Confidence For The Future

Knowing that God is our shepherd gives us eternal hope.

Ross Sawyers
May 17, 2020    1hr 10m
In the first sermon of the new series 'Confidence For The Future' Pastor Ross Sawyers teaches from the first verse of Psalm 23. He shares the amazing truth that God is our shepherd, and with Him we can live in eternal confidence that he will provide for all our needs. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: 00:00 These seem to be interesting days, don't they? And I think with this Coronavirus that it certainly created quite the upheaval over the last several weeks. And when the lockdown began there seemed to be, in our country, and in our particular area a unity and a resolve to do whatever's necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect people as much as possible. As time has passed, it seems that there's an increasing disunity and divide, as people politicize, and there's all kinds of things that start to remove the unity around something like this. And I think what that really does, and it seems like a crisis time no matter what the crisis time is, that eventually our hearts are revealed in what we're really about and who we really are. It starts to emerge. And I think that's what we're seeing now as people are getting a little uncomfortable with being locked down, still others would think that we should stay locked down longer, just a divide on the different opinions of how things should be.

Ross Sawyers: 01:23 And then there's questions that are legit questions, right? You know what's essential and what's non-essential? And what might be essential to someone else, is non-essential to another. And so it's a challenging question of what is essential and non-essential. And then the questions of when does someone reopen, and then how do they reopen? And there's a number of views on what that looks like, including for churches. And then there's just uncertainty that is running rampant in every circle. We don't know if universities or colleges, what they'll do in the fall. We don't yet know what our schools will do locally in the area. We see different things with sports, and different attempts for professional sports to begin to amp up without spectators. And there's just so many random things going on. And then for many of you, many of us, what do our jobs look like in the future? There's uncertainty as to what that might be. And then there's a number among us that are grieving losses right now from these last few weeks, and we wonder how many more are to come.

Ross Sawyers: 02:42 In the midst of all that I described, we could be fretful and in a bad spot. And yet we could ask another question and say, is it possible to have confidence for the future rather than fear, anxiety or uncertainty? And I would suggest that the answer is, yes. That is Christians, we can have the most confidence for the future, despite the circumstances in what might be happening around us. If you turn in your Bibles to the 23rd Psalm, I love this Psalm, I know many of you do. It's familiar to a number of people, and it'll be brand new to some others. It just depends on what your background is. And I'm hoping that these next few weeks that you'll find yourself incredibly familiar with this 23rd Psalm. Because I believe in here, in this part of God's word, that we'll be able to find the kind of confidence that we long for when there's uncertainties in the future. There is a place where we can find confidence.

Ross Sawyers: 03:56 I'd like to just read the 23rd Psalm, all six verses, and then I want us to hang out in verse 1. In these next several weeks, we're going to spend each week on one verse of the 23rd Psalm. And by the time we're done, I hope that it is just been immersed in some, deep within, and that emerges often to bring strength and encouragement to you as you move through these days, and whatever the days ahead hold.

Ross Sawyers: 04:29 The 23rd Psalm says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 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've anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Ross Sawyers: 05:12 If you're familiar with this Psalm, as a norm, the way we've been taught is this is a song about the shepherd, sheep, and a spiritual kind of imagery that flows from that analogy, that metaphor. But I think as different ones have studied this along the years, there are some different ways maybe to think about it. And the way we'll think about it in the coming weeks, is the first four verses really have that shepherd and sheep kind of imagery. Some have an alternative thought for verse four, we'll probably lean into the shepherd and sheep. Verses 5 and 6, really do take a turn, and there could be a case made that it's still the shepherd. And yet, I think there might be an even stronger case that it's the picture of a host and a guest, and what a feast there is for the guests at the host's table, and that's the way we'll think about it in a few weeks.

Ross Sawyers: 06:16 Today though, I want us to hang out in verse 1, and it says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." The LORD here is the Hebrew word, in the Old Testament, for those who are not aware of this is written in Hebrew. And in the Hebrew language, this word for LORD, is the word Yahweh. And Yahweh is the name that God declared himself to have when he called Moses to be the deliverer of his people. Moses was out with his sheep, he was actually a shepherd, and he had moved the sheep to a particular place. And when he moved them, God encountered him at a burning bush, and let him know that he would be the one that God would use to deliver the people out of slavery from Egypt and to become the people of God. And Moses asked a legit question, he says, well, they're going to ask me your name. What do I tell them is your name? And this is what God said, he said, I am who I am. I am, and what he said is that's my name forever. And that is the word we have, that gives us Yahweh, I am. Meaning he is self-existent, he's dependent on no one, he simply is, that's who he is. He is Yahweh, who is sovereign, meaning that he's in control of the universe, in everything that happens in this universe. He's the King, he's the ruler over all, He's the ruler of Israel, and the ruler of all nations on the earth, and he's gathering of people that will be his people for all time. He is transcendent, meaning that he is beyond anything that we can imagine, and anything that we could reach towards. He's absolutely pure, which is the word Holy, when we talk about God as a Holy God. And yet he's unique from any other purported God, because he is also near, and intimate, and close, and involved. He's both far and near, he's engaged and he's involved. There's no one like God, there's no one like Yahweh.

Ross Sawyers: 08:47 And David, who is the King, he wrote this Psalm, and he declares that the Lord is my shepherd. And he brings us into this analogy of God, who is Yahweh, and this picture of a sovereign King, and he's also a shepherd. I don't know that in our culture when we think of leaders corporately, or in government, or whoever particular leaders would be, I don't know that shepherd is the kind of term that we typically think of when we think of leaders in our day. In the ancient world, Kings were thought of as shepherds, they had a kingdom and they shepherded the people in the kingdom. There was a care and a love for the people, and they would refer to themselves as shepherd Kings. Here's David saying that the Lord Yahweh is my shepherd.

Ross Sawyers: 09:45 The idea of shepherd and sheep, it's important in the Bible, and in the nomadic and agricultural life of the Hebrew people, the Jewish people. The sheep, when we think about how they function, they are totally dependent on the shepherd, they wouldn't survive long without the shepherd, they simply would not survive. They're prone to wander, and they are not all that intelligent. The shepherd is the leader of the sheep. The shepherd guides, protects, sweats, and labors over, the shepherd has such a love for the sheep, that he sweats, and labors, and does whatever it takes. He loves and risks for them. It's an interesting connection between shepherd and sheep, they're actually really closely and intimately connected. The middle Eastern shepherd, for example, could have his sheep mingled in with multiple flocks of other shepherds in their sheep, and simply by calling the names of his sheep, and by his voice when he would call out, his particular sheep would emerge out of that mingling of different flocks and follow the shepherd. The shepherd and the sheep were closely connected, and the sheep would respond to the voice of their shepherd, they knew who their shepherd was.

Ross Sawyers: 11:24 There's some really well known people in the Bible that were shepherds. I already mentioned, Moses, as one of those. And David who writes this Psalm, and who wrote a number of our Psalms, he's the second King of Israel, and he was a shepherd. You might remember that David is the one as a younger man, as a boy even, that he came and he defeated Goliath, the giant of the Philistines, the enemy. Everyone was afraid, and David was not. And he brought with him five smooth stones, and he carried those stones in a bag, it was the shepherd's bag. Normally that bag would be used to carry food for the day. but on that particular day, David, the shepherd boy brought five smooth stones. And with those stones, he was the one that was able to slay the giant. David was a shepherd King, he had a love for the people.

Ross Sawyers: 12:35 Amos, the prophet, was also a shepherd. And he was brought out from being a sheep herder in an area called Toccoa, and he was a prophet, he came out for a season of time and God used him to proclaim the words that he wanted proclaimed to the culture that he was in. We spent time in Amos years ago, and it was a profound study for us, out of it we recognized clearly how much God has a heart for justice. And a verse that that maybe we recognize out of Amos, is chapter five verse 24, “But let justice roll down like waters , and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." He was speaking to a culture that was not acting in justice towards one another, they were actually unjust towards each other, and Amos is calling them out, and calling them into the kind of righteousness and justice that God desires. He was a sheep herder, and then God called him out to be a prophet.

Ross Sawyers: 13:42 And when we continue that theme of the shepherd in the Bible, when we move into the New Testament, we recognize that what God does, is those who are to lead his church are also called shepherds. It's who God is, the Lord is my shepherd. It is who several people in the Bible, it was their occupation, they were shepherds. And then it is the very way that God describes that we're to care for the church. In Acts chapter 20, for example, verse 28, and I find this to be really humbling for myself, and for those in our church that are the shepherds and leaders of the church. It says,“ Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." This is the imagery that he uses for those who are leaders of the church, to shepherd the church, and it's a trust that he's given us, for those that he purchased with his own blood. In First Peter 5, Peter writes, and he says that we're to shepherd the flock of God, and we're to do it voluntarily with eagerness, proving to be examples.

Ross Sawyers: 15:10 Unfortunately, there are a number of people that have been shepherds for God's people that have not done well, and have acted, and responded, in ways that are counter to what God is after. In Ezekiel chapter 34 we find a picture of the shepherds that were not doing what God had for them to do. I want to read for you Ezekiel 34 verses 4 and 5. We're thinking about the shepherd, and we're looking at the imagery all throughout scripture, people who were shepherds, and what God uses to show through the leaders of his church. But these were people he says, "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves." There are those who are leaders of God's people that are more interested in taking care of themselves than they are taking care of the people that God has entrusted to their leadership, and God has a warning for them in Ezekiel. And he says, "Woe shepherds of Israel." When God says, woe, w.o.e, that's not good news for anybody. And he says, this isn't good news, this is what you've been doing. And when I read from verse 4 and 5, we get a picture of what they've not done, that they were to be doing, “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. “They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered." God's intention is for the shepherd to lead, and care for, and protect, and not to leave those who are broken and scattered to fend for themselves.

Ross Sawyers: 17:10 He says in 34:11, "For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out." If the ones that I have put in charge to shepherd the people of Israel are not going to do what they're asked to do. Then God says, I'll search for my sheep, I'll seek them out. Our God is a God who pursues and searches and seeks for those who are his own. And then he says, in verse 16, “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment." Woe to those shepherds that are not doing what God has asked them to do, he'll feed them with judgment. Right now they feed themselves while not looking after the others. While may we be a people that shepherd well, care well, and love well our people, so that we might be strengthened in the Lord, and the lost might be found, and the broken might be made right? God is about fixing things, and what a gracious God he is. This gives us an image of the shepherd throughout the Bible, and there's not one human that is capable of shepherding the people of God in a perfect way in. And we see in Ezekiel 34, a perfect example of the brokenness, even of those who are the shepherds of the people.

Ross Sawyers: 19:10 And there's only one that we can lean into that has actually shepherded in absolute perfection, and that shepherd is Jesus. When the Psalmist says, "The Lord is my shepherd." When John writes what Jesus said, Jesus also talks about a shepherd. If you have your Bibles and your journeying along with me in them, in John chapter 10, we see a descriptor of Jesus as the shepherd. And in verse 7, let's read verses 7 through 11, and unpack those a little bit as we move through it. But in John 10 verse 7, Jesus said to them again, he said this a little bit, they didn't really catch it, they didn't understand it. And he says, let me say it again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." He's giving them an analogy, a spiritual picture that they can grab hold of. And I know it might be harder for us because we're more in a technological world, and in a society that is less and less agricultural. There are those that grew up more agriculturally, and you understand this a little better. And most of us can get the idea if we haven't experienced it, and it seems to be a lasting image that God intended for us to have, even if it's not something that we work in ourselves, we can understand what he's saying. And he says, I want you to know that I am the door of the sheep, and they would have understood what he was saying when he said that. Because the sheep oftentimes would be in a courtyard, maybe around the place where they would stay, and it would be fenced in. And there would be a way in and a way out through the door, and there would be one way.

Ross Sawyers: 21:04 And Jesus says, I'm the door of the sheep, it's a narrow path, we read in scripture, through Jesus. And that's problematic for some people, probably a number of people that's problematic. And yet it's actually a beautiful thing to know that Jesus has provided a way to be with God, it's a narrow way, but there's an invitation to come in to that way. It's narrow, and Jesus said, he said, I'm the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. Jesus is the way, he is the door. He's the door, and he is in verse 11, the good shepherd.

Ross Sawyers: 21:53 Let's read verse 8, "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them." Remember when I said that the sheep know the voice of their shepherd? And Jesus has drawn comparison here in saying, I'm the door of the sheep, and there've been a number of people who've come before me, a number of false messiahs, false saviors, and they're like thieves and robbers. And the sheep knew it, because the ones that are God's sheep know his voice, and they know when a voice is the wrong voice. There are those that deceived and they were thieves and robbers. Verse 9, Jesus reiterates, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." If anyone enters through the door, Jesus says, he's the door. If anyone enters through the door, then they'll be free to roam. There's actually freedom in that doorway, that is Jesus. It may seem narrow to some, but there's freedom, freedom to move in and out, once you've come in to the door, that is Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 23:16 I'd like to show you a couple of pictures. I think one of them I've shown before and not the other. In our living room, someone in our church, we asked him a while back he does beautiful work, and he made for us this wooden cross. And when you see that cross, that hangs over our fireplace. And there's two metal crosses, if you can see next to represent the three Jesus being the center, and we have written at the bottom tetelestai. Tetelestai means it's finished. The work that Jesus did, he finished it on the cross and canceled out the debt of our sin. In our house, in our living area, so that's over the fireplace, and if you look across the room, we have a painting now that we bought recently, and it's a door. And it's not lost on me that in our living room we have a picture of the cross, because we want people to see that cross. And we want to always be reminded, as much as we can, of what it is that Jesus did for us on the cross. And on that cross, we know that what he did is he provided a way for us to have life. And Jesus said, "I'm the door." And when I look at that painting on our wall of that door, I'll look at it, and I'm reminded that Jesus himself is the door. And I looked at the other side of the room, and the way that I can get through that door is through what Jesus did for me on that old, rugged cross. And I'm so grateful for the imagery that he gives us.

Ross Sawyers: 24:55 And he's telling us that he is the door, and not only that he's the door that gives life, but there's also one trying to deceive us and keep us from walking through that door. In verse 10, he says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." Satan is an enemy who's doing everything he can to deceive you and to deceive me, to attack us, to give and feed lies to us so that we don't buy into what Jesus says. What Satan wants to do is steal the joy out of our lives, steal the peace from our lives, to literally steal the life from us. He is on a search and destroy mission, and he succeeds way too often. It doesn't need to be that way though, because he says that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Ross Sawyers: 26:03 You see, Jesus is that door, and he has come that we might have life and that we'll have abundant life. In Psalm 16:11, it says, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Joy, and pleasure, and life are found in Jesus. There's an abundance of loving kindness, and mercy, and grace, that is all over who Jesus is and what he offers when he offers life to us. And he came that we might have life.

Ross Sawyers: 26:37 In verse 11, he said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." He's the door, and he's the good shepherd. The psalmist said, "The Lord is my shepherd." And he's pointing us, and that actually gets fulfilled even more. Yes, Yahweh God is shepherd, and then he makes himself known in Christ, and Jesus says, equating himself with God, I am the good shepherd. Do you know what the word good there means? It is a word that means, just the strange and compelling, as someone wrote, power of Jesus's love. When people were with him, there was a strange and compelling kind of love around him, and people were drawn to that, attracted to that. Now I find this interesting, right? In Isaiah 53:2, we're told that Jesus's appearance was not attractive. And it made me as I read this afresh, it made me think how cool if we ever saw movies made about Jesus, where he wasn't so attractive and so handsome. But maybe he depicted more like scripture says, that he was not attractive in his appearance, he's not necessarily someone to look and be drawn to. What they're drawn to was the compelling love that he had for them. Jesus, the good shepherd voluntarily laying his life down for his sheep.

Ross Sawyers: 28:15 Why did he have to do that? In Isaiah 53 verses 5 and 6, we find in verse 6, specifically, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity, the sin of us all to fall on Him." Can you imagine a more stunning thing? This is why in John 1:29, that John the Baptist said when he sees Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!,". Jesus took on your sin and mine, it is stunning. He's actually in Isaiah 53, "The lamb that was led to slaughter to bear our iniquities and to justify the many." He voluntarily laid his life down, something had to be done about our sin, and Jesus has taken care of it. He's the only one that has, and that's why he's the door to life, that's why he's the good shepherd. What do we do when we hear this news about him being the door and the good shepherd? We actually realize that Jesus is both the sacrificial shepherd, and the sacrificed sheep, he's both. Everything is summed up in Jesus, but what are we do when we hear this? We find in scripture that what we do when we hear it, is the way we respond is to believe it.

Ross Sawyers: 29:51 And a few weeks ago, Arnaldo, who is our neighborhood engagement minister and doing amazing job in these weeks that we've been on quarantine. He was sharing with me a while back, and I asked him if I could share this story. But there's a 29 year old lady in the community right around us, and she knew some people that were part of the Spanish group of 121. And when she met them, she stayed in contact, then she started watching some of the Facebook live things that are Arnaldo was doing. There were some family issues and challenges, so she reached out for prayer, a number of people have gathered around this young woman. And then our mission team started doing this food kind of drives a few weeks ago, meats, and people have given a number of different kinds of meat. She came up to get some meat, and in the course of these conversations and other people being there with Arnaldo, he was able to talk to her about what it meant to know Jesus, like I just described. And just a few weeks ago, she said yes to him, she believed it. And Arnaldo said, just in tears, she's believed it. And her life changed forever on that day, that she became one of the sheep of Jesus, he's her shepherd. And then tragically, just several days ago, we found out that because of her circumstances here, she needed to go back to Mexico. And she had discovered that she had cancer and she died, she has two young children, and praying for those children. And while that's tragic on one hand, on the other hand, what a gift that God, in his kindness, would reach in and bring salvation to this young 29 year old lady. And so we're confident today for her future, and that it rests with Jesus, as she rests with him now.

Ross Sawyers: 32:11 There've been four people in the last six months, where that has been the case, that somewhere within a year or two or three, as adults they've come to Christ after some pretty challenging lives, and then died recently after. I'm so grateful that we have a confidence in Christ that they are with him. And that's the kind of confidence that we can all have, and God is all about bringing people in to him and to the nations. Verse 16 of John chapter 10, he says, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd." God is about the nations, we've been speaking to that. He's about all peoples, everywhere, every ethnicity, all over the world, and he's bringing us together as one flock is the way he describes it.

Ross Sawyers: 33:08 And in chapter 10, verse 18, he talks about this authority that's been given to him, that we also saw in Matthew 28, that all authority has been given to Jesus to bring people into the fold, to bring people to be a part of the flock, to bring people to be a part of God's family. Yes, there is confidence for the future, that confidence is found in the good shepherd who is Jesus. Our confidence today is not in the stock market, it's volatile. Our confidence today is not in government leaders, they're human. Our confidence today is not in the medics, they are human as well. We're grateful for each of these, but the confidence for the future does not lie in their hands, the confidence for the future lies in the hands of the good shepherd. Our confidence does not lie in the media today, in their partial truths towards us, our confidence lies in the truth of Jesus Christ who is the good shepherd, both crucified and risen.

Ross Sawyers: 34:12 How can we be sure when John 10 Jesus says in verse 27, "“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."? Those who belong to Jesus know his voice, and they follow him. They follow him. Part of how you can be confident knowing that you're one of God's sheep is that you hear his voice, and his voice we hear primarily in his word, and then we follow him. Verse 28, "And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand." No one can snatch them out of the Father's hand, we're safe in the hand of the good shepherd. When we receive Jesus and believe him, we become his. A shepherd marks his sheep, he brands his sheep, it's clear who the owner is. We are branded with the brand marks of the cross in Jesus Christ. Paul writes this in Galatians 6, verse 17, "From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus." In Christ, we bear the marks of the cross. Jesus had us with him, and shepherds and sheep are fiercely loyal.

Ross Sawyers: 36:01 Part of how we know that we are God's, with confidence, is that we hear his voice primarily through his word, through his Holy spirit within us. And we follow him, and we're fiercely loyal to him. But more than that, know, that when our loyalty comes up shy, he's fiercely loyal to us. We lean into his promise, his work on the cross, that we can't be snatched out of his hand. We don't lean into our abilities, our strengths, what we can do, we're safe in the hand of God. He has you, he has you held tight.

Ross Sawyers: 36:44 "The Lord is my shepherd.", Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my shepherd." When you say this first verse of Psalm 23, can you say with confidence, the Lord is my shepherd? Can you insert your name? The Lord is Ross's shepherd. The Lord is Andrew's shepherd. The Lord is Barrett's shepherd. The Lord is Lisa's shepherd. That's my family. Can you say it today? Do you know with confidence that you've believed it, what it is that God has done. If you've believed it, the Lord is your shepherd. And since he is, then I shall not want. Because he is my shepherd, I will lack nothing that is a real need. And there's hard questions with this one isn't there? Because a lot of times we look around and think in extreme poverty, and kind of the scenarios we see happening around us, it looks like there's a lot of wanting, that there's a lot of needs not being met. Well, the idea here is that they're utterly content, utterly content in the good shepherd.

Ross Sawyers: 38:01 Paul says in Philippians 4:11, that he's learned to be content in whatever circumstance he was in. He knew what it was to have an abundance, and he knew what it was to not have much at all. He knew the extremes, but he learned to be content. Why? This morning I was praying and asking God, what does this mean for people that are in really hard spots, I shall not want? And what I just heard him say, I wasn't even directly asking this morning as I was praying, it was, I'm enough. God is enough, he is absolutely enough, I don't need any more than him. As long as the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he's enough. It's why the psalmist said in 73:25, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth." You're my desire, God. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10, his sole desire was nothing on this earth that it had to offer, it was "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden." Don't go somewhere else, come to me, just sit in my presence, I'm enough.

Ross Sawyers: 39:16 And when we have uncertainties and fears and worries, and we're fragile in these times, we go to Psalm 55:22, and we cast our burden upon the Lord and he'll sustain you, he'll never allow the rights is to be shaken. First Peter 5:7, we cast all our anxiety on him. Philippians 4:6-7, we're anxious for nothing. Why? Because we can bring it all to the one who can actually do something about it. We're utterly content and satisfied in him, he's our shepherd, our good shepherd. Did you know that when a sheep is in with the flock, that the sheep does not worry, because he's in tight community. God has designed us to be in community with him, in community with others, without him, we won't survive. He's also designed us to be with people who are following Jesus, and when we're in that tight group of people, that's how God helps us to not want, and far needs to be met. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." God is doing a phenomenal work in the life of 121, and in the life groups at 121, we're satisfied in him, we're meeting needs of each other. And I would only say today that if we struggle here, then we simply bring our struggle to God and cast that on him. Lord, I want to be able to say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

Charlie Howery: 41:08 My name is Charlie Howery. And my wife is Laura. We've got a two and a half year old and my wife is pregnant with our second. And these last couple months have been a challenge.

Charlie Howery: 41:26 There have been some ups and downs. So we found out at the beginning of March that my wife was pregnant. And so that was great news. And then a week later we found out that I was getting laid off. And so you've got fantastic news and then disappointing news right after. And so we've been taking it one day at a time, relying on the Lord during that time as well. He's been shepherding us through throughout this, this time as well. And learning how to lean on him and trust him even when we don't know what's gonna happen next. You know, one of the challenges that we've been facing during this time is like a lot of our country we've had issues, getting unemployment payments and stuff like that. And so it took weeks before we got assistance in that way.

Charlie Howery: 42:32 And during that time, when we weren't sure when, or if I was going to get we were going to get help after I got laid off just seeing God carry us through that time, just God's Providence and how he used the church to just bless us immensely and getting, you know, unexpected gifts and seeing the outpouring of love from our community and not only receiving, but just the gift of being able to give, even when we feel like we didn't have much to give, we still wanted to give because we were being blessed and we just wanted to bless others as well. Another challenge during this time has been my wife's pregnancy, it's been a very difficult one compared to when she was pregnant with our son, Samuel, her progesterone levels were not where they needed to be.

Charlie Howery: 43:33 And so we ended up having to start doing progesterone injections. And so that's been really rough on my wife and just her level of energies just been down and seeing how God has provided a way for me to be home right now to take care of her and take care of my son has been a huge blessing. I know that you know, my wife has it would have been a lot harder if I, if I had not been at home with being at home, that's also brought some challenges, getting out of a routine of, you know, working 50 to 55 hours a week and, you know, being gone most of the day to being home all day doing more things around the house and, you know, taking care of my wife and take care of my son though, those have been a, a rich gift.

Charlie Howery: 44:26 It's also been difficult because of realizing how I've been with my son and when I'm tired, you know, I gotten to a point where I don't want to help, but know I need to. And so that creates, you know, I, I choose to have poor attitudes in those moments. And, and so it's just revealed some sin as well that God revealing that to me. And convicted me of that has, has, has been difficult. But also just realizing that it's a problem has been refreshing as well. One verse actually that I've been reminded of is Psalm three, about how God is our shield. And even though it's been difficult and challenging these last two months, we've had a confidence knowing that God will get us through it.

Charlie Howery: 45:35 I love music and I love getting to lead worship. And with so much more time on my hands, it's been really neat to be able to still serve, you know, whether that's, you know, recording, you know, a couple of songs for students and send it to Jermaine or helping out with the Spanish service. It's just been, it's been different and it's been really cool. I've been kind of thinking about this lyric. The verse goes, ah, you can do more in my waiting than in my doing, I can do. And there are times where I can, you know, try and try and get stuff going. And when I just trusted the Lord during that time, I'm trusting that he'll provide for us, you know, he did, and I didn't have to do anything for it. We're still in the middle of this and we don't know what's going to happen with my job. And we're just taking it one day at a time. And we, we trust that God will continue to provide and continue to give us all that we need. And that's enough. And so we're just so grateful for verses like Psalm 23 and Psalm three for his word and how he reminds us of who he is and what he, he does for us. And that's enough for me and my family.

Ross Sawyers: 47:05 I'm so grateful for Charlie, and the love that he and his wife led us in worship in our time today, and then his vulnerability in sharing his story. And again, I just think he captures the heart of Psalm 23:1, and the reality of we still struggle and we still have these fears and anxieties yet our confidence is in God himself, the good shepherd, through Jesus Christ. That's where our confidence lies today for the future.

Ross Sawyers: 47:40 Why don't we pray together. Father, thank you for our time to worship, we're grateful for the means that we have to be able to do this. And Lord, I pray that whatever scenario someone might find themselves in today, that they would find strength in you as their good shepherd. And God, that they would continue to grow, and that I would, to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. And God, that we would find you to be so desirable that that's all we need, we just need you. God, you're enough. And we thank you and pray in Jesus' name. Let's be quiet before the Lord, and just allow him to work in your heart in any ways that he might be working. If it's just throwing out your worries to him, your fears, it's just leaning into him for the first time and believing what it is that he did. Whatever it might be, let's take some space to lean into that.

Ross Sawyers: 49:10 Well, I hope you spend some time hovering in Psalm 23:1 this week, and allowing these truths to continue to sink deep within you. And then on Tuesday at one o'clock central time, we'll be having a zoom call, and it's called Ramadan Revealed. Tuesday is the night, it's power night in the Islamic community, and we're going to learn from one of our missionaries about Ramadan, ways we can pray, and be a part of what's going on towards the end of Ramadan. And if you're interested in being a part of that, you can go onto our website and you can RSVP, and then you'll end up finding the zoom link when you go to that page on our website. And we look forward to it, we've had a number of these kinds of calls the last few weeks, they've been excellent times to learn about what's going on with some of our different mission partners in different parts of the world. And I hope, if you're able, I know a number of your working at that time, or teaching, or in your home, whatever it might be. But if you can, it could be a cool time I think for your kids as well, to jump on with you. Again, one o'clock on Tuesday.

Ross Sawyers: 50:24 And then we continue to be grateful. I express this each week, and I am incredibly grateful for your faithfulness to give, and to give towards the Lord in what he's doing through his church at 21. And we continue to appreciate that, and encourage as you move ahead, to do the same. All right, I hope you have a fantastic day.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051