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By Pastor Jim Nichols
Sidney Seventh-Day Adventist Church 

Living in the Valley

 


Well, we made it through January. How are your new year’s resolutions coming along? Yea, I feel your pain. There’s just something about making changes in my lifestyle that seems like a lonely project. Is there any help out there? Why don’t we consider the radical idea of making a NEW new year’s resolution this February? I resolve to make Jesus my personal shepherd and want to experience all of the benefits he provides for my living in 2016. With Jesus as our personal shepherd, there is assurance, peace of mind and great confidence.

The 23rd Psalm is probably the best known of all of the Psalms, by both young and old alike. It has been called the pearl of the Psalms and the hymn of the martyrs. It’s so simple, only six verses, yet so divine. Psalm 23 is a personal testimony of David expressing the intimate bond between the master shepherd, Jesus, and his sheep. In fact, out of the 118 words in the Psalm, 27 of them are personal pronouns. Let’s listen…..

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou prepares a table be me in the presence of my enemies: Thou annoinest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The shepherd Jesus was many things to David, but one thing is clear, the Lord was his personal shepherd. And the shepherd takes care of his sheep.

Some have said that Psalms 23 is the Song of all songs! It’s a song of faith, assurance, contentment, peace, life, divine guidance, confidence and courage, companionship and comfort, provision and protection, favor and happiness and a personal blessing of hope and immortality. God provides for the sheep of his pasture, and all these benefits can be ours if we will simply make the Lord our personal Shepherd.

Some have also said that even the location of Psalm 23 is divinely inspired and have called it, “The Valley Psalm,” because it is located between two prophetic mountain peak experiences. Psalm 22 has been commonly called “The Psalm of the Cross because of the words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” These words make us think of Mount Calvary, where redemption’s price was paid with the anguishing experience of the cross of Christ. Yet on the other side of Psalm 23, we find Psalm 24, which has been named, “The Glory Psalm,” with its prophetic application being that of Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem City, the eternal home of the redeemed. I believe we are living in the valley between these two mountain peak experiences. I believe Psalm 23 can be our personal testimony of faith and experience as we live in this earthly valley with our Shepherd Jesus leading us on. He said, “He goes before them,” Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

So, how is your faith today? I believe that all the benefits and provisions of Psalm 23 stand on making one word of Verse 1 our personal testimony. I end with a story about a young boy named Jamie, who became very sick, and a minister came to visit him at his home. After talking to Jamie for a while, the minister challenged him and finally said, “Before I go away, I am going to give you a verse of scripture to think about. And when I come back I want you to tell me what the most important word is.” He then took Jamie’s little hand, and spelled out the first five words of Psalm 23:1 on each of Jamie’s fingers of his left hand; one word for each finger, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

After some time passed, the minister returned to Jamie’s house, where he met the mother, who was bravely bearing the sorrow of her lost son, for Jamie died before the minister’s return. She said, “Jamie has died and he is gone, but he told me to tell you that he died with his right hand holding the fourth finger on his left hand; “The Lord is my shepherd” I believe little Jamie found the heart of the gospel of Jesus, don’t you? Little Jamie made the Lord his personal shepherd, and so can we this February of 2016. A person can believe that Jesus is a good shepherd, and not enjoy the benefits of having him as their personal shepherd. Even the devil believes, but he does not say “The Lord is my shepherd.” If we resolve to make the Lord our personal shepherd today, we can say confidently, “I shall not want” for the rest of this year. Amen!

Pastor Jim Nichols

Sidney Seventh-Day Adventist Church

 

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