God Cares About Me
BELIEVE! Living the Bible to Become More Like Jesus!
BELIEVE — 2 God Cares About Me!
Last week – started a new Sermon Series – Believe. Looking at what we believe? Why we believe it? And how our beliefs shape our lives.
When you think about what it means to believe – would you say that there is a difference between believing something a little bit and believing something with your whole heart and life? A student in Physics wanted to help his fellow students understand a principle of physics and the difference between believing something a little bit vs. believing it with your whole heart and life.
The student set up a pendulum – and said that based on the principle of equilibrium, pendulums never rise above the point of their original release. He then asked how many students believed in this principle. Everyone raised their hands. He then released a pendulum and marked the high point of each pass on a chalk board – and sure enough, it kept moving lower and lower until it reached equilibrium.
He checked in with the class after the demonstration – and asked how many people believed in the principle of equilibrium? Everyone raised their hands. He asked the instructor – do you believe in the principle of equilibrium? Yes – definitely. Good – let’s come and check it out one more time.
This time, instead of a pendulum in front of a blackboard, he had set up a 500 pound weight suspended by cables. He brought the Instructor over to the corner of the wall and used a portable lift to raise the weight just under the professor’s nose. According to the principle of equilibrium – the weight should not go any higher than the original release point. Does everyone still believe this? Professor, do you still believe this? The professor was shivering and shaking but he managed to squeak out a timid yes. The student let the 500 pound weight go – and he said he had never seen anyone move as fast as the professor did to get away from the 500 pounds.
It’s easy to believe a little bit – it’s hard to believe when our whole lives are on the line. This morning, we will see how our entire lives are on the line – when we decide if we are going to believe that God cares about each of us personally
Do you believe that God cares about you personally? There are two main answers – the majority of people believe that there is a God – but they aren’t sure if God cares about them personally. The Bible wants to take away that uncertainty and fear – and show us the reasons why we can grow in believing that God knows who you are. God loves you. And God wants to help you to live an abundant life in this world and eternal life in heaven.
One of the lessons that the Bible uses to help us grow in our belief that God cares about each one of us personally – is showing us that the relationship God wants to have with you – is like the relationship sheep have with their shepherd.
Jesus declares that He is the Good Shepherd – and He wants to help you to grow in a relationship with Him.
John 10:14 (NLT) Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me…
The most famous passage in the Bible that helps us to understand the power of the relationship between a Shepherd and his sheep – is the 23rd Psalm. The 23rd Psalm helps us to understand that when believe and trust that God really does care for me personally – I can find Peace because I know my needs will be met. I can find Guidance for the Right Path – that will help me to build a life of fulfillment and joy. I can find Safety in a Dangerous World – because I know that God will be with me in every difficulty I face, including my toughest battle of all with death. And I can be Confident – that God will raise me up to a new home in heaven – where there will be no more sickness or suffering – and I will be with God and all of my loved ones forever!
Why is the 23rd Psalm so famous? One Sunday School teacher found out when she asked her children – can anyone recite the entire 23rd Ps? She was surprised when a little 4 year old jumped right up and said she knew the whole 23rd Psalm. Great – go ahead and share it with us. The little girl shouted at the top of her lungs: The LORD is my Shepherd – that’s all I want! She might not have known all the words – but she definitely knew the whole message. When we believe that God cares for us and is our shepherd – we have all that we could ever want. Because when we know that God is our Shepherd – we can live in peace because all of our needs will be met.
PEACE: Your NEEDS Will Be MET
Does God know your name? Does God care about you? What makes you believe that God wants to have a personal relationship with you?
King David wanted to help people grow in their belief that God cared intensely about them. David used the picture that God cares for each one of us the way a good shepherd cares for his sheep.
David said – you really need to think about this carefully – the LORD the person who is so powerful that Jews would only allow the High Priest to say His name out loud only once a year. The LORD Who has the power to create a universe – that is over 13.5 billion light years in size and still growing. The LORD wants to be your shepherd. And when you believe and trust your whole life to the Good News that the LORD the Creator of the Universe and Every Life – is your shepherd – you can live in peace.
Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
King David was convinced that the best way to grow in believing that God cares for you – is by knowing that God wants to be Your Shepherd. It’s a great way to describe God – if you know what shepherds really do. But most of us have lost touch with what it means to be a shepherd. Do you know anyone who is a shepherd? Have you ever talked with a Shepherd? When was the last time you saw a shepherd caring for a flock of sheep?
We’ll take a little time to unpack the most important things that a shepherd does for their sheep – and we’ll start with why it is so important to give sheep the peace of knowing all of their needs are met.
Sheep seem so quiet – that it seems like they would be easy to take care of. But actually sheep are fairly tense animals – because they know that they are vulnerable. They know they can easily be attacked and killed. So sheep refuse to be peaceful and lie down – unless four requirements are met. (1) They must be free from all fear. (2) There must be no tension between members of the flock. (3) They must not be aggravated with flies or parasites. (4) And they must have plenty of food to eat – because they are always hungry.
Good shepherds provide peace for their flocks – by showing them that all of their needs for safety, harmony, aggravation, and hunger – are all being met.
So how does it help us to be at peace – by believing that God is the Shepherd Who cares about me? Pastor Max Lucado – It sets us free from prison of discontentment. We live in the wealthiest country in the world – but unfortunately most Americans are living in a Prison of discontent. I would be content if – I was a little thinner, if my wallet was a little fatter, if my children were a little nicer, if my husband would clean up after himself…
We like to worry about what we don’t have – instead of learning how to give thanks for all of the blessings we do have. We rarely find our way out of the prison of discontentment. God wants to lead you to peace – the LORD is my shepherd – I have all I want
The prison of discontentment is a hard prison to break out of. Over 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia – fear and insecurity. One man who was so overwhelmed by all the things that could go wrong in life – offered on Craigslist to pay a $200,000.00 salary to someone who would be willing to worry for him. When the job applicant showed up, their first question was – so how are you going to be able to pay me $200,000.00 to worry for you? I have no idea. That’s not my problem. I hired you to do the worrying.
Fortunately, the Good Shepherd does have a plan for meeting all of our needs. When you look back over your life – can you see ways that God has proven to you that He knows what you need and that He has meet your needs?
Philippians 4:19 was one of our sons favorite Bible passage to memorize when they were young – because they always flipped over in their beds. Good to stop and think about all of the reasons we might want to do a flip of our own – to celebrate God meeting our needs.
Penny and I have flipped over many times to see how God has provided for all of our needs through 33 years of life together.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT) God shall supply all of your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Do you want to be free from the prison of discontentment? Can you appreciate the many ways that God has met your needs – and made it possible for you to live in peace?
God became human in Jesus Christ to be the Good Shepherd – Who meets all of your needs and is eager to guide you on – the Right Path
GUIDANCE: The RIGHT PATH
Sheep – have a very limited vision. It is hard for them to see very far into the distance or into the future – and it is very hard to get them to leave their comfort zone. Once they find a place they like – they will keep eating until they have eaten all of the grass, all of the grass roots, and all that remains is dirt. Left to themselves – sheep make dumb choices. They over graze. They destroy their future. They need the guidance of the shepherd who can see a much bigger picture than they can.
We share a similar short-sightedness to sheep. We like our comfort zones. Shepherd says – you can’t see the problems. I can – and I’m going to lead you on the right path. The challenge for you and me – is to grow in believing that God cares about me and He really will lead me on the right path that is best for me.
Psalm 23:3 (KJV) He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
On Wednesday, Penny and I were taking a few minutes to reminisce over our 33 years of marriage – and to see how God has led us on the right path. We gave thanks for God helping us to bring out the best in each other, to build up our sons, and to find a lot of fulfillment and joy in our lives.
We also thought about why it has been so important to trust that God knows more than we do – because we really don’t know what’s going to happen – 3 months from now, not even 3 hours from now.
Believing that God cares about you – and will show you the right path to take – gives you trust you need to follow where God wants to lead you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek God’s will in all you do, and He will show you the right path to take.
The Bible wants to help you to grow in believing that God knows your name. God cares about you. God became human in Jesus Christ – to be the Good Shepherd – who would give you peace by meeting all of your needs, guiding you on the right path, and giving you safety in a dangerous world.
SAFETY: In a DANGEROUS WORLD
Sheep look like nice animals. They seem so cuddly and cute. No one would ever want to hurt them right? They shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Right? Wrong.
There are dozens of enemies that are constantly trying to hurt sheep: Coyotes, Wolves, Bears, Snakes, Poisonous plants, Competition from other sheep.
Sheep have enemies – just like you and I have enemies. The power of knowing that the LORD is Your Shepherd – gives you the safety of knowing you don’t have to face your enemies alone.
When you know that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd – Who cares about you and is with you every step of your life journey – you can have confidence that you can face and overcome every possible enemy. Sickness, Financial problems, Struggles with Marriage and Family, even the biggest battle that all of us will have to fight one day with death. We can face all of these enemies without fear – because we know that we don’t have to face them alone. Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd is with us.
Not only does Jesus give us strength to face our enemies. Jesus promises to lead us through every problem. Jesus doesn’t leave us stuck in the dark valley of the shadow of death – He leads us through every problem.
Psalm 23:4-5 (KJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
God reminds us that we do have enemies – and we are all going to have to go through some tough battles, some bigger than others… Ultimately – each of us is going to have to go through that dark valley of the shadow of death. But we can have courage and hope – because we know that we are not alone.
Isaiah 43:2-5 (NLT) When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God… Do not be afraid, for I am always with you…
You can believe that God knows your name and God cares about you. God became human in Jesus Christ – to be the Good Shepherd Who gives you peace by meeting all of your needs. Jesus guides you on the right path. Jesus is with you in every battle. And Jesus wants to fill you with confidence – of trusting that you will reach the right eternal destination.
CONFIDENCE: Reaching the Right ETERNAL DESTINATION
Do you like wasting your time? Do you care if you spend 70 – 80 – or 90 years working as hard as you can to build a strong marriage, a loving family, a legacy of integrity and encouragement to pass down to future generations?
How would you feel – if you believed that all of your hard work was just going to be thrown in the trash can?
The Bible teaches us that the ultimate blessing of believing that God cares about you – is trusting that Jesus the Good Shepherd will empower you to reach the right eternal destination. When you trust to follow Jesus as your Shepherd – He promises to lead you to a new, eternal home in heaven.
Psalm 23:6 (KJV) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever!
Instead of seeing everything you have worked so hard to build – just thrown in the trash can – God wants to show you that every good thing you have ever done will follow after you to your new home in heaven. If you are willing to follow the Good Shepherd. Jesus Christ, Who is the only Good Shepherd Who ever went over to the other side of death and was able to come back and give a report made it very clear that you need to think carefully about whose guidance you are following – especially when it comes to the biggest issue of all – where you will spend eternity.
Our society likes to say, It’s all good. Everyone is going to be a winner and make it to heaven. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who is the only One Who has actually seen the evidence – warns us Not so fast. Jesus is very blunt – If you aren’t willing to follow My guidance you will end up in hell.
Jesus doesn’t want anyone to perish and end up in hell. So, Jesus invites everyone to receive His help. Jesus offers to be the Good Shepherd to anyone who is willing to follow Him. Jesus shows us that if we are willing to follow Him – He will lead us through the trials and tribulations of this world to the victory He achieved on the Cross.
John 16:33 (AMP) Jesus said, I have told you about the troubles ahead, so that trusting in Me you may have peace and confidence. In this world you will have trials and distress; but take courage and be confident! For I have overcome the world and conquered its power to destroy you.
God wants to help you to keep growing in believing that God cares about you.
God became human in Jesus Christ to show you how much He cares for you. Jesus is the Good Shepherd – Who wants to give you peace, guide you on the right path, be with you in every battle, and ultimately raise you up to heaven!
Jesus made His decision – He sacrificed His life on the Cross to be our Good Shepherd. Now it is time for you and me to make our decision – will I listen to Jesus’ voice and follow where He leads me?