Sermons

Summary: JUST AS A SHEPHERD LEADS HIS SHEEP TO STILL WATERS AND GREEN PASTURES TO PROVIDE FOR AND PROTECT THEM SO THAT THEY CAN GROW TO MATURITY, SO TOO DOES THE "GOOD SHEPHERD" PROVIDE AND PROTECT HIS FLOCK SO THAT THEY CAN GROW INTO SPIRITUAL MATURITY.

STILL WATERS AND GREEN PASTURES

PSALM 23:2

INTRODUCTION:

FROM AFRICAN COLONIAL HISTORY COMES THIS INTERESTING TALE:

IN THE DEEP JUNGLES OF AFRICA, A TRAVELER WAS MAKING A LONG TRIP. NATIVE PORTERS HAD BEEN ENGAGED FROM A TRIBE TO CARRY THE LOADS. THE FIRST DAY THEY MARCHED RAPIDLY AND WENT FAR. THE TRAVELER HAD HIGH HOPES OF A SPEEDY JOURNEY. BUT THE SECOND MORNING THE TRIBESMEN REFUSED TO MOVE. FOR SOME STRANGE REASON THEY JUST SAT, AS THOUGH IN DEEP THOUGHT. WHEN HE INQUIRED ABOUT THIS STRANGE BEHAVIOR, THE TRAVELER WAS INFORMED THAT THEY HAD GONE TOO FAST THE FIRST DAY, AND THEY WERE NOW WAITING FOR THEIR SOULS TO CATCH UP TO THEIR BODIES.

LET’S PLAY QUESTION AND ANSWER FOR A MOMENT. I’LL GIVE YOU THE SYMPTOMS AND YOU GIVE ME THE CONDITION.

70,000,000 AMERICANS SUFFER FROM THIS.

38,000 PEOPLE DIE FROM THIS EACH YEAR.

IT CAUSES A PRODUCTIVITY LOSS OF $70,000,000,000 A YEAR.

64% OF TEENAGERS HAVE POOR PERFORMANCE IN SCHOOL BECAUSE OF IT.

PEOPLE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 30-40 SUFFER FROM THIS MOST SEVERELY.

OF THOSE OVER 60, 50% ARE IMPACTED BY THIS CONDITION.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

THAT’S RIGHT THE ANSWER IS INSOMMNIA.

WE SHOULD NOT BE SURPRISED AT THIS. I THINK THERE IS IN PEOPLE A NATURAL DISPOSITION NOT TO WANT TO REST. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A CHILD SAY “MOM, I’M GOING TO JUST GO AND LIE DOWN RIGHT NOW AND TAKE MY NAP.”

WE’VE TRIED TO CONDITION OURSELVES TO “GET BY” WITH AS LITTLE SLEEP AS POSSIBLE. THEN WE COMPLAIN OF TIREDNESS, BURN OUT, AND WEARINESS.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT ROBS MANY OF THEIR SLEEP IS WORRY. SOMETIMES IT MAY BE A LEGITIMATE CONCERN, BUT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT IT’S UNNECESSARY THINGS THAT KEEPS US AWAKE. WHICH OF THESE ARE WE GUILTY OF?

1. THINGS WE NEED TO DO, OR PEOPLE WE NEED TO SEE. UNLESS YOU’RE PLANNING A MIDNIGHT MEETING YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS UNTIL THE MORNING.

2. THE UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS OF LIFE. QUESTIONS LIKE “WHERE DID I COME FROM?” “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?” QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND STILL NOT COME UP WITH AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER. THE ONE THAT GETS ME IS “WHY SOMETHING HAD TO HAPPEN? WHY DID MY BROTHER DIE AND NOT ME?” WHAT SEEMS TO BE ACCEPTABLE BY OUR STANDARDS MAY NOT BE ACCORDING TO GOD’S PLAN. UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS CAN STEAL OUR REST.

3. THINGS THAT WE CANNOT CHANGE. I USED TO HAVE BAD NIGHTS AROUND EXAMS WHEN I WENT TO SCHOOL. IN HIGH SCHOOL AND ABC I WASN’T TRYING MY BEST AND I ALWAYS FEARED FAILING. AT ST. THOMAS, UNB, AND ACADIA I DID MY LEVEL BEST AND FOUND OUT I DID BETTER IN SEMINAR COURSES. I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND MANY ESSAY QUESTIONS AND AS A RESULT I HAD DIFFICULTY SLEEPING THE NIGHTS BEFORE WRITTEN EXAMS. I COULDN’T CHANGE TOMORROW, BUT I COULDN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT EITHER. PERHAPS FOR YOU IT COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE. PERHAPS IT’S A BANK APPOINTMENT, OR A SURGICAL PROCEEDURE. IT COULD BE A SPECIAL DAY, LIKE A WEDDING OR FUNERAL. IT COULD BE THE FIRST DAY ON A NEW JOB. GOOD OR BAD IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. THE EVENTS OF THE NEXT DAY CAN CHANGE HOW YOU SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE.

THERE IS A PHYSICAL DIMENSION TO WORRY AND LACK OF REST. IT HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT LOSS CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO WORRYING. WORRYING CAN CAUSE, HIVES, SWELLING OF THE EYES AND LIPS, ASTHMA, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, HEART TROUBLE, BLINDNESS, MIGRAINE HEADACHES, THYROID AND STOMACH DISORDERS AND A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS.

PEOPLE HAVE TRIED A VARIETY OF CURES AND TREATMENTS FOR INSOMNIA AND WORRYING. TREATMENTS FOR INSOMNIA RANGE FROM MOUTH GUARDS TO HERBAL TEAS AND MEDICATIONS. SOME PEOPLE USE A GLASS OF MILK. EVERYDAY IN THE UNITED STATES 30 TONS OF ASPIRIN, SLEEPING PILLS AND TRANQUILIZERS ARE TAKEN TO HELP PEOPLE SLEEP. ONE DOCTOR PRESCRIBED READING PSALM 23 FIVE TIMES A DAY, TO A PATIENT WHO CAME TO HIM BECAUSE OF WORRY.

ONE MAN EVEN HIRED ANOTHER MAN TO DO HIS WORRYING FOR HIM. IT’S TRUE ONE MAN OFFERED ANOTHER MAN $200,000 A YEAR TO DO HIS WORRYING FOR HIM. THE MAN WHO WAS HIRED ASKED “WHERE WILL YOU GET THE MONEY TO PAY ME? THE OTHER MAN REPLIED, “THAT IS YOUR FIRST WORRY.”

THE PSALMIST HAD REASON TO WORRY. WE LEARNED LAST WEEK THAT WHEN HE PENNED PSALM 23 THAT HE WAS AT WAR THIS TIME WITH HIS SON ABSALOM. DAVID WOULD BE AT WAR MUCH OF HIS REIGN. HE WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED BY GOD TO BUILD HIS TEMPLE BECAUSE OF THE VIOLENCE IN HIS LIFE. DAVID WOULD BE KNOWN AS “THE WARRIOR KING.” IN THE MIDST OF HIS WORRY GOD GAVE HIM PSALM 23 AS THE TREATMENT FOR HIM, BUT ALSO FOR US.

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