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In the Valley

May 20, 2020 Dear Believers, Thank you for your participation in weekly prayer for our prodigals and for revival. How necessary it is for us to seek out and live in the consciousness of His presence! A preacher once said, “The presence of God will not always fix your problems, but it will clarify your perspective.” While God’s presence is wonderful in the green pastures and by the still waters, it is all the more precious in the valley of shadows. In Psalm 23, David uses the analogy of the shepherd and the sheep, and makes parallels between them and our lives with Jesus. He doesn’t gloss over the reality that life can be extremely difficult and dark. Notice the language of verse four, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Valleys are deep areas between mountains. They can be dark and dangerous. Sometimes, in order to bring his sheep to the desired feeding grounds, the shepherd needs to lead them through the dark valley. Maybe in your walk with God, you are you passing through a valley today. It could be “the valley of the shadow of death” as David called it.  But it might also be a sickness, an accident, a broken relationship, a family problem, a financial crisis, or a personal struggle. These are the shadows we face in this valley of life. David makes a bold statement when he says, “I will fear no evil.” We, like him, we are surrounded by evil because we live in the realm of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The valley of life has evil lurking at every corner. How could he say, “I will fear no evil?” There was only one way then and there is only one way now. It is because of God’s presence. “You are with me.” This is the promise of the Almighty! It’s all through Scripture. When God told Moses to leave Sinai and head for the promised land, He said, “My presence shall go with you” (Ex. 33:14). To Israel, He promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isa. 43:2). To Paul, overwhelmed by the idolatrous Corinth, He encouraged, “Do not be afraid…for I am with you” (Acts 18:9-10). His presence is all we need. His presence means that we have His protection. Shepherds have two main protective tools—the rod and the staff. The rod is a short, blunt, club-like tool, mainly used to harm fierce predators such as bears, wolves, and wild cats. This reminds us that God has our backs, and will not let the enemy destroy us. Throughout this psalm, the power of God’s Word is evident, and here we see it in this rod. What enemy is attacking you today? Take up God’s Word as your protection and slay it. Is it fear? Is it inadequacy? Is it inferiority? Is it shame? Is it cowardice? Allow the club to do its work and drive back the enemy.  The staff is different from the rod. It is a long stick with a crocked end and is used to help the needy sheep. It can direct them when they leave the path or lift them when they’re stranded and helpless. The staff is God’s Word in season, accomplishing His desired goal in your life. There are many times in our lives when we experience our Shepherd-God using His staff to carefully bring us back from hazardous and harmful situations. Maybe even today you felt His crook drawing you back from a besetting sin or a place of danger. As we journey through the dark paths of life, we are not alone and defenseless. We have the comfort and protection of our Lord’s presence and His Word. May we live in the good of this truth today. Love in Christ, Bryan and Rachel


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