The following is the opening paragraph for the sermon I plan to give on Sunday, May 12 on John 10:22-30 using a bit of Psalm 23. If you want to hear the full sermon, stop by Living Word Lutheran Church on Sunday or check out our website later for the audio file. To God be the glory!
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. The first part of that sentence you recognize as the opening of the beloved Psalm 23. It headlines a beautiful Psalm of salvation; describing the peace we have because of God: Green pastures, still waters, restoration for the weary, security in darkness, evil forces irrelevant, sustenance, bounteous provision and a place prepared especially for you forever. This peace is something we have by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a peace secured by God’s love and faithfulness. This peace assures us of the forgiveness of sins and thus peace with God. And this is the Truth that we can cling to for it has been stamped and sealed with the blood of the Lamb. This beloved Psalm also details a future that can not be altered by those who would oppose God, not even you. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28) And therefore, through faith in Jesus, you WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. Do you hear his voice? Are you truly following?
The following is a work in progress as I talk about those that enter the sheepfold by anyway other than the Door (Jesus). This is “Psalm 23” as told by those who would deceive the sheep; stealing them away and thus leading them to be killed and destroyed.
A lord will be your shepherd
you shall not want because you will have lots of stuff.
He makes you lie down in luscious homes
with big fences so you will be at peace.
He will cause you to be happy.
He leads you in paths of success
for your name’s sake and for your heirs.
Even though you will walk among those who would oppose you,
you will fear no one,
for your many friends will give you meaning;
and thus you will live in comfort.
Your enemies will be defeated
for you will be among the privileged
and therefore your cup will overflow with fortune.
Surely success and money and fame
will follow you all the days of your life
and you will dwell in the biggest house in your neighborhood
(until you die).
Scary how true this is for many.
The Pastor -|—
This coming Sunday we have Psalm 23 and John 10:1-10 (“I am the door of the sheep“). Along with those texts we are singing, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us (among other hymns). The following is the Prayer of the Day that I wrote for worship. Use as you feel so inclined. Praise be to God.
Holy God, through Jesus Christ you lead us as our shepherd, much we need your tender care. Through your blessed Son, Jesus Christ, you have bought us and thus we are Yours as You guide us, feed us and anoint us. Oh God, through your grace we will dwell in your holy courts forever and thus we give You our worship. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
The Pastor -|—
The following are the closing two paragraphs from this Sunday’s sermon (March 26). For more, please keep an eye on the church’s website at: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com for the complete audio version of this message. May God be praised.
If your eyes are wide open; seeing Jesus, and acknowledging him as Lord, then these two verses are incredibly awesome to your hearing: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me.” And then, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. The darkest valley is not dark to Jesus and living among those who would want to destroy us is of no concern for Jesus, for he has our lives in his mighty hands.
And therefore, when your eyes are open; seeing the light of salvation that is in Jesus, you can confidently say, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Ponder that verse; for how can one not turn over everything they are to this Good Shepherd. Open your eyes and keep them open that you may full describe and proclaim the glory of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The world NEEDS your wide-open eyes. Amen.
The Pastor -|—
Oh Lord our God and Shepherd,
You feed us
and restore us
and guide us into all righteousness.
You give us hope in the midst of death
and lead us with Your mighty right hand.
You have chosen us
and have blessed us to overflowing.
You have given us a home through faith in Jesus Christ.
May we bless others with the blessings You have given us.
May we not hold back
as we joyfully bring glory to Your holy name
through our giving.
It’s in Jesus name that we pray,
The Pastor -|—
Walking in a dark room can be a dangerous undertaking, especially in my home; one filled with toys from a 2 year old and an 8 month old. I have learned the hard lesson to never take for granted safe passage through our dark living room. I either use my smart phone or activate the screen on my Fitbit to cast just enough light to guide my path.
[In case you’re wondering why I don’t turn a lamp on – my little girl’s room is right off the living room with only French doors and a curtain to keep the light out]
And to travel through this dark world without the light of God’s Word is also a dangerous undertaking; but for far worse reasons than simply stubbing your toe or stepping on a Lego. God’s Word lights the path of righteousness that we are to walk .
“You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake”
For when darkness descends upon us, Satan is going to be quick to be a false guide to lead you away, or worse yet ~ Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) It’s only the light of God’s Words that is going to reveal Satan’s evil schemes to deceive you (or devour you).
I can think of a few times in my life when darkness descended upon me but the Spirit led me to the light of God’s Word:
~ After our failed adoption I was lead to the Psalms (lament and praise)
~ After the Charleston shooting last week I was lead to 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
~ After a rough morning with my 2 year old I was lead to Matthew 4.
God’s Word was indeed a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God’s Word shined a light on the prowling lion waiting to devour me.
God’s Word shined a light to keep me on the right path when the path of bitterness seemed like a good way.
God’s Word shined a light on the righteousness won for me through Jesus.
God’s Word shined brightly in the darkness to cast away my fears.
So never think you know how to navigate dark times. Just because you may have been there before, never take for granted that you know the path. It’s in that complacency that you will step on the proverbial Lego and turn away. Activate the light of God’s Word in your life to avoid stepping on those Legos as you follow the path of righteousness no matter how scary the path may look; trusting God’s Word and not your fears.
Holy God, I am in awe that you would give us Your holy Word. May we use the light of Your Word to guide our way and trust the path that is revealed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
The Pastor -|—
Oh God, this world makes me weary and tired;
And when I feel like I am just scraping by I long for something to quench that which is lacking in me.
I long to be satisfied.
I long to be quenched.
I long for You.
But why only then? Why not when I feel full and satisfied and charged? Why not then, oh God, why not then? I loathe the fact that my sinful self leads me to complacency when I feel full.
But then there are times when I am lacking that,
I seek other waters
I seek other streams
I seek other wells
and they fail to do what they promise.
Oh how foolish I am.
But You, oh God, do not fail in what You promise. You are a faithful God. You are a faithful God to give to Your children as they need. When we are lacking, you provide.
May my heart pant for you as a deer pants for flowing streams.
May my heart thirst for You.
May my soul wait for You.
May I live for You.
Oh God, this world makes me weary and tired; through my faith in Jesus Christ, when shall I come and appear before You? When shall I lie down in those green pastures and walk beside those still waters? When shall my soul be restored? When shall my cup runth over and over and over and over…
When shall I dwell in Your house forever and ever.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for You.
sustain this holy longing in me for You;
sustain my thirst for You alone;
sustain my faith and trust in You. Amen.
[pant, pant, pant…]
The Pastor -|—