podcast: https://www.pastorwoman.net/podcast/episode/2fd90329/how-to-know-what-to-do-thrive-47 This morning I had a conference call prayer meeting with my corporate guys. When one brother started his requests, he said, ‘Listen we just have to know what God’s will is and do it. So Christine, we need to start with that.’ Then we listed our specific needs and situations, asking God for his favor, leading and wisdom. Often, I pray Psalm 90.17 over the company: May the favor of the Lord rest upon us, confirm and establish the work of our hands; yes, confirm and establish the work of our hands. Leading, guiding, favor. But does God really lead us? Hmmm . . . This favored poetry that we love so much, Psalm 23, certainly describes a Shepherd who leads and guides us-- so that we are without need and can walk in contentment, so that we can know safety and rest. He leads in such a way that we do not have to guess at pleasing him, but instead he shows us the ways of righteousness. And as a faithful shepherd, God promises he will not abandon us; especially in our darkest moments, we can look for his comforting presence. Though I memorized this psalm at such a young age, I confess that there was so much I did not understand. In the last Briefing, ‘Protection is Available’, https://conta.cc/2Yk2i2g, we looked at the first part of David’s statement at the end of verse four: your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Particularly when out in the open field, the shepherd’s rod helps keep the sheep safe. But the staff does that in a different way, also cut and shaped to the right height of the individual sheepherder. I love the notion of the staff because it speaks of the love and attentiveness of the shepherd, able to pull each of his flock aside to examine coat, feet, ears, eyes and nose. When a newborn lamb gets separated from mama, it is the staff the shepherd uses to lift the baby and put her next to the ewe, so as not to foul the baby with human odor causing the mama sheep to reject her baby. When a sheep gets stuck in a thicket, the shepherd uses the staff to free it. But probably most often, the shepherd uses the staff to guide the simple-minded animal to go the right way. Other times, the shepherd lets his sheep know he is present by touching them with his staff. Sometimes I wish I could see and feel the staff of my Good Shepherd, so simply as a sheep, and I oft wish I could hear his voice of instruction, his voice telling me the way I should go. Take a look at this short clip of a shepherd calling his flock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Coq_grSFlNs Amazing. But then, I remember how he has chosen to lead me, how he has chosen to lead you--also through the sound of his voice. Our Good Shepherd waits for us to come to the pasture each morning to meet with him. Once there, we take nourishment for the day: ~>Time in the Word he has given us for instruction . . . Where we learn such things as these, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘this is the way - walk in it.'” Isaiah 30.21. ~>Time to talk with him, where we can ask for his wisdom, ask for his guidance. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32.8. ~>Time to speak to our Shepherd and a time to listen for his still, small voice. What would he have us do, how would he have us be . . . Yes, I suppose it would be much clearer if we were but sheep and he were our shepherd, guiding with his staff, protecting with his rod . . . but instead he has made us a little lower than the angels and crowned us with glory and honor! Psalm 8.5; Hebrews 2.7. How do we know what to do? We read his Word, we commune with him, listening for his voice, listening for his leading and prompts. And as a whole, we can see that God is drawing his people to himself . . . Covid-19, civil unrest, unstable economy . . . of course, we can and must turn to God! Jonathan Edwards* said, ‘It is the task of every generation to discern in which direction the Sovereign Redeemer is moving, then move in that direction.’ He is drawing us to himself, unabashedly, unapologetically to himself. Amen. Christine * Jonathan Edwards was the great American theologian and minister of the Great Awakening in the 18th century. Powerful man of God.