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God's people offer grateful worship individually

June 9, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Psalm 23:1-6

1 The LORD is my shepherd.
    I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
    he leads me to restful waters;
3         he keeps me [or my soul] alive.
He guides me in proper paths
    for the sake of his good name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
    they protect me.
5 You set a table for me
    right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
    my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
    will pursue me all the days of my life,
    and I will live in the LORD’s house
    as long as I live.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

King David, who became Israel’s greatest king, had worked as a shepherd (cf. 1 Samuel 16:11, 17:34-36), and likely wrote Psalm 23. He knew a shepherd’s job description from his own experience, and pictured God in very personal terms as his shepherd. As a shepherd leads his flock of sheep in the ways that best protect and nurture them, so God leads all those who put their trust in him. And that is a powerful reason for gratitude and worship.

  • David described God as guiding him (and all God’s children) “in proper paths.” Living as we do in a culture that places great store on our freedom to choose our own path in life, how easy or difficult do you find it to trust God to guide you to the proper paths for your life? Is it easy or hard for you to thank God for God’s guidance when it differs from your own wishes? How can confidence that you are on the proper path reduce your fear when you face tough choices?
  • We most often think something “pursuing” us is bad. Psalm 23:6 reversed that, saying, “Goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life.” Have there been times when you, like so many people, tried to ignore or avoid God’s presence? In what ways have God’s goodness and faithful love pursued you even if you tried to get away from them? How can building a habit of personal gratitude and worship keep you open to God’s pursuing love and goodness?
Prayer

Dear God, because you are my shepherd, I have all I need. I am eternally safe in your arms. Help me more fully trust in that reality, and gratefully worship you for it. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

Today’s Insight is noteworthy for 2 reasons: It marks my 15th year of contributing to the GPS (15 years?  It seems a lot longer than that – Editor).  It also is my 1st time to purposefully ponder the Granddaddy of all Psalms–the 23rd Psalm.

While I usually appreciate reading modern translations, they just don’t sound the same when applied to this classic hymn. So, we’ll go old school & use the King James Version. Likewise, we’ll also omit our usual Dad Jokes (Halleljuah! – Editor) and, instead, offer Granddad Jokes (Sigh – Editor).  Granddad Jokes are just as lame as Dad Jokes but have the added benefit of being even older. Let’s take a look at a few snippets of the 6 sentences of our Psalm:

Granddad Joke: I don’t like the newer translations of the Bible; if the King James Version was good enough
for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

The Lord is my shepherd: Note David’s confidence. There is no “if” or “maybe.” David is boldly asserting that God is God & furthermore that God is his shepherd. Notice that God is not some distant caretaker: David says He is my Shepherd. This idea is simultaneously comforting & daunting. It is reassuring because I know God is protecting me, watching over me, & caring for me. It is also challenging because this means God has great hopes & dreams for me – not humanity, not the world, but me.

Granddad Joke: Boaz & Ruth were riding on a donkey. Unbeknownst to Boaz, Ruth slid off the back. Boaz
rode on ruthlessly.

He restoreth my soul: God knows full well that there will be times when our soul runs on empty, when we are despondent, broken, or without hope. God never leaves us to struggle on our own. He is actively at work, day & night, to help strengthen us when we are weak, to heal us when our hearts are broken, & even to forgive us when our hearts go astray. God is fully aware of the struggles of the human condition & is enthusiastically eager to help us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: This segment is full of grand thoughts. Notice David doesn’t talk about racing or panicking in the valley–he is calmly walking, taking it one step at a time. Note that the valley is not a destination–it is a place to travel through because there is light at the end of the valley. Death is not some wall, but a tunnel to a better place of joy & peace. Finally, it is not the valley of death. It is the “shadow of death.” Shadows only occur when there is light in the background. Shadows can seem initially ominous, but we know a mere shadow isn’t anything to fear.

Granddad Joke: There is an old rabbinical story about Moses & his lasso that has magical healing powers.
Theologians refer to it as the original Miracle Whip.

My cup runneth over: David is full of contentment. This is one of the most potent feelings/outlooks in the universe. A greedy person’s cup never runs over–it always seems to have a crack & leaks even as we frustratingly fill it again & again. However, the life of a contented person seems to have an abundance of blessings as they embrace their circumstances rather than constantly chafing about them. I love the imagery of a poor cobbler sitting down to a simple dinner of soup & bread. He prays, “Dear Lord. This is amazing. I have this meal & I have Jesus, too? Gracious! It’s all too much!”

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever: Some contend this phrase has 2 meanings for the listener. It suggests a longing to be in the comforting presence of God for eternity. Some also submit that David is making a promise that he will be a faithful follower of God during his time on earth. The use of the verb “dwell” is awesome. It seems to indicate a peaceful satisfaction to linger/dawdle in God’s tabernacle/sanctuary, to just mosey about as you are in God’s house. How different could our time in worship be if we were to mimic this easy-breezy attitude on a Sunday morning instead of being in a rush to get in/get out of church?

We’ll close with a Golden Oldie Granddad Joke: A Grandfather gave his Grandson a new stuffed panda for his
birthday. When the boy opened the present, the Granddad noticed the bear’s eyes were crossed. But since the
boy so loved the toy, the Grandfather didn’t say anything. Later, the Grandfather asked his Grandson what he
would name his new stuffed friend. The little boy replied, “Gladly.” “Why Gladly?” the Grandfather asked.
“Because when I went to church with you they sang about “Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear.”

(“Hello H.R.?  Can I file a workman’s comp claim for grammatical stress? Oh yes. I have lots of documentation. Yes, it’s a chronic condition-going on 15 years now…  – Editor)

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References