Safe and Sound - Psalm 23 - Skip Heitzig

Safe and Sound - Psalm 23 - Skip Heitzig

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music reflects life's journey using lyrics to explore the human experience has always been significant and powerful even thousands of years ago in a playlist we now know as The Book of Psalms pastor skip Heitzig scrolls through the Psalms exploring the very nature of God and his relationship with humankind in the series playlist let's turn in your Bibles now to Psalm 23 Psalm 23 father we um we're grateful for your
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care for us your love for us and we celebrate that in this psalm I just pray that we would push aside all distractions and thoughts of what this week is going to bring us or might bring us and we would meditate Lord upon the truths that are discovered in this epic Psalm you know the lives and the experiences of every one of us who are gathered and honestly we need your touch
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we trust you in Jesus name Amen the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want he makes me 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 name's sake 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
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you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies you anoint my head with oil my cup runs over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever of all of the 150 expressions we call the Psalms there is no Psalm that is more quoted recited memorized inscribed
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on cards than the 23rd psalm it is without question of all of the Old Testament passages of Scripture the most famous Old Testament passage everybody knows it even unbelievers know this passage Augustine called it the martyrs him because so many Christian martyrs recited Psalm 23 when they went to their deaths as they were tortured for Christ
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Abraham Lincoln often referred to this Psalm during his deep days of depression during the Civil War George W Bush recited it to a nation that was weary and wondering after September 11 2001 for three get this three thousand years that's how long ago it was written this Psalm has brought comfort to millions of God's people
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it is the psalm that a child can grasp it's that simple but it's the kind of a psalm that a theologian could drown in it's that deep it was Alexander McLaren the great Scottish expositor who said the world could spare many a book better than this sunny little Psalm it has dried many tears and supplied the mould into which many hearts have poured their peaceful faith but it is my belief that
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Psalm 23 is misunderstood at least miss applied because when do you typically hear Psalm 23 at what funerals it's an it's it's inscribed in crematoriums and cemeteries and funeral homes the Lord is my shepherd sits on sympathy cards and that that is because there's a little phrase in verse 4 that says though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and so it is included at times of
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physical death but this is a psalm that has way more to do with life than it does with death it's a samus relationship to the Living God in his own life that's why he says surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life Miami doctor said and I agree with him the 23rd psalm has been enshrined on a marble pedestal for far too long we need
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to take it down and break it up and use it and that's what we want to do today as we have this little devotional this meditation on Psalm 23 it's time for us to take these truths off of sympathy cards and inscribe them in our own hearts now Psalm 23 has been called the Shepherd's Psalm for obvious reasons but if you look a little more closely at the psalm you'll discover that it's not just
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about sheep and a shepherd it covers much more allow me to explain when you open up in verse 1 it speaks about the Lord in the third person he is this and he is that when you come to verse 4 there's a change to the first person David now speaks directly to God not as much as a shepherd as to a friend it's personal then in verse 5 there's another
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change we go from outside outdoors the valley the field to inside the tent or if you will the home so the first part of the psalm is in the field the second part of the psalm is in the valley and the third part is in the tent so I want to look at this Psalm in three parts as a shepherd god gives us direction as a friend
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God gives us protection and as a host God gives us provision let's begin with the first the Shepard the Lord is my shepherd writes David I shall not want he makes me 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 name's sake as a shepherd god gives us direction now I don't know what your high school was
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like but you guys remember FFA FFA Future Farmers of America was anybody in FFA a few of you unless you were in FFA Psalm 23 makes no sense to us in fact most of us don't even know a shepherd and it's not like one of the normal occupations that we have in our society it's not your ordinary occupation but David himself was a shepherd in Bethlehem he came from a family of
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shepherds and we know that David was out keeping his sheep as he was selected to be the next king of Israel the idea of God being our Shepherd is one of the most without a doubt beautiful and comforting metaphors in all of the Bible one of my favorite verses of Scripture that speaks to this is Isaiah chapter 40 that declares he shall feed his flock like a shepherd he shall gather the
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Lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom and gently lead those who are with young so the picture is a the care that a shepherd gives to his sheep and certainly Psalm 23 implies care we have a shepherd who takes care of us his sheep I don't know if you know this or not you probably do but sheep do not take care of themselves very well sheep will die unless they have a shepherd who will take care of them they require more
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meticulous care and attention than any other form of livestock and so it's no surprise that the Bible over 200 times refers to us as sheep because of the tendency that sheep for example Isaiah 53 all we like sheep of what we've gone astray we have all gone our own way that's what sheep do back in 2005 in eastern Turkey there
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were 1,500 sheep gathered together in one spot there were several flocks with several shepherds who all got together put their flocks in one place while the Shepherd's went off and ate breakfast together apparently nobody was watching the Sheep suddenly one little sheep had an idea and that is I'm going to jump over that cliff and he did and apparently all the
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other sheep thought that sheep knew where he was going so 400 of them followed him before they finally found out that 400 sheep had died going over a cliff the estimated loss was seventy four thousand dollars brilliant I mean I'm not trying to pull the wool over your eyes that they lost that much money in fact get this the only time in the
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Bible that sheep are ever seen in a favorable light is when they are under the care of a Good Shepherd now David was a shepherd and so when he writes this he's not doing this as an insult to himself or to those of us who are his readers but in elation that God is his shepherd it's like a kid bragging about his father look at who my dad is here's David saying look at who my shepherd is look at who my owner my
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manager is the Lord is my shepherd how many of you own pets let me see a show of hands how many of you own pets okay some of you need to own pets if that's all so have you ever known a dog owner that you may not say it to them but you think these thoughts they should not own that dog that poor little dog never gets out never gets taken for a walk never gets groomed just sort of runs around the backyard and barks barks barks all day long you think they should not own that
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dog but then there's the other end of the spectrum where you have the obsessive dog owner they get little sweaters for their dogs and little shoes for their dogs and their primmed and proper and they like Paris Hilton carries her dog everywhere she goes and you go oh that is like so crazy that is so overboard right however if you were a dog and you could choose which owner to have the first one or the second one you
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know you would take number two you'll take Paris Hilton any day over the dog who never gets out and here is David saying hey hey my manager my owner is the Lord Himself these are bragging rights for David the other day I read an article the National Science Foundation has committed to spending 10 million dollars to build robots for children
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they call them personal trainers for children in their words to influence their behavior and their eating habits these are technological Shepherds they're inventing they plan to introduce them into homes deploy them into schools to teach children English and to encourage kids to exercise last time I checked those recall parents and those recalled teachers and I don't want a
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robot as a shepherd for my children or for me or for my grandchildren I want parents and teachers who are pointing their way to the Lord like David it's saying the Lord is my shepherd it implies care God will care for you it also implies guidance you know sheep um they do not navigate very well all of us like sheep have gone astray they do that very easily finding their way back home not a chance
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I have a pretty smart little dog I've told you about it bragged about my little dog and we took our dog out not even at our house we put the dog in the car drove it to a different neighborhood got out walked around by the river and the dog ran away and got lost an hour later our dog was waiting back at our car in a foreign neighborhood but had enough sense to navigate all the way back to where he got out of the car one smart dog a sheep will never do that
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there are birds that can navigate around the world a sheep will never do that salmon know how to go upstream to spawn a sheep will never do that I saw in Israel one time a flock of sheep gathered by a well I thought they were just drinking out of the well and I got closer to photograph it and I noticed that all these sheep had their little heads smashed into the fur the bodies of other sheep just sort of like hiding and their little tails were sticking out in a circle and the poor Shepherd had to
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break them up with his staff just to be able to lead them that's the nature of sheep but the nature of Shepherd is to guide so you'll notice twice in our psalm once in verse two and the other in verse 3 it says he leads me beside the still waters he leads me in paths of righteousness if there's one thing in this psalm that ought to set your mind at ease it's this you have a personal guide you know I
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speak to a lot of Christians and have for a lot of years and one of the common questions that we have is how do I find the Lord's will for my life how do I get direction for my life I want guidance for my life and what they expect I think to hear from me is sort of a a one-two-three ABC formula for how to determine God's will if you memorize this scripture and take this step and counsel with this person bingo you'll find God's will every time and I
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think we're so hung up with guidance that we forget we have the guide living in us we want direction when God is saying hey I the direct door will live inside of you now if you were traveling to a foreign city like New York City would you rather have a complicated set of instructions to get you around town or how about this what if a local resident said yo let me get in the car
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with you I'll show you my town you go yeah I want that guy you've got that guy you have the Holy Spirit jesus said when the spirit of truth is come he will guide you into all truth I know sometimes we wonder well how is that going to work is he going to give me an impression in my heart am I going to have to memorize a scripture is it going to be through the counsel of others answer yes all of the above relax a little bit you're just a sheep leave
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that to the guide the director he leads he guides his second phrase I shall not want the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want now I've discovered that not everyone who says the first part can actually say with honesty the second part the Lord is my shepherd but not everybody can say I shall not want we live in a society filled with discontentment we're always
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looking at what other sheep are eating that guy has greener pastures than I have Lord I trust you like they do I serve you like they do how come their pasture looks so much better than my pasture it's greener over there the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want there's a great little book called a shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by Philip Keller some of you have seen it's an old book it's the musings of an actual Shepherd who was raised in East Africa later on
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became a shepherd by occupation in Canada who raised sheep for a living before he became a lay pastor and he said I remember in my flock there was one particular little ewe lamb a female sheep who was beautiful beautiful Constitution beautifully formed body but always discontented he called this sheep a fence crawler because no matter what pasture he led his sheep into and he
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said my pastures were the greenest pastures in the area I had this one little sheep who had always moved to the edge and sort of look out to see what's over there he eventually called her Miss gadabout because she was always getting about looking for other pastures I wonder if God doesn't have some sheep like that who are disgruntled who are always complaining and it may I be quick
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to add that a complaining sheep is a disgrace to the Shepherd because a complaining sheep reflects the kind of care that that sheep thinks the shepherd is giving him or her or not giving him or her and imagine how unbelievers feel when they look at complaining sheeps lives you're trying to win people to Christ and you're always complaining and moaning you know what they're thinking I don't want to follow your Shepherd he
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doesn't take very good care of you or so it seems because you don't ever seem happy with him the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want contentment does not come from what we have contentment comes from whom we have and if the Lord is your Shepherd you ought to be able to declare firmly and confidently I shall not want as the Shepherd he gives us direction
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there's the second principle I want to discuss with you and that is as a friend he gives us protection now you'll notice the pronoun change in verse 4 from speaking about he and his in the third person he speaks now directly to the Lord 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
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now immediately this tells me that life is not always going to be about green pastures and still waters there's going to be some valleys that I walk through and I know we don't like that we hate valleys I don't meet many people go oh good I'm in a valley right now it's dark down here praise the Lord I think knowing the shepherd we should be able to say that but typically we go Lord please get me out of this valley just get me out of this valley just deliver me from this valley just carry me from
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mountain peak to mountain peak to mountain peak in Jesus name hallelujah but there are going to be some valleys shepherds will lead sheep down into the valleys over in the Middle East where this scene takes place when it gets really really hot outside like it is these days Shepherds will move their sheep down into the ravines they call them the wadi x' and sheep hate it sheep don't have great eyesight and they hate
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walking downwards into a shadow dark ravine but the reason that the shepherd brings his sheep down there is because it's cooler down there and that's where the streams of water are running at the bottom of the ravine in other words sometimes the darkest valleys are pathways to the greenest pastures the Sheep don't know that they go oh this is spirit oh I hate these valleys just wait it's going to be cool down there and it's going to be beautiful and
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refreshing I've met many a believer who has testified to the fact that though they're going through a difficult time in their life and it's the the trial of a lifetime so speak that's where they meet the Lord they have direct contact with God and his comfort in a way they've never experienced before so you'll have some valleys verse 4 also tells me that you'll have some dark valleys what David calls the valley of the shadow of death now this is why it's recited at funerals
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because of that phrase but it doesn't necessarily refer to physical dying the Hebrew word is figurative of gloom or calamity here's a guy who isn't dying here's a guy who's living but experiencing a dark valley the valley what he calls the shadow of death but let me say this even when you do come to an end of your life and you do die it's going to be okay death is sort of like
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going into a valley when you approach that time to die it feels dark it feels like you're going down your movement is limited your your breathing is coarse it seems so dark but you're not going to stay there you're going to come out of the valley though I go through the valley of the shadow of death not live forever in the valley and then you awake and you have arisen on the other side in pure light it's like
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walking through a valley Charles Haddon Spurgeon used to say death is not the house it's just the porch it's just leading you somewhere and notice it does not say the valley of death but the valley of the shadow of death can a shadow hurt you can the shadow of a dog bite you can the shadow of a sword or a knife cut you the valley of the shadow
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of death cannot destroy you the substance of death or the sting of death as Paul said has been removed only the shadow remains that's why David says I will fear no evil the other thing this tells me in verse four is that you can find comfort in the valleys for he notices I will fear no evil for you are with me your rod and your staff they comfort me David is now speaking of the equipment that a Shepherd carries there's two
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pieces of equipment every shepherd would carry a staff the staff is the crook and a rod the rod is the club so the staff or the crook is for directing sheep the club or the rod is for protecting sheep it was a little club that hung from the belt of a shepherd and often had nails in it it was for one purpose and it is to beat up wolves and you can imagine a little sheep looking up at a shepherd
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and seeing that weapon hanging from his Saigon's I'm comforted by that I know that if the predator comes my way I've got the kind of a shepherd who will give me protection in the New Testament we have already read in 1st Peter the Peter describes Satan as a roaring what lion seeking whom he may devour but you need to know that that lion cannot get to you until he goes through
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your Shepherd and if if he allows any exposure at all to you it will be very calculated for your own growth he just won't let you at his disposal that should be very very comforting to you because I know again a lot of believers is always the devil's this and the devil's there and the devil did that ok great don't worry about him you have a shepherd who will protect you if you remember in the New Testament Jesus said
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I am The Good Shepherd and then he talked about a sheep and calling their names and they hear his voice and they follow him but then Jesus said I am the door to the sheepfold and let me just explain what that is it kind of lends itself to understanding the meaning of this passage in ancient times when they would bring sheep out to the countryside they would place them in these little sheep fold sheep pens which are like low-lying
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walls with an opening a narrow opening with no door and a traveler was over in the Middle East and the tour guide brought him out to see the Shepherd and the Shepherd said my sheep get inside this at night and they're perfectly safe because we we there's no door and the Shepherd said that's because I am the door I lie at night and sleep in front of the opening of this sheep enclosure and no sheep can get out unless he goes
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over my body and no wolf or predator can come in unless he goes over my body remember the old expression over my dead body so state might say hey I want to rip that Christian apart over my body you can't get to that person unless I give you some kind of clearance for my purpose and for that sheep's growth so this speaks of protection as a friend he gives us protection as a shepherd he
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gives us direction as a friend he gives us protection and here's a third we close on this as a host he gives us provision verse five again in the first person you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies you anoint my head with oil and my cup runs over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever a
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please notice in verse five we have we have a change of metaphor a change of picture we're not dealing with sheep and a shepherd any longer we're now inside the tent being the guest to someone who is being the host and lavishly giving us a meal unless you're prepared to think of little sheep sitting around a table drinking coffee which is a ridiculous thought understand that the metaphor has changed now we're dealing with God not as a shepherd but as a host who lavishes upon us what the
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Middle East is so famous for and that is hospitality one time I was in the city of Nazareth where Jesus grew up I was with a few guys from our church we were doing a little film of the area my son was there and this guy comes out of the house never met him before and goes hi and we said hi and we talked his name was Tony he was a Palestinian Arab living in Nazareth he invited us into his home he gave us coffee gave us tea I wanted to give us food which he did then
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asks us to stay through the night and have a huge meal with his family we were unable to do that but I just thought here's a perfect stranger inviting perfect strangers into his house willing to give us everything he's got amazing hospitality that's the picture that is drawn here in ancient times would you went into somebody's tent as a visitor there was a protocol first of all they would give you the common kiss three times on one cheek the other cheek and
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then back to the first cheek then the servant would remove your sandals and wash your feet then they would place oil on your face on your head a scented olive oil to refresh you after the burning Sun then they would give you a glass of wine with honey a very sweet mixture to bring you refreshment then they would spread a rug before you and they would serve you a meal lavish provision is the idea notice that David
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says my cup runs over can't you just picture the host is pouring pouring and the guest going no no that's enough that's enough really he just kind of keeps pouring over and over sometimes I play a little joke on my friends you know we're sitting at lunch and and I have water and they say can I ask some more water I just sort of keep pouring and keep pouring and keep pouring till it overflows onto the table looks like they made a mess I know it's a adolescent thing to do but what can I say God isn't playing a joke on his
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guests the idea is that you are so abundant in your provision and your love for me Lord my cup runs over and then you'll notice it's followed by surely goodness and mercy shall follow me that's a declaration of the future based on the past surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life why would he say that he would say that because that's been the track
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record you have taken care of me and protected me and directed me and taken care of me all through my life I am now sure that in the future you're going to do the same he's not saying I declare by faith that my life will be painless from now on after all he's eating in the presence of his what enemies he's got some enemies but though his enemies pursue him what David is saying is I
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know that goodness and mercy will also chase after me all the days of my life because it's always been that way I'm making a declaration of my future based upon the past this folks this is a statement of choice this is a statement of faith it's it's forgive the analogy but in the words of Winnie the Pooh the famous theologian it's the choice to be Tigger and not a or some people have
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just chosen to be Eeyore they're just always it's always bad it's not my cup runneth over it's my cup Lika Thunder but then there are those who say no I'm making a stand by faith to declare based upon who God is what he has promised and where he has taken me surely goodness and mercy will follow all the days of my life that's the choice to be like Tigger and not like Eeyore our trouble is that's so often we write our sorrows in the marble
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and we write our mercies in the dust not David not David my cup runs over surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life do you know the shepherd there was once a famous actor that was invited to his social gathering people were so excited to have this actor there he was known for his ability to portray characters and say lines in a
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way that was unparalleled so that night at dinner people were asking him to recite famous lines of different literary works and there was a minister who was also at that dinner and he said I'd like you to recite Psalm 23 for the audience and the actor said I'd love to do that under one condition that after I'm done you come and recite Psalm 23 pastors said you're on so the actor as you would expect when typical eloquence like a thespian would rising of his
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voice and the falling of his voice just said it perfectly and afterwards people gave him a cheering round of applause that lasted for several moments afterwards the pastor got up he was older his voice was a little rougher his eloquence was not perfect but he recited Psalm 23 and after he did there was not a dry eye in the audience everyone was in tears and afterward dinner they asked
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the actor what made the difference the actor said I know the psalm he knows the shepherd we all know the song everybody knows this song but do you know the shepherd do you know his direction in your life do you know his protection in your life do you feel and experience his provision in your life can you say the Lord is my personal shepherd I shall not want and it could be could be the interest in
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a little bit of a rut today did you know that one of the one of the common problems that the cheap have is called being asked CAS T Shepards will refer to a caste sheep this is a sheep who wanders from the fold gets out on his own all us like sheep have gone astray and wants to just sort of lie down in a comfortable position in a little depression in the ground and just sort of lies their kicks
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back and what happens is the Sheep turns over just a little too much and its legs are kind of sticking out and then tries to shift and get out of it his legs sticking up like this and the Sheep cannot for the life of it get back on its feet gases build up inside the abdomen cutting off the circulation and the sheep will die unless a shepherd finds it and restores it verse three he restores my soul means brings me back
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maybe you sort of feel like a cash sheep you just wanted to get into a little comfortable zone and now your legs are sticking straight up you've wandered just a little too far and you need God's goodness and mercy now let alone following you all the days of your life then you make that decision like David to say the Lord is my shepherd I'm coming back to his care back to his fold because here's the catch all the things
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about God as a shepherd will never be true unless you let him be the Shepherd of your life you have to come into his fold by an act of your own will in cooperating with his call father we want to close this message today this little devotional meditation upon the psalm by acknowledging that not only are you the shepherd you are not only the Good
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Shepherd the great Shepherd of the sheep as is called in Scripture but that you are our Shepherd you're my shepherd because of that I really have no needs you know what I need you take care of me you you look over the wool and you pick out the parasites and you make sure we're standing strong and even though it's dark and we can't see where we're going and it's painful you're really
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bringing us to a place of refreshment a place of growth and a place of understanding and trust in the goodness of your motivation behind all that you allow us to go through and even when we feel attacked by the enemy we realize Lord that the enemy can only go so far and you've given us all the tools to resist the devil so that he will flee from us the Lord I pray that we would
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take comfort in seeing your staff for directing and in looking up and seeing your rod the club for protecting and so father finally is a declaration we say that surely goodness and mercy will indeed follow pursue chase after us all the days of our lives when one day passing through the valley we will wake
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up in the light and dwell in the house of the Lord forever in Jesus name Amen for more resources from calvary albuquerque and skip heitzig visit calvaryabq.org

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