A shepherd who has ownership over his sheep would die for them, because the sheep were bought with a price. Therefore, they mean far more to him than that of a hired hand (John 10:4, 11-14).
Hearing these words from Jesus amplifies David’s statement even more with rich meaning and shows His great love for us, His sheep.
Our Good Shepherd wants us to live our lives in abundance but we have to stop trying to do it all on our own. We have to admit that our way is far more difficult and that He knows what is best for us. As we spend time with Him, we will learn His voice and follow.
Throughout David’s life as a shepherd he spent a lot of time alone, that time was spent building resilience by defending his sheep to later becoming the anointed King (1 Sam. 16:11-13).
Throughout his life, he continued to follow God’s voice allowing God to guide David safely through every trial. As we look to scripture, we see David show such intimacy by using the word “my,” implying that he has a personal relationship with God.
He believes that he lacks nothing because of the way God has always showed up for him. David knew that with God he did not have to worry about his life, where to go or how his needs would be met.
When we spend time with our Shepherd in prayer and in His Word, we will come to recognize His voice, too.
Just like a sheep with his shepherd.
It wasn’t long ago that I was lost and wondering. Looking to things or people to fill a void that only Jesus could fill. Once I started praying with more intention, attending a small group and reading God’s Word regularly then I started to see a change. It was not immediate; just like any new relationship, it took time, consistency and trust. By building my relationship with Him, and keeping my eyes fixed on the things unseen, God has always met me in my time of need because He has never left me alone. No matter what danger comes my way, or how far I wonder. He is there to keep me safe and call me back into His loving arms.
And friend, He wants to do the same for you!
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 23:1 (NIV)
When Paul writes to the Corinthians that are turning a blind eye to sin within the church, I am reminded of myself during those days. He tells them that all the sin they are partaking in such as being sexually immoral, idolaters, greedy, drunkards and much more will ruin them if they do not turn away from it. If they continue in their evil ways, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. I love that he doesn’t stop there and continues in 1 Corinthians 6:11, stating, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
By His mercy we can have our sins washed away simply by calling on His name (Acts 22:16). We have been sanctified and justified by God’s grace by the work of Jesus on the cross (Heb. 10:10, Rom. 3:24).
God loves us too much to leave us where we are and offers an abundant life when we entrust it to Him.
Friend, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but we can learn from our mistakes and repent of our old ways. Whether you struggle with shame, addiction, greediness, sexual immorality or some other sin that haunts you, you can be free. Jesus paid the price for you, you are worthy of His love. You just have to receive it.
Hand your sin over to God today and live the life He has been so eagerly waiting to give you on this journey to eternity with Him.
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:5-6 (NIV)
In 2 Kings 20 we see king Hezekiah sick and fragile. In one instant after following God and doing what was right in the sight of the Lord for so long, a foreign king showed him kindness and interest. He was blinded with self-righteousness, pride and ultimately lost focus of God. As the Babylonian king sent messengers with a letter and gifts to woo the king, they scoped out his kingdom. Hezekiah fell easily into their scheme: “He received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses–silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil– his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in the palace or in all his kingdom that he did not show them” (2 Kings 20:13). He let his guard down and welcomed the enemy into his house. Hezekiah was distracted by what looked good in that moment and later led to his death, Judah’s captivity and generations of suffering.
We will do the same if we are not careful. Too often we are wooed by the self-care movement. We turn to social media, a friend or family member or anyone that will make us feel better about ourselves. However, we must be vigilant and on guard against any advice that does not share our biblical perspective.
Don’t wait around to recognize that you have given access to the enemy. He will stop at nothing to take your eyes off of the one true God. Everywhere we look, there is so much confusion, division and chaos. Why? Because we have forgotten what God has already done for us. We like to change His Word to fit our agendas but we have to check our agendas and see if they align with God’s Word.
To be vigilant of the enemy's schemes requires us to remember all that the Lord did for us and to choose every day to seek Him first.
So, friend, I want to challenge you today to make your own blessings timeline. Start with the day you chose Jesus as your Lord and Savior or the day that you recognized Him moving in such a way that led you to that choice. Add dates in between when you know His presence was near or maybe a very difficult time that now you can look back on and vividly see Him at work in that moment.
There are no right or wrong ways to do this, we are human and flawed, so we must be reminded of His faithfulness.
Reflect on your timeline often, pray continually and remember who God says He is. We can stand firm on His promises when we keep our gaze fixed on Him.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
This was a dangerous place to be and often led to a lot of heartbreak, guilt and shame.
It wasn’t until I found myself pregnant with my daughter that I truly felt out of control and a flood of fear came rushing in. That wasn’t the plan I had for my life; how was I going to raise another human when I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my own life? I was just out of college, newly engaged and ready to move forward with my life but I still felt so helpless and alone. I cried out to God and what I didn’t realize at the time was that separation from the world was exactly what I needed to shift my perspective and surrender to the life God had planned for me.
In Genesis, we see how Esau and Jacob had a past full of shame, lies and heartache, too. When their father, Issac, was very old and it was time to give his son’s their blessings before he passed, Jacob deceived him into thinking he was Esau. He takes the blessing that was intended for his brother. This leaves Esau outraged and ready for revenge after mourning his father’s death. So Jacob flees.
Years later, the day finally approaches when Jacob is to see his brother again. Jacob tries to prepare but can’t help but let guilt and fear back him into a corner. Jacob turned to prayer and God met him where he was. The story tells us, “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man” (Gen. 32:24-25). Jacob was in a hard place mentally and God was there with him, as “The man said, your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Gen. 32:28).
God wasn’t telling Jacob that he actually won. The Lord allowed this match to continue for his own purpose, to deliver Jacob from his own self-reliance. After wrestling all night, he put up a good fight but in the end was tired, weak, in pain and left holding on to God.
When we feel completely helpless, we are reduced to a place where all we can do is hold onto Him.
I believe God did the same for me by throwing a wrench in my plans. After years of wrestling, He opened my eyes to how much I truly do need Him, which led to my surrender just like Jacob.
Friend, if you are trying to do this life on your own, like I did for far too long, I invite you to reach out to the Lord. Bring your struggles to Him and hold on tight, because He is faithful to walk through it with you hand-in-hand.
He loves us and wants to lead us on a beautiful journey, if we are willing to follow.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalms 34:4 (NIV)
Spiritual warfare is very real and we are up against it every single day as Christ followers. For me personally, I had never felt the fight so strongly. I sat night after night, tear after tear, trying to control the thoughts overwhelming my mind. So as I read, I was encouraged and felt seen by this timely message Paul shared about the war that we would not win with mere earthly weapons.
He writes in 2 Corinthians, to the church in Corinth for a second time. They were slandering his name and questioning his character, as Satan was doing to me. Paul reminded them to seek God’s word and truth before they were deceived by all the lies. He states, “For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
I needed this reminder, just as the Corinthians did. As I sat there and argued with Satan, I felt crazy but I could not give into the lies. Lies that I was not good enough, that something was wrong with me, and the flood of guilt for feeling the way I did when I should be standing confident on God’s truths.
I knew what I had to do, suit up in the armor of God by “putting on the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals with the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:14-17). I started praying, reciting scripture, blasting worship music and praying even more.
God’s truths embedded in our hearts prepares us for the battle!
God comforted me during my time of need and reminded me that I was prepared for battle and He will do the same for you!
So, friend, no matter what you are going through, be ready when Satan comes to attack. Pray without ceasing and replace the lies with truth. Worship your way through it and seek your community that will help bear your burdens.
Put on the armor of God daily and He will prepare you for when the battles come. And take heart; He has already won the war!
Memory Verse: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10-11
David told his men that encouraged him to lash out against Saul, “ The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay a hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Sam. 24:6).
David had his own struggles throughout his life, just like we do, but he knew that his retribution would not honor God. His faithfulness to honor God over his feelings in the moment was more important. Feelings tell lies, but God is faithful to keep His promises to us.
That is when I understood that I was more like Saul than I would like to admit. Years later, after the realization that my way was not working, I finally turned to the Lord for answers. He revealed to me my hidden faults. It took everything in me to surrender the sin at hand: pride. God gently exposed my sin and softened my heart, but this realization hurt! I then understood that the anger, bitterness and pain I experienced and caused others was not of the Lord. I used to see having the last word as a victory medal, now I see they were chains.
After I repented, God washed over my pain with His peace. The weight of those shackles needed to be broken so I could live the life He intended for me. Shortly after I surrendered, God put it on my husband's heart to share a sin he'd been keeping in the dark. I knew I had to step out of my own way and that was when I noticed, my response was not my own but God’s.
A surrendered heart breaks the chains that keep us trapped in sin.
When we are so consumed with pride, jealousy and our own emotions, it is quite difficult to see when we are the problem. Satan wants to make us comfortable in the dark. Hiding our sin and masking it with our pride makes his job that much easier.
But friend, let’s remember to not be controlled by our own selfishness and look at the situation from the perspective of our trustworthy God. When things get hard and relationships get sticky, remember the love God wants to extend. He exposes our sin because He is light and He disciplines the ones He loves (Pr. 3:11-12). Let’s humble ourselves and yield to the Lord, keeping our eyes fixed on our loving Father.
Surrender to Him today and watch as the chains are broken. Let Him have the last word because He is worthy!
Memory Verse: “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” Psalm 19:12-13a
Have you ever wanted to run from what God was clearly asking you to do?
That’s where we find Jonah in this week’s reading— running in disobedience.
Every time I read the story of Jonah, I am reminded of myself. I can look back to several times when I did not want to be obedient to the Lord. Sometimes what He was asking me to do was outside of my comfort zone. Other times, like Jonah, I simply didn’t agree with what he was asking me to do.
Jonah loved God and was told to deliver a hard message to Nineveh: repent from their evil ways or God would destroy everything. Jonah tried to flee so he would not have to go because he not-so-secretly hated the Ninevites. However, God sent a great fish to swallow him whole.
Yes, God has His ways of getting our attention. While he was in the belly of this fish, Jonah prayed. God commanded the fish to release Jonah, and spit him onto the shore. Then, again, He commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh.
After delivering God’s “turn and repent or be destroyed” message to the people of the great city, the people believed. The King declared a fast, and God had compassion on the whole city. You would think Jonah would be happy that they listened, after all he had been through. However, he was not happy because he did not agree with God’s compassion on them.
Like Jonah, obedience is the hardest for me when forgiveness is required. Unlike our fickle feelings, God’s love and compassion never fails. God never gave up on Nineveh, but He also never gave up on Jonah. He didn’t give up on my family member, or on me, and, friend, He won’t give up on you either.
Thankfully, God is forgiving and extends grace that is sufficient for each of us. If we stop and listen, He will point us in the right direction. When we realize His great compassion toward us, we are able to extend it to others. Return to walking in obedience, and open your heart to receive His compassionate love today and every day.
Devotionals by Author
All Abby McDonald Alexa Gearhart Angi Morrison Anna Bearden Anne Say Audra Powers Breanna Faith Spearman Brenna Kurz Brittany Marlow Caroline Hultgren Courtney Filippin Dana Schaefer Danielle Biddy Debbie Burns Heather Kenny Jannetta Cox Jessica Parker Jess Ridgeway Joan Lavori Katelyn Wilson Katie Gibson Kelly Orlowski Kerri Barfield Keryn Stokes Kristen Williamson Laura Pendley Lindsay McNeely Lonette Baity Martha Rudolph Nancy Ehlinger Renee Robinson Saretta Wells Tara McGill Taylor Watkins Tierney Nashleanas Wendy Gerdes