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A Life Worth Living: Sermons on the 23rd Psalm

By Charles B. Bugg
Title: Living with Faith

Text: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalms 23:1)

Introduction: Dr. Charles Allen, beloved Methodist minister, tells the story of a friend who came to see him one day. His friend was nervous, tense, and he had literally worried himself sick. The man's physician had suggested that he see his minister. They talked for awhile, and then Allen took a pad of paper from his desk drawer.

"If you went to see a doctor, he would give you a prescription, and that's what I want to do," Allen said. "Take the prescription exactly as I write it. Five times a day for seven days I want you to read prayerfully and carefully the twenty-third psalm. When you awaken, before each meal and at bedtime, read the psalm." Charles Allen says that in a week his friend returned literally a different person.

The power of the Shepherd's psalm is a prescription for the problems and pressures of our day. One of the things that we certainly need if we are going to have a life worth living is a faith in something that is big enough for life. The psalmist begins where we always need to begin...with a God worth serving.

I. A great affirmation--"The Lord is my Shepherd." Every promise in the psalm hangs on the power of this promise. The psalmist says, I believe in God; I believe that God cares, and I believe that God cares about me." The Lord is my Shepherd.

Sheep are not intelligent animals. They are defenseless and dependent, and they live by faith in the Shepherd. David, who wrote or whose life inspired the psalm, is saying that in our anxious, nervous world we, too, live in dependence on our Shepherd.

Several years ago, my family and I were on vacation in Washington, D.C. Late one afternoon we decided to drive to Georgetown, a Washington suburb. I thought I knew the way. Well, I became completely lost. "Daddy, don't you think we should stop and ask somebody how to get there?" my children asked. "Listen, daddy knows the way. Trust me." An hour later, greatly humbled, I finally stopped and asked directions.

Pride sometimes keeps us from admitting our need for direction. David knew the pain of trying to chart his own course. The prophet Nathan confronted him with his sin, and in that moment of brokenness, the shepherd-king saw his need for divine direction.

Now, with a new sense of trust in God, David affirms, "The Lord is my Shepherd."

II. The great affirmation lends to a great assertion, "I shall not want." The psalmist is really saying, "Because God is my shepherd, I have everything I really need."

At the end of his Philippian letter, Paul wrote, "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." But the tragedy is that many of us live our lives at the corner of complaint and regret. "If only I had this...or if only this had not happened to me."

The promise of the Psalms 23 is that we will have everything we really need for a life worth living:

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