December 25, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

“Finding Joy in the Shepherd’s Staff”

Tracie Miles, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker

 

Key Verse:

Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and staff, they comfort me.”  (NIV)

 

Devotion:

I dream in vivid color with full-length story lines and characters. I had such a wonderful dream once that I never forgot it. Before collapsing in bed, I didn’t take time to turn my burdens over to the Lord or thank Him for my many blessings. I felt too tired to spend time with Him and just wanted some rest. Thankfully that didn’t prevent God from spending time with me. 

 

As I was sleeping, I dreamed I was in an unfamiliar place with a large crowd of people.  Suddenly the crowd became very excited and everyone started running towards an auditorium, which resembled an ancient Greek amphitheater. Once inside, everyone began gazing into the blue sky. The clouds gently swirled around and around as they lowered to the earth. One of the clouds formed into a thin line making the distinct shape of a large cross.

 

The sun brightly shined through the clouds and all around the cloud-cross were beautiful colors that penetrated the vastness of the sky.  The brilliance of the colors and light forced us to shade our eyes.  As we watched, another cloud turned into the shape of a rod or staff. It looked as if an invisible hand were lowering it towards earth. Everyone brimmed with excitement, and starting chanting:  “It’s Jesus! Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!” 

 

The excitement I felt was overwhelming, actually indescribable. The thought of seeing the face of Jesus, and standing in His presence took my breath away.  My joy and anticipation felt so real.  Then I was rudely awakened from this heavenly dream-state by the loud beeping of my alarm clock. I lay there for a few moments in the peaceful darkness trying to recapture the thrill of that moment before the tasks of the day filled my thoughts.

 

The cross is a symbol of the sacrifice that was made when God sent His son to die in our place. Through the cross, we can unite in spirit with Him. The shepherd’s staff is a symbol of protection and love. Jesus wants to protect His children and comfort them, as a shepherd would protect and comfort his sheep. 

 

The staff in my dream was so beautiful, peacefully drifting towards the crowd of people who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jesus. Although the actual face of Jesus never appeared in my dream, the presence of the staff was enough to bring incredible joy to everyone in its presence.  All the people knew that the staff was Jesus. 

 

Although Jesus is invisible to the human eye today, and we can’t hold the baby Jesus as Mary did, we can hold tight to the fact that we don’t have to see His face to know His comfort and love.  Jesus is present and active in our lives… even when we are sleeping … even when we are dreaming… even when we cannot see Him there.

 

My Prayer For Today:

Dear Lord, thank you for sending your Son into this world to pay the price of sin in my place. Jesus, thank You for the loving care You take of the sheep in Your flock.  Be glorified today in my heart.  I anxiously await your physical return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Additional Resources:

Do you know Him?

 

Application Steps:

Worship Him today!

 

Close your eyes and try to picture in the heavens, the figure of Jesus’ staff gently floating towards the earth. Lay your burdens down and allow Him to cleanse your soul today, and fill your heart with comfort and peace.

 

Reflection Points:

Have you placed your trust in the work of the cross and staff of Christ?

 

Can you find joy in knowing Jesus watches over you like a shepherd cares for his sheep?

 

Have you worshipped Him today?

 

Power Verses:

Job 33:26, “He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy.” NIV)

 

Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” ( NIV)

 

Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song.” (NIV)