God Speaking to You

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 41 & 42

Psalms Reading: Psalm 23

New Testament Reading: Matthew 22

I have recently developed a new appreciation for the Psalms. I am not one that enjoys poetry; I prefer historical accounts and factual information (I know; what a nerd!). However, after joining a weekly prayer meeting with a group of pastors in town, I have grown to see that the Psalms are not to be read like most of the other books; instead of reading for information, the Psalms are meant to be read to “hear”. We often call the Bible “the Word of God”, but rarely do we treat it like God is speaking to us. That is how I have learned to read this set of poems and songs, and I’d encourage you to try it.

In Psalm 23, God tells us that He is our shepherd, guiding us along life’s difficult paths towards green pastures and waters of rest. Although most of us don’t know what it’s like to be a sheep herder, what is obvious is that shepherds care for their flocks. They make sure that their flock has water, food, and shelter; they make sure that their flock is at peace and protected from danger. This is what God does for us as our shepherd; he provides, protects, and allows us to enjoy rest.

In a time when anxiety is higher than it has ever been, and people are worried about all sorts of different issues, this Psalm should speak to every single one of us and be an encouragement. We don’t need to worry, like Jesus says (Matthew 6:34); God has us and will take care of what we need. He allows us to rest in peace when we are in His presence, safe from the difficulties that surround us. The only requirement we have is to follow Him and stay close to Him, because
when we are with the Great Shepherd, nothing can harm us.

Our Father is calling to you today; calling you to come before Him and calling you to rest. Enjoy this wonderful, merciful gift now, knowing that He has everything taken care of.

-Talon Paul

Reflection Questions

  1. If you haven’t yet, reread Psalm 23 specifically looking for what God is speaking to you about Himself.
  2. Is God promising to remove all scary, bad things from your life if you follow Him (see especially verses 4 & 5)? What does He offer to remedy anxiety and worry even in the midst of dark shadows and enemies?
  3. How have you already benefited by having God as your shepherd? Is anything required from you to remain part of His flock?

The 23rd Psalm

Psalm 23

Saturday, July 9, 2022

What comes to your mind when I say “The 23rd Psalm?”  Perhaps you know that it is the most famous of all the Psalms, or even the most well-known chapter of the Bible.  You might think, “Ahhh, the Shepherd Psalm.”  Maybe you remember its author, David, and that he was a shepherd boy.  Or, perhaps you know that Psalm 23 is identified as a Messianic Psalm, picturing Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  These thoughts are all reasonable when considering Psalm 23.  But here are my thoughts when the words “The 23rd Psalm” are said to me. 

I remember a little 4-year-old girl attending the Church of God Illinois State Conference Bible School in Oregon, Illinois in the summer of 1956.  During our lessons that week, the children in attendance were challenged to memorize Psalm 23.  The little girl thought she could memorize it just as well as her older brother, and she was determined to do so.  At the end of the week, each child was asked if he/she wanted to go in front of the gathered students, and recite this beautiful Psalm.  The little girl was shy, but went up in front, by her teacher, and proudly recited the Psalm.  There were a few missed words, but she finished well, and was applauded for her efforts.  She was so proud to receive a ribbon with a “Shepherd and sheep” seal upon it, as an acknowledgement of her accomplishment.  She kept that ribbon for years!

As I (the little girl, as you probably guessed) grew older, I would occasionally recite the psalm to myself.  Years later as an adult, I realized I couldn’t recite it anymore.  I was disappointed in myself.  I made an effort to re-memorize the Psalm, and now it is a part of me.

If you are sad, recite the 23rd Psalm.  Are you stressed, weary, needing direction?  Quote Psalm 23.  Is everything swirling about you, are the burdens weighing too heavily on your shoulders, is hope fast disappearing before you?  Say the 23rd Psalm to yourself.  It offers comfort, strength, and encouragement every time. 

As you say the words, picture yourself as a sheep, lovingly cared for by Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  He leads you to green pastures for grazing, quiet waters for a refreshing drink, and guides you THROUGH dangerous territory, “the valley of the shadow of death.”  He draws you close with his staff, and he rubs oil in any wounds you might have.  What reassurance and love the Shepherd gives his sheep.

As Jesus states in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

The 23rd Psalm’s words are a treasure to all who read or recite them, providing immeasurable solace in the midst of life’s challenges and troubles. 

The opening sentence actually sums it up.  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

-Paula Kirkpatrick

Questions for Reflection

  1.  When you hear the words, “The 23rd Psalm”, what comes to your mind?
  2. What scriptures provide comfort and peace to you?

Boundaries for the Sheep

Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” These words are so well known that most Christians immediately recognize this first line of Psalm 23. But there are so many truths that we can begin to understand from this simple phrase.

 The LORD is called MY shepherd.

The sheep has accepted the shepherd and as a result the sheep “lack nothing.”  The Psalm goes on to explain the ways that the LORD provides, cares for, and guides His sheep, but all of this is possible because He is Our Shepherd. There has to be a relationship.

We have to have trust in the shepherd and we need to stay in the Shepherd’s boundaries. From Leviticus 18 we are learning that God is establishing decrees and laws to govern the Israelites’ behavior including sexual relations. If we truly accept our relationship with God as the director of our lives and the overseer of our well-being, we can trust Him with all areas of our lives including our sexuality. We can trust that His commands on sexuality are right. We can personally follow them. For instance, he placed restrictions on certain sexual activity like incest. No sexual relations between relatives. This makes perfect sense.  God has designed the marriage relationship as the place where sex is one expression of love. Other family relationships need to be cultivated in nonsexual ways. We love through acceptance, encouragement, kindness, patience, …and so many other actions. This creates a safe, nurturing and sound family atmosphere.

God’s commands are given to keep us healthy physically and whole relationally while He nourishes us to produce spiritual fruit.  So as we read through Leviticus, we are learning that God’s commands are life-giving boundaries for us-His sheep. Our shepherd guides us so we are nourished, safe and loved.  

-Rebecca Dauksas

Links to today’s Bible reading – Leviticus 17-18 and Psalm 23-24

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