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Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd sermon 1 of 4

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The Lord is My Shepherd; Psalm 23 - Part 1 (December 4, 2006)

Part 1

 

 

What is your deal exactly?  What is all this Christianity stuff, all the time, all the time you’re always talking about it?  What is your deal exactly?  You ever get asked questions like that?  You have people press you about what you are so fired up about?  And here’s the sad thing; a lot of times Christians are pressed about questions like that and they don’t know how to answer. They’re like; well, it’s just like you come to church, or whatever.  Or even worse, they know the answers but the fact of the matter is, they’re not experiencing it.  They can tell you about joy, but they’re not experiencing it, they can tell you about peace, but they don’t have it, they know the answers but not really experiencing the truth within the answers.  I think that is really sad. 

Almost 3000 years ago, a little shepherd boy who wrote a Psalm, it’s the 23rd Psalm and it’s phenomenal.  It’s brought more comfort, more peace and fulfillment for the people of God, through the ages, than almost any other passage of scripture. And the phenomenal thing is; it’s really David’s statement…it’s really David’s answer to the question that I was just pressing you about.  What are you doing here?  What really are the benefits of the Christian life? 

Let me make a bold statement; I believe this with all my heart. I believe that the abundant Christian, when really lived…I mean lived to the fullest; I don’t mean the Pseudo Christian life; as in hanging around Jesus but not really know Him.  And I don’t mean the carnal Christian life where you’re living in sin and defeat and guilt, all the time, no – that’s a drag for sure.  And I don’t mean the lukewarm Christian life, where you’re on the fence and sort of for God and sort of for myself too….that’s a hard life to live.  But I mean the abundant, victorious, overcoming Christian life is so far superior to anything that a human being could ever experience that its really not even worthy of being compared.  To know your creator and to walk with Him; That’s what the 23rd Psalm is all about so we’re going to be going over the….listen….the lavish benefits of following the Lord.  All right?

The 23rd Psalm is universally celebrated by both; believers and unbelievers

Let’s look at Psalm 23, and why you’re turning there I’m going to give you a little background, all right?  Sort of a little bit of what you need to know before you can know what’s in the Psalm.  The 23rd Psalm, no portion of scripture, old or New Testament, is so universally celebrated by both; believers and non-believers alike.  In fact, I’ve been married all these years and I found out something about my wife this week that I never knew before.  When she was in the 4th grade, she was not converted until she was a teenager.  She never owned a Bible nor did she ever read one, but when she was in the fourth grade she memorized, in a public school the 23rd Psalm.  It’s the only thing she had ever really known.  And many people would be like; I’ve heard that.   I head it at a funeral, I head it in a movie, it’s a passage of scripture that people have at least a surface of familiarity with. 

I heard this week as the 23rd Psalm was compared to a man who was on a journey and he was walking through the streets of a city on a very cold and very windy winter’s night.  And as he pulled his coat around himself and continued his journey, suddenly, a door on the sidewalk opened and all the sudden, flooding out of the door came light and warmth and the sound of children laughing, and the sound of music and the aroma of a meal being prepared and as quickly as the door opened and all of that spilled into the darkness; BOOM, the door closed again.  The man went on but was greatly affected by what he had seen in that moment. 

That’s what the 23rd Psalm is like. David, great Psalmist and King of Israel, I believe this was written towards the end of His life as He reflected back on his life and for a moment he opens the door of his soul.  And flooding out from within, comes these rich experiences of a man who …. The scripture says this about no other person than David…was a man after God’s own heart.  

David makes a statement…spends five verses proving it.

David knew and understood, experientially, things about God that no one else has known and in the 23rd Psalm, he compacts it into some incredible statements.  Today we’re going to look at the very first one.  In fact here is a bit of an outline of the 23rd Psalm.  The first verse is an assertion; David makes a statement; 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want, and then he spends the next five verses proving that.  He makes and assertion and then he gives the reasons why it’s true or how he has experienced that to be true.  Today, we’re going to just build the foundation; verse The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  I want you to feel your pastor working really hard so I put together a pretty creative outline for you with three points and here’s the first one;

First point: I Shall Not Want. 

You really can’t improve on this and as I was thinking; how can I say this? I thought, well duh, just say what it says.  Just think about that.  I’ve got three thoughts under that first phrase; I shall not want. 

Here’s the first one; Supply

It’s a statement of how God supplies.  I think it begs this question; not want what?  I shall not want what?  We need to know this is not an isolated promise in scripture.  There are other scriptures that assert the very same thing; that God’s commitment to His children is such that we will not be in want. 

Ps 84:11; For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Ps 34:9 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.

Many people know what Matthew 6:33 says; But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   (All these things, what things, all my basic needs, will be added unto me.)

Philippians 4:19 says; And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

So many times the scripture makes this promise that God is incredibly interested in meeting, while this phrase; I shall not want.  God doesn’t want His people to be in want.  I wish that teaching God’s word was only about proclaiming the truth.  The Bible says that a faithful minister of God’s Word will also bring correction.  And there’s some very false teaching about this phrase; I shall not want and people are taking it and distorting it and making it mean things that it was never supposed to mean.  And as a result, the children of God are expecting Him to do things that He never promised to do and there’s a lot of frustrations with that. 

I shall not want; things it doesn’t mean

So before we get really focused on, I shall not want, there are a couple of things we need to kick out the door.  Things it doesn’t mean….Here’s the first one; some people would say; I shall not want, means that God promises to all of his followers; wealth.  And all God’s followers are going to be wealthy and if you are really following the Lord and walking in faith you absolutely will prosper financially, it’s a fact.  Look at King David, he was rich, look at Abraham, he was rich and look at Solomon, he was rich.  To which I would replay; well duh, look at Elijah, he was poor, look at the Apostles, they were poor, look at Jesus, Himself who said I don’t eve have a place to lay my head down.  There is no coloration between prosperity or poverty and the Gospel.  When the scripture says I shall not want it’s not promising financial prosperity and anyone who tells you that is distorting God’s Word and setting you up for disappointment.  Got it?  It does it not promise wealth

Secondly, not promise health.  For some people who would say for every person who has come to the cross of Christ, every person who has received Christ, personally, will never get sick.  If you get sick it’s just a lack of faith on your part and that healing is part of the atonement they say, that the cross of Christ provides, not only a forgiveness of sins but health throughout your life.  Does the Bible teach that? 

Well they will quote verses like; Isaiah Chapter 53, verse 5 which says; He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.  It says, you see; healing, healing.  No!  First of all the concept of healing is used many times in the Bible in a figurative way.  Many times; healed from the affects of sin, healed eternally and if you have any doubt about that just read the next verse in Isaiah 53 because verse 6 says; after saying by His stripes we are healed, 6 All we like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him (the sickness of us all, no) the iniquity of us all.  The healing is the eternal healing…NO!  No!  I shall not want does not promise health to everyone.  I shall not want does not promise riches to everyone.  The apostle Paul himself, and I doubt there are many people who’d say; but I have greater faith than Paul!  And the Apostle Paul himself had a thorn in the flesh; some kind of physical infirmity the Lord God didn’t take away.  And it heads great judgment and consternation on the people of God to say that everyone, always everywhere will be healed.

However, let us not back up so far from that false teaching that we find ourselves over here, much like the teaching that I grew up with, God in a box, anti-supernatural…let’s be in a position of balance.  The statement of scripture; I am the Lord that heals is as true today as it ever was and I believe God does heal.  Amen?  God does heal, He doesn’t heal on demand and He doesn’t heal every person, all the time…it doesn’t mean that.

Does not mean happiness

Lastly, but quickly because I hate to talk about what it doesn’t mean because there’s a lot of confusion but it doesn’t mean Happiness.  I shall not does not mean happiness, it doesn’t mean that you will never be discouraged, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never have down times…so don’t be so hard on yourself thinking that the Bible has promised us something when it hasn’t promised that.  And we all have times of discouragement.  The great prophet Elijah and so on had times of discouragement and there will be hard times that challenge our faith.  God never promised that our lives would always be easy and perfect.  In fact, Hebrews chapter 12 tells us that hardship in life is a confirmation of God’s love.  It says; “Whom the Lord loves He chastens and He scourges every son whom He receives.”  In fact if that isn’t going on in your life maybe you don’t even know the Lord.  And so, I shall not want doesn’t promise any of those things and you say well,

I’m ready to know what it does promise…The promises of I shall not want

First of all, it definitely means the very basic needs of life.  I prayed with a woman about this very thing last night as she said, well, I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to provide for myself or if I’m going to….and I said God will provide for you, God will meet your needs. What are those basic needs…just kind of call them out to me…food, shelter, clothing….those would be the big three…food, shelter, clothing…the basic needs of life.  You don’t’ need to be anxious about those things God’s promised, over and over, that He’s going to meet every need in our life. 

But as I reflected upon the Psalm, I saw something deeper past that.  Think about it with me; “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” Shall not want the basic things of life, yes…but make a note of this…I shall not want another shepherd.  The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want another master. I am completely content with His management of my life.  And though my life is not perfect, He has never failed me.  And though there have been disappointments and difficulties, He has always kept His promises and I have never sought Him but I have always found in Him everything I need Him to be.  The Lord is my shepherd and I don’t want another one.  I don’t want another master, I don’t want another leader.  So it’s supply. 

But it’s also self control.  I shall not want….Think with me all the pain in life that is caused by wanting.  I want this, and I want this…I want to go here and I want to go there and I want to do this and I want to experience that.  The pain that comes from wanting things can be distracting and confusing.  Let me give you a personal example. 

Ice Fishing story with his dentist friend

One of the things I have always wanted to be is a fisherman and I can’t tell you the pain and heartache that has come into my life from wanting to be a fisherman.  And I could tell you stories of trips I have gone on and promises that were made that I was going to catch this many fish that you can’t….blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Frustration from wanting it.  Just recently, a friend, who was a dentist, calls him on the phone and says; hey, let’s go ice fishing.  He said, OK to which he has no idea why as to why he agreed to do that.  So early in the morning we drove north, three hours, and we are up at 5:00 am, park by this late, get on a four wheeler, riding on the back of this thing out and across this river bend and the snow was flying everywhere.  In my face, up my back, freezing cold and why?  We get out on the lake and they drill these 4: holes in the ice and they put up these 4X4 little hut over your head and the water is only 4 or 5 foot deep, the poles are only this long… I’m leaning over looking in this hole like this for an hour, for two hours, for three hours, looking finally and suddenly a fish shows up looking as though it is frozen and I am, for sure.  I take the bait drop it down right in front of the fish and it doesn’t move.  It is basically touching its mouth, and nothing.  I start rubbing the bait over the fish and it doesn’t move, it does nothing.  All this aggravation because I want to be a fisherman and now, if this isn’t enough, the friend becomes a bit discouraged because your neck becomes so sore from looking like this all the time.  Finally, the son says, dad, can I just get closer to you?  And I think, well that’s why I’m here, I’m here to spent time with my son so he moves over closer to me and wants to put his line down with me.  So he picks up my jacket to move it out of the way and when he picks it up, the front pouch opens and out comes my keys.  Out of the pocket and it was like slow motion as I’m like; nooooooooo…the keys come spinning out into the air and you guessed it…down the hole and he’s like, this can not be happening to me.  So the guy who is there with him ends up having to drill another hole next to his and the bottom line; all they caught all day….KEYS!   It was so aggravating and when they’re leaving his dentist friend says, well, what did you think?  He said; “I tell you what, it’s sort of like not catching any fish in the summer time but there’s no nice scenery, I don’t’ have a tan and I froze my tail off.  So, next time, I’ll just have a root canal.  But you know what, I can tell you so many fishing stories like that.  I…I am fish repellent.  And yet I’ve caused myself this aggravation because if you knew me personally, you would know I want to catch fish, it’s something I want to do.  Now that’s a silly story

If I Need more I’ll get more of Him

Think of some of the things that you want to do; I want this….I want to do that…I want to go here, I want to do that, I want to experience this; I want to be this kind of person and how much pain and aggravation comes into our lives because of things we want.  I didn’t need that, I wanted it.  And how much misery, now just think, and let the fresh air of the Word of God blow across your heart; “I shall not want.”  To come to the place in your life where if someone were to say to you, do you want?  No.  Would you like to have?  No.  Well, I can get you some more of?  No.  But wouldn’t your life be a little better if you had?  No.  Listen, I have the Lord, He is my shepherd and He is all I need and if I need some more, I’ll get more of Him because He is phenomenal.  The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want…It’s a statement of self control. 

 

Security

But it’s also a statement of security, finally.  Think about this, notice his confidence.  He doesn’t say I might not want, he doesn’t say I could not want, he doesn’t say I hope I won’t want…he says what?  He says; I shall not want.  It’s a statement of confidence

Confidence….He is all I need and a day is coming

But also notice this; he doesn’t say; I did not want, he doesn’t say, I do not want….he says I; past, present or future? Which?  Future!  David is saying the more I walk with my shepherd, my Lord, the more I see him reducing in my life my desires for other things; close to him…I don’t want much else…far from Him….I’m all caught up in so much nonsense.  David says, you know I think if I keep going in this direction, I believe there’s a day coming when I shall not want anything.  Because the Lord’s my shepherd!  That’s a phenomenal statement and you talk about having something out in front of you, as a goal for your life.  When you come to the place where you can say; I don’t’ want anything.  Such security in that! 

My Shepherd

Let’s talk about the second part of this incredible verse; my shepherd.  Let’s talk about that for a few minutes.  Oh that God would give us a life of supply and control and security, not wanting anything.  Of course all of this is rooted in; “My Shepherd”.  This is a picture; it’s the foundation of the entire Psalm.  One of the most common ways that the Lord reveals His relationship with us over two hundred times in scripture is the picture of shepherds and often in relationship to God and His people. (24:00)

We are Lost

The first thing that occurred to me as I thought and prayed about it is this; we need a shepherd, we really need a shepherd.  And you know why we need a shepherd?  Yeah, ding!  We’re lost!  We’re like sheep.  Let’s tell it like it is.  The Lord calls Himself our shepherd because we are lost sheep.  First of all, we’re pronged to follow.  Human beings have a herding instinct, don’t they?  It’s like; “Man, if that’s in style I sure would like to have one of those.”  And “Boy, I sure would like to be like him.”  And, “Where’s everyone else going?  I think I would like to go there too.”  We have this herding instinct to follow and we’re so trusting.  People say; “Why don’t you do this with your life?”  Oh, OK, that sounds like a good thing to do with my life.  Why don’t you go here?  Oh I think I’ll do that!  That sounds good.  Or why don’t you watch this, oh did you like it?  Well, maybe I’ll like it too.  And we’re so pronged to follow…sheep are like that; you know?  Bah…bah…bah.  They just…they just…go

We are vulnerable

Secondly, we are like sheep because we are vulnerable.  I haven’t spent a lot of time on a farm but I remember going to farms throughout my life.  You know, most farm animals exist, fairly well, without human supervision.  What do you call a person who shepherds chickens?  You say, “Well, they don’t have a shepherd.”  Well yeah!  And neither do horses.  And or neither do pigs.  And neither do cows.  Sheep!  They need a shepherd.  How come?  Because they need one.  Why?  Because they’re vulnerable, because they’re weak, because they require constant guidance and protection as without a shepherd they wander and they fail. 

Isaiah 53; All we like sheep have gone astray.  We’re so pronged to go off on our own and do our own thing.  You can get a group of sheep in this lush green pasture, turn your back on them, before you know it they’re poking their nose under the fence….where are you going?  I think it looks good over there.  Well what’s wrong with right here?  Oh nothing, I just thought maybe…No, let’s stay over here.   You see?  And that leads to the third thing; 1)We pronged to follow, 2) we’re vulnerable, and this is the part that you’re really not going to like; so here it is; 3) we’re stubborn. Don’t look at me like that

 

 

We are Stubborn

Third thing, we are so stubborn and we want to do things our way and we want to it when we want to do it and how we want to do it.  If I’ve learned anything from teaching God’s Word to people for 12 years, people are stubborn.  And you tell them the same thing, over and over and over again, but when they finally desperately need the piece of information they’re like, “why didn’t you tell me this?  Say what!  We’re stubborn, yes we are, and I’m not going to even try to get you to say it because we are. We’re so stubborn…we’re like sheep. 

6 things taught over and over and over

I think of some of the things that I’ve tried to teach our church over and over and over again.  You want to do a little sampling?  Things I’ve said; over and over; see how you’re doing…make a note of these six.  First of all, how many times have I said this?  1) Walk with Christ, be in the Word; yourself on a regular basis…are you’re going to fail.  Now, I’ve said this over and over and over again…Walk with Christ, bi in the Word, be in prayer, all the time…steadily, faithfully or you will not make it spiritually; you have to feed yourself.  And if you’ve been here at all you’ve heard that…but are you doing that?  Are you really doing that because if you’re not….stubborn!  Here’s another one; 2) Keep short accounts; don’t let bitterness invade your heart.  If someone hurts you, forgive them.  If someone disappoints you, let it go.  Don’t’ hang on to that thing.  Bitterness will destroy you and while you’re thinking you’re hurting the other person, you’re hurting yourself.  And yet, how many people sitting here right now have something from the last 90 days that you’re holding onto?  That you won’t let it go as someone has hurt you, maybe recently or in the distant past.  Don’t’ be so stubborn, just let that go.  How many times have I challenged people about 3) be accountable as you can’t make it along in the Christian life.  And you say; I’m gonna try; don’t.  No, no, I think I’m going to beat the odds…no you won’t.  You’re not going to make it alone; you have to be connected to other believers.  Get in a small group, get involved in a ministry, get involved in a ministry, get a group of believers that are inquiring about you and your life and asking how you’re doing, and how’s your faith growing and where are you at spiritually…and you say, yeah, I agree and I think most people probably need that, but…..Why do you act like that?  You say, because I’m like a sheep.  Right!  We’re so stubborn.  4) Protect your marriage…it takes time, time, time, time…if you don’t put time into your marriage it’s not going to be strong.  It takes time.  Well, you say, how much time is it going to take?  A lot!  If your not men, listen, if you’re not spending time with your wife; talking to her, praying with her, having fun with her...how do you think you fell in love?  You say; well it tool some time; ding!  How do you think you’re going to stay?  It takes time…if you’re neglecting your marriage you’re heading for a world of hurt, you are.  There are people here that have been through that valley of failure and devastation that would plead with you; don’t be stubborn like me.   Here it now today while you can still do something about it.  It takes time.  Here’s another one…5) regarding children…once you get them past the early ages, and I’ve taught about that a lot; through the age of four, five, six, seven years old…once your kids get to be twelve, thirteen, fourteen…if you want your kids to follow Christ and worship the Lord with you and follow the Lord with you, these two things are absolutely essential.  5) Music6) Friends…Control your student’s music and friends or they’re going south.  You say; no, no; I’ve got a lot of control…no you don’t.  You’ve got less than you had last week.  It’s all about their music and their friends.  If you don’t have control of those two things then your kids are not going to a good place.  You say; well, I’m going to have to have a war…have it.  Have the war…starting today.  Declare war, start a war, fire the first thought.  Get control…music and friends.  How clear can that be?  But how many people will walk out of here and not do that and come back into my office or the associate’s office in three or four years; sobbing over my kids and they’re in the world and you can’t believe who they’ve fallen in love with….what do we do not?  Listen up and don’t be stubborn and know that these pointed words are loving words. 

Let me just tell you something…look at all the people in this room, and it was essentially like this at 9:00 and last night.  Now I got to tell you something; it is an overwhelming responsibility to stand up in front of all these people and speak the truth, over and over and over….and people are so stubborn-they don’t get it until the whole thing is falling apart and it’s just too late.  And I’m so thankful the word Pastor actually is a transliteration of a Latin word that means shepherd.  But if you want to be really technical, Biblically speaking, we’re not the shepherd, we’re the under shepherds.  You know who the shepherd is? 

 

The Shepherd will lead you

Hebrews 13 says that Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd and I’m so glad to proclaim to you that you have a personal shepherd that if you open your heart to Him He will pursue you and He will drive you to the place…He will lead you and bring you, as a stubborn sheep, to the place where your life is so filled with good things.  And there might be some valley’s along the journey to refine you and perfect you but He loves you and He only wants to bring good things into your life.  And so it’s true; we need a shepherd and Amen, we have a Shepherd.  Our shepherd is Jesus Christ the Lord and do you know that over and over again, in the New Testament He reveals Himself as a shepherd.  In fact, in the OT, Isaiah 40:11, there’s a prophecy concerning Christ and it says; He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Micah 5:4 also prophesied regarding Christ 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.

Mark 6:34 says; When Jesus, came out, He saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

 

John 10..I am the good shepherd the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep

 

1 Peter 5:4…Revelation 7:17…Jesus Reveals Himself as a Shepherd

Over and over Christ reveals Himself as a shepherd. You say well how is He like a shepherd?  Well, first of all, like I said, He leads us.  We need to be lead don’t we?  Isn’t it great…a shepherd would lead the sheep…he would be in front of them, not behind, as there would not be a place the lambs would place their feet but the shepherd had walked there.  There wasn’t a valley that the sheep would go through but that the shepherd had gone through first.  That’s what it means to lead.  And do you know that there is nothing that comes into your life that the Shepherd hasn’t already covered that terrain and given it full approval for it to come into your life and if He didn’t want to allow it He would have turned and went a different direction and you would not have gone through that thing.  But you say; it’s so hard.  Listen; the shepherd led you through the ground and that will be good for you. He leads us; He protects us.  That’s very clear.  Sheep are so vulnerable to disease, and to weather, and to thieves that come and still them.  And in the same way, the enemy of our souls would steal our focus but the shepherd protects us and that’s why I’m here today and He’s filling my mind with good things as He wants to protect me.   

And this is really good; the shepherd feeds us doesn’t He?  The shepherd feeds us and this is only supposed to be a sampling of the feeding you get.  This is supposed to fire you up to take this book in your hands, yourself, and feed yourself this week.  That’s where the real feeding takes place.  It seems to me that I’ve taught that before. 

The Keyword here; MY

Now here’s the most important part in the phrase; the Lord is my shepherd; anyone want to guess what the keyword is?  It’s my!  The Lord is MY shepherd because all that I’ve said is hopelessly irrelevant and useless if you cannot say, from your heart, the Lord is my shepherd.  In order for the Lord to be your shepherd you have to make a personal decision, Christ calls all men everywhere, all men and women, to turn from their sin and believe upon Christ, by faith, and you say; well I think I’ve done that, I think the Lord’s my shepherd.  No, that’s not how it works.  Either He is your shepherd or He isn’t.  Well, you say; I think He is…Listen you don’t have to wonder anymore.  Keep your finger in Psalm 23 and turn to John chapter 10 because you don’t have to think that you have, you can know that you have.  I’ll give you a little two point test right now, and you can answer the questions, honestly and then you’ll know at the end whether you can say, honestly, The Lord is my shepherd.

John 10:27 Jesus says this; My sheep (you say the Lord is my shepherd…if the Lord is my shepherd then Jesus can say of you; he is one of, she is one of my sheep.  Jesus says you want to know what my sheep are like; let me tell you what they are like) John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  There it is…are you one of His sheep?  Can you say honestly; the Lord is my shepherd?  Then you can answer yes to these two questions; do you hear His voice?  Do you hear the Lord speaking to you through His Word?  As truth is being spoken into your life….listen….As truth is being proclaimed is something in your heart that resonates; (with this is right) and to lay your hand up, you know what I’m talking about and this is an in your heart there’s a stirring that’s going on and like a person who has laid their hand on something very valuable and you grip it tightly because it’s valuable and you say; that’s for me and that really matters and beyond my voice, you sense and urgency an appointedness and a focus within your spirit; this is right!  Now if you know what I’m talking about; you’re hearing His voice.  And if you’re like; what is he talking about?  You’re not hearing His voice and that’s a bad place to be.  When you open the word of God for yourself and you read it, now I’m not saying that there’s passages in God’s word that puzzles me, but when you open God’s word for yourself and you read it and you earnestly go over it is there something that quickens you and your; ah, this is life, this is where it’s at.  But if that’s not going on and you’re like; gosh I can’t think of anything more depressing than reading the Bible…than you might not be one of the sheep.  Jesus said; my sheep hear my voice.  It’s not just a book to them….it’s much more than that.

2nd Characteristic (They Follow Me)

My sheep hear my voice, Jesus says, I know them and they follow me…follow me.  There’s no use pretending.  Either you are following Christ or your not.  You say; well, I’m not following Him perfectly…no, no…but you’re following Him.  You say, well, I stumble sometimes…yeah but you get up.  You say, well I wish I didn’t fall the way I do…no, no but keep trying because in your heart you want to please Him and your eyes are upon Him and you care so much about what Christ thinks of you.  You’re following Him; OK, you are……are you?  Maybe you’re not following Him, maybe you never think about Him.  Maybe you could hardly care a less.  Then you can’t’ say, the Lord is my shepherd.  So the most important word in the 23rd Psalm is the word; MY.  My sheep hear my voice…the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Favorite word in the first verse….Lord

Now let’s talk about my favorite word, the best word in the whole first verse… is Lord.  Because that’s really the bottom line isn’t it?  It’s like who is your shepherd?  It’s all about who you’re following.  To stand up and say; THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!  That the best part and the specific word that’s there, you need to know it reveals something, it reveals a very personal care…very personal care.  The Lord cares for us personally.  That phrase there, translated in your Bible capital L O R D is the Hebrew term that’s translated 6800 times in the Old Testament it’s the special unique name for God.  The Hebrew term has just four consonants.  It’s been translated sometimes, Yahweh, sometimes Jehovah.  Actually, the translators of the Old Testament considered the word so sacred that they wouldn’t even speak it in its original form.  They took the Greek word, Addonai, which means Lord, took the vowels out of that, put the vowel in between the consonants and created this word; Yahweh - Addonai.  And the translators of scripture have done us a real disservice by translating it; Lord. Capital LORD.  And here’s why.  Because when God appeared to Moses, in Exodus, chapter 3, and He said; this is my name…and He gave it to him. What God was saying was….you see the problem with Lord is that it’s a title.  Isn’t it?  Lord is a title, it’s not a name and God doesn’t want to be known by a title.  If someone said to you; don’t call me Bob, call me Dr.  If I said to you don’t call me James, call me pastor.  What would I be saying?  I’d be saying….back off; don’t you know who I am?  I have a title so let’s hear it.  Of course I wouldn’t do that…you know I’m not like that.  But God was saying the exact opposite.  He was saying; call me by my name…I want to relate to you, I want to have a personal relationship with you. 

1600 times that word is in the OT.  Yahweh Jehovah.  God wants to be known and God wants to know us personally.  So when David says; the Lord is my shepherd…that Hebrew word that is lost in translation is describing a God who wants to be known personally and make Himself known.  His care is so personal and he’s so focused on each of us and He knows us as individuals.  There’s not some big group of people…it’s you.  And one of the things that has richly rewarded the students of scripture has been reading the 23rsd Psalm, because it’s so personal. How can you miss it?  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  So it’s a personal care.

Here’s the last thing:  It’s a powerful care.

You would never want to come so familiar with the Lord, so comfortable with His name that you, like, lose sight of who He is.  This sacred term speaks of a holy righteous God that is so beyond us.  You know, I love to think of the size of the universe that Christ spoke into existence.  You know there are 300 million times 300 million stars in the known universe with new ones being discovered all the time?  The closest star to the planet earth, kind of like from your front porch, is called Alpha Centori and if you were to get on a rocket ship and go to Alpha Centori and take the earth’s most powerful telescope and turn it around…you couldn’t even find the earth.  Can you imagine that?  The earth is so small that you can’t even see it from the nearest star.  Now here we are, on this spec of dust in the universe.  And if our planet is a spec of dust I’m not sure what we are but it’s small.  Now think for a moment, the Lord, who spoke it all into existence, loves you and His eyes are upon you and He knows your exact situation and circumstance.  You are never out of His care.  You are never beyond His gaze.  You have not begun for a moment to plumb the depths of the phenomenal truth; the Lord is your shepherd.  He wants to care for you and provide for you in every way possible.  Now that’s a powerful excerption; the Lord is my Shepherd; Amen? 

Different individuals stand up and speak vs. 1

Now, stand up and just speak it out as loud as you can; go ahead…the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. Now, I want to pick someone else; just stand up, say it out loud and express your faith…the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.  (four or five times)  Now listen loved ones; this is a powerful assertion that is being made.  We’re going to spend three more weeks on the proof; but the statement has been made, amen?  Let’s say it together….The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want….last time…lift up your voice….The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. Amen!

Closing prayer

Father, thank you for this incredible promise and all that it brings into the proximity of our lives. The rich promises of almighty God available to each one of us who turn, by faith, to You.  Lord, forgive us for making such paltry use of Your riches.  Cause to well up, within our hearts, a fresh desire to know you and to walk with you.  Forgive us, God, for being so stubborn, each of us…Lord forgive me.  We commit and consecrate these next weeks to you and we pray that in our church and in our lives that you would bring forth fresh new times of devotion to You that we might be in Your Word and in prayer to consecrate ourselves to you and pray that we could discover, anew, that powerful truth; Oh Lord, that you are our shepherd and I shall not want. 

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