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Just When I Need Him!

Psalm 23:3: "He leadeth me in the paths of righteous for His namesake."

In our previous sermons on Psalm 23, we studied verses 1 and 2.
The emphasis in those verses was, "The Lord is my shepherd," and "He leads me to lie down in green pastures, and He leads me beside the still waters.."
Now we look at Verse 3, and find that this and every verse of Psalm 23 contains
many wonderful assuring and vital truths.

We are like sheep in the sight of God, which is to say, we are not as bright and strong
as we might want to be or think we are.
Considering our condition, a logical next step is to become concerned,
and then seek outside help from the only One who can provide what is really needed.
We need our Shepherd, we need to be led; we need to be restored – we need the Lord.

"He restores my soul."

David cried out for God to restore what really was needed, and which was so essential to him.
When our soul is refreshed and full, we have everything to live for –
even when we may have nothing to live with.
The soul thrives when it is fed by living water and bread from heaven.
This prevents poor substitutes from trying to provide what it is not able to provide.

"He restoreth my soul."
There are two Hebrew words that constitute the text.
The word for soul, "nephesh", and the word for restore, "shuwb".

Two major languages in which the Bible was written is Hebrew and Greek.
The Hebrew words describes how we are made, and the Greek words describes the same thing,
using identical words.
The words mean identically the same thing.
There are two words that are used in Hebrew that describe our life.
They are describing that living personality which is you and me.

The Hebrew uses the word, "nephesh," and that is the "soul".
And the word, "ruach," which is the word for breath or wind,
and is used to describe our spirit.

The same identical usage is seen in the Greek language.
The word, "psyche," refers to the soul.
And the word, "pneuma," an identical word like ruach refers to breathe, to wind, to spirit.

Now the difference between spirit and soul is the difference between "pneuma" and "psyche".
The difference between ruach and nephesh is that spirit which refers to entity, personality, intelligence, being, apart from body.

For example, God is numah.
God is ruach.
God is spirit.

But God is not psyche, nor is God nephesh.
For wherever the word, "soul", is used -- it demands a body.
And that is the difference between soul and spirit.
Wherever soul is there must also be a body.

Now, that is the word that is used here.
He restoreth my soul, nephesh, psyche, the whole being.
You, all that which is you.
That includes your body.
God restores you.

God redeems the whole purchased possession.
Not only will God regenerate our souls, and not only will God regenerate our inmost being
but when we are converted, we are regenerated.
We am born again.

"He restoreth my soul."
That's the inward me and the outward me.
That is the entire me.

Now let us look at the word, "restoreth, " which is shuwb."
The Hebrew word, "shuwb," literally means, to cause to return, to cause to come back.
So, there are two pictures that are in that Word about us.
3By us, I mean all of us.
I am talking about the house, the framework, the tabernacle, the body in which we live,
and the spirit that God breathed in us; the soul -- all of us.

"He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
(Psalm 23:2)

It might seem to you that you need no help.
You may think that you can be your own shepherd, and decide your own fate.
But then, there comes a time in your life when you know your need.
You might be comfortable, healthy, wealthy and seemingly, wise, and then, something happens.

Something important in your life, or an important person leaves your life.
It might be a person who is so dear that you never thought they would ever be gone.
But they are.
You did not appreciate your need of them until after they they were gone.

The Lord is our Shepherd and He is leading us this very moment.
We need to experience the gracious love of our Great Shepherd who is restoring our soul,
just as verse 3 states.

In the Hebrew, the word, "soul," refers to the breath, the animation, the desire of a person, which is our mind, will and emotions.
The spirit is more like the deep part that meets God, and can receive Him.
In John 4:24, Jesus said: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

There is a "throne" in the center of our being.
And when "self" is on the throne, it must be dethroned, and we must ask God to lead our lives.
Our "soul" needs to be restored to what God to be.
Our Lord died so that we might be restored.
Something deep inside us needs to be restored to what it was always meant to be.
Only our Lord can do that.

Have you ever felt that you have lost your way?
Have you ever felt that you have strayed away from your Lord?
Have there been times in your life when you didn't know what to do or where to turn?
For many of us that has happened many times.
And for those, and other reasons, we need our souls restored.

As we study Psalm 23, one the images in this psalm, and in many others
is the idea of being "cast down."

Psalm 42:11 says, "Why are thou cast down, O my soul?"
The word, "cast down" is an old English shepherd's term for a sheep that has turned over
on its back, and cannot get up by itself.

If the owner of a cast down sheep does not intervene quickly, the sheep will die.
Many times a child of God falls and is cast down, just like the wayward sheep,
and that child of God becomes frustrated and helpless.

But, thank God, we have a Good Shepherd.
And our Good Shepherd loves us so much that He will always help us..
Many times God has come quietly, gently, and reassuringly, no matter when or where
or how we may be cast down.

This idea of God as the Good Shepherd relates to the verse in Psalm 23 today which says,
"He restores my soul."
God restores our souls because He loves us so much.

What is more important to you -- your pride in what you do in the world's eyes
or your restoration of who you are in God's eyes?
There are times when we get so tangled up in things of the world, and sometimes,
our own "worldliness" will flip us over on our back.

Hebrew 12:1 says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud
of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
,"

Ask your Good Shepherd to turn you over
Your Good Shepherd doesn't want to leave you laying on your back.
He knows that if you don't turn around, you will die.

"Dear Shepherd, draw me to your fold;
I am cold, cold!
I've wandered in forbidden paths,
Far from your fold.
I left the "pastures" fresh and "green,"
Where rest your sheep;
The sweet "still waters" of your love,

For mountains steep.
I'm weary, and my soul does yearn
For your embrace
Oh, bear me from this mountain pass,
This dreary place!

You only can "restore my soul."
Oh, hear my cry!
Nor let me in this wilderness,
Forgotten die.

Dear Shepherd, draw me near to you;
I am cold, cold!
And me in your warm arms of love,
I pray, enfold."

The Lord is my Shepherd, and I need His guidance.
"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

If it weren't for the guidance of a shepherd, the sheep would settle for brown, crusty stubble
and for stagnant, polluted pools.
But thanks to the wisdom and knowledge of the Shepherd, the sheep are led
past the stubble and the polluted waters, and at times, even past pretty tempting oases
until they reach the green grassy meadows.

Our Shepherd will lead us in the paths of righteousness.
We called upon to avoid paths that would lead us into certain dangers,
and even from some paths that may seem to lead us to happiness.
We must follow the Shepherd because we know that He will lead us to the right paths.

Those are those who profess to be Christians, but it seems that they do not allow
Christ to make any little difference in their lives.
No one could tell the difference between a pagan, and such a professing Christian
because there is no inward transformation.
They are Christians in name only.
They could be considered to be "nominal Christians."

David knew that he could not survive in the wilderness by being "nominally" committed to God.
And we must recognize the conflict, and the the confusion, and the compromise
that all of us face.
And then, we can see why David wrote the words:
"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

Righteousness begins with God -- not with us.
That is why we must constantly be led into the paths of righteousness.
We don't do this naturally by ourselves.
That is why this psalm and other portions of God's Word remind us that it is not about us
-- it's all about God.
The good news is that God wants to lead us, and is always ready to do so.

Unrighteousness or sin is a dangerous pathway to travel because it promises happiness
and fulfillment, but instead it brings disappointment, and despair.
Isaiah 29:8 demonstrates this as it describes the unrighteous person as
"like a starving person who dreams he is eating and wakes up hungry,
or like someone dying of thirst who dreams he is drinking and wakes with a dry throat.
."
(GNB)

The path of righteousness is the right path.
When we follow the Good Shepherd, we will always be on the right path.
Remember the green pastures and the still waters are the essential provision
by which our Shepherd restores His sheep for their journey.

We must also remember that the journey is not complete when the sheep reach the green pastures
and the still waters.
The sheep are being restored so that they might continue the journey,
which may well lead them through dark valleys before the day is done.
Rest is always a means to an end.
The Shepherd restores the sheep so that they might follow Him as He leads them
in the paths of righteousness.

David says that our Good Shepherd will lead us in the right path,
and that He does this for "His name's sake".

It isn't our name which is at stake, it is His name.
It's His character, His reputation that is at stake.
God guides us for the sake of his reputation.

The prosperity of the Lord's servants bring honor to the Lord's name.
The professional guide's "name" or reputation was the traveler's only guarantee
of protection and safe arrival, as it was the guide's main claim to employment.
The measure of a shepherd is the condition of his flock.
God's reputation rests upon His ability to guide and care for His people.

God will always His promises.
God is always faithful, and He has promised that He will lead us in the right paths.
To me, that is a tremendous source of assurance and encouragement.

Why does our Good Shepherd do all these things for us?
What is so amazing, and life-changing is the four little words at the end of Psalm 23:3.
Very little attention is given to this key phrase in this verse: "For His name sake."

Many here have probably memorized that verse, and we should also be mesmerized
by what it says?
God doesn't rescue or restore our soul or lead us in righteousness paths for "our sake."
Look what it says!

"For his name sake."
It's not dependent on us, even though it benefits us, and that is good news for us.
The motive of our Shepherd is for His own name -- His own glory!
That is exactly what it says in verse 3:
"He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

The purpose of God in restoring our soul, and providing guidance for our lives,
and enabling us to walk in righteousness is for His name's sake.

In Psalm 79:9, Asaph echoes this remarkable truth with his prayer:
"Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us,
and atone for our sins, for your name's sake
."

In Psalm 31:2, David prays:
"For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me."

God has a purpose for each one of us.
He leads us in that path to fulfill the purpose He has for us.
The purpose is to bring glory to the name of Christ.

Everyone who has ever walked in the paths of righteousness also had a purpose.
David's purpose was to live and have children that would be used to bring Christ to this world.
So, God guides us in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

He does it for His name's sake.
The well being of the flock is the reputation of the shepherd.
When we are a community who loves God with all of our hearts,
and our love for God radiates from every part of our lives, this brings glory to God.

When people see that we love one another, and that we love one another
above our own selfishness, our own reputations, and that we even love each other
at our own expense with a sincere love, this brings glory to God.
When people see that we are really different from the rest of the world,
this gives glory to God.
All this glory goes to our Good Shepherd.

I believe that our uncertainty about the future is a large reason that we have
so much anxiety in our lives.
We don't know what will happen tomorrow or the next day.
There are decisions that we must make, and those which vitally impact our lives,
and the lives of all who are in relationship with us.
Our lives touch our families, and our neighbors, and our business associates.
We are constantly making decisions.
How do we know that we are making the right ones?

Decisions can be crucial, and frustrating!
There is an old story about a man who was going through his basic training in the army.
He was on KP duty, and was given the assignment of sorting potatoes.
There was a huge mound of them, and the mess sergeant told him to put all the bad ones
in one bin, and all the good ones in the other bin.

The mess sergeant came back about two hours later to find the man just looking
at one potato.
There was nothing in the bins.
The sergeant said, "What's the matter, don't you like the work?"
The soldier said, "It's not the work; it's the decisions that are killing me."

I often feel that way, and I believe that many of you do, also.
We have to make countless decisions, day after day, which touch the lives of our children
and our wives and husbands, and many others.
We need wisdom.
We need a Shepherd.
We need Someone who knows the right paths for us to take.
We Someone whom we can trust

A wrong wrong decision can affect our life dramatically and critically.
We need a decisive word from someone who knows the way.
And our Great Shepherd knows the way.

So, how can we discover His will for our lives?

We must submit wholeheartedly to the leadership of our Shepherd.
Unless we are willing to admit that we don't know the way through the wilderness,
and to submit to His leadership, we will never find the way.

Jesus said, "If the eye is single, then the whole body will be full of light.
If the eye is dual (or evil), how great is that darkness
." (Luke 11:34)
He is clearly saying that if our eye is fastened on Jesus Christ,
and if our eye is single, then our whole body will be full of light.

When we follow or Good Shepherd, we will follow the right path.
When we follow our Shepherd, we will know what to do.
We will know the truth, and we'll act on it,and we will have understanding and wisdom.

But if we have one eye on Christ, and the other on the world, or on our circumstances
or other people or things, the eye is dual and the darkness will be foreboding.
If our eyes are not focused on our Shepherd, we will never know where we should go.
We will have no sense of direction, and we will wander in darkness of the wilderness.

We must submit ourselves willingly and wholeheartedly to the leadership of our Shepherd.
We must be declare: "I'll go anywhere. I'll do anything. I'll be anything.
I'll carry any load, live anyplace you want me to live, do anything you want me to do
."

Once we're willing to say that, God will reveal His will for our lives, and we will live
with purpose and will have the peace of God in our hearts.
Paul said: "...present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship... and you will know what is that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God
," (Romans 12:1-2 RSV)

So, we must be willing to confess our sin to God, and put away our sin
as God's Word commands.
When we are brought into conformity to Jesus Christ in every area of our life,
and we are allowing Him to freely work in our lives, then, He will reveal more
of His great purpose for our lives.

As we spend time in prayer waiting upon God, there will come a sense of peace,
and a deep conviction concerning God's purpose and direction for our lives,
when we truly commit ourselves to Christ

God calls us to repentance, to change, to pathways of righteousness,
to have clean hands and a pure hearts.
He will have us put away any trust in our old idols.
He will expect us to keep our commitments that we have made to Him.
He will expect us to be found faithful to His will.
He will expect us to walk in obedience to the guidance of His Spirit who fills our hearts.
He is calling us to exciting adventures and and to a victorious life.

Just when I need Him, Jesus is near,
Just when I falter, just when I fear;
Ready to help me, ready to cheer,
Just when I need Him most.

Just when I need Him, Jesus is true,
Never forsaking, all the way through;
Giving for burdens pleasures anew,
Just when I need Him most.

Just when I need Him, He is my all,
Answering when upon Him I call;
Tenderly watching lest I should fall,
Just when I need Him most.

Just when I need Him, Jesus is strong,
Bearing my burdens all the day long;
For all my sorrow giving a song,
Just when I need Him most.

Just when I need Him most,
Just when I need Him most,
Jesus is near to comfort and cheer,
Just when I need Him most.

Sermon adapted from many resources by Dr. Harold L. White