Is life really hard for you right now? I mean, do you have a lot of hurt, a lot of pain that you're dealing with? Well, stay with me. We're going to look at a classic passage that the Lord gave us in the midst of our deepest hurts to help us in crisis.
You don't want to miss it. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry featuring the daily Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. Today he's back in Psalm 23 for our series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. In just a minute, he'll explain that even in our darkest, most trying times, we have a good shepherd who will see us through. Before he talks more about that, if this is your first time listening to Living on the Edge, or you want to learn more about what we do, go to livingontheedge.org. There you'll find tons of resources on a wide range of topics and countless programs to enjoy.
Or if you prefer, the Chip Ingram app is also a great way to get plugged in with our ministry. Okay, here's Chip with his talk, Experiencing God in Times of Crisis. He begins in Psalm 23, verse four. A little phrase here, the valley of the shadow of death, is a picture in the physical life of the sheep. During the summer, they take the sheep out from the mountains and they have them graze. And then when the weather changes, then the spring comes and all the lush grass is up in the mountains. And they have to take them through these ravines and valleys.
And so they're going to take them up. And every time where there's two mountains here, then there is darkness as they go through it. And that's the picture. Literally, the shadow of death is literally the darkest times, the darkness of the valley. One commentator wrote, he said, it is the dark of darkness, the fear of the unknown. This isn't just God will take me through the shadow of my fear of death, but it is any crisis where we find ourselves, where when we look out, we are afraid and we can't see what's out there.
That's a crisis. But David writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, you don't have to be afraid because he's with you. And when the shepherd would take the sheep, he would keep them very close. And a great book, you might jot this down, it's an old book, but it's a great book by a fellow named Philip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty Third Psalm.
He spends a whole chapter on this picture. And he was an actual sheep herder for, I think, eight to 10 years in Australia. And he said in those eight to 10 years as he shepherded large flocks, he said, never once did I see a cougar or a mountain lion.
I never saw one. He said, but I lost scores of sheep during that time. He said, when you go through the darkness, you don't know where the predators are. They'd come out and get those sheep and they'd be gone, eaten and dead before I had known anything. He says, it's a fearful thing.
Those sheep, when they go through those valleys in the mountains, when we're going up to the greener pasture, he said, it's a fearful thing. Let me give you three words to write down here and I'll develop them. First, his presence. Second, his power. Third, his pruning.
Those are the three things that happen. The reason we don't have to be afraid is, number one, in the midst of your crisis, whatever you're afraid of, maybe it's anxiety attacks. Maybe it's you're afraid your marriage will never get better. Maybe it's a fear about what's happening with one of your kids.
Maybe you have cancer. I don't know what it is, but wherever your crisis is, wherever the darkness of your valley is, here's the promise. His presence. I will be with you. Hebrews 13.
I will always be with you and never, ever leave you or forsake you. Five negatives. Can't say it any stronger.
I don't understand how it works. All I know is that in the worst and most difficult times when we come to the end of ourselves, God's presence, this invisible hand, this buoying up. I think it's what the Apostle Paul experienced in 2 Corinthians 12. Remember, he was in a dark time and his body wasn't working. There's some physical affliction. And this guy's got a vibrant prayer life and he says, God, I got a major problem here. He says, please take away this affliction. God says, no.
He says, well, perseverance. God, please take this away. God says, no. So, God, maybe you don't get this.
Please take this away. I mean, I'm an apostle. I'm going to write 13 books of the New Testament. God says, no. And his answer is, you need this adversity in your life because of my plan and my program and here's what I'm going to give you. My grace will be sufficient for you. And Paul got it to the point that he'll go on to write, therefore, he says, I will most gladly rejoice in my weakness, in distress, in difficulties, in painful situations because power is perfected in weakness. God promises if you'll come wherever you're at, he'll give you just enough grace for this moment.
Not enough for tonight, not enough for tomorrow, not enough for next week. He will hold you up right now and give you all that you need. That's his presence. But notice the little line. He goes on to say, your rod. Remember what I told you the rod was for?
It was to kill predators. You're a shepherd. You have an enemy. And when you're in the dark times of your life, I don't know about you, but the enemy swoops in and he starts to throw lies at you.
And he gives you ideas about shortcuts. Hey, if this isn't a very good marriage, turn that one in and try another one. You're tired of so and so? Blow them off.
Got financial needs? Steal. I mean, do it sophisticated in a Christian way, but steal. Take life in your own hands. Take a shortcut.
Figure out. And he says, when the enemy comes in and tempts you or condemns you, he has a rod and he'll crush you. Jot down Ephesians chapter 6, 10 to 18. God says you have armor, you have weaponry, you have the sword of the Spirit, you have prayer. He will protect you with his power. Be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might.
Third, he has a staff. And when you're in this dark valley time, believe it or not, God has a game plan that's even bigger than you getting through it. Me getting through it. I'd like to say to you, I'd like to say, you know what?
The times in my life when I kind of leaned back in my chair one day and said, you know something? Man, God is so good. My marriage is better than it's ever been.
All my kids are living exemplary lives. And I've got more money in the bank than I know what to do with. My body feels good.
Everything is awesome and wonderful. Those are the times when I say, oh God, in gratitude to you, I just want to be more committed to you than I've ever been. You know what we do when things are like that? Left to ourselves? We forget God.
My confession to you, and yours probably would be to me, it's when I was in between jobs, when my marriage wasn't going very well, when we've had major problems with one of our kids, when I've been in the ICU with a close friend or one of my children, when I've been so down on myself that I thought, God, if you don't show up in power and grace, you know, is there a train somewhere I could get on and just go hide? And it's been in those dark times that God has shown up in powerful, powerful ways. And you know what He's done?
He's usually pruned me. I have learned more. He's been about changing me, helping me see things that I would have never seen, and therefore, I'm in the valley of the shadow of death. You see, you don't have to fear evil because you know His presence will be with you, His power will take care of the enemy, and your own flesh. He is going to use those difficult times, as James 1 reminds us. Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect or mature, lacking in meat, lacking in nothing. He's going to change you. The first thing you need to remember, and I mean remember, is this. You do not have to be in want because the Great Shepherd will provide all your needs.
So whatever your needs are, run to Him. Second thing is you don't have to fear. You can be afraid. You can struggle. That's human. But you don't have to be paralyzed by fear.
Why? Because the Great Shepherd will protect you. Now the psalmist does something very interesting. He's given us this image, and then he takes that metaphor, and he gently lays it on the shelf, and then he comes over and he reaches another metaphor out of his culture. Because where he's going to end with this psalm is not down in the doldrums.
It's not going to be out of fear. He's going to celebrate understanding who God is, and now the metaphor changes to a banquet. And banquets and feasts and celebrations were filled with food and music and joy and relationships and hugs and kisses and people being together. Notice now, he says, I will dwell in the house of the Lord.
That's his third confident affirmation, but here's why. Because the Shepherd promises an abundant life now and forever. And by the way, abundant life, doesn't that ring a bell?
Remember Jesus in John 10? I've come that you might have life and you can have it abundantly. The word literally means spilling over, overflowing. It doesn't mean that you're going to drive fancy cars, you know, have great houses and never have a problem. It means you're going to overflow from the inside out of the overflow of your resources with Christ that regardless of what you go through, it can be rich, it can be deep, it can be powerful, it can be wonderful, and it can be that if you have this income or this income, whether you're healthy as a horse or whether you have cancer. That's what it means to have an abundant life. It means to be deeply connected to God in such a way that circumstances don't have the power to dominate your life.
You are defined by your relationship with God. Well, notice the three pictures he's going to give us here. He says, you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
This is a great picture. In the ancient Near Eastern culture, to eat a meal was more than like going to McDonald's. It was a fellowship. It was a and especially a banquet.
He says, prepare a table. The idea is it is a big celebration. And when they would have a great military victory, the general who had the victory would come in literally on a white horse.
Psalm sixty eight, you might check out in Ephesians Chapter four. And he would come in with his troops and then the plunder and then all the captives. And then they would have this great celebration giving credit to God for the great victory. And they would have a feast. I mean, a buffet.
Awesome. Like eat all you want. But then they would have situated around them the captives where their enemies would be watching them eat and enjoy the victory and the splendor as a humiliation to let them know our God is greater than your God. The battles in the Old Testament were conflicts of nations. And at the heart of most of the battles had to do with a conflict with deities.
Is Jehovah God really the God or is it Moloch or is it Baal? And he says here, a banquet in the midst of his enemies deliverance. See, what God promises is a banquet where what he wants to do in your life is he wants to give you victory over your number one enemy, which is not taxes, not cancer, not a relationship that's not quite as fulfilling, not a wayward child. Your number one enemy is sin. We are a slave, according to scripture, to whatever we obey and left to yourself. You are a slave to sin. You are a slave to want to do this, but find yourself doing that. You're a slave to knowing what it looks like to be a good dad, a good mom, a good person, a pure person.
And finding yourself constantly doing the opposite. And this says what he wants to do first is give you peace. The abundant life is characterized by peace. You know how you get peace? Salvation, deliverance from your enemy. Romans 5 one says, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have have present tense peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. If you're here today and you've never experienced the saving grace, the forgiveness of all your sins washed away and the power of sin broken in your life, where you have a new master Christ and the power to say no to sin and yes to righteousness, and you want the peace that comes, then come to the shepherd. That's the first thing he wants to give you. The second thing there is in this abundant life is more than peace. It's joy.
Notice the next line. It says, You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. And if you were the host and you've got this huge banquet and it's a victory banquet, it's like the big victory party as every guest would come in, they would take olive oil, mix it with some perfume and spices, and they would pour it on them as they honored.
They'd wash their feet and they would want them to know this is a celebration. You are special. And the idea of the cup overflowing, it's just a little picture of, hey, we're not giving out goodness in eyedroppers here. It's not, you know, watch how much you eat. It is. There's the table. It is filled. It is for you.
It is lavish. It's a picture of God's goodness. He wants to do good things for us spiritually and in every other way. He says, Enter in. Let me give you victory over your enemies. Peace. And then let me give you joy.
And joy comes from fellowship with Him. Sit down and eat with me. Revelation 3 20.
Remember that one? Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man, any person, any woman, any child, any student hears my voice and opens the door of their heart, he says, I will come into them.
And what's it say then? And will eat with them and they with me. See, eating in the Bible is always a picture of fellowship, unity, communion, relationship, byproduct, joy. You see, the banquet that God invites you to is not just one where there's deliverance and not just joy.
But look at the last part. Verse six. Surely goodness and love will follow me.
The word follow means pursue. I wonder what's going to happen to the Asian market. I wonder how my kids are going to turn out. You know what? I've heard two testimonies about cancer.
Should I go get a checkup? I wonder if I'm going to get cancer. I wonder if someone I love is going to get cancer. You know what that is? Anxiety and fear. You know what that belief system is? A commitment that according to CNN, Fox Network, ABC, CBS, the world's a bad, bad, bad place. It happens to everyone all the time.
Instead of the world's a fallen place, sovereignly run by a good God that wants to give you goodness. Interesting word, lavish, love and chesed, mercy, steadfast, loyal, covenant, commitment to you in whatever you. And it doesn't follow behind you. It's pursuing you. It's pursuing you. How long?
All the days of your life. The shepherd says, come. Come, I'll give you peace, forgiveness for your sins.
I'll give you joy. Fellowship with me and I'll give you hope. You can get up every day knowing God's plan for today is good. His goodness and his love are like guardrails on your life and everything that comes in, even in a fallen world, even from the enemy, even from your own flesh. He is going to orchestrate in a way to bring about the highest best good in you.
Man, is this an offer you can't refuse or what? Turn to the final page. Let's talk now about an action step. How then can you experience God's peace and power in your situation today? I mean, I mean, I hope some of you are sitting here and thinking, you know, man, fantastic. I just I didn't realize, you know, Jesus, what do you say? I'm the good shepherd that the sheep know my voice. I came to you might have life and have it abundantly. And I hope lots of you are here saying, man, am I glad that Jesus is my shepherd. But what if you're here? You ask him to be your savior. But maybe it's been months ago or years ago or many years ago and you find yourself here and you feel distant from God and you think, gosh, can I really get in on this? Yes. That's why God brought you today so you can get in on this.
He wants you to come back into the fold so he can love you, provide for you, protect you and give you his promise. And there may be others here. You say, you know something? I'm not in the family.
I don't know what you're talking about. I can't imagine people standing up and saying, this is how God was with me. I can't imagine people saying, I don't know whether I'm going to live or die and I don't know what the treatments are, but I can tell you, I'm not afraid and I have peace. And if there's anything in your heart and your world that says, you know what, I'd like to know that God. You need to act on that. You need to receive Jesus as your savior. You need to receive him as your shepherd to forgive you, cleanse you, come into your life and give you eternal life.
Dwell with him forever. Here's what you need to understand. It's very simple. You need to understand one, that we're all sheep.
He's not picking on us. Jot down, if you would, Isaiah 53 six. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to our own way, but the Lord has laid upon him Messiah Jesus, the iniquities of us all. We are all sheep, but Jesus has paid the price. Second, every sheep needs a shepherd. Sheep that don't have a shepherd get in trouble and die. Every sheep needs a shepherd. Third, Jesus wants to be your shepherd today.
If you're not as close as you need to be, he'd like to take that staff and kind of pull you in close. And if you're not on the team and his family, he wants you to pray and say, will you be my shepherd? I turned from my sin.
I believe that what you did on the cross was payment that you rose from the dead. In fact, listen to this appeal from Jesus, his own lips. Come to me. Listen, come to me. Who? All you who are weary and burdened.
Anybody qualify? And I will give you rest spiritually, physically, psychologically. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. In other words, get in the harness with me. Do life my way. And you don't have to be afraid for I'm gentle and humble of heart.
I'm not pushy. And you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy. I'll carry it. And my burden is light. If you're a Christian that needs to return to Christ, I encourage you to do that today. And if you're a person that has never received Jesus as your savior, I like to give you the invitation to do that right now. You'll notice that there's a prayer of faith on the bottom.
I want to read it. And then I'm going to pray it. And if you would like to respond, I encourage you to do that right now. It says, Today, I ask you, Jesus, to be my shepherd.
Think about if you want to do that. I ask you to provide for my needs and protect me from evil. Today, I take you up on your promise of abundant life.
And then if you've never asked him to forgive you, you've never asked him to be your savior, then pray. I ask you to forgive my sins and let me dwell in your house forever. And then for all of us today, I surrender my life to your wise and good leadership.
Make me the person you want me to be. And then are you ready for this? Notice where it says on the bottom signed. I'd like you to sign your name. You know, we live in the day where people don't make commitments.
I think God wants commitments. You come. So let me ask you, how about you? Did you pray with me today? Did you invite Jesus to forgive you of your sins to come into your life?
And if so, let me give you just a little counsel. Number one, tell someone. Do it today. You know, get on the phone, text a friend, tell a pastor that you've known, an old college roommate. I don't know what it is, but that person that you think is the best Christian you've ever met, tell them, you know something you've been sharing with me? Today, I invited Christ into my life and let them know.
Number two is get connected. You need to be in a good Bible teaching church. In fact, beyond that, you need to find a group of people that you feel comfortable with and get in a Bible study.
Get with some people that you like, that you can connect with, that can help you grow. And then, by the way, as you grow, drop me an email. Tell me what's going on in your life. Share your story. I have lots of long plane rides, and I love to read stories of how God is working in people's lives. God bless you, and I'm thrilled for you today. Well, if you prayed with Chip and decided to follow Jesus, email us at chip at Living on the Edge dot org.
We'd love to hear your story. That's chip at Living on the Edge dot o-r-g. Let me also encourage you to go to Living on the Edge dot org and find the new believers button. There you can request a free resource that will help you get a better understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. So visit Living on the Edge dot org and click the new believers button and let us help you get started on your faith journey. Well, before we wrap up, as you may or may not know, today is Giving Tuesday, which is an opportunity to support your favorite ministries or nonprofits. So chips join me here in studio now to explain why today is a great time to partner with Living on the Edge and to talk a little more about what your gifts will help us accomplish. Chip.
Thanks so much, Dave. Friends, I think most of you are aware that we're in a spiritual battle for the hearts and the minds of our children and our grandchildren. They are bombarded by the media, by pop culture, what they used to get in many biblical oriented churches they're not getting today. And they're, they're leaving the faith.
They can't defend their faith. They're caught in the crossfire. The peer pressure is overwhelming. But I want to remind you, parents, you're still the most influential person in their life. And youth pastors and children pastors, we need you like never before. And what we've seen at Living on the Edge is there is a discipleship deficit in families and in churches across America.
And we're doing something about it. We're creating resources for parents, grandparents and youth workers to not just teach, not just entertain, but to actually disciple your children to help them understand what they believe, why they believe it and how to live it out. And on this Giving Tuesday, that's our focus. Thanks to a group of very generous donors, your gift to Living on the Edge focused on reaching the next generation will be doubled dollar for dollar. Here's what I'd ask you to do.
Pray about what God would have you give and then go online livingontheedge.org and give that gift. And let's partner together to turn this around. There are so many young people that love God and are making a great difference. They need our love, they need our support, and they need resource to stand strong in the midst of what the Bible calls a crooked and perverse generation.
Will you stand with us? Thanks, Chip. Well, again, if you're passionate about supporting and engaging young people, too, let me encourage you to partner with us today on Giving Tuesday. To make your gift, go to livingontheedge.org or text the word donate to 741-41. That's the word donate to 741-41 or go to livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate.
As we close, are you looking to get even more plugged in with Living on the Edge and our resources? Then let me encourage you to check out the Chip Ingram app. There you can listen to our most recent series, sign up for daily discipleship, and so much more. We want to help you grow in your walk with Jesus. And the Chip Ingram app is a great way to immerse yourself in Godly, enriching content. Well, join us again next time as Chip continues his series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. Until then, this is Dave Drewy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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