“Family vacation” is something of an oxymoron, isn’t it? Yet each summer I find myself looking forward to spending one week at the beach with my family. I take long walks at sunrise, have my quiet times on the porch with a bottomless cup of coffee, relax in the sun while watching everyone else play and bodysurf the waves, serve hot suppers topped off with homemade ice cream and pound cake, then return home rested, re-focused and restored—for about a week. While the memories last a lifetime, the “vacation” lasts only a few days.
It’s obvious I need something more than just a one-week break from day-to-day pressures. I need a vacation that lasts—a vacation that is built into the framework of my life and permeates everything else—a vacation of personal satisfaction, peaceful serenity, privileged security and permanent success that is found through maintaining a right relationship with God.
Read Psalm 23:1
Because the Lord Is My Shepherd
- From the following verses, give phrases that identify the Shepherd: Psalm 23:1; Genesis 48:15; 49:24; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17.
- In Psalm 23:1, what personal pronouns are used, and what do they imply?
- If the shepherd guided, controlled and cared for the sheep, he would in essence be their “lord.” A paraphrase, therefore, would be, “The Lord is my Lord.” Who is your lord? Who or what controls, shapes and guides your life? The opinions of others? Your emotions? Or ________. (Fill in the blank.)
- From Psalm 23:1, what is the obvious prerequisite for experiencing a lasting vacation?
Because the Lord Is My Supplier
- When the Lord is your Lord, what promise can you claim from Psalm 23:1?
- How does Isaiah 58:11 confirm this promise? What about Philippians 4:19?
- What basic material, emotional, spiritual or physical needs are you lacking?
- What are two things we are encouraged to do in order to have our needs met? See Matthew 6:33; also compare Matthew 7:7-11 with 1 John 5:14-15.
- From the following verses, how does God sometimes meet our needs? Acts 20:34; Philippians 2:25; 2 Corinthians 9:12.
Read Psalm 23:2-3
Restoration at the Present
In what way does your soul need restoring? In what way do you need healing or mending on the inside?
1. Through Rebirth
- Why does your soul need restoring, according to Psalm 51:5; 38:18; 51:3; Romans 3:23 and 6:23?
- What is the first step to genuine serenity? See John 3:7;
1 John 1:9; Ephesians 1:7-8.
2. Through Rest
- What do you think the green pastures represent? Compare John 21:17 with John 6:35, 63.
- What are some ways the Shepherd “makes you lie down in green pastures?” How can this meet your inner needs?
3. Through Refreshment
- Drawing from your personal experience when you are hot, tired and thirsty, what does water mean to you?
- What do the quiet waters represent in Psalm 23:2? See Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:10, 13-14; Revelation 7:17.
- What are some of the ways that the Shepherd leads you beside the quiet waters?
Direction for the Future
- What path in life are you on? Consider the goals and priorities you have set, as well as your desires.
- According to Psalm 23:3, what is the implied wrong path? What is the right path?
- At the end of your life, what difference will it make to be on the right path?
- How does the reassurance that you are on the right path help you experience the serenity of a lasting vacation?
Read Psalm 23:4
When Facing Death
- What is the worst thing that could happen to you?
- From Psalm 23:4, what makes the difference between terror and trust when the worst thing happens?
- Give phrases from the following verses that underscore this difference: Isaiah 43:2; 63:9; Psalm 91:1-4.
When Facing Difficulties
- What difficulties are you facing at home? work? church?
- What comfort does Psalm 23:4 promise?
- What do you think the “rod” represents, according to
2 Samuel 7:14; Job 9:34; Psalm 89:32; Proverbs 22:15?
- How does this comfort you? See Proverbs 13:24 and Hebrews 12:10-11.
- What do you think the “staff” represents, according to Exodus 4:2, 4, 17; 14:16?
- How does this comfort you? See Exodus 15:6; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 89:13; Jude 24-25.
Read Psalm 23:5-6
- What are some of the ways that a person’s success is measured today? See Luke 12:16-21. How does this differ from success in God’s eyes?
- What are some of the keys to success from God’s perspective, according to Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 1; 2 Chronicles 20:20; Luke 12:29-31; Mark 8:36?
- Relate each phrase of Psalm 23:5-6 to success in your own life.
- Match each of the following references with one or more of the phrases in Psalm 23:5-6: 1 John 2:20, 27; John 14:1-3; Psalm 5:12; 133:1-3; Revelation 22:3-5; Psalm 144:2; Revelation 21:3; Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 13:5-6; Revelation 19:6-9.
Are you enjoying a “lasting vacation,” based on the four main characteristics in Psalm 23? If not, what do you need to do today in order to begin experiencing genuine satisfaction, serenity, security and success?