Tag Archives: psalm 23

At Home with the Lord

Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

Finally, remember the parable Jesus taught about the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7:

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

This is the Good News: there is no place like home! The Lord who is our Shepherd wants you and I to be at home with the Him…to dwell in the His house forever. But it isn’t just the place where we will dwell once we die. It is the place we dwell even today. It is a place of being certain that the goodness and mercy of the Good Shepherd are following us here and now.

As we live on this earth, we journey through places of peace…places of blessing…even places of deep darkness. But by the grace of God are found by our Good Shepherd, where we have always belonged. At home with The Lord!

Take time today to rest in the place where you feel most at home with God…and thank him for being your Shepherd.

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The Good Shepherd’s Name

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
~Psalm 23:3b

The importance the Lord’s name is highlighted in Matthew chapter 16:13-20:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Each day, I am faced with the reality that there are good people with good ideas I can follow, but there is only one Christ. Moreover, by God’s goodness, you and I are shepherded for the sake of His kingdom, His reign as the Son of the living God. As we journey with The Lord, opportunities cross our paths and we are able proclaim who we say He is, not just with words but with love and good deeds.

What opportunities have you noticed…have I noticed? Will we respond for the sake of the Good Shepherd’s name?

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Sitting on Green Grass

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
~Psalm 23:1-3a

My summer adventures have ended but my spiritual journey hasn’t. I have been searching the New Testament to learn all I can about The Lord who is my Shepherd. If you have been challenged to commit Psalm 23 to memory, perhaps some more reflections will help.

Remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000…the gospel of Mark records the miracle in this way…chapter 6:32-44:

And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

It is easy to focus on the miracle of lots of people being fed lots of food. But there is more to this miracle than physical needs being met.

The Good Shepherd does not let them dwell in desolation and isolation. As one with authority to provide for all our wants and needs, Jesus commands the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. He is going to provide for their spiritual and emotional needs also.

Our Shepherd knows that whether we are introverts or extroverts there are times when it is simply not good for us to be alone. Food always seems taste better when someone else cooks it and when eaten with others. Ultimately, our souls crave belonging…relationships with God and with others.

The last few days, I have been looking around. Am I, letting the Good Shepherd lead? Are the people near me the ones Jesus wants me grouped with? Am I sitting on green grass?

If you’re standing, take a moment and sit down on green grass…say the first verses of Psalm 23…then let me know how I can pray for you by leaving a comment or reply. We are on this journey together.

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A Place Called Home

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

The last day of the return trip, I woke early. At 4:30am I was ready to begin the 12 hour drive from Park City, Utah to Oakdale, CA, but my traveling companions were still sound asleep. I prayed through the words of Psalm 23 and praised the Lord for His steadfast love revealed in the way grace upon grace was given mile after mile.

For those who know and trust that the Lord is their Shepherd, forever is the time frame of their spiritual lives. But there is a forever time frame we live in now. It is apparent when we reflect on the past and realize that indeed, goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our lives even here on earth. Moreover, The Lord who has forgiven deeds of the past will not let you and me wander around alone in the future.

The Lord is our forever faithful Shepherd.

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Places of Hospitality

  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
~Psalm 23:5

 For me, traveling can illicit fears.  Will the car break down?  Will the weather be favorable?  Will the tarp fail to adequately cover the load we had in the bed of the pick-up?  Will a truck suddenly jack-knife?  Will there be decent places to eat along the way?  These fears and worries can become the “enemy” that keeps me from fully enjoying the journey.

As we traveled we were blessed by wonderful hospitality and memorable meals.  In Washington we had fresh crab from the Puget Sound with friends and then more from the Hood Canal with family.  In Minnesota we had local beef and fresh vegetables right off the prairie!    

We had more than we could have asked for or imagined receiving.  Day by day we prayed for God to bless our journey from “here to there” with safety and all that we would want.  Mile by mile, we  felt an anointing of peace and the  overflowing joy of God’s presence.

The Lord is not only our Shepherd but also our host providing places of hospitality each leg of our journey.  

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Places of Blessing

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
 ~Psalm 23:3b

In the spiritual life paying attention to what is going on around us is essential for discerning if we are on the the path of righteousness The Lord has laid out before us. While driving State after State, speed limit signs inform us of how to maintain the right and legal speed limit.

Other cross country trips have taught me how to know when we have entered a new state even before seeing the “Welcome to ____” sign. Did you know the exit signs in each State begin again at “1”? On this trip I realized that the landscape of my spiritual journey has changed through the years. I travel along state by state beginning again with each new season of life and ministry. By faith I trust The Lord to provide all I could ever want or need in life, one day at a time.

The Good Shepherd gently invites us to places of blessing by following right paths, to the praise and glory of His name!

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Places of Peace

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
~Psalm 23:1-2

Most often, I have read these words and thought of my relationship with God in very simple terms. I am a sheep and He is my Shepherd.

But driving from Northern California to Washington, I watched the sun and the clouds create shadows on the green pastures of Oregon. Surely God was present with us on our journey and inviting me to rest mile by mile. Then driving from Washington to Minnesota, we followed quiet river waters along Highway 90 through Montana. Surely God was present with us and inviting me to let my soul be restored mile by mile.

If sheep are going to survive, the shepherd must lead them on a journey to places where their physical needs are met. The Lord leads us on a journey to the places where our physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met. The Good Shepherd leads us to places of peace.

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Joining The Lord

The following account of Richard Rohr’s Humbling Experience convicted me of the need to make sure I have Psalm 23 memorized.

Americans come at life expecting everything to work. It always has. I was born with seven silver spoons in my mouth. I had a strong family and was loved from the beginning. My parents paved a path for me. Do you realize what a head start that is? It’s wonderful
But there’s a dark side: People from privileged backgrounds expect that path always to be paved; they expect everything to work out. When it doesn’t, they’re not only disappointed, they feel wronged. They think, How dare reality not work out for me! Why should I have to suffer? How dare the air conditioner not work!
That explains the morose, quasi-depressed state of so many affluent countries and peoples. When you go to poor countries, these people who don’t have anything and for whom everything is going wrong from morning to night (and if you’ve there you’ll know that I’m not making this up) tend to be much happier than we are! And our tendency is to look and say they shouldn’t be happy, they have no reason to be happy. They don’t seem to have an agenda.
I remember visiting the Home for the Destitute and Dying in Jamaica. People lay in rags, with the smell and the lack of food and the sores. I thought, how could anybody live this way? From my world it was like hell. And yet I came as a priest to talk and pray with people. I’d stop and say, “Well, how are you?” They’d say, “Oh, fine.” And I’d want to say, “Fine? You’re not doing fine. You’re doing terribly! How can you say you’re doing fine?”
“Can I do anything for you?” I’d ask. One woman replied, “Oh just recite a psalm with me, Father, just recite a psalm.” And here the big Scripture man couldn’t think of a psalm (being a Catholic). This humble lady picked out my obvious embarrassment. Here I am, the great priest, coming to help her and I can’t even remember a psalm by heart. She sees it on my face and starts singing Psalm 23. “Just join in with me, Father. You just come along.”
There is a profound message here for our affluent culture. I knew I had met “the first in the Kingdom of God.”
~from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

Just as this Jamaican woman invited Father Rohr to join her as she sang Psalm 23, so too does God invite us to journey with Him as our Lord and Shepherd. Are you ready to join the Lord? I have been on vacation the past few weeks, but I am back. In the days ahead, I will make up for missing posts and share with you how I joined the Lord on my vacation which was quite a journey!