Everything Is Better with Bacon!
by Pastors Scott and Nancy Bacon
Some Recent Devotions
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2
Our hectic world has slowed to a still. Our world, once a constant web of connection has slowed itself to be more distant so to more safe. We hold our breath in the stillness. We are lost under the waves of information and news about COVID-19. We grasp for the apple of knowledge as Adam and Eve did in the hope it will bring us more understanding of this crisis. We consume the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge, but inside the apple is a worm. We consume the apple, but then the worm consumes us. The food of information and news we hoped would appease our fears has only made our fear more consuming. We feel fear creeping about our lives, scratching at the door.
The Lord, though, is the good shepherd. The one protecting our coming in and our going out. He guides us in the dangerous terrain of today. A terrain unknown to us, but not to him. Trust. Have faith. Be hopeful. Lean in on the goodness of the one who came to save, who has the power to save.
Question of the day: Feeling overwhelmed? Uncertain? Of course, we all are. What are some needed ways, some fresh ways today that you can lean in on the goodness of the Lord?
Prayer of the day: I thank you, Lord God, that you are the good shepherd. You lead me and guide me. Be my strength and refuge as I journey through an uncertain world. May the hope my faith in you affords me surround me for while there are many things to be afraid of in this world, I don’t have to live in fear. You are God, you are my Lord. You are the good shepherd. Amen.
Want to go deeper? Read John 10:1-21. Jesus declares that he is the good shepherd, the one who lays down his life for his flock. Verse 10 is especially powerful in these times: “The thief comes only to kill and destroy. I have come so that [you] may have life.”
“The Lord is my shepherd… even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fearno evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
To be human is to stand suspended over a chasm. To be human is to be vulnerable. It is a scary thing to be human. To be alive, but that life to be so fragile.
But when have you or I ever not been vulnerable? That life wasn’t scary: the decisions, uncertainties, failed dreams, unforeseen challenges, the losses? The harsh reality of being human is that you have never been more than one week, one day, or even just one moment away from losing that you hold to most dearly in life. “O Lord, I have always been in your hands. Why should that frighten me now? For even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.”
Each day is a precious gift. You have never been anything other than wholly dependent on God – both frightening and wondrously so.
Question of the day: In this time of crisis, is your dependence on God more apparent? Does this dependence frighten you or assure you?
Prayer of the day: Shepherding Lord, I pray for the shadows of night to pass and a new day to dawn. Thank You, Lord, that you are always with me. You never leave me nor forsake me. I’m so grateful that you are with me in the light and in the darkness. You are with me always. You go before me; You are already where I will go. Your knowing, comforting voice calls me by name. It comforts me because you are the good shepherd. In the darkness, you lead me to light. In the light, you guide me to life. Lead me, guide me ever, I pray. Amen.
Want to go deeper? Read Exodus 14. The Lord had freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, but now the Egyptians were pursuing them and the Israelites’ escape was blocked by the sea. Their dependence on God was now even dramatically apparent. They could not save themselves. Neither can we. But God can.
“The Lord is my shepherd… you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
Who are your enemies? I never gave much consideration to who my enemies are. My enemy? The bad neighbor who is annoying and crazy? My enemy? Iran, North Korea? The bully back in middle school who made my teenage years hell? No, they are bothersome or worrisome, but enemies? No, the enemy is despair; it is death.
Today, our enemy has a new name: COVID-19. It has scattered death and despair across our world. Scattered it across race, gender, religion, social class. It has taken lives (over 25,000 lives to date) and it still threatens the lives of so many more. It is an enemy we can’t see. It is an enemy we can barely fight.
In the presence of this enemy the Lord prepares the way for us to go, gives us assurance for the fight, gives the promise of a new day. He anoints us with his goodness and righteousness even with our enemy looking at us, its evil threatening us. Since Eden, the enemy has always been creeping about our lives, scratching at the door. The Lord draws closer to you to fill you with strength and with peace with the confidence that even though there are many things to fear, many things that are uncertain in this life, you don’t have to live in fear.
Question of the day: You know what the enemy of today is, but what is the Lord doing in your life today while you are surrounded by the horrific crisis COVID-19 has brought upon us? Don’t be so consumed by fear of the enemy that you ignore or discount the goodness of God also surrounding you. What is the Lord preparing for you in the presence of your enemy?
Prayer of the day: Shepherding Lord, thank you for being so good to me that my cup runs over with your divine abundance. Anoint me with your love, fill me with your goodness so I might be renewed. Use me, I pray, to share this goodness with others by what I say and what I do. Give me the passion and courage to share your goodness even though I am surrounded by the enemy. Amen.
Want to go deeper? Read I Corinthians 15:12-34. Naming your enemy is crucial (death and despair), but so is naming the power of God (resurrection and hope). In a time of pandemic, it is certainly easy to recognize “our bodies are perishable,” but so too must we hold to the power of God to raise us “imperishable… in glory.”
“The Lord is my shepherd… surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23:6)
We hear and see it. We feel it in our souls. The number of COVID-19 cases keep going up. When will they recede? When will there be safety and health? The barrage of bad news follows us throughout the day. When will there be good news?
Ancient Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, was made up of fewer words than most modern languages, including English. This means a Hebrew word often has several possible English translations. Such as it is with rādaph, which is most commonly translated follow in this Psalm; however, follow doesn’t convey the force of the Hebrew word, which is more often translated elsewhere as “chase” or “cling to,” especially since the verb of the sentence, ‘Qal, is what in English would be imperfect tense, which conveys continuous action. Therefore, hear the great promise of this Psalm: surely the goodness and mercy of God will pursue you, cling to you all the days of your life.
Question of the day: How does the goodness and mercy of God you have in Christ Jesus pursue you in the troubles and concerns of this day?
Prayer of the day: Shepherding Lord, in you alone is rest and peace. I praise you for the assurance that, by your grace and through my faith, I will dwell with you forever. Guide me, lead me. Restore my soul with your peace and assurance. I thank you for your goodness and love that not only merely follows after me, but chases after me. Amen.
Want to go deeper? Read Romans 8:28-39 (my favorite passage). Is the love of God we have in Christ Jesus follow us or does it more aptly cling to us all the days of our life? If you have time, read John 16:16-33 also. Verse 22 is especially poignant: “Now is your time of grief, but you will rejoice.”