valuable asset for the company. Sandra decided, with Gail’s permission, to be Gail’s mentor. She would work with Gail and nurture her innate abilities. Sandra would teach knowledge, develop Gail’s ability to see and to understand and, Sandra hoped, impart some wisdom that would enable Gail to go far in the business world.
The King of Israel was often referred to as the Shepherd. The Shepherd was a benevolent king who ruled over his people with love and grace and sought the welfare of his people rather than his own personal comfort. In a way the Shepherd/King was also a mentor. The King nurtured his people so that they could use their talents to the best of their ability.
As the Lord benevolently rules us, the Holy Spirit moves in our lives as a mentor to nurture us. The Spirit gives us the knowledge, understanding and wisdom that we need to grow as servants of God. With the Lord as our Shepherd we cannot stay the same.
Thank you, Lord, for helping us to become all that you created us to be. Amen.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 –The Lord is My Shepherd
͞I shall not want͟ (Psalm 51:1b).
Dudley Dursley was Harry Potter’s cousin. He was a spoiled, demanding boy. Every birthday and Christmas he had to receive more and bigger presents from his parents. Dudley was never satisfied, even though he had much more than, ͞the boy who lived in the closet underneath the stairs.͟
Sometimes we remind ourselves of Dudley Dursley. Though we enjoy abundance in our lives, we always want more. We tell ourselves that we need one more piece of clothing, a bigger and nicer home, a newer and fancier car. We are never satisfied. Our insatiable desires tempt us to accuse God of being stingy. ͞If everything is God’s,͟ we think, ͞why doesn’t God give us more.͟
As followers of Jesus, we proclaim that everything we have is a gift from God and that God gives us everything we need. To be part of the Shepherd’s flock and to be led by God, not only calls us to freely receive God’s gifts, but also to be content with the gifts we receive. When we are content with what we have been given, we can say with the Psalmist, ͞We shall not want.͟
Holy Spirit, move in our hearts so that we may be content with the abundant gifts of God that we receive. Amen.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 –The Lord is My Shepherd
͞He makes me lie down in green pastures͟ (Psalm 23:2).
With the growth of urban centers, fewer people are experiencing the joy of living on a farm. Sure it’s hard work, but life seems more ͞real͟ when you get closer to nature. The Yoder’s are an Amish farm family in Ohio. They are mostly grain farmers, but they do have a few horses, cows, sheep and chickens. When not working, the Yoder’s can sometimes be seen standing along the pasture fence. There they watch the animals, feed, rest and play. The scene is something from a Currier and Ives or Norman Rockwell painting. There is a serenity and peacefulness in it.
When the Shepherd brings the sheep to the green pasture, it’s not only so that they stuff themselves to their hearts content. The Shepherd also intends for the sheep to rest. As the Shepherd keeps watch, the sheep are safe from any predators. They are secure in the love of the Shepherd.
As God’s sheep, God leads us into green pastures. In those green pastures we can get some much needed rest. We do not need to worry, God is present. We do not need to be afraid because God is both our provider and protector. With God surrounding us, we can take off our shoes, wiggle our toes in the grass and relax. Sometimes it is hard for us to relax, Lord, and rest.
Lord, enable us to take advantage of the opportunities that we have to enjoy the green pastures to which you lead us. Amen.
Thursday, June 22, 2017–The Lord is My Shepherd
͞He restores my soul͟ (Psalm 51:3).
The pressure at the office had been increasing for Carmelita. She was the team leader and her team was working well together. They had, however, encountered several obstacles and it didn’ t look like they would be able to finish their project in the allotted time. Carmelita took the stress home to an empty apartment. She turned on the television for some sound and decided she wanted something to eat. She started with some Oreo Cookies, moved on to potato and tortilla chips and finished with Tin Roof ice cream. After over an hour of eating, Carmelita was stuffed, but she was not satisfied.
Many of us can identify with Carmelita, if not in her eating habits, then in the way we stuff our lives with things. We stuff our lives with more, but we are never satisfied. Blaise Pascal, who was a Christian writer wrote, ͞This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.͟ (Pensées VII ).
God, the Shepherd, restores our soul. We enter God’s presence, rest in God’s green pastures and our soul is restored in a way that nothing can match. We are experiencing that for which we were created—life lived in relationship with God.
Come into our lives, Lord Jesus, and restore our souls. Amen.
Friday, June 23, 2017–The Lord is My Shepherd
͞I fear no evil: for you are with me͟ (Psalm 51:4).
Even though bullying was a hot topic in Josh’s high school, it was still prevalent enough to be a concern. Josh wasn’t worried, though. He had the time tested bully solution—his big brother. Anyone who tried to bully Josh or to harm him in any way wouldn’t last long. Josh’s big brother had his back.
As followers of Jesus, we do not need to fear. We can obey one of the most frequent demands in the Bible, the one that goes, ͞Do not fear.͟ The reason for our lack of fear is not based on the false premise that nothing bad will ever happen to us. It is almost a guarantee that something bad will happen to us. Our lack of fear is based on God’s promise to be with us. Even if something bad does happen, God will not desert us. God has our back.
Lord, as we walk together through life, may we never take your presence for granted or forget you presence. Amen.
Saturday, June 24, 2017–The Lord is My Shepherd
͞You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies͟ (Psalm 23:5).
Lately, terrorism has been increasing across the globe. Suicide bombers have detonated their devices in stadiums and civic centers. Trucks have been driven down sidewalks filled with tourists. The goal of the terrorists is not just to kill and create mayhem. They want to terrorize people. The terrorists would like to make everyone so scared that they would lock their doors and stay home. They know that they have failed when life goes on much like it did before their terror attacks.
If we want to show our enemies that we’re not afraid, throw a party. Load up a banquet table and invite our friends. There we can celebrate God’s love and grace. We can rejoice in God’s presence and power. We can advocate for justice, stand by and aid the oppressed and be about our daily business—and our enemies can’t do a thing about it.
Lord, do not let us be intimidated by our enemies or allow them keep us from sharing your love and grace, and proclaiming your gospel. Amen.
Sunday, June 25, 2017–The Lord is My Shepherd
͞I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long͟ (Psalm 23:6).
The NRSV does something a little different with this last verse of Psalm 23. We are used to reading, ͞I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.͟ We reason, that after we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, that the Psalmist is assuring us that we will dwell with God in heaven when we die. Living in God’s house becomes a future event.
That is not the message that the Psalmist intended. God is our Shepherd and we are God’s sheep. We are in God’s presence. We lie down in green pastures and enjoy cool, still waters. We go through dangerous areas and face threatening enemies without fear, because God is with us. If God is with us, then we are dwelling in God’s house. Dwelling with God has become an everyday experience for us. It is not merely a future hope. So, let’s enjoy our heaven on earth—to God’s glory.
Whatever life brings us, Lord, we rejoice that we are your children and we walk each day in a relationship with you. Amen.