*The Lord is My Shepherd; Psalm 23 - Part 1 (December 4, 2006)*
What is your deal exactly?
What is all this Christianity stuff, all the time, all the time you’re always talking about it?
What is your deal exactly?
You ever get asked questions like that?
You have people press you about what you are so fired up about?
And here’s the sad thing; a lot of times Christians are pressed about questions like that and they don’t know how to answer.
They’re like; well, it’s just like you come to church, or whatever.
Or even worse, they know the answers but the fact of the matter is, they’re not experiencing it.
They can tell you about joy, but they’re not experiencing it, they can tell you about peace, but they don’t have it, they know the answers but not really experiencing the truth within the answers.
I think that is really sad.
Almost 3000 years ago, a little shepherd boy who wrote a Psalm, it’s the 23rd Psalm and it’s phenomenal.
It’s brought more comfort, more peace and fulfillment for the people of God, through the ages, than almost any other passage of scripture.
And the phenomenal thing is; it’s really David’s statement…it’s really David’s answer to the question that I was just pressing you about.
What are you doing here?
What really are the benefits of the Christian life?
Let me make a bold statement; I believe this with all my heart.
I believe that the abundant Christian, when really lived…I mean lived to the fullest; I don’t mean the Pseudo Christian life; as in hanging around Jesus but not really know Him.
And I don’t mean the carnal Christian life where you’re living in sin and defeat and guilt, all the time, no – that’s a drag for sure.
And I don’t mean the lukewarm Christian life, where you’re on the fence and sort of for God and sort of for myself too….that’s a hard life to live.
But I mean the abundant, victorious, overcoming Christian life is so far superior to anything that a human being could ever experience that its really not even worthy of being compared.
To know your creator and to walk with Him; That’s what the 23rd Psalm is all about so we’re going to be going over the….listen….the
lavish benefits of following the Lord.
*The 23rd Psalm is universally celebrated by both; believers and unbelievers*
Let’s look at Psalm 23, and why you’re turning there I’m going to give you a little background, all right?
Sort of a little bit of what you need to know before you can know what’s in the Psalm.
The 23rd Psalm, no portion of scripture, old or New Testament, is so universally celebrated by both; believers and non-believers alike.
In fact, I’ve been married all these years and I found out something about my wife this week that I never knew before.
When she was in the 4th grade, she was not converted until she was a teenager.
She never owned a Bible nor did she ever read one, but when she was in the fourth grade she memorized, in a public school the 23rd Psalm.
It’s the only thing she had ever really known.
And many people would be like; I’ve heard that.
I head it at a funeral, I head it in a movie, it’s a passage of scripture that people have at least a surface of familiarity with.
I heard this week as the 23rd Psalm was compared to a man who was on a journey and he was walking through the streets of a city on a very cold and very windy winter’s night.
And as he pulled his coat around himself and continued his journey, suddenly, a door on the sidewalk opened and all the sudden, flooding out of the door came light and warmth and the sound of children laughing, and the sound of music and the aroma of a meal being prepared and as quickly as the door opened and all of that spilled into the darkness; BOOM, the door closed again.
The man went on but was greatly affected by what he had seen in that moment.
That’s what the 23rd Psalm is like.
David*, great Psalmist and King of Israel*, I believe this was written towards the end of His life as He reflected back on his life and for a moment he opens the door of his soul.
And flooding out from within, comes these rich experiences of a man who ….
The scripture says this about no other person than David…*was a man after God’s own heart*.
*David makes a statement…spends five verses proving it.*
David knew and understood, experientially, things about God that no one else has known and in the 23rd Psalm, he compacts it into some incredible statements.
Today we’re going to look at the very first one.
In fact here is a bit of an outline of the 23rd Psalm.
The first verse is an assertion; David makes a statement; *1 **The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want, *and then he spends the next five verses proving that.
He makes and assertion and then he gives the reasons why it’s true or how he has experienced that to be true.
Today, we’re going to just build the foundation; verse *The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
*I want you to feel your pastor working really hard so I put together a pretty creative outline for you with three points and here’s the first one;
*First point: I Shall Not Want.
You really can’t improve on this and as I was thinking; how can I say this?
I thought, well duh, just say what it says.
Just think about that.
I’ve got three thoughts under that first phrase; *I shall not want.*
Here’s the first one; *Supply*!
It’s a statement of how God supplies.
I think it *begs this question; not want what?
I shall not want what?*
We need to know this is not an isolated promise in scripture.
There are other scriptures that assert the very same thing; that God’s commitment to His children is such that we will not be in want.
*Ps 84:11*; /For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
*Ps 34:9* Fear /the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
Many people know what *Matthew 6:33* says; /But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well/.
(All these things, what things, all my basic needs, will be added unto me.)
*Philippians 4:19 s*ays; /And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
So many times the scripture makes this promise that God is incredibly interested in meeting, while this phrase; I shall not want.
God doesn’t want His people to be in want.
I wish that teaching God’s word was only about proclaiming the truth.
The Bible says that a faithful minister of God’s Word will also bring correction.
And there’s some very false teaching about this phrase; *I shall not want* and people are taking it and distorting it and making it mean things that it was never supposed to mean.
And as a result, the children of God are expecting Him to do things that He never promised to do and there’s a lot of frustrations with that.
*I shall not want; things it doesn’t mean*
So before we get really focused on, *I shall not want*, there are a couple of things we need to kick out the door.
*Things it doesn’t mean*….Here’s the f*irst one*; some people would say; I shall not want, means that *God promises to all of his followers; wealth*.
And all God’s followers are going to be wealthy and if you are really following the Lord and walking in faith you absolutely will prosper financially, it’s a fact.
Look at King David, he was rich, look at Abraham, he was rich and look at Solomon, he was rich.
To which I would replay; well duh, look at Elijah, he was poor, look at the Apostles, they were poor, look at Jesus, Himself who said I don’t eve have a place to lay my head down.
There is no coloration between prosperity or poverty and the Gospel.
When the scripture says I shall not want it’s not promising financial prosperity and anyone who tells you that is distorting God’s Word and setting you up for disappointment.
It does it not promise wealth
*Secondly*, *not promise health.
*For some people who would say for every person who has come to the cross of Christ, every person who has received Christ, personally, will never get sick.
If you get sick it’s just a lack of faith on your part and that healing is part of the atonement they say, that the cross of Christ provides, not only a forgiveness of sins but health throughout your life.
Does the Bible teach that?
Well they will quote verses like; *Isaiah Chapter 53, verse 5* which says; */He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
/*It says, you see*; healing, healing*.
First of all the concept of healing is used many times in the Bible in a figurative way.
Many times; healed from the affects of sin, healed eternally and if you have any doubt about that just read the next verse in Isaiah 53 because verse 6 says; after saying by His stripes we are healed, */6 All we like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him (/*the sickness of us all, no*/) the iniquity of us all.
/*The healing is the eternal healing…NO!
No! *I shall not want does not promise health* to everyone.
*I shall not want does not promise riches to everyo*ne.
The apostle Paul himself, and I doubt there are many people who’d say; but I have greater faith than Paul!
And the Apostle Paul himself had a thorn in the flesh; some kind of physical infirmity the Lord God didn’t take away.
And it heads great judgment and consternation on the people of God to say that everyone, always everywhere will be healed.
However, let us not back up so far from that false teaching that we find ourselves over here*, *much like the teaching that I grew up with, God in a box, anti-supernatural…*let’s be in a position of balance*.
The statement of scripture; I am the Lord that heals is as true today as it ever was and I believe God does heal.