Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”

“Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“The LORD is my shepherd.” David wrote Psalm 23 and declared that Yahweh, Jehovah, the LORD was his Shepherd. He harkened back to Exodus 3:14. The Great “I Am” appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Moses asked God for His name. God told Moses that He is who He is. In other words, God declared that He is the Eternal Being. There is more to God’s name. LORD is descriptive of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The Hebrews held God’s personal name in such regard that they did not speak His name. God gave His name in the Hebrew verb “to be”. All being, all existence proceeds from the only one who has being, existence in Himself. In Psalm 23, David declared the propositional truth. Yahweh IS the one who tends and cares for every believer!

I recall one Bible teacher saying that we are misnamed as human beings. We should be called human becomings. We are always changing from one thing to another. From the time we are born we age. As we age we mature. God, however, never changes. He is. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever”, Hebrews 13:8.

When David made the declaration: “The LORD is my shepherd” he stated that he was cared for and guided by the One and only Eternal Being. His declaration was made of the absolute highest and greatest being. More, king David addressed the eternal One as his Shepherd. As such, David was declaring his intimacy with God.

King David knew the LORD. He wrote that the one who led him, cared for him and provided for his needs was the Great “I Am”. As we look at this psalm, we who know the LORD profess with David the certainty of God’s care and providence.

The Gospel of John recorded the “I Am “sayings of Jesus. John 10:11 in particular recorded who this Great “I Am” was and is. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words about Jesus who is the Great “I Am”. “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”, Colossians 1:15-19. The fullness of God was revealed in Jesus who is eternally begotten (not born) from the Father.

David wrote Psalm 23 more than 3,000 years ago. Yet all who profess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead have the Great “I Am” as their Shepherd as David did. King David looked forward to the person and work of Christ. We who trust in Jesus look back at Him.

God’s faithfulness revealed in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation is for all who call upon the name of the LORD. We say with King David” The LORD is my Shepherd. Therefore, I trust that the LORD will meet my needs. Because He is my Shepherd, “I shall not want!”

Jesus said do not worry about the needs of life. He said the Father knows my needs and will provide what I truly need.

Confidence in God’s providence is not exclusive to me but applies to everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus! Those who call upon the name of Jesus are those who rely upon and trust in the Person and Work of Christ.

The object of saving faith is the Jesus revealed in the Bible. He is the God-Man. He is God in the flesh. He is not a created being. He is not the Jesus of another testament, book or philosophy. He is not just a prophet. He is fully God and fully Man. This is the Jesus who promised God’s love.

There are two aspects of life in Christ to which David pointed in Psalm 23:1. They are guidance and provision. The Good Shepherd, Jesus guides and provides for His people. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Jesus said that He knows His sheep and He calls them by name, John 10:3-14.

You who hear Jesus through His word follow Him. You belong to Him. He will provide your needs. You shall not want! Your eternity is secure in Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Loss is Inevitable”

“Loss is Inevitable”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We all face loss of some kind. We lose treasured things as a result of tragedies like fire, extreme weather, etc. We lose the opportunity of maintaining close relationships as a result of friends moving away. We lose jobs as a result of “down-sizing” or bankruptcies. The most stinging losses are those of people. The loss of family and friends due to death are the most stinging! The loss of life of a loved one challenges everything that we hold dear. The depth of this loss can cause despair.

God knows the significance of loss. He inspired the Apostle Paul to declare the necessity of good theology as the remedy to deal with the most significant loss, life, in this world. As we continue to live in this world, death, still has power over us. Paul wrote two significant texts concerning physical death. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15:56-57. We know that Christ was victorious over death. He is Risen! Matthew 28:6 He has ascended to the right hand of God. Revelation 5 Jesus rules all things in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 We know that those who are in Christ will share in His victory. When He returns, we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him.1John 3:2

But, what about now? Paul addressed our life now in 1Thessalonians 4:13. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as other do who have no hope.” Paul desired to inform the church. This pre-supposes that the church was ill-informed, at least to the degree that physical death was challenging the faith of believers. They didn’t know everything. It was a disturbing thought that when God made me a Christian, I didn’t immediately become an expert in doctrine! I’m sure that you’ve experienced the same realization. When I have the privilege of sitting under someone who has “walked” with the Lord for a long time I discover how much I don’t know. I continue to study the word and listen to those who teach sound doctrine. My life in Christ will continue on this track until I go to be with the Lord. The Christian Life is one of growing in the knowledge of, dare I say, sound doctrine! We learn that God grows us up in Christ not in ourselves. The Apostle knew that the only remedy for despair over loss was sound, good theology.

Notice the first phrase in 1Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wanted, he desired, that the church be informed! How sad it is that in our day, many leaders of churches desire members to “feel” as though their desires and interests are being met! Being led by our desires will only lead to despair. We are no match for the world. We are certainly no match for the issue of loss, especially the loss of life.

Our family is in the midst of this inevitable loss. My mother, who has been granted 99 years of life is in the process of dying. The words of Paul have pierced my heart as never before, “… you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Because of the sovereign grace of God in choosing to make me His, I know that He has given me a hope that can never be taken away, even by death. I know that my mom is in the hands of the sovereign God.

I can’t fathom the depth of despair that those who do not know God experience. Even for those who profess Christ, I can’t imagine the damage that the lack of sound doctrine does to their faith. The Christian Life, as ordained by God, is a life of learning from and following Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. When the world’s challenges come, where do you go? Are you being taught the truth? Growing in the knowledge and love of Christ is essential for our life.

May the Lord use this challenge in my life to cause you to seek out a church that teaches sound doctrine. May you grow in Christ. May He deepen your trust in Him and confirm the hope that He gives to His own.