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One Word Makes All the Difference

March 28, 2018·Tim Clark

“The Lord is my Shepherd…” Maybe you’re familiar with these famous words found in Psalm 23. Maybe it’s because you’ve been reading the Bible for years—you might have even memorized the short chapter at some point in your life; or, maybe, you’re one who is not so familiar with Scripture, but, like many others, you’ve heard the text read at a funeral. The reason Psalm 23 is part of so many memorial services is that it’s a comforting thought: Whether we’re living peacefully beside still waters or we’re walking through the darkest valley surrounded by our enemies, God is in control. This week, as we encountered this familiar passage in our Pause Bible Reading Plan, I had a thought about a word the Psalm seems to be missing. Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not suggesting we can add anything to Scripture, as the Bible is very clear about not doing that (see Revelation 22:19). But so often in our culture, when people read King David’s God-inspired poetic masterpiece, they miss the most important thing about it. The word that seems to be missing is “IF.” All the amazing promises found in this chapter are for us, but they come with a condition. The Lord has to be my Shepherd. Jesus, the Great Shepherd, won’t force us to follow Him, but He invites us to surrender to His Lordship. If Jesus isn’t Lord—if He’s not in charge—the results of our life path are in our own hands. That might sound good for a while, to be “in charge” of our own lives, but even the most talented, the wisest, or the most powerful person will come to an end of the road or an end of a rope, where there is nothing they can do about their situation. And, at the very end, death comes to us all. But, IF the Lord is our Shepherd—IF we have surrendered our lives to Jesus—we can walk in a Psalm 23 reality in our life, and we can claim these promises even in the face of difficulty or death! If the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. If the Lord is my Shepherd, He will lead me to green pastures and quiet waters that refresh my soul. If the Lord is my Shepherd, He will guide me along the right paths. If the Lord is my Shepherd, I don’t have to fear evil or an enemy, because He will comfort me, be with me and provide for me, even when I walk through the darkest places. If the Lord is my Shepherd, my life will overflow with His goodness, His love, and His anointing. If the Lord is my Shepherd, I will dwell in His house and in His presence, forever! Let me encourage you to examine your life and determine where God needs to be given control, so this Psalm can be true about you. And, let me also encourage you to invite someone to Easter services this Sunday (8:30, 10, or 11:30am) so they may have the opportunity to surrender to The Shepherd and make the promises of this Psalm true about their life too. Grace, Pastor Tim
The Church on the Way