Week Fifteen, Day Three
For at least part of their history, the Hebrews were a nomadic people who wandered from place to place seeking pasture for their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle. To sustain their livelihood, it was vital for shepherds to keep their animals from straying, protect them from thieves and wild animals, and provide them with plentiful pastures. In the ancient Near East and in Israel itself, "shepherd" eventually became a metaphor for kings. The Hebrew Scriptures speak of God as the Shepherd of his people and apply this image to religious leaders as well. The New Testament presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who protects the lives of his sheep by forfeiting his own life. When you pray to the Lord your Shepherd, you are praying to the One who watches over you day and night, feeding you and leading you safely on the path of righteousness.
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. (Psalm 23:1-3)
PRAYING THE NAME
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6-7)
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. (Revelation 7:17)
Reflect On: Isaiah 53
Praise God: For his mercy in calling us back to himself.
Offer Thanks: That God gave his only Son to be both the Lamb who laid down his life for us and the Shepherd who brings us home.
Confess: Any tendency to depart from God's ways.
Ask God: To help you keep your eyes on him so that you will not stray.
An absent-minded professor I know of once stood beside his car in a college parking lot looking perplexed. When one of his students walked by, he caught his arm and asked, "Excuse me, I wonder if you could tell me? Am I coming or going?"
A friend of mine once misplaced his car for a full week. It seems he had parked it in front of a store, walked off to do some errands, and then walked a short distance home, completely forgetting that he had driven to the store in the first place. The next day, he was surprised to find that the car wasn't in the garage, and he couldn't remember where he had put it!
Another directionally challenged friend has a habit, whenever she has forgotten where she has parked, of pushing the panic button on a remote keyless entry device to locate her car. It's not a subtle method, but flashing headlights and beeping horns work for her. We chuckle at such stories, but Scripture reminds us that without Christ we are all directionally challenged, incapable of living a life that's spiritually on course, and vulnerable to a world of troubles. Like sheep who have gone astray, we are pulled off the path by our disordered desires, our selfish natures, and our attraction to sin. We are like rebellious toddlers who break free from their mother and start running toward traffic, heedless of danger.
Today, reflect on the fact that Jesus is called both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd. Thank him for becoming part of the flock, laying down his life so that we might have true life. Take some time to worship him and to recommit your life to him. Then pray for a child, a family member, a friend, or a business associate who seems far from God. Ask the Lord to search out that one lost sheep. Tell him you won't stop praying until he brings him back.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.