A Shepherd King

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.” – Psalm 23:1-3 CEB

Psalm 23 is the best known and perhaps the best-known passage in all of Holy Scripture. Take a moment and read this short Psalm twice through, perhaps in the Common English Bible translation quoted above. Now that you have read and re-read the Psalm, why do you think it is so well known and universally loved? Think about David’s experience as a shepherd and how that may have impacted the words he put to paper. What, if any, comfort do you find in these words?

As this season of Advent draws to a close, what needs do you have? Are you in need of some “grassy meadows” or “restful waters”? From what “enemies” do you need protection and deliverance? Use the inspired words of King David to help you journal and to provide spiritual refreshment and comfort to your soul.

After you journal and talk about these things to God, ask Him to empower you by his Spirit so that you can look back at them without fear and see His hand at work in your life this Advent season.

It Takes Courage to Wait

I don’t like waiting.

There, I said it. I suspect that I’m not alone in my dislike of waiting. I get annoyed with lengthy TSA lines at the airport, with checkout lines at the mall, and with red lights when I am rushing around during the holiday season. Ironic isn’t it, considering that Advent is the season of waiting.

I used to think that waiting on God was like sitting in a waiting room, mindlessly and purposelessly thumbing through months-old copies of Us Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar. (And just in case you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy! I recently discovered this tidbit of useless knowledge: doctor’s offices can get discounted magazine subscriptions for their waiting rooms from companies like EPSCO mags.) Waiting on God, I’ve since discovered, isn’t to be viewed as a detour from our life plans but rather an essential part of the plan. It’s not just about what we receive at the end of the wait, waiting if first and foremost about what we will become in the waiting. God can and does use the times of waiting to discover new things about ourselves and about Him in order that we might be better agents of restoration in this world.

I don’t like to wait. I struggle to wait well. How about you?

Joseph and Mary: Humble Wondering

“Mary said, With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49

God could have chosen a royal princess to be the mother of Jesus. He could have used a rich, influential man to be Jesus’ adoptive father. Instead, God chose a hardworking carpenter from a small town in Galilee and a young woman from humble circumstances to be the ones who gave birth to and raise the Messiah.

Take a moment to read the words of Mary again from the first chapter of Luke’s gospel. Can you sense both her wonder and confusion about what was happening to her? Don’t forget, it took an angel to explain the details to her and even then it was hard to believe! It took that same angel to convince Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful to him and become pregnant by another man. Both believed the angelic messengers, and God was pleased to begin his redemptive plan through them. Can you imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to have God work in this way? Luke tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

This Advent season, what are you pondering in your heart? What are some great things God has done for you? Make a mental list or write down some things that happened in your life that clearly indicate God is at work. Then remember as you look forward to the future how God uses the humble to accomplish his purposes, no matter what the circumstances. Follow Mary’s lead when she responded to the angel’s message, “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).