This daily devotional, “Our Daily Bread”, is one that I get every morning. This one spoke loud and clear to me. God impressed upon my heart that I needed to share the message with you. This is a good one for the upcoming year. Who are we following and where will they lead us? The devotional below talks about one sheep jumping off of a cliff for some reason and many of the flock following to their death. Humans are so much like sheep. Jesus, Himself likened the humans to sheep. We follow people and things that will be our undoing and it sometimes is fatal.
This upcoming New Year is a great time to renew that relationship with Jesus our Good Shepherd. He will never lead us into a dangerous situation … at least not alone. He is always there and watching over His sheep, us.
I posted a series called “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” and it was 13 posts about the life and times of a shepherd (the first post is called “SUN SHADES OR JESUS” and I explain why in the post). The author was a shepherd at one time and the book is entitled “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23”. It was a wonderful book and one that every Christian should read. I believe it will bring you closer to your Good Shepherd… Jesus Christ.
Enjoy the below devotional and Happy New Year! There will not be a post tomorrow because of the holiday!
In Istanbul, Turkey, in 2005, one sheep jumped off a cliff and then nearly 1,500 others followed! In the end, about one-third of them died. Not knowing which way to go, sheep mindlessly follow other members of the flock.
No better word picture than sheep can be found to illustrate our need for a trustworthy leader. We are all, Isaiah wrote, like sheep (Isa. 53:6). We tend to go our own way, yet we desperately need the sure direction of a shepherd.
Psalm 23 describes the trustworthiness of our Good Shepherd. He cares for us (v.1); He provides for our physical needs (v.2); He shows us how to live holy lives (v.3); He restores us, comforts us, heals us, and bountifully blesses us (vv.3-5); and He will not abandon us (v.6).
What a comfort to know that God gently but firmly leads us! He does so through the urging of the Holy Spirit, the reading of His Word, and through prayer. God is the reliable leader we need.
In acknowledgment of our dependence on the Lord, we can say with the psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” —Dave Egner
Like sheep that sometimes wander from the flock
In tangled paths of life to lose their way,
I need my Shepherd’s hand and watchful eye
To keep me always, lest I go astray. —Sanders
The Lamb who died to save us is the Shepherd who lives to guide us.
Today’s familiar and beloved psalm has brought comfort and hope to many. And well it should. This psalm celebrates all that the Good Shepherd does for His sheep. The greatest benefit comes in the last verse: We will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v.6). God does so much to provide for and care for His sheep. However, there is an implicit idea in this text that should not be overlooked: Sheep follow their shepherd. The blessings and comfort of this psalm do not come to sheep that do not follow the Shepherd. As Jesus reminds us, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.
The Lamb who died to save us is the Shepherd who lives to guide us.
Yesterday’s post (here is the link to yesterday’s post) ended with a wonderful quote from the book that I have been referring to in this series … “A Shepherd’s Look At Psalm 23”. It is a wonderful book about a shepherd’s life and all the things he must face for and with his flock. The quote referred to spending time with the Good Shepherd – our Good Shepherd – on the mountain tops… the tablelands so-to-speak. Which is a wonderful place to spend time with the Good Shepherd. There are a lot of footsteps to get to the tablelands though. Jesus – the Good Shepherd – in all His wisdom goes before us so we can be with Him there and revel in His grace and mercy and love. We must trust Him to go with us on the journey to the top though.
Today’s post is about one of my favorite parts of Psalm 23. It speaks to a very intimate time with the Good Shepherd. It is a time of kindness and tenderness yet a time for preventive measures for future problems. “Thou anointest my head with oil” refers to more than one thing. To begin let’s look at what the shepherd does for his sheep.
In the summertime, on the tablelands, when things should be serene and wonderful, the dreaded pests come out in droves to bother the sheep. The flies, among other insects are more than just a worrisome buzzing around the head. Some of the actually lay their eggs in the nasal cavities of the sheep and the larvae can burrow into the flesh making the sheep beat their heads against things to try and ease the annoyance. Thrashing around in the brush and rubbing their head on the ground and anything they think will help the problem. They run and try to hide from the flies. Some sheep can run so much that they become exhausted and drop to the ground. Some toss their heads endlessly to try and rid themselves of the pests. When this doesn’t work, the sheep just gets more annoyed and eventually can die from beating their heads against trees, etc. To prevent the sheep from all of this misery and frustration, there is a mixture that the author of the book used and it consisted of Linseed oil, sulfur and tar. The author said that at the first sign of the flies he prepared this mixture and it was then “smeared over the sheep’s nose and head as a protection against the nose flies.” This one application did not last all summer long, it had to be applied daily to assure the sheep were not annoyed. After it was applied, there was an “immediate change in behavior.” They began to graze calmly and even lay down to rest.
Comparing this to the Christian’s life, one can see that the pests that buzz around the heads of the sheep can represent little irritations that we have from day to day. Irritations that bite and pick at us until we are so irritated that we snap at the first person that looks at us wrong. Everyone has them. We as Christian’s should handle them differently though. That is where the daily anointing of “God’s gracious Spirit” comes in. We have to have that daily, just like the sheep, to thwart the attacks of these pesky little annoyances. When we take time to pray and to listen or read God’s Word the world can melt away and we can be brought into the very presence of God Almighty! He can anoint us with His Holy Spirit and the pesky problems don’t seem so pesky any longer. We only need to ask for God to do so. So many people think that once you are saved and maybe you have even asked for God to give you His Holy Spirit, that is all you need to do. When in fact it is a daily thing. Once does not take care of the rest of your life. To have that power that Jesus promised, we must ask for it daily. Just like the sheep needed the anointing daily, so do we!
I found a website that listed 33 different things that the Holy Spirit does for us. Below are just a few of those and this is the link to the entire list.
Another book I read many years ago about this topic spoke of when the sheep come into the shelter for the night. There may be an enclosure that has been constructed for the sheep to enter into at night. This was usually a walled area to hold all the sheep. It usually was built of rocks and sometimes any kind of material that was available to the shepherd. The door, however, was the shepherd himself. As the sheep came into the enclosure, one by one, the shepherd will look over the sheep to see if there were any places that it had that needed attention. Maybe they got too close to the brambles and got scratched or stuck and it left some bloody spots and open sores. This would need attention before the sheep could bed down for the night. The shepherd would pour some sort of healing oil mixture over these wounds and it would help during the night when the sheep was inactive. Then after all the sheep were in the enclosure the shepherd would lay across the opening to keep any wild animal or unwanted anything from entering. The shepherd loved his sheep and protected them with his body and life.
To me, this is a beautiful picture of how Christ takes us into the fold and anoints our heads with oil – His healing love, compassion, mercy and grace. Then after we are safe in the fold He lays across the opening of our hearts to protect us from anything that is not welcome. The Shepherd loves His sheep and protects them with His Body and His Life! John 15:13 – 13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
I pray that you know the Good Shepherd. He is waiting for you. He loves you … after all you are His beloved! I call Him Lord and The Lord is my Shepherd.
The Song – Your Love Is Extravagant – Casting Crowns
Yesterday’s post (here’s the link to yesterday’s) was ended talking about becoming submissive to Jesus – The Good Shepherd. Since He knows the best path for us to take, would it not behoove us to follow His lead? The shepherd… a “good shepherd” knows where the good part of the pasture is for his sheep. He leads them sometimes daily into a new field to graze. One thing I didn’t mention last night… the author of the book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, mentioned that the day he moves his sheep to a new meadow or field to graze, the sheep were so excited. He said even the older ewes were almost kicking up their heels in excitement as they entered the gate to the new meadow.
Looking at the comparison with Christians, we should also be excited as our Good Shepherd leads us into new areas of our life journey. Trusting Him to take us to the best place for us to thrive and flourish. This is sometimes very hard for some of us, I know. I am one of those. However, I have found that if I submit to His will and look for the silver lining, it will appear. He knows best for me. I am learning still. I call Him my Good Shepherd.
Now for today’s post. This part is one I can personally relate to as well. The next part of the 23rd Psalm speaks of trusting also. “Yea, though I walk through the valley…”. Let me begin by talking about the shepherd and his sheep. The author of the book talked about how a “good shepherd” goes before his flock before he moves them to another meadow or field. Well, the shepherd also moves them up the country side or mountain side and down the mountain side – depending on the time of the year. The author of the book talks about taking them to the high country … the wonderful meadows above the timber line. Going before the flock means that the shepherd must walk every square foot of land to know what advantages and disadvantages are there on the land that he will be taking them through to get to the good meadows (like I think I said … at the beginning of this series, a shepherd must REALLY like sheep to do all that is required for the flock to survive and flourish). So the shepherd goes up the mountain side, knowing he will find many areas that are dangerous for his sheep to pass through. However, he continues on because the best places to graze, the best meadows are in the high country above the timber line. The shepherd will find water, shelter, meadows and all kinds of things that would benefit his flock as well as be damaging to his flock along the way. He knows where the wild animals might be hiding and all the pitfalls and dangerous places are before he ever thinks of bringing his sheep to the area. I once read another book about this same topic. That book said the shepherd might go so far as to go through the fields and uproot any poisonous plants and take out the rocks and every hurtful thing. So the shepherd has gone before the sheep to ensure their safety.
Now, I know you can imagine the comparison here. The phrase does say “…. Though I walk through the valley…”. So our Good Shepherd has gone before us and will get us through the valleys of our life. Even the death of loved ones, diseases that may have racked our bodies, wayward children, broken homes, loss of jobs, loss of a home, loss of a friend, etc. So many things in this life that are hard times – or our “Valleys”. We can take comfort in the fact that our Good Shepherd will get us through to the other side because He has gone before us and is aware of every possible thing that could happen to us. He will always be right by our side and never, ever leave us. We can say, with confidence …
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
I know the Good Shepherd is listening for your voice. He is waiting for you to call out to Him to help you through that rough time in your life. He wants to help you. He loves you that much! After all you are His beloved.
Tomorrow we will continue the series with “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”.
Ending yesterday’s post with the thought that The Good Shepherd will take care of us… I love the comparison of the shepherd and his flock of sheep to The Good Shepherd (Jesus) and us – Christians – as His flock of sheep (followers). I can so relate to so many things when you begin to compare the two. Here is the link to yesterday’s post if you didn’t get to read it.
Now on to today’s post. Today I am going to look at “He leadeth me beside the still waters”. First of all, I read one time in another book, about a shepherd and his sheep, that sheep simply are afraid of fast moving water or deep water. The main reason is they cannot swim. Their wool soaks up water and they sink. It is a horrible feeling to not be able to do anything if swept under because you are simply too heavy and cannot swim! I recall one time I was visiting with a girlfriend one weekend and we went to their lake house. I was about 10 or 11 and I could not swim. She and I, along with her little brother, were out on the boat dock out in front of their lake house. There were some older “boys” trolling along in their fancy boat and we caught their eye, I guess. They hooped and hollered out at us and I guess my girlfriend became so confused, excited or “whatever” and knowing I couldn’t swim – but NOT THINKING… pushed me into the lake. I was so shocked and taken totally off guard! I can see it like it was yesterday. Well, needless to say she was embarrassed after she realized what she had done… because I was flailing in the water and going down. She and her brother jumped in to try to help and all I did was try to get on top of them to save myself. Then her mother came running down and jumped in. I did the same thing to her. Then on my 3rd time up … or 5th or 6th … I saw her dad laying down on the dock and putting out his big, long, strong arm. I grabbed it quick! He simply picked me up out of the water, made sure I was ok and then helped everyone else out of the water! Luckily… he showed up just in time! So, I know how it feels to be going down for the last time and no one can help you! It was very frightening!
Well, poor sheep are simply not very bright and the shepherd knows this. If there is a water source and it is a fast moving stream, he will take rocks and logs or anything he can find to make a shallow, calm pool of water and leads his sheep to it to drink. This way he doesn’t have to worry about them drowning. He cares about his sheep and their well-being enough to do whatever it takes to make it safe for them ahead of time – before the sheep are in the vicinity. He has to think ahead so he has time to create a safe environment for his flock.
Also, if fresh, clean water is not supplied to sheep, they will drink from any dirty, diseased pool to try to get refreshed. Again, they are not too bright.
In comparison, our Good Shepherd, has gone ahead of us and created a place of calm for us to take long, deep drinks of His refreshing, cool water. When we thirst – spiritually – He (Jesus) provides Living Water that never runs dry! Jesus said of Himself in John 4 that He is the “Living Water”.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
John 7:37 – In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
This link will take you to a website I found that lists several scriptures about Living Water. Spiritually speaking, if there is not clean water for us to drink from, we as humans, seek elsewhere and Jesus knew this about our nature. That is why He provides all the cool, clear Living Water we need to refresh our dry, thirsty souls. We don’t have to look too far or long to find the refreshing Spring of Jesus Christ. He is always there to provide. We just have to call out His name, He is there.
Also, along with the cool, shallow pool that a shepherd provides sometimes, in the book “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23”, the author, W. Phillip Keller, talks about the morning dew on the grass in the morning. He says that it is the sheep’s nature to rise early and feast on the dew drenched grass of the early morning. I can just see a picture of that in my mind’s eye… the meadow of knee high grass glistening in the early morning sunrise with a beautiful flock of sheep right in the middle … munching away and almost smiling! The mornings are very special apparently to sheep and to some humans. For myself, mornings are my most special time with God. I love waking up and starting my day with the Spring of Life! The following is a quote from W. Phillip Keller’s book:
“In the Christian life it is of more than passing significance to observe that those who are often the most serene, most confident, and able to cope with life’s complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God’s Word. It is in the quiet, early hours of the morning that they are led beside the quiet, still waters where they imbibe the very life of Christ for the day. This is much more than mere figure of speech. It is practical reality. The biographies of the great men and women of God repeatedly point out how the secret of the success in their spiritual life was attributed to the “quiet time of each morning.” There, alone, still waiting for the Master’s voice, one is led gently to the place where, as the old hymn puts it, “The still dews of His Spirit can be dropped into my life and soul.”
“One comes away from these hours of meditation, reflection and communion with Christ refreshed in mind and spirit. The thirst is slaked and the heart is quietly satisfied.”
“Only the Spirit and life of Christ Himself will satisfy the thirsting soul.”
That just about says it for me. He has such a way with words and I love the picture he paints with his words. Mornings are very special and can be made even more special when spent drenching your soul and spirit with time with your Good Shepherd.
I challenge you to find your cool, calm Spring of that Living Water. Jesus is waiting to spend time with you. Maybe you aren’t a morning person. Find some time that is just time alone with The Master, The Good Shepherd. It will change your life. He loves you so much! Remember, after all, He calls you His beloved!
The Song – Springs of Life – Ginny Owens (I am including lyrics below)
How many days, Lord, have I walked in this wilderness?
A thirsty pilgrim with no water to drink
And this barren place is making me crazy
But in my desperation, I am forced to think
Seems like I have spent so much time searchin’
In a dry and weary land where there’s no truth
But I think I’m finally realizin’ that my only hope of water
Is the well that comes from You, so
Rain down Your love upon me, pour out Your mercy on me
Please won’t You take me to Your springs of life?
‘Cause I’m dying for deliverance, only You can save me
I’m waitin’, please won’t You take me to Your springs of life?
Oh God, You are my God and my spirit seeks You
But my flesh has failed You time and time again
And now I’ve chosen this desert when Your love was waitin’
But Your stubborn child longs to understand
So I’ll not waste another minute searchin’
In a dry and weary land where there’s no truth
Oh, I think I’m finally realizin’ that my only hope of water
Is the well that comes from You, so