Monday, November 21, 2016

POWER OF ATTORNEY


I get frustrated with people who interrupt me mid sentence and try to finish my thought. I started my sentence, allow me the courtesy of finishing it unless I yield to your assistance with a non-verbal clue. So, you can imagine how often it is that I trust someone to speak for me in a given situation.

Power of Attorney - legal authority to act for another person in certain specified matters. I have not had a need to give this, but should I it would fall to my wife. She could act on my behalf because she knows me on a whole lot of levels consistently. Believers in Christ have that relationship with God also.

I like to imagine God as an ever-evolving diamond. A diamond has many facets or cut-sides to behold that can be counted. But with God as an ever-evolving diamond you would always observe, as the angels do, a new facet of God to behold and praise Him forever.

With this deep, never-ending relationship believers have with God through Christ, we have the privilege and responsibility to be a Power of Attorney for God on earth. So, if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives within us (Romans 8:11) and we are promised we will do greater things than Christ because He is at the right hand of Father God interceding for us (John 14:12), then by all means let us walk humbly and respectfully in this duty.

However, the key to this great responsibility is to spend time with God. Just as those who speak for kings, pharaohs, and presidents dwell in their presence daily to know their leader's person and mindset, so it is if you want to be an accurate Power of Attorney for God - you have to spend time with God.

Two ways to accomplish more God-time in order to develop yourself into God's Power of Attorney are private prayer and private reading aloud of the Scriptures. You and I have to CONTINUALLY HEAR God's Word in order to Continually Do His Word. It is hard to keep in God's will if you are only "Doing" and not "Hearing". There has got to be a balance of these two with Hearing coming first. Now that I have established the process, let me expose God's Will to you.

1 John 2:17 says, "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." Jesus even said about His own teachings in John 7:17 - "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." So, what is the Will of God?
  • "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;" - 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
  • "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2
  • "For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people." - 1 Peter 2:15
As if these were not self-explaining enough for why you would desire to be in God's Will, Hebrews 10:35-36 says, 
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."


These Scripture passages pertain to the believer and how to be in the Will of God. If the Christian follows this lifestyle then they will be a more effective Power of Attorney for God. Therefore, our words and actions play a vital role in representing our King to other potential members of The Kingdom of God. One of many edicts our King has given us to execute as His Power of Attorney is found in Paul's first letter to Timothy.
  • "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." - 1 Timothy 6:17
Two other passages of Scripture are excellent starters for becoming a better Power of Attorney for God - Romans 12:9-21 (Love In Action) and Matthew 5:3-12 (The Be Attitudes). It stands to reason that with God being Love (1 John 4:8), His representatives would showcase His love also. That is the hope for me, that is my hope for all believers in Christ - that we would be God's loving, encouraging, holy - Power Of Attorney.



Friday, November 18, 2016

NO SEPARATION


Separation, one from another, is bound to happen every day between everybody - unless of course you are joined physically to your brother or sister. The time of separation might be anywhere from seconds to years depending on the situation. Is it no wonder then that we pray that the Lord watches over the other while we are away from them? Today's jewelry can be found to have this very sentiment on it. Genesis 31:49 says,  "It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other."

For those whose trust is in The Lord, He will keep watch over each party who is separated. God is everywhere. We cannot get rid of His Presence. My favorite Psalm and maybe my favorite passage in the Bible says it best -
  • "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." - Psalm 139:7-10
However, for the believer in Christ Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, improves our existence since He ascended to sit at the right hand of Father God. By doing so He sent the promised Holy Spirit to dwell within us and come along side us. 
  • Dwell within = "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" - 1 Cor. 6:19
  • Come alongside us = "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—" - John 14:16
While we experience separation from a friend or loved one for a while because we take up space, God is omnipresent and a very present help in time of need; a very personal Savior - that will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Paul had a life that testified nothing would separate him and believers like Him from God's love through Christ.
  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
The prayer of Jesus to Father God portrays, at least to me, of how Christ longed to place His own in the middle of His Father's hand to protect those relationships that were made with His disciples. He said,
  • “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." - John 17:6-12
Not even death can separate for the believer in Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 declares that friends and family in Christ will meet together with the Lord one day when Jesus comes back for us to start a whole new chapter of existence. Until then, rest in the knowledge that as a child of God there is No Separation!


Thursday, November 17, 2016

UNDEFEATED

This blog can and will be especially applied to my life. I hope it encourages and strengthens you - my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - also.

Sometimes you just don't know what the songs are about until you go through it. Sometimes you just don't know what the testimonies really mean until you go through it. Sometimes you just don't know how the Scriptures really help out in a situation, until you go through it. Then when you have experienced the challenge and made it to "the other side", you can - sing those songs, testify and quote your favorite helpful verses. 

I am in the middle of my challenge and God is telling me - "The race is not over. You are still undefeated." Then the Holy Spirit, quick as lightening, placed two passages of Scripture in my mind, heart and spirit - 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 and Romans 8:38-39. I am sure there are others that would marry nicely with these, but these two are what the Holy Spirit encouraged me with - 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

I love that passage. It acknowledges the difficult challenge, yet showcases our Undefeatedness!

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What I love here is Paul's words - "I am convinced". Reading the rest of this passage and knowing Paul's challenging life, this "I am convinced" carries the weight of a testimony you and I cannot damage, slander or refute if we even dreamed to try. Like Paul's sway down through the ages, the rest of believers in Christ can join Him and say along with me, even in the middle of a crisis - I am Undefeated!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

AMONG OTHER THINGS FORGIVE


Forgiveness should not be seasonal. Forgiveness should be an at ready mindset, attitude and lifestyle. No one said it was easy. However, the returns on being the first to forgive on a daily basis and not just when the Holidays roll around are life giving. Issues such as bitterness, trust, hate and sickness can all be dealt with by applying forgiveness in the proper situation.


The equation is simple - "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37. However, forgiveness is easier to give when you have experienced forgiveness yourself. If you have not tasted forgiveness, The Holy Spirit, through Paul, said in Hebrews 8:12 concerning our Salvation or permanent forgiveness through Christ -
  • "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 
However, just like a clear glass of water is muddied when sediment in the bottom of the glass is stirred by a spoon, so it is that our flesh gets stirred up every now and then and needs the filth and contaminants to be filtered (Romans 7:1-13). Our sins are paid for and the punishment/wrath averted, but our tendencies are still vulnerable to manipulation, temptation and persuasion. We are saved, but still sin/rebell. This is why 1 John 1:9 encourages us to keep-our-train-on-the-tracks with the Lord - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."


However, God also strongly encourages us to practice confessing and forgiving with others, otherwise the picture gets muddied once again.  

  • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. - James 5:16
  • If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” - John 20:23
  • For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15
  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. - Colossians 3:13
The non-forgiveness of the Father if you do not forgive is not speaking of your Salvation. Your status as saved is not reverted back to lost because you did not forgive someone. Until you and the Holy Spirit have a pow-wow, my understanding is those wrongs will be held against your reward in Heaven. You are still a Son or Daughter of the King, that cannot be reversed, but what you lay-up in Heaven can be influenced. So, Among Other Things Forgive.

Monday, November 14, 2016

MY COMMAND IS THIS...


I am going to show my age here, but there is a song that the whole world could benefit from right now. It was performed by Burt Bacharach and the song is "What the World Needs Now Is Love".  I am a 1970's kid. I had a wonderful childhood. Teenage years were great. College was so good, I still have dreams about those days. But after I graduated Appalachian State University in 1993, the world seemed to kick into another gear and somebody pulled the "world-plug-on-love". Today, it is no wonder what the world needs now is love. 

If we rewind history, just a tad, to the Old Testament days - we can observe a perfect world. All one had to do, to live right in this perfect world was to follow some 600+ laws and regulations flawlessly. Exactly. That feat cannot be done except by God Himself. Funny I should mention that because God sent Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus to execute every letter of The Law.

Fast-forward to today. God has given us a better Agreement, Contract or Covenant through His Son's blood, therefore by believing in Him and His sacrifice, He takes care of what we never could. He bridges the chasm between humanity and Father God. There is just one command He now leaves with us - love.

Jesus had plenty of life-instruction that He gave His disciples, but when the dust settled from all that He taught one was supreme - love as I have loved. That is what John 15:10-12 says -
  • If you keep my commands [instructions], you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Other Scripture that supports Christ's Command is -
  • 1 Peter 4:8. In this letter Peter is inspired to use the words "love deeply each other, from the heart" to describe our caring effort toward one another. This from the heart phrase means more than surface caring. It means involvement in another's life.
  • 1 John 3:14 mentions whenever you have decided to start loving others consistently then "you have passed from death to life".
  • Matthew 22:37-40 declares - “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  • Paul would echos Christ's Command and especially Matthew's version in Romans 13:9 and Galatians 5:14.
Jesus brought 600+ rules and regulations down to one Command for us - love one another as I have loved you - and we still cannot follow this command. Some of us do not even know how to love our neighbor as ourselves. However, not knowing how does not let us off the hook. The word Command is not spelled s-u-g-g-e-s-t-i-o-n. Let us get busy about the Father's business for He said, My Command Is This.

Friday, November 11, 2016

GOD FRIEND, WARRIOR BRIDE

The Ecclesia or followers of Christ are titled a few things in Scripture. For a while they were known as followers of The Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22; 25:3). We find out The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch (Acts 11:26). However, there were a few more descriptive names He gave us - children, sheep, friend, soldier/warrior in God's army and bride.

Children
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Sheep
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:34)

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:14-16)

Friend
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

Soldier/Warrior
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

Bride
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Revelation 19:7-8)

There are great aspects to each of these descriptive names that I believe help in making us a better Believer or Christian. Children receive the Father's love and discipline. Sheep know His, The Shepherd's, voice. Friends are no longer servants because they are in the know when they need to know. Soldiers are on the winning side. The Bride will know the intimacies of The Son, along with a whale of an Eternal Party. 

Let us pay attention to what God calls us in Scripture, declaring the goodness of that name and becoming more like His Son everyday. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

ISAIAH 43:1-2


Isaiah 43:1-2 was originally written for Israel. However, when I personalize this passage, when I spiritualize it for me - there is a message for me there right now, just as I am sure it meant much to the Israelites at the moment it was spoken.

Isaiah 43:1-2 says,
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and 
when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Right off the bat it is wonderful to hear a personal being, not some star dust "created" me. Even better, God took the time and energy to "form" every part of me physically, mentally and spiritually. If I could, I would render this verse - But now, this is what the Lord says to he who created you, Chadwick Evan, to he who formed you Warrior of God.

The next few lines get even better. The Lord tells me...
not to fear, because 
  1. he has bought me at a price, 
  2. has called me by name and 
  3. I am His. 
I can hear 1 Peter 2:9 ringing in my ear - "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 

The next few lines God tells me what He will do when life-difficulties are equated to the images God portrays. 

The first illustration God gives of a life-difficulty is passing through waters - "When you pass through the waters,". God's reassurance is - "I will be with you;"

The second picture is not just passing through mere waters, but "rivers" of life-difficulty. God's promise is "they will not sweep over you." This reminds me of Mark 4:35-41. Jesus was with His disciples, traveling on a boat when a bad storm came up. It was so bad waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus got up from His nap, rebuked the wind and waves and they were amazed. However God does it, believe the waves of water and rivers of water in life will not sweep over you because you and Jesus are in the same boat.

The third and final portrayal of life-difficulty is that of "fire". Interesting the dichotomy between water and fire. God says, "When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."

This last depiction of life-difficulty reminds me of the three Hebrew men - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - who refused to worship the king's golden image of himself and were therefore thrown into the fiery furnace. But God saved them to the point that not even the smell of smoke was on their clothes. That is how I see and apply - "you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."

Notice that God did not substitute the word "When" with Should. So, we do not have - Should you pass through the waters. Should you pass through the rivers. Should you walk through the fire. God said the word "When" as a time in a nation's life or someone's life that will certainly have difficulty. However, as mentioned above He also promised His Presence, His Provision and His Protection.

Again, I know this was originally recorded as spoken to Israel. However, when I personalize the message, God's points are very realistic and encouraging. My hope for you is that you see it that way too - Isaiah 43:1-2.

*Thanks to my loving wife for sharing this verse to encourage me in The Faith.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

THE PRESSURE COOKER OF LIFE


A little glimpse at me in today's post/blog. Maybe I can encourage someone by what I am going through.

The image above of a Pressure Cooker is a pretty accurate picture of how I feel life is treating me and Tanya right now - pressure from all sides. 

I have a lower right back problem. The spine doctor thinks it is disk related because it involves my foot, ankle and calf. The surgeon thinks it is SI Joint related because the MRI does not give enough proof of a large enough bulge to worry over. Tanya thinks there could be a fragment of a disk on a nerve (on my last nerve), this happened to her. So, we have the one million dollar question of what the smoking gun is while I wait for the effects of the latest injection into my SI Joint to do their thing. I am still feeling pinching when I walk and stand though. Sitting I am alright for a while. Sleeping I toss and turn like a fish in a frying pan. Not to great for the wife either.

Speaking of my wife, Tanya. She is and has been so wonderful. She is cook, nurse, secretary, driver, reminder, prayer partner, as well as work her job. Oh, did I mention, she has also been summoned for Jury Duty.

Meanwhile, one of my co-workers was in a car accident and his arm was damaged badly. There are only three of us on our team at work so I am trying to do my part and make things work while figure things out about my back and try to make things easier with Tanya.

Oh, there is a drama coming up, this weekend, at church where I am the Narrator. Thankfully, I can sit for the duration.

My back stuff all began late September to early October but did not really hit the wall until the morning of October 15th, my wedding Anniversary. I also missed celebrating one of my Dad's significant birthdays. All my doctor visits have not gone smoothly and have made me wonder why are they not seeing the same thing. This has been a mess of a wreck in my life.

I have heard voices of others who said, "Welcome to my world, bud." or "It could always be worse." To this I say, "You are not helping." Yes, misery loves company. Yes, there are probably worse issues than mine that people have. However, stating these things does not depressurize me. I am not trying to compare issues. Ask me how to help, tell me how you think you can help, reveal a like experience and solution in a loving tone, encourage me, visit me and pray for me.

I cannot tell you how many times I have inquired of The Lord - What do I learn from all this? Teach me Holy Spirit. The latest Scripture He brought to mind was 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. This verse says -  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

I believe the key to unlocking and enjoying the rest of the passage is in the first sentence - verse 7. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. Paraphrased - Yes, we are vessels made of clay, but we have a treasure within that displays to others that our usefulness is nothing compared to God's all-surpassing power that can work through us. [How is it displayed?] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

So, when life is trying to convince you that you are defeated, to just give into the pressures, perplexities, persecutions, abandonment and hits on your mind, body and spirit - just remember He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20) That is why Paul called it that "all-surpassing power"

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

For me right now, this is what it means to be under pressure. But even here I have the promises of God to lean on - in the Pressure Cooker of Life.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

THE GREAT SHEPHERD (REPRISE)


1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 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. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - Psalm 23

"The LORD is my shepherd"
Shepherd is a descriptive title. It mentions kind of job and relationship in one word. A managerial role over a group of followers with responsibilities for their care and protection. For Believers in Christ Jesus we are His sheep and He is our shepherd, but not just any shepherd. He is our Great Shepherd. 
The LORD is called "great shepherd" in Hebrews 13:20 in reference to this Psalm due to that spiritual magnitude of His role over those who accept Him as Lord and Savior.

"I shall not be in want"
This condition is because if you have a relationship with the Great Shepherd you have everything. Paul really stresses this in several of his letters - Philippians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 6:6, 8 and Hebrews 13:5. The Philippians 4:12 verse says, "
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." However, within His fold, flock, and/or Kingdom there are many additional Benefits - 

1.  "He makes me lie down in green pastures"
Pastures are for sheep to lounge, graze and socialize - otherwise known as food, fun and fellowship to some. The Great Shepherd operates in a provisional role here. He treats His sheep to "green pastures", representing the opportunity for the sheep, His Believers to graze and rest or "lie down in" - to enjoy His presence and the presence of other believers. Two other Scriptures come to mind - Matthew 11:28 - 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." And the prayer for our daily provision of His Word and material blessings in Matthew 6:11Give us today our daily bread.

2.  "He leads me beside quiet waters" 
To a sheep, "quiet waters" would nourish the inside with nice, cool, refreshing water and calm the outside by being a pleasant sound to hear.  It would also not drown out any potential predatory threats like raging waters or rapids would.  Another couple of Scripture passages the Holy Spirit equated with this image were - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth , give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled , neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)  Concerning "quiet waters" that anyone would want to dwell beside or drink from -"Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water [water from a human well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)  The Words of Jesus are indeed The Bread of Life and The Living Water of the soul and the "quiet waters" is a great place for meditation and nourishment from the River of Life Himself - Jesus.

3.  "He restores my soul" 
As a shepherd might console or comfort a sheep that is agitated about something so does the believer's Great Shepherd with His flock. John 14:16 does an excellent job in describing the Spirit of Christ as a "restorer of our souls"; as a comforter -  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Jesus is also known as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and through the power of the Holy Spirit He ministers to the believer when needed. However, the ultimate restoration comes for the "whosoever will believe" at the moment of accepting Christ as their personal Savior (John 3:16).  Jesus has taken the condition of everyone's soul - Broken - and restored it for eternity.

4.  "He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." 
A regular human shepherd would guide a sheep along the right path.  The Great Shepherd of the Believer in Christ not only leads us along the right path, but the path we traverse is of "righteousness" or right doing and it is "for his name's sake" or for the Glory of God that we do. Paul supports this nicely in his first letter to the believers in Corinth - "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31). Notice too that sheep may bear a mark of their shepherd.  The Believer has the responsibility of carrying and representing the name of Jesus Christ - Christian.  The Lord guides the true Believer along the journey of life in doing the right thing so that other people might say, "Hey, He/She must be a Christian because that lines up with what the Bible and I have believed a Christian should do." Just as sheep or any other animal would be branded, His brand, His name we bear, use it wisely and not in vain!

5.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;"  
Wow!  There is the "shadow of death" and then just when you though it couldn't get any worse there is "the valley of the shadow of death"!  And even though believers may reach a point in their lives where they are facing their mortality or perhaps evil itself - there is no need for any kind of fear, including the fear of evil because The Great Shepherd is with the believer. In fact, The Great Shepherd has hand-held devices that aide in moments like these.

6.  "your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
I can hear a sheep saying now - "Really? A rod and a staff are going to comfort me? Prove it to me?" I also can hear us as believers submitting the same question. The Staff or hooked "J" pole that we commonly see shepherds pictured with were used to guide sheep or pull them back from danger. A Rod or straight pole/club was meant for discipline within the fold and protection of the fold. So it is with the Great Shepherd of believers in Christ. He does the same mentally, physically, and spiritually for His sheep/followers.

   7.  "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." 
Being a sheep I am overjoyed that My Great Shepherd is the one "preparing the table". I am also elated that lamb is not on the menu! No!  On the contrary!  The table is prepared before my enemies so they can see that I have "tasted of the Lord and He is good!" (Psalm 34:8).  They will see that I and many other Believers have partook of the Lord's Table, believing in The Sacrificial Lamb - Jesus. This Lamb of God was placed on the plate to be devoured in our place once and for all (John 1:29).

8.  "You anoint my head with oil"
This is a special sheep for sure, if you keep that theme here. From a sheep to a priest! In the Old Testament whenever a Priest or King was ordained, someone anointed him. Revelation 20:6 views the Believer as Priest, anointed to rule and reign with Christ during the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth - "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." Also, oil was used to anoint someone for the healing of an ailment. Here, our Great Shepherd is the anointer and we are the anointed - to be healed and to go be Priests for Him.

9.  "my cup overflows"
 
For the sheep, I guess "my cup" would be a trough. The Great Shepherd has done everything for the sheep or believer in this Psalm. There are times in our lives when we need to not only stop and smell the roses, but we need to pause and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). With good attention and merciful behavior from any regular shepherd the sheep are sure to flourish.  How much more so the sheep/believers under the care of the "goodness and mercy" of The Great Shepherd!  And not just this....

"and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Wow! Quite a step up from the pasture, eh? From all the descriptions in the Book of Revelation His house is to die for! 
The Lord has taken the sting out of death by conquering it, the grave and hell. Now, because of His victory His House becomes our pasture. Psalm 27:4 does a beautiful job saying that - "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."

Truly, truly I say unto you, we are His sheep and He is The Great Shepherd!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

HE KNOWS


I am going through a rough patch of life right now. I have asked for God's direct intervention but that evidently is not part of His Plan. I have nothing but to trust in the sovereignty of my Lord and Savior.

Psalm 73 was written for me at this moment in my life. His Word is Amazing. Like David, there was a stage in my pain and grumbling before the Lord where I questioned the Lord about everyone else's health and successes. I have been all the things David mentions in verses 21-22 - grieved, embittered, senseless, ignorant and a brute beast before my God. 

Just like David, I am learning His name is Faithful. He hears. He understands. He is with me.
  • "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Ps. 73:23-26)
He knows.

When Jesus questioned John three times about whether or not he loved or liked Him, Scripture records "Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17) He Knows.

When Jesus would teach, He sometimes spoke with the religious leaders of that day - the Pharisees. His conversations with them seemed to be concluded before they began because of His knowledge of the subject at hand and His power as God's Son. Scripture records, in a couple of places, phrases like - "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them,..." (Matthew 12:25) or  "Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?" (Mark 2:8) He knows.

Praising God at all times is an excellent practice, but especially during these times I need to remind myself to “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting." (Nehemiah 9:5) The bigger picture always helps and it says of God - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Rev. 22:13) He knows.

From grandiose to nanoscopic - God knows. From what we would deem insignificant to paramount - God knows. From my heart to His in Heaven - He Knows.