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Radio Commentaries from Beliefs Have Consequences
by Dorothy A. Miller
Feel free to download any selections.

Assorted Titles:
#12 The 23rd Psalm, Nice But How Relevant?
The 23rd Psalm, Sheepology 101
The 23rd Psalm, Fear No Evil
The 23rd Psalm, When a Stiff Neck Feels Good
Lady Justice Takes Off Her Blindfold 
Which Came First, Fathers or God?
Women...God’s Grand Design
Christmas Quiz
Greater Than God’s Name?
Sounds Right to Me
Faith—But in What?
Paper or Plastic?
Who Will Be God?
Paths of The Sea
The Alarm Clock Did It

Commentary #12, Beliefs Have Consequences
© 1999 D.A. Miller
“The 23rd Psalm, Nice, But How Relevant?”
First of four parts on the 23rd Psalm

      Forlorn faces blankly stare at the flower-draped gilded coffin. A clergyman reads his pre-packaged words of comfort to the bereaved.  Most of the listeners, for whom this is not the first grave they have stood by, once again face the finality of death. They endure, hoping to grasp some word, some truth, that will carry them through this time of darkness and perhaps give meaning to their own lives.

      As is the custom in most services, the printed funeral program carries the words of Psalm 23 and they are also read by the clergy person.

      But what do ancient words written 3,000 years ago about a shepherd have to do with us today?  Nice poetic sentiments, but how relevant are they to you and me?

      To answer, let's take a moment to look at this most familiar portion in all of the Bible and perhaps discover how it can become meaningful to us.

      The psalm begins, "The Lord is my shepherd."  The word "Lord" in the original Hebrew Scripture is Yahweh or Jehovah.  This name is one of many names of God in the Old Testament part of the Bible.  It carried the meaning of "the self existent one who reveals himself."  It is used when God is dealing with mankind, very often when He is rescuing his people. 

      We learn the specific identity of this shepherd in the New Testament.  In the book of John, throughout chapter 10, Jesus Christ identifies himself as the shepherd by saying such things as, "I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine...My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

      Note that Psalm 23:1 does not say "The Lord is A Shepherd."  It says "The Lord is MY Shepherd.  Until you pray to God and ask Jesus to be your Savior, He is not your shepherd.  An act of your will, belief, is necessary.  The Bible says, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Acts 10:43 

      Most people adore the words of love found in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But too often they fail to read on as the words that follow make them uncomfortable.  Jesus says in verse 18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

      From that we see that not everyone can claim Jesus as their shepherd, only those who first have believed and trusted in Him as their Savior.  Only those who have Jesus as their Savior can also apply to themselves the comforting words contained in Psalm 23.

      Awhile back, after concluding church services in a nursing home, a kindly 94-year-old man named Emile softly said, “I need to ask you a question. But can you come to my room so I can first tell you a story.” I squirmed a little as I was in a hurry.  It surprised me when I said “yes,” since I had an appointment and it is a risk to say “yes” in this environment since a story there can be very long.  It seemed as if the Lord wanted me to take the time now and not put it off.   Once in his room Emile began...“When I was 7 years old.”  My worst fears were realized.  He was going to tell me about his whole life!

      Strangely, the Lord brought calmness and directed me to stay and listen.  The common thread in each of the stories he told was this.  Each time he had a big problem, getting along with people, playing the organ well in the church, or finding a job, he said, “I prayed to God and He would tell me what to do.  I would do it and the problem would be solved.”

      Finally, after relating many of these same kinds of sequences from throughout his life he said, “When I turned 90, I started having a serious physical problem (which he proceeded to detail to me) so I thought I would pray Psalm 23, which I had never done before. 

      “Now this is my question,” he said. “The voice that has helped me all of my life said, “Don’t you ever pray those words, ever!”   Emile looked at me and said, “I am afraid.  I am not getting better. I don’t have any peace, and I can’t figure out why the voice told me that?” 

      I was stunned.  I asked Emile, “Who is Jesus to you?  He answered, “Nobody.” Then I knew the reason God brought me to this man’s room. 

      Needless say I took the all the time necessary to explain that the voice he had been listening to all of his life was not God’s.  It was the imposter Satan’s voice who did not want Emile to trust the Savior of Psalm 23.  I told Emile that knowing Jesus would connect him to the true God who could give him peace for which he so longed. 

      That day Emile asked Jesus to be his Savior and now he tells me that for the first time he has found peace.  He at last found the true Shepherd.

      The 23rd Psalm, in six short verses, contains the basics of having a true relationship with God and walking in contented fellowship with him.  But remember these words of comfort and provision only apply if Jesus is your own personal Shepherd. ...                            Beliefs Have Consequences!      
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Commentary #13, Beliefs have Consequences
© 1999 D.A. Miller
“The 23rd Psalm-Sheepology 101”
Second of four parts on the 23rd Psalm

      The promises of Psalm 23 do not apply to everyone.  John chapter ten shows us that the shepherd of the 23rd Psalm is none other than Jesus Christ. Only those who have prayed to God and asked Jesus to be their Savior can accurately say, the Lord is My Shepherd.  If you have prayed that prayer, here are some of the wonderful practical promises your Shepherd, Jesus, offers you.

      Most of us (with our extensive background in “Sheepology” gained from credible sources such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, Little Bo Peep, Ba Ba Black Sheep and other in-depth literature) think of sheep as playful white friendly creatures.  In reality, throughout the Bible when God compares us to sheep, He refers not to our cuteness, but rather to the qualities of sheep such as stupidity and helplessness!  Wonderfully, even though God knows all of our shortcomings, He still loves us and desires to help and nourish us in the very best ways.

      The first promise in this wonderful Psalm is seen right away.  “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In Psalm 84:11 the Bible says “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”  A trusting sheep believes that its faithful shepherd will take care of it.  Do we trust Jesus to take care of us? 

      This principle of God’s provision for His those who obey him is found throughout the Bible.  Isn’t is about time that we began to believe God is this area?

      Verse 2 says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

      Sheep need rest, some times enforced rest, to keep healthy.  So too our Shepherd Jesus will lead us to those places of rest, and to encourage us to stop awhile—even if He sometimes has to make us do it! 

      Are you willing to slow your frantic pace or does God have to make you stop?  A life of feverish busyness is not always best for us. The Bible says in Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”

      “He leadeth me beside the still waters.”  The beautiful thick wool adorning sheep, that useful hair that provides warm sweaters for us, also makes sheep a walking death trap. Thirsty sheep discovering water do not check to make sure that the water is smooth and placid. If water moves as a splashing stream, a fast moving current or quietly, it makes no difference to the sheep.

      To sheep, “Water is water, and I am thirsty.”  But a good shepherd knows that when sheep drink out of fast moving water, it will splash up and soak into their wool. Then, like a sponge filled with water, they become so heavy they are sucked into the current and drown. Notice again the Psalm.  “He leadeth me beside still waters.”

      Many things in our world are good for us...wonderful in fact...but only in the right settings.  How many billions having a desire for intimacy or satisfaction have been lured to participate in sex outside of marriage?  It seemed a good idea at the time, but they drowned.  Don’t forget, the Good Shepherd invented sex and He will lead you to a time, place and situation within marriage where you can enjoy the benefits, be refreshed and not drown.

      In all matters of life if we pray and read God’s Word to consult Him before we seek to satisfy our needs, He will lead us to the best sources, ones that will also keep us from danger.  The Bible says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:4-5.  Also God promises, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6...                                       Beliefs Have Consequences!         Go back to list of commentary titles

Commentary #14 Beliefs Have Consequences
© 1999 D.A. Miller
“The 23rd Psalm-Fear No Evil”
Third of four parts on the 23rd Psalm

      We discovered that the most beloved passage in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm, only becomes effective and meaningful if the reader can say, the Lord is MY Shepherd. We saw that in the Bible, Jesus Christ identifies Himself as that Shepherd.  Those who trust in Jesus as their Shepherd can be assured that the comforting promises apply to them.

      How interesting that God selected one of the most helpless creatures on earth to represent us.  Perhaps He did that to show us something about ourselves that we in our pride take a long time to recognize.

      Verse 3 begins, “He restoreth my soul.”  More than just watching over a flock, a nameless, faceless group, a good Shepherd knows each sheep personally.  He understands when each one needs special attention.  So too Jesus knows us individually and cares about our innermost needs.  Jesus said in Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

      The Lord sees every time of struggle in our lives and wants to restore peace to us if we will let Him.

      Verse 3 of Psalms also says, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”  A shepherd’s reputation rests on the quality of His flock.  Observers judge a shepherd’s ability by his care of his sheep.  So too God’s name, His reputation, is tied to the way He takes care of His sheep.  His sheep  Christians carry the very name of Christ.  God’s ability to care for us, and His interest in our well being, demonstrate His loving and powerful character.

      Do you fear death?  A comforting and beautiful picture in this Psalm can take away your fear.  Verse 4 reads, “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.”

      Israel has an actual place called, The Valley of the Shadow of Death.  When sheep were taken from the upper to lower pastures they had to walk on a scary narrow path.  Sheep that had learned from past good experiences that they could trust their Shepherd negotiated this path with confidence.  But on every trip, up to the high pastures or down to the valley, each of those sheep had to remember to trust its shepherd or the trip would be scary and hard.

      Of course the sheep who had a bad shepherd had good reason to be afraid.  They could see some of their fellow sheep friends being left alone, not being helped over the hard spots and falling to their deaths!

      This Valley of the Shadow of Death described in the 23rd Psalm is not just a metaphor about dying, it is about life, about living.  Every moment of our lives we walk on a narrow ledge.  Each second we live we are on the edge of life and death.  We have the choice  to walk confidently or to panic as we contemplate the possibility of death. 

      Notice the reason the sheep are not afraid is that they know and can say “I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” 

      Since beginning nursing home visitation in 1974, I have often asked the precious seniors who have trusted Jesus as their Savior and Shepherd, “What is your favorite verse?” The one that is most quoted is from Hebrews 13 which says, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

      Can you say right now that you know God will never leave you nor forsake you?  Are you living and walking in confidence that Jesus is with you on your narrow path of life?  You can. Ask him right now to be your Shepherd and Savior and begin to walk your life in trust and confidence...
                                                               Beliefs Have Consequences!          
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Commentary #15, Beliefs have Consequences
© 1999 D.A. Miller
“The 23rd Psalm-When A Stiff Neck Feels Good”
Fourth of four parts on the 23rd Psalm

      The most familiar and beloved passage in the whole Bible is the 23rd Psalm.  Its comforting words of love and care are just as applicable today as they were 3,000 years ago in the days of the writer, King David.  He wrote from his life experience of being a shepherd and also from knowing God in a personal way.  He compared the Good Shepherd and the trusting sheep to his relationship to trusting God. 

      We saw that to grab hold of the wonderful promises of the 23rd Psalm one must be able to say, “The Lord is MY shepherd,” not just “A shepherd.”  The personal connection to God can be made by believing the words of Jesus who said, “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

      In our last look at the promises in this chapter, we continue on with verse 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.”

      As we saw, that valley is a real place in Israel, a dangerous deep gorge with a narrow path alongside.  The sheep negotiate the path safely and with confidence only if they are accompanied and led by a good shepherd.  This valley we saw is our lives, not just the end of life on earth. Much of our life can be described as a walk on the edge of life and death.  We can choose to be led and tended and cared for by Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

      But notice the rest of the verse that we didn’t examine, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” The rod carried by the shepherd brings comfort. It was used to beat off the wolves and lions, the predators who wanted to kill the sheep.

       In the same way for us today God’s rod protects us.  In 2 Thessalonians 1:6 we read, “It is a righteous thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you.”  God looks after His own. He says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”  Not, I might repay, but I will.   

      Notice also that comfort comes from the staff.  That Little Bo-Peep staff with the crook at the top had a unique purpose.  When a sheep started to wander off of the path of safety the shepherd would guide it back to safety with a nudge of the staff.  But if a sheep insisted on straying, the skillful hands of the loving shepherd used the staff to hook the sheep around the neck and snatch it back to himself.  Even though the sheep might have a sore neck for awhile, it was far better that plunging over the edge to its death!

       So Jesus deals in love with us.  At times He gently coaxes us back to safety and sometimes He grabs us fiercely around the neck, jerking us back to save us from traveling in a disastrous direction.

      Verse 5 states, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

      In the middle of a dangerous environment, good shepherds provided food for their sheep.  So too in a world surrounded with danger, Jesus can and will provide the true spiritual nourishment that we so desperately need.

      Every evening as the sheep entered their corral, the sheepfold, a caring shepherd would stand astride the door and each sheep individually would walk between his legs, as the doorway.  He would tenderly touch them to check for scrapes.  If he found any, he would massage healing oil on the wound. This is described by the words, “Thou anointest my head with oil.” The Lord wants to do this for His sheep.  On a daily basis He is available to help us heal. As Jesus said in Luke 4 in traditional versions of the Bible, “I come to heal the broken hearted.”

      Lastly the great confidence of the sheep, kept securely in the fold by their good shepherd is reflected in the last verse, “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.”

      This same security is offered today to all who trust in Jesus as their Good Shepherd.  Jesus says in John 10:10 &27-28, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”...“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

      If He is your Shepherd, allow Him to lead you and bask in his love and protection.  Enjoy the security He offers.  If He is not yet your Savior and Shepherd, confess your wanderings and sin to Him right now.  He will become your Good Shepherd, and the 23rd Psalm will be yours...
                                                              Beliefs Have Consequences!          
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