Day 120: April 30, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff —they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Experiencing God as Our Good Shepherd
by Sally Cressman, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

In this psalm, David gives us a glimpse of the characteristics and benefits of a relationship with the Good Shepherd. Even though David was a shepherd-king in his own right, he too needed the Good Shepherd.

David begins the psalm by stating that this relationship results in no lack. No lack of provision. No lack of peace. No lack of relationship. No lack of love. Jesus emphasized this too, “I have come so they may have life and may have it in abundance.” When we walk with the Lord, He meets all our needs and wants, resulting in abundant life here on earth.

As the ups and downs of life weighed on David, he relied on the Lord. David shows us that when we daily commune with Him, our life will be accompanied by peace. When we follow God’s lead, our souls will be restored, whether through forgiveness or the refreshment of His Word. If we are in need of guidance, the Good Shepherd will lead us through the mazes of life, directing us in the right way.

This type of relationship doesn’t mature or grow, however, through a casual, now-and-then communion. Think about it. You wouldn’t train once a week to be an Olympian, and you wouldn’t expect to lose those 20 pounds by dieting once a week. So why do we think we can be transformed into the image of Christ by attending church once a week?

David’s walk with the Lord had matured so much that he desired to share his heart by showing us what it looks like to walk with and experience the tender heart of the Good Shepherd.

A few years ago, my oldest daughter had a medical emergency. I could not get her to a doctor in Knoxville, so I drove there, took her back to our Brentwood physician, then drove her back to Knoxville.

I rushed back to Brentwood the next day and watched my other daughter swim in a 3-day prelims/finals meet. On Monday, I traveled to Knoxville again to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. While there, a thunderstorm moved in, flooding the streets. I drove home that night on the winding roads of I-40 in a deluge.

The next morning, I attended my Moms in Prayer group for college students and campuses. The specific identity of God we were praising that day was the Good Shepherd. When it was my turn to read the Scripture, I read this: “He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

I thought I’d gone to pray for my oldest daughter, who was struggling. But that day, the Good Shepherd “led me to still waters.” I felt all the stress of the last few days drain away and peace filled me instead. I clung to the truth that the Good Shepherd would also carry my daughter close to His heart through the weeks and months ahead.

Even when the storms in life sidetrack us, God is with us. David experienced this even through life’s darkest valleys. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, then you have a Good Shepherd who wants to provide for you, restore you, and pursue you all the days of your life. Goodness and mercy are pursuing you; all you have to do is follow.

Praxis

  1. Did you get through this week without seeking God’s help? What could you do to remind yourself to seek His help and direction?
  2. Look back a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Do you see yourself changed/transformed over the years or do you still see yourself (and do others see you) the same? What spiritual practices can you implement in your daily life so you can grow into a mature Christian?
  3. Discover ten insights about the Good Shepherd and David’s relationships with Him from Psalm 23. Write them in your journal as you go line by line through the psalm.

About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.