• Tony Birkhead

Are you Sure? Week - 1




Even though,

I will,

because You are!


INTRODUCTION

Share with each other some of your biggest anxieties from the last few months?

Share with each other at least one thing that took you off guard but also made you laugh in the last few months?

KEY SCRIPTURE

Psalm 23:1-6

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ PSALM 23:1-4

What do you think is significant about David’s use of the personal pronouns “me” and “my” throughout Psalm 23?

There was a temptation in Ancient Israel to speak only about “our” God and neglect to recognize that the God of Israel is also the God of individuals. This Psalm should remind you that you can go to God as your personal Shepherd who cares about your individual needs.

Thousands of years ago, contemplating God’s good care of him, David said, “ lack nothing.” Have you ever been this content? Why or why not?

David is able to say this only because he knew God as his Shepherd. The fact that David views God this way implies that he is a sheep. Sheep are not the brightest creatures and would likely not live long without the guidance and provision of the shepherd. David views God as the One who is providing for him, caring for him, and guiding him--thus all his needs are met. Your greatest need in life is not food, or clothing, or shelter, but to have a personal relationship with the God who made you.

What does verse 2 tell you about how God cares for your needs?

What kind of paths does God lead David down? What is God’s motive in leading David in this way (v. 4)?

David recognizes that God leads him down the right paths “for the sake of his reputation.” The path that God leads us down may not always be easy (vv.5-6), but it will be right. And God does this for His own glory and name. In other words, God’s motive in leading us is to glorify Himself. The fact that we get to see and personally experience God’s glory is further evidence of God’s perfect provision.

How might knowing that God leads you down the right paths for the sake of His reputation give us confidence in God’s guidance in our lives?

Knowing that God promises to guide you for the sake of his reputation should give you tremendous confidence that God will lead you well. God has put His own name and reputation on the line for us and He will not let His name be profaned or fall into disrepute. This should give you deep assurance that God is going to provide for, protect, and guide you.

What does a shepherd do with His staff and his rod (v. 4)?

A shepherd carried a “rod” to club down wild animals (1 Sam. 17:43; 2 Sam. 23:21) and a staff to guide and sometimes discipline the sheep. These two tools remind us of God’s constant and comprehensive protection and guidance. God has promised to do whatever it takes to lead, guide, and protect you.

Why might you find comfort and reassurance in God’s rod and staff (v. 4)? How do these two images help you “fear no danger” even while walking through the “darkest valley”?

David finds comfort in these two images knowing that God may very well lead him through the “darkest valley” (v. 4). These images of God’s perfect protection, provision, and guidance, remind believers that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

READ PSALM 23:5-6.

David shifts in verses 5-6 from envisioning God as a Shepherd to describing Him as the host of a banquet. Do any of God’s actions in verse 5 surprise you?

David envisions God anointing his head with oil which is a mark of friendship, acceptance, and celebration. This is a surprising description of God because He is holy. This is further evidence that this psalm finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, because it is only through Christ that we can relate to God as a friend (see John 15:15).

MOVING FORWARD

  • How can knowing God is with you instead of just helping you change your walk this week?

  • How can you face the dark areas of your life this week without fear? How might meditating on Psalm 23 help you be prepared?

PRAY TOGETHER

Pray that you would delight in the abundant provision of Jesus. Thank God for the making you able to face death without fear. Ask that He would make you passionate about telling others how good and gracious Christ our Shepherd is.

COMMENTARY

PSALM 23

23:1 The Lord is often referred to as the shepherd of His people, Israel (74:1; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; Ezek. 34:11-16). In the ancient Near East, kings were commonly known as the shepherds of their people. Since Yahweh is the true King, the title “shepherd” is most appropriate.

23:2-3 “Lets me lie down” is a Hebrew form implying causality, showing that God is the cause of the refreshment. “Right paths” might have a twofold idea. In keeping with the shepherd and sheep image, it can mean safe paths that are free from danger. In the larger context of Wisdom literature it refers to paths of righteousness, though usually that would contrast one path of life with another leading to death. The former idea is probably the primary meaning here.

23:4 Some argue that the Hebrew term “tsalmaweth” is related to an Akkadian word (tselem) that means “deep darkness.” Others say it comes from two Hebrew words, “tsal” and “moth,” and means “shadow of death.” It occurs approximately 20 times in the Old Testament. It is clear that it implies intense darkness that represents extreme danger (Job 10:21; 28:3; Jer. 2:6). “Darkest” fits this specific context, since it is in the darkest valley where the greatest danger (such as a predator) lurks for sheep.

23:5 The image shifts from shepherd to friend. The identification of Yahweh with a shepherd emphasizes His care and protection, but He is much more than that for a person who is in close fellowship with Him. While protection from enemies is still implied, it is intensified with the image of a banquet ( table) that is served while the enemies look on. In Jewish society oil was a symbol for rejoicing (104:15) and was also used in the welcoming of guests (45:7; 92:10; Luke 7:46).

23:6 The verb “pursue” is commonly used for attackers, but here Yahweh’s goodness and faithful love are personified as the ones who chased the psalmist throughout his life. “As long as I live” represents the Hebrew “for the length of days.” This is equivalent to the parallel “all the days of my life.” Though some translate this as “forever,” it is nowhere else used that way but always refers to one’s earthly life (91:16; Prov. 3:2,16). “Dwell” is similar to the word for “return.” In this verbal form, it differs only in the vowels. It is possible that the request is to return to the sanctuary of Yahweh throughout one’s life, although the preposition in argues for the idea of “dwell.”

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,

Genesis 48:15

As literacy increases in our cultures and instant access to information on the web is so readily available, the need to pass down history through verbal forms or storytelling is gradually dying if not already dead in your part of the world. This was not the case in the Old Testament. As Jacob was blessing his son Joseph, he reminded him of his family history and how God was so important in it.

We also see that God introduces himself to Jacob as this in Genesis 28:13 and again to Moses in Exodus 3:6. There is obviously something important about knowing your roots in God if this is how he introduces himself and we read throughout the Old Testament the Israelites constantly refer to God this way. Does God really want us to refer to him this way? Maybe.

We can also refer to him as the God who was the God of our grandparents and parents. That might seem weird because we may not really know the God stories of our parents or grandparents. They may not have been passed down to us. That doesn’t mean we can’t start doing it now for future generations.

As the world becomes more hostile to Jesus and less writing reflects the positives of Christianity, we still have our oral stories that we can pass down from one generation to another telling of what God has done in our lives and in the lives of our family members. Maybe there isn’t a tradition of God stories in your family, this is fine. You can be the one to start them. You can be your family’s first Abraham!

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—”that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Exodus 4:1-5

God: What’s in your hand?

Moses: A staff.

God: Lay it down, I’ll make it come alive.

Moses: *Drops the staff*- It transforms into a snake—a living thing—that God asks Moses to pick back up.

Through this staff, God worked miracles in Egypt and led his people into freedom. This staff represented deep things about Moses. He was a shepherd.

This was his:

identity

income

influence

For me, I’m a writer, and I hold a pen. This is who I am, how I make money, and how I wield influence. I’m just learning that it’s not about me—and if I try to make it about me, it quickly runs out of ink. But when I lay it down for God, there’s a river of ink, a fountain of never ending inspiration, wisdom beyond my abilities, and purpose I could never engineer for myself.

So, what’s in your hand? Are you willing to lay it down so God can make it come to life, and work wonders in the world? When we do, let’s not run from the calling, like Moses did at first. God’s plans for you are much greater than your plans for yourself—the same goes for me.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:25-27

God is always with us, even though we at times cannot sense His presence. There may be situations where we feel really close to Him, yet on other occasions, He might seem distant and uninvolved in our life. As believers, however, we can be certain He is our constant companion whether we’re aware of Him or not. This truth can empower and transform your life.

There are two statements in today’s passage that are the foundation for our confidence about God’s presence with us. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). Then He added, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (v. 23). What an amazing reality—the triune God has taken up residence in those of us who have received Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.

With this truth anchored in our mind and heart, we can know that no matter what we’re going through—even the loss of a loved one—we are not alone. Being in Christ, we have His peace in the midst of storms. That’s because there are none more powerful or knowledgeable than almighty God, who indwells us and gives us His comfort and strength.

We must remind ourselves of God’s presence because, unfortunately, it’s tempting to forget. But the more we remember He is with us, the better we can discern His work and comfort in our life. Let’s pray to keep this aspect of God’s character at the forefront of our mind.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 4

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:23-27

When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God, but Our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His Name should have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones. Our trust is in God up to a certain point, then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits’ end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him and His government of the world; He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.

“O ye of little faith!” What a pang must have shot through the disciples — “Missed it again!” And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced down right joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.

There are stages in life when there is no storm, no crisis, when we do our human best; it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.

We have been talking a great deal about sanctification — what is it all going to amount to? It should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight, but a deep joy to Him.

Adapted From: http://utmost.org

DAY 5

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

Psalm 91:4-5

Fear is an overwhelming emotion that takes hold of us and causes us to act with complete irrationality. Often times, we can be more devastated by fear than by the thing we are afraid of. But God says that we don’t have to be afraid—because He is with us.

I remember when I was a small boy living in New Jersey, I was out walking around with a newly acquired pair of cowboy cap guns. I was feeling pretty tough. I had my little belt on with my holsters and guns. I pulled them out and was firing away. Just then a couple of hoodlums saw me and said, “Hey you. Come over here. You want some of this?” They started pushing me around and laughing at me. Then they committed the unforgettable. They took my guns. All I could do was go home crying with empty holsters.

When I got home I found my brother who was five years older than me and a lot bigger. So I asked him, “Would you go back and help me get my guns back?” Together, we went back. Here were these hoodlums with my guns. I felt a great courage and said, “Give me my guns back!” I was feeling tough. It wasn’t because I was stronger. It was because my brother was with me. You see, if these guys gave me a problem, my brother would pound their heads in. I had courage not because of who I was, but because of who was with me.

In the same way, as we look at a frightening world we can have courage. Not because of who we are, but because God is with us. His truth is our shield. He is there to guide us and protect us.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

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