Isaiah 55:13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of His power and love.
Many times we read something in the Bible over and over again, and I think we sometimes forget the power behind the words. I have read and memorized Psalm 23 since I became a Christian. I have seen it on many a memorial card placed at funerals. I am once again reminded that we often times just scratch the surface of what gems can be found in the greatest book ever written. I just experienced that lesson in a Bible study on Psalm 23. I have learned so many hidden gems in this psalm by simply studying the roles of a shepherd and his sheep. The role of the shepherd is to live and die for his sheep. The shepherd provides for his sheep. He offers a place of peace and he restores and heals his sheep. The shepherd supplies all of their needs and is their ever present help when his sheep are in trouble. He has mercy on them when they fall off the path. He will search high and low if one of them gets lost.
Being from the city, I really knew little about sheep. What I did know was that they were cute as lambs and then grew into what I thought were not the smartest animal. I have discovered they are not dumb. They have an amazing memory and are actually good at problem solving. When they are ill, they know what plant to eat to make themselves better. What really spoke to me more than anything, is the fact that when the sheep leave a pasture after grazing, the pasture is better off than when they arrived. The shepherd’s knowledge on how to care for the land and protect the land for future use allows the sheep to leave the land rich and fertile.
Our Shepherd in Psalm 23 promises us that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life if we will dwell with Him in the House of the Lord. Paul writes In Ephesians 3:18-19 that we have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. When we experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to fully understand, then we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. When we dwell with the Shepherd, it is not hard to chew and graze on His goodness and mercy. When we understand goodness and mercy, it is going to change what we leave behind in our pasture. What is our pasture and how do we leave it better? The translation of Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Bible, Paul describes what our pasture is and how we leave it better. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
So my pasture needs some work. How is your pasture? Do we add goodness to the pasture or do we destroy the beauty in the land we find ourselves in? This really spoke to me. When I walk throughout my day, are things left better than when I arrived? Am I bringing forth goodness and mercy, or am I chewing and spitting out all the poisonous venom that will leave the pasture dried up and unusable? What does my life say about my faith? This simple little fact has challenged me every moment throughout my day. I ask myself this question, “Michele how are you leaving your pasture?” Maybe you can join my flock and ask yourself the same question, how are you leaving your pasture? I pray we are fertilizing our pastures with grace and mercy.