January 2, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
Psalm 27: 14
“Simply wait upon Him. So doing, we shall be directed, supplied, protected, corrected, and rewarded.”
Today’s Study Text:
“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker in reverent praise and supplication. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.”
Psalm 95: 6, 7
“The Lord is my shepherd.”
Psalm 23: 1
Psalm 23 – Part 4
“My Lord, My God”
“Essence beyond essence, Nature increate, Framer of the world, I set Thee, Lord,
before my face. I lift up my soul to Thee, I worship Thee on my knees, and humble myself under Thy mighty hand.”
What do the words of Thomas, Jesus’ disciple, mean to me when he said, “My Lord, my God?”
“There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.”
Just imagine for a moment that a friend came to you and asked you to write the words to a hymn that best describes your heavenly Father, the One and only God of heaven and earth. How would you express the way you felt about God? How would you convey in words the thoughts you carried in your heart about Jehovah?
In reality, this is exactly what David did when he shared what he had come to know about, “The Lord, his God.”
From the very first words in Psalm 23, David makes it clear that in his life, it is the God of heaven and earth that is his personal Lord. But to better understand the word “Lord,” as used in Psalm 23: 1, I referred to my Hebrew dictionary and found that the specific word David used, “Yehôvâh.” means self-existent and eternal, and was the Jewish national name of God, Jehovah the Lord. What is more interesting is that this precise title appears over 6,500 times in the Old Testament. In fact, the word “Lord,” as David used it, is found over 700 times in just the Psalms.
However, this word “Lord” is not limited in its usage only to the Psalms. Repeatedly, prophets, priests, and kings called upon “Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel.”
In some of the most touching words in Scripture, the prophet Isaiah, describing God’s relationship with His earthly children, used the same shepherd metaphor as David did when he penned these words: “The Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him…He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers His lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40: 10, 11).
If this passage in Scripture sounds familiar to you, it is because George Frideric Handel, the composer of the “Messiah,” the oratorio written in 1741, used as its foundation, scriptural passages which included the words of Isaiah.
I also love the words of the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 34: 6, 11, 12, we find the length God promises He will go to in order to rescue every one of the sheep under His care: “My sheep wandered through all the mountains and upon every high hill, yes, My sheep were scattered upon the face of the earth and no one searched or sought for them…For thus says the Lord God; behold, I, I Myself, will search for My sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his sheep in the day that he is among his flock that are scattered, so will I seek out My sheep; and I will rescue them out of all places where they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick darkness.”
What touches me is the way our Lord, Jehovah, throughout the Old Testament, frequently calls Himself our Shepherd. But in order for us to be able to visualize the way God, our Father in heaven, makes certain every child of His, every sheep in His pasture, is held within His eternal love, God’s Son, Christ Jesus came to earth, not just to live with us, but more importantly to show us exactly what our Father in heaven is like. In the words of Jesus to His’ disciple Philip, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14: 9, Amplified Bible). Jesus gives us a picture of our Father’s behavior in His life and love.
As I researched the word “Lord,” found in Scripture and used as well in everyday language, it was fascinating to uncover the fact that the word “Lord” can also be traced back to Old English as well as Germanic tribal customs where an individual who was designated with the title “Lord” was responsible for providing food to those who followed him, something which we will find was referenced thousand of years before by David as he wrote about “The Lord” who was his Shepherd.
But there’s even more for us to learn from the words, “The Lord.” Another vital element for us to explore is the phrase that lead me to title today’s devotional, “My Lord and My God,” words which were spoken to Jesus by the disciple Thomas. This response came after Thomas had expressed doubt regarding Jesus actual resurrection from the grave. Thomas’ doubts conveyed the fact that he was uncertain that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.
In John 20, we find that “after eight days,” Jesus’ disciples were again in a room with “the doors being shut.” As the beloved Apostle John records, “Then came Jesus…and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ Then saith (Jesus) to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20: 26-27, Amplified Bible).
It was then, and only then, that Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God, which translated in the Greek means “supreme in authority, the God of heaven and earth.” What’s more, as the Greek translation makes clear, Thomas was affirming that Jesus was Divine. He was truly the Son of God. As Aurelius Ambrosius, known in English as St. Ambrose stated, “The Son is the Image of the invisible God. All things that belong to the Father He expresses as the Image; all things that are the Father’s He illuminates as the splendor of His glory and manifests to us.”
“The Lord, My Shepherd,” revealed in Psalm 23, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and is also evidenced in the life of Jesus Christ for “as the print of the seal on the wax is the express image of the seal itself, so Christ is the express image – the perfect representation – of God.” My Lord and my God. My Saviour and my Shepherd.
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man (and woman) which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
“For God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as to beam forth the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ the Messiah.”
II Corinthians 4: 6
“In Christ I feel the heart of God
Throbbing from heaven through earth;
Life stirs again within the clod,
Renewed in beauteous birth;
The soul springs up, a flower of prayer,
Breathing His breath out on the air.
In Christ I touch the hand of God,
From His pure height reached down,
By blessed ways before untrod,
To lift us to our crown;
Victory that only perfect is
Through loving sacrifice, like His.
Holding His hand, my steadfast feet
May walk the air, the seas;
On life and death His smile falls sweet,
Lights up all mysteries;
Stranger nor exile can I be
In new worlds where He leadeth me.”
(1824 – 1893)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!
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