The 23rd Psalm is undoubtedly the best known song in the Bible – maybe in the world.
The writer of Psalm 23 is David:
- David who as a young boy defeated the giant Goliath
- David the shepherd boy who cared for the sheep
- David the adulterer with Bathsheba and the murderer of her husband
- David who suffered the death of his first child
- David who wrote poetry to express his struggles, sins and salvation
- David who could praise God from the mountain tops and scream at God from the valleys of despair
- David who wrote songs and sang them to Kings
- David who became Israel’s best loved King
Out of David’s life came:
- Celebration as well as crying
- Success as well as struggle
- Faith as well as failure
- Sin as well as salvation
Out of a life in so many ways similar to ours, David wrote the 23rd Psalm which Jesus later identified to his own life when he said “I am the Good Shepherd”.
“Delegation does not mean giving someone a task to perform, but giving them a result to achieve”.
God the Father delegated to Jesus, His Son, the responsibility of drawing all people back to God. In seeking to achieve that result Jesus approached different people with different methods. When Jesus met with Nicodemus, who was a highly educated religious leader, Jesus came straight to the point, “You must be born again of the Spirit of God” – and so ensured a deep theological discussion.
When Jesus met with the outcast Samaritan woman at the well, a whole different method was required if He was to achieve the result of drawing this woman back to God. So, beginning with the secular topic of water, Jesus gradually led this woman to the ‘water of eternal life’.
Only when we start where people are, are we are likely to lead them to where they may need to be.
- With the woman at the well Jesus used six slow steps to achieve the result of drawing her back to God.
- Jesus took the first step. He stepped into her world and waited for her to come
- Jesus offered to share in her life’s activity – “Please give me a drink of the water you are drawing.”
- Jesus followed the woman’s lead in the conversation that ensued.
When the time and trust was right Jesus led into a deeper conversation about God and the water of eternal life.
- Jesus allowed the woman to raise questions about eternal life and so He drew her closer to God.
- Jesus led by following the woman in her questions and doubts, her confession and concerns, her ducking and weaving until she discovered “This is the Messiah, this is the Saviour who knows all about me and still loves me enough to connect me to God”
We each have been born of human parents, and we each have been born “to believe in God” We know that people in every tribe, culture and civilization express a belief in God – a belief in something or someone beyond ourselves.
We each are born to believe in God- and we do. However, there is a world of difference between, “I believe in God “and “I believe God”.
“I believe in God “is simply my acknowledgment that God exists- there is no necessity for my response or action or connection.
“I believe God” is strongly my declaration that I personally know God, trust God, am responsible to God and that I actively seek to love and serve God. “I believe in God” can be a benign, neutral, harmless statement. “I believe God” is filled with active trust, change, service and obedience, as well as a dynamic growing relationship with God.
To move from “I believe in God “to “I believe God” requires a new birth, a new beginning, a new relationship.
Jesus says “We are born physically of human parents, we must be born again spiritually of the Spirit of God. “
How does this new birth happen?
- We ask God’s Spirit to enable us “to believe in Jesus Christ” as God’s son and our Saviour.
- We allow God’s Spirit to enable us “to believe Jesus Christ”- that he will lead, guide, change and use us in ways that honour God, bless others and enrich ourselves
Jesus was tempted in every way as we are yet he did not sin, but rather he was strengthened.
The Cause of Temptation is our desire to gain a short-cut to perceived success. Temptation presents a picture that promises to produce instant pleasure, profit, power or position without pain to oneself and without regard for the impact on others.
The Consequences of Temptations can be either: deep disappointment with oneself; devaluation of other people; and division from peace with God – when we allow temptation to defeat us. or: temptation can strengthen our character; enable us to be empathetic and supportive to other people; and give us satisfaction in our relationship with God- when we positively resist temptation.
The Cure when we are defeated by Temptation is forgiveness that only God can give through our faith in Jesus Christ. David the Psalmist and sinner said, “Lord, when I did not confess my sins, I was worn out and completely drained as moisture is dried up by the summer heat. But when I confessed my sins to you Lord, and did not conceal my wrong doings – you forgave all my sins and set me free” (Psalm 32:4+5)
The Conquest of Temptation comes from our continuous growing relationship with God; understanding of his word; and trust in the Spirit of Jesus to support and strengthen us.
The Challenge of Temptation is to perceive which Temptation to resist and which Temptation to enlist. Not all temptation is bad. In this Lenten Season be tempted to trust God more; to believe God’s word; to be more loving, forgiving, helpful and patient. Be tempted to pray more and to seek to be more like Jesus.
This Sunday in our Church calendar highlights the Transfiguration of Jesus, recorded in Mark 9:2-9. Decision-making is one of life’s regular activities. Most decisions are small, swift and simple; while other decisions can determine the direction and destiny of our life. The decision making steps which Jesus followed as he faced the cross are also steps which can help us in making healthy decisions concerning our congregation, our family, our personal or professional life.
TEN IMPORTANT STEPS FOR HEALTHY DECISIONS
- Conform to your inner clock
- Withdraw from the world
- Find a place for new perspectives
- Participate in prayer
- Consult your contemporaries
- Ponder the past
- Hear from heaven
- Be guided by God
- Go forward in faith
- Conceal or Celebrate