Faithlife Sermons

3. The Lord Is My Shepherd

Singing the Sacred  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A series within the Core52 Spiritual Growth Campaign.



Welcome to part three of our sermon series, Singing the Sacred. This series is a part of a large spiritual growth campaign called, Core 52. We are focusing in on 52 core verses that tie the Bible together and point us to Jesus. Today, we are going to be talking about core verse #11. If you would like a Core52 book or maybe want to get plugged into a group. Contact me and I will provide you with the resources you need.
Have you ever heard the phrase: Define the relationship? It’s used typically when a guy likes a girl or girl likes a guy, and they date or hang out together. This could go on for a while…days, weeks, or months. However, at some point someone needs to define the relationship…in other words what are we doing? Are we friends, are we a couple? What should our Facebook status be? In a Relationship?
When I was in college I had a hard time defining the relationship. There was this girl that I knew, and we had a lot in common, so we would go on walks and talk politics, sports. Everyone thought that we were like a couple, she probably thought that we were a couple…I just liked having someone to talk politics and sports with! What I failed to do was: Define the relationship! There was this other girl, who offered to do my laundry—and I let her. Again, I just thought that it was someone being nice, evidently, I was wrong! What I failed to do was: Define the relationship. I had this one girl who offered to buy me a car….kidding! Why do I bring all of this up?
Not only is it important to define our relationships with people, but it also important to define our relationship with God.


In the church, we talk a lot about having a relationship with God. Have you heard that phrase? But what does that mean? Some people may think that it means that they believe in God, you know, The Big Man Upstairs. Some people may think that they have a relationship with God because their Facebook description says that they like God. Maybe a relationship with God means that you are a good person, go to church and help your neighbors. Good things indeed. Maybe a relationship with God is a person who prays before their meals, goes to church, gives money, serves, and reads their Bible. This relationship with God thing can be a bit subjective and little ambiguous.
Ambiguity is never good when it comes to relationships, especially when we are talking about a relationship with God. Here are a few reasons why. A big one can simply be the fact that your a person who has never really done well with relationships. So why would you ever want to get involved in a relationship with God? Secondly, what type of relationship is a relationship with God? Friendship, boyfriend/girlfriend, parent/child? Boss/employee? Third, what is the goal of the relationship? Just to get to Heaven when you die and not go to hell? If I got into a relationship simply because of what I could get out of it…is that really a relationship? Wouldn’t I be like a gold differ? Is that what drives your relationship? Is it like a good luck charm to help you so bad things won’t happen? Is it a relationship to help guide you through life? These are some really difficult questions, and ones that really trip up a lot of people.
So, here’s the good news: We can define the relationship. We can figure out the purpose of the relationship. And most importantly, we can experience the amazing blessings of being in a relationship with God. To understand what I’m talking about we need to pay attention to King David, the man after God’s own heart, and the author of a good number of the Psalms…and a person who had a defined relationship with God.
What King David provides us in Psalm 23 is a clear picture of what a relationship with God looks like. I know that you will find it helpful.


If you have a Bible or device, please find Psalm 23. The book of Psalms is like a hymn book to the ancient Jewish people and to a certain extent, the early Christians as well. Much like our worship music has a wide variety of tunes, styles and genres, so too did the Psalms. There were praise psalms, thanksgiving psalms, lament psalms, messianic psalms, and wisdom psalms. Psalm 23 falls into the category of wisdom. Written by David, it provides the wisdom needed to define and understand what a relationship with God is all about. Let’s read through it.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk

through the darkest valley, a

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD


How does David define his relationship with God? It’s in the very first line: The Lord is my shepherd. David understood what being a shepherd was all about…he was one. In fact, of the pivotal Jewish leaders to this point all of them were shepherds; Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, and now David. God knew that shepherds had the right skill set for leading people.
For you and me, describing God as a shepherd might be a bit demeaning…. don’t take that personal if you are here and you are a professional shepherd. But we don’t typically hold shepherds in high regard, and you are not alone. Even the Jewish folks didn’t always hold shepherds as a profession of high esteem. But David doesn’t want us to look at a shepherd from the perspective of people. He wants us to look at the shepherd from the perspective of the sheep. That’s right. David wants us to define our relationship with God from the perspective of a sheep. Yes, that’s right—you are sheep. The entire Bible describes people as sheep; whether it was Israel or Christians, we are described as sheep. Now, the reality is that sheep are not very smart. They are known for getting lost, stuck or just plain trouble. In fact, if you have a few moments later today, search YouTube for videos of sheep with buckets stuck on their head.
Like sheep, we have moments where we get lost, get stuck in the fence, or get our heads stuck in a bucket. What David knows very well that people and sheep have one thing in common: they both needs shepherds.
Now, you may initially push back from that…however consider what a good shepherd can provide for sheep. Look back at Psalm 23.
Shepherds want what is best for the sheep. The shepherd is going to move to the perfect areas so they can eat and drink. The shepherd wants his sheep to thrive.
Shepherds want to keep their sheep safe. They will lead them on the right paths, will direct them with their staffs…which does mean that the shepherd sometimes needs to poke, nudge or give a swat on the backside of a sheep to get them pointed in the right direction. A shepherd who disciplines is a good shepherd.
Shepherds will guide their sheep through dangerous and difficult times. Whether it’s a predator, storm or just a difficult season, the shepherd is their to protect and lead the sheep through the valley of the shadow of death.
If I’m honest, I need a shepherd like that in my life. We all are clamoring for shepherds like this in our lives, who wouldn’t? For many of us, it is a parent as some point, or mentor. If you been fortunate to have a shepherd like that in your life, you know what I’m talking about. God created us to help shepherd other people. Mentoring and discipling is crucial in living a good life. However, mentors can’t always be there for you and sometimes they let you down. What makes God the perfect shepherd is that he is the creator of the universe, and he still cares about you…his sheep…that is, if you want him to be your shepherd.
God knew this could be a hard step to take, that is why he sent Jesus into the world. God becomes very real and personal when he puts on skin. As Jesus begins his ministry, he takes up this idea of defining a relationship with God as a shepherd. He gives a couple of really interesting benefits of defining your relationship with God as your shepherd. Listen to his words in John 10:2-5.

2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

1. When Jesus is Your Shepherd, You Can Follow A Voice You Trust

There are more voices speaking into our lives then any other time in the history of the world. Because of the internet and social media we are daily inundated with messages…some true, a lot not true or at least helpful. Do this. Do that. Vote for them. Don’t vote for them. Buy this. Buy that. Date him. Hook up with her.
When you define your relationship with God through Jesus, what you are committing to is not only hearing the voice of your shepherd, but also understanding that the shepherd knows you by name and knows exactly what is best for your life.
What many of us may not realize is that this is entirely true in the culture of shepherding. In Jesus’ day to today, shepherds know their sheep and sheep know the voice of their shepherd. I’ve heard stories about how shepherds will mix their flocks at nigh to protection, and then the next morning simply separate their flocks by calling out to their sheep. Amazing! This is what Jesus offers us, but we have to be willing to define the relationship: The Lord is my shepherd. Here’s a second benefit of defining your relationship with God. Look at John 10:11-12

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.

2. When Jesus Is Your Shepherd, You Have Someone Who Was Willing to Lay Down Their Life For You.

Jesus gives maybe the most powerful benefit of making him our shepherd. He says he’s the good shepherd…and we know that it’s not just words or talking big, we know that he is good because he laid down his life for his sheep.
The more I study the Bible, and think about the cross, it stands for so many things. For example, most of us think about love when we remember the cross of Jesus, a close second would be forgiveness, or maybe grace and mercy. However, in John 10:11 Jesus is essentially saying that the cross is validation as to why he should be the good shepherd of your life. In a world full of shepherds calling out to you to follow them, how many of those shepherds are willing to lay down their lives for you? None. Most of them just want your money, vote or approval. Jesus wants to give you life. You can have life today, if you are willing to define the relationship: the Lord is my shepherd.
How would you define your relationship with God? Is the Lord your shepherd?


Are you ready to define your relationship with God? Or maybe you are recognizing that it’s maybe time to renew your relationship with God? Here are a couple of next steps you can take.
Jesus Gave Us Baptism to Provide a Way to Define Our Relationship with Him.
In a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, pardon me…I haven’t done this for a while, but you let people on social media that you are in a relationship. Then if things work out, you enter into an engagement, and you get a ring, and post it on social media. You are declaring to everyone that you have defined the relationship. Then you get married, exchanging vows and rings, then singing a marriage license…and again declaring to witnesses that you are husband and wife, you are defining the relationship. Baptism, was Jesus’ idea. He said that it was our way of defining our relationship with the good shepherd. As you are lowered under the water, you are making a commitment, you are showing that your all in. As you break through the water, you start a brand new journey in a defined relationship with Jesus. If you have never defined your relationship with Jesus in that way, I would encourage you to consider taking that step.
2. Jesus Gave Us Communion to Helps Us Redefine Our Relationship With Him.
Every week during our worship service we share in Communion or the Lord’s Supper, where we take the bread and juice representing the broken body and shed blood of Jesus from the cross. We need this because like any flock of sheep, we can wander off, or be unruly or obstinate. Sheep have a tendency to be baaad. Sorry, it was an irresistible dad joke. Wandering off will happen, but Jesus provides us this way to renew our relationship with him. So if you need to redefine or renew your relationship with Jesus, and put him as the Good Shepherd over your life…in just a few minutes we are going to be doing that as a church family.
As we wrap up, let me give you a picture of what this can look like in our lives, if we define our relationship with Jesus by saying: The Lord is my Shepherd.


Let me give you a picture of what can happen in all of our lives when we define our relationship with God: The Lord is our Shepherd.
This a short video of a shepherd calling his sheep. The issue is that there is a huge wall of fog and the shepherd and the sheep can’t see each other. Watch what happens.
VIDEO: Shepherd Calling His Sheep
A lot of people, maybe even you feel like your life is in a fog. But when define your relationship with God, you have a voice to lead you out. This is what some of you need. It’s also what your neighbors need. It’s what our community needs. A way out of the fog. So answer this question:
How would you define your relationship with God? Is the Lord your shepherd?
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