Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/2/2023: Ezekiel 34:11-16

Today please be in prayer for

Kennard Grace UMC
Missouri River District
Louisville, NE First UMC
Missouri River District
Mynard Liberty UMC
Missouri River District
Nebraska City First UMC
Missouri River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Ezekiel 34:11-16

For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep and will sort them out. As shepherds sort out their flocks when they are among scattered sheep, so I will sort out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them into their own land, and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strays, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.

Today's Devotional

The Psalms, Ezekiel, and later Jesus, use metaphor for God as a Good Shepherd. And perhaps it is hard for us to fully understand this imagery while living in the industrialized 21st century.

But the shepherd was the one who led the flock to pastures where there was plenty to eat, the shepherd would protect them from danger, and the shepherd knew every sheep by name. That is exactly what God does for us, leading us to abundant life, protecting us from harm, and calling us each our name.

So, it should be easy to follow the Good Shepherd, right? Well, at times it can be challenging to follow in the ways of the Good Shepherd. To forgive someone who has wronged you? To not hold a grudge against someone? To truly love everyone, even that person we disagree with?

We begin to follow the shepherds of the world. The political leaders, celebrities, others in the flock, who convince us we don’t really need to show unconditional love. They convince us fear and judgment will curb our hunger, but that does not fully sustain and nourish our spirits.

Ezekiel describes what the Good Shepherd provides, “I will feed you with justice.” Justice and reconciliation are what will feed our spirits and what the Good Shepherd wants us to have. Not vengeance or hate, but unconditional love and kindness. Are we ready to follow the Good Shepherd? To trust the paths we walk? To be fed with justice? Will we follow in the way that leads to an abundant nourishing life? And then will we make sure every other person is given this same life? Are you ready to follow the Good Shepherd?
 -- Maddi Baugous, associate pastor
Omaha First UMC

Prayer for Reflection

Guiding, sustaining God, you are the Good Shepherd. May we hear your voice call us by name, guide us to safety, and feed us with justice. With each step may we follow in your love. Together we pray. Amen.


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