Day 186: July 5, 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.

Psalm 80:1
1 Listen, Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock; You who sit enthroned on the cherubim, rise up.

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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Our Shepherd
by Chris Blanton, Middle School Minister, Brentwood Campus

I must confess: I know very little about sheep and shepherding. The little I do know has been gathered through children’s books and Google. Beyond a petting zoo, I have no experience with sheep.

When you come to Psalm 23, it is easy to let your memory take over. We know the gist of this passage. We have heard it, read it, got it. But I hope we do not let our familiarity get in the way of this excellent image of who God is to His children.

Psalm 23 is ascribed to David. What do we know about David? He was a shepherd. When Samuel was sent to the house of David’s father Jesse to find the next anointed king of Israel, David was in the field caring for the sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). Before facing off with Goliath, David recognized how being a shepherd was his training ground (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

We can only imagine what was in David’s head and heart as he wrote these words. This man knew sheep. He knew what a good shepherd was. He was a shepherd’s shepherd. And he called the Lord “my shepherd.”

Despite our inexperience with sheep and shepherds, this image of God shows us a number of things. God – our Shepherd – is personal. As we read though and think of God as our Shepherd, we cannot miss that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of our Shepherd. Jesus calls Himself “the good shepherd” in John 10. Verses 14 and 27 of John 10 reiterate the personal nature of our Shepherd: He knows His sheep and they know Him.

The Lord – our Shepherd – provides. “There is nothing I lack.” Think of a traditional lamb: white wool, fluffy, no horns, says “baaaaa.” Have you ever pondered that there are no wild sheep? Sheep need a shepherd to care for them. Without a shepherd, sheep are subject to the elements, the terrain, and predators. A shepherd would help stir the flock towards good food and safe water to drink. In the same way, our Shepherd leads us to rest, refreshment, and “right” paths. I love this qualifier: “for His name’s sake” (v. 3). The Lord has provided for us so that we can make much of Him.

The Good Shepherd – our Shepherd – protects. What a beautiful picture it is to see a hero coming to the rescue. Let’s revisit the imagery David paints in 1 Samuel 17:34-37. The shepherd protects. Jesus paints a similar picture: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Whatever the circumstances, in good times and the worst of times, the Lord is with us. We can take comfort in His presence and His promises. Like a good shepherd, our Shepherd has promised to be with us and to not turn His back on His children (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20).

Praxis

  1. Have you trusted Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and Shepherd of your life? The simple act of reading Scripture does not make you saved, a Christian, a follower of Christ, or born again. Knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus are two different things. Have you personally trusted Jesus Christ? Please Click Here for more information about personally knowing and trusting Jesus Christ.
  2. Read Psalm 139:1-16. After reading, spend a few moments sharing personal things about yourself with God, knowing that He already knows them. Despite God’s infinite knowledge and intimate knowledge of you, He still enjoys hearing His children share their heart, passions, fears, and so forth. Take some time to write God a letter, email, or text message to get reacquainted. 
  3. How has God provided for you? Where has He led you? How has He equipped you to make much of Him? Pray for your Oikos list. If you have not already established your Oikos list, make a quick list of 5 to 10 people who God has placed in your life. Commit to pray for them each day, starting today. For more information about praying for your Oikos, Click Here

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.