Psalm23

Week of March 18

Psalm 23

He Pursues Me

Day 1: Read through Psalm 23 again. As we conclude this series, think about the themes that we have learned. "My" Shepherd, He is enough, He leads, He guides us through, He restores, He prepares a table for us. What steps over the course of this series have you taken? Take five minutes to consider these messages. Flip through the past devotionals and message outlines. What conversations have you had with your small group? What have you written in a journal or prayers have you prayed over the last seven weeks? How are these steps changing your attitudes and how you live? Thank Jesus for how He is pursuing you and how you are following Him.   

Day 2: Psalm 23:6 begins with “Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” This is a statement of certainty. Not maybe. Not what if. David knew the character of God through experience and found him to be trustworthy. On Sunday, as Cory defined “goodness” in verse six, he said, "that which is beautiful, excellent, joyful, fruitful, correct and righteous," and unfailing love as an act of kindness, love or mercy." God does not passively wait in the clouds for us to find Him, but in His unfailing love, He pursues us with all goodness. This doesn’t mean that only good will happen in our lives, but it means that if we respond to his pursuit we trust that He will work out good in the middle of our circumstances. In the creation account found in Genesis 1 & 2, God says everything He created is good! In the gospels, we learn that Jesus came to forgive us of our sin and restore our relationship with the Father, and that is very good! So today, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil 4:8)  

Day 3: This Psalm concludes with the phrase, “and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Think about it in this context. He will pursue me as long as I live, but as a follower of Jesus, I will dwell with Him forever. What does forever look like? Have you really thought about what happens after “all the days of our lives” are over? In Psalm 73, the Psalmist was struggling over the prosperity of the wicked in contrast to His own experience of trouble. Read that Psalm and take note of his conclusion in verse 26. “He is mine forever.” Remember your current situation will pass, but your relationship with the good Shepherd can go on from today and will last forever.  

Day 4: We’re all being pursued by God. We might not recognize it. We might not want or appreciate it. But we can’t escape it. Being chased our entire lifetime by the goodness and unfailing love of God, none of us has ever lived a day outside of His pursuit of us. We may not sense it, we may even reject it, but we cannot be outside of it. Consider the example of Joseph in Genesis 50. Joseph told his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Joseph trusted God during his dark valleys. God showed kindness, love and mercy. How are you responding to the Shepherd’s pursuit? Do you see His goodness? Do you find yourself holding back from God in any way? How is His pursuit of you challenge or change your perspective?  

Day 5: God's pursuit of us is fully realized when, in His goodness and unfailing love, Jesus took on flesh, and gave up His life on the cross in our place. Knowing the cross was ahead of him, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) If you have believed in and are following Jesus, this sacrificial love with which He has pursued us will be reflected in our lives and to others around us. By following Jesus, goodness and love naturally passes through you to others. That is the mark of a follower of Jesus. Consider two things today. Have you taken the initial step of admitting the wrong in your life and trusting in Jesus, the Good Shepherd? If you have, how is your life reflecting a trail of goodness to those around you?

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Week of February 11

Psalm 23

The Lord Is Enough

Day 1: Picture this. You anxiously squirm in the seat of a small airplane quickly ascending. The side door of the plane intentionally open because you will be stepping out of it shortly. Dressed in full gear strapped to your body, you lower your tight goggles in place. Standing up, you walk toward the door. The tips of your boots creep out past the edge of the open frame. Intense wind whistles around you pushing, urging you out to the wide expanse. Then in an instant, you jump. Question: What are you placing your trust in? Your parachute. Daily, knowingly or not, we place trust in someone or something. When your feet hit the floor in the morning, when you grab your car keys, when you walk through the school’s front doors, when you flip on your toddler’s bedroom light, what are you deeply trusting in? Pay attention today. Come back to this devotional at the end of the day. Notice where or in whom you place your trust?  

Day 2: Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (ESV) Interesting verse. I shall not want; but what is it trying to say? There are things we want every day: chocolate, caffeine, nicotine, Netflix, a great deal, a listening ear, Instagram, something to complain about, to be alone; we are filled with wants. Yet, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Remember the parachute in Day 1. The parachute provides a skydiver complete trust during the descent toward the Earth, yet he or she may still want for as soft a landing as possible, or to be on target. But their safety is in relying on the parachute. Read John 10:14-16. Jesus is the good shepherd. He loves His sheep. He cares for them. They listen to him. Jesus is helping us see we can rely on and trust in Him for our deepest needs. Today as you go about the regular activities of your day, find a way to remind yourself, He is my good shepherd; He knows me, I can trust, He is good and wants good for me, it is right to hope.  

Day 3: Most likely, something in your life is amiss. Issues at work, a reoccurring conflict with a co-worker, boss, or employee. Maybe its stressed relationships with friends or family, or the house being a mess, the car dying, debt piling up. You may wish those were your problems, you just received a diagnosis that makes it hard to have hope. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. I am, will be ok. Read Matthew 6:28-34. Rest in the care and goodness of the shepherd. Reflect back on other difficult times. You’re still here. God is still good. He knows you and is with you.  

Day 4: Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 and Philippians 4:11-13. Paul knew something of struggle, hardship and want. He learned contentment was not tied to circumstances. He trusted. He discovered deep trust and faith through struggle, injustice, and pain. Today step toward your hardship or struggle. Reach out to someone you’re in community with, share the struggle, fears, doubt. Let struggle and perspective do its work in leading you to trust and rely on the Good Shepherd more deeply. Reach out to God, share your hurt and fears in prayer, sit in quiet and trust His presence with you. Recite Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Listen to what He has to say.   

Day 5: There is freedom in following the shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want. This freedom is available to you. Read Romans 8:28-39. These verses speak to struggles. They don’t call us to deny them, but to remember how God has acted, that He is still good, still with us in our struggles. Freedom and even peace comes from knowing I am a beloved child of God. God is saying there is more to the story than our immediate chapter. In John 14:27 Jesus says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. This is peace that we don’t experience because of any circumstance or good break. The world doesn’t offer this kind of peace. Knowing our Shepherd is still with us can give us this peace. Do you know of this kind of peace? Try practicing a daily trust in Jesus’ words (either of these passages) as you go about the activities of your day.  

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Week of February 4

Psalm 23

The Lord Is My Shepherd

Day 1: Read Psalm 23 slowly, as if you’ve never read it before. Try a different translation. Meditate on it phrase by phrase. Pray that God would give this familiar Psalm new life and meaning to you. Read it again as a prayer to God. After you read, take a few minutes to write down the words and phrases that stood out, or may carry a unique significance in your life right now. Include any questions you have about a verse or phrase that you could investigate later. As you go about your day, remind yourself of the memorable word or phrase. When your day is over, return to what you wrote and take time to pray further.  

 

Day 2: Read John 10:14-15. Jesus knows you intimately. Just as He refers to a close relationship with the Father, Jesus knows you in the same way. In Psalm 139:1, David writes, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” There are no secrets or hidden places in our lives. He guides us along the right paths. He is close beside us. He gives us courage to enter the day we may be dreading. This is the kind of shepherd who Jesus is,

a good shepherd. He knows your name. He knows your heart. He knows you. With all honesty, do you believe this today? Do you believe He is a good shepherd to you? If yes, celebrate that. Think about the events of this day believing He will shepherd you through them. Pray for your children or others in your life. Pray that they may truly sense the Shepherd in their lives today. If no, it’s ok. Consider why you have doubts. Open Psalm 23 again. In what ways does this Psalm not match your view of God right now?   

 

Day 3: Read Isaiah 46:3-4. Today, let’s focus in on the first phrase of Psalm 23. David writes in vs 1, “The Lord is my shepherd.” David doesn’t say that the Lord is a shepherd, or the shepherd. He says that the Lord is MY shepherd. Before David was a king, he was a shepherd himself, responsible for the care of his father’s flock. He knew that a shepherd would be aware not only of the whole flock, but also of each and every individual sheep. In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus teaches that the Good Shepherd will search out the one who is lost and celebrate when the lost is found. Have you ever considered what it means that God, who created the universe and all that it contains, cares for you? “I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Is. 46: 4b) A core question we all ask ourselves is this. Do I matter? Am I valuable? Do I like myself? If we answer yes, it means that we recognize and appreciate the uniqueness that He has made. We value our attributes, our personality, our strengths, our talents. Write down the qualities you admire about yourself, the qualities the God formed to make you.  

 

Day 4: Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What do you know about sheep? A quick Google search will reveal that every sheep has a unique personality. They instinctively band together for safety. Their keen vision and hearing gives them excellent senses to know and follow their shepherd. If the Lord is my shepherd, the implication is that I am His sheep and I belong to Him. On Sunday, Cory shared that shepherds will identify their sheep by putting distinctive “ear marks” on them. Is it clear to others that you have been “marked” by the Shepherd? Journal about this question or talk it over with a friend sometime today.   

 

Day 5: Read John 10:27. Yesterday, we learned that a sheep has a good sense of hearing, which enables them to recognize and follow the shepherd’s call. How are your senses? Are you aware of the Shepherd’s voice in your life? One of the best ways to learn to hear the voice of the shepherd is to know the Bible as this is a primary way that He speaks. The Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps. 119:105) As you study the Scripture, listen for His leading. While we often value self-sufficiency and the ability to figure it out on our own, we need to recognize our dependency on Him. This is a mark of true spiritual maturity. The Good Shepherd knows you, cares for you, claims you as His own, and leads you. Is self-sufficiency getting in your way from hearing God? How have you been listening to the Shepherd’s voice to follow where He is leading? As you read the Scripture passages this week, what did He say to you?  

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