In addressing the Lord as “my Shepherd,” David was admitting that he was like a sheep, and was in need of a caretaker. His Shepherd knew that he needed physical rest, healing, relaxation and rejuvenation. He was confident that he would never want for anything. Psalm 23:5b says, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
These words tell of one whose every physical need had been satisfied and the abundant blessings he had experienced. The Shepherd is not stingy with His provisions, but lavishes His sheep with His love, grace, and mercy.
Philippians 4:6 reminds us not to be anxious about anything, but to present all our prayers and petitions to God. The Lord takes care of His children, protecting them and fulfilling their physical needs. He provides healing, rest, food, and shelter; His sheep feel physically refreshed, renewed and secure.
Sadly, even though I have experienced His blessings, I am sometimes too busy or forgetful to call upon the Lord my Shepherd, or I only turn to Him in times of intense sorrow or pain. I forget that when He hung on the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid the price for all my sin, sicknesses and diseases. His sacrifice covered it all. His love, grace and mercy never runs dry, and therefore, my cup overflows.
From the simple to the extravagant, the Lord provides for His children. Aren’t you so thankful that the Lord is our Shepherd?
“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b
In 1 John 1:5-6, the apostle John writes to Christian believers, “...God is Light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” John is telling the believers that if they want to enjoy a relationship with God they must be willing to allow His light to expose their sin, so they can ask for forgiveness.
This passage was prompting me to look at how I dealt with sin in my life. It was reminding me that sin disrupts my relationship with God, because light and darkness cannot coexist. So how do I respond? First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In order to have an intimate relationship with God, I have to allow His light to show me the sin in my life so I can confess it and allow Him to guide my path.
John continues to speak to believers about their fellowship with God. First John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Because God is love, a relationship with Him means that love must be evident in our lives; in words and in deeds.
Do I love my fellow believers and my neighbors? Is my love visible, sacrificial, and unconditional? Thinking about my behavior when the neighbor parks too close to my driveway, or when someone swipes the parking spot I was headed for, or when the family with six children under twelve sits in front of me in church, I feel convicted. Love is from God. If I am not demonstrating love, my fellowship with God is impacted.
Intimacy with God means walking in His light and sharing His love.
Maybe like me, you feel God using this passage to prompt you to examine your walk with Him? He is revealing truths that will lead to a more intimate relationship with Him. He wishes to shine His light into those dark areas that we try to keep hidden and His love to guide us to those with whom we need to share love. May we always act on the prompting the Holy Spirit places on our hearts.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
In Nehemiah Chapters 1 through 6, we see Nehemiah weeping and mourning for his country. He accepted the call from God to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls and the gates; this had not been accomplished in over 140 years. Though fearful of approaching King Artaxerxes for permission to leave court, Nehemiah trusted God to grant him favor with the king. He prayed, reminding himself of the God in whom he had faith, “... Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Neh. 1:5).
Once in Jerusalem, Nehemiah faced new hurdles for rebuilding the wall, from verbal discouragement to physical assaults. He was not deterred by the efforts of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem to derail God’s plan to restore His people to their homeland. Some of the men worked with one hand and carried a weapon in the other, while others worked with a sword girded to their side. Nehemiah’s encouragement, “Our God will fight for us,” (Neh. 4:20b) allowed them to continue working on the wall and accomplishing the task that God has called them to do; it was completed in 52 days. God gave Nehemiah success.
Despite the naysayers and mockers among my family members and friends, my son’s homeschool journey was a success. He completed high school with many college credits, attended a private Christian college, completed two Master’s degrees in Ministry and is now serving God as a Chaplain. God gave my son academic success, and is using him to reach the lost.
We often face challenges that seem too big to overcome. Like Nehemiah we need to remind ourselves of the great God we serve. Our God is sovereign. He is in control of everything that happens in our lives; our best made plans will fall apart without God’s gracious hand upon them. Trust the calling of your heart to the Lord, and He will go before you.
God wants to use us to accomplish His divine plans. He gives us opportunities to seek Him, trust Him, and hold fast to His promises. May we eagerly respond to His invitation to make an eternal impact on the lives of those around us. He alone can give us victory.
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)
Without realizing it, I had become an idol worshiper. The fertility specialists, the fertility treatments, the image of that child I so wanted to conceive had all become my idols.
In Exodus Chapters 6 through 15, we read the story of God sending Moses to extricate His children from bondage in Egypt, the plagues God sent on the land, the Israelites’ deliverance and their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. In Exodus 8:1, God again gives Moses this message for Pharaoh, “...Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” Even after seeing Aaron’s rod changed into a serpent that consumed the rods of his magicians, and the waters of Egypt turning into blood, Pharoah stubbornly resisted God’s command. Pharaoh did not know the one true God. He had many gods, many idols. Every plague that God sent on Egypt was in direct response to one of Pharaoh’s gods. Yet, his heart was continuously hard towards God’s people. The plague of the death of every firstborn in Egypt who was not under the ‘blood of the Passover Lamb’, finally led Pharoah to say, “‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested’” (Exod. 12:31).
God gave me many opportunities to tear down my idols, but like Pharoah, I held on to them, refusing to let them go. My pride got in the way of His grace and I failed to see Him as God Almighty. Seven years of chasing the technology left me with empty arms, and finally, heartbroken and weary, I surrendered my idols to God. Months later, God blessed us with a son through the miracle of adoption. A daughter joined our family three years later, again through adoption. Our family was complete. God had blessed us beyond our wildest dreams.
1 John 5:21 warns, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” All created things become idols when we put our trust in them, rather than in God. I was so focused on the specialists and the technology, that I lost sight of the God who created the technology, who created me and who creates life. Worship the Creator rather than the created. The blood of Jesus, the Passover Lamb, frees us from every sin, including the sin of idolatry. I accepted His free gift. Are you struggling with idols in your life? Jesus can set you free. You only have to ask.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
As I grew in faith by feasting on God’s Word, I was drawn closer to Christ. Victory over sin is a testimony I could share. It is not the ‘accepting Jesus Christ as my savior’ testimony, but it's a testimony of what He is doing in our lives today; our ‘Today Testimony’ is the evidence of Godly living.
In 1 Peter 3, the apostle is writing to Christians about Godly living. He tells wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives, according to their God-given roles. Wives are to obey because God commands them to, and husbands will find their prayers hindered if they dishonor their wives. Peter encourages his brethren to love each other, be compassionate, humble, and to turn from evil and do good. Verse 17 of 1 Peter 3 tells us, “It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” The challenge for these believers was to respond in love, even if they should suffer for doing what was right. Living in exile, as aliens in a foreign land, they were facing daily persecution because of their faith in Christ. Despite the hardships they were facing, the way they lived their lives was a testimony to those around them. Each day, they could share a testimony with others of how and why they lived as they did, a ‘Today Testimony.’ Their ‘Today Testimony’ could lead to sharing their saving testimony.
Jesus hung on the cross to save us all, but He, too, began with a ‘Today Testimony’ as He prayed, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34). This led to one of the criminals who hung beside Him being saved that day (Luke 23:40-43). Because of Jesus’ example, we can share our ‘Today Testimony’ with others.
A Today Testimony is built on a Saving Testimony.
Have you ever struggled with sharing your testimony? Does telling your whole story seem too daunting? Then, how about sharing your ‘Today Testimony’? God is at work in your life every day, in small ways and in great ways. When your little one has a meltdown at the playground and you are able to hug him despite your anger and embarrassment, credit God for giving you patience. When you can joyfully celebrate the birth of your best friend’s fifth child, despite your fourth miscarriage and your ‘still empty arms,’ credit the joy to your growing faith and trust in a sovereign God. Your ‘Today Testimony’ could lead someone to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. What an awesome privilege that would be!
Memory Verse: “...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have….” 1 Peter 3:15
In Isaiah 6:1-4, Isaiah saw God in all His glory, and he was overwhelmed! How could he, a sinful man, living among a disobedient, sinful people, (the people of Judah), see the King, the Lord Almighty, and live? Recognizing his unworthiness, Isaiah cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined” (Is. 6:5). Yet, because of God’s great love for His children, He transforms us and makes us worthy (2 Thess. 1:11). He did this for Isaiah and He continues to do this for everyone who calls Him ‘Abba Father.’
Isaiah’s response to the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
(Is. 6:8), was immediate. Without knowing what he was being asked to do, or where he was being sent, he responded, “Here am I, Send me” (Is. 6:8). Having experienced God’s love and mercy, he no longer felt inadequate. He was ready to answer God’s call.
You too, have probably struggled with answering God’s call to serve Him. We want to know the minutest details. Where? When? How? Are we qualified? In evaluating my qualifications or ‘worthiness’ to answer God’s call, I was looking at the things the world told me I needed: experience, a perfect family, to be “good enough.” You probably have a similar list.
However, God sees us so differently from the way we see ourselves. In His eyes, we are worthy because He has made us worthy; the blood that Jesus shed on the cross qualifies us. We need only to have hearts that are willing to do His will. The rest is up to Him.
In Christ, we are competent for every calling.
I thank God for calling me to serve Him for those three years. I was blessed by the women we served, and those that I served alongside. We saw God at work in our families. My children were nurtured in God’s word, and that has been foundational in their lives. I am still friends with many of the moms from my group. I would have missed a great blessing had I said, “No,” to serving God.
Is God calling you? Do you hear His faint whisper calling you to step out in faith? Friend, even though you and I may not have a vision of the Almighty as Isaiah did, He still calls us to do His will. Let us put aside our reservations and our reasons, so that we may answer faithfully and boldly as Isaiah did, "Here am I. Send me" (Is. 6:8).
Memory Verse: “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
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