Summer in the Psalms
Living Fearless – how is that possible? We live in a world where people live with and in fear. It can cripple your life, steal your joy and squeeze the veritable life out of you.
What is Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Do you live in fear? Or are you fearless? The definition of “fearless?” You might have already guessed it – “lacking fear.”
If you struggle with fear and living fearless is an attractive concept to you – there is an antidote to fear – you can live fearless.
Psalm 23 (Amplified Bible)
The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.
He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.
Is the Lord your shepherd? David’s perspective of this description of God is especially important because of his background as a shepherd. Sheep are completely dependent on their shepherd for food, direction and protection. Sheep are helpless. A sheep without a shepherd?? – disaster waiting to happen. We humans without a shepherd – no exception. Jesus observation in Matthew 9:36 – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Many people think they can “shepherd” themselves or follow the Great Shepherd only when they feel like it. There’s only one problem with that – it doesn’t work.
When you follow Christ – who is God – you will have “everything you need.”
Fear of not having what you need to live? Fear of not knowing where to go? Fear of not being safe or protected? Make the Lord, truly, your Shepherd. Antidote #1! You will be well on your way toward understanding the ramifications of the first line of an incredible hymn – “Blessed Assurance” – “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.”
Do you fear not having what you need? Are you content? If not, maybe you’re not truly trusting in and/or following Christ. When we decide to be in charge, go where we want to go and/or do what we want to do, we find ourselves weak and whiney. When we don’t get what we want, we think God is cruel. We constantly want more… need more… gotta have more! Why is that? We’re not following the Lord, our shepherd. Very simply, God knows what we need, where we need to go and what we need to be protected from. And He comes through every time. But we must follow Him completely – not just on our own terms. Legacy Church’s Mission Statement? “To Develop Fully-Devoted Followers of Jesus Christ.” Why is that our Mission Statement? Because it works for every human being – bar none! He meets our needs – we are calm, we are content when we follow Him. We find out that He is indeed our “all in all.” “He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.
He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
What’s not to like about following Someone who does that? Believe today that He can provide for you – totally!
Are you afraid of death? Are you afraid for your life because of what’s going on in our world? “Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.”
If we are following Christ – we will follow Him directly into eternity. We need not fear. Jesus said it and it is so – He proved He had power over death. Let me illustrate.
Jesus’ good friend Lazarus had been sick – now he’s dead. Jesus hadn’t been there to heal him. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters were obviously grief-stricken. Let’s pick up the story.
John 11:17-26 - 17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles[d] down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[e] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
You need not fear death – why? You’re not really going to die! You’re just moving to a new place. Not only do we need not fear death if we follow Christ, we have His protection as we go anywhere! What’s the worst thing that could happen? We die?
Death is not the final chapter! Our life here on earth is just the introduction to eternity!
Psalm 118:5-9 - In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? 7 Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
A great perspective: “You may be able to have courage without Jesus- but it is ridiculous to be with Jesus and not have courage.” - Brady Boyd, Senior Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
Even if you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death – do not fear!
Are you afraid of your enemies and the enemy of your soul? “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.” In David’s time – a feast was a time of celebration. To anoint one’s head with fragrant oil was a custom of honoring the invited guests. While attending the feast, the host also offered supreme protection for their guests, afforded at any cost. We are invited to the Lord’s feast – He’s the host and He is the One who prepares a continual feast for you – your earthly enemies and even more importantly, the enemy of your soul can watch, but they cannot trouble you – for you are the Lord’s guest at His feast.
Do you fear that God will somehow abandon you – or “short-change” you? Do you fear that somehow, this plan of following the Great Shepherd while sounding wonderful, is just too “pie in the sky” or “too good to be true?”
“Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.”
Let’s focus on two words in this final verse: “surely” and “shall”!
Surely – “without doubt”
Shall – “will have, inevitable”
In order to live without fear – we must understand that God is a surety. Who He is, His very nature, the things he has promised, “surely” are true – and as followers of Christ – our life will happen just the way He says it will. And furthermore, we “shall” without a doubt, inevitably dwell forever with God in Heaven.
Make Psalm 23 a creed to follow – trust in God, follow the Great Shepherd.
A hymn by Charles Naylor that I grew up singing as a child, sums up this message in a most wonderful way.
1. I walk today in the Christian way,
Though dangers I may see;
I will not fear for the Lord is near,
And He will care for me.
No matter what happens, He will care for me,
He will care for me, He will care for me;
And His mighty hand will enable me to stand,
No matter what happens to me.
2. No test I face but sufficient grace
Is ready for my need;
When sorrows rise to obscure my skies,
He proves a friend indeed.
3. He will not fail in the strongest gale
That stormy winds can blow;
And in His grace is a hiding place
Unknown to any foe.
4. I trust in Him though disasters grim
Before me seem to be;
He calms my fears, and He dries my tears,
And faithful is to me.