Encounter: Slowly read through Psalm 23 in your favorite Bible translation and begin to work on memorizing it. Try listening to it on your audio Bible, repeating it while you’re driving and before you go to sleep. If you have children, share it with them from an easy to read version of the Bible and have them begin memorizing it as well. Putting the words to music is an easy way for kids to learn God’s Word as it is planted in their hearts. Remember! Bring your kids this Sunday to meet someone who is related to Sparkles!
As I was driving home last evening, I was thinking about the perfect dining table I wanted to replace the one in our kitchen, and maybe a couple more chairs to go on the new patio. When I looked at the clock, I thought about stopping at TJ Maxx to look around but then I pictured myself walking out with a few bags of things that I could really do without.
Earlier in the day I visited a family at their home which was so neat and tidy. It was a pretty and comfortable home, and as I looked around I noticed the furnishings were well kept but by my guess were at least thirty years old. Even the appliances that I could see around the corner in the kitchen appeared original to the home yet maintained beautifully.
As we talked, they shared that they still had the first refrigerator they had bought as a couple 70 or so years before and it still worked and as a matter of fact was filled to the brim with food at that very moment in the garage, keeping things colder than the “new” one they replaced it with. As I learned more about their life, their love and care for their family and their faith in God, it appeared they were quite content without having the latest look.
When they shared about their life together, they talked about what was present in their relationships; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not once did they talk about what they have owned or accumulated over the years. Their contentment clearly came from a different source. When I asked what their loved one’s favorite scripture was, the source came alive, Psalm 23. The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. Before me was a flock that was living a Life without Lack.
Ever since then I have been thinking about what I think about. It seems too much of my thought life is filled with all the things I need, I want to change, or I want more of. My hope is through the next 8 weeks as I soak in the words and message of Psalm 23 and read Life without Lack by Dallas Willard, my thoughts will take me in a different direction. More towards living life with my Shepherd. Will you join me?
This morning on my walk, I began meditating on the Lord as my Shepherd as I spoke the words out loud. What was interesting was how I pushed back on these words from God when I said the words I lack nothing. What do you mean Jesus? I can give you a list of what I lack. My prayer is as I study through this sermon series the voice within me will quiet and the voice of my shepherd will awaken within me the contentment that only He can bring. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Listening with you,
Reflect: Dallas invites us to consider our choices, habits and practices, on how we live our daily lives, and above all, on what we do with our minds. He also believed it was possible to keep our minds constantly on God and that this was the heart and soul of our spiritual formation. Try pausing 2-3 times a day and writing down what has been on your mind. How does those things align you with following your Shepherd?
Encourage: As you read slowly through Psalm 23, consider how Jesus cares for you as the Good Shepherd (John 10) and how this encourages your connection with God. Is there someone you know that could use this poem as a source of encouragement? Email, write a note and mail or send a text reminding them that the Lord desires them to know Him as their Shepherd.
Gather: With your Life Group, Sunday Study Group, Triad or with a friend, begin reading and studying Dallas Willards’ book Life without Lack. Share with one another how you can make more space in your thought life to plan, create, reflect, share, invest, listen to your Shepherd.