March 22, 2018 · 5:00 AM
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Psalm 23 has to be the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Like me, you may have memorized it as a child. If you’ve seen any funeral in a movie or TV, you’ve definitely heard it being read. When something like that is ingrained in us, we tend to glaze over it when we hear it. We know we know it, so we don’t really pay attention to what it’s saying. If you stop and think about it, there are some powerful truths just in the first few verses.
In the first verse, we read, “THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack” (AMP). Think about that. The Lord watches over you personally like a shepherd watches sheep. He makes sure that you are fed, protected, and on the right path. You have everything you need in Him. There’s no need to panic today because your shepherd is watching over you making sure you have everything you need.
Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” God knows we all need times of rest and refreshing. We are constantly on the go, looking for greener pastures. God says to us, “Follow me and I will give you rest.” You don’t have to go looking for them, you just have to be willing to be led by Him. You have to give up your rights and submit to the authority of your shepherd. When you do, you will find the greener pastures and rest you’ve been looking for.
Verse three confirms that by saying, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.” Not only does God refresh you, He restores you. He gives back what has been taken from you. He also leads you into the paths of life that please Him. He does all of this not because you’ve done anything. He does it because He loves you and cares for you.
Even if you’ve been the sheep that has gone astray or fought against being shepherded, we know that God loves you enough to find you where you are, in the condition you’re in, to lovingly bring you to the fold. He doesn’t wait for lost sheep to find Him. He’s proactively looking for you because He knows your life will be better with His flock. He will leave 99 to find just one sheep. That’s the kind of shepherd we have. He gives us everything we need, He leads us to restful places, and He restores our lives. We just have to be willing to be a part of His flock and to submit to His shepherding.
Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash
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July 16, 2014 · 7:45 AM
Every time I read about King David in the Bible, I come away with a deeper respect for him. In II Samuel, life was going good for David. He was king and had just brought his son, Absalom, home to set aside their differences. Instead of being grateful, Absalom stole the hearts of Israel, betrayed his father and took the kingdom away from him. David had to flee his beloved Jerusalem to keep from being killed. As he was taking one last look from the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was met by the servant of Mephibosheth.
Mephibosheth was Jonathon’s son and King Saul’s grandson. David had taken him in and let him eat from his table. When David asked the servant where he was, the servant said, “He stayed behind to reclaim his grandfather’s kingdom.” I’m sure that hurt David after all he had done for him. David said, “In that case, you get everything he owns.” As David turned to continue on his exile, another man related to Saul started yelling curses at David and throwing rocks at him. He yelled out, “Get out of here you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back. You stole his (Saul’s) throne.”
One of David’s men grabbed his sword and asked permission to cut off his head. David screamed, “No! Who asked your opinion?” He then told them that his own son is trying to kill him. Why shouldn’t a member of Saul’s family have even more reason to? Instead of killing the man who was taunting him, throwing rocks at him and made him weary, he let him be. He showed mercy. He showed great restraint in dealing with everything that was going wrong.
We each have people in our life who have betrayed us. We have people who use words like daggers and stab us in the back. We have people who get under our skin and wear us out. It’s nothing new. It’s been happening for millennia. David showed us a different way to handle them. He showed us that there is another option. In II Samuel 16:12, David said, “Perhaps The Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me.” He knew that if he lashed out in anger, he removed the chance of blessing. He wanted to leave the door open for God to help him.
How do you respond to the people who won’t leave you alone? Do you fight back? Do you get into endless arguments? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It could be that your response is keeping you in that perpetual cycle. If you want to change the circumstance, change your response to it. Show mercy instead of anger. Have patience instead of lashing out. Open the door for God to bless you instead of slamming it shut. Show love instead of hate. Give back blessings instead of curses and watch what God does. It may take a while, but God will restore you like he did David.
By the way, David did get his kingdom back. It turned out Mephibosheth’s servant was lying. David took half of the belongings back and gave them to Mephibosheth. He then let him continue to live in the palace. The man who cursed him, apologized and was forgiven. All of this was done because David did not sin when he was losing everything. Keep your head up. God sees what you’re going through. He sees the attacks and has not forgotten you. He will restore you.
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