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.

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

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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”.

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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).