Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Never Lost in the Valley

Last weekend I heard an incredible sermon on a part of the Bible I have heard a million times. You can never step foot in a church building and still know Psalm 23:

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

The sermon was about fear and "shadows". What is a shadow? A shadow is an image created by an object. It is not the actual object itself but the image of it's form. The object may be near by but it may also be far away and yet it's shadow can loom over us. Here are some thoughts I had and notes I took after studying this scripture again:

  • Christ defeated the object (death) so he is more than qualified to help us defeat our fears of it's shadow.
  • Just because we cannot see a shadow doesn't mean it is not there.
    • Think of someone on stage. Every week Adrian stands under some really bright stage lights. When he stands in the LIGHT, surrounded by the LIGHT, he cannot see a shadow. The shadow is there but he is not facing it or focusing on it because he is standing in the LIGHT. 
      • Likewise: What happens when we face the Light (Jesus Christ) and stand in him? {John 8:12}
      • Another note: Light exposes shadows always. Our perspective determines whether we fear them or not.
  • Wherever there are mountains (the highs in life) there will also be valleys. Anytime the land bunches up to create a higher ground there will be a portion of land that -as a result- becomes a valley.
  • Because of the natural layout of a valley, shadows become more prominent than light in a valley.
  • In Biblical times, a shepherd was a popular job. Any good shepherd new the layout of his land like the back of his hand. It was his job to care for, heal, watch over, and find lost sheep. The shepherd had to know his land in order to protect his sheep and guide them through any path. Do you see where I am going with this? :)
    • A good shepherd knows that the only way to get back to the high grounds (greener pasture) for the sheep is through the valley. (Again, think about the natural layout of land.)
    • If we go through the valley with a good shepherd will we get lost? Will we get stuck there?
      • Without the Shepherd- yes. 
      • With the Shepherd- no.
    • Any valley is temporary. It is a means by which we travel in order to get to greener pastures. It is necessary to travel through the valley to get to the higher ground.
It is better to be in the Valley with the Shepherd than on the Mountain Top alone.

-  Notes taken from/inspired by Pastor Richard Powell's teaching

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