Reading: Psalm 107
He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest;
he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths.
Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD (NIV).*
I wish I could say that I was always steadfast in my love for the LORD and steadfast in the pursuit of His will and purpose for my life. But in reality my walk with God has been cyclical. There have been times when I have sensed God’s great love and intimacy, and other times when I have followed the Lord from a distance.
In this concluding portion of Psalm 107, we see the cyclical nature of our love for God on full display. As people cry out to the LORD in their distress, He hears and answers their prayers. The LORD blesses them abundantly. He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle.
But with increased prosperity, people often forget God who brought the blessing. They assume that wealth and good times have arrived simply because of their own effort. Yes, God expects us to exert some effort. But we can put in effort and get no increase. Ultimately, God is the source of every blessing. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).
When we forget to be thankful, we set ourselves on a downward spiral where again we will soon need to repent and call out to God for mercy. We need national and personal steadfastness to the LORD.
Response: Father God, thank you for my personal story of redemption. Help me to always remain thankful. I don’t want to be trapped in a cycle. Help me to be steadfast in pursuing your will. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you steadfast or cyclical in your pursuit of God? How can you become more steadfast in your faith?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
If there is a biblical recipe or prescription for the good life, it can be found in the words of this psalm. This is a psalm that drips with satisfaction. It oozes with the very fullness of life; it overflows with a quiet peace. There is a mellow ripeness to these words that runs down your chin, lights a spark in your eye, and puts a spring in your step.
The first line is the key to it all. Is the LORD your shepherd? If He is, then all the rest follows: the refreshing, the goodness, and the love, simply come trailing along behind Him as you follow in His steps. This is so easy, so obvious; you can miss it, because it seems far too simple.
We live in a world that is in feverish pursuit of the good life. The self-centred pursuit of happiness has become the crowning, but ever elusive goal. The word ‘pursuit’ says it all. Apparently, happiness is something we are to chase after.
What a profoundly different model for the good life is found within the words of this Psalm. The good life, which in our hearts we all seek, is anchored in the Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Good Shepherd. Listen to his words, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” John 10:14 (NIV).
It is in following Him, rather than following our own desires, that happiness comes. There is an abundance that comes into play the moment we surrender our stubborn will to the Good Shepherd.
Response: O LORD my God, I want to follow after you. Dear Jesus, be my Good Shepherd, now and throughout this life that you have given me. I love you because you first loved me. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do self-centered pursuits leave us feeling empty?