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2020-05-24 Psalm 23:6 THE SHEPHERD’S REWARD

The Good Shepherd --- Psalm 23  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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THE SHEPHERD’S REWARD (Psalm 23:6) May 24, 2020 Read Psalm 23:1-6 – TV has been replaying old sports games. So one night I was came across the 2009 NBA finals -- Lakers and Celtics. The game was in the 3rd quarter with the Lakers down by 13. I remembered being very concerned at that point 11 years ago. But not this night. I already knew it was going to end right! Knowing the ending, gives us staying power. We don’t even sweat the occasional setbacks. As Xns, if we’d remember our happy ending, we’d eliminate a lot of anxiety. We need to read life backwards – from the end. Col 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Keep looking up; keep looking ahead. David ends urging us to remember we have I. Help Immediately and II. Heaven Inevitably. I. Help Immediately Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” That covers a lot of ground – all the way from here to the end of this life – and no letup in between. The Shepherd leads from the front, but behind us, doggedly pursuing every step are goodness and mercy. What a pix! We’ve all seen movies of Victorian England – how the rich traveled in carriages with two footmen on the back. When the carriage stops, they get out, put the steps down and help everyone out. For us, those footmen are goodness and mercy. A. Goodness – Psa 31:19: “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.” Like Joseph stored up grain in Egypt, so our Shepherd has storehouses of goodness to pour out on those who love Him. Life changes when you really get this – God is good – always! Even when He judges evil, God is good. As His sheep we need never fear that. Rom 5:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God is pouring goodness into our lives – all the time! Psa 73:1: “Truly God is [only] good to Israel; to those who are pure in heart.” Yes, His goodness sometimes means discipline in our lives, testing, sacrifices for the benefit of others, and suffering for His name’s sake. But all of it – to the last ounce of pain – is an expression of His goodness. He wastes nothing. In good times and bad, God’s goodness is doggedly pursuing us. Recall Patton? At one point, Patton is cooling his heels in England as discipline for slapping a wounded soldier. He fears his career is over. But Genrl Bradley comes to say he may get a command leading troops in the 7 invasion of Europe. Patton is overjoyed. But Bradley tells him it’s not certain yet and Patton get agitated. Then Bradley tells him the final decision rests with Gen. Geo Marshall. When he hears that, Patton calms down: “He’s a good man. At least he’s a fair man. I’ll let it sit with him.” That’s how we must view the Shepherd. He is not an ogre just waiting for us to make a mistake. He is always and only good to those who love Him. We can let it sit with Him. B. Mercy – Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” We deserved judgment; instead the HS made us a new creation, cleansed us from sin and gave us a righteous standing with the Father than can never be taken away. It was all by mercy. But mercy didn’t stop there! Why? When sin stifles our joy as a believer, we need mercy. So, David, as a believer prayed, Psa 51:1-2: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin . . . 12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” God’s mercy was not just theory with David. He experienced it as he confessed his sin. And so can we. I Jn 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This maintains the joy of being in God’s family. We could never have God’s goodness without God’s mercy. Lam 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the LORD (Yahweh) never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23) they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” How great to start every day with a clean slate. We can – bc His mercies are new every morning. They are hard after us every day. Bc we need them every day. Goodness and mercy follow us. Follow is a strong verb = pursue. Pharaoh “pursued” Israel after they left Egypt (Exod 14:8-9). Same word. Full on chase. Goodness and mercy pursue us – all out. They are in hot pursuit of you this very morning. They have to be bc we so often are in hot pursuit of the wrong things. God may be trying to catch up. One pastor asked a man, “You’re always in a hurry. What are you running after?” The man replied, “I’m running after success.” The pastor replied, “Good answer if you assume that all the rewards are out in front of you. But what if the rewards are behind you trying to catch up.” It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves – when what we need is to slow down, take stock and wait for goodness and mercy. II. Heaven Inevitably 7 Here’s the climax of David’s journey: “and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Some think this expresses David’s desire to get to the safety of the temple. “House of the Lord” was a name for the temple, and “forever” is literally “length of days.” It would be like David’s words in Psa 27:4: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” But I think David’s after more than that here. He’s thinking of heaven and home. “Length of days” is a Heb idiom for forever, and every word in this phrase tells us something of heaven. A. Heaven’s Place – Heaven is a place – where you can dwell. It’s not a state of mind or some weird spiritual existence. It’s a place. John 14: 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” The language is unmistakably substantial. Rev 21:12-14: “It had a great, high wall, with 12 gates, and at the gates 12 angels, and on the gates the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel. . . . 14) and the wall of the city had 12 foundations, and on them were the twelves names of the 12 apostles of the lamb.” The “tree of life” is there (Rev 22:2), as real as Eden! The New Jerusalem (heaven) will come down to a new earth (Rev 21:2), so we will inhabit both. There will be nations and crops and life as we know it, only perfect. It’s a place – just more wonderful than any place we’ve ever seen. We used to sing, “Heaven is a wonderful place / Filled with glory and grace. / I’m going to see my Savior’s face. / Heaven is a wonderful place.” It’s real; it’s substantial; it’s wonderful; and it’s home. B. Heaven’s People “I will dwell in the house of the Lord.” “House” is sometimes translated “household” meaning the dwelling and all persons therein. David had friends and family in heaven. He was heartbroken when Absalom died – not knowing if he was a believer. Absalom tried to take the throne and showed no signs of repentance. But David had mourned other deaths expecting to see them again. He loved Jonathan like a brother and was distraught when he was killed. But Jonathan was clearly a believer. David looked forward to seeing him again. His 1st son by Bathsheba got sick. David fasted, prayed for the boy’s life. But when he died, David cleaned up, went to the temple to worship and came back to eat. The servants were amazed, but David said: II Sam 12: 22 “While the 7 child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David would see that boy again as part of heaven’s people. Heaven has people. Moses and Elijah came from heaven to join Jesus on the Mt of Transfiguration encouraging Him in His mission. Heaven will be great – to see all these heroes from the Bible. To see friends and family – those in Christ – who have gone on ahead. Perhaps some of you have lost children. My brother Jon had a son, Charlie, who drowned at age 2 in 1982. A genuine human tragedy. A few years later Jon and Anne had a baby girl, Lindsey – and then a baby boy, Pete. When Pete was 3 or 4 years old they went to the cemetery to visit Charlie’s gravesite as well as Anne’s father who was interned in a wall, an enclosure for urns. Later Pete explained, “We went to visit my brudder. My brudder’s in the ground. My grandpa’s in the wall.” It was a teaching moment – that while bodies are temporarily housed here, the real person has moved on to heaven. Charlie’s body was in the ground, his spirit was with the Lord. And one day soon, Jon and Anne will see him again. What reunions there will be. And new bodies one day! That’s why it’s so important to do all we can to ensure our loved ones know Jesus. C. Heaven’s Perfection – “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD.” Yahweh’s house – a place of perfection! Rev 21:3: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” Here is Eden restored. God in perfect union with His people. That’s what makes heaven, heaven. God is there. We’ll see Him face-to-face in the Person of Jesus, the Shepherd who laid down His life to make it all possible. Can you hardly wait for that? John couldn’t. I Jn 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Paul lived with that same glorious anticipation as David and John. Phil 1: 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Not to be in heaven – to be with Christ. That’s what makes heaven, heaven. Seeing Jesus. Heaven without Jesus would be like a wedding without a groom or a palace without a king. God’s presence is the essence and perfection of heaven. John 7 Milton said, “Thy presence makes our paradise, and where thou art is heaven.” Heaven is the physical extension of all God’s goodness. Samuel Rutherford wrote, “O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” He is heaven! But His presence leads to other perfections: Rev 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Heaven – is perfect! One young man told how as his grandmother was dying, his uncle came into the room and asked, “Do you want me to play “The Hallelujah Chorus” for you?” Her fav! She replied, “Oh no. It will sound so much more beautiful in just a minute.” Such faith. But such truth. She expected perfect – every task an honor, every color more vivid, every encounter -- loving, every day more blessed than the one before. (Ami, Joyce, Nathan) D. Heaven’s Permanence – In Daniel 7, God gives Daniel a bird’s eye view of human history – tracing world empires from Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Then he describes the kingdom of Jesus: 14) And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Babylon is gone just as God predicted; the Persians are gone, and the Greeks and the Romans – just as God predicted. Archaeologists found graffiti in Rome that reads, “Rome – your power will never end.” But it did. And no one has ruled the world since. Even the most powerful nations, including the US will one day be gone. But when heaven comes to earth and Jesus takes His throne – that will be permanent. Heaven is forever, Beloved. But here is the thing. It’s not automatic. Not everyone is in. Only those who have eternal life. The Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep, making forgiveness available. But we must come to Him. Jn 10:27-28: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Have you heard His voice? Jn 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” That is the one and only place you can find eternal life – with the Shepherd. Conc – Greek philosophy taught that history is an endless cycle where every so often the universe would wind down, burn up, be purified and start all over 7 again. They called the process – palengenesia = “again generated.” But Jesus gave the term a whole new meaning in Mt 19:28 when he told His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.” New world = palengenesia. This is radical. Jesus is saying, palingensia is not a process; it’s a person! and once done – it is permanent. All decrepitude, decay, disintegration, alienation and brokenness will be purged. All will be healed, never to be broken again. All might-have-beens will be. All injustices made right. Sin banished; Jesus ruling. It’s all true! Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” Is everything sad going to come untrue? Yes! By the power of Yahweh, the self-existent, all sufficient, eternal God who is our Shepherd. And it’s all true! Let’s pray. 7 Truth; Funeral; Believability; Eternity; Eternal perspective; Heaven; Hope; Special revelation; Credibility of the Bible; Credibility of Scripture; Credibility of the Word; Reliability of Scripture; Reliability of the Bible; Reliability of the Word; Afterlife; Reality; Ultimate reality; A friend, Clyde Cook, prez of Biola, died of heart attack. As people were leaving his funeral, suddenly, they heard Clyde’s voice, “Wait, wait, everyone please sit down. If you’re hearing this, I’m dead. But I’m also in heaven, and I want to tell you – IT’S ALL TRUE. I saw Abe this morning and he explained all this covenant business. Had lunch with Calvin and he explained God’s sovereignty and free will in ten minutes. And I saw Jesus, alive and in the body like I’ll soon have. And I want to tell you – it’s all true.” If Carol could talk to us today she’d tell us – It’s all true! [Used Carol Loftis Funeral 7/15/19] Conc Song: Goodness of God – has a part that goes goodness is running after, running after me. All the bad things come untrue – Lord toe the Rings Finally Home When engulfed by the terror of the tempestuous sea, Unknown waves before you roll; At the end of doubt and peril is eternity, Though fear and conflict seize your soul. But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand-And finding it God's! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home! When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night, O how lonely death can be; At the end of this long tunnel is a shining light, For death is swallowed up in victory! 7 But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand-And finding it God's! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home! 7
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