Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings and prayer prompts to help you spend time with, and draw closer to Jesus.
Psalm 23:1-3 (The Passion Translation) — The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.
Psalm 23: A Roadmap to Rest
One of the reasons this time of being home-bound is especially difficult for so many is because we have forgotten how to rest — so much so, that we may not even recognize what true rest is anymore. Because we live in a restless society that fuels our desire for instant gratification and rewards us for appearing to be busy, we’ve forgotten how to lie still in green pastures and regain strength from God’s streams of living waters. According to the Harvard Business Review, the vast majority of Americans now view busyness as a status symbol. In other words, the busier you seem, the more likely people will respect you and think that you’re prosperous, highly valued, and hard working. If that’s the case, it’s no wonder that staying home so much is driving us crazy. Although technology is helping us to stay in touch with others, we practically sleep with our smartphones. That said, texting, social media interactions, calendar reminders, to-do lists, and a host of other time-intensive demands are constantly eroding our ability to sleep. Scientists say that all of this busyness, multitasking, and technology is reshaping our brains, pushing them to be less inclined toward reflection, meditation, long-form reading/studying, and deep conversations.
American churchgoers are not immune to busyness addiction either. Unfortunately, the cultural value for busyness has also infiltrated and tainted the spiritual outlook of many believers to the point where all margin for rest has been entirely squeezed out of our lives. Before the pandemic, some of us were volunteering to serve until we were teetering on burnout. Others of us have justified having crazy schedules for six days a week by not working on Sundays. We’ve rationalized and compacted our Sabbath rest into a single day, rather than the daily renewal Jesus provides.
So, how do we learn to rest in the way of Psalm 23? How can we experience the pleasure of resting in our Shepherd’s presence, savoring the goodness that He pours out onto us at the moment, when we can’t stop thinking about or fretting over what might be up ahead in the dark valleys of our lives? Jesus, our Shepherd, promises to instruct us in the ways of rest if we listen. He said, “No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Getaway with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:27-30 The Message)
As we read and meditate on Psalm 23, several “unforced rhythms of grace” begin to emerge. Each of these time-related themes is powerful on their own, but when we learn to incorporate them into our daily lives, the repeated practice will eventually become a reassuring gentle rhythm that hums on its own. Keeping time at a pace that won’t burn us out, the rhythms remind us to stay in sync with our Shepherd’s cadence and not our own.
The rhythm of trust — As our Shepherd, God can be trusted to know what’s best for us. So we will not spend any precious time worrying, we will spend time praying and praising Him.
The rhythm of contentment — As our Shepherd, God’s presence and love for us are enough, so we will not waste any time longing for things He hasn’t provided.
The rhythm of gratitude — As our Shepherd, God longs to give us good gifts, including rest. So we will accept His good gifts by keeping healthy boundaries for work, pleasure, relationships, and/or material things.
The rhythm of following — As our Shepherd, God leads us. He alone knows which path to take, so we will learn to follow by knowing His voice through His Word, prayer, and patient listening.
The rhythm of authority — As our Shepherd, God’s voice has authority over evil, so we will have the courage to wait patiently on His plans to come to fruition.
Using the daily readings below, why not commit to resting the Shepherd's way throughout the coming week? When you build a little Sabbath margin into each day, your heart, mind, and soul will feel renewed, lowering your stress levels and increasing your sense of contentment and peace.
Daily Bible Readings with Prayer Prompts
As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to spend time with you.
Monday - Read Galatians 5:1 and Psalm 127:2. God’s design for rest is much bigger than not working on Sundays. In her study, Breathe: Making Room For Sabbath, Priscilla Shirer says, “God always and eternally intended the Sabbath to be a lifestyle — an attitude, a perspective, an orientation for living that enables us to govern our lives and steer clear of bondage.” She goes on to say, “Sabbath margin is the boundary God intended for us to place around the things we enjoy so that we’ll never be a slave to anyone or anything other than Him.” Spend time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas in your life that have exceeded healthy boundaries, whether they are activities that offer pleasure, constitute work, or involve relationships. Write down anything He wants you to bring into line with His rhythms of grace.
Tuesday - Read Matthew 18:12-13 and Galatians 1:10. Your true worth is not found in what others think of you, how productive you are, or what you’ve achieved. You are worth more to Jesus than you can imagine. Entrust your time to God, as He’s directing you to spend it, and He will take care of your reputation. No time spent at the feet of Jesus is ever wasted. We’ve all strayed away from the Shepherd at some point, but He is faithful to pursue us and bring us back. Take some time to think about ways that He has drawn you back to Him. Praise Him for His love for you. It is a love that will go to the ends of the earth to get you back. Confess to Him any ways in which you’ve placed too much importance on being busy or chasing achievements.
Wednesday - Read 1 Kings 17:7-16 and Exodus 16:22-26. The Biblical principle of multiplication is a powerful one. Our Shepherd will take care of us when we give up our control, resources, and our time. When the widow at Zarephath obeyed and gave up her grain and oil to help Elijah, God blessed her pantry so that her supplies never ran out again during the famine. In Exodus 16, when the Israelites gave up their temptation to collect extra manna for the Sabbath, God miraculously multiplied their portion so that no one went hungry. When you add a margin of holy rest into your day, God will see to it that you don’t lose out on something you need or a task that needs to be accomplished. If you draw healthy boundaries around the stuff and tasks in your life, effectively making your life more flexible for God’s interventions, He will multiply what’s needed to ensure that He is glorified and your needs (not your wants) are met. Spend time letting God search your heart and ask Him to help you trust Him more with your time.
Thursday - Read Luke 10:38-42. Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. This is the principle that Martha needed to learn before she could spend time soaking in the presence of Jesus. Jesus gently, but firmly, corrected his dear friend Martha to stop and rest when she started wearing the badge of busyness. He told her that her sister had chosen the “better portion” by sitting and listening to Jesus rather than preparing for and serving their guests. Each day, you and I also have the option to choose the better portion… to leave breathing room for the movement of the Holy Spirit to change the course of our day. Some days it may be harder to do than others, but those moments are blessings within themselves because they teach us to depend on God and His mercies even more. The more we depend on Him, the less we’ll be in the way of His amazing plans. Spend time visualizing yourself in this story from Luke. Maybe you’re not distracted by the same kinds of tasks that Martha was, but there is likely something that you focus on more than you should. What things bring out your inner perfectionist, people-pleaser, or performer? Spend time laying those at Jesus’ feet and soak in His presence.
Friday - Read Psalm 23 in at least two different translations of the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh perspective on it, laying aside any of your previous associations with this highly familiar passage. Read the verses slowly and ask the Shepherd to help you sense the kind of rhythms the Psalmist practiced to experience the kind of trust, contentment, gratitude, obedience, and courage expressed in this passage. Write down any new ideas that come to mind. As you listen to the song “Enter the Rest of God,” close your eyes and spend time worshipping the Shepherd who wants to teach you His unforced rhythms of grace, rest, and trust.