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Religion


Psalm 23 Part Two


By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted November 8, 2012

RELIGION – As you read this there is a new President. For some the re-election of President Obama is a cause for joy and others, a source of great stress and concern. This morning as we continue to study the 23rd Psalm both political perspectives are supported. For those who look to the President to fix all the problems, it brings humility. For those who fear his policies will hurt of our nation, this Psalm gives hope.

We all must remember that if politics could save our world, we would not need Jesus.  So we all, as one nation, turn to Psalm 23 as it reminds us that the Lord is our shepherd.  These are very familiar words, but crucial words. Let’s see what hope and encouragement we find here in this little phrase.

First, by recognition that the Lord is our shepherd, we are in return the Lord’s sheep. This is not a compliment to be called a sheep. Sheep are dumb, defenseless, and can’t find their food. They are uniquely helpless, unlike other animals. Think about it. You see packs of wild dogs living on their own. Stray cats can find food and defend themselves fine. Hogs can survive with amazing efficiency.  But sheep, not so much, they need someone to look after them. They are dependent on the shepherd. We don’t like being dependent on anyone, even God.

I like to think of myself as the Lord’s Honey Badger! The Honey Badger is the fiercest animal in the world! It runs off lions and steals their prey and it is immune to venom and all around just an awesome creature! Just like me! But, we don’t read that the lord is my Honey Badger Daddy. We read he is our shepherd.  Some of us like to think of ourselves as "The Lord is my general, and I am his warrior.” Or “the Lord is my coach, and I'm his starting quarterback." Or the heretical, "The Lord is my co-pilot.” Think about that, that expression puts me in charge. I man the controls, but he’s a good helper. That is just terrible!

The vocation of shepherd was not a highly sought vocation either.  I read in my studies this week that “In ancient times, shepherds were often nomads, spending days at a time in the field with the flock, looking after their every need. It was the shepherd's job to see them fed, watered, and rested. He protected them from predators, at times putting his own life on the line.”

In spite of the humble origins of shepherding, God makes Himself known as our shepherd through Scripture.  Jacob referred to "the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day." (Genesis 48:15) You also see it in the words of the prophets, where Isaiah said, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11) Jesus in John’s Gospel over and over says "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

So what are the implications of this? We have to face that in and of ourselves we only possess weakness, helplessness, and are designed for dependence on God. But here is the best news! Please get this!  The nature of the relationship is not that sheep must keep up with the shepherd. It's the other way around. The shepherd looks for, and looks after, his sheep.

Jesus makes this clear in Luke 15:3-6  “So he told them this parable:  (4)  "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  (5)  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  (6)  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'”

Understand that this means that God is looking after you. He is looking after you even when you're wandering away from Him and not giving God a thought. He is looking for you when you are not seeking Him, He is still seeking you!  This is the wonderful God that has created us all!

Now I am sure that some of you will want to say, "Really? I don't see God’s care and protection!  I don't feel God’s love and grace! So where is God?" Please understand that your feelings reveal the depth of your need. They reveal your shortsightedness. 
Listen, if you feel this way, please don’t forget that your shepherd is looking for you. If you've wandered off, he's looking for you. If you've made mistakes, he's looking for you. If you're alone and afraid, if you feel like you've lost your way, he's looking for you. Listen for the sound of his voice, because he's calling your name.

So today, pray for you president, no matter your party affiliation as Scripture calls you to.  Also, don’t fret or be worried, the Lord is your shepherd and he is in control!
   
Pastor Phillip



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