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Psalm 23 Verse 3

Psalms 23:1-6 (KJV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
4 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.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 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.

We have been looking at this much loved poem of David concerning the Lord who is the good Shepherd.  This is our third lesson in the series and we are looking at verse 3.  We just read it, along with the entire Psalm from the King James Version.  Letís read it again this time from the New King James Version. 

Psalms 23:3 (NKJV) 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

Have you ever been really sick, perhaps so sick that you were unsure whether you would live or die?  If you were and you are still alive then you know the meaning of the word restoration.  You have had your health restored to you at least in part.  That happened to me once. 

A few years ago I was on a mission trip to Ghana, West Africa where they have very resistant malaria.  The medicine I was on to keep from getting it did not work.  In a very quick period of time I went from being a healthy twenty-something year old to being very sick.  Malaria is one of the most common means of death by infectious disease in the world and I had a particularly bad case.  To make it worse, I was in a very remote part of Africa visiting a National park for Elephants. 

It was very hot there.  In fact the temperature in the room I was staying in was 104 degrees.  I remember it well because I was about the same temperature and could hold nothing down since the malaria was attacking my stomach.  I became so dehydrated that I could no longer sweat in spite of the heat.  I could not hold down medicine so nothing that we had with us could help me.  I knew I had only hours left to live if nothing changed, but I felt so bad that that didnít seem like the worst thing that could happen to me.  After all, I was ready for death.  Death held no real fear for me as a Christian.

Finally, some of the nurses I was with discovered that there was a clinic down the road and they piled me into the vehicle to go try to get some IV fluids and medicine.  I got to choose between a fluid that was out of date, but the right one, or a less ideal one that was in date.  I chose the out of date.  They got some injectable medicine for me and they got the fluid in my system.  By the next day, I was well enough to travel back to Kumasi where we were working.  By the following Monday, I was able to return to work only a little weak for the wear.  I had been restored to good health.

Christ can restore your soul the same way that medicine can sometimes restore your body.  The difference is that Christ is a sure thing and medicine is not.  A lot of people are spiritually in the same position I was in physically.  They are sick and dying of the disease of sin.  Their soul is close to death.  They have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God as all of us have done according to Romans 3:23.  They need to be restored to life because the wages of sin are death. (Romans 6:23).  The Lord offers us a way for this to happen.  An essential ingredient in the recipe He offers is repentance:

Acts 3:19-21 (NKJV) 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

Some of us never allow Jesus to fully lead us or we stop following Him after we have started.  All this can be turned around with conversion.  Repentance leads us to conversion so that we can be renewed through Christ.  This isnít the only thing The Lord tells us to do, but it is central.  We certainly donít want to take this verse out of context of the rest of Acts as so many well meaning, but misinformed people do.  Still, if you want to have times of refreshing from the Lord, you have to repent.  Ultimately, our Lord will restore all things, not just our own souls.

In the garden of Eden, man walked with God.  That was destroyed by sin and death entered the world.  Through Jesus, one day all things will be restored.  Man will once again walk and talk with God in a beautiful garden where the tree of life will grow.  You can chose to be part of that restoration, but you must follow the will of Christ.  You first must be cleansed as we see in Revelation chapter 7:

Revelation 7:13-15 (NKJV) 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" 14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

Sin makes us unclean.  It dirties our spirit from within, but we can be washed.  Our robes can be made white in the blood of the Lamb.  How do we do this?  That is an important question for all of us if we want to be before the throne of God when all things are made new.  I could stand here and tell you my own thoughts and ideas on the subject as many are doing on this very day from various pulpits, but that would be wrong.  You see, my ideas are not important.  You will not be judged based on my ideas.  You will be judged by the word of Christ according to Jesus in John 12:48.  Since the word will be our judge, we need to go to it to find our answers and that is just what we will do for this question.  How does the word tell us to wash in the blood of the Lamb?  Is this just figurative with no real meaning?  No, it is not.  The Bible is very clear on the subject although so many ignore it.  We are meant to be washed as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:11:

1 Corinthians 6:11 (NKJV) 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

The real question is have you been washed?  Have you been made holy, which is another way of saying sanctified which literally means "set apartĒ?  Have you been justified in the name of Jesus and the Spirit?  In other words, have your sins been washed away?  Earlier in this book of 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they had been baptized although he didnít do most of the baptizing himself.  Tie this in with His Holy Spirit inspired words to the Romans in chapter 6: 3 and following:

Romans 6:3-5 (NKJV) 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

We see here that baptism is that point at which we contact the death of Christ.  It is at that point that we are washed by His blood.  His blood cleanses us.  By His death we are healed.  We are buried with Him to raise up out of the water into a new life.  This is how our soul is renewed.  It is made clean.  Baptism, true Bible baptism, and not some other kind of baptism for some other reason made up by man is a washing of regeneration.  It is done for the express purpose of having our sins forgiven according to what we just read and according to Acts 2:38.

Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV) 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

If you are baptized because you think you are already saved, then you havenít had the kind of baptism that Peter is talking about here under direct influence of the Holy Spirit as he uses the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to begin the church.  How can a person be saved without first having his or her sins forgiven?  It is impossible.  Nowhere in the New Testament does the word of God tell us that we can be forgiven and washed by Christ without baptism.  Man will tell you this.  The word does not.  No place in the Bible tells us to pray a so called sinners prayer.  There is no such prayer in the word of God.  It is made up by imaginative men and women and is therefore an adding to of the word of God.

We saw in 1 Cor 6:11 that we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  Jesus also said that both are involved in baptism:

Matthew 28:19 (NKJV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

You become a follower or disciple of Jesus when you are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  I didnít say it.  Jesus did.  You can try to do it some other way, but it will be manís way and not Jesusí way.  Remember what He said about those who try to enter the fold some other way besides the door in John 10:1.  Jesus said that person is a thief.  You cannot steal salvation.  You can get it as a gift from God, but you have to take that gift in the manner God tells you to receive it.

Psalms 19:7 (NKJV) 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

It is the law of the Lord that is perfect.  The law of man wonít cut it.  If you want true conversion you have to follow the word of Christ.  You have to follow His testimony from God.  Donít rely on the imagination and opinion of people.  Donít even try to rely on your own opinion or feelings.  They will lead you the wrong direction.  Satan can manipulate feelings.

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

That is why when people ask me my opinion about spiritual matters that I routinely say the same thing regardless of the question.  My opinion does not matter.  What matters is the word of God.  In fact, if I ever find out by the word of God that I am wrong, then I will change just as I have changed in the past when I have come to more fully understand the word.  I donít want to follow the opinion of man, but the will of God.  I hope you will honestly have the same attitude.  Ultimately it is an attitude of self denial which is what Jesus requires of all of us:

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

The Psalmist said "He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His own nameís sake.Ē  Jesus pleads with us to follow Him.  You know He cannot lead us if we will not willingly follow Him.  He isnít going to put a bridle on us and force us to follow Him.  That is not how a shepherd works.  He calls us and asks us to follow Him.  If we are His sheep then there is no question.  We will follow Him.  How do I know?  Not because I dreamed it up, but because Jesus said it:

John 10:27 (NKJV) 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Do you allow Jesus to lead  you on paths of righteousness for His own nameís sake?  He wonít force you to follow.  God gives every man and every woman the right to free choice.  What choices are you making in your life?  A lot of people claim to follow Jesus, but they donít even bother to read His word let alone study it to find out what they need to do with their life.  That isnít following Jesus.  That is playing games.  We need to stop playing religion and start taking up our cross daily and following Christ.

John 12:26 (NKJV) 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

A good servant does what the master asks.  A bad servant comes back and hasnít done it but claims ignorance of the masterís wishes.  Or perhaps the servant claims misunderstanding when really he or she should be saying they just didnít want to do it so they didnít.  If you want to serve Jesus then you have to follow Him.  You canít follow Jesus and someone else going the opposite direction at the same time.  Follow Him in the paths of righteousness for His own nameís sake.  He is the one who died for you and gave Himself up for you in order to give you a path to salvation.

Psalms 79:9 (NKJV) 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, For Your name's sake!

For the glory of the name of God, follow Christ and accept His offered salvation.

Psalms 31:3 (NKJV) 3 For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name's sake, Lead me and guide me.

Do we remember to give Glory to God?

Matthew 6:13 (NKJV) 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

We need to pray that we will be lead in the ways of righteousness for the sake of the power and glory of God forever.  It is our purpose to praise God!

1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV) 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Whatever abilities we have should be used to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ.  All glory and dominion belongs to Him forever.  We cannot glorify His name and sin as a matter of course at the same time:

James 1:21-25 (NKJV) 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Have you been truly following Jesus by following His word?  Are you a doer or just a hearer?  Donít deceive yourself. Look at the perfect law of Christ, the law of Liberty.  Study it.  Obey it.  Obey today.



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