Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 5 months ago

The Lord Is My Shepard

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Let's turn our attention to PsalmTwenty three: I remain standing if you're able, as we read God's word, Om Twenty three I'll, give you another moment to turndown. The Lord is my shepherd I shall notwant. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousnessfor his namesake. Even though I walk through the Valleyof the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me Your Rod andyour staff. They comfort me. You prepare a table before me in thepresence of My Enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows, surelygoodness and mercy, shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwellin the House of the Lord for ever maybe see it testing testing good. Okay, thank you want to preach to you today from PsalmTwenty three, most famous song, one of the mostfamous passages in the scriptures, and I wanted to do it for a few different reasons. I'm one ofthe main ones is a particular circumstance that is occasioning onthis song. Many of you know that Donna, Wendy's mother is, and also a JinnyBryce's mother. Both of these ladies have been on hospice for some time andthey're declining in their health. Quite a bit. Donna in particular has taken quite aturn for the worse and she is likely to pass soon and overthe last several months, I've had the opportunity pretty much every week to sit withDonna, I'm Jinny as well recently and read i Sam Twenty three over and over and over and over again one reason I've done. That is becauseI'm Donna, as you know, is suffering with demense and not always sure how the mind works inmoments like this. I wanted to pick something comforting and somethingfamiliar with prayers that the Lord would usehis word and the Sam I'm to bring hope to her on and some stickiness to his word in her mind and in herheart and so now I as she comes to on the endof the days that God has given to her and as we all think about our our owntime and brevity in this world. It's a good sum to think about it's a goodword a to rest in, and so I want to invite you to do that with me to to day,...

...even as we also pray for the North Onesand grieve along with them, and in this difficult time and John Ton, John Ten verse, twentyseven Jesus says my sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. My sheep here, my voice. I know themand may follow me some. Twenty three is a song, a prayerfrom one of those sheep, inspired by the Holy Spirit, DavidPours his heart out to his shepherd, and he gives us a sense of what it means to follow Christ or, to put it another way, what itmeans to be led by Christ what it means to have the Lord as our shepherd. The David was a very remarkable sheepright, one of the most remarkable of God's creatures in all of history. His life was full of trauma, ups anddowns, and ups and downs and very low downs and very high ups. There wassinging and dancing and war and betrayal and deep friendship. There were times when David was on therun, seeking asylum homeless, pursued by enemies wanting to kill him, andthere were times when he sat on the throne with servants all around himwaiting to serve Psalm. Seventy eight versus seventy andseventy seventy to seventy two speaks about David. As a shepherd. The wordsays he chose David His servant and took him from the sheep folds from following the nursing us. He brought him to Shepherd Jacob hispeople, Israel's inheritance with upright heart he shepherded them andguided them with his skilful hand. So, though, David was a shepherd overflocks of actual sheep, O God made him a shepherd king over Israel, but over in all of those events, andall of that time, David was always a sheep himself. He was always one who was being led bythe Lord and in the song we hear of that heart.We hear of those truths expressed by the Lord's servant. David knew that his life was not led byrandom chance. It was not led by this or that circumstance or by the will ofmen, whether that was saul or anyone else. He was not led by the will of PaganGods or even the result of his own effort. He knew that he was being led in boththe ups and downs on the mountain tops and in the valleys by his shepherd king, by Yawa by God himself, and it's fromthis perspective, that he praise this song and under the inspiration of theHoly Spirit that God helps us to hear the heart. The heart of him of God himself andalso the heart of those who follow him. So what does it mean to be led by theLord? Through the various circumstances of life? The song begins by saying the Lord ismy shepherd, and then I shall not want and what he means is that he knows he'snot going to lack anything. Nothing is missing, is a very good place to be in Hebrews.Thirteen five says be content with such things as you have for he has said, Iwill never leave...

...or forsake. You be content with everything you havebecause God has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. This is of course, what Jesus saidbefore his ascension when he spoke and gave us that great commission to go andpreach to the nations the good news of the word, discipling them building themup in all the things that the Lord had spoken, baptizing them in the name ofthe Father Son. In the Holy Spirit. I will be with you always he says, even to the end of the age and because the Lord is with us, we are called to be content, Jeremiasappear it and defined contentment. This way, Christian contentment is that sweetinward quiet, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights inGod's, wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. Contentment is a trust, contentmentflows from faith. We can be content because we know we have everything weneed, and we know we have everything we need because we have him who'sproviding for us. I am the father, an earthly father and I do my best toprovide for my children, but, as you all know- and it's not a perfect right-we all struggle to provide for the people that we are called to providefor to be there in the ways that we are called to be there to take care of them,as we ought, whether you're a father or a mother oran employer or a friend or any relationship you have in life. You allknow about the limitations that we I have the struggles that we have. God does not struggle, God does not go to sleep at night. I'mjust saying I can't give any more. I've got to go to bed that never happens to him. He never needs to go to bed. He neverhe never needs to eat. He never needs to go, make more money.He never needs to take a break. He never needs to cooldown after being too angry. He never needs to go and say sorry for thingsthat he shouldn't have done. God, as our perfect and heavenly fatherdoes all things perfectly, and so, as his children we can be happy. We can rest. We canknow that as he leads us, we are going to be okay. We often struggle with contentment whenwe forget that when we think that we're only going to be okay, when we get thisthing or get that thing, I need this degree. I need this job. If I can getthis job, then I'll be okay. If I can change my spouse, I then I'll be okay.If I can get my if you're a kid and you're thinking of only my dad would bethis or that thing, if only my mom would be this or that thing then I'llbe okay, we're always looking in places and inplaces and things to think that if these things, if our circumstances werejust different, then we'd be okay. If we can get what we want or right, ifnot, then we're not going to be okay, but that doesn't bring contentment,because those things can never provide for us. What only God can provideinstead, with those things, lead us to anxiety and fear and worry our chests,tighten our fence fists clench, we pace, we wander, we argue we fight, we. Wesay this is how a thing shouldn't be. I...

...want to be deferente get frustrated and we don't say the Lord is myshepherd. I shall not want that's. The heart of someone who istrusting in the Lord contentment is found in not obtaining anew set of circumstances and changing the people around us or the culture around us or the governmentaround us or whatever. It is we're, looking at contentment is only found by resting inthe Lord, because it's only him that can providefor us everything that we need and who is supreme enough. Who is omnipotentenough to direct all the circumstances of our lives towards are good only he can do that, and so we must rest in him when the Lord is Your Shepherd and whenyour heart submits to that you become a person who says I shall not want theLord is my shepherd all. This reminds us that some of ushave some repenting to do, and if that's so, then I would inviteyou to do that with me by looking to the Lord as our shepherd and seeingwhere he will take us in his love, and where does he take us? The Psalm goes on. He says he makes melie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores mysoul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his namesake. These verses remind as the God does,not that God puts us into places of safety places of provision for both body and soul. He fills us up, he restores us. Hetakes us from a position of of frustration, yea, perhaps even inourselves and our own sin, and he he gives us what we need. He leads us in good paths. Paths ofrighteousness the world will often say I can tell you what you need it's this right. You need this thing and that'sthe way to get it is rarely a path of righteousness. It's this short cut. It's this otherthing. It's grabbing, it's IT'S STRIKING! It's it's grasping for things, but the lord takes us in paths ofrighteousness and even better than that. He takes us in a path of righteousnessthat Christ himself provides for us. He doesn't just point to the GreenPastors and say: All you have to do is walk perfectly on that line on thatpath and you'll get there. That, of course, is true T, but we'reall a bunch of wanderers right. We wander off into the CACTUS over hereand we wander off the cliffs over there and there's dangers all around we're foolish in many ways. So whatdoes he do? He leads us in Pads Righteousness bypicking US up and carrying us to on that path of righteousness to thosegreen pastures. He takes us in Christ himself. He comes into this world and lives,this perfect life fulfilling all of the demands of thelaw, so that we can come into that place ofrest into that heavenly place of rest, the green pastors and these holy waters and know that we belong there and wecame there the right way. Jesus says: Not only is he the shepherd.He also describes him himself as as the gate right t e the way into the sheepfold right we come into this place...

...through him, there's no other way. He is the way, the truth and the life.No one comes to the father except through him, and so this is God's workfrom us. This is for us. This is how we come to have peace, lots of people in this world. They tryto take short cuts. They try to establish these things in their ownrighteousness and they will not have peace, but when we give ourselves overto the Lord, when we trust in the work that he is done on our behalf, then weconfined ourselves in places of safety and provision, because the Lord himselfhas brought us there. Now some people doubt these promises. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, I'm in the Valley of the shadow ofdeath. I, how do those things connect? Isn'tthe Valley of the shadow of death very different than a place of greenpastures, very different than a place of still waters? And yes, those are twovery different images, but what the SAM teaches us is that, no matter what the circumstances of ourlives are, this is where God is leading us in both the hard times, and we wouldsay even through the hard times. This is where God is leading us. This phrase, even though I walk through the Valleyof the shadow of death, is probably one of the most striking phrases that hasever been written in the whole history of the world, the Valley of the shadow of death, a place that we all have experienced tosome degree, a place of darkness, a place ofloneliness, a place that feels like impending doom. Perhaps you at some point in your lifehave been close to death. Perhaps you, the death of your body,perhaps you have felt the end nearing or perhaps a fear and anxiety were sostrong on you that you felt as if all was lost. Perhaps you've been in a place ofdepression, so dark so deep that you thought you would never come out of it, but there was no hope that there was noend. You know, David was not naive aboutthese things himself. If you simply look back at Salm, twenty two just the sum before this song listen tosome of the things he says things that our Lord and Saviour took upon his ownlips. It starts my God, my God. Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me fromthe words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer bynight, but I do not find rest. The sounds like a man who has faced theValley of the shadow of death man who has felt his bones: dried uphis life sucked out of him, the people surrounding him, his enemies attackinghim feeling like all, was lost, and he describes that more in Salem,twenty two, but in all of it he knows that it is the Lord who leadshim. It's not as though the Valley of theshadow of death isn't the Valley of the shadow of death. It is that it issuffering. It is horror, it is fear and all of these, these things, those areall real, but the Lord is there in the...

...midst of them, and that's why he says with this great encouragement andconfidence that we two can say when the Lord leads us, I will fear no evil, I'm moving forward,I'm not going to give up, because it's not me who's in this alone. The Lord ismy shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd. You are with me Your Rod and your staff.They comfort me this image is expanded on or that theidea is expanded on as the as David moves to verse five now he expands this idea by changing theimage slightly now we have this image of success andprosperity he's led through the Valley of the shadow of death, and now here heis at a table in the presence of hisenemies. This is it like ultimate victory right. It's one thing to gather arounda table with your friends and your family and everything safe, and thatsort of thing you imagine sitting down at a table being anointed as a king in thepresence of your enemies and there isn't anything they can do about it. This is this is there's a kind ofmocking that is going on here. I think in this image, a kind of God speakingto his eves and saying what you going to do about it. What are you going to do about it death?What are you going to do about it sickness? What are you going to doabout it? Satan? We're Eatin we're celebrating we're going to rejoice,we're going to sit down and not worry about. You sure we're in the Valley of the shadowof death, but we're not afraid. In fact, let's have a meal. You prepare a table before me in thepresence of My Enemies. You Annoy my head with oil, my cup overflows right.This is this is a feast of abundance and then he concludes with ver. Six.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shalldwell in the house of a Lord for ever it's almost as if, as David is walkingthrough the Valley of the shadow of death as enemies are surrounding him.As all these terrible things are happening, because the Lord is leadinghim there, these just he clas, like you, can't get away from goodness and mercy. They just keep following him. They'rethey stay with them. They're they're, like these walking partners on thispipe on this on this dangerous treacherous journey, he's on there'sgoodness there is mercy and there's the Lord he's protected he's provided for he'sgoing to these places of safety and provision, and he just relaxes at theend, and he says I shall dwell in the House of the Lord Forever David's contentment isn't tied to hiscircumstances. Is it he's not saying well when I get toheaven, then I'll be content. He Sang right here right now in the presence of My Enemies, whilethey're here, while they're surrounding me, while I'm feeling this impendingdoom, I'm not going to be afraid, I'm going to be at rest and I'm going to be comforted because you o Lord, are with me, and we know that the Lord is with us. Ithink even better than David knew and...

...at least intellectually she's a good starting place. Perhaps we can get it even more in ourhearts by God's grace. What am I talking about? I'm talking about Jesus. We know something David didn't quiteknow at this point when we say a d when he says the wardwould be with us. What comes into our minds? Is the sonof God becoming incarnate, taking on our flesh and blood, to die on a cross to face the greatest enemies thatmankind faces the wrath of God, the the devil himself, the O, the sin that enslaves us and to turn aside God's wrath, to put the devil, to open, shame and to forgive all of our sins. Jesus walked through the Valley of theshadow of death in human flesh, carrying US carrying us through by a virtue of hispromises and the covenants that were made Jesus. Our chief shepherd went beforeus this path that we're on it's, not one that we're trying to figure out.It's not one that we're blazing it's not one where we're trying to build aswe go. It's already done. It's already provided for us. Jesus has already diedon the cross resurrected from the dead ascended into heaven, where he is nowpreparing a place for us for every one who puts their faith in him. Jesus faced the darkness of the Cross,the betrayal, the evil that lurked all around him and he came out victorious because ofhis righteousness, and so whether you are on death's door,as we say whether you are finding yourself close to the end of your life or whether it is a spiritual darknessor something else that is threatening to swallow. You know that Jesus can lead you throughand has already gone through himself the he can guide you through thedarkest places, because he knows the way and because he promises to take you and finish that race. He knows the path of righteousnessbecause he is righteousness himself and so beloved cling to him. Follow, don't let the silly things of thisworld. Be Your Shepherd. Don't let your sinful heart, be your shepherd! Don'tlet your circumstances be your shepherd or your emotions or whatever? Let the Lord be her shepherd. Let JesusBeger shepherd hear his voice. Follow him and you will dwell in the house ofthe Lord for ever Paul says that nothing can separate usfrom the love of God in Christ. Jesus so cling to him. I find your safety and your rest in him.Let's pray.

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