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Three Glorious Reasons

"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live."

Open with me today, your Bibles, to the 23rd Psalm, perhaps one of the best loved passages in the Bible. While this particular Psalm, is quite familiar to most every believer, this incredible Psalm, is most often read, when we find ourselves, in times of distress or sorrow.

However,  I would like to encourage you today, to view it in a slightly different way. Now that we’re  approaching, the last half of 2020, and before we know it, we'll be coming up on fall. Thanksgiving will quickly follow behind, therefore, I’d like you to see in this Psalm, three great reasons for us to be thankful unto God.

The 23rd 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 and  take notice, because this is an age of discontentment An age, love of money and power.

Listen to these poetic words by Jason Lehman:

It was spring. But it was summer I wanted
The warm days, & the great outdoors.
It was summer. But it was fall I wanted
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall. But it was winter I wanted

The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter. But it was spring I wanted
The warmth, and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child. But it was adulthood I wanted
The freedom, and the respect.
I was 20. But it was 30 I wanted
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle aged. But it was 20 I wanted
The youth, and the free spirit.
I was retired. But it was middle age I wanted
The presence of mind, without limitations.
Then my life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

Sound familiar? If so, you're certainly not alone. Many people, today in our culture, never seem to be satisfied, with anything! Almost everybody wants more, and more. A child wants more toys, more television time. A teenager wants more freedom, more popularity. Most adults want more possessions, more money, more leisure time. And as we age, we want more health, more true friends, more loyalty from our children and ultimately, more time.

Yet, listen as I read to you these words of the Apostle Paul, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.

In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul says, "I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need."

Obviously, God wants us to be a happy, satisfied people. We shouldn’t be restless & jealous, always chafing about what we don’t have. There should be a spirit of thankfulness in us that brands us as belonging to Him.

So with the 23rd Psalm in mind, I'd like to give you three glorious reasons to be thankful.
In this life the Good Shepherd gives us all we need.
So the first one is this: "We can be thankful because in this life the Good Shepherd gives us all we need."

Frequently in the Bible, human beings are compared to sheep. Now that sounds nice, but you do not realize, that is not necessarily a compliment, because sheep are among the dumbest and dirtiest animals in the world. And sheep always go astray.

So when Isaiah says, in Isaiah 53:6 "We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way," he is not saying "That’s good." He’s saying, "That’s bad, because we’re just about on a level with sheep." When Jesus looked out on the people with compassion, the Gospel writers say that He saw them "like sheep without a shepherd" Matthew 9:36. That’s not a compliment, either, but a concern, because sheep are so helpless when they’re all alone.

Philip Keller was a sheep rancher, in his book, "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty third Psalm," he says that they require more attention than any other livestock. They just can’t take care of themselves.
Unless their shepherd makes them move on, sheep will actually ruin a pasture, eating every blade of grass, until finally a fertile pasture is nothing but barren soil.
Sheep are near sighted,  very stubborn, and easily frightened. In fact, an entire flock can be stampeded by a jack rabbit.

They have no means of defense. They’re timid, feeble creatures. Their only recourse is to run if no shepherd is there to protect them. Sheep get lost easily, because they have no homing instincts. A dog, horse, cat, or a bird can find its way home, however, when a sheep gets lost, it’s a goner unless someone shows up to rescue it.

So one over riding 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."

So, let’s look at what David says the Good Shepherd does for his sheep.
In verse 2, he 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, we have a picture of a sheep, so completely satisfied, that there isn’t the least desire for anything more. He’s so content he lies down in green pastures.

The Lord has provided for us in this same way. And, with plenty, too. There are few of us who ever go hungry. And I'm not talking about 3 minutes until the microwave beeps, I mean days without food, 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. Phillip Keller, says that in order for sheep to lie down four things are required:

First of all, they have to be full. Hungry sheep stay on their feet searching for another mouthful of food.

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.

Thirdly, they must be content. If flies or fleas are bothering them they’ll not lie down. They must be comfortable before they’ll lie down.

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 and lie down.

But God makes us lie down every once in a while, doesn’t He? We rush around, trying to meet this engagement and fulfill that obligation. And in our hurry and scurry, we tend to miss the little things, which are often the most important. So once in a while God has to say, "You need to lie down," by allowing an illness, or other occurrence to make us stop and reevaluate our priorities.

Notice then, in verse 2 David says, "He leads me beside quiet waters."  Sheep are frightened of swiftly moving water. Why? Because they’re poor swimmers, they get bogged down with their heavy wool. So when the shepherd comes to a flowing stream, he doesn’t try to force the sheep to drink. Instead, a good shepherd builds a dam & makes a quiet little pool where his sheep can drink from still waters.

God knows our weaknesses. He leads us by quiet, still waters. He promises to protect us from the temptations that we can’t handle. He never forces us into situations with which we cannot cope.
Isn’t that what the apostle Paul is teaching us in I Corinthians 10:13? "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it."

David said the same thing in the 32nd Psalm, verses 6 and 7,"Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Selah" So then, back in the 23rd Psalm in verse 3, David goes on to say, "He restores my soul."  Much like us, a lost sheep cannot find its way home, so the shepherd has to restore the stray or it will remain lost forever.

Beloved, my name was on His cross, too. So was yours. He died for us, He died in our place. He went to the cross to restore our souls. That is why the Apostle Peter wrote, in I Peter 2:24 25, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness;
you have been healed by His wounds. For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."

Then, David continues on in Psalm 23:3, "He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake." A careless shepherd might lead his sheep over steep & dangerous paths where they could fall. But a caring shepherd leads his sheep over paths that are safe.

The Bible is clearly teaching that there are two paths that we can take. One, leads to destruction, and Satan tries his best to lead us along that path. It is such a broad and smooth road. And, because of this lure, 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.

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

In the face of death the good shepherd protects us from evil.
Secondly, David says, "Be thankful, because in the face of death the Good Shepherd protects us from evil." In verse 4, David says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." The fear of death can really disturb us.

Hebrews 2:15 speaks of people who "and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.." The Bible clearly states that death is Satan’s weapon, the last enemy to be defeated. But David said, "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger." Why? Because "you are with me!" I’m convinced that when death roars its worst at us, we need not be fearful, because 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."

In fact, in Psalm 23:5, 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."

Not only is that a promise of peace and 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 glorious picture of victory and joy!

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.


Finally, in Psalm 23:5-6, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live."

Beloved, what a marvelous 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.

Compares our need for God’s mercy to a thoughtless spouse.
Imagine, that you are at a mall with a friend, you become so engrossed in looking at your favorite store or whatever it is that interests you, and you lose all track of time.

Suddenly you notice time, you remember that you were supposed to pick up your children at 3:30pm from school, and it is already after 5:00pm! With a cry of "Oh, no!" you quickly take out your cell phone and call the school, to let them know you're on your way! The secretary says not to worry, they called your spouse at work and they left work, came and picked up the children some time ago. " You immediately think to yourself, "Man, I’m dead."

Your friend asks, "What's wrong?" You say, "I was supposed to pick up my kids over a hour & 1/2 ago! My in laws are coming over tonight and this was going to be a special evening. But I forgot to pick up the kids."

Then you call home, and your child answers. You ask, is your spouse there?
Your child says, "Yeah, their here but whatever you do, don’t come home right now!" Nervously, you ask, "Why? Is something wrong?"  They tell you, "On the way home, the car just stopped! So, we had to walk the rest of the way home! And have you looked outside, it’s pouring down rain! It started raining about 5 minutes after we started walking. So whatever you do, don't come home just yet! Goodbye, I love you!"

Well, you know that you’re in a world of trouble, but you head for home anyway. And as you pull in the driveway, you see your in-laws car coming down the street. You say to yourself, "I’ve got to get inside, before they do! Somehow, I've got to make things right!"

So as you open the front door, you put on your best I'm really sorry facial expression. You drop your shoulders down a bit, lower your head and walk inside, and there stands your spouse, A hammer one hand and a knife in the other, with a homicide in their eyes and yells, "Nice of you to show up! You promised  to pick up the kids at 3:30! So I had to leave work, then the car broke down on the way home, and we walked over a mile to get home, in the pouring down rain! What's your excuse this time?"

What can you say? Something like, "I hit my head at the mall and got amnesia’? ‘A terrorist grabbed me and I’ve been held hostage for the last few hours’? "I was hit by a car crossing the parking lot to pick them up and I was hit by a car! I've been at the hospital." No, you certainly do not want to compound what you've already done with a lie. There's only one choice! You’ve got to tell the truth. So you say, "Honey, I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I lost track of time and I just forgot. I have no excuse. I just forgot.’"

Staring intensely, you wait for a reaction. After what seems like the longest period of silence ever, they finally respond. "I figured that you forgot, but it’s okay. Come here and give me a kiss My parents are probably almost here"

Beloved, what kind of kiss would you give your spouse? Would you just give them a little peck on the cheek? No. Even if your in laws were walking through the door, I’m sure you would grab them and kiss them like you’ve never kissed before. And you would say, "Honey, you’re the greatest in the whole world! I love you! I'm really sorry. Thank you for being so forgiving & so understanding."

In Closing....

I'd like you to think about something for a few moments. I'd like to encourage you to think about all the times, all the ways you've broken your promise to God.

When you come to church on Sunday morning, and you hear about the goodness and mercy of God, do you come to worship Him with a peck on the cheek?" Or are do you come running toward Him, to embrace Him, to show your love for Him, to praise Him. Showing Him your gratitude, thanking Him for being so gracious, so merciful and forgiving for the mistakes you've made?

Does your worship match your sorrow?

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 mistakes. 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, not too far from now I believe with all my heart, that we will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Are you ready for that? If you’re not ready, then I encourage you to respond to the invitation of the Lord!

Let's all rise to our feet, and give our Lord the praise He deserves!

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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