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"Jesus Is The True Shepherd (참목자의 자격)."

'The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the forever. - Psalms 23:1-6


<Sermon Script>

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." - Psalms‬ ‭23:1-6‬

Jesus is the guide. Verse 1: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."


The shepherd's vision determines the fate of the flock. Our church is currently doing the 'San Diego 40 miles' hike during Lent. We walk 10 miles each week from Santa Monica to San Diego. Last Saturday was the third hike, on a trail in Laguna Beach with a breathtaking view, and 14 people walked together. We are grateful to Jae-ho and So-hyun, the couple leading this event. They planned and organized this event and are experienced hikers, the most skilled in our church. We trust and follow them. However, we discovered someone even more exceptional in our church, Brother Song Jun. His house is filled with camping gear, and he loves hiking passionately. There's nothing he doesn't know about hiking. We learned a lot from him during this hike. We trust that following him will lead us safely through San Diego's 40 miles to the pilgrim's path to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It's essential to board the right bus.


The shepherd's voice is the path for the sheep. "When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." - John 10:4

Sheep are not taught the way; they are taught to follow. Giving maps to sheep is useless because they are simple creatures that, even if rescued from a ditch, will joyfully jump back in. The sheep just need to recognize the shepherd's voice, and then they will find green pastures and still waters.

The church teaches to listen to Jesus' voice, responding to the unchanging truth amidst the world's noise.


Jesus, the Shepherd, always leads us on the right path, guiding us to our ultimate destination. Yet, we sometimes resist going where He leads, encountering paths we wish to avoid. Consider David's confession in verse 4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…"

We prefer the easy, safe, and assuredly successful paths. Thus, encountering valleys of shadow in our faith journey can lead us to doubt or blame God. However, Jesus never promised comfort but guidance to the right places. Verse 3: "He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."


The second course of the San Diego 40 miles was in Manhattan Beach. We knew two weeks ahead that it would rain on the scheduled Saturday. We prayed for clear weather, but also wisdom to handle the situation if it rained, preparing a backup plan to gather at the church for a meal, service, and a movie if the rain persisted. On the morning of the event, it indeed rained. Personally, after expending much energy on Friday, I secretly hoped for more rain to rest. Despite the rain, a message from So-hyun, our team leader, awaited me, asking for a sermon link to read during the hike. As planned, Haeun came to pick me up, showing me a photo of a rainbow in the sky, a sign of God's promise. Although it rained, we drove to our destination without turning back, and miraculously, the rain stopped. We began walking, and after about 6 miles, a sudden storm hit, forcing us to seek shelter. Incredibly, the rain ceased after 10 minutes, and we resumed our walk along the beach, which was stunningly beautiful after the storm. It was a joyful moment, walking along the usually busy beachfront alone and then enjoying a late lunch at a Seolleongtang restaurant.


This experience reminded us that a pilgrimage without challenges might be comfortable but dull. Having a faith destination and companions turns unforeseen problems into exciting, moving, and unifying experiences.


Brother Min-seok's testimony on writing "Lord, My Shepherd" reflects this. He muses that life with God entails not just smooth paths but also difficult valleys. Walking with God through these valleys can turn them into green pastures. The song aims to declare that God's hand holds us, even in life's hardest situations.


Jesus' embrace is our green pasture and still waters. He leads us in every circumstance. In Jesus, we find truth, love, promises, and power. Only Jesus is the answer to all our prayers. His yoke is easy and light. Pastor Ok Hwan says living according to Jesus' will is easy; it's our struggle that makes life difficult. When we conclude with Jesus, problems lose their power. We find freedom in truth, known as 'God's providence.'


Sometimes, we may not see Jesus ahead of us, but we need not be discouraged or doubt. Jesus is always with us, leading and guiding. Verse 4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."

The shepherd's staff serves two purposes: a weapon to protect the sheep from predators and an instrument to guide them. Jesus sends us out as sheep among wolves, reminding us that He fights for us, not we for ourselves. Jesus' strength ensures victory, not by might or power, but by His Spirit, says the Lord Almighty in Zechariah 4:6.


Furthermore, the shepherd's staff is used to herd the sheep. Kang Hyung-wook, a dog trainer, communicates and empathizes with dogs. Watching him handle aggressive dogs without yielding taught me the importance of not giving in to threatening behaviors. Although it may seem harsh, a skilled trainer knows the purpose of their actions is to correct not only the dogs but also their owners for better companionship. Kang says it's crucial to teach dogs their wrongdoings sternly but with a heart of remorse.


Kang, though a dog trainer, reminds me of a modern-day shepherd. Jesus accepts, nurtures, and loves us but also reproves us to lead us on the right path. He is a Shepherd of both love and justice in full measure.


If we feel like we can't see Jesus in tough times, remember He's behind us, herding us forward and fighting off the wolves for us. Our pasture is Jesus Himself. In His embrace, we can reach our pilgrimage's final destination.


<Summary>

1. Introduction to the Shepherd: This part tells us that God is like a shepherd who makes sure we have everything we need, keeps us safe, and leads us to peaceful places, even when things get really tough.

2. Guidance of the Shepherd: Using a church hiking event as an example, it shows the importance of following someone who knows the way, just like we trust Jesus to guide us in life.

3. The Shepherd’s Voice: It says that sheep follow their shepherd’s voice for direction. Similarly, we should listen to Jesus to find our way, not getting distracted by everything else around us.

4. Walking the Right Path: Talks about how we sometimes don’t want to follow Jesus through hard times. A story about a hike that faced bad weather shows that following Jesus might be tough but leads us to the right place.

5. Challenges Enrich the Pilgrimage: A story from a hike with bad weather that turned out to be a great experience shows that facing problems with faith can make our journey with Jesus even more special.

6. Jesus, Our Green Pasture: Shares a member’s song and story to say that being with Jesus means we will go through both good and hard times, but He helps us feel at peace and safe.

7. Jesus’s Constant Presence and Protection: This section reminds us that even when we can’t see Jesus leading us, He is always there to keep us safe and guide us, like a shepherd protects and leads his sheep with a staff.

8. The Shepherd’s Dual Role: Compares Jesus to a skilled trainer who takes care of us and teaches us right from wrong, leading us with love and fairness towards our final goal, being with Him.





Urban Pilgrims is a Korean church located in Los Angeles California.

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