Psalms 23 Part 6

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

David finishes this chapter with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Notice how David sums up this chapter. After all that he has done to describe the Lord as the Shepherd he says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” In other words, if I truly believe that the Lord is my Shepherd and all the ways that I described Him as a Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The truth is we have to make a decision. Is the Lord your Shepherd? If you make a decision to follow the Lord and accept Him as your Shepherd, then you choose to follow Him wherever He leads.

Choosing Christ takes Faith. Faith means that even though you may not see God you believe that He exists. We can look around and see the effects of God. We can look all around us and find things that we may not see, but because of their functions we believe they exist.

Faith is what has brought many individuals through difficult times.

  • Noah had faith when he built an ark to save his family from a flood that would come from rain that he had not yet heard of.
  • Abraham had faith believing that God would provide the sacrifice to replace his son that God had told him to take and sacrifice.
  • Moses had faith to believe that God would part the waters when he stretched his staff over the Red Sea.
  • Joshua had faith to believe that the walls of Jericho would fall down when they marched around the wall.
  • Gideon had faith that he could conquer the Midian army with just the 300 men that God left him with.
  • Samson had faith that God would give him one more chance to strike down the Philistines when he stood between the pillars that held the building up.
  • Esther had faith when she stood before the king that God would save her people.
  • Nehemiah had faith when he went to rebuild the wall that God would bring the people together to help him do it.
  • Mary had faith when she accepted the calling of being the mother of God.
  • Joseph had faith when he took Mary as his wife.
  • We can see the faith of the believers. Even when they could not see how their circumstances would turn, they had faith that God would see them through their situation.

God will take care of us. He will get us through everything that we are faced with. We just have to have faith and believe that he will do it.

How often do we truly have faith? Do we truly lay our life in his hands? How hard do we try to hang on to it on our own? We can look at different people and see that when they tried to take their life in their own hands, that is when they got themselves in trouble.

  • Remember Adam, when he decided to listen to the woman and not to God, that is when he was kicked out of the garden.
  • Remember Abraham, when he decided to take Sarah’s maidservant Hagar as his wife and not wait on the promise from God is when he got in trouble and Hagar and Ishmael were banished.
  • Remember David, when he decided to stay home from battle is when he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed.
  • Remember Jonah, when he decided to not go to Ninevah is when God had a fish swallow him up to get his attention.

The truth is God has a great plan for us, but when we decide to do things our way is when we get out of God’s will and our life falls a part. We need to choose faith and believe that God has our best interest in mind. I don’t know about you, but I choose faith. I choose the Lord to be my shepherd. I know that what David wrote is true.

The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not want. He makes to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. His rod and His staff they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. And since I have accepted the Lord as my Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me the rest of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23 Part 5

Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

We have looked at the first four verses, today I want to look at verse 5. David wrote, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

When I look at verse five I could very easily do three entries from this passage. David combines 3 separate thoughts into verse 5.

The first thought is …

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. The message translates it this way, “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.”

When we look at this first thought of verse five we need to look specifically at 3 words. They are Prepare, table and enemies.

The word prepare in the Hebrew means to “arrange, to “set in order”, to “furnish”, to “ordain”, to “lay” or to “set in a row”.  The English meaning of the word “ordain” is to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law.

The word table is the Hebrew word Shuehan which means spread which implies a meal. God chooses to prepare a meal or feast for us, right in front of our enemies.

The word enemies means “adversary, be in affliction, besiege, bind up, be in distress, enemy, oppress, pangs, to be in a straight (trouble)”.  So, the word enemy does not just mean a singular force that is against me, like Satan.  It’s much more than that, it’s simpler and more applicable to our lives.  It is distress, pangs of trouble, oppression, affliction.

So think about this… In the midst of great trouble and distress and affliction, in an orderly way, God lays-out and organizes a long table of provision and sustenance for each of us. That is how much God loves and cares for us.

The second thought is you anoint my head with oil.

In most Pentecostal circles when you think of anointing the head with oil you think of praying for the sick. James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

The shepherd used oil for different reasons. The sheep had many enemies that would fly around its head. The shepherd would rub oil on the sheep’s head and it would make the different flying insects leave the sheep alone.

When the Lord anoints my head with oil, I believe that God is preparing our minds for His word or if you are being attacked by the enemy, the first place the enemy attacks is your mind. If the enemy can get your mind to wonder, he can destroy your life. All sin begins in the mind, whether you are thinking about doing something or you don’t take the time to think.

We have to protect the mind. Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take the helmet of salvation…” We have to protect our mind. The enemy will attack your mind. Lust begins in the mind. Suicide begins in the mind. Hate crimes begin in the mind. And I could go on and on. We need God to anoint our heads with oil.

The third thought in verse five is…

My cup runs over. The cup that runneth over is not only full – it is over-full. He who drinks from this cup need not worry in any way about being nurtured for he is blessed with excess, with abundance. The metaphor is clear. If we “seek . . . first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” than we shall not want in any way. Our trust in God – as absolute and uncompromised as we can make it – is all that we need attend to.

God’s desire is the best for all of us. He wants nothing but the best. His desire is that we are blessed. He has many blessings for us. A verse that I read every week is Malachi 3:10. It says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

God says, the blessings I have for you are endless if you will obey me.

David wrote, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemy, you anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over.”

Psalms 23 Part 4

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Now, let’s look closer at verse 4. It says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Think about this for a moment. The Lord, our shepherd, feeds us in the pasture, He leads us on the trail, and accompanies us into the dark ravine where unknown danger lurks. After He has made us to lie down in green pastures and He has quenched our thirst with streams of water and He has restored us and led us in the paths of righteousness for Him. Remember we represent Him. Also know this, we are going to go through some dark times in our life.

We might get bad news about a loved one. We might get bad news about our health. We might get bad news about our job. We are going to feel like we are in a dark place. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” He walks with us through the valley.

Think about this, the longest shadows are cast in the late afternoon even as the heaviest tests often come at life’s sunset—it is during that time that we must go through “the valley of the shadow of death”. If you are a wise person by that time you will have chosen your Shepherd.

On the narrow trail, the shepherd “led,” but in the most difficult hour of all He is alongside: “you are with me.” In trials, friends and family can only accompany us so far… and then we are alone. But He will never leave us.

Look at Hebrews 13:5. It says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I can remember times when I felt so alone that no one understood what I was going through. God reminded me that He was with me. I can remember some dark times in my life when there seemed to be no one to cry out to, but God was there to hear my cry.

When we are walking through the valley He is there with His rod to protect us from attack, and His shepherd’s staff reaches out and pulls us near when fears come our way. And when we make it through the valley He is there as well, waiting.

Think about all the saints in the Bible that faced trials in their life. How did they make it through those trials? It was with God walking by their side. Think of the Old Testament heroes… Abraham when he went to sacrifice his only son, it was God that provided the sacrifice. What about Jacob when he went to meet his brother for the first time after he had stolen his birthright, it was God that brought forgiveness between the two brothers. What about Joseph when he was thrown in the pit by his brothers and later sold to slavery, it was God that placed him in the palace as governor of Egypt. What about Daniel when he was placed in the lion’s den, it was God that closed the mouth of the lions. What about the three Hebrew Children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace, it was God that kept them from burning up in the fire.

Think about all the times that Peter, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Mark, John, and all the other disciples spent in jail because they preached Jesus, it was God that brought them through those valleys. We are going to face valley’s, but it is God that will take us through those valleys.

David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 Part 3

Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

We know that the Lord is our shepherd. With Him in our life there’s not anything that we want for. We also know that He makes us to lie down in green pastures and He leads us beside the still waters. Verse 3 says, “He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

When you think about what David has written here we can get an interesting picture. Yes, the Lord who is our shepherd makes us to lie down in green pastures, but do you think he wants us to stay there. Do you think that once we have laid down that the Lord won’t ever want us to go anywhere else? The answer to that question is no, absolutely not! We have to go somewhere in order for us to fulfill the Great Commission that God has called us to.

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,”. If all we ever do is sit around and soak in what God wants to give us then we never complete what God has for us.

God has greatness for us that we have to embrace. If we let the things that can get us down, keep us down, then we will never do what God wants for us. It is important for us to lie down in green pastures, let Him lead us beside the still waters and restore us to where we need to be, in order for us to accomplish all that God has for us.

Have you received any bad news for your life lately? Have you gotten a bad report from the doctor? Have you been called into the boss’s office to find out you no longer have a job? Have you had an argument with someone that you love? Whatever the problem is, Jesus can restore you. There will be times that we need to be made to lie down in green pastures, so that the shepherd can restore us.

Though the green pastures nourish, the Lord does not want us to lie around the rest of our lives. When we have gained strength, he leads us out from the pasture onto the trail of life, the “paths of righteousness”. It is during this time that we can testify of how God brought us out of our low time. We are walking the “paths of righteousness.”

My walk is for “His name’s sake.” He causes me to stay on a straight path, a narrow, grooved trail of right rather than wrong, obedience rather than rebellion, service rather than self-absorption, discipline rather than impulse, and cross-bearing rather than indulgence. We know the distinction of this because John 10:4 tells us, “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”

We are His sheep, therefore when we walk through life, we represent the father. He leads us in the paths of righteousness. As He leads and we follow His leading, everything that we do should lead others to the good shepherd.

Are you walking in the paths of righteousness? Then testify. Don’t stay in the green pastures. Fulfill the purpose that God has called you to. David wrote, “He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Psalm 23 Part 1

Out of all the Psalms in the Bible, Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all Psalms. You see it everywhere. One of the most popular places that you will find Psalm 23 is somewhere on the funeral program. This Psalm is used in most funeral eulogies. Songs have been written about this Psalm. And many people can quote this Psalm.

Let’s take a look it.

Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Lets look at verse one. It says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

In order for us to understand the fact that the Lord is our shepherd, we must first understand what a shepherd is. If anyone knew anything about being a shepherd it was David. David was a shepherd from a very young age. We know that when he was chosen king, he was attending his father’s sheep. (1 Samuel 16:11)

During the time that this verse was written, shepherds were of great importance. There was an abundance of sheep in this region. The people were shepherds before they were farmers. The role of the shepherd consisted of many jobs.

The shepherd was to care for the sick and wounded sheep. When they crossed the water the shepherd made sure that they would cross safely. The shepherd would find the sheep that strayed from the fold. The shepherd would find food for the flock. The shepherd even knew each and every one of his sheep; he would even give a pet name to some of them.

In John 10:11, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd. He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

We are the sheep and Jesus is the good shepherd. Understanding the fact that Jesus is the good shepherd and we are the sheep, then we know that Jesus is our provider, guider, our protector and healer. He is our keeper and shearer. He is our nurturer and defender.

“There is an old story of two men hiking in Wales. They came across a boy in the mountains keeping his sheep. The travelers talked with him about shepherding, and the conversation went to Psalm 23. One of the men told the boy, “Think of the five fingers of your left hand. Let each word stand for one finger. You can meditate on Psalm 23:1 by grasping each finger, one at a time, with your right hand.” They showed him how to do it. The man grabbed his thumb and said, “That stands for ‘The.’” The index finger was ‘Lord,’ and they talked about who the Lord was. The middle finger stood for ‘is’ – present tense, right now. The fourth finger was ‘my.’ And the little finger stood for ‘shepherd.’

The following year the men returned on another hiking trip, and this time they stopped at a small wayfaring house for a cup of tea. On the table was a picture of the very boy they had met a year before.

‘Yes,’ said the woman, ‘that was my son. He died last winter in a storm. He fell down a cliff and lay there a long time. Only later did we find him.’

Then she said, ‘There was something strange about it, though, which we’ve never understood. When we found his body, his right hand was grasping the fourth finger of his left hand.’

‘Yes,’ said the men, ‘we can explain that.’ And they told the mother what had happened the previous year. The boy, in griping his finger, was simply reminding himself, ‘The Lord is MY shepherd.’

When we realize that the Lord is my shepherd, we can understand that He is always taking care of us.

Jesus knows our wants and desires and He wants the best for us.

The rest of verse one says, I shall not want. The message translates it as, “I don’t need a thing.” You see with Jesus as your shepherd, you will not need anything.

Our wants, our appetites and thirsts for happiness, plenty, health, fulfilling relationships and things. Only the good shepherd can meet our deepest needs.

The unfortunate thing is we try to fill our life with stuff that don’t matter in this life. Some people feel empty inside and they look to everything to try to fill that emptiness. They look to a career. They think that if they just work harder, climb the corporate ladder, be the best in their company or make lots of money that it will fill the void. Matthew 16:26 says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Some people try to fill the void with relationships. They think if I can just make lots of friends or they go from relationship to relationship they believe they can fill that void. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Some people try to fill the void with substances. They take a drink wanting to take the pain away or they shoot up wanting to forget about everything. They hope that these things fill the void. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

We try to fill our life with stuff. Stuff cannot fulfill what only Jesus can fulfill. With Jesus there is no void, there is no wants. I am fulfilled in Christ. Only Christ can fulfill any void that you may have. You cannot fulfill the void with status, or money, or relationships, or drugs and alcohol.

Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is MY shepherd. I shall not want.”

Church Shutdown

Yesterday marked the 16th day of the government shutdown and they finally came to an agreement. Think of all the grief and trouble this shutdown has caused people. People weren’t getting paid, resources were depleted and National Parks were closed. People noticed the government shutdown.

Several years ago, the church was the center of a town or community. All the activities of the town were centered around the activities of the church. Sports practices weren’t held on Wednesday nights because of church services. The church was the focal point of the town. The church was a place that civic meetings were held. It was the polling place for the city. I could go on and on about the role the church played in a community. Today that has changed.

My question today to you is, if your church were to shut down, would the town miss it and the role it plays for your community? How important is your church to your community?

We as the church have to make ourselves relevant again. A church is more than a building that is used for worship services. The church is its people. The church is the relationships that it brings. The church is the place that you find opportunities to seek God and to further the abilities that God has given you. The church is the place that you can grow in life and in your spiritual walk with God.

The community needs the church. Are you giving your town a reason to need you? If you didn’t exist would the town or community you are in miss you? If you can’t answer yes, then you need to fix something. Find out what that something is and fix it.

Acts 2:42-47 gives us a picture of what the church should look like today. It says, “42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.