Sunday, May 16, 2010
Psalm 23:1a, "The Lord is my Shepherd..."
In ancient time shepherding was a major occupation and a very important one. Several occupations grew around shepherding such as sheep-breeding and sheep-shearing.
Ancient shepherds walked in front of their flock. A flock knew its shepherd's voice and only followed his voice. Shepherds would name each sheep and would take care of each one of the flock. His main task is to protect the flock from wild animals and thieves, find green grasslands and water for them and keep them from straying from his care. If a sheep or two wandered off, the shepherd was right there looking for them and bringing them back.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, take His role very seriously; so much so that He became the Chief Shepherd, guarding His people like a shepherd guards and cares for a flock. A good Shepherd loves the sheep and develops a close relationship with each one so that each sheep knows the shepherd and knows he can be trusted. He also will understand what the sheep need better than the sheep! He knows what will hurt them, attack, them, make them sick, and keeps watch over them to guard and guide them away from harm.
Sometimes sheep will fight and bite each other and this is when the shepherd steps in and corrects and stops the fighting. They can be very jealous, competitive, perverse and stubborn, insisting on their own way even when that way may be dangerous or deadly. (Sound like anyone you know?) Of all the livestock, sheep are the ones that require the most care. Sheep are known to be some of the dumbest animals, will wander aimlessly without a leader, and become creatures of habit and just like people, can become "stuck in a rut.:
Little wonder that Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Isaiah 53: 12 says, "Therefore, I will give Him a portion among the great and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death and was numbered with the transgressors." Because Jesus made His life a sacrifice and triumphed over the powers of darkness, spoiling their effect on us, we are no longer held by the "strong man." Colossians 2: 15 shows that Jesus "disarmed the powers and authorities; He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them."
We are told in Matthew 12: 28, 29 and Mark 3: 27 how the strength of the strong man was defeated by Jesus' power and we must do the same--bind the strong man, breaking his power over us and setting us free. Heaven backs this tremendous action, as proven in Jesus statement in Matt. 16: 19. Peter had just had the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; Jesus also said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. His next statement shows us how hell will be prevented from overcoming: by binding the demons and spirits that enforce their influence on the ignorant and loosing all of God's power into every circumstance.
Psalm 149 gives us a clear view of a believer's stance in the kingdom of God. We have "the power to bind the kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all His saints. Wow! Satan has a kingdom of darkness. He binds people in chains of habits and addictions and assigns his demons to torment people with various circumstances, etc. Darkness always fights the Light, but God's power is greater. When God spoke, "Light, be", darkness fled!
Christians have the power to take the chains off of people and bind the demon with them that held the captive. This is true freedom!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Jesus said in Proverbs 4 to "guard your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life." These issues include love, joy, peace, faith, goodness, tolerance, gentleness, self-control, gentleness, anger, hatred, blasphemy, jealousy, murder, stealing,l lying, coveting, sexual immorality and perversion, adultery, fornication, unbelief, witchcraft and sorcerers, fearfulness, ignorance, rebellion--the list goes on and on.
It isn't the economy, the government, the wars and world affairs that trouble people the most. These are only outward signs of the inward condition of man's hearts that makes it evident that something is terribly wrong with the human condition or soul of man. Mankind has allowed all the evil things in the heart to overshadow the good that once prevailed. Darkness has covered man's soul since Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit. Dark minds produce dark thought and actions.
John tells us that Jesus is the Light that lights all men that come into the world (John 1: 9). Christianity is the only religion whose leader claims to have died and rose from the dead to give eternal life. One religion offers Light and Life to a dark and dying world. The issues of the heart are those things that dictate how we respond to the hurts and pains of life; how we react when someone truly reaches out to us in love.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Saturday night I got a call from my husband saying his aunt had been taken to the hospital and wasn't expected to live through the weekend. I was at my daughter's in Lancaster. We didn't get home from New York till 11:00 that night and instead of going to church with her in the morning, I decided I wanted to go to the hospital to see her because I just had a feeling this wasn't going to be good. She was more of an aunt to me than my own aunt has been to me over the years and I just wanted a few minutes private time with her.
When I went in the room, I could tell she was in agony. Although she was on morphine for pain, you could tell it wasn't doing much good. She couldn't hear me. I don't know if she knew I was there or who I was, except at one point I yelled in her ear it was me and who I was. She kept saying "hold me" "help me" "let me die."
Being a minister, I took out my oil and anointed her and prayed for her and said Psalm 23 and she calmed slightly. I started on Psalm 91, but had to stop because she started yelling and crying and the nurse came in and gave her more pain medicine. I took her hand and put my head on the pillow next to her and as she laid there begging to dye, I told her that if that's what she wanted to do, she could go. And then I prayed that the Lord would not let her lay there in prolonged agony.
Monday I came to work and was sitting here at my desk and around 11:30 I prayed again that God would either restore her fully or end her agony. My husband called me at 12:30 to say she died sometime around 11:45 or 12. He was out in his car when he got the notice. He said it was really weird because he was reading Psalm 23 when he got the call. I told him, no, that wasn't weird, that was God's way of telling us He was with her and us. So cool. I have such a peace. I'm sad that she's gone, but I know she is with Jesus. She's free from the pain of arthritis that kept her down. I like to think she's up there dancing with the angels!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Job 1: 8; Job 2: 3-7
A crucible is defined as a vessel made of material that does not melt easily when used under high temperatures; a vessel in which a substance is heated to a high temperature, as for fusing or to convert to powder by heating: to heat a solid to a high temperature, converting it to a powdery reside by drying, decomposing, or oxidizing it, or to undergo this process. This is a crucible. The necessary properties of a crucible are that it maintains its mechanical strength and rigidity at high temperatures and that it not react in an undesirable way with its contents. Porcelain, iron, and platinum are used in the lab; graphite is usually used in industry, but firebrick is also used, especially when vessels of large capacity are needed. The chamber at the bottom of a metal-refining furnace, where the molten metal collects to be drawn off is known as a crucible.
It also means a severe test, as of patience or belief, a trial; a place, time or situation characterized by a crucible; a state of pain or anguish that tests one's resiliency and character by ordeal.
In Job 1: 8 "The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant, Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'" God actually picked a fight with Satan and used Job to prove His point. In chapter 2, God asked the same question, but this time He also adds, "And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me to destroy him without cause."
In all that Job endured he never sinned or cursed God. His wife told him to "curse God and die." (His wife is not mentioned again in the whole story!) This would be blaming God for all his misfortune by complaining. To complain about a circumstance or situation to others for no other reason than to vent frustration is, in a sense, cursing God. It's a cursing in the way you talk about the situation. God allowed it for a reason maybe only He knows about. Satan was the one responsible for the situation.
Friends can often be wrong in trying to help, just as Job's friends. How? With wrong motives--of proving they're right and you're wrong attitude like Job's friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. These were his closest friends but they judged Job. God kept them from understanding so that they could not accurately discern what God was doing in Job's life. (Job 17:4) Friends sometimes seem to turn away or maybe seem distant while God wants you to draw closer to Him.
Life has many disappointments. How we accept or reject or respond to them and the lesson they hold for us is the key to true worship. Job, after all the tragedies he encountered didn't faint or boo hoo to his friends or family. When he lost it all he fell before the Lord and worshipped. "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed by the name of the Lord." He blessed and worshipped God in his most trying hours of loss and grief. What an example!
True worship is not just in church on Sunday. Worship is tested in the crucible of everyday living. God allows things to happen, both what we label good or bad for our growth, to try our heart, and to see how we will respond, to look inside, examine ourselves and the "why" and to take it from there.
If God can't get us to see it one way, He may do it another until He gets the glory. He isn't limited by time like we are. To build character--His character and nature--in us is the goal. We aren't born with God's nature. His nature, His character, His ways of compassion, mercy, love, forgiveness--all the things we find hard or fail to do.
To judge someone like Job's friends, thinking God is punishing is wrong. Only God knows how and when to deal with us and only He know why things happen. His ways are higher than ours and sometimes we just don't know the "why." Like Hagar, we can ask God why. Sometimes He'll reveal the answer and sometimes He doesn't. Our job through it all is to trust Him no matter what comes our way. Complaining only makes it worse by limiting your faith to worry and fear instead of trusting and believing.
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