Thinking about the brand-new crop of graduates this year something occurred to me. They’re graduating in 2023. Psalm 23 is a great Psalm for them. It’s a great Psalm for all of us. It reminds us of who we are and whose we are.
Graduates, remember Psalm 23. Carry it with you wherever you go. This Psalm has helped me through the most difficult moments of my life and hugged me through the most joyful ones. Memorize it. Write it on the doorposts of your hearts.
“The Lord is my Shepherd.” God is our Shepherd. He leads us and He guides us. The longer we follow Him the more we realize that He never leads us down the wrong paths. He watches over us and He protects us.
Sometimes we take a wrong path and get lost. Why? Because we human beings can be just as stubborn as sheep wanting to go our own way. Before we know it, we’re stuck in the briar patch of life with no way out. Our Shepherd knows where we are. He’ll bring us back home; all we have to do is call to Him. We don’t have to bleat like a sheep. We can just say His beautiful name, Jesus.
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“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
“I shall not want.” He provides everything we need. There are many things we think we want in life like popularity, money, recognition, lots of friends to name a few. But our Lord provides all we need. Don’t treat Him like Santa Claus, simply wanting to get things from Him. He’s so much more. He already gave us the most precious gift of all when He died on the cross for our sins. His own life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (John 10:11). Why? So that we can be forgiven for our sins and spend eternity with Him. Graduates, in the midst of your busy lives, don’t forget the most important thing of all. Ask Jesus to be your Lord and your Savior. You’ll never regret it.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Following Jesus isn’t burdensome, it’s refreshing. Friends may tell you that having fun is the best way to live. There’s nothing wrong with fun. Jesus laughed when He was on this earth. He enjoyed friendships. But be careful. Watch how your friends experience fun. Is it healthy? Is it safe? Does it refresh you? Is it addictive? Does it hurt someone? Is it pleasing to God? Think about your answers. If it’s not healthy, not safe, doesn’t refresh you, is addictive, does hurt someone, or does not please God, then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Death is one thing we cannot reason with, trick, or overcome by ourselves. There will be tough times in this life. Jesus told us so in John 16:33. “I have told you all this so that you have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Jesus is telling His disciples this before He’s arrested. He’s reassuring them that even after He’s gone from their sight, He’ll still be with them.
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” The world may not like us for believing in God, but we can withstand ridicule and persecution because our Good Shepherd is with us, even when we walk through the darkest of life’s valleys. Especially when we go through those valleys, He’s near us to comfort us and guide us. When we’re vulnerable, surrounded by those who hate us, our Good Shepherd is with us, protecting us, and blessing us.
Graduates, if you follow Jesus, you’ll discover as I have, that one lifetime cannot contain the blessings He pours out on those who love Him.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” In the midst of the trials and tribulations of this life, our Good Shepherd is merciful and good to us, not just once, but throughout our lives here on earth. When our days on this earth are over, we who have surrendered to the Good Shepherd and call Him our Lord and Savior, will not truly die but live for eternity with our Lord and with fellow believers.
Graduates, never forget Psalm 23. Let it guide you. Better yet, let the Lord guide you today and throughout your life. If you haven’t already, surrender your life to the Lord. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make in this life.
And Graduates, always remember that God loves you.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at Kathyyoder4@gmail.com.