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Psalm 23 Part Three

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted November 16, 2012

RELIGION – We looked last week at how powerful it is that the Lord is our shepherd. This week we continue to unpack the 23rd Psalm by looking at the next phrase “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Christmas is around the corner, black Friday ads are already popping up, some of you are in training to shoulder smash anything that stands in your way of a great deal on flat screen TV.

The most popular topic among friends and loved ones right now is, “what do you want for Christmas?” And I’m sure many of you probably want to know what you can get me for Christmas. I’ll take one of those new Kindle Fire’s, they look pretty cool.

And when asked, what do you want, you, probably like me, pull out your wish list. I am guessing not many of you would respond “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”   But in theory, if sheep could talk and you cared to ask one what they wanted, they might say nothing. Why? Because they know they're under the care of the shepherd. They know the shepherd gives them what they need.

Now this kind of contentment doesn’t come easily or naturally. Our sinful flesh lives in a state of want.  People sadly thrive in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current state of affairs in life, which for most in the US, is pretty good.  We live life as Solomon said “chasing after the wind.” We seek after that perfect something we think will make us happy, then when we get it, we find it full of holes and flaws.

That's why Solomon said... Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Our fallen tendency is toward discontentment, but the sheep in the shepherd's flock have the luxury of experiencing true contentment. They can say, "I shall not want." 

1. Work on focusing on what you do have as opposed to what you don’t have. Sadly, we as ungrateful people tend to look at what we don’t have first. I don’t have a new truck like my friend, I don’t have a job I enjoy, I don’t have a vacation home to go to! Sadly, many of us look at our lives and all we see is what they lack. And then when we do look at what we have, we don’t see it for what it is, but what it isn’t. This isn’t the stuff that I think would make me happy.  Focus on what you have, not on what you don't have. Enjoy things for what they are instead of only seeing them for what they aren't. This habit will take you a long way in the direction of contentment.

2. Work on valuing your true blessing and temporary possessions.  In Traveling Light, Max Lucado told a story about a man that is pretty relevant to our lives in a turbulent economy. The man came to his pastor and said "I've lost everything,” The pastor said, "I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your faith." "No," the man said, "I still have my faith." The pastor said, "Then I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your character." The man said, "I never said that. I still have my character." The pastor said, "Then I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost your salvation." The man said, "That's not what I said. I didn't lose my salvation." The pastor said, "So you have your faith, your character, and your salvation. It seems to me that you haven't lost anything that really matters."

Sure, when we look at life, there are some people who have lots more stuff. Good for them! But no amount of stuff can replace the true blessings of life.  Jesus said “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot. (Luke 12:15 The Message.)  There is great old hymn worth remembering "Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done."

3. Work on trusting that the good Shepherd will provide for you what you need. Living your life by trusting the Shepherd means that you don't have to sweat the daily details of life. God is looking out for you. What you need comes to you when you need it.

Before we finish up today I want you to make a list of ten things you are thankful for in your life. Then take some time to thank God for each one of them.  Also take some time each day over the next week to repeat the phrase, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" every chance you get. Think about what it means for your life throughout the day. 

Pastor Phillip

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