Psalm 23 verse 1 “The Lord is my Shepherd”
When I first left my secular job to begin to train to work for the Church way back in 1987, one of the first things we are taught to do was to look at passages of scripture and then to try to understand it in bite sized chunks. The first passage that we were given was Psalm 23. This is quite possibly the best known piece of scripture across the nation. It is one of 2 readings that I always read at Church funerals.
This first line says so much to me because it is extremely personal, The Lord, the creator and sustainer of this world, is not just the shepherd or a shepherd, but he is my shepherd. I am not just a number on a sort of heavenly computer program, but I am a part of his flock, called by name and brought into the body of Christ. He has adopted me into his family so that I am a son of the living God, and I have an inheritance both now and in the future. In the Gospel of John in chapter 10 Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd, who both protects and provides for those who follow him.
What I have written above for myself is also true for you.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we be led by the Good Shepherd and remain faithful to him
This short Psalm (just 8 verses!) speaks of Assurance, and in particular of assurance of God’s protection. The word Assurance brings to mind the Hymn ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory Divine’. There is something precious, immovable and solid about assurance of faith which is a gift of God as we grow and learn to trust Him through thick and thin.
Verse 1 says: “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.” Assurance in prayer is knowing that wherever, whenever; God hears us, knows us and loves us. It doesn’t have to be in words outspoken, but it can be the cry of the heart, our thoughts, sighs and mutterings guided by the Holy Spirit which God hears and listens to.
Verse 3 states: “for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy”. Assurance is also knowing that God is our refuge and help. He doesn’t just shield and protect us, but He also helps us and wants to prosper us.
Verse 4 says: “Let me abide in your tent for ever” Assurance is knowing that nothing can take us away from His love: may we abide and know for sure that God’s presence is with us today in and through the love of Jesus-‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’.
Lord, we thank you for the lives of those who have died in faith and whose loss we feel at this time. We pray Lord Jesus that you would be near to our loved ones who we are unable to meet with and who live far off. May we grow in Assurance of faith as we trust in you.
Psalm 24 verse 1-2 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”
I am so grateful to God for the sunshine and all of His creation. Every time I look out of the window when the sun is shining my heart lifts. When I am in the garden messing with a bit of weeding, or planting some seeds, my heart lifts. When I am out for a walk my heart lifts. When I watch Countryfile or some other wildlife programme my heart lifts. When I am out of doors anywhere my heart lifts. Even when it is dull and raining I love looking outside.
There is something about this creation and world that speaks to our hearts in ways we cannot articulate, because we are created in God’s image. He has this world in His hands and He loves all that He has created. Let that thought lift our hearts today.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that this earth and world are yours and you love it all. Thank you for the beauty of your creation and thank you especially for loving us.
Psalm 23 verse 1 “I shall not want”
Whilst we live in a world of tremendous affluence, as I have said before, everyone living in the UK today is part of the richest 5% of people that have ever lived, there is also terrible poverty. Over 20 years ago I was invited to visit some Churches in India, whilst the experience was fabulous, the poverty that I saw was terrible. At the time we just had 1 son, and after visiting a school where the children were ‘dressed’ in utter rags, I returned to my room and cried. Whilst we lived ‘hand to mouth’ as you might say, what we had in England was incomparable to the virtual nothingness of those children in the school. The experience changed me by making me grateful for those things in life that we take for granted.
In recognizing that he was part of God’s flock, the writer of Psalm 23, David, also recognized that all that he could possibly need was in God’s gift to provide for him, and therefore he would not be in want. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells us that God knows all about our needs, and that the way to receive them is to seek first after God, and that as we do, all that we need will given to us.
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to be grateful for all that we have, aware of the needs of so many in this world, and in seeking after you know the fulness of life.
Exodus Chapter 19
As you look back on your life so far, what have been the big decisions you have taken, with or without others, for good or bad? These decisions can often be turning points rather like a fork in the road, a junction or even a one way street!
Verse 5 records the words the Living God spoke to Moses, the leader of the Israelites, at Mount Sinai following the crossing of the Red Sea, and liberation from slavery in Egypt: “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.” Many times in the Old Testament such as in Deuteronomy 30:19 God challenges His people to choose life or death, blessings or curses. In other words, as is the case for us today, God in His love, mercy and grace gives us free will to choose to obey and follow Him and receive His blessing, life and love for eternity. The alternative is to go our own way and make our own decisions and choices without regard for His plans and purposes for our lives. May God give us wisdom to choose Him: to choose life in all its fullness.
O Lord, our God, thank you that as your Word teaches, you are patient and desire that all mankind turn to you. Be with all who feel lost, alone and in need of your love today. May all who recognise your call, follow obediently and receive your peace and presence.
Mark Ch 10 verse 43 “If you want to be the greatest one, then live as one called to serve others”
This was said by Jesus to his disciples in response to an argument amongst the disciples, because James and John had asked to sit on the left and right hand of Jesus when he was in glory.
You can imagine the outrage when the other disciples found out! How dare you! Hey what about me! You can hear all the things they might have said can’t you?
We don’t like it do we when people do things for their own glorification?
Jesus says we are called to serve others. He says a bit later in the chapter The Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to serve, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
There are many people today who are serving others in various ways due to the Covid 19 crisis and are putting their lives on the line. Let’ spray for them today.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Front liners caring for, protecting and serving our communities, our families and us. Thank you for these servant people, daily risking their own health and safety for others.
Please protect them from harm. Give them courage and strength. Draw close to them and let them feel your presence as they are your hands and feet on earth.
Ephesians Ch 2 verses 1-10 Verse 3b “...and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.”
You will have heard it said before that there is one main difference between a Christian and a non-Christian: simply that the former has asked and been forgiven of their sins. This passage in Ephesians gives a clear insight into this straightforward yet profound transformation: the receiving of a ‘clean slate’ by our heavenly Father.
It is at times like we are in now that we are often reminded of how we need that forgiveness more than ever. Being in close confinement with family or just being on our own for longer than we’d like and not being able to go out freely, can bring out all too often the worst sides of us. But let us not be too hard on ourselves: God knows our weaknesses and His forgiveness and gift of new life are always available and freely given in the name of Jesus His Son. Let us simply come, ask and receive from Him today.
Lord Jesus, thank you for leading us from death to life. Please give us strength to serve you today: to receive your blessings, and to speak and act with your compassion and love.