Summary: Obviously, God wants us to be a happy, satisfied people. We shouldn’t be restless & jealous, always chafing about what we don’t have. There should be a spirit of thankfulness in us that brands us as belonging to Him. (Powerpoints available - #142)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #142.)
Turn with me this morning to the 23rd Psalm, perhaps one of the best loved passages in the Bible. We often read it in times of stress or sorrow.
But I would like you to see it in a slightly different way this morning. Now that we’re in the fall season & Thanksgiving Day is approaching, I’d like you to see in this Psalm three great reasons for us to be thankful unto God.
A. The 23rd Psalm begins with these familiar words, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want."
When someone says, "I shall not be in want," we need to sit up & take notice because this is an age of discontent. Listen to these words by Jason Lehman:
It was spring. But it was summer I wanted
The warm days, & the great outdoors.
It was summer. But it was fall I wanted
The colorful leaves, & the cool, dry air.
It was fall. But it was winter I wanted
The beautiful snow, & the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter. But it was spring I wanted
The warmth, & the blossoming of nature.
I was a child. But it was adulthood I wanted
The freedom, & the respect.
I was 20. But it was 30 I wanted
To be mature, & sophisticated.
I was middle aged. But it was 20 I wanted
The youth, & the free spirit.
I was retired. But it was middle age I wanted
The presence of mind, without limitations.
Then my life was over, & I never got what I wanted.
SUM. Many people never seem satisfied, & almost everybody wants more. A little child wants more toys & more television time. A teenager wants more freedom & more popularity. Most adults want more possessions & more leisure time. And as we age, we want more health, more friends, & more loyalty from our children.
Yet, listen again to these words of the Apostle Paul that we looked at last Sunday, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, & I know what it is to have plenty.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Philippians 4:11 12).
Obviously, God wants us to be a happy, satisfied people. We shouldn’t be restless & jealous, always chafing about what we don’t have. There should be a spirit of thankfulness in us that brands us as belonging to Him.
PROP. So with the 23rd Psalm in mind, notice 3 great reasons to be thankful.
I. IN THIS LIFE THE GOOD SHEPHERD GIVES US ALL WE NEED
The first one is this: "We can be thankful because in this life the Good Shepherd gives us all we need."
A. Frequently in the Bible human beings are compared to sheep. Now that sounds nice, but surely you realize that is not necessarily a compliment, because sheep are among the dumbest & dirtiest animals in the world.
So when Isaiah says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6), he is not saying "That’s good." He’s saying, "That’s bad, because we’re just about on a level with sheep."
When Jesus looked out on the people with compassion, the Gospel writers say that He saw them "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). That’s not a compliment, either, but a concern, because sheep are so helpless when they’re all alone.
ILL. Philip Keller was a sheep rancher & in his book, "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty third Psalm," he says that they require more attention than any other livestock. They just can’t take care of themselves.
Unless their shepherd makes them move on, sheep will actually ruin a pasture, eating every blade of grass, until finally a fertile pasture is nothing but barren soil.
Sheep are near sighted & very stubborn, but easily frightened. An entire flock can be stampeded by a jack rabbit.
They have little means of defense. They’re timid, feeble creatures. Their only recourse is to run if no shepherd is there to protect them.
Sheep have no homing instincts. A dog, horse, cat, or a bird can find its way home, but when a sheep gets lost, it’s a goner unless someone rescues it.
SUM. So one over riding principle of the 23rd Psalm is that sheep can’t make it without a shepherd. And the only reason that David could say, "I shall not be in want," is because David could first say, "The Lord is my Shepherd."