Friday, September 04, 2009

Sermon - "The Good Shepherd", by Pastor Ruth L. Foss, Suncook United Methodist Church, August 30, 2009

Psalm 23

“The Good Shepherd”

The Lord be with you,
And also with you,
Let us pray:
Almighty, Loving God, you who love your children and give them rest. We pray for you to be with us, guide us into that glen by the still waters so that we may sit at your feet and hear what you have to tell us this day. Holy Spirit of discernment, we pray that you would be with us as we listen to the Shepherds voice, speaking to us and giving us peace. Speak Lord; your flock is listening…

Good morning…I have been thinking a lot this week about the sermon Huntley gave last week about rest. I don’t know about you but I have been trying to take those rest times that he talked about this week. I have even come up with a slogan about his sermon…”rest…it’s not just for the lazy anymore.” I agree with him that this is something that we all need something that helps us to be all we can be for God. But sometimes it is just so hard to do this.

I have also been thinking about Psalm 23…I have read it over and over. What does this Psalm mean for you and me? Is it really a Psalm for the living…for our everyday life? This Psalm tells us to trust in the ultimate Provider…but…that is so against what society tells us. Society tells us that we can’t rely on anyone but ourselves, we need to be self made, never admit you need help and if you do need help you are weak and inferior. Well…we know that God’s word is eternal and that it is instructions for us as we live our live…so I decided to research this Psalm. I wanted to be able to apply this Psalm in my life. What I found was so wonderful that I wanted to share it with you this morning (I pray that it will help you too so that you can know the wonderment and joy of sitting beside still water).

Now some of this you may have heard before. There was an e-mail that was going around at one time that broke down this Psalm.

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (This is the Holy Spirit’s guidance) What we see here is David using the word “my” instead of “our”…David (as well as we today) was claiming the Shepherd as his own. He had a personal relationship with the Shepherd. We too can have that same personal relationship with the Good Shepherd because of the work that was completed at Calvary’s cross. You see…being a Christian is not so much a religion but it has to do with the relationship we have with God. It’s a relational thing.

“I shall not want” (This is talking about an abundant supply) this doesn’t mean that we will never want” for anything…but there is a difference between want and need. WE are provided everything we need and sometimes our wants. The problem is that we think our wants are our needs. Society tells us we need this or that, we need that sports car, we need that big house, we need that job making $100,000/year. But what our true needs? What this verse means is that the Shepherd’s sheep never lack anything that He feels is good for them. And we all know how abundantly the Shepherd provides. You see…God is what we need (“My grace is sufficient for thee”). Our Shepherd is by our side when we are in the green valley as well as when we are in the dark shadows. If we have Jesus in our lives we lack nothing because He is always with us not matter where we are, helping us along.

“He maketh me lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside still waters” (this is true rest and peace). The Lord often removes the obstacles in our lives so that we may have rest…so that we can “recharge” in order to continue with what we are called to do (remember last week when we talked about what happens when you do nothing but work and take no rest?) These “green pastures and still waters” are things that only the Shepherd can give the sheep. It can’t be bought, borrowed or even stolen. It is something that is freely given by the shepherd, we have that peace knowing he is there watching over us as we rest making sure we are safe. Wanting affects our vision. Sometimes when we come to that green pasture we think to ourselves “the pasture should be greener, the cup should be fuller, the oil a better brand, and so on. Our wants can become selfish needs that refuse to be satisfied.

“He restoreth my soul” (well…we are refreshed and revived; we are given peace and clarity…Amen?). It is not necessarily our physical self that is restored but it is our “spiritual” self that is restored.

Now let’s stop here for a moment. This psalm begins with rest. We need to rest, to sit at the feet of Jesus, take time to focus on our “First Love” and be restored; our spirits filled, and out of this restoration comes activity. We as Christians sometimes focus more on the activity than the restoration, but at what cost? We become “burned out”, our passion for what we are called to do waivers, and we are so busy with ministry that we become too tired to do the ministry we are called to do. And only at his point we rest, we have no choice…what blessings we miss because we are too busy to receive them. We miss out on the relationship that sustains us as we do the work and only have that closeness after we are too tired to go on. Christianity is primarily a relationship not a religion. Look at Mary and Martha…Martha missed out on an opportunity to sit at the feet of the Teacher because she was too busy running around doing everything…what a blessing she missed.

“He Leadeth in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (the God shepherd will lead us on the right path for His glory sake. We must be guided by the Good Shepherd if we are to walk on a righteous path…

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”(This is talking about His deliverance, His being with us in those desert times, In that we can take comfort.) We will walk “through” the valley…not stay there but walk through those trials and tribulations with the help of the Shepherd. We can feel His love, power and authority in the midst of this valley.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (This is telling us that we will have victory over our enemies, we will have victory over our situation, and we will have victory in His name! Amen!) We will still have our problems, the blessing is that we know that the Good Shepherd is in it for the long haul; even if we can’t feel Him there in the midst of the problem he will “never leave us or forsake us.” Now is that a blessing or what?

“Surely” (Now that’s a promise we can depend on!)

“goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:” (We can all use that in our lives) We will have God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, holiness, power, strength, favor, peace… (the list goes on) all the days of our lives.
“and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”(Amen! ...) This is confirmation that we…you and I…have an eternal home with God in heaven!

Church…we are on a pilgrimage with God. We have the Good Shepherd to guide us along the way. We need to rest by that still water. Life can bring us to muddy water…we work so hard that we lose focus on our divine call. When we rest in the arms of God…beside those still waters…the water becomes clear. We need to spend time in that nourishing presence of God. We need constant restoration so that we can help others be restored. We need to keep the “waters of life “clear so that we can reach out to those who live in the muddiness of society.

Close your eyes (No really…close your eyes)…breath in the goodness of the Shepherd…feel the calm, still waters…”He restoreth our souls and gives us strength for the day”…breath of God…restore us we pray!


John 10:11-15
Psalm 23
and sermon, “The Good Shepherd”
by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
August 30, 2009
Psalm 23 (King James Version)
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
 6 Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Mark 4:35-40
Exodus 20:8-11
Psalm 23
Psalm 127:2
Message: Rev. Huntley Halvorson,
"Keeping the Sabbath"
including reference to
Wayne Muller’s book,
“Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest”
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
August 23, 2009

All of my poems and photographs are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss ( for usage. See all 40,130+ of my poems at Poetry Where You Live.

No comments: