That's All I Want

Sun, Apr 05, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Passage: Psalm 23
Duration:23 mins 57 secs

Message text

That’s All I Want
Psalms 23 ; Philippians 4: 11 – 12

For those of us who grew up in the country... we probably knew of someone who raised sheep. One large rancher of sheep once said that there are three levels of stupidity in this world. There’s dumb. There’s dumber. And then there’s sheep. He then said that if someone says that sheep are as dumb as a brick, they are actually insulting the brick!

Jesus often refers to people – to us – as sheep.
In John 21, Jesus tells Simon Peter to feed His sheep.
In Matthew chapter 9, it says that when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
When Jesus compares us to sheep, He’s not exactly giving us a compliment. He’s saying that we are helpless, we are foolish, we are stubborn, we are disagreeable. We need constant supervision. Because a sheep without a shepherd cannot take care of itself.
Sheep without a shepherd will die.

God comes near to us by revealing Himself to us, but we must look for the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says that we should "sincerely try to find Him."
Jeremiah 29:13 states that "when you search for the LORD with all your heart, you will find Him."
It is our sin that has alienated us from God... and so it is necessary, therefore, that we turn from our sin and look back to God for salvation.
We need to stop looking to the world for answers and turn back to GOD for understanding and guidance.

James 4:8 promises that if we come near to God He will come near to us. Let us draw near to God and live.
For nearly 30 centuries the 23rd Psalm has been one of the best known & most beloved passages in the Bible.

A Sunday school teacher who asked her group of children if any of them could quote the entire 23rd Psalm. A little 4½-year-old girl raised her hand. A bit skeptical, the teacher asked if she could really quote the entire psalm.
The little girl nodded her head, came to the front of the room, curtsied, & said: "The Lord is my shepherd, & that’s all I want." She then curtsied again & sat down.
So, the title of our lesson this morning is THAT’s ALL I WANT!

Like the little girl, we may not be able to quote it completely, but we do treasure it, & often read it in times of stress or sorrow... because it speaks to the heart.

An old time minister once stated that "This Psalm has flown like a bird up & down the earth, singing the sweetest song ever heard. It has charmed more griefs to rest than all the philosophers of the world.
"It will go on singing to your children, & to my children, & to their children till the end of time. And when its work is done, it will fly back to the bosom of God, fold its wings & sing on forever in the happy chorus of those it had helped to bring there." Wow!

There are only about 115 words in this well-known Psalm. Yet these 115 words reach to the very depths of our being & sustain us in hours of difficulty & trial like we are currently experiencing. You may feel like my grandsons who just the other day stated to me that this current reality is like a weird dream and they are waiting to wake up from it at any time.

I would like us to look at this psalm this morning to see 3 great reasons to be thankful to God.
The Psalm begins with these familiar words, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want."
When someone says, "I shall not be in want," we need to sit up & take notice because this is an age of discontentment and concern.
Yesterday I saw a quote that read... “Stay individually apart and move closer to God” and currently the motto of the nation is

Listen to the Apostle Paul from Philippians 4 verses 11 – 13 ,
11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content.
12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

How can we experience contentment in spite of our surroundings? A good place to begin is not by complaining about what we don't have, but by always being thankful for what we do have.
There should be a spirit of thankfulness in us that brands us as belonging to Him.

So with the 23rd Psalm in mind, notice 3 great reasons to be thankful.

The first one is this: "We can be thankful because in this life the Good Shepherd gives us all we need."

One overriding principle of the 23rd Psalm is that sheep can't make it without a shepherd. And the only reason that David could say, "I shall not be in want," is because David could first say, "The Lord is my Shepherd."

B. Now let's look at what David says the Good Shepherd does for his sheep.

Vs. 2 tells us that "He makes me lie down in green pastures." The good shepherd leads his sheep to a lush pasture where they have plenty to eat & their stomachs are soon full.
Here is a picture of sheep so completely satisfied that there isn't the least desire for anything more. They are so content they lie down in green pastures.

The Lord has provided us with plenty, also. There are few of us who ever go hungry. In fact, we have so much to eat that dieting is a constant discipline or, maybe more accurately, a constant discussion.

But did you notice the wording? David said, "He makes me lie down." Sheep sometimes have to be forced to lie down.
I have read that in order for sheep to lie down 4 things are required:
1. First of all, they have to be full. Hungry sheep stay on their feet searching for another mouthful of food.
2. Secondly, they must be unafraid. They will not lie down if they're fearful. The least suspicion of wolves or bears & they stand ready to flee.
3. Thirdly, they must be content. If flies or fleas are bothering them they will not lie down. They must be comfortable before they will lie down.
4. Finally, sheep will not lie down unless there is harmony in the flock. If there is friction over the butting order among them, then they simply cannot relax & lie down.

There are times that God also makes us lie down. We rush about, trying to meet this engagement & fulfill that obligation. And in our hurry & scurry we tend to miss the things that are most important.
So once in a while God has to say, "You need to lie down," by allowing an illness, or heartbreak, to make us stop & reevaluate our priorities.

C. David then says, "He leads me beside quiet waters." (vs. 2) Sheep are frightened by swiftly moving water. They're poor swimmers, & get bogged down with their heavy wool just as we would if we tried to swim wearing wool overcoats.
So when the shepherd comes to a flowing stream, a good shepherd builds a dam & makes a quiet little pool where his sheep can drink from still waters.

David said the same thing in the 32nd Psalm, "Surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach me. You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble & surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalms 32:6-7).
We must remember this promise of “quiet waters” is for those who are following where He is leading.

D. Back in the 23rd Psalm David goes on to say, "He restores my soul." (vs. 3) A lost sheep cannot find its way home, so the shepherd has to restore the sheep that have strayed away or it is lost forever.

There is a story told of a little boy who worked in his parent's carpentry shop in Jerusalem. The boy begrudges his job which is to assist in building crosses. The parents insist that he help because Rome has given them a contract for construction of crosses.
One day the boy is weeping. "What is wrong?" his parents ask. He tells them that he went to the market place & there he saw Jesus of Nazareth, & Jesus was carrying MY cross! The soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha & nailed Him to MY cross."

The parents insist, "Oh no, son, that wasn't our cross. Other people in Jerusalem build crosses. That wasn't our cross."
"Oh yes, it was! When you weren't looking, I carved my name on the cross that we were making. When Jesus was carrying His cross, He stumbled right beside me, & I looked, & my name was on His cross!"

And as we reflect on the scenes of Calvary we can also see our name written on that cross. BECAUSE, Jesus died in our place. He went to the cross to restore our souls.
That is why the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2 verses 24 & 25,
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins & live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd & Overseer of your souls"

E. David continues on in Psalm 23:3, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
The Bible clearly teaches that there are 2 paths we can take. One leads to destruction, & Satan tries to lead us along that path. It is such a broad & smooth road. It often seems like the logical way to go.

The other is the path of righteousness that leads to the glory that God is preparing for us. Sometimes this way is narrow & difficult & filled with obstacles. But the good Shepherd knows which way His sheep are to go, & He leads them on that path of righteousness.

SUM. So here is something for us to be thankful for. Thank God that in this life He provides us with everything we really need!

Secondly, David says, "Be thankful, because in the face of death the Good Shepherd protects us from evil."
A. Listen to David as he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." (Psalm 23:4) The fear of death can really disturb us.

Hebrews 2:15 speaks of people who "all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
The Bible clearly states that death is Satan's weapon, the last enemy to be defeated. But David said, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Why? Because "You are with me."

ILL. A 1st grader stood in front of his classroom to tell about "What I want to be when I grow up." He said, "I'm going to be a lion tamer & have lots of fierce lions. I'll walk into the cage & they will roar."
He paused for a moment thinking through what he had just said, & then added, "But of course, I'll have my mommy with me."

I'm convinced that when death roars its worst at us, we need not fear, for our Savior is with us. Whether we brush the edge of the valley of death or actually walk through it, He promises, "I'll be there with you."

B. In fact, David goes on to say, "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." (Psalm 23:5)

Not only is that a promise of peace & protection while we are alive, it is also a promise that at the moment Satan is doing his worst to you in death, God is preparing a welcoming feast for you in Heaven! What a picture of victory & joy!

SUM. So when you pause to think about what to be thankful for, thank God that in the face of death the Good Shepherd promises protection from evil.

A. Finally, listen to this, "You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness & love will follow me all the days of my life, & I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:5-6)
What a picture! When we stand before God on Judgment Day, His mercy will be there. If God gave us justice, we'd be punished for our disobedience. But because of Jesus we have confidence in His mercy.

ILL. There is a touching story about a famous actor who was the guest of honor at a prestigious social gathering. During the evening he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from a variety of literary masterpieces. Which he gladly did.
Then an old preacher who happened to be among the guests asked the actor to recite the 23rd Psalm. The actor agreed to do so on the condition that the old preacher would recite it also.

The actor began his oration of the famous Psalm, & it was everything you could expect from such a polished performer.
The phrases were elegant, his voice rose & fell to give each thought it's proper dramatic emphasis. And when he finished, the crowd broke into a lengthy applause.

Then, as had been requested, the old preacher rose. His voice was rough & broken from many years of preaching, & his enunciation was anything but polished. But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.
Later, when someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied, "I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."

CONCL. This morning, if the Lord is not your Shepherd, then I want you to know that He has come looking for lost sheep today.
And if you can't find your way home, He'll lead you back & He'll redeem you from all your sins. He'll put you on the path of righteousness. He'll cause your cup to overflow, & goodness & mercy will follow you all the days of your life.

And one day... maybe not too far away I think, we will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Are you ready for that?

If you're not ready, then I urge you to contact one of the church members or you can call me at (440) 667 – 8626 so we can pray with you and/or baptize you for the remission of your sins. I pray that we look for the LORD before it is too late.. and that we call on him now, while he is near. — Isaiah 55:6

Sermon Contributor
Jeff Strite


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