"Today's Devotion" For May 17, 2007
Read: Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17
THE ONLY THING WE NEED TO KNOW
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want...Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:1, 6)
One Sunday School teacher gave her fourth graders a challenging task. She asked them to memorize one of the most quoted Scripture of all, Psalm 23. She gave the children a month to learn the Psalm and they attacked it with enthusiasm. One of the little boys, Billy, was really excited about the task, but he just couldn't seem to memorize the Psalm. He practiced and practiced and practiced, but to no avail. He just couldn't remember the Psalm. Then the day came when his Sunday School class was scheduled to recite the Psalm in front of the congregation. Billy was as nervous as could be. When his turn to recite came, he reluctantly stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, "The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know!"
If you think about, Billy's simple answer is cute, but it doesn't necessarily meet the needs of many adults. It's too simple. It's too imprecise. It doesn't have enough details. We live in a world where simple answers are suspect and anytime someone says that there's a simple answer to the challenges of life that threaten our safety and comfort, our first tendency is to laugh at them and consider them naive. How can there be any simple answers to rampant crime, failing marriages, broken families, rising violence, and a host of other societal maladies that threaten people's existence and challenge any sense of hope? It's not possible, according to the world's standards, that there is any way to handle such issues spiritually. Little Billy's rendition of Psalm 23's simplicity makes for good story telling, but in reality life isn't that simple. Or is it?
In Scripture, on numerous occasions, God makes it a point to let us know that no matter what challenges we may face, what dangers may touch us, and what fears may bind us, He is always present with us and will protect us, comfort us, and strengthen us so we can overcome those things in life that would harm us. The power of Sin is such that it works diligently and vigorously to lead us to despair in the face of many trials and challenges to our faith and our lives. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom and love, grace and mercy, reaches out His hand to us and lifts us up above the fray and reminds us that He is the One who saves us. As Psalm 23 says so clearly, "even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (v.2).
God's final revelation is that our true and only Shepherd is Jesus Christ. He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) who has come to redeem His people from their sins. He has come into the world for all humanity and His promise is, no matter what happens to those who have faith in Him, that nothing can keep us away from His love and forgiveness which He won for us by His suffering, death, and resurrection. Little Billy's announcement, "The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know," is far more profound and meaningful than we might want to admit. Ultimately, because we are in Christ Jesus, it really is that simple - He is all we need to know to live a life of peace, hope, and joy. No matter what dangers we may face, whether as troops in a combat zone, a police officer on crime ridden streets, a firefighter facing an intense blaze, or as a homeless person on the streets of the city, there is hope and comfort offered by God in Jesus Christ who is our Good Shepherd. And that's all we really need to know.
Prayer: Father, I thank You for all the blessings You've given me, especially as I face the dangers and hardships of life which would take away my hope and joy, and fill me with fear and trembling. You have assured me by faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior from Sin, death, and Satan, that my sins are forgiven and that nothing can take me away from Your love. You comfort me by the power of Your Word and Spirit with the sure and certain hope that there's no danger so great or hardship so intense that can separate me from Your love and forgiveness. Help me, Father, to live my life filled with the simple reality that knowing Jesus as my Good Shepherd leads me to eternal life and gives me the courage of faith to share Your love in Him with others, no matter where they're from or what they've done. Help me to live my life filled with hope and joy for all to see, no matter the circumstances I may face, so that I may be a living witness of what it is to know that Jesus, the Lord, is my Shepherd, and in Him there is no want. In His precious name. Amen.
Copyright © 2007 by Rev. Richard J. Boeck, Jr. All rights reserved.