Part 13:   Psalm 23: 6b  “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The shepherd leads his sheep back to stay close to him. To arrive home safely in the valley they follow their shepherd and obey him all along the way. 

Jesus wants to lead you on the journey of your life.  One day He will take you to the special home He’s made ready just for you in heaven.  

John 14: 1-3 in the J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am.

Are you ready to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever?”

If you aren’t ready, you can bow your head and pray this prayer.

“Thank you Lord for sending your Son to die on the cross for me.  Forgive all I’ve done wrong. Come into my heart. Thank you for loving and forgiving me.  Thank you for promising me a home in heaven.  Help me to turn my back on sin and live for you now that I have received you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Remember: Now that you know Christ…. I John 1:9 says “If you confess you sin, HE is faithful and just to forgive you your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

 “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Part 12: Psalm 23: 6a  “..Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Jane’s HEART TO HEART….. The Pastor’s Helpmate

This is a strong statement of trust.  As we have studied Psalm 23 the stress has been placed on following and trusting the Shepherd.  All of this is capsulized in  this verse.  How many of you today feel the way that David the Psalmist  expressed here? (repeat verse). 

To quote Keller again (p.128) “of course it is very easy to speak this way when things are going well….. when the body breaks down… when I stand by helpless, as I have had to do and watch a life partner die by degrees under appalling pain?… When my job folds and there is no money… When my children can’t make the grade in school… Or run with the wrong crowd… When, without grounds friends turn against me? ‘ ….Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’ These times can test a person’s confidence in the care of Christ.  Is this sheer humbug and maddening mockery?”

There may be times when you may want to give up, but God will not give up on you.  Despite your doubts and fears you will see the goodness and mercy and you can know that you are truly in Christ’s care.  Nothing can come upon you without eventual good coming out of the chaos.This can be the Great foundation of our faith.

I John 3:16 says… “I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”

Having attended many funerals lately and witnessing what people leave as an heritage… I have to ask myself, what are my relatives going to find as they scramble for memories about my life.   “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publishes peace…” Is. 52:7.

Look at your life and ask yourself…. What am I leaving behind for others to be pointed to a Christ of ‘goodness and mercy’?

Ask yourself…

Do I leave behind turmoil  or peace?

Do I leave bitterness or forgiveness?

Do I leave  conflict or contentment?

Do I leave frustration or JOY?

Do I leave bitterness and resentment or love ?

Do I leave loved ones who don’t know Christ or those whom I have won to Christ?

..Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

PART 11: Psalm 23:5c  “…..My cup runs over.”

July 6, 2014        JANE’s HEART TO HEART

                          …The Pastor’s Helpmate

As we spoke last week about the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives this flows right into this passage.  The Lord is pleased when we seek the Holy Spirit to guide us and consequently the result of the Holy Spirit working in and through us we over flow with love and concern for one another. The Holy Spirit in our lives brings peace JOY, long suffering and generosity. We then have great contentment in His care and that love overflows and that is when we become the most contented people on earth.  

Inside the sheep fold the shepherd stores water in a large stone container to keep it cool and then when the sheep are hot  he dips a cup in the water jar and the sheep sinks its nose into the cup all the way up to its eyes to cool a fever and the shepherd allows the sheep to drink all it needs. Also, remember that at night the Shepherd lies down across the entrance of the sheepfold.

After the flock lies down to sleep their shepherd lies down in the open gateway of the sheep pen.  No sheep can go out except across his body. No wolf can come in to the sheep pen except across his body.  He literally becomes the door of protection.

Can this be said about us.. Especially when troubles or disappointments come along, we are apt to feel forgotten by our Shepherd. We may feel as though He has  looked away from our needs. Some say, “That’s not fair” and become angry when those around us do not treat us as we feel we should be treated.  Not so if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our actions and our reactions “…we will hardly even notice when other do it wrong.” I Cor. 13:4 LB.

Missionary  to India, Amy Carmichael said: “ if a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.

Take time to be with Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing with sweet water even in the hard times.

Psalm 23:5c  “….My cup runs over.”

PART 10: Psalm 23:5b ” You anoint my head with oil.”

June 29, 2014    JANE’s HEART TO HEART    …. The Pastor’s Helpmate

Psalm 23:5b  “..You anoint my head with oil.”

When I was  about eight years old I loved to read the dictionary.  I would look through and find words, read the definition and then I would try to think of ways to use them in a sentence and ask my family a question using that word.  One I especially remember is when I would sit with my head on my hand and elbow on my knee and ask, “What am I doing?   They would try to guess and then I would say, “I am meditating”. Often when we had visitors my parents would have me try to stump our company.  

As we meditate on this magnificent poem of Ps. 23 it is helpful to keep in mind that the poet, David, is recounting the events of the full year in a sheep’s life. He takes us with him from the home ranch where every need is so carefully supplied by the owner, out into the green pastures, along the still waters, up through the mountains valleys to the high tablelands of summer.

Here now when it would seem that the sheep are in a perfect setting on the high meadows; where there are clear running springs and fresh tender forage we suddenly find “a fly in the anointment” so to speak. (Keller)  There  are many different insects that reek havoc among livestock. The shepherd anoints his sheep to protect them from the nasal flies which land on the sheep’s nose and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into tiny worms that burrow up the sheep’s nose into its head. These wriggling worms cause the sheep to panic, toss its head and run wild trying to rid itself  of the pain even beating its head against a rock or tree often hurting itself. Right away the shepherd will rub a mixture of oil and herbs over every sheep’s head and nose. This keeps the flies away and calms the sheep.

Meditate on this:

What is it that upsets you?  What frustrates you and causes you to panic? Who irritates or “bugs” you? When things go wrong and upset you, ask Jesus to anoint you with His love and peace., Just as oil calms the sheep, Jesus wants to calm our upset minds and hearts with the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your life. 

Romans 15:13 says: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus also said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

Psalm 23:5b  “..You anoint my head with oil.”

Part 9: PSALM 23:5a “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

PS. 23:5a  “You prepare a  table before me in the presence of my enemies.   (Keller and Haidle)

High flat places of mountain sheep ranges are called “tables.” These are the very best pastures or tablelands. The shepherd “prepares” the table for his flock by scouting out its enemies: wild animals and poisonous plants. Sheep cannot tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous plants. One nibble of the white camas flower would kill a lamb, so the shepherd finds and destroys all poisonous plants so his flock can feed safely. He works hard to protect them.

Jesus said,in John 6:32-35 “ I am the bread of life. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is MY flesh, which I shall give for the Life of the world.” When you believe in Him, He fills a hunger in your heart that only He can satisfy.  And you can be sure He has already prepared a feast for you in heaven. Also if you feast on HIS WORD in obedience you will be filled and blessed beyond measure. And “…your will live forever” vs. 51.

The parallel in the Christian life is clear. Like sheep, and especially lambs, we somehow feel that we have to try everything that comes our way. We feel we have to sample everything just to see what it is like even though we may know that some things are deadly. They can do us no good, and are even most destructive. Still somehow we give them a whirl anyway.

The shepherd also tries to watch out for predators like wolves, coyotes, cougars and bears. What actually happens is that these crafty ones are up on the rimrock watching every movement the sheep make, hoping for a chance to make a swift, sneaking attack that will stampede the sheep and one or another will fall easy prey to the attacker’s fierce teeth and claws. 

God’s love to us in Christ is bound up too with the deep desire of His heart to have us live on a higher plane. He longs to see us living above the mundane level of common humanity. He is so pleased when we walk in the ways of holiness, of selflessness and  of serene contentment in His care, aware of His presence and enjoying the intimacy of His companionship. 

To live thus is to live richly

To walk here is to walk with quiet assurance

To feed here is to be replete with good things. 

To find this tableland is to have found something of my shepherd’s love for me.

“You prepare a  table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Part 8: PSALM 23:4b – “Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me”

June 15, 2014     Jane’s HEART TO HEART   …. PASTOR’S HELPMATE

PS. 23:4b “…THY  ROD AND STAFF THEY COMFORT ME.

REALLY!     COMFORT ME?

On a blog on the internet called Jodi’s Journal….Oct 2009 she also sites W. Phillip Keller in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.  How can a rod and staff bring comfort?  A rod and a staff are the universal instruments used by shepherds. The rod represents  God’s Word. It is absolute Truth and has full authority. God’s Word “keeps our lives free from confusion and chaos.” His Word brings peace and “quiet serenity.”

 The rod has four basic functions. First, “as a symbol of the shepherd’s strength, power, and authority.” Second, an instrument of discipline to correct wayward sheep. “With it, the owner is able to carry out effective control of his flock in every situation.” Third, to examine and count the sheep. The Old Testament term was “passing under the rod.”  Finally, it serves as an “instrument of protection for the shepherd and his sheep when  in danger.“

The staff represents the Holy Spirit who provides comfort to believers – He is the still, small voice that stirs our soul to desire intimacy with God.  Jesus promised that God would send the Holy Spirit. …“the Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13).

This reminds me of the small child screaming for his own way and when the wise parent steps in and corrects the child, then the child experiences a calm and even happiness in his boundary. The other day I heard a  wise parent say to a disobedient child: “Just remember if you are disobedient to me, then the Lord’s  correction may be  harder than mine.”

Often we live our lives on the “Zip line” of careless disobedience and when the  line breaks we cry out to God expecting answered prayer.   

“The Holy spirit says, ‘This is the way – walk in it.’ And as we comply with His gentle promptings, a sense of safety, envelops us. If we take the time to ask God for guidance, it “conveys the mind of Christ”  and there is a calm repose in the knowledge that He is there to direct  in the most minute details of our daily living.”

Ps. 37:3-4 says: “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

“…THY  ROD AND STAFF THEY COMFORT ME.

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!