Summary: Even when surrounded by life’s challenges Jesus is present to give us victory. In Jesus we are overcomers.
The Good Shepherd Protects His Flock
-Jesus is for you in every crisis of life-
Have you ever felt afraid? So afraid you feared for your life?
On several occasions I have felt intense fear. Once when I was a young teen and a tornado was headed toward the farm house we were staying in for a summer.
On another occasion I was involved in a car accident when I was in High School. I was riding with a friend on the passenger side and we were broadsided by another car. It hit the front of the passenger side and spun us around. I was knocked out and thrown into a ditch at the side of the road. When I regained consciousness I heard the sound of a siren of the ambulance coming. My instant prayer was, “Jesus help me!”
Psalm 23:4-6 gives the promise that Jesus, the Good Shepherd provides protection for His Flock. Jesus is our Good shepherd and we are the sheep of his pasture.
I. Jesus Our Good Shepherd Takes Away Fear
Verse 4 – “Even when I walk through the dark valley of Death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” (NLT)
“Even through 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.” (NIV)
Times of death has always been a spiritual wake up call for me. At both my mother and father’s death God spoke to my heart and I made new commitments to honor and serve the Lord.
1. Many people fear death because they have no hope of life after death. Rock Star Sting faced the reality of death when said: “Without wishing to seem morbid, I’m trying to work out how to die well. I’m halfway through my life. Death’s a taboo in our society; but let’s think about it and work out a strategy. It’s the most important thing we all face and it’s kind of unavoidable. If you want to live well you must surely want to die well.”
Many people in America have a vague and fuzzy hope in some kind of life after death. Many see life as meaningless like the Greek Philosopher, Socrates. He drank poison hemlock and lay down to die. His friends asked him, “Shall we live again?” The dying philosopher could only reply, “I hope so, but no man can know.”
Most people would agree with comedian Woody Allen, who said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
A zealous man telephoned Woodrow Wilson in the wee hours of the morning when Wilson was the governor of New Jersey, rousing him from sleep. “Governor Wilson,” the man announced, “your commissioner of highways just died, and I would like to take his place.”
“If it’s all right with the undertaker, it’s all right with me,” Wilson replied.
I’m sure that’s not what the man had in mind. That’s a replacement none of us is anxious to make.
Jesus promised that even during the time of death he is with us. We can know beyond any shadow of doubt that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ go immediately after death into the presence of Jesus. There are no stopovers; it’s a direct flight. Just as Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise,” so he promises to all who live and follow Him. (Luke 23:43)
When a person lives in fear of death without hope death is a tragedy. Voltaire was an aggressive atheist. In speaking of Christ he once said, “Curse the wretch?” In twenty years, Christianity will be no more. My single hand will destroy the religion it took twelve apostles to lead.”
On his deathbed, a nurse who attended Voltaire was reported to have said, “For all the wealth in Europe, I would not see another atheist die.” On his deathbed he cried out, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you give me six months of life. Then I shall go to hell and you will go with me. O Christ? O Jesus Christ.”
God so created you to have a longing in your heart for life after death. Jesus said in John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
God has placed a homing instinct in every human heart. Salmon have a homing instinct to return every year to spawn in the rivers of their birth. Swallows return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano every year.