Crises are a part of life. Some are global, tsunamis, hurricanes.
Others are local, cancer, divorce, bankruptcy. But here's the question. How do you experience God in the midst of your deepest crises? The answer to that is today. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this daily discipleship program, Motivating Christians to Live Like Christians.
I'm Dave Drury, and we're in the middle of our series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. Now in this program, Chip explains how we can respond to some of the harshest storms of life as he teaches through one of the most familiar passages in the entire Bible. And his talk today is really significant because we've all faced difficulty and adversity. So let me encourage you, if someone in your life needs to hear this message of hope, share it with them.
Now, you can easily do that through the Chip Ingram app. But with all that said, if you have a Bible, turn now to Psalm 23 as we join Chip for his message, Experiencing God in Times of Crisis. The question in life is not, will we go through difficult times?
The question in life is, how will we go through difficult times? You are going to have them. I'm going to have them. Some of you have been through them. You'll have more. Some haven't had any real bad times.
Fasten your seatbelt. They'll come. It's a fallen world. See, the question is, will we go through them alone? Will we go with a stiff upper lip, you know, act like it's OK?
Will we be crushed under their weight? Will we give up in despair? Will we go into denial like so many people do when it gets tough? Will we become bitter and resentful toward God, other people? Or will we just pretend to protect others?
Or here's the last option. Will we experience the peace and the power of God in ways beyond our wildest dreams? See, that's God's desire in a crisis. He knows it's a fallen world. Good things happen to good people.
Bad things happen to good people. We're going to turn to probably the most classic portion, most well-known portion of scripture in all the world. But before we look at it, please do me one favor.
OK, don't get into that. Oh, isn't it beautiful? What nice poetry doesn't have a cute message. And it's one of those things that is so familiar, if you're not careful, you just kind of nod your head and say, oh, yes, the Lord is my shepherd. He's your shepherd.
But what's it mean? And what's it really mean for him to show up when you go through the most difficult time? When you need him the most with that in mind, turn the page with me and let's look at the twenty third song. And as we do, I want to just read it through and ask you to listen with new ears.
In fact, here's the way to listen with new ears. I want you in the whiteboard of your mind to pull out a grease pin and say, if I had to jot on the whiteboard the biggest thing that could come up as a crisis in my life right now, what would it be? And you're thinking, well, I really don't have one.
Good for you. Don't make one up. Maybe it's someone, you know, that has a crisis. Put that up there and think through this way. Or maybe there's a relationship that's crisis. Or maybe there's something in the future that you see brewing. Or maybe it's something with one of your kids.
Or maybe it's financial. Or maybe the biggest crisis you have is your job. I don't know what it is, but I want you to listen to what I'm about to read with that crisis in view, rather than as this flowing piece of poetry you've heard probably for years. It says, the Lord Yahweh, or Jehovah, His great covenant name, is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me by quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Even 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, God, prepare a table before me in the presence of your enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Now this is written in a metaphor. A sheep and a shepherd. And that is really great, but let me, show of hands, how many people have ever shepherded sheep?
We've got a major problem here. 200 times in the Bible, we are referred to as believers as sheep. What I want you to know, when a Hebrew person heard this for the first time 3,000 years ago, it meant things to them. They had pictures come to their mind. There was an understanding about who God was that we can't grasp unless we get a picture of what a sheep is and who a shepherd is.
So let me just do a little background work before we jump in. Sheep have some interesting characteristics. Don't take this personally, but they're very slow. They're defenseless. They are stupid, among the dumbest animals.
Like I said, don't take it personally. They are easily frightened. They don't even growl. When they're in danger, they don't growl. They don't have any defense. Danger, sheep, die.
That's what happens. They are not very clean, unlike cats. Some of you don't like cats, but at least they're clean. They're licking themselves all the time. Sheep are just dirty and smelly and they pick up parasites easily.
What kind of animal is this? They cannot find food or water on their own. I mean, deers know where food is. Rabbits can find water. Sheep, left to themselves. They'll stay in one place, eat it until they eat all the roots and ruin the land. And unless someone guides or leads them, they'll die.
They're so easily frightened that if there's a stream with water that has any sound to it, they will not go over to a stream and stick their head in to get life-giving water because they're afraid of the sound. That's why a good shepherd will often dam up a stream and create a hole or a quiet place where he can lead and guide the sheep where they can get to drink. Now there's some parallels here. Now before you get a little defensive and thinking, I'm a little offended that the Bible refers to me like that, in light of, let me give you another contrast here. The shepherd was the lowliest job on the Hebrew totem pole.
When you were in a Hebrew family, the lowest job was, you've got to watch the sheep. You had to protect them. You had to lead them. You had a rod.
It was an instrument that you would stick in your belt. And it was to kill wild animals. And they got where they could literally sling and throw that thing.
Where bam, I mean they were good. They could knock a sheep out. Or I mean the attackers, the predators of the sheep. They could probably knock a few sheep out too. And then they had that staff.
You know the big crook thing? They would carry the staff. And the sheep, you know, being dumb and they'd get in thorn bushes and they always wander away. And they used those to lift them up with the crook and pull them out of ravines and now and then give them a little wrap on the rear end to say, hey, we're not doing that. In fact, if a sheep was a real wanderer, the shepherd would literally go and break its leg on purpose. Knowing that the sheep was going to end up in danger and die. Then take that little sheep, put it over his neck and build a relationship with it.
And when the leg healed, then he would put a little bell around it. And it was called the bell sheep. And then that sheep would stay next to the shepherd. And as the other sheep would hear that, they would follow along with that.
Now in light of that, notice the very first line before we get any farther. It says the Lord is my shepherd. There's a lot of names for God. This is Yahweh or Jehovah. Literally it is I am that I am. It's the transcendent one.
It's the biggest picture of God we can get our arms around. I am before all else. I am self-existent.
I am self-sufficient. I am holy. I am above. I have unlimited resources.
I am outside of time. I am eternal. Yahweh. But notice in the contrast, that Lord is not the shepherd, is my shepherd. It may be for the Hebrew mind the most intimate personal term ever given to God in the Old Testament. Because they understood the kind of relationship, they understood that a shepherd provides and protects and cares for and understands and nourishes and loves. And it's a lonely job. It's a serving job.
And so here you have in the first line God's transcendence, His bigness, His greatness, His power, and His imminence, His tenderness, His personalness. And so what you see is, yes sheep are very vulnerable but they're also very valuable. A Hebrew home was sustained by, what did you eat? Sheep meat. Lamb chops.
How did you make money? You shear the sheep. So what you have is an animal that's very, very vulnerable and an animal that's very, very valuable. And compared to the almighty transcendence of God, we are like sheep. In light of eternity, in light of making good decisions and living rightly, we're as dumb as a sheep. We're as vulnerable as a sheep, but to God we're valuable. Highly esteemed. And notice here also the pronoun my. If you get bored, go home and pull out a pen and circle all the first person personal pronouns.
My, my, my, I, I, I, me, me, me. This isn't a God who's way out there. This is a God who intricately, intimately cares about you and about me.
And so for the Hebrew mind, that's what it meant to be the shepherd. By way of structure, the last thing before we jump in, notice that there are three statements here. Three statements that are in the future tense and everything else is in the present tense. There is I shall not be in want. There is I will fear no evil. And there is I will dwell in the house of the Lord.
There's statements of confidence. David has been through it. He understands who God is. He's been in danger.
He's been in a crisis. And somewhere along the line, the Spirit of God has revealed to David the secret of having unshakable confidence, even in the midst of the most devastating crisis. When you have cancer, you can say, I will fear no evil.
When there's financial problems on the horizon, you can say, I shall not be in want. When you feel insecure and afraid, you can say, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Now what I want to do in the next few minutes together is let's look at this psalm and figure out David's secrets. Why could he say that? What did he know about God? And it's all right there in Psalm 23. So first statement of absolute confidence. He says, I shall not be in want. Why? Because the shepherd provides all my needs.
That's the key word. David said, I'm not going to be uptight. I know I'm not going to be in want because the shepherd, my shepherd, the all knowing, the all powerful shepherd, he will provide.
He's going to take care of all my needs. And if you have a pen, pull it out. I want to give you three key words and I'll develop it from the text. Under it, write a number one and write the word physical. Under that, write a number two, write the word psychological slash emotional. Under that, write the word spiritual. And what you're going to see in the first three verses is that God, the almighty powerful God, is committed to meeting your physical needs, your psychological or emotional needs, and he's committed to your spiritual needs.
In fact, look at it. He says, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. You see, sheep don't go to the best grass on their own. And notice the little word he makes me. He will take you to places where you get physically nourished. And notice it goes on to say he leads me by quiet waters.
Now if you know anything about sheep, it's they will not lie down in grass, they will not graze freely, and they will not go where there is calmness unless there is no friction between the sheep, unless there's no sense of danger on the outside, and there's no friction or problem with parasites within. And these things blend together. These metaphors, green, lush pastures, quiet waters, restores our soul, leads us in paths of righteousness. It's not just one is the physical, other is psychological, the other is spiritual.
They blend together. But you can see as he gives us this picture, he says to us, God will meet your needs. Now he doesn't meet your wants and he doesn't necessarily meet your agendas. He restores my soul. The word restore there literally can mean repent or even to be converted.
The word for soul, in Greek it's psyche, we get our word psychology, and in Hebrew often it means the whole person or the self. Literally the idea is God restores us. He takes our deepest needs, our deepest hurts, and he restores.
He puts it back together. He gives grace. He holds you up almost with like an invisible hand. And then he goes on to say the spiritual issues. He guides me.
He gives direction. We're in paths of righteousness or literally the right path. What's right? What's wrong? What's true? What decisions should you make? Who should you marry? What job?
Should you get involved in this or not? David's saying, look, there is a shepherd. He's all knowing. He's all powerful and he loves you. And he wants you to know he will meet every need, not on your terms, not by your agenda, but he promises to meet your physical, psychological, and spiritual needs all the days of your life. Now, he can do that if you let him be your shepherd.
The other option is you can say, you know something? I'm a pretty big sheep. I think I'll go grace where I think I'll be fulfilled. I think I'll go hang out with other sheep or other animals where I think it'll be fun.
I think I'll go to water and places and make decisions on my terms. And what do we know if a physical sheep does that? They've got big problems. See, the biggest problems in our lives are not because God is mean, God is bad, and he doesn't really care about us. The biggest problems in our lives is down deep in my heart, I'm a very proud, arrogant person, and I want to be both the sheep and I want to be my own shepherd. See, grace always flows toward humility, and humility is something hard for human sheep to swallow, to admit our need. And that's what David does here. He recognizes, hey, we're all sheep, and he recognizes every sheep needs a shepherd. But that's not all of it. In fact, let me give you a New Testament promise to jot down.
You say, well, that's good for them. Philippians 4.19, jot that in the corner. The apostle Paul writes to regular people like you and me. But my God will supply all your needs according to his riches and glory by Christ Jesus. What is true then? I just want you to know it's true now. So I don't know what's on the whiteboard of your mind what your crisis is.
I don't know what the need is, but I want to tell you this. Here's a promise from God. You bring your life underneath the leadership of the shepherd, and he'll meet your needs. Maybe not your way, maybe not in your time, may do a lot in you before he does something through you, but he promises he'll meet you. Second thing is he's not afraid of evil.
It's a statement of confidence. He says, I shall not be in want. He knows when David looks at the future, he says, I'm not I'm not tied about the future. I'm not going to be in want.
But then he makes this radical statement. He says, I will fear no evil. I'm not going to fear the evil of a fallen world. I'm not going to feel fear the evil of the enemy. I'm not going to feel the evil of my own flesh. I will fear no evil.
Why? Well, look at the text, because the shepherd protects me from all evil. He says, when you understand God as a shepherd, he not only is a provider, he is the protector. Notice he goes on to say, verse four, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Why? For you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Experiencing God in Times of Crisis. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. It's been said adversities in life are a lot like experiencing storms on the ocean. Either you've just faced one, you're facing one now, or you're about to face one.
Sounds depressing, right? So how do we prepare? As Chip studies a few key chapters from the book of Psalms, he identifies several tools God's given us to develop courage, strength, and hope in us, regardless of the circumstances. Let me encourage you to get more plugged in with this series by visiting livingontheedge.org.
That's livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's with me in studio now, and Chip, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, which is an opportunity for our listeners to directly support the work we're doing here at Living on the Edge. So before we hear your application for this message, why not take a minute and talk about what our focus is with the gifts we receive tomorrow?
Thanks, Dave. I don't think there's any more challenging job or task in the world for a Christian parent than literally passing on a vibrant faith to your kids. Now, whether they're very small or teens or young adults, seeing them own their faith, walk with God, be in the Scriptures, live it out day in and day out, I mean, that's the dream. But the reality is about two-thirds of our kids are leaving the faith five years after high school. And the problem isn't just in the home, right?
We all have to own that. But the most recent Barna research demonstrates that only about one out of every five youth pastors has a biblical worldview. I mean, so their view on truth, morals, sexuality, their view on the Bible and its authority, on sin and salvation, it's not what it used to be. There used to be a day when you sent your kids to church and, you know, they're going to go to a good children's ministry and a youth ministry and what's taught is going to be the same as what you believe. That's not true anymore. Now, I'm not down on pastors.
I'm just telling you this is what the research says. So what we're committed to at Living on the Edge is helping you as a parent or you as a grandparent to have some tools to deal with the challenges. And this Giving Tuesday, that's our goal. We've been blessed by a group of donors who are so committed to this that every dollar you give on Giving Tuesday, they'll double. And we will focus this money on creating resources and training for parents, pastors, and youth workers. If the next generation matters to you, could I encourage you, partner with us.
Your gift will be doubled. If you'll pray about what God would have you do and then go to livingonthedge.org or text donate to 74141. Join us as we equip grandparents and parents, youth workers and pastors to really disciple the next generation.
Thanks, Chip. Well, if you're passionate about supporting and engaging young people, too, let me encourage you to partner with us tomorrow on Giving Tuesday. To make your gift, go to livingonthedge.org or text the word donate to 74141. That's the word donate to 74141. Or go to livingonthedge.org.
App listeners, tap donate. Now here's Chip with his application. As I closed today's program, I talked about the danger that comes in a crisis. You know, when a crisis comes, the enemy is lurking and he will put juicy opportunities to take a shortcut to destroy your life, destroy your relationships, and pull you away from God. And so I want to end today's program with a picture.
It's a word picture, so really stay with me right here. I want you to think of hovering above your head a cloud, and inside the cloud is the word crisis. And yours might be your mate walked out on you. It could be a job issue. It could be your retirement's gone. It could be a wayward child.
It could be whatever. But I want you to think crisis. And then from that cloud, there's an arrow coming straight down, and then inside a box it says the invisible war. And on one side of this invisible war is Satan, and on the other side is the Holy Spirit.
And there is a war that's now beginning in this crisis. Satan wants to attempt you. He wants to give you a heart of fear, of feeling overwhelmed, that life's unfair, and the goal of his temptation is to destroy you. You'll find yourself getting angry. You'll take a sin, a shortcut, anything that will pull you away from God.
And in a crisis, you're emotionally vulnerable. You are so easily pulled that direction. But out of this cloud, there's this arrow. You're in this invisible war, and on the right side is Satan and his minions seeking to provide a temptation to pull you away. But on the left side is the Holy Spirit, and God says he wants to turn the temptation into a trial. And a trial is you see it by faith that God has allowed this for your good.
He's intended it for your growth. You can by faith choose to consider it all joy. You endure, and as you endure the crisis, the character of God and the life of Christ that you will experience will be transformational. That little picture comes out of James chapter 1. If you're hurting today and you just need to grab something out of Scripture to give you perspective in your crisis, read James chapter 1, and you will find in the first paragraph your attitudinal response.
Then you will see where you will be tempted, and then you'll see later in the chapter God's promise of reward. Blessed are those who persevere or hold up under trial. Don't give in. Don't give up. Don't let go. This crisis may make you more and more like Jesus than you've ever known, or it could pull you completely away from Him.
The choice is yours. Challenging reminder, Chip. Thanks. And if you'd like some really practical help in this ongoing battle Chip just described, let me encourage you to check out our Invisible War Scripture cards. By using the power and truth of God's Word, this tool will help you withstand Satan's attacks and stand in victory over him. For complete ordering details, go to Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Again, to get your set of our Invisible War Scripture cards, go to Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Well, before we go, let me remind you again that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. This is a great opportunity for you to support your favorite ministries and nonprofits. And if Living on the Edge has impacted you, would you remember us in your giving plans? Every dollar we receive tomorrow will be doubled, which fuels our efforts to help Christians really live like Christians. So let me encourage you, any time tomorrow, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org, that's LivingOnTheEdge.org, and make a gift. App listeners, tap donate. And thank you in advance for doing whatever God leads you to do. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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