Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sermon Notes

Psalm 23:4
Follow Me: The Lord is my Shepherd
October 16, 2016

“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, they comfort me.”

We have found comfort at every moment of our journey through this great Psalm with David. As we continue, remember that it was our Shepherd who inspired the shepherd/king to pen these verses. Jesus knew where David was and what He needed in every circumstance, Jesus knows you and me just as well. Hallelujah! What a Savior. Someone once wrote a different version of Psalm 23 that I want to share with you right now. As I read this, ask yourself which one is a better representation of you. A Stubborn Calf’s Psalm 23. Now, let’s read the real thing together. READ TEXT I don’t know about you but I want the real one to be the right one for me. Ray Charles—You got the right one baby!

  1. Part one. v. 4a
    1. David transitions from talking about the Shepherd to talking with the Shepherd (Wiersbe). Oh what a difference it makes when we go from talking about Jesus to talking to Him. It’s true on a horizontal level and it’s an even greater reality on the vertical level. We always accomplish more when we talk to someone rather than talking about them.
    2. Even though. The first two words of verse 4 are so powerful. They are words of perspective. David gives us a glimpse of his heart and mind in these two word. EVEN THOUGH! No matter where he might be physically. No matter what that moment in time might feel like...he knows the Lord is his Shepherd. If you will allow the Lord Jesus to get you to the point in your life where this is your perspective, your life and the world around you will never be the same. “Even though they slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
    3. I walk. “To walk indicates the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its end, resolves to follow the path, feels quite safe, and is therefore perfectly calm and composed. The dying saint is not in a flurry, he does not ran as though he were alarmed, nor stand still as though he would go no further, he is not confounded nor ashamed, and therefore keeps to his old pace” (Spurgeon). We don't walk in the valley of the shadow of death, Christians walk through it. "Death is not the house but the porch, not the goal but the passage to it. (Spurgeon) It's not the valley of death but the valley of the shadow of death. (Would you rather be hit by a train or the shadow of a train?) The shepherd that leads you through life will be with you in death. Choosing your shepherd couldn't be more critical. Think it through. You can't follow the devil and the world, as your shepherd, all your life and expect Jesus to shepherd you through death. Your life choice for a shepherd is an eternal one. The great news is that Jesus is ready, willing, and able to become your shepherd at a moments notice. He is "sittin on go" waiting for you to hand over all that remains. You might say, "All that remains?!" Yes whatever is left and for however long you have left, He will Shepherd you.
    4. I will fear no evil. The worst evils of life are those which do not exist except in our imagination. If we had no troubles but real troubles, we should not have a tenth part of our present sorrows. We feel a thousand deaths in fearing one, but the Psalmist was cured of the disease of fearing. “I will fear no evil,” (Spurgeon).
    5. We are comforted by who He is and that He is with us.

II.   Part two. v. 4b

     A.  We are comforted by what He has. Rod and staff offer protection and guidance. Can be used to    save from an enemy and can be used to rescue one from unseen trouble or danger. This also reminds us that He is in charge, He is in the lead, He is shepherding us not the other way around.
    B.   Sheep lack good vision and are easily frightened in new circumstances, especially where it’s  dark; and the presence of the shepherd calms them (Wiersbe). You and I have faced some pretty dark days in our lives. We have made it through them because our Shepherd never left us alone. We can face whatever dark days are ahead of us because He is just as faithful to us today as He has ever been. Even the dark days of death can be faced victoriously, without fear, because He is here.

There is no doubt that life is hard, and the sorrows we endure change us in ways we could never have imagined. But through it all our Great Shepherd, the King of kings and the Lord of lords walks with us. He guards our hearts and minds. He loves us. He protects us. He will lead us home.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

10-14-16 Weekly Update

Weekly Update

So often I will get asked by well meaning and sincere believers, “Why or How do you do what you do? I could never do what you do, and I don’t know how you keep doing what you do with all you have to go through.” They are asking how I keep doing ministry as a pastor. Some are asking why I keep doing ministry as a pastor. Shoot, sometimes I even ask myself the very same question. Ministry isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time it is challenging, difficult, frustrating, draining, and lonely. But I do have an answer to that question whatever form it might take. It is very simple and this past Sunday is that answer in visible form. God’s calling is clear and unmistakable. I wouldn’t for one minute be in ministry if it were not for God’s calling. Ministry, quite often, yields little visible proofs or fruit that anything worthwhile is being done. Most preacher/pastors go to bed each night wondering if they really accomplished anything of eternal value that day, and those same men wake up each morning wondering if anything truly significant will be accomplished that day. So often it is very easy to loose sight of the truth that surrender and obedience, daily, to King Jesus is the ultimate success for any Christ follower, including preacher/pastors. God is good and God is faithful. As a pastor I long for and rejoice in those moments when God allows you to SEE the fruit. As those cadets from the Tarheel Challenge Academy passed through the waters of our baptistery we all witnessed, we watched, we saw the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! What a Savior we have. Thank you Lord Jesus. God reminded me that faithfulness in the daily things of life produces eternal fruit in the Kingdom of God. They publically confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord as they were baptized in the death of Jesus and raised to walk in the newness of life. What glory we beheld! May our participation in their coming to Christ excite our hearts and be a motivation to reach out in the darkness with the light of Christ Jesus more and more. There are literally thousands around us, right here at home in Stanly County, who will die and go to Hell unless someone goes where they are and tells them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is “good news,” but only if they hear it in time.

We will be going out into our community tomorrow from 9-11 am hanging doorknockers and inviting people to come to our Fall Festival/Fish Fry on October 29. We are going to have a lot of great things going on, and we want to be intentional about sharing the gospel with those who come on our campus. Will you come help us invite people to come? Will you commit to be here on the 29th to minister the love of Jesus to those who come to take part in this annual event of our church? We need you! We want YOU!

I will let you know that we still have 6 tickets to the David Jeremiah event next Wednesday evening. Contact me ASAP if you would like to go with us. It’s going to be a great evening of worship through song and God’s Word. You can get more details in the bulletin.

There is still room for some of you to join me in a quick overnight trip to the mountains on October 20-21 to view God’s handiwork as the leaves change. We will probably also find an apple orchard somewhere and bring home some delicious fruit. The cost is one nights lodging and meals.

Let me leave you with these words from Psalm 92:1-4.
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

God bless you. Have a great weekend. I’ll see you for worship on Sunday.

Serving Him,

Pastor Mike