Reaching the unseen

REACHING THE UNSEEN IN 2016

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REACHING THE WORLD FOR JESUS

May God bless the Pastors and Bible Teachers all over the world, we thank God that Sermons to the World is now reaching 148 countries and all 50 States and The District of Columbia in the U.S.

MISSION

Mission: To be a resource to Pastors and Bible teachers in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. – Sermons to the World

VISION STATEMENT

Vision: To reach the world on the internet to fulfill the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 – “to go into all the world and teach all nations”.

Welcome to our New Site

We welcome you to see our New Website http://sermonstotheworld.org.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"JESUS, A FRIEND OF SINNERS"

 “JESUS, A FRIEND OF SINNERS”
By Pastor Mark Taylor

“The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, behold a friend of publicans and sinners!”  (Luke 7: 34)

In our age of Facebook, many of us have a lot of FB friends.  Most of our "friends" share common interest and values.  I know it is difficult to be nice to those who are not nice to you.  But our Lord Jesus said: "You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say unto you Love your enemies, bless tham that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.  That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."  (Matthew 5: 43-48).  I know this is very difficult and without the power of our Holy Spirit it is probably impossible.  But think about where you were in your life before God started loving you and forgave you.

To be a "Friend of Sinners" does not mean that we have to participate in their sinful activities or condone their sinful behavior.  We are to be a model of what it is to live a life without sin and bring people to the only one who can forgive sin - Our Lord Jesus Christ.  If we don't show them love and compassion they will never see Heaven or how great their lives could be here on Earth.  

I don't think the Lord is saying we are to put our lives in danger by living in or returning to abusive or life threatening situations.  I would think a practical application of our Lord's words would be to feed hungry people or provide medical help without trying to evaluate whether they deserve it or not.  God fed the children of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness even when they were disobedient to His instructions.

Think about this for a minute.  Our Lord, until His birth, had never been around sin.  Our Lord had never before been around a sinner.  He fellowshipped with the Father.  He had nothing to do with sinners.  He was ministered to by the angels and praised by the saints in Heaven.

Then suddenly, He was thrown into sin.  He lived with sin, though He never sinned.  His entire life was occupied with sin from Bethlehem, and it will be so until the rapture.  His lips never said a bad word, his mind never entertained an evil thought. yet He choose to come to earth to be with us.

When Jesus choose his disciples, he choose sinners.  Matthew was a tax collector, Peter, James, and John were fishermen.  Others had secular jobs.  None of them were priests, preachers, or scholars.  He choose ordinary people with ordinary problems.

He helped the woman at the well who had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband.    Jesus was a friend of blind Bartimaeus beside the road.  He went to eat with Zacchaeus who was a very unpopular person in the area because he was a tax collector.  He was a friend of a woman caught in the very act of adultery.  He was a friend to the thief on the cross.  He told him  “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Today, we need to be more like Jesus – A Friend of Sinners.  We need to minister to those who are at rescue missions or are homeless.  We need to minister to those in nursing homes.  We need to minister to those that feel that they are not good enough to come to church.  Because Jesus is a Friend of Sinners.

Have we forgotten that we are sinners. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  “There are none righteous, no not one” (Romans  3:10).  We are saved and on our way to heaven because of one reason – Jesus is a Friend of Sinners.  


Reach out to someone today.  Ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do?” when you see someone struggling with sin.  “He lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7 KJV).  Remember that Jesus is a Friend of Sinners and any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

SHOWING COMPASSION

SHOWING COMPASSION
By Pastor Mark Taylor

This past week I was with a group of people who showed compassion.  A group of 30 of us took a week of our lives and paid our ways to the country of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America.  We were doing what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ did while He was on the Earth.

 "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." (Mark 6:34)

We raised money ahead of time and sent enough down to Honduras to buy over 700 bags of food to deliver to hungry and poor families.  This feed over 5,000 people for several days who would not have had food if it were notifier the compassion of this group.  This group consisted of several teenagers, married couples, single young adults, middle aged and senior citizens who decided this week to show compassion.  The group also took many suitcases of clothes, medicine, and toys to these families.  The money for the food came from a variety of churches and individuals who could not come but wanted to help.  They were as much involved in being a blessing to those we reached as we were in delivering the food.  

“He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the LORD; and that which he has given will He pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17).

We participated in several worship services in which people were baptized and others were encouraged to stay faithful in their service to our Lord Jesus.  We prayed with sick people and gave money toward buying a wheel chair for a person who had a crippling disease.  

in Mark 8:2, we hear Jesus say, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat." It can't be overlooked that while the Lord may be primarily interested in spiritual nourishment for the soul, He was not unmindful of the needs of the body as well.

God blesses us in order that we may be a blessing to others. All of us have been given something that we can share with others. If we don’t take the opportunities we have to be a blessing and squander or hoard these for ourselves, they will eventually be taken from us.  Sometimes we think if we do something for somebody else we will run short ourselves.  Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing.” 

The Lord asks us to give compassion on those who may not deserve it, because we did not deserve His compassion. When a woman is caught in the act of adultery, she is brought before Jesus.  Jesus said “neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:1-11) All of us have asked God for compassion when we have failed Him.  King David prayed in Psalms 51:1 “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions.” He has blotted out our sins by his compassion! “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”  (Psalms 30:18).

The life of a Christian from God’s perspective is to be a life of service, worship, and praise.  We are called to serve.  We will be judged by our willingness to help those less fortunate than we are, those who have been cast down, or have been orphaned by society.  We will be rewarded by willingness to help those who are spiritually, physically and economically handicapped.  God has not called us to focus on ourselves, but has called us to “do unto others, as we would have others do unto us”.  

If only we had known that helping others was helping Jesus. If only we had known that serving others was serving Christ. How differently we would have lived our lives!" 
Well, now you know.”



Thursday, June 29, 2017

THE JOY OF GIVING

THE JOY OF GIVING

by Pastor Mark Taylor

One of the greatest challenges we face is the temptation to live selfishly.  Society has taught us to look out for “number one”.  This is the “me” generation and this attitude can spill over into our relationship with God, our families, and one another.  If we want to experience God’s joy and have Him pour out His blessings in our lives, we are going to have to be interested in other people and their needs.

We Were Created to Give

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:26-27).  God is always giving to us.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Jesus said: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28.)

We Should Look For Opportunities to Give God’s Love

We may not feel we have much to give.  But we have much more than we may realize.  Someone needs your smile today.  Someone needs your love today.  Someone needs a hug and to feel your touch of love. There is healing in your hands and voice.  God wants to use you to bring hope, healing, love and victory into the lives of others.  You can help someone by being a friend and giving them encouragement.  You can give someone a compliment or praise for something they did.  You can visit someone in the hospital or a senior citizen in a nursing home.  You can write somebody an encouraging letter.  The list goes on.  Ask the Lord how He can use you today to give of yourself to others.


Whatever You Give, Will Be Given Back To You

This is a spiritual principle. Jesus said: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38).

This is not just talking about money.  It is talking about service, love, and time.  Jesus said this about giving small things: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).  "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).

Live To Give

Somebody needs what you have to give.  It may not be your money; it may be your time.  It may be your listening ear.  It may be your arms to encourage.  It may be your smile to uplift.  We need to learn how to be givers and not just receivers.  We need to quit trying to figure out what everybody can do for us and start trying to figure out what we can do for somebody else.  We were created to be givers and we will never truly be fulfilled in our lives until we learn this simple secret of how to give our lives away.  

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Is it not to break your bread to the hungry, and that you should bring home the wandering poor? When will you see the naked and cover him; and you will not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break out as the dawn, and your health shall spring out quickly; and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall gather you” (Isaiah 58:7-8).

“He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the LORD; and that which he has given will He pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17).


Give your life to the Lord Jesus today.  He can and will give you the desire and ability to give to others.  He has already given His life for you and to you.  When you do this, you will have real joy.  He loves you today and wants you to be happy now and go to Heaven later.  Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and become your Savior today.  When you give your life to Him, He will take care of you!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

GOD WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY


“GOD WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY”
by Pastor Mark Taylor

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

The God we serve is not someone who has left us to guess about important decisions in our lives.  All through the Bible He has given us examples of how he led both individuals and nations in specific directions.   “Truly I see that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).  These examples can give us the confidence that He is still leading those who wish to receive His help and guidance.

In the New Testament Jesus reminded His disciples that He could make a way for them also: “Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You go, and how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:5-6).  


You and I face many important decisions in our lives.  Sometimes we are not sure which way to turn.  Sometimes we face roadblocks to our dreams and goals.  
I would like to encourage you today to trust the Lord in helping you make a way to accomplish God’s will in your life.

I usually pray this prayer when I am trying to “find the way”:  “Lord if this (thing, goal, desire) is your will for me, open the door and allowed me to go through it.  Give me the wisdom and confidence from the Holy Spirit to know that my desires are in line with your will for my life.  Lord, if this desire is not your will, please lock the door so that I cannot go through it.  Keep me from making a wrong decision that will cause me problems.”  

Sometimes we find ourselves in difficulty because of making wrong decisions.
Then I pray as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did: “If you would be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).  

Sometimes the Lord removes it from me, and sometimes He reminds me of what He told Paul when he prayed for healing: “For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me” 
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

As one song put it: “Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms me.”

One thing we can count on is that God is with us and wants to lead us and make a way for us to become victorious even in difficult times.  Even if you are suffering from bad relationships, poor financial decisions, or health problems remember God’s words of encouragement to us: “No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Go to God in prayer.  Ask Him to give you the faith to endure your hardship until He makes the way.

Jesus said this about our life on earth: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  And we are reminded by God’s Word that even when things are going bad for us God will make a way for it to become good: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

God has not only made a way for us to make it through this lifetime, but has made a way for us to go to Heaven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  If you will give your life to Christ, He will make a way for you to go to a real place, with real people, and experience the real presence of God: “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).


God also wants to use you to make a way for others.  You have been given gifts and abilities you can use in service for God.  “Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over, they shall give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measure, it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).  Every time you do something for someone else they receive a blessing and so do you.  There are people today that need you today.  It may be something as simple as a kind word or an act of kindness. It may be something that requires your time, money, and talents.  If God lays something on your heart, He is expecting you to do it.  And in many cases, if you don’t do it, it want get done.  

God is going to make a way for you today.  “He gives power to the weary; and to him with no vigor; He increases strength. Even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

FATHER'S DAY MESSAGE

“Our Father Who Is In Heaven”
By Pastor Mark Taylor

“After this manner pray: Our Father Who is in Heaven. Holy and Honored shall be Your Name.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven.”.
(Matthew 6:8-10)

Today, (June 18, 2017), in the United States, we celebrate Father’s Day.  The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910.  It is sad that today one out of three children do not have a father living with them in their homes. 

Notice that when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He counseled them to relate to God as "Father."  By now, we all understand that prayer is simply the practice of talking with God - it's the vehicle by which fellowship with God can take place in this life. The first lesson from the Lord's Prayer then is simply that God, our Father, wants us to talk to Him. He is a conversationalist; He wants to have that kind of relationship with His children, one where the children take the initiative to discuss the events of their lives, and He wants to be the One who is available to listen and meet their needs.
As human beings we are designed to know God as our Good, Loving, Heavenly Father.  The trouble is we do not see Him clearly... partly because the lenses we wear to look at Him are provided by the experiences of our earthly fathers (and other male authority figures).  If we had or have, a physically absent or emotionally absent father, then at a heart level we may well fear that God will not be close to us... and therefore we find it hard to believe that He wants to draw near and is near!   If you do not have an earthly father present with you today, or if your father does not show you the love you desire, God wants to be your Father.  “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me.” (Psalms 27:10).  
Our Father is our protector.  “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalms 68:5).

Our FATHER is full of forgiveness: “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12).

Our FATHER is Love:  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”  (1 John 4:7-8).

Our FATHER is all powerful (omnipotent).  There is no limit to what HE can do.  “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalms 147:5). 

Our FATHER is all knowing (omniscient).   He knows your thoughts: “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile” (Psalms 94:11).  “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off” (Psalms 139:2).

Our FATHER is present everywhere (omnipresent).  Our FATHER is not limited by time or space. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalms 139:7-8).

A good Earthly Father should be someone we can go to when we are in trouble or when we are discouraged.  Sometimes all we need is a word of encouragement from him to give us the courage to keep on going when we feel like giving up. Someone to tell us he is for us and on our side.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-12).   

Your Heavenly Father can meet that need and give you the resources to get back on your feet when you have been knocked down by this world.  “As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:13-14).  Do you need a Father today who can just take you in His arms and tell you everything is going to be ok?  Your Heavenly Father wants to do just that.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, there is no greater gift that you can give to your children and grandchildren, than your time.  There are times when they just need someone to listen to them and spend some time with them.  This is something our Heavenly Father wants to give to His children.  He is a good listener and never too busy to take time for you.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15).
'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:2-3).

Our FATHER is full of pity and mercy: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psalms 103:8-11).

On this Father's Day, we will honor our fathers with a gift, a card, a call, a word of appreciation or a hug. Let us also remember to honor our Heavenly Father. We can honor our fathers who have gone to Heaven by transferring that love into an act of kindness to someone else.

We will honor Him by taking time to talk with Him, worshipping Him in Spirit and thanking Him for His faithful provision. We will seek to correct any broken relationships we may have with Him or with others of His children. We will follow His leadership into ways of righteousness and accept His protection from the evil one. We will give Him all the praise and glory due His name.  Make this a Happy Father’s Day for your Heavenly Father.
I hope the God of the Bible is your FATHER. I hope that you have seen the FATHER today.  He wants to be your FATHER.   It is His will that everyone go to Heaven and live with Him forever.   "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." The Father is a king, but a king who does not always get what He wants.  What we need to understand is that He values the free choice of His children - He wants you to come to Him out of love, not coercion or fear.  Let His will be done in you.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

THE TWENTY THIRD PSALM - VERSE 4

PSALM 23 – VERSE 4 
by Pastor Mark Taylor


“Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”

In the first three verses the sheep has been bragging about the Shepherd.  Now the sheep begins to talk to the Shepherd.  During the hot summers the most efficient Shepherds take their flocks up the mountains where they can find fresh water and the best grazing.  As the Shepherd and the sheep go up the mountains, they walk through deep valleys that have deep ravines, rock slides, mud or snow avalanches, and predators like coyotes, bears, wolves, or cougars.  So the walk through the valley is not without risk.  But, the sheep “fear no evil, for you are with me”.

The Shepherd has been through these valleys many times.  He knows this wild but wonderful country like the palm of his own strong hand.  Never would he take His flock where He had not already been.  Like sheep, we can never reach the best water and fields if we don’t go through the valleys to get to the mountains.  Every mountain has its valleys, but the sheep say “I will fear no evil”.

It should be notice that this verse states “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  It does not say I die there or stop there – but rather “I walk through”.  This is not talking about dying.  But even here, for the child of God, death is not an end but merely the door into a higher and more exalted life of intimate contact with God.  In living we pass through the valley of death on our way to higher ground.  There is no need to “fear” in living or dying, for He is with us.

When we move to higher ground with God, we learn to know Him in a new and intimate manner.  As Christians we will sooner or later discover that it is in the valleys of our lives that we find refreshment from God Himself.  It is not until we have walked with Him through some very deep troubles that we discover He can lead us to find help and comfort right there in the midst of our difficulty.

Only those who have been through such dark valleys can console, comfort or encourage others in similar situations.  The one who can best minister to a broken heart is one who has known a broken heart.  There are going to be some valleys in life for all of us.  The Good Shepherd Himself assured us that “In this world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Will you allow the Good Shepherd to lead you up to higher ground and “through” the valleys of life?  He has taken many sheep safely up there before.  Jesus wants to be your Shepherd today.

“I will fear no evil: for you are with me”

Jesus has reminded us that we are to pray to keep evil away from us.  
“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” (Matthew 6:13).
The Shepherd takes special care to keep His sheep from danger.  When he hears their voice of distress, He will come to their aid.  “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.” (Psalms 34:6-7).

We do not have to live in fear because He is with us.  “For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5).  He loves us and we can depend upon His presence and protection. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear”. (1 John 4:18).

“Thy Rod (Word) and Thy Staff (Holy Spirit), They Comfort Me”

The first use of the shepherd’s rod was as an instrument of protection both for himself and his sheep when they were in danger. The rod was an extension of the shepherd’s own right arm.  It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, and his authority in any serious situation.  It was something that brought comfort to the sheep, because they knew the strength and security of being with their shepherd. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.” (Psalms 138:7)

The Scriptures today are God’s Rod.  They are the extension of His mind, will, and intentions.  It is reassuring to the child of God to turn to the Word of God and know it to be His Shepherd’s hand of authority.  It was the rod of God’s Word that Christ, our Good Shepherd, used in His own encounter with Satan during His desert temptation.  It is the same Word of God which we can count on again and again to counter the assaults and attacks of Satan.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” (Ephesians 6:17)

The second use for the shepherd’s rod was that of discipline.  The scriptures are God’s way to keep us from sin.  It is the Word of God that comes swiftly to our hearts and comes to correct and reprove us.  “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

The third use for the shepherd’s rod was that of comfort and examination.  In caring for his sheep, the good shepherd would from time to time make a careful examination of each individual sheep. He opens the fleece with the rod and feels the body for any sign of trouble.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try m, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24).

The shepherd’s staff identifies the shepherd as a shepherd.  No one in any other profession carries a shepherd’s staff.  It is uniquely an instrument used for the care of sheep and only sheep.  Whereas the rod conveys the concept of authority, of power, of discipline, of defense against danger, the word “staff” speaks of all that is long-suffering and kind.

Just as the rod of God is symbolic of the Word of God, so the staff of God is symbolic of the Spirit of God.  In Christ’s dealing with us as individuals there is sweetness, comfort, and consolation with the gentle correction brought about by the work of His gracious Spirit.

The first use of the staff lies in drawing sheep together into an intimate relationship.  The shepherd will use his staff to gently life a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become separated.  In the same way the staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young  or old, and draw them close to himself for intimate examination.  In the Christian life we find the gracious Holy Spirit “The Comforter” drawing folks together into a warm, personal fellowship with one another.

The staff is also used for guiding the sheep.  Sometimes the shepherd will actually hold his staff against the side of some sheep simply so that they feel his touch.  The sheep obviously enjoys this special attention from the shepherd. In our walk with God we are told that Christ, Himself, would by his Holy Spirit “guide us and lead us into all truth” (John 16:13).

There is for the true child of God that intimate experience of sensing the Comforter at his side.  He can be relied on to assist us in every decision and in this there lies tremendous comfort for the Christian.  He actually conveys the mind of Christ in the matter to your mind.

The staff is also used for getting the sheep out of jams and dilemmas.  The staff was used to lift them out of the jams and put them back on solid ground.  Many of our problems are of our own making.  But the tenderness, compassion, and care of our Shepherd comes to us and lifts us by His Spirit out of the difficulties we get into.  What patience God has with us.  He is longsuffering and compassionate, and forgiving. “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalms 34:6).



Sunday, March 19, 2017

THE TWENTY THIRD PSALMS - VERSES 1-3

THE TWENTY THIRD PSALMS
by Pastor Mark Taylor

TWENTY THIRD PSALMS – VERSES 1-2
“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD”

When a shepherd bought a sheep, he was given a distinctive earmark which he cuts into one or other of the ears of his sheep.  The sheep always would bear the mark of the shepherd.  "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. "But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.” (John 10:9-12)The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd.  You have a great Shepherd.  "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. "I and My Father are one." (John 10:27-30)

“I SHALL NOT WANT”

Contentment should be the hallmark of the man or woman who has put his or her affairs in the hands of God.  Jesus is the owner who delights in His flock.  For Him, there is no greater reward, no deeper satisfaction, than that of seeing His sheep contented, well fed, safe, and flourishing under His care. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)



“HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES”

The only time sheep will lie down is if four requirements are met.  They will not lie down unless they are free from all fear, they are free from friction with others of their kind, they are free from flies or other pests; and free from hunger.  Christ can meet all of these requirements in our lives.  “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Sheep like people are constantly in conflict, and jealousy within the flock can be a detrimental thing.  But when the shepherd is present, the sheep quickly forget their rivalries and stop fighting.  When your eyes are on the Master, they are not on those around you.  “"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7 )
The shepherd gives his sheep freedom from fear from the torment of parasites.  He applies various types of insect repellents to his sheep mixed with oil.  This is one of the main functions of the gracious Holy Spirit.  He is often symbolized by oil. It brings healing, comfort, and relief from the harsh and abrasive aspects of life.  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

The shepherd plants the green pastures with much toil and skill.  The Good Shepherd has supplied green pastures for those who care to move in onto them and there find peace and plenty. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV)  “Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:11).

PSALM 23 – VERSE 3
“HE RESTORETH MY SOUL”

In studying this Psalm it must always be remembered that it is a sheep in the Good Shepherd’s care who is speaking.  It could be assumed that anyone in the Good Shepherd’s care could never become so distressed in their soul as to need restoration, but it does happen.  In Psalm 42:11 David cries out, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God”.

Cast down is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself.  A “cast” sheep is a very pathetic sight.  Lying on its back, its feet in the air, struggling to stand up without success.  If the owner does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die.  In the Christian life there is an exciting and comforting parallel here.  Many people have the idea that when a child of God falls, when he is frustrated and helpless in a spiritual dilemma, God becomes disgusted, fed up and even furious with him.  This simply is not so.  In examining our Lord Jesus Christ we see Him again and again as the Good Shepherd picking up “cast” sheep.  The tenderness, the love, the patience that He used to restore Peter’s soul after the terrible tragedy of his temptation and denial is a classic picture of Christ coming to restore one of His own.Christians, like sheep, can become cast down when we think “we have it made”, and walk away from the sheep fold.  Sometimes it is because of self-indulgence and moving away from the pasture where the Good Shepherd is protecting us.  Sometimes it is because, like sheep, we simply have too much wool.  Wool in Scripture depicts the old self-life in the Christian.  It is the outward expression of an inner attitude, the assertion of my own desire and hopes and aspirations.  Sometimes it is the clinging on of accumulation of things, of possessions, of worldly ideas that begin to weigh us down, drag us down, and hold us down.

Remember, it is the Good Shepherd that comes and finds us and restores us.  But he also gives us this command:  “Brethren, If a person be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.  Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”

Sheep are notorious creatures of habit.  If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes, pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites. King David wrote this Psalm because he knew through firsthand experience, that if the flock was to flourish and the owner’s reputation was to be held in high esteem, the sheep had to be kept on the move.  They must be shifted from pasture to pasture periodically.  A pattern of grazing is worked out carefully in advance so that the sheep do not feed over the same ground too long or too frequently.

“All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).  We prefer to follow our own desires and turn to our own ways.  And this we do deliberately, repeatedly even to our own hurt.  We insist we know what is best for us even though the disastrous results may be self-evident.  Just as sheep will blindly and habitually follow one another along the same little trails, so we humans cling to the same habits that we have seen ruin other lives.  “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).  The point is that many of us do not want to be led in the paths of righteousness, we actually prefer to turn to our own way even though it may take us straight into trouble.
Jesus said: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  This is the pivot point on which a Christian either “goes on” with God or at which point he “goes back” from following on.

New attitudes have to be acquired to be led “in the path of righteousness”.  Instead of loving myself most I am willing to love Christ best and others more than myself.  Instead of insisting on my rights, I am willing to forego them in favor of others.  Instead of finding fault with life and always asking “Why?”, I am wiling to accept every circumstance of life in an attitude of gratitude.