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Our Confidence in God


Sermon shared by David Phaneuf

July 2003
Summary: "I shall not want... I will not fear... I will dwell..." -- three great affirmations expressing confidence in God who provides for our needs, protects us from harm, and promises us abundant and eternal life.
Denomination: United Methodist
Audience: General adults
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of death!

Why? Because, as David declared: “For Thou art with me!”

You see that is the key to peace in the face of life’s dangers: to recognize that through it all, God is with us... to trust in God’s presence, and in his protection.

Psalm 23 contains a curious image at this point. David writes: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.” At first glance this image seems strangely out of place. What does a feast have to do with God’s protection?

What it has to do is this: eating is a picture of peace. Have you ever tried to eat when you are worried, or sick at heart, or afraid? For some reason food loses its attraction when we are worried and afraid. Our stomachs are taut, our adrenaline is rushing. And the last things our bodies want to do when we are afraid, is to sit down and eat something. That’s why people lose their appetite when danger assails.

David is saying that even in the face of fearsome situations, we have a calm inside, a sense of tranquility and peace, that lets us enjoy the feast of God’s love. Someone has said that “peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is the presence of God.”

Finally, Psalm 23 expresses confidence in A GOD OF PROMISE. David exclaimed: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God is more than a God who provides. He is more than a God who protects. He is a God who makes all of life -- both present and future -- a wonderful thing. He is a God of Promise.

Jesus spoke of us having an abundant life. “I have come,” he said, “that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” That’s what David was describing when he wrote: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” With God by our side, life is good. Our lives are fulfilled in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. Not the fullness of possessions, not the abundance of things, but the abundance of God: God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, God’s goodness. And I can guarantee you -- if you have these things and nothing else, you are infinitely more rich than if you had all the material prosperity in the world.

But there is more to this life than this present earthly existence. The Shepherd’s Psalm reminds us that God has prepared for us a marvelous future, an eternal security, a heavenly home.

Many people have only an uncertain hope of eternity. Ask them if they will go to heaven and often they answer with words such as, “I think so,” or “I hope so.” But these words of Psalm 23 are not a vague expression of uncertainty. They are a declaration of certainty -- a confidence that God has provided a glorious future and eternal home for us.

David does not say, “I hope to be there.” He says “I will be there.”

And in the New Testament the reason for our confidence is made clear. Paul said, “It is not by works, lest any man should boast.” It is “by the grace of God we are saved.” What is this grace of God? It is God who “loved the world so much that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” It is through Christ’s death on the cross that our sins are forgiven. It is through his resurrection from the grave that we are given an assurance of eternal life. And it is through faith
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