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Sermon 12-13-09
Goodness and Mercy - Psalm 23:6

Audio Sermon

Goodness and Mercy

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6)

Today, in Advent, we are concluding our series on the 23rd Psalm. We have seen that all of us are like sheep in the sight of God. We easily get lost and need to keep our eyes on the Great Shepherd who gives us rest and restores our soul. Life may contain disasters, but He is with us and gives us the true comfort that comes from God. He gives what we really NEED, anointing us to become “kings and priests” that honor God and serve one another. Today we find that He intends “goodness and mercy” to fill our lives, now and forever.

Last weekend, when the sermon on Psalm 23:5 was being sent out on the internet, I was in the middle of a three-day ministry in a Federal Prison. We were nineteen workers in a prison chapel with forty-six or so hardened inmates. During the times we have ministered on such weekends, I have always been struck by the reality that those men are just like everybody else, and after three days, they are surprised to see that “outside” people are much like them. They need the Lord and so do we.

Goodness and Mercy” is intended for them, just as it is for all of us. God plans that His goodness will fill your life and He intends it for those who are around you. The problem is that we are like a parched land. He has living water to refresh us, but through fear and anger we have chosen to be isolated from God and emotionally we have separated ourselves from the other sheep. This “goodness and mercy is a whole new way of life, right now, and the joy of it is real and it will last.

Instead of isolation, we are given the freedom to love the Lord, our Shepherd, to trust in Him and be His as it is intended for us – forever. And notice that “goodness and mercy will follow us.” A lot of people try to be good, but fail miserably. The “goodness and mercy” given to us by the Lord will “follow (us) all the days of (our lives).” From our birth on this planet, and especially after trusting in Jesus Christ, we are literally PURSUED by the goodness of God.

Scripture cries out to us in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray…” And it’s true – we have strayed. Abraham struggled to believe the Promise. Jacob tried to cheat his way through life. Joseph was an immature, boastful teenager. Gideon was a coward. Samson was a womanizing drunk. David became a power-abusing adulterer. His son, Solomon, was an unwise wise man. King Hezekiah brought reforms to the land, but never enough. Israel's history led to a young Jewish girl in an obscure place who gave birth to a Son. The verse in Isaiah continues, “we have turned every one to his own way,” but the blessed promise of Christ is also there: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Yes we are like sheep who have strayed from safe pasture, but the Advent of our Lord promises us: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Our Good Shepherd gave His life for you and me.

The season of Advent we are in pictures Psalm 23 and its concluding promise in Verse 6 – “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The Federal Prison where we spent the weekend is a picture of life in this world. All of those men made mistakes that ruined their lives. Instead of relative freedom, they are confined. In place of the ability to make their own decisions, it is done for them and they often must do what they do not want to do. Their civil liberties are lost. Any ability to have a place of their own is gone and they are confined to tiny cells. And so are we confined until we trust in the Lord.

Without Jesus Christ, without His vicarious death for your sins and mine, we are lost. When we accept Him, when we trust in Him and what He has done, we are found, rescued, saved and free – forever.

During that weekend in prison, I sat next to a man who knew the Bible very well, but he admittedly had never placed his trust in the Lord. He had lots of questions, and then there was a moment in the dining hall when I asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his Savior and Lord. His wonderful answer was – “Yes.” And he did. He dramatically placed his trust in the Lord. He was instantly changed and for the balance of the weekend, he exuded peace and the love of God. Pray for him.

A night later, I was concluding a session about forgiveness and there were about sixty inside and outside men who were in a large circle around me at the moment. Earlier, one of the inmates had come to me and asked me to lead the men to Christ. His words touched me deeply, and I thought, as those men who surrounded me listened to the conclusion of my talk, “This is the moment!”

I raised my hand and asked if any of them wanted to receive Christ or recommit their lives to Him. A quick glance revealed that at least half of the men raised their hands. I asked them to repeat these words after me: “Lord, I confess that I am a lost sinner.” All of the men spoke those words back to me. Their voices were strong and sincere, and I continued: “Please forgive my sins and make me clean inside.” Again they said every word. “Come into my heart and life, Lord Jesus,” I said, and they repeated it. “I give my life to YouThank You for giving Your life to meSave me, LordI am Yours, now and forever.” They repeated every word and we concluded, “Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.”

In that instant, they became free. Outwardly they are still prisoners, but inside, where it counts, they are free. They can look into their hearts and see the Lord, who has a place of freedom, a beautiful home in eternity, especially for each of them.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (them) all the days of (their lives); and (they) will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Think about the prayer repeated by the prisoners and say those words with sincerity or utter them quietly in your heart.  You will know the goodness of God and you, like them, “will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

In the prison hallway behind the chapel there was a certain pleasant aroma, and I asked one of the inmates about it. He replied that someone had lit incense. Our Lord is like that. We don’t see Him, but the faith He gives enables us to experience the aroma of His love. Even though outward troubles may come, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). He is with us, He is in us, He is protecting us and He will return to bring us safely to our true home.

Dear Lord, thank You for the promises in Scripture, such as the 23rd Psalm, which shows that You offer us LIFE – forever. Forgive us our sins. We place our faith in You. We are Yours, Lord. Thank You for saving us. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131 USA