Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Psalm 23:1-6 AMP
1 THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me]. I shall not lack.
2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.
4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; by [brimming] cut runs over.
6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
This Psalm is one of my favorites because it speaks of God's never-ending love for His people using the illustration of how a Shepherd cares for his sheep. The Shepherd's job is to provide for every need of the sheep. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, when He died on the cross for us, provided for our every need. He feeds, guides and shields us so that we suffer no lack. The provision has been made through the blood of Jesus for us to have complete restoration to the way life was back in the Garden of Eden. The spiritual life that we live as children of God provides for our well-being spirit, soul and body. Jesus died for the whole person, not just for us spiritually.
As sheep, we often go through life being led by every circumstance and experience that comes along. We sometimes don't look to the Shepherd for protection, provision and preservation. We seem to be distanced from Him. That is not the life that our heavenly Father wants us to live. He wants us to be vitally connected to Him through a living relationship with Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. When we begin to look to the Lord for every need that we have we find His presence, His protection, His provision and His preservation.
Presence – His closeness is ever with us. The Shepherd stayed with the sheep. He lived in the pasture with them. Jesus came as a human being and dwelt among men. He lived with us; He died among us to pay the price for our freedom. Jesus lives within His children. His presence is ever with us.
John 1:14,-16 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
His protection – “Yes, though I walk through the [deep sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” I like the way Joyce Meyer explains this verse: “Remember, where there is a shadow, there must be light—and the Light of the world, Jesus, has promised to be with you always.”
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
His provision – “THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me]. I shall not lack.”
Lack – Hebrew word haser – means to lack; to have nothing; to go down, recede; to make lower; to deprive; to cause to lack, withhold.
Jesus, as our Shepherd has provided for us in such a way that we will suffer no lack; we will never be at a state of not having anything, or being deprived of what we need. He is not withholding from us, but instead, has made provision for us. Sometimes God gets blamed for our lack when the blame should be placed on the wolf who comes to try to steal the little ones from the sheepfold.
John chapter 10 speaks so lovingly of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Jesus describes Himself as the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep in John 10:11. He goes on to say in John 10:14, 15:
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Jesus laid down His life for us so that we would suffer no lack. His provision is far-reaching from saving our souls, restoring our spirits, and providing for our needs. He is the GOOD Shepherd who provides for His own.
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The thief (the wolf) comes to steal, kill and destroy the sheep's life. But Jesus came to give life abundantly.
Abundantly – Greek word perissos – means superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, profuse, extraordinary, above the ordinary, more than sufficient.
Can you imagine that type of life; one of superabundance, excess and overflowing surplus? That's the life that Jesus died that you and I might experience. When we face opposition to that type of life we can know that it is because the thief is trying to steal from us. He comes to destroy us by whatever means he can. Sometimes He steals through our finances by blinding us to proper financial management. We sometimes cooperate with his tactics to steal from us by overspending, not tithing and giving offerings, and not properly managing the resources that God has provided for us. God gives us choices to either walk in His provision or try to do it on our own. In our desire to be in control we sometimes step out of God's perfect will for our lives by the choices that we make. The result is lack.
Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Preservation – “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.” He leads us in uprightness and right standing with Him, not through our trying to earn it, but for His name's sake. That's powerful. When we come to the understanding that we are saved by HIS grace and not our works we can live a life of freedom! Jesus paid the price in full; there is nothing for us to do, but receive it! Our salvation, our preservation, was given by God's grace and received through our faith.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
You can't earn your salvation, you can only receive it. When you receive it you are placed “in Him”, “in Christ Jesus”, safe in the Father's hands.
Friends, God loves you with an everlasting love. His provision is complete; His presence is never-ending; His protection is always around you and His preservation restores your soul. The work of the “Good Shepherd” has provided for every need of the sheep; we shall not lack.
Father, I thank You for providing for every need that Your children have. I thank You that we suffer no lack! You have thought of and covered everything! Thank You, Father, for the total provision that protects, provides and preserves us. Thank You for giving Jesus to die for our sins and to restore us back to You. Lord Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life for us. No one took Your life from You but You willingly laid it down that we might experience life abundantly. Thank You, Lord! And thank You for placing Your Spirit within us to lead and guide us; and to give us the fellowship that we need to have that living and vital relationship with You. You are our God; there is NONE above You or beside You. Thank You for being our Savior!
Father I pray this morning for those who might not know Jesus as their Savior. I pray that you will open the blinded eyes and pull down the veil that has been placed over their minds by the evil one so that they can see the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and be drawn into the family through believing in their heart that He died for them and confessing Him as their Lord. Do a saving work in them, Father. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Today's a new day; yesterday's gone and we're not promised tomorrow. But this one thing I know: when I fall down and mess up, God is there to lift me back up and set me on the right course for success!
Hebrews 2:18 AMP For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].
Yesterday was a "not so good" day, but today will be better! Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness in loving me, forgiving me and restoring me into right relationship with You when I confess my faults and sins to You!
1 John 1:9 AMP If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
I'm so thankful that I can come to my heavenly Father when I have messed up and know that He will not reject me or treat me unkindly because of my frail humanity, but He lovingly forgives and restores my relationship with Him.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Isn't life interesting? As many of you know I have been on a weight loss journey for about eight months now. I had two goals in mind when I started my journey: one was to be able to fit into and wear the suit that I wore when my husband and I were married four years ago this past October 11. I reached that goal and was happy to wear that suit to church yesterday morning. The other goal was to reach a certain weight and I still have a few pounds to go to reach that goal. But yesterday morning I was reading a blog and the writer mentioned a website that you could go to that would tell you what your “happy weight” is. Well, let me tell you that intrigued me! I had never thought about my weight loss goal in that manner. So I thought I better check this out because I certainly want to have a “happy weight”! After I answered a few statistical questions about myself it revealed what weight I should be “happy” with. I was surprised to see that it actually is the same goal weight I had in mind when I started my journey to healthy living back in February. But in researching my “happy weight” I had to face these questions: “Can a person ever arrive at a 'happy' weight?” What does it mean to have a “happy weight”? Are people ever satisfied or contented with their own stature or status in life? It seems that we are always searching to change something in our lives, either personally or where we are in life's journey.
Happy – Definition according to Dictionary.com:
1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
I began to think about happiness and what causes a person to be happy. Happiness is based on exterior circumstances. It is caused by something that happens to us rather than what is within us. But as a believer in Christ Jesus I have joy and contentment in who I am in Christ Jesus. My happiness comes from my relationship with Him, not from an exterior set of circumstances or happenings in my life that controls my moods. I am contented in Christ Jesus regardless of what I weigh because I am a person of value based on who He says I am rather than the number that reads on the scale. And yet I strive to reach my goals based on my desire to live a long, healthy life and to be all that God created me to be. My inner contentment comes from who I am in Christ Jesus. He loves me regardless of my size, shape, or performance. He loves me because He is love and He created me in His image and likeness! My desire to be a certain weight or portray a certain image is based on vain imaginings unless I submit it to God's will for my life and then I am able to obtain a balanced approach to weight loss and healthy living.
Are you pleased with who you are in Christ Jesus? He created you just the way you are. What we do with God's creation is our part of the equation. He created us with certain characteristics, to be a certain height and size, but we often, through unhealthy food choices, lack of exercise and improper stress management, force our bodies into an unbalanced state of health. Eating then becomes an event rather than fuel to sustain our bodies. We live to eat instead of eating to live. Our emotional state of being sometimes encourages us to eat for comfort instead of turning to the comfort of the Holy Spirit within us. We become dependent upon food as a friend instead of relying on the friendship of God.
Genesis 1:26-18 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God created us in His likeness and image and then He blessed us! He was pleased with His creation. Will we choose to be pleased with the way He has created us or will we always be striving to be something or someone that we aren't. Will we ever be happy?
Father, I thank You for creating me in Your image and likeness. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and You knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank You for blessing me! I pray this morning that as a believer in Christ Jesus I will more fully understand what You have placed within me; the power and ability of Your Spirit to lead me to make healthy choices for my life so I might honor Your creation in me. Thank You, Lord, for giving me healthy emotions and an understanding of contentment in You, not dependent upon a relationship with food but totally dependent upon my relationship with You. Thank You for giving me joy unspeakable and fully of glory! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Psalm 34:1-3 I WILL bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
I was grumbling and complaining to the Lord in prayer one day some years ago and I asked the Lord what He thought about my situation and immediately Psalm 34:1 “I WILL bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” came into my mind. That stopped my grumbling and complaining very quickly when I realized that God wanted me to bless and praise Him instead of grumbling and complaining. Did you know that the whole generation of Israelites that grumbled and complained against the Lord in the wilderness died there because they complained against Him?
Numbers 14:26-30 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. “Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 'The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. 'Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.'”
Wow, I guess God takes grumbling and complaining very seriously. Not only does He want me to praise and bless Him because of His greatness and ability to change my situations in life, but it also silences the enemy's thoughts that try to convince me that the harm that He wants to bring into my life will happen instead of the good that God wants to do. Satan's thoughts cannot penetrate my mind when my mind is focused on the greatness of my God! When I am thinking and speaking of the goodness of God I can't begin to think that He would not take care of my problems. My God is bigger than anything that would come against me! He is greater than any mountain that I might have to climb. He is my God and there is none above Him or beside Him!
So, it all boils down to whether I will choose to praise and bless the Lord or not. The choice is mine because God has given me a free will to decide what I will or will not do in the life plan that He has for me. But once I make the choice to praise Him even when I'm going through a dark valley, He then helps me to lift up those praises and blessings that magnify Him in the face of my difficulty. He doesn't leave me to do it by myself or force me to stand alone in a dark place acting as if everything is A-okay in my life. He helps me!
Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
“BY HIM”, or another translation says, “Through Him”, meaning that through His strength and ability we offer up a sacrifice of praise continually to Him thanking Him because of who He is to us and what He is doing in our lives. We aren't asked to do it on our own, but through His great inner strength we gain the ability to praise and worship Him even in the midst of the storms of life.
Philippians 4:13 AMP I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].
The inner strength that comes from my relationship with Jesus Christ builds me up on the inside and causes my faith to rise to the occasion that I am facing. If I'm trying to praise the Lord through a storm I will receive the strength from the Holy Spirit within me to praise even though I might not feel like it. When I make the choice and step out in faith to praise Him the strength and ability to do it is there for me to use. My praise of Him then takes my faith to new heights and lifts my spirits above the storm. You see, God is not a harsh taskmaster who commands us to do unreasonable things just to exalt Him, but He knows that when we praise Him in the midst of the storm it increases our joy and the word tells us in Nehemiah 8:10 that “the joy of the LORD is your strength”. We need the joy of the Lord to face the extreme trials and testings that we go through. God is really giving us a key to success in praising Him at all times.
Your attitude will determine your altitude in life. If you want to soar above the problems then praise the Lord in the midst of them. The only two Israelites that were allowed to enter into the Promised Land from that whole generation of people ages 20 and above was Joshua and Caleb. It is recorded in God's word that the reason they were allowed to enter the Promised Land was because they had a different spirit within them in that they wholly followed the Lord their God.
Numbers 14:24 “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”
Numbers 32:11, 12 'Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, 'except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed Me.”
I want to be counted among those who had a different spirit, that wholly followed the Lord. How about you?
Father, I thank You and praise You today because You are my God. I know that I can trust You to bring me through any difficulty and problem when I offer up the sacrifice of praise unto Your name. You are glorious and magnificent, high above the earth and King over all. Thank You, Father, for Your mighty delivering power that brings me out of the muck and mire of this world and sets me high above the problems that I might experience. Thank You for giving me the inner strength that I need to always praise You through my problems. Thank You for saving me and giving me a home in heaven with You when this life is over. Father, I know that wherever I go You are already there waiting to walk with me through life. Thank You for the overcoming power of Your Spirit within me. Holy Spirit I invite you into my life today to lead me and guide me in the way that I should go. Father, I praise You for this day and for the good things that You have in store for me in the future. Lord Jesus, Your name is above all other names. You are the King of kings and Lord of lords and I praise You today for laying down Your life for me. Thank You for taking my sin and nailing it to the cross. Thank You for Your greatness in my life. You are mighty and magnificent and I praise You today! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
1 John 4:9, 10 NLT God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Father, I thank You for sending Jesus into the world to be the sacrifice for my sins. I thank You, Lord Jesus, for laying down Your life for me that I might have eternal life. And I thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to live within me to show me the way to live righteously according to Your principles. Thank You for being my God, my Savior, my Helper and Friend. When I am weak, You are strong in me. When I am faithless, You are faithful. When I fall down, You pick me up. When I am afraid, You are there to speak words of comfort and faith to me. When I am lonely, You come beside me to be my friend. When I am tired, You are there to strengthen me. When I am sick, You give me healing. When I am lost, You show me the way. You are my Everything! Thank You for loving me when I am unlovely. Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for giving me the power to be Your witness. Thank You for turning my messes into messages. Thank You for working through me to effect change in the hearts and lives of people around me. You are AWESOME, Lord God! To You be honor and glory and power and praise! Thank You for preparing a home for me in heaven where I can spend eternity in Your presence! Thank You for giving me the victory over sin, hell, death and the grave through my relationship with You. I am in Christ Jesus and He is in me! And I praise You, Lord!
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