The LORD is my Shepherd

no fear in death when Jesus is the Good Shepherd

Daily Spirit & Word: 765: The LORD is My Shepherd.

The Lord is MY Shepherd:

Good morning my friends, it was such a wonderful privilege to conduct the funeral of one of the oldest saints in St Luke’s Church, June Bailleau. She died in full assurance that Jesus Christ was her Good Shepherd. So we could celebrate her life and be comforted with the assurance she’s gone home to be with her LORD forever. There were awesome testimonies about June, the kind of woman she was, her dedication to the Lord, her love and service in church and community, but most importantly how she longed for everyone she knew to come to the point of knowing Jesus for themselves. She wanted me to proclaim the Good News of Jesus at her funeral. So I did, here’s the message that I gave.

A few days before she died, June couldn’t speak clearly, but she mouthed the words of this Psalm perfectly from memory as I read it out to her.

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters, He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I just love the way that King David has used the imagery of a Shepherd and his flock to describe the CARE and COMFORT which every one of God’s sheep can experience. However, it’s not just a group of sheep, but an individual sheep, my friends, Jesus wants to take the greatest care of your life too.

He begins by describing the comfort and care of His Lord for him in life.

He sums up all of God’s care in one phrase, “I shall not want.”

“I shall not want”

King David LACKS NOTHING, because his Shepherd cares for all of his earthly needs.

Let’s Look at the ways the Shepherd Looks After His Sheep in this LIFE:

  • He Leads me besides still waters: Jesus said, “NEVER THIRST AGAIN” & “Calmed the Storms” & “Walked on Water”…
  • He makes me lie down in green pastures: “NEVER HUNGER”

John 6:35 (NLT) “Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

These two phrases tell me Jesus is concerned about my earthly existence as well as what follows next, my SPIRITUAL life.

  • He leads me in paths of righteousness: “I AM The Way, The Truth and The LIFE: No man comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6.

How does the Good Shepherd lead us? With His ROD (Rod of correction: A small rod that shepherds would use to prod the sheep and keep them on the right path) With HIS STAFF (The STAFF is a bigger stick that shepherds would use to rescue the sheep when they got into difficulty).

My friends, Jesus is caring so much for those who become His sheep today. He disciplines, prunes (Luke 15, John 15) He guides (John 16-17 by His Holy Spirit).

LOOK AT THE WAY THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOOKS AFTER HIS SHEEP IN DEATH:

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is not just concerned with our life down here on the earth: When we’re going through the doorway of death, He’s right there with His sheep too.

DEATH: King David’s Shepherd doesn’t ABANDON Him through death, so he goes on to describe the Lord’s presence in death.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”

Passing through death, David says, is like walking through dark shadows. That would normally be very frightening indeed. I’ve been called out to people who are just about to die and they are petrified, scared to death of dying. They call on a minister out of FEAR: I always come to them and proclaim the Gospel: When faced with DEATH people always REPENT of their sins.

Going through DEATH for everyone of us  is not pleasant experience, that’s why nobody wants to die.

However, if we are one of God’s Sheep, when we do pass through the dark shadow of death, there is NO FEAR…

Here we are COMFORTED with this TRUTH: That our LORD JESUS Christ, The Good Shepherd, who provided for all our earthly needs in life, is also with us as we pass through the dark doorway into ETERNITY.

For those who are passing through DEATH with Christ, there is NOTHING to FEAR: Why? Because Jesus is right there with us.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”

 

HOW DO WE GET JESUS TO BE OUR GOOD SHEPHERD?

WHILE THIS PSALM ASSURES US THAT GOD IS WITH US AS WE PASS THROUGH THE SHADOW OF DEATH, IT DOES NOT TELL US HOW THIS HAPPENS.

King David was specially chosen by God, he was unique and had amazing experiences of God in life and knew and trusted God. But it wasn’t until Jesus came to this world, that ordinary people could also have that same kind of assurance.

One thing I am assured about June Bailleau is this, She KNEW JESUS as her Good Shepherd. She’d repented of her sins and trusted Jesus as her Lord. She loved the LORD, and would be singing His praises until her last breath, which I can testify that she did.

Well, Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd:

He said,

John 10:10-11 (NIV)
10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Notice The LINK: The Good Shepherd: The LORD is MY Shepherd.

Jesus died on the CROSS for the Sheep. “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep”…

John 10:14-15 (NIV)
14  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, (June KNEW Jesus)
15  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. (June was assured Jesus had given His life for her).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd: He lays down His LIFE for the Sheep.

But why? Why did Jesus need to give His life for the Sheep? 

It’s because without Jesus DEATH on the CROSS: We would all still be in our sins, we would be frightened on our way through the DARK SHADOWS of DEATH. We most certainly would be frightened.

ALL HAVE SINNED: God’s WORD, The Bible, tells us clearly, “ALL HAVE SINNED”… 

YBH: Yes! But how?

We’ve all broken God’s Commandments: Lied, Stolen, Cheated, Disobeyed Parents, Murdered (Hated), Not kept the Sabbath, Not put God first in our lives.

God’s Commandments reveal just how much we’ve all sinned. NO SINNER can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: If we were able to creep into Heaven with our sins still on us, we’d contaminate Heaven.

We THINK We’re Good Enough: Most people think they are ‘good enough’.

I’m reminded of a time when as a young Electrical Mechanic recruit waiting to be drafted to my first ship, having finished my courses, I was put to work on the Royal Navy Pig Farm: About 40000 pigs to look after: It’s a very smelly affair. You’d only need to be with those pigs for a few minutes and you’d begin to smell like them. After working with the pigs I’d take a shower, spray myself with deodorant and put on clean clothes. Then going to the Dining Hall with all the other Sailors, we’d line up to get in. There was a Petty Officer at the Door: He was controlling the entrance, letting in a few at a time, there were hundreds of us. I noticed there was something strange happening in the queue, there was a gap in front of me and a gap behind, I didn’t take any notice, but when I eventually got to the front of the queue, the Petty Officer said, “Go and get a shower, you stink, you can’t come into the Dining Hall smelling like that”… I was so embarrassed, I’d had a shower, sprayed myself with deodorant and thought I smelled clean, but the stench of the PIGS was still on my body.

My friends, I thought I was clean enough, I thought I could get in, I’d cleaned myself up: Oh My friends, there are so many people who’re hoping that they’ll be GOOD ENOUGH to get into Heaven when they pass through the dark shadow of death. They’ll be sadly shocked, because, JUST ONE SIN in your life: Will contaminate your SOUL and you’ll be unfit for Heaven for all eternity.

It’s my experience from going out to share the Gospel with folks on the streets every week, people who don’t go to church, people who are not religious, that they do believe in Heaven and they think they are going to be good enough to get in. My friends, we’re encouraged by God’s Word not to fool ourselves: No SINNER can get into HEAVEN.

Listen to what God’s Word tells us: DON’T FOOL YOURSELVES…

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT)
9  Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10  or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
11  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God (HOW?) by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Don’t FOOL YOURSELVES: We may think we’re ‘good enough’ but the Bible, God’s Word, reveals that JUST ONE SIN will keep us out of Heaven.

Like Adam and Eve, who were banished from God’s presence for ONE SIN, so we too will be sadly shocked and embarrassed to discover, we can’t get in.

Thankfully that same passage that tells us not to FOOL OURSELVES, and lists those who can’t get in, it also reveals who can.

It’s those who’ve made Jesus their Good Shepherd.

1 Corinthians 6:11 ” Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God (HOW?) by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

 

  • When you TURN: In Repentance (Turn away from Sin) Confess your sins to Jesus.
  • When you TRUST: In Christ’s DEATH Upon the Cross, paying the price for your sins. (The Good Shepherd can become your Shepherd today).
  • When you RECEIVE Jesus Christ: By and act of Faith you say “Jesus, I believe you died upon the Cross for my sins, I repent of those sins (Name them, renounce them, and leave my life of sin) I turn to You Lord and I receive You as my LORD, My Shepherd, Come into my Life and be my Lord today. Amen!”

When you Turn, Trust and Receive Jesus Christ: You will be saved, your sins will be washed away, you’ll be made holy by Jesus Christ’s death and precious blood, you’ll be made right with God and you’ll be free to enter into Heaven. When you die you will not FEAR. When you pass through the Dark Shadows of Death, because Jesus become your Good Shepherd, He will be your Shepherd and He will be with you too.

ALL FEAR IS GONE:

When Jesus Christ is YOUR Good Shepherd.

 

JUNE KNEW Psalm 23 by HEART: June KNEW Jesus as her Good Shepherd: The LORD of her life.

You can cry out with confidence as June Bailleau has done countless times in her life, she knew it by heart, just a few days before she died, she mouthed the words;

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

You’ll have such a confidence that Jesus is your Good Shepherd, that you’ll KNOW you are just going to go through THE DARK SHADOW of DEATH, you won’t be afraid, because Jesus will be with you, and then once you’ve passed through, you’ll be with Him FOREVER.

You will receive the Gift of Eternal Life:

Death has lost it’s sting, when Jesus is your Good Shepherd.

John 3:13-18 (NIV)
13  No-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.
14  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (Jesus died on the Cross),
15  that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (Those who TRUST that His Death was for their sins).
16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

It’s NOT ENOUGH to KNOW that Jesus died for your sins: We can all believe that easily enough, but we must TRUST IN Jesus Christ. i.e. Trust that He will forgive you, cleanse you and give you new life, by an act of faith.

It’s like a man called Charles Blondin: A World Famous Tight Rope Walker.

He would walk across the Niagara Falls with a wheelbarrow. Back and forth (17 Times: Even Blindfolded). Then He asked the Crowd, “Do you believe that I could push a person in a wheelbarrow across the falls?” The Crowd responded “Yes”.

Charles Blondin asked, “Who’s going to get into the wheelbarrow?”

The Crowd was silent… He famously pushed his own mother across the falls in that wheelbarrow. She trusted in her own Son, enough to get into that wheelbarrow.

My friends, we’ve got to GET Jesus into Us if we are going to be SAVED: Will you TRUST the Son of God? Will you Receive Jesus Christ as your LORD today? He’ll take you across the Dark Shadow of Death all the way to Eternity with Him in Heaven Forever.. Trust Him.

Have you made Jesus your Good Shepherd yet?

Believe, Repent, Receive, LIVE….

Turn, Trust, Receive Him Today: And you will have HIM with you through life and through that doorway of death too. Amen!

I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and wonderful weekend.

Looking forward to gathering on Sunday with the Saints in St Luke’s Church,

Don.

 

When the TV gets in the way of LIFE

seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness

Daily Word & Spirit: 724: Does God Get What He Wants?

Good morning my friends, it was such a privilege to conduct two funerals this week, one on Monday and the other yesterday. The first was for a wonderful Christian lady, the church was packed with friends and relatives from all over the world. I proclaimed the Gospel freely and called for a decision for Jesus Christ. Yesterday, an equally lovely lady, but who’s faith I knew very little about, the family said, “She was not a religious lady”… her family, as far as I knew, never attended church. What could I say to those grieving folks?

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.
29  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
30  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The second group of mourners were all giving wonderful stories about the woman’s life; she was full of fun, knew how to laugh at herself and loved people, she was generous to a fault, giving so much sometimes that she was in need herself, but just thinking of others. As I read the above passage,I believe the Lord guided me to say, “Just like …. we can all learn from this, she obviously didn’t WORRY about her life”.

The world we live in encourages us to WORRY: i.e. adverts about your weight, style, looks, have you got the right tools, is your home looking like a palace, have you got the right garden furniture, are you eating the right foods, etc, etc,,, You’d be excused if you walked to your bed so worried after watching TV for just one evening. I’m sure you’d dream and they’d be full of worries about life. But thankfully Jesus tells us DO NOT WORRY. Why? Because who of us by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

The Gospel of Luke covers the same teaching of Jesus, but gives us a little more details: Luke 12:25-26 (NIV) “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

I love the Bible (God’s) logic here, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

We may or may not have a long life, but worrying about it’s duration won’t guarantee it. I’m sure we can shorten it though, through folly, but we can’t extend it longer than God intends it to be. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away”… Sometimes, like when you mum or dad confiscated a precious toy when you were a child, that confiscation really hurts. When the LORD takes someone we love, no matter how old they are, it HURTS us, but we can’t lengthen the duration of our lives by worrying about them.

So what are we to do?

Thankfully the Bible gives us the answers:

Matthew 6:33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

1) Seek First The KINGDOM of God.

(Remember that’s same priority in the Lord’s Prayer?)…

When we seek first the Kingdom of God, we’re putting God’s priorities at the TOP of the agenda of our lives.

The woman being buried yesterday loved to play CARDS: Have you ever played Patience? Patience is a game in which you are looking to line-up all your cards on the King, once you get the whole suit; i.e. hearts, spades, clubs or diamonds, onto your King, then that row is won.

My friends, God wants us to line-up our life along the lines of His KINGDOM. i.e. He wants to be our KING. Every aspect of our lives in-line with His Kingdom priorities. How’s your KINGDOM living going?

2) Seek His Righteousness:

Many (most) people already think they are “Good Enough For Heaven” i.e. ‘Righteous’). But the Bible clearly teaches there are “NONE righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10.

Psalm 53:2-3 (KJV)
2  God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

We do good things, but the GOOD the Bible is talking about here is “Seeking AFTER God” i.e. Putting His Kingdom agenda first. He looks down from Heaven and sees that there is “NONE” who do that. There are none who seek Him the way He wants to be sought.

So we NEED God’s Righteousness more than anything else in our lives, because we don’t have a righteousness of our own. It’s HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS we need. Yes we do good things for other people, sometimes we do magnificent acts of great kindness and self-sacrifice, but God’s idea of goodness and righteousness is to seek after Him. Apart from God every act of kindness is tinged with the flesh, i.e. there are fleshly reasons for acting in the ways that we do: To look good in the eyes of others, to be well thought about in society, but what really matters in Eternity is not what others think about us, but what God thinks. If we’re seeking a kind of self-righteousness, thinking that our good deeds will outweigh our bad ones, then we need to think again. The GREATEST SIN is living life without putting God first… i.e. Commandments 1 and 2. If we live without God or seeking after Him, we’re guilty of making ourselves into our own god, which is idolatry.

Imagine how God must feel when those He created and gave the gift of life worship everything else apart from Him?

The Gift Of A TV Set:

To live the life that He has given to us without ever thinking about the ONE who gave us life, that’s the greatest sin imaginable.

It’s like the loving father who bought a TV for his kids. Before he got the TV, they’d come running up to him for kisses and cuddles when he got home from work. Overjoyed just to see their daddy home. After he got the TV, he was hurt when they sat in front of it and paid him no attention at all when he got home. Even if he shouted out to them, they’d just sit there glued to the TV set. He missed the cuddles and kisses of his children. So he walked right in front of the TV and turned it off. The kids moaned and groaned, but he said, “I’m so upset that you love that TV I gave you more than me now”… My friends, have you ever thought how God feels when we love life more than the one who gave us life? When we love this beautiful Creation more than the Creator? When we’re so enamoured with the things in this world, rather than the one who gave us them all to richly enjoy?

To live the life that He has given to us without ever thinking about the ONE who gave us life, that’s the greatest sin imaginable.

A Man After God’s Own Heart:

Remember the Bible called King David, “A man after God’s own heart”… i.e. King David sought the Lord. He looked for God. He wanted God’s priorities to be first in his life. King David did many horrible things in his lifetime, but the Bible accords him “Righteous”, not because of what he did or didn’t do in life, but because he sought the LORD with all his heart, mind, will and strength.

So, do you seek His Righteousness? We become righteous in God’s sight, when we respond to the Gospel invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord by faith. When we see that Jesus died in our place upon the Cross for all our sins and wickedness, he died for us. When we see that Jesus rose from the dead three days later and ascended into Heaven. Jesus is calling all people in the world to REPENT and turn away from life without God. To turn in repentance, letting go of our old way of ignoring God and turning to Him in faith to be forgiven, cleansed and renewed.

God wants to GIVE US THE KINGDOM: However, for Him to do so, it was very costly indeed. Jesus gave his life.

All we need to do to receive God’s Kingdom and life is turn in repentance and faith and receive Him as our KING: Then we’ll want to live our lives seeking first the Kingdom of God and we’ll want to live a holy and righteous life with Him.

When we seek first His Kingdom and when we seek first His Righteousness, then He, our Heavenly Father, will give us His Kingdom, He will give us what we NEED in life and we needn’t worry about how long we’re going to live, because ETERNITY is in our hearts, we’re going to LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM. Your needs will be met by God once you seek His Kingdom and His righteousness in all things.

Being ‘good’ in our own eyes, is good and right, but when it comes down to it, God will be looking to see if we’ve been good from His perspective. It’s a matter of righteousness not religiousness. He won’t look to see if you’ve been attending church, reading your Bible, doing good to others and praying. His priority is righteousness, are you good enough for Him? The honest answer He’ll be looking for is “NO!” I’m not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven, because I’ve sinned and broken Your Commandments. However, Father in Heaven, I’ve put my faith and trust in Jesus, Your Son, and I know that His death upon the Cross was for my sins. I’ve asked for His forgiveness and turned in repentance and faith, I’ve received Him as my King. I know that I’m a member of His Kingdom Family.”

He’ll say, “Welcome, I’m PLEASED to give you the Kingdom”…

Praise the Lord!

Don.