Bible Society of South Africa

In step with God: The Shepherd leads and provides - 11 December 2023

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

3He gives me new strength.

He guides me in the right paths,

as he has promised.

Psalms 23:3GNBOpen in Bible reader

Where would sheep be without a shepherd; where would believers be without God, and his unfailing love for all who love and trust in him? The Shepherd’s Psalm leads the way in showing, in well-loved, meaningful words, how God faithfully shepherds the person who daily walks with him. He tenderly guides and provides for them in each situation as, together, they negotiate life’s seasons with its ups and downs.

When we were expecting our first child, we got the news that my husband would serve in a church in another province in the new year – three months before I would give birth – and two and a half hours drive away from our home town. What would I do without my trusted doctor; or my family and friends to share in this momentous occasion in our lives? We trusted that God knew best in our situation.

No doubt Mary and Joseph felt the same when Caesar Augustus issued the decree that everyone had to return to his home town for a census. Mary, heavily pregnant, would be subjected to a long trip to Bethlehem on a donkey, taking five to 10 days under those conditions, as Joseph was King David’s descendent. Who would help them, but God?

Philip Yancey said of them. “Today as I read the accounts of Jesus’ birth I tremble to think of the fate of the world resting on the responses of two rural teenagers.”

However, these ‘rural teenagers’ weren’t on their own mission; theirs was God-appointed –His highest possible calling –to bring the Saviour into the world. Each was a willing, believing participant who entrusted the inevitable hardships they knew they’d face on their journey, and beyond, to Him. They were inspired, and committed.

The angel who’d visited Joseph in a dream had said, “Joseph … do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:20-21)

And God didn’t disappoint them; He would guide them in every situation, and safely deliver his Son for his divine purpose.

Their faith grew as they stepped out trusting him, their peace intact; and they were grateful, after arriving safely in Bethlehem, for the humble shed offered them and the “new strength” Mary received as she “gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7)

We, too, believed; and we were so grateful – and that was only the start.

Truly, “He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths as he has promised … I know that (his) goodness and love will be with me all my life.” (Psalm 23:3,6a)

Prayer: Gracious Shepherd, you have a purpose for each one of us, whoever we are. Thank you that you equip us and provide for our needs, however humble, and guide us each step of the way. Amen


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