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Safe and Sound - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
November 6, 2020 2:00 am

Safe and Sound - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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November 6, 2020 2:00 am

Life is full of peaks and valleys, calm streams and roaring rapids. At times, it feels like you don't know where to go. In the message "Safe and Sound," Skip shares how God guides, protects, and provides for you and how you can find security in Him.

This teaching is from the series Playlist.

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Website: https://connectwithskip.com

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This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail

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We have a shepherd who takes care of us, his sheep. I don't know if you know this or not, you probably do, but sheep do not take care of themselves very well. Sheep will die unless they have a shepherd who will take care of them.

They require more meticulous care and attention than any other form of livestock. And so it's no surprise that the Bible over 200 times refers to us as sheep. Psalm 23 has been quoted in countless movies, TV shows, songs, and speeches to offer comfort and solace. Today on Connect with Skip Hitek, Skip shares why this moving Psalm speaks so powerfully to our hurting souls and what it says to you today. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will empower your life as you immerse yourself in God's truth. For American adults, belief in absolute moral truth is eroding across all age groups and political ideologies, whether they're churched or unchurched. in your life with two brand new booklets by Pastor Skip, Why Truth Matters and God and Suicide.

If you fall into that category, what do you do with the claims of Christ? Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. These booklets are our thanks for your gift of $35 or more today to help keep this ministry on the air, connecting more people to God's word.

To give, call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Psalm 23 as we get into our study with Skip Hitek, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want he makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil 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 runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Of all of the 150 expressions we call the Psalms, there is no Psalm that is more quoted, recited, memorized, inscribed on cards than the 23rd Psalm. It is without question of all of the Old Testament passages of scripture, the most famous Old Testament passage.

Everybody knows it. Even unbelievers know this passage. Augustine called it the martyr's hymn because so many Christian martyrs recited Psalm 23 when they went to their deaths as they were tortured for Christ. Abraham Lincoln often referred to this Psalm during his deep days of depression during the Civil War. George W. Bush recited it to a nation that was weary and wondering after September 11, 2001.

For three, get this, 3000 years. That's how long ago it was written. This Psalm has brought comfort to millions of God's people. It is a Psalm that a child can grasp. It's that simple. But it's the kind of a Psalm that a theologian could drown in.

It's that deep. It was Alexander McLaren, the great Scottish expositor who said, the world could spare many a book better than this sunny little Psalm. It has dried many tears and supplied the mold into which many hearts have poured their peaceful faith. But it is my belief that Psalm 23 is misunderstood, at least misapplied. Because when do you typically hear Psalm 23?

At what? Funerals. It's inscribed in crematoriums and cemeteries and funeral homes.

The Lord is my shepherd. It's on sympathy cards. And that is because there's a little phrase in verse four that says, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And so it is included at times of physical death. But this is a Psalm that has way more to do with life than it does with death. It's a psalmist's relationship to the living God in his own life. That's why he says, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. A Miami doctor said, and I agree with him, the twenty third Psalm has been enshrined on a marble pedestal for far too long.

We need to take it down and break it up and use it. And that's what we want to do today as we have this little devotional, this meditation on Psalm 23. It's time for us to take these truths off of sympathy cards and inscribe them in our own hearts. Now, Psalm 23 has been called the shepherd's Psalm for obvious reasons. But if you look a little more closely at the Psalm, you'll discover that it's not just about sheep and a shepherd.

It covers much more. Allow me to explain. When you open up in verse one, it speaks about the Lord in the third person. He is this and he is that. When you come to verse four, there's a change to the first person. David now speaks directly to God, not as much as a shepherd as to a friend.

It's personal. Then in verse five, there's another change. We go from outside, outdoors, the valley, the field to inside the tent or, if you will, the home. So the first part of the Psalm is in the field. The second part of the Psalm is in the valley and the third part is in the tent. So I want to look at this Psalm in three parts. As a shepherd, God gives us direction. As a friend, God gives us protection. And as a host, God gives us provision.

Let's begin with the first. The shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd, writes David, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

As a shepherd, God gives us direction. Now, I don't know what your high school was like, but you guys remember FFA? FFA.

Future Farmers of America. Was anybody in FFA? Okay, a few of you. Unless you were in FFA, Psalm 23 makes no sense to us. In fact, most of us don't even know a shepherd. And it's not like one of the normal occupations that we have in our society.

It's not your ordinary occupation. But David himself was a shepherd in Bethlehem. He came from a family of shepherds. And we know that David was out keeping his sheep as he was selected to be the next king of Israel. The idea of God being our shepherd is one of the most, without a doubt, beautiful and comforting metaphors in all of the Bible. One of my favorite verses of scripture that speaks to this is Isaiah chapter 40 declares, he shall feed his flock like a shepherd. He shall gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom and gently lead those who are with young. So the picture is the care that a shepherd gives to his sheep.

And certainly Psalm 23 implies care. We have a shepherd who takes care of us, his sheep. I don't know if you know this or not, you probably do, but sheep do not take care of themselves very well. Sheep will die unless they have a shepherd who will take care of them.

They require more meticulous care and attention than any other form of livestock. And so it's no surprise that the Bible, over 200 times, refers to us as sheep because of the tendency that sheep have. For example, Isaiah 53, all we like sheep of what? We've gone astray.

We have all gone our own way. That's what sheep do. Back in 2005 in eastern Turkey, there were 1,500 sheep gathered together in one spot.

There were several flocks with several shepherds who all got together, put their flocks in one place while the shepherds went off and ate breakfast together. Apparently nobody was watching the sheep. Suddenly one little sheep had an idea. And that is, I'm going to jump over that cliff. And he did. And apparently all the other sheep thought that sheep knew where he was going. And so 400 of them followed him before they finally found out that 400 sheep had died going over a cliff.

The estimated loss was $74,000. Really. I mean, I'm not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

They lost that much money. In fact, get this, the only time in the Bible that sheep are ever seen in a favorable light is when they are under the care of a good shepherd. Now David was a shepherd, and so when he writes this, he's not doing this as an insult to himself or to those of us who are his readers, but an elation that God is his shepherd.

It's like a kid bragging about his father. Look at who my dad is. Here's David saying, look at who my shepherd is. Look at who my owner, my manager is. The Lord is my shepherd. How many of you own pets? Let me see a show of hands. How many of you own pets?

Okay. Some of you need to own pets, if that's all. So have you ever known a dog owner that, you may not say it to them, but you think these thoughts, they should not own that dog. That poor little dog never gets out, never gets taken for a walk, never gets groomed, just sort of runs around in the backyard and barks, barks, barks all day long. You think they should not own that dog. But then there's the other end of the spectrum where you have the obsessive dog owner. They get little sweaters for their dogs and little shoes for their dogs and they're primmed and proper. Like Paris Hilton carries her dog everywhere she goes. And you go, oh, that is like so crazy.

That is so overboard, right? However, if you were a dog and you could choose which owner to have, the first one or the second one, you know you would take number two. You'll take Paris Hilton any day over the dog who never gets out. And here is David saying, hey, hey, my manager, my owner is the Lord himself. These are bragging rights for David. The other day I read an article. The National Science Foundation has committed to spending $10 million to build robots for children. They call them personal trainers for children. In their words, to influence their behavior and their eating habits. These are technological shepherds they're inventing.

They plan to introduce them into homes, deploy them into schools, to teach children English and to encourage kids to exercise. Last time I checked, those were called parents and those were called teachers. And I don't want a robot as a shepherd for my children or for me or for my grandchildren. I want parents and teachers who are pointing their way to the Lord like David did, saying the Lord is my shepherd. It implies care.

God will care for you. It also implies guidance. You know, sheep, they do not navigate very well.

All of us like sheep have gone astray. They do that very easily. Finding their way back home, not a chance. I have a pretty smart little dog I've told you about. I bragged about my little dog and we took our dog out, not even at our house. We put the dog in the car, drove it to a different neighborhood, got out, walked around by the river and the dog ran away and got lost. An hour later our dog was waiting back at our car in a foreign neighborhood but had enough sense to navigate all the way back to where he got out of the car. One smart dog. A sheep will never do that. There are birds that can navigate around the world. A sheep will never do that.

Salmon know how to go upstream to spawn. A sheep will never do that. I saw in Israel one time a flock of sheep gathered by a well.

I thought they were just drinking out of the well and I got closer to photograph it and I noticed that all these sheep had their little heads smashed into the fur, the bodies, of other sheep, just sort of like hiding and their little tails were sticking out in a circle. And the poor shepherd had to break them up with his staff just to be able to lead them. That's the nature of sheep but the nature of shepherd is to guide. So you'll notice twice in our psalm, once in verse two and the other in verse three, it says, he leads me beside the still waters. He leads me in paths of righteousness.

If there's one thing in this psalm that ought to set your mind at ease, it's this. You have a personal guide. You know, I speak to a lot of Christians and have for a lot of years and one of the common questions that we have is how do I find the Lord's will for my life?

How do I get direction for my life? I want guidance for my life. And what they expect, I think, to hear from me is sort of a one, two, three, A, B, C formula for how to determine God's will. If you memorize this scripture and take this step and counsel with this person, bingo, you'll find God's will every time. And I think we're so hung up with guidance that we forget we have the guide living in us. We want direction when God is saying, hey, I the director will live inside of you. Now, if you were traveling to a foreign city like New York City, would you rather have a complicated set of instructions to get you around town? Or how about this, what if a local resident said, yo, let me get in the car with you.

I'll show you my town. You go, yeah, I want that guy. You've got that guy. You have the Holy Spirit. Jesus said when the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.

I know sometimes we wonder, well, how's that going to work? Is He going to give me an impression in my heart? Am I going to have to memorize the scripture? Is it going to be through the counsel of others?

Answer, yes, all of the above. Relax a little bit. You're just a sheep. Leave that to the guide, the director. He leads.

He guides. His second phrase, I shall not want. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Now I've discovered that not everyone who says the first part can actually say with honesty the second part. The Lord is my shepherd, but not everybody can say I shall not want.

We live in a society filled with discontentment. We're always looking at what other sheep are eating. That guy has greener pastures than I have. Lord, I trust you like they do. I serve you like they do. How come their pasture looks so much better than my pasture?

It's greener over there. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. There's a great little book called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Philip Keller.

Some of you have seen it. It's an old book. It's the musings of an actual shepherd who was raised in East Africa, later on became a shepherd by occupation in Canada, who raised sheep for a living before he became a lay pastor. He said, I remember in my flock there was one particular little ewe lamb, a female sheep, who was beautiful.

Beautiful constitution, beautifully formed body, but always discontented. He called this sheep a fence crawler because no matter what pasture he led his sheep into, and he said my pastures were the greenest pastures in the area. I had this one little sheep who would always move to the edge and sort of look out to see what's over there.

He eventually called her Miss Gadabout because she was always gadding about, looking for other pastures. I wonder if God doesn't have some sheep like that who are disgruntled, who are always complaining, and may I be quick to add that a complaining sheep is a disgrace to the shepherd, because a complaining sheep reflects the kind of care that that sheep thinks the shepherd is giving him or her or not giving him or her. And imagine how unbelievers feel when they look at complaining sheep's lives. You're trying to win people to Christ and you're always complaining and moaning, you know what they're thinking? I don't want to follow your shepherd.

He didn't take very good care of you, or so it seems, because you don't ever seem happy with him. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Contentment does not come from what we have, contentment comes from whom we have. And if the Lord is your shepherd, you ought to be able to declare firmly and confidently, I shall not want. As the shepherd, he gives us direction. Here's the second principle I want to discuss with you, and that is as a friend, he gives us protection. Now you'll notice the pronoun change in verse 4 from speaking about he and his in the third person.

He speaks now directly to the Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Now, immediately this tells me that life is not always going to be about green pastures and still waters, there's going to be some valleys that I walk through. And I know we don't like that, we hate valleys.

I don't meet many people who go, oh good, I'm in a valley right now. It's dark down here, praise the Lord. I think knowing the shepherd we should be able to say that, but typically we go, Lord, please, get me out of this valley, just get me out of this valley, just deliver me from this valley, just carry me from mountain peak to mountain peak to mountain peak.

In Jesus' name, hallelujah. But there are going to be some valleys. Shepherds will lead sheep down into the valleys. Over in the Middle East where this scene takes place, when it gets really really hot outside like it is these days, the shepherds will move their sheep down into the ravines.

They call them the wadis. And sheep hate it. Sheep don't have great eyesight and they hate walking downwards into a shadow, dark ravine. But the reason that the shepherd brings his sheep down there is because it's cooler down there. And that's where the streams of water are running, at the bottom of the ravine. In other words, sometimes the darkest valleys are pathways to the greenest pastures.

The sheep don't know that. They go, oh, this is scary. Oh, I hate these valleys.

Just wait. It's going to be cool down there and it's going to be beautiful and refreshing. And I've met many a believer who has testified to the fact that though they're going through a difficult time in their life and it's the trial of a lifetime, so to speak, that's where they meet the Lord. They have direct contact with God and His comfort in a way they've never experienced before. So you'll have some valleys. Verse 4 also tells me that you'll have some dark valleys. What David calls the valley of the shadow of death. Now, this is why it's recited at funerals. Because of that phrase. But it doesn't necessarily refer to physical dying.

The Hebrew word is figurative of gloom or calamity. Here's a guy who isn't dying. Here's a guy who's living but experiencing a dark valley. The valley, what he calls the shadow of death.

But let me say this. Even when you do come to an end of your life and you do die, it's going to be okay. Death is sort of like going into a valley. When you approach that time to die, it feels dark. It feels like you're going down. Your movement is limited.

Your breathing is coarse. It seems so dark, but you're not going to stay there. You're going to come out of the valley, though I go through the valley of the shadow of death, not live forever in the valley.

And then you awake and you have arisen on the other side in pure light. That's Skip Heitzig with a message from the series playlist. Now, here's Skip to tell you how you can help keep these teachings coming your way as you help connect others to God's word. It's a great comfort to me that no matter where we go or what we do, God is ever-present in our lives. Our whole ministry is based on the desire to connect friends like you with God and with His word. But we need your help to keep these teachings going out to you and to others. We'd be so grateful if you could start a gift today to keep this radio ministry going strong. And you can do that right now. And we want to let you know that you can watch Connect with Skip Heitzig on the Hillsong Channel on Saturdays at 4.30 p.m. Mountain or catch it on TBN on Sundays at 5.30 a.m. Eastern.

Check your local listings. Join us next time as Skip Heitzig shares how you can access the abundant protection and provision God offers. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. A connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 20:11:35 / 2024-01-29 20:20:46 / 9

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