On Sabbath we wrapped up the Rest for the Stressed sermon series based on the 23rd Psalm. Has it made a difference in your life? Have you rested in Christ, your Shepherd? Or did you merely accumulate more mental truth?
Rewind to Psalm 23 and read all six verses. The opening declaration, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack any good thing,” and the closing declaration, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” are both anchored in the reality of the eternal vigilance, provision, and presence of the Good Shepherd. Because of Jesus there is meaning in the madness of our lives.
The Psalm doesn’t sugar coat the difficulties and dangers of life. But through it all (the full cycle of life), Yahweh—the One who is always present—is with us. Why? To bring us safely home. There is rest for the stressed in knowing the purpose of the journey is to enjoy the goodness and mercy of the Shepherd forever.
The goodness and mercy of God follow me “surely.” It is translated “Certainly, completely, and only.” Let this change your life! There is rest for the stressed when you know that God’s goodness and mercy towards you is a non-negotiable fact.
What about sin? How can we be so sure of God’s goodness and mercy when we blow it so badly? Rewind to 2 Samuel 11:1-12:23. Can you list all the sins David was guilty of in his epic fail with Bathsheba? How, then, could David say in later years that “only” God’s goodness and mercy followed him? Because God’s goodness and mercy is for the guilty and shameful! (See Luke 5:31-32.)
David repented and found God’s goodness and mercy right at his heels. They “followed” him. “Followed” here in Hebrew means “to pursue,” or “chase.” We’re in a high-speed chase with God’s favor and our legs are too short to outrun God! There’s rest for the stressed when you allow God’s goodness and mercy to catch you!
For too many Adventists the goodness and mercy of God is somehow eclipsed by the judgment and wrath of God. Instead of fearing no evil, they fear everything, including the Shepherd Himself whose presence is supposed to give them rest. Catch this please: When the Lord is your shepherd you need not fear anything—including the judgment. Rewind to 1 John 4:16-18.
Look again at where your Shepherd is in the first few scenes of the Psalm. Where is He and where are you in verses 1-3? Before you. Where is He and where are you in verses 4-5? Beside you. Where does He seem to be in verse 6? Behind you. In every scene of your life, every day of your life, God is before you, beside you, and behind you. You can’t lose! Stop running and let God bring you home!
And note that this is a personal testimony. “Shall follow me all the days of my life. There is rest for the stressed when you know the goodness and mercy of God for yourself. You have to know for yourself that He’s your good shepherd and is with you all the days of your life. Not just the sunny days, or the easy days, or the good days, but in the cloudy days, the hard days, the bad, depressing days. When you come to trust Him as your Shepherd ALL the days of your life—on the worst days of your life as well as on the best days of your life—THEN you will be home at last.
And remember, heaven begins now. It’s more than streets of gold and gates of pearl. Heaven is more a Person. It’s being forever in the presence of God. “Home” is the relationship we share. See Hebrews 3:6-7 and John 14:23. The “drop-the-mic” moment of the 23rd Psalms comes at the end when we realize that because the Lord is our Shepherd, we’ve been home all along! Heaven begins now because the presence and care of almighty God is with me now! But there is rest for the stressed only when the Lord is our Shepherd. Is He? Your destiny is described in Rev. 7:14-17.
Go with God and live in the confidence that “certainly, completely, and only” will goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.” Amen. –Pastor Randy