A LIFE WORTH LIVING
The Lord’s my shepherd I’ll not want. He makes me down to lie; in pastures green, He leadeth me, the quiet waters by.
Introduction: Dr. Charles Allen, beloved Methodist minister, tells the story of a friend who came to see him one day. His friend was nervous, tense, and he had literally worried himself sick. The man’s physician had suggested that he see his minister. They talked for awhile, and then Allen took a pad of paper from his desk drawer.
“If you went to see a doctor, he would give you a prescription, and that’s what I want to do,” Allen said. “Take the prescription exactly as I write it. Five times a day for seven days I want you to read prayerfully and carefully the twenty-third psalm. When you awaken, before each meal and at bedtime, read the psalm.” Charles Allen says that in a week his friend returned literally a different person. The power of the Shepherd’s psalm is a prescription for the problems and pressures of our day. One of the things that we certainly need if we are going to have a life worth living is a faith in something that is big enough for life. The psalmist begins where we always need to begin…with a God worth serving.
I. A great affirmation–“The Lord is my Shepherd.” Every promise in the psalm hangs on the power of this promise. The psalmist says, I believe in God; I believe that God cares, and I believe that God cares about me.” The Lord is my Shepherd.
Sheep are not intelligent animals. They are defenseless and dependent, and they live by faith in the Shepherd. David, who wrote or whose life inspired the psalm, is saying that in our anxious, nervous world we, too, live in dependence on our Shepherd.
Several years ago, my family and I were on vacation in Ibadan (The Largest city in West Africa!) Late one afternoon we decided to drive to Apese a growing suburb. I thought I knew the way. Well, I became completely lost. “Daddy, don’t you think we should stop and ask somebody how to get there?” the children asked. “Listen, daddy knows the way. Trust me.” An hour later, greatly humbled, Daddy finally stopped and asked directions.
Pride sometimes keeps us from admitting our need for direction. David knew the pain of trying to chart his own course. The prophet Nathan confronted him with his sin, and in that moment of brokenness, the shepherd-king saw his need for divine direction.
Now, with a new sense of trust in God, David affirms, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
II. The great affirmation lends to a great assertion, “I shall not want.” The psalmist is really saying, “Because God is my shepherd, I have everything I really need.”
At the end of his Philippian letter, Paul wrote, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” But the tragedy is that many of us live our lives at the corner of complaint and regret. “If only I had this…or if only this had not happened to me.”
The promise of the Psalms 23 is that we will have everything we really need for a life worth living:
When I grow tired… He restores my soul.
The valley is long and lonesome… Thou art with me.
I’m anxious … Thy rod and thy staff will comfort me.
I fear death… I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And on and on…
How sad to believe in God but never really trust Him. Faith is more than belief. It is the trusting of ourselves to God, depending on Him to lead us to a life worth living.
A minister scolded his congregation:.
“That’s foolish. I don’t need to come down to your level; you need to come up to my world view.” It so happened for a few months later this same minister and one of his laymen were visiting a strange city. The minister was completely lost. “Don’t worry,” the layman said, “I will help you find your way.” He then disappeared only to return a few minutes later with a globe of the world.
A part of the power of the Shepherd Psalm is that it is a roadmap and not a globe.
It touches us where we live and hurt and struggle. We soon discover that if we are to have a life worth living we need a power from beyond ourselves.
Who controls you today? Who leads you & what are you following that brings you a sense of peace in our troubled and tense times? We can have peace. But it must be His peace. “My peace I give to you.” Today, that’s what we require in a season of uncertainty and the ravaging pandemic. The Lord will truly shepherd us.
Have a great weekend FAMILY