Trajectory: Finding Direction for Your Life - Trust God's Purpose

Sermon Summary

This message looks at Psalm 23 and how David had learned to trust God's purpose in his life, both for now and in eternity. David had discovered that God desired a relationship with him above all other things and that David needed to allow God to be his Good Shepherd. David had discovered God would satisfy his needs and that his greatest need was the restoration of his soul. Jesus spent His life on earth showing people their need for the good shepherd and that He was indeed that shepherd who would give them the spiritual bread of life and the living water they needed. This is showcased in Jesus' meeting with the woman at the well. The message ends with a unique summary of the Psalm provided by a church member, Janice Thomas, who had listened to a previous sermon series on Psalm 23 back in 2011.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. There is a popular question people like to ask Siri on their I-phone: "What is the meaning of life?" Siri says some pretty funny things. What would you say and would it have anything to do with purpose?

2. The Bible teaches that our lives do have meaning and purpose. According to King David's Psalm 23 we discover that purpose in life is very much tied up with God's desire to have a relationship with us! God has a purpose to shepherd us if we will allow Him to do so. How does our life change for the better when we trust that a huge part of God's purpose is to shepherd us?

Isa 40:10  See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
Isa 40:11  He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

John 10:7  Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
John 10:8  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
John 10:9  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:11  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

3. God know our needs and desires to satisfy them, but He know our deepest and greatest needs are spiritual in nature. However, we are prone to seek after the things of this world to try and satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst. This never works. Whether we seek to find purpose in material things or in human relationships, we will not find real purpose until we drink from the well that has living water. Why is this?

John 4:5-18 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,  
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

4. God wants desperately to restore your soul! He knows how thirsty and hungry you are spiritually and He also knows the consequences if you do not allow Him to lead you to the green pastures and the still waters. So if you decide to allow Him to be your Shepherd and give your life direction, what will it be like when you eat the bread of life and drink living water?

Psa 28:6  Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
Psa 28:7  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psa 28:8  The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Psa 28:9  Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Full Sermon Notes
Trajectory: Finding Direction in Life - Trust God's Purpose

"God of every moment!" That lyric should sum up the goal of a follower of Jesus! God of every moment! I don't want to live a single moment in life where God is not the Lord of that moment! If I've learned anything in my 58 years of life is that I need God to be God every single second of my life! I need to trust His aim in my life. I desire to walk in His presence, I need His power, His plan, His protection, His provision, His pardon, His peace, His perception, and we all need to learn to…

Trust God's Purpose

Let's pray and ask God to teach us why it is so vital that we learn to trust His purpose for each and every one of us! PRAY!

David, a man after God's own heart had learned to trust God's heart and the song he wrote about that is one of the most loved and widely used of any Psalm, but sometimes the least understood. Today we look at non other than Psalm 23. Several times down through the years I've been led to teach the truths found in this Psalm. Every time, God gives me new perspective. Let's jump right in and see what God's purpose is for our lives and for our relationship with Him!

Psalm 23:1-6 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in 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 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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I think David, if he had written this in today's world would have won a Dove award for best song writer of the year. That's gospel music's equivalent to a Grammy! I think you'll see why as we dig down to see what this song says about God's purpose.

God's Purpose is to Shepherd You

Psalm 23:1a The LORD is my shepherd...

When it comes to finding God's trajectory and direction for your life, He not only gives you a map, He actually leads you like a shepherd leads sheep. That's why we can trust His aim. He's out in front leading us. You drive cattle, but you lead sheep. God's not going to drive you with a whip and make you do His will or live by His principles! That's not the kind of relationship He wants with you. He is very willing to be your Good Shepherd, and lead you in your life, but you have to give Him permission. He will not force you to accept His leadership, His protection, His plan, His power, or His peace, but He desires to be your shepherd. Once again, I'll say this: I'm totally blown away that the God of this universe would even care about this tiny little speck of dust, this Mississippi dirt clod...but He does! Isaiah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, one who wrote some of the most powerful prophesies about Jesus, Isaiah put it this way...

Isaiah 40:10-13 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor?

So this God of the Galaxies is the loving shepherd who stoops down and picks me up when I can't walk another step and carries me close to His heart! When I realize God has that kind of shepherd's love for me, it let's me know I can trust Him with every single aspect of my life! The big question for all of us is whether or not we will allow God to have this shepherd relationship with us. I'll be preaching a whole sermon on that topic in the next series that Jay will begin next week. So we learn from The Lord is my Shepherd passage that God's main purpose is the relationship He desires to have with us, but we learn from the next part of Psalm 23 that...

God's Purpose is to Satisfy Your Needs

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Sometimes we are prone to think God doesn't want us to be satisfied, happy, or to experience pleasure. Some folks think God actually enjoys the opposite, and likes to see us suffer. Nothing could be further from the truth. David had learned that God is a good shepherd who is always working all things together for our good, even though not all things in this old world are good. So it's not that God doesn't want us to have pleasure, it's just that He knows what brings real pleasure and happiness and what absolutely does not! He also knows what happens to a person when pleasure becomes their God. It destroys. God is the kind of Shepherd that will lead you to places where you can find true rest and find what you truly need! Check out the next verse...

Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

The word used here is not just about "not lacking" it also has the concept of "being contented"! There's just something about a person who knows that almighty God is their personal shepherd. There is an ability to trust God's protection, power, provision, and peace. Now, this may not be nearly as meaningful for us as it was for David, because most of us in this room are not shepherds or farmers. Phillip Keller was born in East Africa, trained as an agrologist at the University of Toronto. He was an ecologist, conservationist, wildlife photographer and journalist, but he also spent about eight years as a sheep farmer in Africa. He said this...

"Divine revelation is irrevocably bound up with the basic subjects of the natural world. Our Lord Himself, when He was amongst us, continually used natural phenomena to explain supernatural truth in His parables. It is a sound, indisputable method, both scientifically and spiritually valid."

So there are some very important spiritual concepts we best understand when we are willing to learn about the natural world. Phillip Keller wrote a book titled "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Listen to what he says about "lying  down in green pastures."

"The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very make-up it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear. Because of the social behavior within a flock sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind. If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down. Only when free of these pests can they relax. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They must be free from hunger."

So for a sheep to lie down in green pastures, they must be free of fear, tension, aggravations and hunger. Keller goes on to say...

"A flock that is restless, discontented, always agitated, and disturbed, never does well. And the same is true of people."

May I add, the same is true of a church! My prayer is that Northshore will keep it's eyes on our Good Shepherd Jesus and never let the enemy cause us to be restless, discontented, always agitated, or disturbed. I'm not a perfect pastor. We have an amazing staff, but they're not perfect either, and we have an absolutely wonderful congregation, but none of us are perfect! But as long as we're seeking and trying to be all God wants us to be, and trusting His direction for our lives and that He has a divine purpose to accomplish through us, we will be victorious. Now I know you may be thinking, "Pastor, if you live in this world there's going to be fear, tension, aggravations and hunger. It's always been and always will be, nothing we can do about it!" I know there will be troubles, but if we trust our Good Shepherd to lead us to green pastures we'll find not only physical provision, but the bread of life, which is God's spiritual provision for us. We can find peace and purpose in this life even in the midst of the most difficult times because of the spiritual provision God gives. And where do we find that spiritual provision? The Shepherd provides that. In the physical world, a good shepherd cares for his sheep and leads them to good, green pastures. In the spiritual realm the Shepherd is our provision. Listen...

John 6:33-35 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Never go hungry, or be thirsty? How's that possible? Spiritually it's possible because Jesus is the bread of life and He has given us His precious Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and lives and so we have 24/7, instant access to His words of life. And speaking of never being thirsty. A sheep's body is 70% water. They need water. They get some of it from the grass they eat and the dew on it. This is one of the reasons they will graze very early in the morning. But in the dry arid regions of the world, if a shepherd doesn't take them to clean water they will drink from stagnant puddles and get sick. The still waters may indicate that a shepherd knows sheep can swim but aren't the best swimmers and would be fearful of raging rivers. So the shepherd finds water that is accessible. And he leads the sheep to that water. The sheep drink because thirst lets them know they have a need for water. They don't have a clue that 70% of their body is made up of water, but they understand thirst. Here's something that seems sad to me: Just as God has given all creatures the physical desire for water known as thirst, God has given humans a spiritual thirst, and a spiritual hunger, but many ignore or deny spiritual realities and suffer tragic spiritual sickness, disease and even spiritual death. But Jesus, our Good Shepherd will lead anyone willing to follow to find the water of life! Jesus put it this way..

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

And what is God's purpose for leading us to green pastures and still water? Is it not this?

God's Purpose is to Restore Our Souls

David said...

Psalm 23:3a He restores my soul...

God wants desperately to restore your soul! He knows how thirsty and hungry you are spiritually and He also knows the consequences if you do not allow Him to lead you to the green pastures and the still waters. So if you decide to allow Him to be your Shepherd and give your life direction, what will it be like when you eat the bread of life and drink living water? Have you ever been so thirsty that all you could think of was a big glass of really cold, refreshing water? Some of the best water I ever drank was well water that my grandmother would fix up in big old Mason Jars filled with Ice for when my granddad and I were out fixing fences. It was the best water ever! I would gulp it down! I remember when I first met Jesus I was so thirsty, I was gulping down everything I could learn about Him! Again, sometimes people don't even realize how parched they are spiritually and how much they need to allow the Good Shepherd to lead them to the spiritual food and drink they so desperately need! Oh, but once they get a sip, it's like they can taste and feel every drop of restoration soaking in. They instantly want more and become passionate about getting others to experience restoration. There's a story that speaks of this perfectly. It happened when Jesus, the Good Shepherd led a Samaritan woman to realize her spiritual thirst and God's purpose to satisfy that thirst. Listen...

John 4:5-18 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,  
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

This woman, in a very loving and nonjudgmental way, was confronted with her spiritual thirst and the fact she was attempting to fill it with worldly relationships. She realizes that Jesus is no ordinary man! Listen to what happens next...

John 4:19-26 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit
and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

This woman got so excited about meeting Jesus she went back to her village and told them all about Jesus and they went back to the well with her to meet Jesus, and guess what happens...

John 4:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.
And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this
man really is the Savior of the world.”

What did they find that day? They discovered a personal relationship with the Good Shepherd! They had been led to green pastures and still waters. They, along with the woman at the well decided to allow God to begin the restoration of the soul! And what happens when we allow God to begin this restoration of our soul? We discover...

God's Purpose is For Our Life On Earth and in Heaven!

Psalm 23:3b...He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

God has a trajectory, a path, a direction He wants you to follow in this life and it is a path of righteousness. Most people think the definition of righteousness just means being good, but it has to do with our relationship with God that causes us to be able to live a good life and to live that life even in the face of extreme difficulty and trials. David said…

Psalm 23:4-5  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,  
We all walk through that valley in this life, but because God is a good and great and deeply loving Shepherd we can say with David...
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.

"My cup overflows!" When we trust God's purpose in our lives He provides, protects, empowers, pardons, gives peace, and purpose. And I just love the confidence David placed in God's purpose for his life and eternity...

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Some years ago I preached on the 23rd Psalm and one of our church members, Mrs. Janice Thomas wrote a summary of that message and gave each of our staff a framed copy of it. I want to end today's message with that summary. Thanks Mrs. Janice!!

The Lord is my Shepherd - That's Relationship!

I shall not want - That's Supply!

He Maketh me to lie down in green pastures - That's Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters - That's Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul - That's Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness - That's Guidance!

For His name's sake - That's Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death - That's Testing!

I will fear no evil - That's Protection

For Thou art with me - That's Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me - That's Discipline

Thou prparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies - That's Hope!

Thou anoints my head with oil - That's Consecration!

My cup runneth over - That's Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life - That's Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord - That's Security!

Forever - That's Eternity!

Let's pray!!