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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
In describing the Lord as a shepherd, David wrote out of his own experience because he had spent his early years caring for sheep. Sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd for provision, guidance, and protection, The New Testament calls Jesus the good shepherd; the great Shepherd; and the head Shepherd.
When we allow God, our shepherd, to guide us, we have contentment. When we choose to sin and go our own way, however, we cannot blame God for the environment we create for ourselves. Our shepherd knows the “green meadows” and “peaceful streams” that will restore us. We will reach these places only by following him obediently. Rebelling against the shepherd’s leading is actually rebelling against our own best interests. We must remember this the next time we are tempted to go our own way rather than the shepherd’s way.
Death casts a frightening shadow over us because we are entirely helpless in its presence. We can struggle with other enemies—pain, suffering, disease, injury—but strength and courage cannot overcome death. It has the final word. Only one person can walk with us through death’s dark valley and bring us safely to the other side—the God of life, our shepherd. Because life is uncertain, we should follow this shepherd who offers us eternal comfort. (NLT)
Psalm 23:1-6 – The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
The psalmist wrote, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” — Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Debra Pierce (Massachusetts) titled her story “GRANDPA’S CANE;” here is Debra’s story:
“In my bedroom closet is a metal cane with a gray rubber handle. It belonged to my grandfather and then to my father. During my father’s battle with cancer, he walked with slow measured steps while gripping Grandpa’s cane. As the years pass, the day may come when Grandpa’s cane will also help me to walk.
“My grandfather’s cane reminds me of scripture, which is the staff I lean on in my spiritual walk, especially during difficult times. When my father died, a staff of comfort to me was Psalm 68:5: ‘A father to the fatherless . . . is God.’ When I was emotionally and physically exhausted from executing my father’s estate, ‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint’ (Jer. 31:25) promised rest and renewal. And when a lump in my breast filled me with fear, I leaned on Matthew 9:22, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well’ (NRSV), for hope and healing.
“Psalm 23 is a staff I lean on for comfort. It promises that whatever we are coping with, the Good Shepherd is with us for emotional and spiritual support. As we traverse our valleys of grief, doubt, fear, and depression, we have a staff that reassures us that we never walk alone: ‘Surely I am with you always’ (Matt. 28:20).”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – God’s presence steadies our steps through the darkest valleys.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your staff that provides emotional comfort and spiritual support. Amen.
Prayer Focus: TO LEAN ON SCRIPTURE
To read other stories in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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