June 17, 2016
Some 40 plus years ago, the Lord began unfolding for me the 23rd Psalm in a revelatory way. As usual, when you keep the ears of your spirit attentive to Holy Spirit, He continues to unfold new revelation and peel away layer after layer after layer of understanding in the depths of God’s Word. It has always been somewhat of a source of frustration when I see preachers who use the 23rd Psalm at funerals. This is not a Psalm for dying! This is a Psalm for living!
What I understood about the 23rd Psalm 40 years ago, and what I see today have changed dramatically. That doesn’t mean that what I knew 40 years ago was invalid, it’s just that it was only the first layer of many. Where I was in God 40 years ago, and where I am today, are two distinctly different places. The longer you walk with the Lord, the more you will see and understand of Him, His principles, His leading and His purpose in your life.
Over the coming months, it is my hope and desire to share with you what I’ve come to see as a prophecy and a dimension in God that all of us are destined for.
We have a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s take it from the beginning.
Have you ever paid attention to the sequence of the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Psalms? Ever notice how the 22nd Psalm was prophetic of Jesus' death on the Cross? Matter of fact, Jesus even quoted Psalm 22 on the Cross.
This Psalm (NOT the 23rd!) is a picture of death and dying. It is a cry for deliverance from destruction. You’ll excuse me for saying so, but it even sounds like a lot of Christians today moaning and bemoaning their state. Even so, David ends this Psalm with a declaration of faith and trust in God.
Skip over to Psalm 24, and you have a dramatically different picture. Instead of beginning, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" this Psalm kicks off with a joyful declaration: "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Then it wraps up with, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord mighty in battle."
What a contrast! What was it that took David from the picture of death and despair to the overcoming and joyful knowledge of the Lord as the King of Glory?
It was a process. That process (the New Testament Greek uses a word to describe it: thlipsis -- meaning, pressure, trials, afflictions, tribulation) begins with a declaration in the midst of the despair, "The Lord is my Shepherd," and concludes with, "And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
This is a Psalm to live by! This is a Psalm that outlines the process from defeat to absolute, triumphant victory.
There are 15 separate and unique steps described that take us from the initial declaration "The Lord is My Shepherd" to "I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever." Each one of those steps outlines the working of God in our lives to bring us from the birth of our relationship in Jesus Christ to the kind of princely maturity that allows us to "live in the House of the Lord" as a grown up, mature, son or daughter of God.
The 23rd Psalm could be described as a prophetic picture of Revelation 2 and 3 — the seven letters written to the seven Ekklesias. It is a revelation of the stages of overcoming that bring us to the place where we hear the Lord say,
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Revelation 3:12-13)
Does that sound like, “I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever”? Thought so!
It has always been a source of amazement and puzzlement to me how preachers use the 23rd Psalm at funerals. This is not a Psalm to die by! This is a Psalm to live by! This is a Psalm that outlines the process from defeat, despair and dying to absolute, triumphant victory.
There are 15 separate and unique steps described that take us from "The Lord is My Shepherd" to "I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever." Each one of those steps outlines the working of God in our lives to bring us from the birth and declaration of our relationship in Jesus Christ to the kind of princely maturity that allows us to "live in the House of the Lord" as a grown up, mature, son or daughter of God.
Before we get to the initial declaration, let’s lay a few foundational steps. We’ve quoted these verses before in a somewhat different context, but you’ll see how they apply.
Ruin, pestilence, disease and death (emotional, mental and physical) and freshness, vitality, strength, restoration and the veritable breath and life of God are in the power, means, direction and charge of the tongue; and they who understand, have revelation of and utilize it [as an integral part of their existence] shall see, experience, and partake [as one feasts at a table] of the rewards (or curses) and results thereof. (Proverbs 18:21, RAC Translation and Amplification)
Matthew 12:37: "For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Watch how this verse comes out when you amplify it.
It’s because of the body of the words that are in you — the thoughts and intents of your heart — resulting in that which comes out of your mouth, that renders you just, free, innocent and righteous; by the same token that body of words that occupies your thoughts and the intents of your heart and manifests itself in your speech will judge, condemn and pronounce you guilty. (Matthew 12:37, RAC Translation and Amplification)
Romans 10:8-11: "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." (Emphasis, mine)
With that said, let’s take a look at how the 23rd Psalm begins. This declaration sets the stage for everything that follows.
Yowd Hey Vav Hey is MY ruler, my governor, my friend, my companion, my protector — the one who tends to me, who leads me to that which will nourish, strengthen, and cause me to grow and prosper. (Psalm 23:1a: RAC Translation & Amplification)
The beginning place of all victory (and I do mean ALL) in our lives is that place where we decide to totally surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. That decision comes as an act of our will, but it is preceded by faith that Jesus Christ is who He said He is.
Believing in our hearts is one thing, however. If it remains something in our heart, but we never utter that belief with our lips, no change ever gets enacted. I can't tell you how many so-called "secret" Christians I've run into throughout the years. They've somehow come up with the cockamamie idea that it's OK to believe it, but that -- in order to survive in today's politically correct world -- they don't have to actually say so in public.
Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. There are absolutely no changes in our lives that take place without words first being spoken. In fact, it is safe to say that nothing ever transpires without it first being spoken out of our mouths, or out of the mouth of someone else whose words we hear.
Ever notice how the Enemy of our souls, Satan, takes advantage of that Law to trap us? Ever notice how the phraseology, the "fad words" in our daily conversation, the catch-phrases of the day invert, contaminate or overturn the real meaning of the words we speak?
Let me give you some quick examples.
1. My feet are killing me. No they aren't! Not unless you've contracted the same disease that Amaziah, the King of Judah, contracted in his feet (See II Chronicles 16:12-13)
2. I'm just dying to meet him (or her)! Then you'd better avoid him (or her) at all costs if meeting them will cost your life.
3. Man, he's bad! This is one of the most egregious examples of inverting the meaning of a word when you want to describe someone as really being a great person.
4. She's just gone bananas. How is it that we take the name of a healthy, nutritious fruit and turn it into something representing irrational or insane behavior?
You see what I'm getting at, don't you? It is a trick of Satan to get us to use words that really mean something the total opposite of what we actually intend to say – and then allow the words we actually speak to backfire on us.
If we don't guard the words that come out of our mouths, we can catapult ourselves into situations that bring disaster, death or destruction -- and then we wonder how in the world we ever got there and why such things are happening to us.
Thus the beginning place of deliverance, the beginning place of salvation, the beginning place of reversing a life of poverty and constant need, the beginning place of health and strength, the beginning place of healthy relationships with family, with friends, the beginning place of all that is positive, all that promotes life is a declaration, a decree, a command, a confession that comes forth from our lips.
That confession is nothing more and nothing less than, "Yowd Hey Vav Hey is my Shepherd!" That is the confession that says, Jesus Christ is MY Lord; Jesus Christ is MY Shepherd: My life is now HIS, lock, stock and barrel!
Got it? It is that place of decision that comes in the core of one's being that says,
I believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He is.
I believe that He IS Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
I believe, and now take, and confess that He is MY Lord!
I believe that He loves me!
I believe that He died for me on the Cross.
I believe that God raised Him from the dead.
I believe that the curse of the Law and the curse of death I have lived under was broken for me by His death and resurrection.
It has, for many years, always troubled me that preachers and evangelists have so over-simplified the salvation message, turning it into a "fire insurance" message. Get saved, they preach, so you won't go to Hell.
Salvation is not just about not going to Hell. Salvation is not even about going to Heaven. If you die, and you've made Jesus Christ your Lord and Shepherd, there just isn't any other place to go than Heaven. Hell isn't even a consideration.
Nope. This is not a message about Heaven and Hell. This is the turning place from death to life. This is the turning place from sickness to health. The is the turning place from disease to healing. This is where we begin the change from weakness to strength. This is the place where we are empowered with authority over who and all that Satan is and does. This is the place where we transition from a life of constant need to a life of constant abundance.
How was it that Jesus put it? "All power in heaven and earth is given unto me. Go ye, therefore...!" (Matthew 28:18-19)
Or how about, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19)
The apostle Paul said it like this: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)
You see it, don't you? Just as David began with his declaration, his confession, "The Lord is MY Shepherd," and believed it in the core of his being, change began in his life. Change begins in our life, too.
We’ll pick it up here next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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