Saturday, May 3, 2014

Easter 3

The Lord is a protecting Shepherd.
3 May 2014
Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church
Easter 3

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).

Everyone goes through valleys, or low points, in life. We may face sorrow, heartache, doubt, or other kinds of adversity. But Christians need not be afraid.

The King James Version of Psalm 23:4 says, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” No matter what happens, we don't have to be afraid. The constant presence of our Shepherd provides the assurance we need to always feel safe.

The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5). If you walk obediently before Him, He will bring good out of the hardships you endure.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."(Romans 8:28).

Fear...what is it? False evidence appearing real. We've all had to deal with fears. Real or imagined. Although we walk through the valley we can take courage. For Courage is fear that has said its prayers!

The life we live is like going through a dark valley. We can’t see what lies ahead. Because we cannot see what is in store for us, we are afraid. We are afraid to go on by ourselves. But we are not by ourselves. Someone is by our side. He is there to guide us through the dark valley of life

That someone is your Good Shepherd, your Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus says of himself, "I am the good shepherd." [John 10:14] Jesus is your Shepherd. And you are his sheep. You are members of his fold.

Sheep are vary helpless animals. They need a shepherd to guide and protect them. We are helpless by ourselves. We don’t always know which way to go. We don’t always know which is the safest way. We need a shepherd to guide and protect us.

It takes a special kind of person to be a shepherd. A shepherd has to love his work. Above all, a shepherd has to love his sheep. He has to love his sheep enough to want to be with them all the time. Sheep need constant watching. A shepherd has to love his sheep enough to be willing to lay down his own life for the sheep. They are easy prey for wild animals. They need a shepherd to protect them. Always follow Jesus your Good Shepherd.

I. He Offers Us His Presence In The Valley

We all must go through valleys. How do we describe them?  They can be dreadful. They may be deep. They can be departing. They are decaying and they are deceiving.

A. Valleys Are Dreadful - David reminds us. "Even though"...This reveals David’s dreading it. There will be difficult days. There will be trying times. There will be decisions that will be difficult. But you are not helpless. Your Good Shepherd will walk with you. Through every circumstance.

B. Valleys Are Deep - even though... "I Walk" reveals valleys are deep and might take take time to endure. It will take time.  Yet Jesus, will sustain you throughout your journey. "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)

C. Valleys Are Departing - You walk "Through" the valley. Which means every valley has an exit.  "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5  Hold on!  JOY comes in the morning. The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

D. Valleys Are Decaying - "Valleys" are formed by erosion.  God begins to break us  down in valleys only to built us back up! "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.…   James 1:3

E. Valleys Are Deceiving - "Shadows" cannot harm you. They can only scare you. When you were little, that monster in the corner disappeared the second you parents turned on the night light.  When difficult  and challenging times come your way trust Christ. Remember His promises. Rely upon Him. He will comfort and sustain you.

II. He Offers Us His Protection In The Valley

A.  By Being Our Deliverer.  God is with you in the valley. He'll never give up on you. He proved all this in sending us His Son. Jesus was sent into our world to live the perfect life. Jesus came into this world to be your substitute. Jesus came into this world to bear your sin. To die your death. To rise again. To give you His new life.

B.  By Being Our Defender.  His rod and staff comfort you. His Rod - Used to beat off the enemy that attacks. His Staff - Used to draw us back in when we stray. That's why you should come to the Lord's Supper - often! There, you receive the gifts you need the most. Forgiveness. Strength of faith. Peace with God. The promise of everlasting life.

Remember the things that were taught you. Cling to that which is good.  Your Good Shepherd goes with you. He leads. You follow. In every circumstance. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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