A re-post from 2009 since my Psalm for the week is once again Psalm 23. Enjoy!
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” in John 10:11. As I read Psalm 23 in the New Living translation, I personalized each line which led to some useful meditation. Maybe some will find it helpful.
The LORD is my shepherd
YOU are my shepherd
I have all that I need
I have all that I need
He lets me rest in green meadows
YOU let me rest
He leads me besides peaceful streams
YOU lead me
He renews my strength
YOU renew my strength
He guides me along right paths
YOU guide me
bringing honor to his name
YOU allow me to bring honor to YOUR name
Even when I walk thru the darkest valley, I will not be afraid
I will not be afraid
for you are close beside me
YOU are close beside me
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me
YOU protect and comfort me
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies
YOU prepare a feast for me
You honor me by anointing my head with oil
YOU honor me
My cup overflows with blessings
I overflow with blessings
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life
YOUR goodness and unfailing love pursue me
I will live in the house of the LORD forever
I will live with YOU forever
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” in Jn 10:11. When taken with 1 Pet 2:24 and 5:4, it seems appropriate to pray this Psalm this holy week. Thanks to Peter C. Craige.
I think it is safe to say that Jesus would never have imagined much less dreamed about how his name is being marketed today!
I love Jesus but I enjoy spending time with Paul, even though I have never met Paul personally! Jesus, oh yes, we have met personally and do so often! Of course since Paul points the way to Jesus, I greatly appreciate–value, treasure, even memorize what he has to say!
I don’t remember ever having had a crisis about Jesus versus Paul. Note: I have had many crises unrelated to theological issues! Admittedly, I was more Pauline in my early days as a Christian in a Bible Church and definitely I have become more Jesus centered in the last decade. I value my friends who have kept me focused on the gospel, the good news about Jesus that Paul so clearly explains in 1 Cor 15. Staying focused on the gospel helps all of us to remain centered in what is truly the good news! Kingdom focused–yes! Justification by faith–yes! Scott McKnight in a CT article, Jesus vs. Paul summarizes well some tricky theological issues most of us may have missed. Following are two paragraphs towards the end that sum up what he is trying to say:
There is something here that courses through the pages of the Gospels: Jesus and John see themselves as the ones who complete Israel’s story, and their story is the saving story. This is exactly what Paul said the gospel was. Jesus may have spoken of kingdom, and Paul may have spoken of justification, but underneath both kingdom and justification is Christology: It is the story about Jesus, who is Messiah and Lord and who brings the kingdom and justifies sinners by faith
But if we begin with gospel, and if we understand gospel as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, then we will find what unifies Jesus and Paul—that both witness to Jesus as the center of God’s story. The gospel is the core of the Bible, and the gospel is the story of Jesus. Every time we talk about Jesus, we are gospeling. Telling others about Jesus leads to both the kingdom and justification—but only if we begin with Jesus
Imagine the scene in Mark 4:35-41
The disciples are in the boat trying not to lose their boat and avoid drowning and Jesus is asleep in the back. When they wake him up, they ask, “Don’t you care that we are perishing”?
Jesus response is not what I would expect. “Why are you acting so cowardly? Where is your faith?”
Is it cowardly to be afraid you are about to die?
I think of being a coward as running away from something; not doing something out of fear of the consequences.
What the disciples (and I) don’t get is that when Jesus is in our boat, when he is with us, we are safe and there is no need to fear the consequences. Big waves, fierce wind, feeling unproductive, unfulfilled, frustrated, angry–trust me says Jesus.
I find it interesting that after Jesus stops the storm, the disciples became fearful–actually, they were caused to fear (passive) with a great fear.
Why? Because of the awesome display of the power of God.
I love what comes next, “Who is this guy?” Even the wind and waves obey him!
Seems like there are two kinds of fear here–a self-centered fear and a God-centered fear. In the storm they were afraid to die, afraid they were being left alone to make it with out any help. Faced with self-centered fear, they might have done anything to get out of the situation–including insulting their teacher, “don’t you care?”
But the other kind of fear is a God-centered fear, the kind that causes you to fall down and say, “ok God, I surrender, I give up.” A fear that produces reverence and awe. A safe yet holy fear. I want to have a God-centered fear but tend to have a self-centered fear.
Does a self-centered fear lead us to doubt that God really cares?
What do you fear today?
I do not lack.
I will not fear.
When Jesus is my shepherd these two phrases from Psalm 23 become possible.
After reading in Psalm 23 this morning, I tried to enjoy simply being with the Shepherd. While doing so, I let our two dogs in my lap. After much love and many licks, rather than settling down and being content to be with me, they wanted to get down and go do something else. How often I am like that!
Well, I didn’t try to control the dogs and make them stay in my lap because I was enjoying them–I let them go to do whatever dogs do! Reminds me of the picture here. As my shepherd, Jesus has his hand on me, loves me as a child and yet respects me as an adult and allows me to get down and run around when I think I need to do so.
As a child, I experienced issues of abandonment, abuse and co-dependence. But, reflecting on Psalm 23, Jesus meets into the deepest of these needs.
You don’t reject me
You don’t harm me or want to harm me
You don’t make me do the things I don’t want to do or should not do
You protect me
You love me
You bless me
I am full
I do not fear
I do not lack
Yahweh is my shepherd
Second post from John, writing the day before his wife died. Deeply moving.
L is resting more comfortably. She’s quiet, no longer speaking. The finish line is in sight and she’s fading from this life, preparing for the next. Her heavenly Father is standing at the finish line with open arms, the Holy Spirit is filling her with courage and the heart to complete the race well, Jesus is holding her hand leading her on cheering, “I am with you always.” He’s looking over His shoulder and has assured me that “I am with you always too!” There’s a comfort in my soul knowing He alone can heal my wounded heart and be the joy, love and courage I need for this last season of the race. The world feels like it is shaking and shifting. Be still my soul, take courage – your heart is anchored in the holy of holies in the presence of the Father, held safe and sure by Jesus.
Even if you do not consider yourself a leader, I think this one is for you. If you follow Jesus!
To be honest, I don’t think I handle criticism very well. As I have learned to let go of my need for control, I am better but I still have a long way to go. And according to Don Miller, if I am a leader, I better learn how to love my enemies because criticism is unavoidable. Miller writes
People who lead get criticized, period. You are being criticized because you have not been silent and you have not been passive and that’s a good thing. When somebody criticizes you, it’s a compliment of sorts. Passive people avoid criticism.
When you get criticized you are given the opportunity to show kindness in return, which is a character trait of some of the greatest leaders in the history of the world.
Here are a couple of passages which do not appear to be exclusively written for leaders!
- Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
- Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Luke 6:35 But clove your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil
His post includes a cute little video on loving your enemy as well as a sermon by John Piper on loving our enemies.