Psalm 23 (NLT)
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
When I reflect on Psalm 23, I think of David watching his sheep, feeling peaceful and content and writing the words, “The Lord is my shepherd…” I imagine him sitting, content, and reflecting on the goodness of God. The setting of the writing of Psalm 23 that I imagine couldn’t be further from David’s reality. David didn’t write this Psalm while he was shepherding sheep. He wasn’t content and he certainly wasn’t peaceful.
Psalm 95:1-5 (NLT)
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
I’ve been in churches where people stand, hymnal in hand, barely singing. I’ve also heard bands blaring so loud you can barely hear yourself or others. Either way, what I don’t hear is the community of faith singing joyfully.
Luke 8:41-42, 49-56 (NLT)
Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.
…a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”
When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.
Imagine the scene. Learning that his daughter died, Jesus asks him to look past the obvious and into the possible. Faith is the assurance of things not seen and that is exactly what Jesus asks Jairus to do: Just have faith.
Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)
We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.
As I drove down the road I realized I didn’t have any cash with me. At first my mind started racing, wondering if there would be an ATM near that wouldn’t charge me a fee. So many things can happen when you’re out of town and I didn’t want to be stuck somewhere without any money.
My mind relaxed. “If anything happens, I can just use my credit card,” I thought. I felt relieved.
Matthew 12:9-13 (NLT)
Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!
A hand is essential to life. With it, we hold those we love. With it, we carry burdens. With it, we earn a living. With it, we feed ourselves.
Without it, we are separated from our community; we cannot shake another’s hand in greeting or wave goodbye. We cannot carry a brick or pick up a hammer. We cannot hold a spoon, break bread or drink from a cup.
Mark 1:29-31 (NLT)
After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
When we are touched by Jesus, our lives change: We live to serve/touch others. I believe it is because we see people differently. We see them through the eyes of the one who touched us.
Psalm 130:7-8 (NLT)
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.
Life was going well. But I felt good times wouldn’t last. They never do. I kept wondering what news of “joy” I would receive. What would it be? An appliance breaking down, a car repair, or perhaps something to do with my job. Life throws difficulties at us all the time and I wanted to be ready.
I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. Even when things go well, we may have a nagging voice telling us that good times won’t last shrouding us in hopelessness.
Luke 4:16-21 (NLT)
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
It is the official beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Into Jesus’ hands, the synagogue official places the book of Isaiah. The fingers of Jesus unroll the parchment. They hold God’s word, his Father’s Word. These same hands that will heal the lame, the blind, even raise the dead. These same hands that will be pierced by spikes and nailed to a wooden beam. These hands that will wash the disciples’ feet. These hands that will take bread and bless it, lift the cup and prays over it.
The hands of Jesus.