Part 7: Psalm 23: 4a   ..Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

In the first three verses David is talking to the reader. Here in verse four he begins to talk to the Lord.

“There is a Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Land of Israel.  The four-mile long valley wall rises hundreds of feet in some places. This is the most dangerous part of the journey on the way to the best highland pastures.  Some times the path is too narrow for the sheep to turn around or a gully splits the path in two and he must jump over it to follow the shepherd.  Sheep are never alone if they stay close to the shepherd, because he has been there before. Remember that Jesus Himself went through the valley of the shadow of death and came out ALIVE!  (Haidle).”

No dark valley or trouble can ever separate you from Jesus, He cares about you and will not let you go through any trial alone if you follow HIM. Those who are fully trusting in the Lord can have a sweet confidence that HE is in the situation right along with us.

Is. 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you,’Fear not, I will help you.”    

It is always a JOY when we can look back and recount the many times that the LORD has sustained us through  pain and suffering, loss of loved ones and when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. “If God be for us who can be against us.” Ro. 8:31b

There are going to be valleys and trials for all of us. The “Good Shepherd”  says in John 16:33, “in this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.  

The important thing is how we respond when trials come. We can trust the Shepherd and rest assured that He will lead us to higher ground in peace and safety. When we do we will be blessed and we can be a blessing to those who live in fear and have not learned to trust the Shepherd.

…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. ”

Part 6: PSALM 23:3b “…he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.”

Ps. 23:3b “…he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.”

Because sheep are notorious creatures of habit if left to them selves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts, graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes. Many of the world’s finest sheep ranges have been ruined beyond repair by over-graziing, poor management and indifferent or ignorant sheep owners.  A commonly held misconception about sheep is that they can just “get along anywhere”. The truth is quite the reverse.  No other class of livestock requires more careful handling, more detailed direction, than do sheep. This requires the shepherd to be a careful manager and the sheep have to be under his meticulous control and guidance.  Isaiah 56:3 ”All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.”

Just as sheep will blindly, habitually, yes, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails, until the trails become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies. We humans also cling to the same habits that we have seen ruin other lives.

Choices are important, whether you obey your parents, do your work well, love others, choose what pleases yourself,  follow your friends  in the wrong directions or what pleases your Good Shepherd. 

Isaiah 56:3 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way, And the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus} the iniquity of us all.”

Phil 4:6-7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God.  

What then? Verse 7 says. “The peace of God; which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

The Lord says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.”  

What leader have you chosen to follow?” The Soap Operas…..  Dance with the Stars…. Bad Language,  Using the Lord’s name in vain…vs… Christian Literature, spiritually uplifting programs and literature …words of gratitude and praise from your mouth to the Saviour. A life for Christ is not for sissies….. It took the suffering of Christ on the cross.

Can we not give up some of these things after what He has done for us?

A life for Christ is the only truly satisfying life producing JOY and PEACE.      

   “True Happiness and Peace do not exist Apart From God”

 Please Ladies, let’s allow the Lord to “…lead us, in the paths of righteousness. 

Part 5: PSALM 23:3a “…he restoreth my soul.”

Surely, it would be assumed that anyone in the Good Shepherd’s care could never become so distressed in soul as to need restoration.  NOT!

David, the writer of this Psalm was acquainted with the bitterness of feeling hopeless and without strength in himself. In Ps. 42:11 he cries out, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” 

 “Cast Down” is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself.

A good shepherd keeps close watch over his sheep. He must count them frequently so that he knows when one is missing.  A sheep can die in just a few hours if he is not rescued by the Shepherd.  He wants to “restore it.”  When he finds it he will turn the sheep over and massage its leg to restore the circulation, then he will lift the sheep onto his shoulders and carry it home… He is not angry with the sheep. He is happy to find it and wants to help it.

The story of the ninety and nine  in Luke 15:1-6  is a very significant story depicting the shepherd leaving the 99 to look for the one lost sheep.

Our children have this little joke  about “who is the favorite child” and as we told our eldest son about a week ago, when he was very sick… “we are doing our favorite child act today”.   He laughed because the truth weighed heavily on him of our concern.  The one who needed us most at the time was the one who gets our attention or is  our “favorite”.

When the sheep is weak and his legs are wobbly he will need to be carried by the Shepherd, but once he gains his strength he can walk on his own.

Our Shepherd is the one,“…who came to seek and to save that which  was lost.” Luke 19:10  

We as Christians also need to pray for those who are “lost sheep”. The Lord cares for the lost sinner and has compassion for His children also.

“As the shepherd seeks out his flock… So will I seek out My sheep… from all the places where they were scattered.”   Ezekiel 34:12

Keller says in his little book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, “The life for Christ is not an easy one,  but the toughness it takes to face life and its difficult setbacks… can come only through the discipline of endurance and hardship.”  (p.69  in the church Library).

…He knows best and HE WILL SEEK YOU OUT WHEN YOU STRAY….

 “…He restoreth my soul.”

Part 4: PSALM 23: 2b “…He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

Sheep need to drink a lot of water…Their bodies are made up of 70% water.  When they are thirsty they drink any water they can find without knowing the danger of mud puddles with dust and mold and places other animal walk through and worse. Some may become sick or even die because they don’t know the difference between clean and dirty water. So the shepherd needs to find clean water that is  still and quiet or the sheep become frightened. At times the shepherd needs to make a pool of water so the sheep may drink in peace.

Jesus promised living water to everyone whose heart thirsts for God. If you go your own way, your thirst will lead you to dirty waters. You’ll make choices that can hurt you. JESUS gives you living water and helps you make the best choices.

Are  you thirsty to know Jesus better? Do you want  to please Jesus?  How do you let the Lord help you to know and do what is best for you? He alone can satisfy your thirst.

John 7:37 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they shall be filled.” 

In Mat. 5:6, Jesus said,”If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink.” 

It is important that we spend time in the Word so that we will get the clean water.  This is how the Lord speaks to us and guides us.

 Ask yourself before your feet hit the floor in the morning. Before you speak, dress, pick up something to read, turn on the TV, go someplace for recreation:  Am I drinking from clean pure water? Is this Christ honoring and making me a clean vessel for Christ? Am I a bright shining light for my Saviour that will make a difference in the lives with whom I come in contact.?

Ladies, let’s make sure that our greatest desire is to live for Christ and share His love with others and only drink from the pure clean waters.

Are you depressed and discouraged with what is going on in your life and dissatisfied with your surroundings and your relationship with God is rough?   Are the waters of you life rough and disturbed? The Good Shepherd  leads us by giving us  His Holy Spirit to guide us to the things that truly satisfy as, we make our daily choices in our lives.

Are these desires missing from your life? Fall on your face before the Lord and  tell him, “I thirst, I do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Call out  in surrender to Him and He will …”lead you beside the still waters..”    Don’t delay… begin today.

 “…He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

(Quote from Face Book – Zig Ziggler)

Be the kind of woman who, when your feet hit the floor in the morning  the Devil says, Oh no she’s up!

Part 3: PSALM 23: 2a “…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;”

PSALM 23: 2a “…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;”

Sheep graze from dawn until midmorning then the shepherd leads them to new green pastures which they can’t find on their own, or they will eat the grass to the bare ground. Once the sheep eat all they need they must lie down and chew their cud.  If one sheep bullies or butts another, this upsets all the sheep. They  refuse to lie down, their food cannot digest and they soon lose weight and grow weak.  The shepherd stops the fighting at once and the sheep lie down to chew their cud. Just as a shepherd calms his flock as he sits down among them, Jesus will calm you with His peace.  He does not want you to feel upset. 

In Lettie Cowman”s  book Streams in the Desert, P. 257) she writes of an experience shared by the captain, when on a steamer just  off the coast of Newfoundland.      He said, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which changed my whole Christian life. 

Missionary George Mueller of Bristol was on board. He told me that he needed to be in Quebec Saturday afternoon and when I told him it is was impossible he told me that he had never missed a speaking engagement in 57 years and if the ship could not take him that God would find another way. He then suggested that we go to the chart room and pray. I looked at that man of God and thought to myself, “this man must be crazy”.  I said to him, “Surely you do not know what a dense fog this is.” 

He said, “My eye is not on the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.”  He knelt down and prayed the most simple prayer I had ever heard, and when he had finished I was going to pray: but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.” Get up, Captain …open the door, and you will find the fog gone.”  I got up, and indeed, the fog was gone. George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.  George Mueller had a great unswerving faith in the Good Shepherd.

You can give you burdens to the Shepherd, and show your husband,  children, parents, grandchildren, neighbors and co-workers the Lord can bring peace around you by your own example of trust in your Shepherd in every area of you life.  Just like a sheep lying down in green pastures…. You too can rest in Christ’s promises.

If our love were but more simple, 

We should take Him at His word;

And our lives would be all sunshine,

In the sweetness of the Lord.          

PSALM 23: 2a 

“…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;”

Part 2: PSALM 23:1b “……I SHALL NOT WANT.”

Jane’s Heart to Heart…….Pastor’s Helpmate

Psalm 23:1b  “… I shall not want”.

… I search my closets for my dress shoes to replace my warm boots. I look in every possible place and I ended up wearing my everyday flats. I breathed a prayer that the Lord would help me to find them. I did not want to have to buy another pair. 

Did I leave them at Camp Barakel in December while attending Taylor & Lydia’s wedding? I didn’t miss them until I put my boots away this spring. Lydia’s mom & dad have been on staff at Camp Barakel for  over 25 years so I contacted her on FB and described them.  

A week later she messaged me on FB  and asked if they were in a little brown bag with ‘MP’ on them. (A bag our daughter, Melony used when she was with the Agape Players before she was married. The lost was found and  we were both  at Lydia’s Pinning and graduation from Cedarville University in OH this week end, so  no need to mail them. God’s timing.

This week we went to get salt for the water softener.  I stayed in the car and prayed the Lord would send someone  to help  load the salt.  While he was loading the first bag  my answer to prayer came out the door and said “Sir, how many of these did you get?”  Ken said, “Five, as he picked up the second bag.”  The man asked,” How many more do you need.”  Ken said, ”Three, Thank you.”   The man bent over and stacked all three 40 # bags and placed them in the trunk.”  This man was a customer that the Lord sent along to help. ”Thank you, Father.  There is something I can do to help.”  Answers to my humble prayers are continual reminders …  If the Lord cares about my little black sandals and forty pound  salt bags, He surely cares about our greatest needs.  LUKE 9:11 “Ask and it shall be given unto you, Seek and ye shall find.”

Matthew 14 reminds us of how Jesus not only fed the five thousand but had plenty of leftovers.  Matthew 6:25, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on…”

“I shall not want” doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want things. It means that you can trust Jesus to know what you need.  

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

When we are right with Him, Our Desires will be right.

I shall not want.” Ps. 23:1

He promises to give you everything you need

 and the one thing that you need most is JESUS.

Part 1: PSALM 23:1a … “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD”

Jane’s Heart to Heart                  …….Pastor’s Helpmate

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD Psalm 23:1a

The Shepherd and The Sheep  

Several years ago at the MARBC Conference (1999) I received a complimentary copy of a children’s book entitled: COMFORT FOR A CHILD’S HEART, The Twenty-third Psalm and Bible Promises written and illustrated by David and Helen Haidele.  While we were ministering at the Jonesville Baptist Church I compiled a series of lessons on the 23rd Psalm using some of the illustrations in that book. For the next few weeks I want to capsulize these lessons and share them with you.

In 2008 I started crocheting Loopie Lambs for our grandchildren for Christmas using ONE OF Vana White’s patterns. I made fifteen of them.

I actually only made one this size.. (most of you have met Arnie, ) because of the difficulty and cost of making the loops. So the rest were about half that size.

This year I realized that we had two more grandchildren and  eleven greats plus three more on the way, who did not have a lamb.  After making five of them my arthritis in my thumb and wrist prohibited my making any more and one of our daughters asked…. “Why don’t you make something a little easier,” and sent   a link to a darling  crocheted bunny with a little blanket.

I told her that the reason that I want them to have the lamb was for a reminder that  “The Lord Is their Shepherd and they are His sheep.” I also included a short story about the 23 Psalm for their parents to read to them.

I searched on the internet and found some little lambs that were reasonable and bought enough for the rest of the children and those on the way and embellished them a bit to personalize them.

Psalm 23:1 A “The LORD is my shepherd…”

Let’s talk – Who is the LORD?   He is the One who made the universe…the stars, the planets, apples and butterflies, owls and lions.  The LORD  made you and me and knows our every need.  The LORD  gave His only begotten Son to die on the Cross for us, the sheep.  His Son,  JESUS was also called the “Lamb of God”, John the Baptist said so when he saw Jesus coming… “Behold the Lamb  of God,  who taketh away the SIN of the world.”.

So, who is the Shepherd?  Jesus said, “ I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep… And I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15.   The shepherd is one who watches over sheep and takes care of them. The shepherd never takes time off.  Sheep are helpless and need the Shepherd always. The Lord Jesus is the good Shepherd. He gave up His life for you because He loves you and cares for you just as a shepherd cares for one of his lambs.  He knows your name. He wants to be your shepherd.  Sheep know the shepherd’s voice.  They follow no one but their shepherd.  Just like a sheep, you can learn to know and trust Jesus as your Good Shepherd and you can learn to follow him and do what He tells you. You know – the more hurried our pace the less we experience our “Shepherd”.  If left to ourselves we will go until be fall down from exhaustion.

Do you trust Jesus as your Lord and Shepherd?

How often do you take time to be close to Jesus through prayer and Bible Reading ?

Get to know Him! You are one of His precious Lambs.

He speaks to us through our reading His Word.

How do we follow Him? …Through obedience to His Word.

                THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

LITTLE NATE’S FIRST SERMON

parsonageMonday morning, March 22, 2010, Jennifer, (our youngest son, Nathan’s wife) called to inform us that her mother and dad, Bruce and Dawn Giehl, were coming from Ohio and she wanted to invite us to come for the evening meal.

Ken was on the road and I suggested that Nathan give him a call to see if that would work with his schedule and then Ken called me and said that we could, if it could be worked out with the management to cover for us  at Friendship Village while we were away.  We are the “Alert” phone workers.

I was expecting the manager to be back around 2:00 PM.  I gave the manager a few calls on her cell phone hoping that maybe we could get away a little earlier, but I was unable to reach her.

The mail usually comes between 12:30 and 1:15 PM, about the time that Ken usually gets home from driving.  While I was waiting I went out and got the mail and there was a sweet “Thank You” note from Jennifer’s mom and dad, which said….

“Sometimes God brings special people into our lives  and gives them a home in our hearts. You’re one of those people and you’re celebrated with love and thanks to God today.” and they added a note…. We are so thankful God brought your family into our family.

Dawn and I have established the habit for over a year now to pray together for our children whenever we happen to see one another on chats and it usually works out two or tree times a week at least.  It has been such a blessing to see those prayers answered.

When the manager got back in the office at 2:00 PM she returned my call and I asked her if she could stand in for us and she assured me that we could go and wished us and nice time.

We set out immediately for the hour and a half drive from Litchfield, MI to Kalamazoo and safely arrived at Nathan and Jennifer’s home where the boys and men were outside on the blacktop drive playing basket ball.

When we arrived we were warmly greeted and hugged. Then we all went into the house together to greet the rest of the family including Giehl’s black and white Cocker Spaniel dog, Patches.

As we gathered around the table for the meal our son Nathan made the statement,”let’s pray”….but while we were finishing our conversation and joining hand with on another, Little one year old Nathaniel Bruce got a little impatient and with his head bowed and peeking around the table, started mumbling to himself little prayerful words that sounded like “Thank. Thank.”   After we all chuckled a little his father began his prayer of thanks for the meal and fellowship.

It did not take long to figure our where Little Nathaniel learned the word “thanks” nor the idea of prayer before he ate.  

Matthew 21:16 (King James Version)

 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

After the meal and clearing the table we all adjourned to the living room where every one sat around the room and chairs were pulled into the living room from the dining area to accommodate the size of our crowd.

The little people of course were playing on the floor and were in an out some with there toys and we also had the honor of seeing Patches do some tricks for us.

We had such sweet fellowship with our dear family and as it drew close to the time for us to leave little Nathaniel went over to one of the large vacant dining room chairs and with much struggle, climbed up until he was on his knees, then finally got turned around and sat down and got his little legs to hang over the edge.

As his grandmother, I was watching him closely as everyone in the room was conversing.  I was afraid that he might fall off the chair, but then I began to realize that he was purposely getting set, just like every one else and though he can’t talk was making little sounds and looking around at everyone and making little gestures with his hand and smiling happily at every one.

At that moment I realized that Little Nathaniel Bruce in his prayer at the dinner table and his little conversation on the chair with all of us looking on had preached his first sermon to all of us.

That sermon was … “I love to do what you love to do….”

It was obvious, all of a sudden to everyone there that he was copying the rest of us.

It caused me to think…..

What if we had been arguing or swearing….

What if we had been drinking… smoking…. overeating….  You fill in the blanks to what is really important to you.__________

I know I certainly have had to do that myself lately.

What is really important to me and what are my descendants going to copy.

Lord, help us to be the example that we should be and be more like YOU, that we may nudge our dear ones closer to you. 

Joshua 24:15    “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

"I Guess the Only Thing We Can Do Now is Pray.."

parsonage

So often we who know the Lord try to do everything we can to fix things and change things and then as I heard on the news yesterday some one said. “I guess the only thing we can do now is pray..”

Prayer is not a good luck charm nor a rabbit’s foot…..

Lord, help us to seek YOUR face without ceasing and stay in YOUR WORD in obedience with right heart attitude.

Help us to call out to YOU first for guidance to make right choices and allow You to guide us.

As a young person I learned this Scripture and it has blessed me so much. I have to remind myself of this when ever I try to fix things myself.

Memorize Ps. 100. Repeat it over and over… think about it’s meaning.

The following is my capsulized version… REJOICE IN THE LORD… SERVE HIM WITH GLADNESS… COME BEFORE HIS PRESENCE… KNOW HE I S GOD… HE MADE US… WE ARE THE SHEEP… HE IS THE SHEPHERD… GIVE THANKS DAILY… PRAISE HIM… BE THANKFUL… BLESS HIS NAME… THE LORD IS GOOD… HIS MERCY IS EVERY LASTING… HIS TRUTH ENDURES THROUGH ALL GENERATIONS….

Shout this out to the Lord today… And everyday. Then when trials come you can just lift your hands and heart to HIM and say humbly “I’m here Lord, direct my path and hold out your hand to him like a small child would do.”

GOD is faithful. He will lead you through that trail sweetly.