Links Daily Devotional

Jesus the Good Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3, Amplified)

Regardless of how many times I have traveled through Egypt, Jordan, and Israel with Under the Fig Tree Ministries facilitating in-depth Bible study trips, I continue to be captivated by the land of our ancestors in the faith.

For 14 days on my most recent trip, our hearts and minds were filled with God-inspired faith lessons as we experienced God’s Word in context. The intense heat of the wilderness and exhaustion from hiking several mountains felt oppressive, but the cool water of En Gedi refreshed our soul. We explored the Galilee where Jesus spent a majority of his time, and entered into the streets of Jerusalem. As a bonus, I ended my trip with two days of golf at Caesarea Golf Club, the only 18-hole course in Israel.

Every day I’m gaining more revelation that the Bible is not merely words on a page. It is alive and full of dynamic pictures portraying God’s love and provision for his people. As we moved through the Holy Land, we experienced four tangible pictures that King David described in the first few verses of Psalm 23.

“The Lord is my Shepherd…” One afternoon we stopped the bus in the middle of nowhere and watched a shepherd work with his flock. It’s amazing how the sheep know and follow only their shepherd’s voice. Every morning a shepherd will lead his flock to food and water and at night keep a watchful eye over them. Even though a shepherd will never bring harm to his flock, he will allow them to struggle over and through various obstacles. Jesus is our Shepherd. He provides, protects, and is with us in our struggle. Our responsibility is to trust his provision, to know his voice, and then choose to follow him.

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures…” When I think of green pastures, I picture a lush, dense covering of green grass similar to a fairway. However, the green pastures in Jordan and Israel are small tufts of wheat-like grass in the dry desert. Shepherds keep their flocks moving so they only eat one mouthful at a time leaving the root of the grass intact for future flocks. Although it is good to plan and have vision for the future, God gives us all that we need one day at a time. Our peace and joy will come when we are grateful for what we have today.

“The still and restful waters…” There are very few water sources in the desert and knowing where to find them can be the difference between life and death. The still and restful waters King David writes about are found in a wadi, a large canyon cut out by water and wind that are not always safe. A good shepherd leads his flock to drink safely and be refreshed by these pools of water. There are times in our lives where the mirage of a fresh pool of water draws us into danger. As we trust and keep our focus on Jesus, rest will come as he fills us with his living water.

“Paths of righteousness…” The hillsides in Jordan and Israel are full of crooked paths called paths of righteousness. A shepherd’s flock will spread out along these different paths, but because they are following his voice each sheep trusts the path they are on. God has a unique path for each of us. It’s not the path itself that is righteous, but it’s the one we are following who makes it righteous. When we know and follow Jesus’ voice, we can trust we are on the best path for our lives.

I am thankful for my Good Shepherd who provides for all of my needs, who leads me to green pastures, gives me his still waters, and who helps me walk the path he has chosen for me. I have done nothing to earn it, but he gives and provides for his own name’s sake. He loves us that much.

Tracy Hanson

August 6, 2012

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