Psalm 23 [NIV] | 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, a I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
One of many well-known scriptures in the Bible is Psalm 23, and it is filled with God’s promises. In these words, God promises we lack nothing and he leads the steps of our lives. He refreshes our soul when we are down or worried. Our Father guides us to everlasting life through the gift of his Son, Jesus. Our Lord promises we need not fear challenges we encounter for he is standing by us. His word and commands comfort us with direction for how we live our lives to the glory of his name. With his word, God shows his unending love and richly blesses us.
Is it any wonder why Psalm 23 would be so popular among God’s people? Wherever we are in life God speaks to us in these powerful words. There is such peace, comfort, and strength for a new day. The Lord is our shepherd, the one who stands in the storms of life with us. Jesus tells us, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). Our Shepherd approaches us directly in his Word through the Holy Spirit and lives among us. Our Good Shepherd has our Father’s authority, and he shares it with all who believe in Christ. Our Shepherd meets real needs, and we recognize his voice and follow him. Jesus has proven his sacrificial love by willingly laying down his life on the cross for the sheep.
Whatever situation we may face in life, Psalm 23 can give us hope and direction. God never promised that each day of our lives would be perfect or that he would answer every prayer as we desire. He promises that his will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. God is aware of the desires in our hearts, and he knows what is best for our lives. We live life today in the sure hope that our cup overflows with his deep love.
Lord, you are our shepherd, and we thank you for constantly looking over us. Help us to see more of you and less of the darkness around us. Lead us through the still waters and give us strength for a new day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
What situation(s) in life are you facing today can you take to God as you read Psalm 23?
Matthew 16:5-12 [NIV] | 5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus can use our situations in life to help teach us and grow in our relationship with him. In our reading the disciples were following Jesus when the realized they had forgotten to bring along bread on their journey. While the disciples were worrying about bread, Jesus used the opportunity to teach of the danger of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yeast is a key ingredient in bread, for it causes the dough to rise. “Yeast” in this passage symbolizes evil. Jesus was teaching that just as only a small amount of yeast was needed to make a batch of bread rise, so the evil teachings and hypocrisy of corrupt leaders could infiltrate and infect the entire society.
We too must be on our guard against evil messages our society sends out to the people that oppose God’s Word and our trust in Him. Jesus rebuked the disciples for hardness of heart, but here Matthew focused on their inability to grasp his true power. These men, closest to Jesus, would carry a huge responsibility after he was gone. Jesus wanted to be sure that they were getting the message. Jesus has the power to overcome and the power to prove. As we look around, we can see the miracles of God at work. Like the disciples, Jesus wants to make sure we do not lose site God and his power.
We face situations in life when we may wonder if God is listening or cares. As we spend time in God’s Word, we are reminded of the many miracles Jesus performed during his earthly ministry. We must be patient in prayer as we wait for God to respond. The yeast of the world would have us look to our own solutions, other means of placing our trust, and ultimately directing us away from Jesus. We are to keep our focus on Jesus, the author and protector of life. God absolutely loves and cares for us all.
Lord, help me keep my eyes focused on you and not allow the evil of the world to infiltrate my life. When I face times of doubt or fear situations in life, may I remember that you concurred sin, death, and the Devil. Keep my heart pure as I place my trust in you. Amen
Today I will focus on the Word of God and not allow the evil in the world direct my thoughts, words, and actions.
Genesis 46:2-7 [NIV] | 2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” 5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.
It is interesting how God spoke to his people in the Old Testament, it is as though he were standing face to face. Perhaps we would welcome a conversation with God in a vision to help us clearly see the path he has prepared for our lives. In today’s world when someone speaks out verbally to God and says, “Here I am,” we question their mental state. God continues to speak to us today in several ways. He communicates through prayer, in reading and hearing his Word, and in mutual conversation with others.
Our challenge in listening to God is that we are not always sure God is the one speaking. Our minds get confused or blurred with the world’s view of life, the evil forces that work against us, and Satan. Listening to God requires a great deal of concentration and time. Imagine the trust Jacob had when God said, “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there…” And Jacob responds: “So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.” Trust – Jacob had a tremendous amount of trust in God enabling him to uproot his family and follow.
If we honestly assess our lives, we would have to confess our failures in our lack of God with everything. We find ourselves holding tight to the things we fear we may lose. We often trust in ourselves first and only turn to God when struggles or challenges are beyond our personal control. God has provided a Helper to lead and guide us. The Holy Spirit is God living in us every moment of our lives. Our God speaks boldly to us, we just need to take time and listen. We praise Jesus for sending the Holy Spirit into our lives enabling us to grow in our trust in God.
Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to put our trust in you with everything. Help us in times of doubt and reveal to us your will for our lives. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Today I will ask God to help me increase my faith and trust in him.
Genesis 45:4-9 [NIV] | 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
Waiting and watching for God’s will to be done in our lives can be a challenge. We find ourselves waiting and wondering about the mind of God. In our text for today Joseph was living the life of luxury. God had rescued Joseph from his brother and made him an equal to Pharaoh over Egypt. Throughout Joseph’s journey God was leading Joseph to a greater plan – to reunite Joseph with his family.
We often pray that God’s will be done in our lives, but we struggle in waiting to see what God is doing. God does not always share with us the path he lays out; he does not provide a blueprint explaining the final outcome of a situation. Each of us is called to follow in blind faith trusting God knows what is best for our lives. As we face our daily challenges, we take each moment of our journey in complete confidence that God is in control. When all may seem lost or out of control, we cling to the hope and promises God gives us in Jesus.
God has a wonderful plan that each of us will one day reunite as a family of believers. Sin has robbed us of the life God intended and separates us from him, and our loved ones in death. Like Joseph and his family, God takes us through the highs and lows of living in a sinful world with a promise and hope. Jesus died to give us life today and into eternity. Our focus is on Jesus taking each day as a gift from God. We can live knowing God has a greater plan and we pray we have the vision of Joseph, “7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Lord, we are thankful for the gift of Jesus and we boldly pray that your will be done in our lives. When we face times of doubt or struggle, lead us to the cross of Jesus. Help us walk patiently with you as we live our lives for you. Amen
Today I will focus and Jesus and in faith trust in God’s plan for my life.
Matthew 13:47-50 [NIV] | 47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As we look around the world, we may be asking ourselves, “Why does God allow all this evil to continue?” It is hard to understand why a God filled with love tolerates the evil and at the same time allows those who entice evil to prosper. We are reminded that earth is not our final destination and that the Prince of the World, is Satan. Sin has entered this world and the final judgment will not take place until Jesus returns. Only then will there be no pain and suffering caused by sin.
The parable of the fishing net deals with the dividing of people much as the parable of the wheat and weeds does. While the parable of the wheat and weeds highlighted the length of time during which good and evil people must coexist, this parable focuses on the final judgment day. As the net catches all kinds of fish, the gospel message will go out to all kinds of people. At the end of the age, the angels will “sort the fish,” separating evil people from righteous. Like the wheat that will be gathered into the barns, the good fish will be put into baskets. We look for the Day when Christ returns to rescue us from evil.
As we live our lives today, we are reminded that God is with us in each step of our journey. He uses our current situations to draw us closer to him and increase our faith. God does not allow sin and suffering to pass by without using it to grow us into stronger disciples. God is fully aware of our situation. “27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:27-28). We trust in the One who leads us as we live our lives for Christ and share his love with others.
Heavenly Father, we cry out to you to rescue us for the pains and struggles of the world. We pray each day that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Whatever situation we may face, use it to strengthen trust in you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Today I will seek God in helping me to understand the current challenges I may be facing.
Genesis 40:15 [NIV] | I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon. [NIV]
Joseph was the favorite son among twelve. Being jealous, his brothers sold him off as a slave removing him from the family. The Lord was with Joseph and while living in the house of his Egyptian master, the household prospered. Life was good until Potiphar’s wife wrongly accused Joseph of attempting to sleep with her. Joseph was falsely imprisoned for a sin he did not commit. While in prison he interpreted the dream of the cupbearer. Joseph asked that he not be forgotten when the cupbearer was released. It would be more than two years before Joseph would be remembered and released to become second in command of all that the Pharaoh of Egypt owned.
Joseph always had favor in the eyes of God, yet he faced a great deal of tragedy. Why would God allow Joseph’s family to reject him? Why would God allow Joseph to be falsely imprisoned and forgotten? God was preparing Joseph for greater things that could not see. After years of being in prison, Joseph received the opportunity to be released from the dungeon. Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret a dream. He tells Pharaoh, “I cannot do it… but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires. (Genesis 41:16). Never losing hope, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph became second in command and after seven years of bountiful harvest, he named his two sons after God’s faithfulness: First son, Manasseh, because God made Joseph forget all his troubles, and his second son, Ephraim, because God made Joseph fruitful in the land of his suffering.
When we pray for God’s rescue, there are times it may feel as though God has abandoned us. Certainly Joseph must have felt deserted at times. God knows what is best and he may be preparing us for something greater during our times of suffering. We may feel at times God does not care or love us. It is in suffering we cling to our faith and trust in God’s faithfulness. God hears our prayers and answers them in his timing and the way he sees best. We do not know what our earthy future will look like, but we do know our ultimate hope in Jesus. Jesus came to rescue us from sin, death, and Satan. We need not fear our future for we have been rescued. God has everything under his control.
Heavenly Father, in times of suffering and doubt, help us place our trust in you, the one who already knows our future. May your will be done in our lives as we seek to live daily for you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Today I will take my worries and fears to the Lord in prayer trusting in his promise to be faithful.
Matthew 11:20, 25-27 [NIV] | 20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent… 25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
In recent days it is easy to see why God would denounce towns and people that do not seek God and repent of their ways. Some wonder if the end times are near due to all the violence we see in our society. Last week we experienced two shootings at a local mall, the news was filled with violence over accusations that the election was filled with flaws. Social media is overflowing with negativity and judgment. You cannot help but wonder, “Has God denounced our society for unrepentant sins?”
As Christians, we are blessed with the gift of faith in Jesus being chosen by God to have the hidden things revealed to us. In our Baptism God calls us by name and declares is his children. Like Jesus, we too can praise our God who is the Lord of heaven and earth. As we witness the chaos that surrounds us, we have peace in the assurance that this life is not the end resolve. We live in the hope of new life that a time is coming when there will be no more pain and suffering. We rejoice in the faith and knowledge given to us through the Holy Spirit.
God has not given up on his creation. He chose to use as his messengers. For others to know God, God reveals himself through the Holy Spirit working in and through us. In Christ we are given the opportunity to transform lives – to point people to Jesus. How fortunate we are that Jesus has clearly revealed to us our Father, his truth, and how we can know him. The lost can only approach God through Jesus—he truly is the only way (John 14:6). We can transform our world one life at a time through Jesus. It’s time we share what we have in Christ with others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for reaving your Son, Jesus, to us. We praise for the gift of life we have today and into eternity. Help us see the opportunities we have to serve other. Motivate us to be your witnesses in a world that clearly needs more of you. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Today I will give thanks to God for his gift of saving faith.
Matthew 10:28-30 [NIV] | 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Life is filled with fear. We fear for our safety in a world that can be violent. We fear for our lives when we hear about random shootings. We fear for our lives when a disease takes over our body and all may seem lost. God knows our fears. Jesus experienced our fears during his life on earth. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul… Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” We fall in our Father’s care.
No matter what life challenges we may be facing we are constantly in our Father’s care. God despises sin and casts his judgement upon it. Make no mistake, sin comes with a penalty – death, but Jesus overcame death. In our fear we cling to the promises and hope God gives us in his unconditional love and care through Jesus. Unfortunately, in our sinful state we are afraid of the troubles we face in life. Satan tempts us into believing God does not care, listen, or concern himself with our situations. God cares.
God cares not only about the “big” problems and situations of life, but also about the tiniest details. Consider for a moment how much we care for a penny or it’s purchasing power. What we deem as worthless or of little value, God sees as a treasure to be highly regarded. We are to fear the one who can destroy our faith and trust in God. When we begin to see and experience ourselves becoming distant from God, we can use the words of Jesus, “Get behind me Satan.” God’s Word is powerful and alive working in and through our lives. Our fear, our reverence, and our love for God is all we need. Do not be afraid for God is with you.
Lord, there are times in our lives we face fear and doubt. We praise you for the love and care you have for each of us. May your Holy Spirit lead us to the cross as we place our lives in your hands. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Today I will place my fears in the hands of God and trust in his care.
Matthew 10:16-20 [NIV] | 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Can you imagine how honored the apostles must have felt being selected by Jesus to follow him? After all, Jesus could perform amazing miracles like healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead. But then we read in Matthew how the people and authorities will respond. I wonder how likely the disciples would have given up everything to follow Jesus had he started out with his warning? As followers of Jesus, we too are honored but will face persecution on the account of Christ, our Savior.
Twelve brave men accepted the challenge to show their love by being sacrificial followers all the while knowing life would be difficult. We too are called to a great sacrifice in loving our neighbors and serving them in the name of Jesus. As we look around in this dark sin filled world, we know that standing up for Jesus will bring pain and suffering to those who follows Jesus. No where in the Bible does it say life will be simple, safe, or easy. It does say we will face times of trouble and hardship on the account of Christ.
God does not leave us alone in our journey as his disciples. God promises he will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). God sent his Holy Spirit to work in and through us delivering the words we need to speak. Faith involves action and the two cannot be separated. God calls us to be his witness to those who do not know Jesus. It is an expectation of Jesus and James reminds us that faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). God never promised life would be easy, but he did promise that Jesus is enough to save us from this life of sin, death, and the devil. It is time we boldly share our faith so others can experience the love we have in Jesus. It truly is an honor we have to be a follower of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, you are the creator of all things once made perfect but defiled by sin. We praise you for the gift of Jesus to rescue and redeem us from a life of sin. Lead us to be bold witnesses of your love and mercy. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Today I will place my trust in God as I life a life of Christ in a world that rejects me. I will seek to be a witness for Jesus even if it may cause pain and suffering by…
Matthew 9:9-13 [NIV] | 9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
It was not the first time Jesus and Matthew laid eye on each other; Jesus made the journey past Matthew’s tax booth several times. This time it was different, Jesus walked right up to Matthew’s booth and said two simple words: “Follow me.” Matthew recognized that Jesus was not inviting him; Jesus was commanding him. So Matthew got up and followed Jesus. Matthew’s uncompromising obedience would cause great change in his life. Like Matthew, God calls, rather commands, us to make a radical change from our sinful life to follow him.
What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus? When Matthew gave up his lucrative life, he called his friends together to meet Jesus. Matthew became a witness of Jesus and desired to introduce Christ to his friends. Matthew, who left behind a material fortune to gain a spiritual fortune, was proud to be associated with Jesus. Jesus welcomed Matthew’s friend who were fellow tax collectors and other notorious sinners. Jesus is waiting for us to invite our friends in fellowship regardless of the past. TO follow Jesus is to bring others along with you.
It is true that Christians are called to a righteous lifestyle. But it’s wrong to think that we witness to Jesus’ gospel when we refuse to associate with people who don’t believe or believe in ways different from our choices in life. The disciple who sits in a tavern with a friend, or goes to the office party, would appear to be more like Jesus than the one who righteously stays away and only connects with other Christians. We are called to reach out to people who sin and lost; The Gospel message of Jesus can change anyone. It is time to be in the world among sinners with the message of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to save us sinners from our sin. Help us to follow your calling to be Jesus’ disciples in a dark world filled with sin. Lead us to cast aside the things that inhibit us from being bold expressions of your love.
Today I will share my faith with a family member or friend I have regular contact by …