When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Beside the Still Waters."


The Lord is My Shepherd                  

Even in Our Stress
Psalm 23:2

The title of my message this morning is “The Lord is My Shepherd” and our scripture comes from Psalm 23:2. Last Sunday, we talked about The Lord is my shepherd and the satisfaction of rest: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Today, we're going to be looking at verse 2: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

In a moment we’ll read the entire psalm. We are dealing with the subject; “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

The sheep in the Middle East get up and begin to graze and browse about four in the morning. The shepherd begins to lead them out of the sheepfold; the dew is still on the grass. It's very quiet, and the sheep will graze, then about ten or eleven in the morning, the sun is hot; and if at all possible, the shepherd will find some shady place with green grass and allow the sheep to lie down for three or four hours and just chew the cud.

It's at that time when the sheep get quiet and begins to digest the grass. It’s also at that time that the sheep is growing the fastest; putting on fat, putting on the wool, maturing. Every shepherd knows how important it is for his sheep to have a quiet time, “He maketh me to lie down" (Psalm 23:2).

I hear so many folks talk about being all stressed out and nowhere to go. They're tense, running around, busy, so much in a hurry, and sometimes we think it's wrong for us to be quiet and still.

Let’s read Psalm 23: Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)
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.

Let’s pray: Father God Yehovah, thank You that Jesus is my good and faithful Shepherd. Thank You for the times that You bring me to a halt in the hustle and bustle of this life and cause me to take time to rest. May I listen to Your voice and respond to Your gracious leading and lie down in the green pastures into which You have led me, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

God wants His sheep to learn how to get quiet, and to lie down in the green pastures, and to drink from the still waters.

They say sheep will refuse to drink from rushing gurgling streams where they come up out of the mountainside and rush down through the ravine, but they will drink when the water gets in some quiet pool; So, "he leadeth me beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:2).

The qualities of the Holy Spirit are like the still waters by which the saints find quietness during losses, failures and simply life. The streams of grace that flow from the fountain of living waters always keep a person in complete calm. Those led by the Holy Spirit experience the comfort of the still waters. They continually walk in the paths of righteousness. Their ways of duty are truly pleasant, and their works are full of righteousness in peace.

Understanding that, you know the reason why we're stressed: because we're like sheep. Psalm 100:3 says, "We are... the sheep of his pasture." That's how God describes us: "we are... the sheep of his pasture." "Isn't that wonderful, I'm a sheep."

A sheep is not the smartest animal around. The Bible says, "There is none that understandeth... no, not one" (Romans 3:11-12). In the spiritual realm, we're like sheep.

Not only is a sheep dumb, a sheep is defenseless. Other animals can defend themselves fairly well. A horse can run. A mule can kick. A lion can bite. A tiger can claw. A bear can crush. A skunk—you know what he can do. A snake can strike. But, a sheep really doesn't have any weapons. He can't run. He has relatively weak muscles. He has poor eyesight. He doesn't have good hearing. A sheep is pretty defenseless.

As a matter of fact, the Bible speaks as a lamb headed towards the slaughter; just kind of defenseless. You think of sheep as needing someone to defend them. And that's the way we are. That's the reason why the Apostle Paul had to say to the Corinthians, "Our sufficiency is of God" (2 Corinthians 3:5)—that is, we don't have it in-and-of ourselves.

Not only do we think of the defenselessness of sheep, and not only do we think of the ignorance of a sheep, but a sheep doesn't have good sense of direction; a sheep is easily lost. The Bible says In Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray." Sheep will browse here, nibble here, wander there. He just gets further and further away without knowing he's getting further away. Further away from the flock, further away from the shepherd, he's out there lost; he’s not able to find his way home. That's just the nature of a sheep.

What did God say about His people in Hosea 11:7? "My people are bent to backsliding from me." You know what that means in plain English? "We have a tendency to get away from God, we even sing about it:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love

And then you think about the dependency of a sheep.... A sheep needs somebody to take care of it.

Phillip Keller, wrote a book entitled “The Good Shepherd and His Sheep,” he wrote that sheep sometimes can become what we would call cast—C-A-S-T. That is, it rolls over sometimes on its back and can't get up. Its paws are all up in the air, and it doesn't have enough athletic ability to roll over and get back up on its feet. That is the way it's vulnerable to the vultures, and to the wolves. But also, the gasses begin to build up from the inside, and the sheep gets bloated; and before long, the circulation is cut off, and the sheep will die, that's called a cast sheep.

When we get in a cast position, the shepherd needs to come and pick the sheep up and put the sheep back on its feet. I’m sure some of us have experienced that, we get down, our mind focuses on our problem and we can’t get up until the shepherd comes along and lifts us up.

Thank God for the shepherd. You see, we are like sheep; that's why we have a tendency to be stressed. It's not necessarily a compliment to call us a sheep, but it's a fact. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Now, having said that, how do you handle stress? I believe verse 2 has a lot to say about how to handle stress: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:1-2).

There are three things that are pointed out to me in this verse—of course, many, many more things than three, but three that I've chosen to talk about.

First of all, is the security we have in the Shepherd. I want you to say to yourself, "I am secure in Jesus." You see, "He leadeth me"; "He maketh me" (Psalm 23:2). Who is the He? Yehovah my shepherd.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Great Shepherd. Jesus is Chief Shepherd. We learned that last week; and because of that, I have security.

I was thinking when I was preparing this, about how our Lord Jesus Christ gives us security. He's the One who makes us; He's the One who leads us.

Let me give you some characteristics of the Shepherd that I found in the Word of God.

The very first is compassion. In Matthew 9:36, the Bible says, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion... because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, [like] sheep having no shepherd." 

When Jesus saw the people of His day, He saw them scattered, running frantic here and there, complaining, full of stress. The Bible says "he was moved with compassion." That word moved literally means, "to convulse." It has the idea of just hurting in the gut. "He was moved with compassion" (Matthew 9:36).

That word compassion comes from our English word meaning "with" and "passion," meaning "to feel," or "to suffer." Jesus was convulsed as He felt for those sheep. He saw them as sheep having no shepherd. That's what caused Him to leave Heaven and come and die for us.

As you think of the Shepherd think of compassion. And then, as you think of the Shepherd, think also of care. Let me give you one of the most beautiful verses in all of the Bible: Isaiah 40:11: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd"—we're the flock; He's the Shepherd—"he shall gather the lambs with his arm, [He shall] carry them in his bosom... [He] shall gently lead those that are with young."

Aren't you glad the Lord is so tender to us? Aren't you glad that God gives us what we need and not what we deserve?

Jesus takes these little baby Christians, those are the lambs. Many of them don't know anything, brand new Christians; some of them have come out of almost sheer paganism. They come and give their heart to Jesus. We are so wrong to put them through a theological test. We are so wrong to say, "Now, you can't do that anymore; you must do this. And why did you fail?" Jesus doesn't do them that way. He picks them up. He puts them in His bosom and carries them.

When I was a little lamb, thank God, He carried me. If He didn't, I never would have made it. You see, He is a compassionate, and caring Shepherd. He carries us gently.

Not only is He compassionate and caring, but He's a courageous Shepherd. I love that about our Lord. You remember reading in John 10. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth" (John 10:11-13). "The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."

Now, the wolves are after you and me. There were many, many dangers for the sheep in that day. There were wolves, and bears, lions, and thieves, who would come and slaughter and steal the sheep; wild dogs and scavengers of all kinds. Jesus said, "A false shepherd, one who's only paid by the hour, a hireling, he'll flee; he'll leave the sheep. But, "a good shepherd will fight for his sheep." (John 10:11-13)

In John 10:7, Jesus said, "I am the door" of the sheep. You say, "Is He the Shepherd, or is He the door?" The answer is "yes." The Shepherd becomes the door of the sheepfold. In that day the shepherd will build an enclosure out of stones, brush, whatever he could find and make a big circle or a square, and bring all the sheep inside. He counts them and applies medicine, makes certain that they're all secure. When he gets all the sheep in and all the sheep are counted, the shepherd will lie down across that opening. Nobody gets in and nobody gets out without him knowing it. The shepherd is the door. "I am the door" (John 10:7).

Jesus is saying that nobody can get to you, except he comes through Me. I like that. That's the reason He said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:27-28).

What you need in order to deal with stress is security. "He maketh me"; "He leadeth me" (Psalm 23:2). I may be weak like a sheep, but He is the strong Shepherd. He's the good Shepherd. That's the first thing I see in this verse, security; that helps one to deal with stress.

Not only do I see security, but I see sufficiency. Look at it: "He maketh me to lie down in brown withered pastures." Is that it? "He leadeth me beside muddy streams, dried-up water brooks." Oh, no—"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:2).

All I need and more, I find in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why do folks get stressed? They get stressed because they think their needs are not going to be met. They just say, "Oh my goodness, I'm not going to have what I need."

Do you remember that passage over there in Matthew, where our Lord is telling us not to worry? He said, "Don't worry about what you're going to eat; that's food. And, don't worry about what you're going to wear; that's fashion, don't worry about these things."

Do you know what most folks are worrying about? Let me give it to you; they all start with the letter "F": food, friends, fame, fortune, fashion and fitness. Jesus said, "After all these things do the Gentiles seek" (Matthew 6:32). Gentiles, that is to say unsaved people.

He's not saying these things are not important. But, He said "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness... all these things [will] be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). These things don't even take on significance until our deepest needs are met.

What is He talking about when He's talking about green grass and still waters? Do you think He's just talking about having your bank account full? Oh no. Go back to Psalm 22 verse 26: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart will live forever."

That's the food. "They shall praise the Lord that seek him." In Psalm 22:29: "All they that be fat upon the earth shall eat and worship." God wants healthy sheep. What does the green grass talk about? It's the green pasture of His Word. What do the still waters speak of? The still waters of His Spirit. We're to find our satisfaction in Him; and if we don't find our satisfaction in Him, we're going to be stressed, because the deepest needs of our heart will never be met.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 4:4? "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The Bible is to us what bread is to the natural man. Then Jesus said in Matthew 5:6: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

How many people do you know today that are hungering and thirsting after righteousness? The green pastures of His Word, the still waters of His Spirit? How many people do you know that have a hunger for the Word and a thirst for the Spirit? He said, "Happy are those who seek after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6).

The unhappiest people in the world are the people who are trying to be happy. It is a strange thing: happiness is something you never find by looking for it; happiness is something you stumble over on your way to serve Jesus. Happiness is the by-product of righteousness.

Do you know where unhappiness comes from; self-centeredness and sin; God has engineered it that way. God so loves us that God has engineered that we would not be happy without Jesus. That's the reason God said to Adam and Eve, when they left the Garden of Eden, "Cursed is the ground for [your] sake" (Genesis 3:17) —not for your judgment, but for your sake.

"I've put a curse on the ground; thorns and thistles will it bring forth to you." When you pick a rose, you say, "Ouch." When you walk a long way you say, "Ooh." God wants your path to be hard. God wants your roses to be thorny. Why? The worst thing that could ever happen to sinful man would to have a diseased heart and live in Paradise. He'd never know anything was wrong.

So, God gives us thorns, and thistles, and problems, and heartaches to say, "Hey, there's something wrong in this world." What’s wrong is sin, and what is the answer? Righteousness.

What most people are trying to do is get rid of the thorns and the thistles but not deal with the problem that caused them; they are only treating the symptoms. If you'll seek after righteousness, you'll be dealing with the infection. Seek righteousness, and then you'll deal with stress. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2)—that's His Word. "He makes me to drink of the still waters" (Psalm 23:2)—that's His Spirit.

What we need is to have the deepest need of our heart and our life met, it is to worship God. It is to drink of the Spirit. It is to feed on the Word of God. That's sufficiency. The deepest need of our heart will be met only in Jesus.

Okay, we have in our Good Shepherd security;

we have in Him sufficiency; and now we have in Him serenity. "He maketh me to lie down" (Psalm 23:2).

Sheep will not lie down until they're content. Have you ever seen so many people hurrying? Everybody is going, moving. How many content people do you know? I actually get stressed out hearing so many people saying how stressed out they are.

People today do not take time to slow down, to be still and know that God is God—to have that serenity, that quietness. It's not a sin to be quiet.

Let me give you some scripture. Listen to what God says: in Isaiah 30:15: "in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." Psalm 46:10: "Be still"—"be still"—"and know that I am God."

Remember when a sheep lies down it's chewing the cud. It puts that sweet grass, and that clover, and that alfalfa down there in that second stomach. It's loading up. The shepherd says, "Lie down and digest what you've got." That's the most productive time for the sheep—that quiet time, that serenity.

If that green grass is the Word of God, what is the sheep doing when it's chewing the cud? Meditating?  (Psalm 1:2) "In his law doth he meditate day and night." Psalm 19:14: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." Psalm 104:34: "My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord." Psalm 119:15: "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto they ways."

What's wrong with most of us is we don't lie down in the green grass and meditate. Even those of us who study the Word of God—how much time do we really digest and assimilate what God has given us? I mean, most of us think we've done God a wild favor if we get to church most every Sunday. And, if we can halfway understand what the pastor is saying, great. When you get home, do you meditate on what you've heard?

Many of the things that I preach are things that God gives me after I've read the Word of God and sit back and think about it. "In his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2). You see, some of us are just too busy. In John 10; Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly." Don’t miss life looking for it.

I'm trying to say we need to stop and prioritize our life and find out that God is the Good Shepherd. You know what I think God does with some of us? He makes us to lie down. I mean, we won't do it unless He makes us.

David said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray" (Psalm 119:67). He said in another place, "It has been good for me that I have been afflicted" (Psalm 119:71). "He maketh me to lie down" (Psalm 23:2).

Why don't we just say, "Never mind, Lord, You don't have to do it that way? I'd rather slow down. I want to get quiet. I want to be still. I want to know that Thou art God."

The cure for stress and the blessings of the Good Shepherd; find in Jesus Christ your security—He's the good Shepherd. Find in Him sufficiency—the green pastures. Find in Him serenity—"He maketh"—"He maketh"—"me to lie down."

I pray you find that Good Shepherd, in Jesus’ Name Amen! 

Altar call.