Saturday, November 26, 2016

I Get It!

I have been studying the 23rd psalm; the role of the Shepherd (God) and the role of the Sheep (Us); how the Shepherd, takes the sheep to be still on the mountainside, and the circumstances that must be in place for the sheep to finally settle; it’s truly artwork. And today, it hit me as I got out of bed, trying to stumble around and make my way in the dark out the bedroom door. Every morning Mattie girl Sheppard’s me. She is at my feel hitting her nose against my leg, trying to guide me out the door safely; watching that I don’t trip over pillows or shoes. This always annoyed me because she won’t leave me alone……and today…I welcome the way she Sheppard’s me safely out my door. That is how God work too, a gentle reminder He is Shepherding us…and all we have to do is trust Him.

What did you learn?


Monday, September 19, 2016

23rd Psalm Verse 6

Verse 23:6 - Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

As a shepherd, David knew each sheep by name.  The shepherd has abundantly provided for the sheep all day, guided and protected them. That assurance caused the sheep to have faith in their shepherd. 

David knew that this goodness and mercy would stay with him even when he didn't deserve it, in good times and bad.  David learned that God knows him by name and that trusting God as his Shepherd he would be ok. 

23rd Psalm Verse 5

Verse 23:5 - Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

David understood in his culture that being hospitable was important.  Perfumed oil was poured on the heads of distinguished guests when gathered at great feasts.  With no motels or restaurants, it was customary to be invited in to a home and a meal prepared for them.  No obligation was expected from the host.  David knew that by following God's way his cup would always be full.  He would be restored; there was freedom in knowing this.

David recalls as a shepherd, in the pastures grew poisonous plants which if eaten by the sheep could be fatal.  Many plants in the field had sharp thorns on them and would penetrate the soft noses of the sheep causing painful sores. David would stand at the door at the end of the day and examine each sheep as they came in.  If they were hurt the shepherd would apply soothing and healing oil on the sheep so they would not get infected.  Each spring the shepherd would dig up these plants and burn them making the pastures safer for the sheep to graze.

23rd Psalm Verse 4

Verse 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me, they rod and they staff they comfort me.

David knew that we all go through valleys and huge disappointments.  Having God with us makes it easier to pass through bad situations.

David the shepherd would have carried a rod & staff.  The rod is used to scare off unwanted animals because sheep cannot defend themselves as they have no claws or vicious teeth. The staff is about 8 feet long to help the sheep that would lose their footing on the sides of the mountain.  The shepherd would reach down with their staff and lift the sheep back onto the pathway.  David knew that by following God's word he would always be back on the right path.

23rd Psalm Verse 3

Verse 23:3 - He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake.

David remembers that as the sheep started out in the morning to graze, each took a definite place in line and held that position all day. 

Often, during the day each sheep leaves its place in line and trots over to the shepherd. The shepherd gently rubs the nose and ears of the sheep, lightly scratches their ears and whispers in them….Reassured …and Encouraged… the sheep take their place back in line.  

In this verse, David remembers how at times he was close to God and at other times far away. God continues to accept him back with love and grace.

Haven’t you at times felt like a squeezed orange?  All the juice and pulp taken out of you?  Sometimes the dawn of a new day can leave us cold and hopeless?  Reconnecting with God can fill us with new life, new breath, and new juice, and David knew this.

Our Shepherd leads us to restoration.  We all come to forks in the road of life.  We cannot decide which way to turn.  We get lost and need guidance.

David is reminded that sheep have no sense of direction.  Sheep are different than cats and dogs who can find their way back home.  They have some kind of internal compass.  This is not so for sheep.  Sheep have very poor eyes and cannot see ten or 15 yards in front of them. 

David is restored by trusting God and gets back on the right path.

Friday, September 16, 2016

23rd Psalm Verse 2

Verse 23:2 - He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters

Sheep start their grazing about 4 o’clock in the morning. The sheep walk steadily as they graze, they are never still. Sheep are stubborn.  They don’t have enough sense to know when to lie down to rest.

By 10 the sun is beaming down and the sheep are hot, tired and thirsty.  The wise shepherd knows that the sheep must not drink when it is hot, nor when its stomach is filled with undigested grass.

So the shepherd makes the sheep lie down in green pastures, in a cool, soft spot. The sheep will not eat lying down, so it chews its cud, which is nature’s way of digestion.

This verse tells us, to rest and reflect. Sometimes God puts us on our backs in order to give us a chance to look up.  David takes time to rest in the presence of God.

Sheep are very timid creatures, they are afraid of swiftly moving water or the least bit of movement. They have a good reason to fear the water.  The sheep are poor swimmers because of their heavy coat of wool.  The water soaks into the sheep’s coat and pulls it down; just like life sometimes for us. 

The sheep know instinctively that they cannot swim.  Therefore, because of the sheep’s fear of water they will only drink from still waters.

The shepherd leads the sheep across the mountains and valleys and is constantly on the watch for still waters.  If still waters cannot be found, while the sheep are resting the shepherd will gather up stones to fashion a dam across the small stream to form a still pool. This allows even the tiniest lambs to drink without fear. 

Picture yourself resting beside the water in your mind and trusting that you will be renewed and strengthened from your rest. Saturate your mind with the reassurance of God’s presence and peace as David did.