Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
February 25, 2004
Ps 23:1  (KJV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Good Shepherd who shares His life with us.

INTRODUCTION: Tonight we begin the discipline of Lent. We begin a forty-day pilgrimage as we walk with the Savior observing His Passion, suffering and death. During our Wednesday evening services we will focus on one of the most dearly loved Psalms in the entire book of Psalms, Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm.

David will demonstrate for us the secret of a happy life. More then money, riches, honor or fame the secret is found in a magnificent spiritual relationship centered in Jesus Christ. David points to us the Good Shepherd who shares His life with us.  We focus this evening on verse 1: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want”

1. A Good Possession - The Lord is my Shepherd. David speaks of the great care that God takes for believers. He is their shepherd, and they may call Him so. There was a time was when David was himself a shepherd; he was taken from following the ewes great with young.

“He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.” (NAS Ps. 78:70-71), David knew by experience the cares and tender affections of a good shepherd towards his flock. David remembered what needs sheep had of a shepherd, and what a kindness it was to them to have a true shepherd that was skilful and faithful; he even once ventured his life to rescue a lamb.

By these words David illustrates God's care of his people; and to this our Savior refers to Himself when He says, “I am the shepherd of the sheep; the good shepherd,” (John. 10:11). He is the shepherd of Israel, and of the whole church in general: “Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock; Thou who art enthroned {above} the cherubim, shine forth!” (NAS Psalm 80:1), He is the shepherd of every particular believer; even the meanest is not below His awareness, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry {them} in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing {ewes.}” (NAS Isaiah. 40:11).

We are sheep who have gone astray. Lost in the rebellion of sin we have become wayward sheep. Isaiah the prophet explains in

Isaiah 53:6 “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

As the Good Shepherd Jesus rescues the sheep. He takes them into His fold, and then takes care of them, protects them, and provides for them, with more care and devotion than any shepherd can. He makes it his business to keep the flock.  Thus we pray: “into Thy hands I commend myself {placing} my body and soul and all things {into Your care...}”                                

Transition: If God is as a shepherd to us, we must be His sheep, inoffensive, meek, and quiet, silent before the sharers, yes, and before the butcher too, useful and compassionate; we must know the shepherd's voice, and follow him.

2.         A Good Provision -    “I shall not want” David speaks of the great confidence which believers have in the Good Shepherd: "If the Lord is my shepherd, my feeder, I must conclude I shall not want any thing that is really necessary and good for me."

Sheep can not do one thing to provide for themselves. They need a shepherd who will provide for them. Of themselves they can do nothing. They are lost, confused and would soon be destroyed without Him. Thus the Good Shepherd will provide for all that we need to support our body and life; both physical but especially spiritual necessities.

When the Christian considers that God is his shepherd, he can boldly say, “I shall not want!” We need not fear. We don’t have to worry about starving; God upon finding us supplies all our needs. We have Him as our feeder. More is implied than is expressed in this little phrase. Not only can David say: “I shall not want”, but also, "I shall be supplied with whatever I need. If I have not everything I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me currently or I shall have it in due time."

David, a king of his own right acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd-King. Jesus, who suffered and died on Calvary’s cross has become our good shepherd. We walk with Him as we observe His Passion. We need not worry about being in want. To the contrary, we will enjoy goodness and mercy each and every day of our lives. As we begin the discipline of Lent walk with the Good Shepherd -He guides and directs your path.

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