Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Monday morning, March 19, 2018.
Satisfaction is difficult. It is hard. The Rolling Stones wrote a song many years ago that said, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” It seems that people are always trying to sell you some new way to get satisfied. Get on this diet. Buy gold. Buy these stocks. Watch this show. Get this education. Follow these seven relationship tips. Yet, in the end, its never does what they say it will do. We know that we need personal care. We need something personally inside of us that will give us joy and peace. It is only the personal care of God working within us that will give us complete satisfaction.
I work at the San Diego Rescue Mission, and it is there that I learn some of the biggest lessons. I learn more from these guys about what a person truly needs, as I see what God is doing in their lives. I sat across from a client one day. He was telling me about his past life, how alcoholism had destroyed him, his health, his family, his relationships. It had all gone downhill quickly. Yet, something changed for him in the Mission. He heard about Jesus, about how He could give him new life, and He gave his life to Christ. He sat across from me smiling. He said, “I never thought I would be saying this. I am sitting in a homeless shelter, and am the happiest I have ever been in my life.” Despite what he is going through, God is his complete satisfaction.
We know that God satisfies, but do we live life that way? Too often we get swept up in the crisis of the moment. Bills need to be paid, a loved one gets sick, a family member is in trouble. Stress is going to come, right? But how do we get to a place where we have the stress of the moment, and still live completely satisfied lives, despite what we are facing? It is only the personal care of God that gives complete satisfaction. We will look at that today in Psalm 23. A popular psalm, yet one that we continually need to keep reminded of.
A young man, barely a teenager, was given a task when he was just a boy. “See those sheep out there son? Those are yours to take care of.” He knows all of these sheep by name. There is Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy… all of them. He’s raised them up from when they were little, and they respond to his voice.
He calls them, and begins to lead them up this stony ground, taking good care to watch them as they follow. The sheep follow the voice of this young shepherd, because they trust him. The shepherd keeps moving forward under the hot sun, being careful that Sleepy, Grumpy, and the gang are following. The young boy’s feet are hurting, as he can feel the stony ground beneath the cheap Jerusalem Walmart sandals he is wearing. He has heard from the other shepherds about a pasture just over this hill, but he is aware that there are other predators in the area. He carefully protects his sheep, guiding them in the daylight away from predators.
He reaches over the hill, and squints in the sun. There it is, down in the valley! A beautiful, large amount of grass by a peaceful water stream, just like the other shepherd’s had told him. He looks back, and watches as the last of his sheep come up over the hill.
Carefully he guides them down through rocks and large stones. Finally, he gets them down to the pasture. He counts, “32, 33, 34…” He has not lost any of his sheep, and they are all comfortably enjoying the fresh grass. There is a cool breeze in this valley, as the shade of the valley covers them. This young man David looks around, and considers how the sheep follow him. He thinks of God, and breaks into song, praising him. We have his melody in Psalm 23.
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads 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 You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
David’s psalm can be summed up in the first verse of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Everything else supports the first verse of his hymn. I shall not want… why? Because He gives me pasture, He calms me by the still waters, He restores me, He leads me in righteousness, He gives me protection, He anoints and blesses me, He gives me eternal life in Him. It is all summed up in, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
God is personal.
The first thing we see is that God is personal. He is involved in the intricate details of keeping and sustaining our life. God is personal. “The Lord is my shepherd…”
God is not disconnected. He is not somewhere out there, not interested in the details of humanity. Some agnostics have reasoned that, if God exists, He is not interested. He has gone off and played golf or is on vacation or something, while the rest of us are left alone to figure this out. David would vehemently disagree. The God of the universe, the God of real reality that created all that we see, all that we know, that God, the Lord, He is my shepherd.
I have good parents. They are my parents. Each one of us have parents. Some of them were good, some of them not so good. Some of them were bad parents. But no matter what, any child wants his or her parents. We know that other parents exist. Other men and women are mothers and fathers. But they are not our parents. Every child only has two parents, and every child wants to have the connection that they are supposed to have with their parents. Every child wants to say, he is my father, and she is my mother. There is nothing that can replace a personal connection with parents. A lost connection with parents creates terrible pain.
God is personal. It is a great feeling to be able to say that the Lord is my shepherd. He is my God. You might be trying to worship the false idol of money, or the false idol of relationships. You might be seeking your safety and security in false idols, but through faith in Jesus Christ, I have real security. I know God. He has shown His love for me through the cross. He is personal, and He cares for me. He is my God. God is personal.
God is my guide.
Second, God is my guide. He leads the way. The Lord is my shepherd. God is my guide.
Now, I grew up in the city. I have never known a shepherd. I have never seen sheep follow a shepherd. The closest I’ve gotten to a shepherd is maybe eating shepherd’s pie? I’m not even sure that I’ve eaten that. Now I did do what a lot of younger people do nowadays. I went on YouTube and watched a video of a shepherd leading sheep. So I have seen that. Sheep will follow the shepherd’s voice, and will go one after the other, trusting the shepherd. Pretty fascinating.
David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw how He was really like those sheep, in need of a shepherd. He needs to hear the Shepherd’s voice. He needs the Shepherd’s guidance. He needs to follow the Shepherd. Jesus used this term of a shepherd to describe His relationship with us, His people. He said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” We need the leading and guiding of the shepherd.
As I was trying to relate to what a shepherd does, I remembered kindergarten. We were just young kids. We didn’t know anything about school. We needed guidance. I had a good kindergarten teacher. She was on top of us, looking out for us, making sure we were going to the right place. Wherever she took us as a class, we would follow her. She would take us to gym, to lunch, to recreation, back to class. When I think about it, this is why Jesus says we should have the faith of a child. When a child trusts his teacher, he follows him or her. It’s automatic. This is the trustworthy one. We need to look at God with faith and follow Him wherever He leads, because He is trustworthy.
Where are you getting your guidance? Who are you trusting? What is leading you? Are you being guided by your crisis, allowing it to take you to one anxious place after another? What is leading you? You need to be able to see past the crisis of the moment, and see the Good Shepherd leading you through it, taking you to a better place. Jesus is my Protector, my Guide, my Counselor, my Leader. The Lord is my shepherd.
God is my satisfaction.
Third, God is my satisfaction. David says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” That is literally, I will not lack anything. Because God guides me and protects me, because He nourishes me and gives me peace, I have everything I could possibly need. God is my satisfaction.
So many of us do not live our lives this way. The Lord is there to be our complete satisfaction, but we ignore that. We live in the “if only-s.” If only I had a new job, then everything would be alright. I would be satisfied. If only I had all of my bills paid off, then I would be alright. I would be satisfied. If only I had a new house, or a new relationship, or a new spouse, then I would be satisfied. If only, if only, if only…
Living in the “if only-s” is a frustrating place. What you will find is that you will find that new job, and still not find satisfaction. You will find that new relationship, and still not find satisfaction. We are not complete until Christ is at the center of our life.
The Apostle Paul knew what this secret of satisfaction is. He understood not lacking anything because the Lord is his shepherd. He wrote in Philippians 4:11-13:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul had been through hard times and good. There had been times with money, and times without. There had been times in sickness, and times in health. There had been times of trouble, and times where things were going well. He could go through it all because Jesus Christ strengthens him. He was completely satisfied in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was his shepherd, and he lacked nothing because of that.
What does complete satisfaction in Christ look like? What does it mean not to lack anything? David lays it out for us in the rest of the psalm.
- We will not lack rest. God will take us through difficult times, and lead us to a place where we can be comforted in His goodness and His mercy. His love will bring peace to our soul.
- We will not lack life. God is the restorer of our soul. His salvation gives new life, and a new hope for us.
- We will not lack guidance. He counsels and corrects us, leading us in His righteousness. He will mold us and make us into the men and women He wants us to be.
- We will not lack safety. Although we will face trouble, we can go through it with confidence, knowing that God is in the front, leading us through it. He is with us, protecting and correcting our path.
- We will not lack provision. He prepares a table before us, despite the difficulty surrounding us. God will provide for us what we need.
- We will not lack a heavenly home. Ultimately God is guiding us through this world, to a place where our home is. He is our security, our shelter leading us to be with Him in glory.
In Christ we lack nothing. In Christ we have complete satisfaction. We can get through any situation, because Christ is at the front, guiding us through it, guiding us home.
We are reminded again of the first verse of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” God is a personal God. He is not detached, somewhere not paying attention. He is close. He is near. He cares for you. If you are a believer in Jesus, you can say with confidence that the Lord is my shepherd. God is my guide. He takes us through difficult times, troubling times, and good times. He is leading us, molding us, counseling us, shaping us, correcting us. As we listen to His voice, and follow His lead, He guides us through everything. God is my satisfaction. In Christ, we lack nothing. He has given us salvation and new life through His sacrifice for us. We are total and complete. We have everything we need in Jesus.
How about you? Can you say that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want? Do you feel like you are lacking something? Is there trouble that is tearing your life apart? Jesus wants to give you peace. He wants to be the Lord of your life. He wants to be your Good Shepherd, protecting you and leading you to His peace. It is only the personal care of God that we find in a relationship with Christ that gives us complete satisfaction.