Well good morning, everyone! How are you? Are you awake? Yes? On a Sunday morning, early? Well it’s so good to be here in Crystal Cathedral. Pastor Sheila, thank you for welcoming me and allowing me to speak. I pastor a church in Colorado Springs called New Life Church and I know how big an honor it is to allow someone to speak to your people, so it’s a privilege to be here this morning.
I want you to open up the scriptures with me. We’re going to look in the 23rd Psalm today, and we’ll also be in John chapter 10, so if you have your bible with you right now, you can open up and read along with me. This morning I want to talk to you about our fearsome God and His fearless sheep. Our fearsome God and His fearless sheep.
And I’ll tell you two reasons this morning that we’re not to be afraid. Number one is we’re not afraid because He is near. We’re not a people of fear because God is with us. And let me tell you that sounds very elementary this morning, but when that becomes revelation to you, when you catch that, the truth of that by the power of the Holy Spirit, there’s not just a lot of things that will make you afraid.
Let’s read together the 23rd Psalm. Verse one says, “The Lord is my Shepherd. The Lord is my Shepherd.” If you can confess that this morning, if you can start with that idea, with that truth this morning, I promise you, you’ll take the first step this morning out of your fear.
And for those of you watching on the broadcast, there are many of you sitting in your living room right now, and you’re overcome by fear; fear of the economy, fear of a bad health report, fear about what’s going to happen to your children. Can I tell you the first step this morning is to confess out loud, “The Lord, Yahweh, the most high God, is my Shepherd.” And he says, “I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters and He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
And then verse four it takes a very ominous turn. The first three verses, everything seems wonderful. The Lord is my Shepherd. I’m walking in green pastures. I’m lying down beside still waters. My soul is being restored and then suddenly life happens. Verse four something very ominous comes into the picture. It says, “And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Will you say that out loud with me this morning, as a part of our confession? “I will fear no evil.” And there’s a reason why David can say this. He said, “I will fear no evil,” comma, comma, “for You are with me.” He had this awareness that God was with him, even in the dark days, even when everything around him seemed broken and shaken, he said out loud, “I will fear no evil for You are with me.” And not only is God with us, He comes with an attitude. Look what David says: “You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God comes with an attitude to defend you today. God’s not the passive God that doesn’t care about you. God is among us. God is with us. God is here to protect, to defend.
When I was a freshman in high school, I played on the high school baseball team as a freshman. I went to a school in east Texas. It’s where every redneck has to go at least once in their life. This is where I grew up in east Texas. And this school was known for its baseball team, but some of the players, they were messing up and the coach threw a bunch of them off the team and because I was on the junior varsity, I got promoted to the varsity team. Well that didn’t make a lot of the seniors, the upper classmen very happy to have me there as a young freshman. And I weighed about, at the time, about 125 pounds. I was just a rail thin, skinny little red headed kid, but I was a pretty good baseball player. And here I was as a freshman playing on the varsity baseball team.
And one day after practice, the coach went into the gym and left us out there to bring the equipment in and some of the older boys grabbed me, bound my hands and put a rope around my neck.
And so I covered my neck up that night, but coming out, I think I was coming out of the bathroom and my brother saw it, this red gash around my neck and he went and told my dad. And I’ll never forget, my dad coming into my bedroom and saying son, what happened? And I told him the story and I got tears in my eyes, I’m embarrassed to tell my dad. I remember my dad looking at me and he said, ‘son, you’re not going to go to school tomorrow. I’m going to go for you.’ And my dad was a man’s man. I’m so proud of the dad that I had. He’s gone to heaven now; he died about five years ago. But I had a good dad.
And that next morning, I stayed home and my dad went to the school. And I don’t know what he said to the principal and to the coach, I don’t know. He never would tell me what all happened, I just know that from that point on, I was not bothered again. The coaches were super nice to me, those older boys stayed about a hundred yards from me; they did not come near me. They never bothered me again for the rest of that school year. And something happened, something got deposited into my heart, that we don’t have to be bullied; bullied by our enemy, or bullied by anybody. God, through the act of my dad, deposited in me this courage to stand up. That we have a father who defends us, and I think David had something in his childhood deposited in him so that when everything around him seemed evil and dark, David said, I will fear no evil! My dad is with me! I just remember, every time I was with my dad from that point on, I just felt stronger because he was next to me. My dad defended me. My dad protected me.
We don’t have to fear evil because He’s near us. He’s with us. The Lord is our Shepherd. I’m in the palm of His hand.
There’s a second reason why I believe that as Christ’ followers we don’t have to be a people of fear. It’s this. We are not afraid because we can hear. I want you to imagine what it would be like to walk through life not being able to hear God, the voice of God. And one of the last things that Jesus said to His disciples before He went to the cross, is found in John chapter 10, verse 27 and He’s looking at His disciples and He’s preparing them for His absence. He’s preparing them for His departure, His physical departure because He’s about to go to the cross, He’s about to go to the grave but He’s resurrected. But then He leaves them and He descends into heaven. He’s preparing them for that moment.
And He says to all of us, He says in verse 27 of John 10, “My sheep listen to My voice.” My sheep, those who follow Me, so He’s echoing the words of King David. He’s echoing the words out of the 23rd Psalm and He says, “My sheep listen to My voice. I know them. I am with them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” And then listen to this language. “No one can snatch them from My hand.” Now the word snatch is an interesting Greek word. It’s a violent word. It’s a word of violence, of conflict. He says when you find yourself in the place of violence, when you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, when the enemy is trying to snatch you out of My hand, know this, that no one, no power of hell, no scheme of man can snatch you from My hand.
And then He says, “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all.” And then He repeats Himself, and notice that any time Jesus says something one time, we should pay attention, but any time Jesus says it twice, we should lean in and really pay attention to what Jesus is trying to say. So He repeats Himself again, He says, “My Father is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
When I was seven years old, my dad and my mom took.. I have a brother and a sister, there’s five of us in our family at the time, and my mom and dad took us to the Louisiana state fair in Shreveport Louisiana. Now to a country boy that lived out on the farm, going into town on a Saturday night to this big state fair was kind of a big deal. I mean lights and there was rides and everybody’s bringing their animals in to be judged, and it’s just a huge deal. There are 30 or 40 acres of carnivals and everything going on, and I’m in the first grade, I’m like six years old. And my mom and dad, I remember before we got out of the car, my mom and dad said now listen, there’s a lot of people here, stay close. Lean in, stay close to us. Don’t wander off, and they were probably talking to me. Brady, don’t wander off.
Well that night, we were walking down the main midway of the fair, and I remember that everything around me seemed bigger, larger than life, and I got distracted and I wandered off. And I remember suddenly realizing that I’m by myself. Do you remember the first time as a kid that you realize that your parents weren’t there with you? And I’m terrified; I stopped, and I can’t see mom and dad anywhere. And my dad, my dad, we grew up around bird dogs, training hunting dogs. And my dad, when he was a little boy, had a chip knocked off the front of his tooth, but it allowed him to whistle, so he had this real distinct whistle and he trained bird dogs and he trained me with that whistle. And I remember when I heard the whistle, I was standing there frozen in fear and I heard that whistle. And I turned and my dad was right there the whole time. He knew, he could see the look on my face, he knew I was terrified, but he was teaching me a lesson. Brady, listen for me. I’m near you. Lean in and listen.
And I think my dad was teaching me to listen for the voice of God. Listen to the continuously articulate scriptures. Lean in and listen. And when you hear the voice of dad, this fear that wants to cripple us, wants to grip us, wants to literally bring us to our knees as fear leaves us when we hear His voice, I’ve got good news for all of you this morning. God is near. God is with us. We are the sheep of His pasture. He is the shepherd of our souls.
If you believe that, could you confess that out loud with me this morning? We are His sheep. He is the shepherd of our soul. We are the sheep of His pasture. God is with us. God is near us. We can hear His voice. Can I pray with you this morning? Would you close your eyes for a moment and let me pray for you? I believe this morning that this word; it’s a very simple word. It’s a very simple message but for those of you that are gripped by fear right now, this message can set you free. This message can liberate you.
Father in heaven, we are so thankful this morning that You are near us. Father, we are so thankful this morning that we’re the sheep of Your pasture that You’re the shepherd of our souls that You’re with us, that nothing can take us out of Your hand. No power of hell, no scheme of man can take us from Your hand. And Father, I thank You today that we have listening ears. I pray today that You’d give us ears to hear and eyes to see, that You would give us a heart to understand, a mind to comprehend that You’re with us. The Lord is our shepherd and for that, we are very grateful, in Jesus’ name, amen. Amen.
God bless you. It’s been a pleasure to be with you this morning. Amen