Today’s Scripture:  Psalms 23

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, 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.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Introduction:

Psalms 23…one of the most beloved of the Psalms in the Bible.  There are many parts of this Psalm that are quoted, and used by many to encourage themselves or others.  I know there’s probably many of you who have the question in your mind of what this Psalm has to do with Seeking God…and that’s why we’re going to answer that very question with today’s message.  So, without any further delay let’s get into this message.

Today’s Message:  “A Psalm of David.”

As I wrote in the introduction, I believe that Psalms 23 is probably as well known if not more well known than John 3:16 (KJV).   We some times can even hear this Psalm used in funerals, many preach on it or from it, but there are few that tie this Psalm into a message about Seeking God.  Most often it’s a Psalm preached or used to comfort or encourage people, and therefore it’s equally interesting to me that this beloved Psalm to so many is about to be used in a message about Seeking God, and I’m excited to see how it ties in to what we’ve been talking about.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Before I go too far, I just want to point out this first verse of this Psalm.  You know, some times when we read God’s Word it’s a good thing to take it, and personalize it.  For instance, with John 3:16 (KJV)even though it’s written this way:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” some times it’s good to read it this way:  “For God so loved Bryan Kizer, that he gave his only begotten Son, that because Bryan Kizer believeth in him…Bryan should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Let’s finish it off with John 3:17 (KJV)that is written like this:  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”, but when you personalize it…this is how it reads:  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the Bryan Kizer; but that Bryan Kizer through him might be saved.”

However, when you read this Psalm you quickly notice that it’s already written in first person.  The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes ME to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth ME beside the still waters.  He restoreth MY soul: he leadeth ME in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  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.  Thou preparest a table before ME in the presence of MINE enemies: thou anointest MY head with oil; MY cup runneth over.  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.”

Friend, here is the tie in to why this is a part of Seeking God.  When you set your heart to seek the face and heart of God, as David…then you have a relationship that is THIS personal with God.  You begin to realize like David did that God is MY Father, He is MY Lord, MY Shepherd, and the intimacy and depth of love that He has is for ME…when your relationship with God becomes personal…something happens and changes in your heart.

I don’t really know how to explain it, but every one of us who realizes and gets to a place like David where we say:  “The Lord is MY Shepherd”…there is a realization that He and I are really in a personal relationship.  Listen…I loved hearing and reading that God loved me, and that He desired good things for me, and that He was watching over me, and that I was His.  However…when God spoke to my heart that I was His son, that He loved me, and that I was in the palm of His hand…that changed everything because it went from being head knowledge…it went past being heart knowledge…it became that thing that Paul wrote about where he was fully persuaded and convinced that there was absolutely nothing that could or would separate me from the love of God.

I am completely convinced that I belong to God, and there’s nothing anyone else can say that can convince me otherwise.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves me, and that I belong to Him…and I will be with Him some day for ALL of eternity.  The Lord IS my Shepherd…and once you come to that revelation…there’s no one or no thing that can take that away from you.

To know God, we must intentionally follow Him. Why would we ever not want to follow such a gracious and good God? His presence provides restoration, comfort, protection, mercy, and infinite love. I believe that those who don’t closely follow after God have either been deceived or really don’t know Him yet. Growing up, I read the Bible often and grew in my understanding of who God is. But sadly, I neglected my relationship with Him. I didn’t seek Him!

Do you know that you can read the Bible from cover to cover, spend 30 years going to the same church, do all kinds of wonderful volunteer work, give your money for the advancement of the Gospel, and never really know God?  Do you know that there are many, many theologians who can recite the Bible chapter and verse, and can offer fantastic insight…and even provide some profound commentary…but all they know is merely head knowledge?  How can this be?

I just talked about it with my own life.  I will be honest enough with you to tell you that I’ve never actually read the Bible cover to cover, but I will also tell you that it might be one of the greatest things I’ve never done.  Why?  Because rather than have all kinds of knowledge I have had revelation, and I have a relationship with God…that’s personal and intimate.  Not because of my great wealth of knowledge of Scripture, and to be honest there isn’t much that I could quote to you…but what I have is a unshakeable knowledge and understanding that comes from having a personal relationship with God because it’s not head knowledge…it’s heart knowledge.  The Gospel has penetrated my heart, and instead of having a wealth of knowledge, I have a wealth of personal revelation of the Father’s love for me, and His desire to bless me.  Of course, I still spend time reading and studying the Word of God, but the point of all this is that I would much rather KNOW God than know OF God…and that’s the revelation I have.  I KNOW God.  I KNOW His voice.  I KNOW His touch.  I KNOW of His love.

I would love to have cover to cover knowledge of Scripture, but there’s nothing at all that compares to God personally speaking to your heart that He loves you.  That did something for me that no amount of Bible knowledge did.

You see, you can know about God and do ‘Christian’ things but not really know Him. In my late teen years, I was a wayward sheep. I got caught up in finding my identity through my peers (many of whom were unbelievers), and it corrupted my character. A strong relationship with my Good Shepherd would have prevented my compromise. I have deep regret for my wasted years, yet I praise God for His faithful love and patience with me.

I know how this writer feels.  I was saved at a very early age because I was blessed to have a grandmother who saw to it that I had the Word of God pumped into me as a child.  I believe that I was probably 6 or 7 years old when one day after hearing Jimmy Swaggartpreach the Gospel, and I remember reaching a moment when I wanted Jesus to come into my heart.  I remember repeating a prayer sitting on the edge of my grandma’s bed, and had I known then what really took place maybe I’d have never been that wayward son.  I too, got caught up in the world, and trying to find my identity in all kinds of things from alcohol, to women, and other places.

I remember having the feeling all my life that I just never really fit in anywhere, but that didn’t stop me from trying to.  I tried fitting in with the partying crowd, but I didn’t.  I was still empty, and I knew that emptiness was there.  The more I felt it…the harder I tried to fit in, and when I didn’t…the more rejected and dejected I felt.  I tried fitting in with the street crowd, and I didn’t fit in there neither.  I spent many times during those years on the streets, in and out of jail, and in and out of many relationships…and I just continued looking for places and people to fit in with…and the more I tried…the less I fit in.  Still…it didn’t stop me from trying to.

I wasted many, many years about 20 of them to be honest.  From just before I graduated High School all the way through till probably about 2 years ago…even though I was one of those Prodigal Sons who came home and left again many times during those 20 years…and I can tell you that there was many times during those two decades that I wish I could have back or do over because it was such a waste…but I can’t.

I have a lot of regret.  I still feel a lot of guilt, shame, and remorse.  I still look back from time to time, and cannot believe just how wasteful I was.  How God threw out many a life preserver, and I just ignored them.  I can also tell you that I am still tempted now and again to look back at that all with not just regret, but just a sense of wondering how in the world God can use someone who did all the stuff I did…and the only reason I ever get from Him…because He loves me…and He knew one day I would grab on to one of the life preservers, and that I would allow Him to do what I never could…find a place for me to fit in.

You see…we’re not meant to fit in to the world because we’re not of this world.  Jesus said to Pilate:  “My Kingdom is not of this world.”  He also said something else that’s very important:  “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”  We’re not meant to fit into this world because this world is not our Kingdom, and there’s a reason why we all have this void in our hearts and lives…and the only way that void can be filled is by surrendering our lives to the Lordship of our King…Jesus Christ.

You see, you can know about God and do ‘Christian’ things but not really know Him.

I don’t know about you, but as for me I can tell you that I don’t want to be one of those who stands before Jesus, and have Him say to me “Away from Me…I never knew you.”  There was a time when all I knew about God was just what I explained…it was all knowledge that was in my head, but once the knowledge began to penetrate my heart…that’s when real revelation came…and that’s how the desire to seek Him began to get stronger.

Listen, the more time I spend in God’s presence…the more I desire to be in it.  The greatest encounter of my life was the moment that I heard Him speak to my heart His love for me, and that’s why I can’t help but to do this.  I write these messages because of Him, and I seek God for every message, every series that I write because I don’t want this to ever be about me…and it’s not.

In truth it’s just as much for me as it is anyone else.  God teaches me through these messages, and He speaks to my heart through them also.  That’s why I can honestly say that even if no one else read these messages…I still get plenty out of them.  I learn from my own messages…and even if I wrote them to myself…I’d do it because I know from seeking God’s face that this is what He wants me to do.

It’s painful to be neglected, isn’t it? It feels like rejection.

I know what rejection and being neglected feels, but it must pale in comparison to how God felt all those years that I rejected and neglected Him.  You know, now that I’m actively serving God the main thing I regret is that I wasted 20 years that I could’ve given to Him.  I regret that what I have in life now I didn’t have sooner because I waited so long before I finally gave in to Him, and surrendered my life to His Lordship.

You know…everyone wants God to be their Jehovah, but not many want God to be their Adonai.  What does that mean?  It means that everyone wants God to be their provider of health, wealth, and wholeness…but not many want God to be their Lord.  Let me give you a word of caution or warning, however, and maybe even a word that will help you to understand why you’re not being blessed more…if you don’t want God to be your Adonai…don’t expect Him to be your Jehovah anything.

Yes, He loves His children, and still desires to bless us.  However, if we truly want the provisions of God to be made manifest in our lives…then we have to learn to surrender our will, our lives, our desires, our dreams, and our all…because the truth is…He owns us anyways.

If you’ve been rejecting or neglecting Him…as long as you’re still here…it’s not too late to surrender your all for the One who surrendered His all for you…Amen!?!

Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:

I know this is going to take some personal reflection, and maybe you might need to pray like David that God will search your heart, and show you what He sees in your heart.   However, I would like to urge you to really take time to sit down, get alone with God, and really do this…because it’s time to stop playing…and get serious about being serious with God…Amen!?!

Take a moment to jot down what you sense might be a distraction from desiring God.

Conclusion:

In closing, I want to include this last little bit from today’s devotional message:

It’s painful to be neglected, isn’t it? It feels like rejection. Decide not to ignore or neglect your loving Father. Seek to know Him intimately. Throw off every distraction, and pursue your faithful Shepherd. He alone can satisfy.

It’s a decision we have to make daily, friends.  To start our day with God, or to start our day neglecting God.  From the moment our eyes open at the start of each day…that’s the moment that we choose for that day whom we are going to serve.  If we get up and just go about our day then not only do we take for granted that very day we’ve been given, but we neglect the One who allowed us the very breath to start that day.

Friends, each and every day we wake up is a gift from God, and that’s why it’s important to start each day making sure we choose to embrace God, thank Him for allowing us another day, and asking Him to lead and guide us through that day.  Yes, many of us may have to get up, and go to our jobs…but by simply taking time to acknowledge Him at the beginning of it…it gets us out of the way for Him to do whatever He desires.

Don’t you want to know God in a deeper and more intimate way?  If you do, then join me in making this prayer…the prayer of your heart as well.  I’m going to write it and pray it…and I would encourage you to say it…OUT LOUD too…so the devil and all of Heaven is well aware that you are serious about being serious with God.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word.  I thank You for always being that constant presence in my life, and I ask You to forgive me for the times when I take You and Your presence for granted.  Lord, I decide and declare that You are MY Shepherd, You are MY Lord, and I want more of You and Your presence in my life.  I lay down my life, I lay down what I believe I deserve, I am entitled to, and I ask You to take the reigns of my life.  I pray that I may not be the same from this day forward, and that all that I have done to this point would cease to hold me back.  I ask that You would heal the guilt, shame, and remorse I feel over the time I have wasted running from and ignoring You.  Lord, from this day forward…I choose to NOT neglect You, and ask You to prove and show Yourself to me as my Father.  Show me that Love.  Give me fresh and maybe even new revelation of Your love for Me.  Help me to see myself as Your son or Your daughter…and not the way I or the world sees me.  Help me to not seek the distractions of the world to satisfy what only You can.  I ask this in the name of Jesus…Amen & Amen.