Online Sunday Service – 24th January 2021

Good morning folks, how are you? Keeping warm and safe I hope. Here is this weeks Sunday Service if you would like to sit back, relax and listen to it. We are looking at the 23rd Psalm and seeing how important it is to our everyday lives. It has an important message for us if we are willing to hear it. So why not grab a cuppa and take some time to see what it has to say to you. Take care, keep safe and God bless. Iain

Audio Version

Printed Version

 

The 23rd Psalm

 

Good morning, How are you this morning? Keeping safe and well I hope.

 

In today’s service we will be taking a closer look at that most loved of Psalms – Psalm 23.

And we see how it’s the same message as Jesus preached many years later.

And a message we very much need to hear today.

 

Circumstances may change but God’s love and care for His people never changes.

 

But before that, let us share a  prayer ~

 

Almighty and all Loving God, we come to you this day to give you our heartfelt thanks for all your goodness and all the many blessings that you give to us each day.

You bless us far beyond anything we could ever ask for or deserve. And we thank you.

 

Bless those who feel lost and alone. Bless those who have drifted away from your way of love, respect and care for others.

You are our great Shepherd and we pray that you will lead us all back on to your path and lead us along life’s road, walking with us, talking with us too, if we have the ears to hear you.

Forgive us for the times we are “too busy” to talk to you – to listen to you. And for the times we say and do things who must disappoint you.

We ask for your forgiveness – and in Jesus name.

Lord, hear our prayers – and hear us now as we pray together in faith – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

 

Our Reading for today is that well known and well loved – Psalm 23.

Let us listen to God’s word –

Readings  :  23rd Psalm

 

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
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.

 

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
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.”

Amen.

 

This the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God

 

SERMON

 

 

Many people – including myself – love the Psalms.

Their ancient wisdom and spiritual depth still have much to say to us today.

They offer us a wealth of advice, understanding and comfort.

And perhaps the most well known Psalm of them all – is Psalm 23.

 

It was written by King David – the father of King Solomon.

 

And his description of God being like a Shepherd – gives us an image of how God tenderly watches over us and cares for us.

 

The KING David was of course the boy SHEPHERD David who once killed the Giant with a simple slingshot and a pebble.

And so he knew, first hand, what God’s strength and support can do.

 

As King he was encountering trouble all around him – and this was David reminiscing – looking back to happier days when everything seemed so much simpler.

 

Isn’t that what many of us do when things get complicated ? – we look back to happier days.

 

In this Psalm David is reminding himself – and us – that we have a great God of comfort who provides and cares for us, even in the tough times.

Perhaps that’s one reason why this Psalm means so much to us.

 

And that is why it is so popular at Funerals  –  a time when we look for comfort and reassurance the most.

 

But this Psalm isn’t just for Funerals.

 

It has a wonderful message for us even in today’s ‘high – tech’ world.

It doesn’t say that we will not suffer grief or sorrow – but it does say that whatever we go through – whatever we suffer – God goes with us.

 

I’d like to read that Psalm to you now – but in a slightly different form from the way we usually hear it ~ but perhaps that will help us to see it’s true meaning ~ as well as it’s beauty and relevance to our own everyday lives.

Think if as being written by someone who knows you very well – written just for you – and then I hope you will see  – that actually is was!

This version is called ~

 

The Lord is your Shepherd

 

The Lord is your shepherd

And you are one of his flock,

 

He watches over you like a good shepherd watches over his sheep,

 

He feeds you and gives you cool water when you are thirsty.

 

And when things get too much for you –

He gives you the extra strength you need

To help you through your troubled times and out in to that place of peace and tranquillity

which he sets aside for each and every one of us.

 

He keeps you on the straight and narrow path of what is right and proper –

Just like he promised you he would.

 

And even when things are at their very worst

You need not be afraid

Because god is always with you,

Comforting you and keeping you safe.

 

You are special to him

And he gives you all you need to live

A good and wholesome life..

Providing you with everything

You could ever want – aye – and so much more beside.

 

With God looking after you this way –

You should know that He loves you.

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And so – when the end of your days shall come,

As come they surely will –

You will have the joy and comfort of knowing that He will not forsake you – even then.

He will take you home,

To a room He has prepared just for you

 

And there you will live with him,

Your Saviour – in peace – at his side,

Forever more.

Amen

 

What lovely words of comfort !

 

If you would like a copy of this version I shall post it on my Facebook Page – or message me and I can send you one.

 

The 23rd Psalm – a beautiful and familiar Psalm to us all – and perhaps it’s enduring quality is that it touches at the very heart of each one of us.

And that’s because it touches us all in a deep place – a place where, even in this ‘high-tech’, modern world – we all have that basic human need to feel loved and cared for.

 

The Psalm tells us that in a busy world – in a world where things don’t always go as we’d planned – where we have our ups and downs, our joys and our sadness – in a world where things can sometimes get dark and scary – this psalm reminds us that God is with us through it all. He doesn’t walk away when things get difficult – indeed, that’s the very time he draws closer !

 

Doesn’t it say ~ “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.   I will fear no evil, for you are with me” ?

 

It’s a wonderful message for us – especially at those difficult times when we can feel alone and down-hearted.

“You’re not alone !” – it says – “your God walks with you – carrying you through the “valley of the shadows” kind of days – and out into that sunshine which awaits all who put their trust in Him.”

 

This is not empty rhetoric – no false claim – but a firm and absolute promise to you – to me and to all who open their hearts and minds to allow Him in.

 

*

This business of “being with you” is one that God has promises to His people as far back as the days of the wandering Israelites’, and before.

 

Joshua 1:9  says –

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

 

Psalm 46:1-3 says –  

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in troubled times.”

 

Isaiah 41:10  –

“So do not fear, for I am with you”

 

In Matthew 1:22–23 we hear the Angel telling Mary  – “You will have a Son and they will call Him “Immanuel’ which means “God is with us.”

 

Jesus said ““I will never leave you nor forsake you, I will always be with you.”

 

And –

John 1:14  tells us – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

 

This message of a faithful God has endured throughout the ages – and remains as strong today as it ever was.

Through good and bad times, through sunshine and rain – He promises to be with us, walking beside us through those ‘valley of the shadows’ kind of days.

 

And that is what He wants us, you and I, to know for ourselves – and to share with others.

But it won’t be easy.

 

In a more ‘sophisticated’ yet cynical world many believe they are ‘self sufficient’, no need for God, they say.

But for those of us who know what it is like to have God in our lives, can’t imagine what life would be without His support, His strength, His care and His love for us.

Knowing Him, knowing that He is there right beside us –  is quite literally – life changing.

 

Why wouldn’t we want that for our families and for ourselves?

 

Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

Are you asking, are you seeking, are you knocking??

 

I hope and pray that you are.

And so come to know all these things for yourself – that you might pass them on to others so they will come to know all these wonderful Blessing for themselves.

 

And in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

Here’s a story that I am fairly sure I have told you before. But there will be those who haven’t heard it so bear with me as I share it again – I think it stands telling twice.

There was a party in full swing – one of the guest  was a well know actor with a lovely deep, rich voice.

 

The other guests prevailed upon him to recite something for them – and after very little persuasion – he cleared his throat and in his best ‘actorial’ voice- he began to recite the 23rd psalm.

His pronunciation was perfect and his presentation of the subject was superb.

 

The group sat enthralled – and when he finished- he took a long, slow bow – and was warmly applauded by all present.

 

The guests then asked if anyone else would like to do their ‘party piece.’

And rather nervous young woman stood up and asked if anyone minded if she sung the 23rd psalm as it was one of her favourites in church.

Some of the guests looked at each other – not sure if they really wanted another ‘holy bit’ in the proceeding – but eventually agreed thinking – oh well – it’s soon be over and it’ll keep her happy.

So the young girl – who was a student and far from home – began to sing  “the Lord’s my shepherd – I’ll not want – He makes me – down to lie…” and so on – and as she sang – tear came down her face – and you could hear a pin drop.

Lumps started appearing in throats and soon tear flowed around the room..

 

When she finished there was complete silence.

 

“That was absolutely beautiful” one lady said – “how did you mange to put so much feeling into your voice  – that was far more moving than the actors’ recital?” – said another.

 

“Well”  – the young girl said – “you see – he knew the words – whereas – I know the Shepherd!”

 

Do YOU know the Shepherd ? not just know about him – but know Him in your mind and in your heart?

 

I hope and pray that you do – but don’t worry if you don’t – it’s never too late – just ask, just seek, just knock – and all these thing will be given you.

And that’s a promise!

 

Much food for thought for us all.

Amen.

 

BLESSING

 

May the great shepherd watch over you –

 

And the Lord bless you and keep you,

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you

And be gracious to you.

May He look kindly on you

And give you peace.

 

AMEN

 

Take care and May God Bless you – and your loved ones.

Have  a good week – and Please – keep safe.

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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 “Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10