Message Recap – 6/17/11 – Psalm 23: Part 5

Friday, June 24, 2011

We've been going through Psalm 23 verse by verse. It's been awesome! Be sure to take a look at the first 4 parts if you missed them:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Now we've reached the penultimate week in the series! What is penultimate? Look it up. We'll continue in Psalm 23:5, which says:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

So, last week we talked about calamity and this week we are talking about enemies; an attack. What's the difference between calamity and an attack?
Calamity is just something that happens that no one intended. Calamity is not something maliciously designed.
An attack is when an enemy decides to come after you, to intentionally try to destroy you. Who is your enemy? Is it that bully in school, your little brother, the Taliban?
Ephesians 6:12 tells us who the enemy is: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
There is a spiritual world; this is something that most people agree on, though they disagree on the form it takes. There are things that cannot be explained by science or reason.
When the Bible talks about preparing a table before you in the presence of your enemies, it's not talking about the girl in school who spread rumors about you, or the guy that has it in for you. Our enemy is not people.
Our enemies are anger, bitterness, rage, lust, depression, laziness, discouragement. Temptation is our enemy. Which sometimes comes through people -- but the enemy is not the person, it's the temptation.
Sometimes those enemies can seem overwhelming. The battles can seem impossible to win. Yet even when we face something that seems impossible, God can take those attacks and turn them into overwhelming victories for you!
You come out stronger, able to help others because of it!
You know the story of David and Goliath? David was a kid, probably about 14 years old. He faced a trained soldier who was over 8 feet tall. It seemed impossible, but he came out victorious and even went on to become king of Israel.
How about Jesus? He went through 40 days of being tempted. But he came out of it not only having withstood temptation, but out of that battle He began His ministry. A few years later He was crucified for our sins and won the greatest and mos decisive victory in history!
There are three factors covered in Psalm 23:5; the table, the anointing and the cup.
The table.
This is not referring to just a literal table. It means a meal -- a meal where you can sit with God and have fellowship and provision with Him in the presence of your enemies.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says: The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
The anointing.
In the Old Testament kings and priests were anointed to show that they were authorized by the Holy Spirit and given authority from above.
In the middle of the attack, God wants to give yo anointing, an authority to walk in that is far above your own. He wants to give you a sense of purpose and vision. So that as you emerge from the battle, you are no longer just a kid. You're a warrior, with the beginnings of a king in him.
The cup.
The cup holds the amount that you need to sustain you, to survive, to live. When it overflows that means you have more than you need -- you have enough to bless others!
Remember when Jesus fed 5,000 men? His disciples gave what little they had, and it multiplied into more than enough for 5,000 people!
God wants to give you something that's more than enough for you, something that you can use to bless others! So that, like David, you can affect a whole nation!
One of the very real faith steps you can take in the midst of a battle is to look for someone that you can help, that you can sow into. Sometimes you just need to get your eyes off of yourself and start looking for a way to bless someone else.
When you're facing an enemy be ready for God's plan in the midst of the battle. His plan to make you stronger. To anoint you with the Holy Spirit and to bless you with enough that you can bless others. With God you will not just survive the battle, but be in a better place than you were before the battle!

Message Recap – 6/10/11 – Psalm 23: Part 4

Friday, June 17, 2011

We are right in the thick of a close study of Psalm 23. It's been awesome! If you've missed the previous messages in the series, be sure to read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now we are digging into verse 4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Pastor Dan is a weight lifter. For many of the exercises he does, one of the main points in correct form is where you look. The same goes for many sports – where you are looking often determines how well you play. When you're driving and you're looking off the side of the road, the car tends to follow your gaze... right into the ditch. Where you are looking is important because you tend to drift in that direction.

Up until this verse, Psalm 23 has all been about what God does and how He leads us. Then in verse 4 it suddenly changes to “I”. “I walk.” Suddenly it's as if He's not leading us.

It's like when you're a kid, out somewhere with your parents and something catches your eye. You wander away and before you know it you're completely lost. “Mom? Dad? They left me!” Actually, you left them.

All through this Psalm we are following God, when suddenly we think, “Ooh, gumdrops and mayonnaise? I'll go this way!” When we come to we realize there are no green pastures, still waters or paths of righteousness in sight. Whoops.

But there's good news! Take a look at what Psalm 139:7-12 says:

I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the grave, you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

God never gives up on us. Even though we get distracted and start chasing after the candy aisle, He never gives up on us. Even when our wanderings lead us into the valley of the shadow of death. Even when it's our own fault. He never gives up on us.

Even when we're lost in darkness because we made a wrong turn, or even because we are trying to hide. Even in darkness, God sees us and He won't leave us.

The word "valley" in valley of death is referring to a gorge or a canyon. Someplace that we can't climb out of on our own. The shadow of death refers to calamity or disaster. Even in those times, God is with us, His rod and staff help us, correct us and guide us.

Sometimes God's rod corrects our path and we can easily get upset. “God, why are you so pushy? Why are you trying to move me over?” He's guiding us to the best path to exit the canyon of calamity.

Check out the amazing description of God's love found in Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Whether you're doing great or you're doing badly, wandered off course, made some mistakes, God's love is still there. He won't give up on you, He won't leave you! He will guide you through and correct your course at times if necessary. If God gives you a little nudge from time to time, know that He is guiding you away from the cliff edge and back to the path.

Maybe you're afraid. Know that you don't need to fear; God is with you. He wants to guide you through that canyon, through the valley, and back to the green pastures, still waters and paths of righteousness.

Wherever you find yourself, either the highest place or the lowest place, God knows you're there. He sees you, and He's there leading you and guiding you!


Message Recap – 6/3/11 – Psalm 23: Part 3

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This week is the halfway point in Pastor Dan's series on Psalm 23. If you haven't been around for the past couple of weeks... well, you really need to check out the recaps for the previous installments:

Part 1

Part 2

Now let's get right to Psalm 23:3:

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Nobody likes to be out of their comfort zones. But we all have situations in life that are uncomfortable. We all encounter things that are outside our ability to easily cope, where we'd give almost anything to not be in the situation. For many of us the biggest issue is fear of failure. We aren't comfortable because we don't feel like we can succeed in the situation.

He restores my soul.

What is a soul? Your soul is not your body. It's your mind, will and emotions. It's your thoughts and ideas; the part that gets frustrated by failure and that gets hurt when someone rejects you. When you feel like you're at the end of yourself, it's your soul that you're at the end of.

Our souls need restoration!

Often, when people read Psalm 23, they connect "still waters" with "he restores my soul" in the phrasing. But there's a little thing called a period that separates those thoughts. He doesn't restore our souls through still waters, but through paths of righteousness.

What's a righteous person? Someone who hasn't screwed up. Someone perfect. Someone not at all like us. But God leads us in paths of righteousness even though we've messed up.

In the original language, “paths” could be translated “camps”. He leads me into the camp of the righteous.

For His name's sake.

That's not a phrase you hear every day. What does it mean? It means that it is by His name we can enter the camp of the righteous. Not because we are perfect, but by His authority we walk paths that we have no right to walk! Even though our souls are tired, poor, wounded, imperfect, spotted with sin, by His name we can walk the paths of the righteous.

Take a look at what 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When we walk around in our own strength and think it's gonna be great, our comfort zone is easily erased. As soon as we mess up just a little, our confidence in ourselves fades. When we walk in our own strength, our comfort zone can be very easily crushed. In those moments of embarrassment or failure our soul takes a beating. From us. We beat ourselves up, replaying the moment in our minds over and over again. When we recognize our weakness, even in areas we are normally “strong” in, the power of Christ can be at work through us.

As humans we are never strong. Sure, we fool ourselves. At times we think we have it all under control. But the truth is we really don't.

When we recognize that we don't have it all under control, when we come to God and ask Him to lead us in paths of righteousness, we can step out of our comfort zone and into God's.

When you are weak, He is strong. You have to recognize your weakness and step into His strength.

When you feel like a failure, like a nobody... in those moments God is restoring your soul, leading you on paths of righteousness, taking you to places you can't get to on your own!

When you soul is tired, broken down and lost, He restores you. He makes you strong!

By His authority, by His namesake you are made righteous!