Friday, December 9, 2011

Knowing the Shepherd

In Psalm 23 we learn of the Shepherd character of that “The Great Shepherd” that we read about in, (Hebrews 13:20) “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant”.  Because of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ is a living Savior and He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep.  In Psalm 22 we see the Lord Jesus as “The Savior”.  In Psalm 23 we see Him as “The Shepherd”. Psalm 22 is about “The Cross”.  Psalm 23 is about “The Crook”.  Psalm 22 is about the Saviors “Grace and Grief”.  Psalm 23 is about the Saviors “Grace and Guidance”.  Psalm 22 is about “His Past Ministry” of providing salvation for His sheep.  Psalm 23 is about “His Present Ministry” of caring for His sheep.
 
The Twenty-Third Psalm is probably the most popular and most beloved poem in all literature.  It is often quoted at funerals and other times of grief and distress by both individuals and congregations.  This psalm contains many wonderful promises to those who are the sheep of the Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Someone has said that in this psalm you can find the secret to happiness.  There are five ingredients to human happiness and for these five things all men seek all their life long. Lacking any one of them, happiness will elude them.  These five things are Peace, Protection, Provision, a Place to live and a Person to love.  The Psalmist was a happy man because he had the Shepherd and because he had the Shepherd he had happiness.  Because he had the Shepherd he had Peace for it says in, (verse 2) “He leadeth me beside the waters of quietness”(margin).  He had Protection because it says in, (verse 4) “I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me”.   He hadProvision, (verse 5) “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”.  He had a Place to live, (verse 6) “The house of the Lord forever”.  The secret of it all was that he had a Person to love and who loved him.  (Verse 1) “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD”. 
 
This Psalm, despite its popularity and all its promised blessings, is not for everyone.  It is only for those who are entitled to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd”.  Dear reader, can you honestly make this claim?  Do YOU know the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR Savior and Shepherd?  It is true that “The Good Shepherd”, in Psalm 22, died for all and all can be saved.  Only those, however, who actually receive Him by a definite act of faith are His sheep.  His saving work is sufficient for all, but it is only effective for those who actually believe on Him.   
 
In this message we want to focus our attention on the first five words of this Psalm, “The Lord Is My Shepherd” because, as we mentioned, this is key to receiving and enjoying all the blessings that follow.  We want to consider these five words by way of the following outline:
 
1.      THE LORD = POWER (AUTHORITY)
2.      IS = PRESENT (not MAYBE, or WILL BE but IS, PRESENT TENSE)
3.      MY = POSSESION
4.      SHEPHERD = PROVIDER, PROTECTOR, PROMISER
 
Let’s consider first of all these important words;
 
1)      THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
The Psalm begins with these words, “THE LORD”.  The Word of God leaves no doubt as to the identity of the “Lord”.  It says in, (Acts 2:36) “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ”.  From this verse we are reminded that man crucified Him but God exalted Him.  Man gave Him a crown of thorns but God crowned Him with glory and honor.   From this verse we are given the three Names of the Savior;
·        “JESUS” – (Matthew 1:21) “Thou shalt call His Name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins”.  The Name “Jesus” means Jehovah the Savior.
·        “CHRIST” – (Matthew 22:42) “What think ye of Christ” was the question the Lord ask of the Pharisees.  The word “Christ” means “anointed”, i.e., “The Messiah”.
·        “LORD” – Jesus Christ is “The Lord”.  It means that He has power and authority.  In order for a person to be saved it is essential that one acknowledge the Lordship of Christ.  The thief on the cross, who was saved, acknowledged the Lordship of the Savior.  (Luke 23:42, 43) “He said unto Jesus, LORD; remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”.   Paul, the Apostle, acknowledged the Lordship of Christ when he was converted on the Damascus road, (Acts 9:5, 6) “Who art thou LORD?  And the LORD said I am Jesus”.  “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do”.  Have YOU ever acknowledged Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  It says in, (Romans 10:9, 10) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (JESUS AS LORD) and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”.  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.
 
2)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Notice that the Psalmist could say, “The Lord IS my Shepherd”.  It is not that, “the Lord might be my Shepherd” or “the Lord will be my Shepherd”.  God’s salvation, the salvation offered in the Bible, is not a “maybe” salvation or a “hope so” salvation.   
When a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and receives Him as their own personal Savior they are saved immediately and they are saved eternally.  A consideration of a few verses will verify this:
·        (John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath (has, present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him”. 
·        (1 John 5:13) “These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have (present tense) eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God”.
 
3)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
The Psalmist could say with all confidence, “the Lord is MY Shepherd”.  It speaks of “possession”.  When you are saved, the Shepherd becomes your Savior and you become His sheep.  Dear reader, where do YOU stand on this important issue?  If YOU are not saved, God says You are like a “straying sheep”.  It says in, (Isaiah 53:6) “ All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all”.  Straying sheep are outside the care and protection of the Shepherd and exposed to danger.  In the same way, the unsaved are separated from God and facing the wrath and judgment of a Holy God.  This is why the Savior came and died on the cross, bearing your sins and mine in His own body on the tree.  This is why, “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all”.  If YOU die in your sins, with your sins unforgiven, You must face God at the judgment.  The Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, said In the Gospel of John, (10:26)”Ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep”.  The unbelieving and thus the unsaved, are not His sheep.  On the other hand, He said, (John 10:27) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.  Those who are the sheep of the Shepherd have certain characteristics.  They have “heard His voice” and came to receive His gift of salvation.  The Shepherd “knows them” for they belong to Him.  Those who are His sheep “follow Him”.  They have had a life changing conversion experience.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation), old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”.
 
4)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD 
Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive Him as their own personal Savior, know Him, not only as Savior, but also as their SHEPHERD.  When He becomes our Shepherd we become the recipients of His PROVISION, His PROTECTION and His PROMISE’S.  These things are all detailed in the remaining verses of Psalm 23.   If the Shepherd is really mine and I am really His then I have everything in Him.  In these verses I have Refreshment, Restoration, Regulation, Rescue, Reassurance, Reception, Rejoicing and Residence.  Can YOU say with all confidence, (verse 6) “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”?
 
In summary, Psalm 23 brings to our attention the Shepherd character of Christ and His care of His own.  All who repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Him, and receive Him as their own personal Savior, will receive His Shepherd care.  Dear reader, can YOU honestly say, “The Lord is MY Shepherd”?  If YOU remain unsaved it will not be because God does not love YOU, or be because God’s Son did not die for YOU, but it will be because YOU have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Which will it be for You, RECEPTION or REJECTION of the Savior?  YOU ARE TRAVELLING THE “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”.  Now that YOU have read this message, YOU have come to the “crossroads”.  Which way will YOU go?  Will YOU continue to reject the Savior and His work on the cross?  Will YOU continue to refuse God’s gift of salvation?  Or, will YOU believe in Him and receive Him as YOUR Lord and Savior?  It is YOUR DECISION and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
 
Please give this matter your most serious attention.  Will YOU be a believer or a non-believer?  Your eternal destiny depends on YOUR decision.

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