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Because He Is My Shepherd

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Topic:  Because He Is My Shepherd

 

Psalm 23 (NLT)

A psalm of David.

1           The Lord is my shepherd;

I have everything I need.

2           He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

3           He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

bringing honor to his name.

4           Even when I walk

through the dark valley of death,*

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

protect and comfort me.

5           You prepare a feast for me

in the presence of my enemies.

You welcome me as a guest,

anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

6           Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord

forever.

Jesus is our good shepherd. It is the identity of the shepherd that urges us to think of ourselves as his sheep.

            Today we have again come to the valley of the shadow. Death is the darkest valley of life that we must travel. The Twenty Third Psalm assures us that God is our shepherd, and because of that we have abundant assurances.

I.              Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. (Read 23:1-3a). Jesus promised that we would never want for food, shelter, clothing, and life necessities while we put him first. But at this moment you want more than physical items. You want what no store can sell, no merchant can provide. You want confidence, comfort, and cheer.

(a)   He provides comfort. He has been where we are  and he knows how we feel.

(b)   He provides confidence, even in this crisis of life when we have feelings that we feel we cannot bear.

(c)   He provides good cheer. Jesus turned the tears of more than one funeral into shouts of joy. On the day that Jesus came to life the sounds coming from the cemetery were those of a festival: laughter, delight, excitement, and hope.

II.             Because the Lord is my shepherd, I am led in righteousness (Read 23:3b). Any other shepherd might lead me into sin. The very mention of sin at a funeral is enough to dismay us, but not if Jesus is our shepherd.

(a)   He leads us in the way of forgiveness, goodness, and purity.

(b)   I may die as a sinner, but I am a sinner who is saved by his grace. That is an old Christian promise, but it deserves to be retold at the funeral of any Christian.

(c)   “For His name’s sake he is righteous, and so are his followers. We share in his righteousness.

III.            Because he is my shepherd, I am not afraid. (Read 23:4-5). The shepherd’s staff is used for both correction and comfort of the sheep. He can use its crook to retrieve a lost lamb from trouble. That same staff becomes a deadly weapon to drive away a hungry wolf or sneaky thief.

(a)   His staff is our comfort.

(b)   With Christ as our shepherd we are not afraid. He defends us from our enemies. The staff frightens them, but the sight of that staff is a comfort to us.

(c)   The good shepherd wants to comfort you today, in your own time of grief and loss.

IV.           Because the Lord is my shepherd, I shall dwell with him. (Read 23:6). The analogy of the psalm changes here. We no longer think of ourselves as sheep following a shepherd, but as guests of a generous host. We are accorded all the pleasures of Middle Eastern hospitality.

(a)   We dwell in the Lord’s house in this life. We will exist in his presence. There is comfort in that.

(b)   We shall dwell I the Lord’s house in the next life. Jesus spoke of his Father’s house and its many rooms, a place for everyone in the family. There is a place there for you.

“And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” This last line of the psalm is as perfect as the first line, “The Lord is my shepherd.” I needed for those words to be said, especially today.

I need to know that life goes on, beyond the valley of the shadow of death. I need to know that life is infinite there. But most of all, I need to know that my good shepherd, my good host is there. Without Jesus being there heaven would not be heaven. But Jesus is there and he makes heaven heavenly.

The Lord is my shepherd. Because of that truth this day is not one of tragedy, but of comfort, assurance and victory.

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