Psalm 23 is a cherished scripture because it expresses a lot about life in the real world. It does not paint a picture of a perfect life in which days are always sunny and simple, when our relationships with others are friendly and uncomplicated. This psalm understands a life with shadows and valleys, especially in the face of death. It gives us permission to acknowledge our enemies, neither denying their existence nor being consumed by their threats. Whether those enemies are human beings or other imposing forces, the psalmist knows we face them.
And that’s why it is odd that its opening words seem so unfamiliar to us: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The psalmist may not have wants, but we sure feel like we do. In fact, we allow our wants to drive us. We tend to assess our lives not based on what we have but on what we haven’t yet acquired. We compare our lives with those around us and listen to the messages of material desire from our culture. We want to be more admired, more respected, and more appreciated. We want to have the best house and the best car. We want to wear clothes that won’t embarrass us and sport bodies that others envy. We want to have the brightest children, the most accomplished career, and the most adorned trophy case.
But this psalm offers a contrary message: God has already given us everything we need. And the future tense of the verb suggests that we “shall not want,” no matter what happens next.
So while this psalm brings comfort, it challenges us in a significant way: to find contentment in the present day, to locate God’s blessings in our lives, and to give thanks for them.

God, thank you for supplying all my needs. May I be grateful for your sustenance daily. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 10:11-18

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Lectionary Week
April 16–22, 2018
Scripture Overview

This week’s readings open with a confrontation in Acts between Peter and John and some of the religious leaders. Peter speaks in harsh terms to the leaders, stating that they had killed Jesus; yet by the power of Jesus’ name, a man who could not walk has been healed. By that same name spiritual healing happens as well. The other three passages employ the metaphor of the Good Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd,” the psalmist declares, and the shepherd cares for all our needs. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. First John repeats this imagery. Jesus proved his love when he lay down his life for us. If we truly love one another, we also ought to sacrifice in tangible ways.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Psalm 23. How comfortable do you feel about God’s provision for your life? Do you believe you have enough?
• Read Acts 4:5-12. When have you gotten into difficulty for exercising your Christian faith and values? If never, why not?
• Read 1 John 3:16-24. The writer notes that we may find being called sheep unbecoming. He goes on to mention that the epistle of John addresses followers of Christ as “little children.” Would you prefer to be a sheep or a child? Why?
• Read John 10:11-18. Which of your assumptions about God have been turned upside down? How did this come about?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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