and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Psalm 23

…Jehovah is my shepherd, I do not lack, In pastures of tender grass He causeth me to lie down, By quiet waters He doth lead me. My soul He refresheth, He leadeth me in paths of righteousness, For His name's sake,  Ps. 23:1-3  YLT

       King David was a powerful and influential man in his ‘glory’ days, but he had a humble start in life as the shepherd over his father’s sheep.  So, when we read the 23 Psalm, we know that David spent considerable time contemplating the life of shepherd and sheep.  There on the pastures, often in solitude, he developed an understanding of the Lord.  At some point David realized the parallel between his job and the Lord.  This is my paraphrase using Strong’s.

       As long as the Lord is my shepherd I shall not lack having any of my needs met (food, water, healing remedies, safety).  He causes me to rest in tender grass pastures, and by quiet water he leads/ protects/ sustains me.  He refreshes/ relieves/ restores my body and mental state, and guides me in the right path.

       I was just thinking that the sheep don’t choose their shepherd, but are given to him, kind of like the way we were given to the Lord. (John 17:6; Ps. 24:1) But the sheep can choose whether or not to follow the shepherd.  The shepherd tries his best to keep the sheep in a safe environment with food and water, under his protection, and he ministers to their ailments as best as he can.  However, a sheep can decide to wander off on his own path which is more dangerous without the protection and care of his shepherd.  Alone, this path leads to death.

       For those of us who choose to follow the Lord, we have the protection and care of our guide- the Lord Jesus Christ.  He causes us to rest in His presence, He gives us food (John ) and water (John ).  He protects and sustains us in our journey and though this doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen to us, it does mean He is with us to help us through the dark valleys.  How wonderful that He refreshes and restores our battered bodies and souls.

       If I am wise, I will continue to follow my Lord.  Instead of rushing around like a crazy fool I can learn to relax in His tender pastures under His watchful eye.  And in His presence daily I will find my rest.  With my Shepherd I have found a place of peace.  Come join me there.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Is. 26:3 
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 

Friday, November 04, 2011


       My dog ate my homework.  I had to eat that last piece of cake- it was shouting out my name.  The traffic kept me from being here on time (mostly because I left with only one minute to spare).  I had no money to buy gas.  There are dozens of excuses for every task we are supposed to do.  There is one task, however, which is a matter of life and death.

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (daily Luke 9:23), and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. Mark ,35

       Believers of the Lord Jesus Christ are to deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow (accompany) Him.  We take pleasure in doing the easy things of Christianity like going to church, Bible study, fellowshipping, serving in areas we naturally enjoy, but will find excuses for doing the harder things like visiting the sick, sharing with the poor, helping the needy, actually studying the Bible, really loving our fellow believers (in our words to their faces and ‘behind their backs’ to others) and in our actions, and serving in areas God wants us to but we’re not so sure about.

       Jesus wanted people to follow Him not because He was arrogant or power hungry, but because He knew it was the only way to real life and eternal life with God.  His desire was that all would be saved. (1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9).  Luke 9 records three men Jesus spoke to about following Him:

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 57,58
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 59,60
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. 61,62

       Jesus told the first man (a scribe- Mat. 8) that the life of a follower wasn’t always comfortable or easy.  A scribe would have been a learned man and well paid for his job.  Giving that up to follow the Lord would have truly been a sacrifice many were not willing to make.  We don’t even like giving up the comforts:
    of our couch and TV to serve by scrubbing toilets,
    of our Timmies or desserts to feed the hungry,
    of our upstanding reputations to sit with the prostitutes and druggies,
    of our new furniture or remodel to help fund the missionaries.  (just some examples)

       The next man, who was asked to follow, wanted to first go tend to his necessary errands.  Isn’t it true that we can always find more things we HAVE to do before we will crack open our Bible to read, pray, to be in God’s presence, or to do His will.  Excuses abound and we just ‘don’t have the time’!

       The next man wanted to go say goodbye to his family and friends.  We all have attachments to this life in friends, family, places (churches, work, school, towns…).  These connections tie us to a place that doesn’t leave a whole lot of freedom in the area of following the Lord’s will.  Sometimes it is difficult to completely serve the Lord while in our particular people circles, and other times it is difficult to move on when the Lord wants us to. (Abraham had to leave family and country)

       Are we going to continue making excuses, or are we going to make a choice* to deny ourselves, and pick up our cross daily  and follow Jesus.  Following Jesus brings life and blessing.  And following Jesus means you are never alone on your journey again, for He will accompany you all the way.

*I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: Deut. 30:19,20a 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Our Leaders

       We love to complain about our leaders.  They’re too serious or too funny.  They’re to strict or too easy going.  They took too much time or didn’t take long enough.  They’re too ‘spiritual’ or not spiritual enough.  They didn’t say thanks, they didn’t say hi, they didn’t come over for that piece of pie.  It seems to be easy to complain about other people for (our perception of) their deficits without remembering we also have deficits in other’s perceptions.

       So what do you do if you think your leader needs to change?  Recognize first that we ALL need to change for the better, and that God hasn’t finished with any of us yet.*  Then what you don’t do is complain about them to everyone around you.  That serves no purpose other than causing negativity to spread unnecessarily.  And don’t think you can hide your complaining behind ‘prayers’ for them or just a slight, offhand comment without giving details.  Anyone who has any discernment will pick it up.

       A preacher once said ‘It is difficult to complain about someone you are continually praying for.’  This tends to be true, especially if you are sincerely praying for them.  We all need to change, even our leaders and we should be praying for them continually as they have an important job to do in leading and running ministries in our local assemblies.  We can follow the prayers of Paul for the Colossians:

For this cause we also (the disciples), since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire (ask, beg, call for) that ye might be filled (crammed) with the knowledge (recognition, discernment) of his (God’s) will in all wisdom (worldly and spiritual) and spiritual (non carnal) understanding; Col. 1:9

       We should be praying this prayer and many others for all Christians everywhere, but more so for those people on the frontlines of ministry where the arrows of the enemy fly more frequently.  Instead of opening up our mouths to complain we need to open our mouths to pray for our leaders.  Oh, that we would ALL be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

*Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Php. 1:6

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:17,18

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Simple Question

       Today I heard news about the bad snow storm which hit the east coast of North America this weekend past- unusual for this time of the year.  Reports are anywhere from a few inches to over a couple of feet.  Power is out for over one million people, schools are closed, there are damages and injuries, but the hardest news to hear was the death of over 20 people- God created fellow human beings.

       The first question in my head was ‘how many of them were born again or saved?’  Hundreds of people work, live, walk and drive by me everyday.  How many know the Lord intimately?  Those who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord are doomed to an eternal life of torment without Him.  I don’t even want to think about that.  Still, the reality world wide is thousands of people are dying daily, many never even hearing about the Lord.  In a country like ours with so many freedoms and privileges, that is a shame.

       While I can’t go around the world to spread the good news and help the hurting, I can financially or prayerfully support ministries abroad.  While I can’t travel across the country preaching on the street corners and reaching my entire country, I can certainly pray for Christians all over to rise up and reach out, and then I can reach out to the many people around me that I have contact with.

       Lord, give us all a boldness to proclaim Your good news to everyone so that they may all experience genuine love.  Forgive us for not seeing the unsaved people headed for destruction, for selfishness that keeps us from giving of our time and energy, and for being afraid to say anything about You to them.   Help us, change us, don’t give up on us, purify our hearts and minds to love and serve You all of our days.  Please give us a heart to love the lost and do something about it.

Here is a simple question to ask yourself right now:

What one thing can you do today to spread the good news of Jesus Christ?

Now, go do it…

Monday, October 31, 2011

They have kept thy word.

       John chapter 17 has always been one of my favorites (of course I have many! J ).  Today I was reading verse six and it was Jesus speaking about his disciples: I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them to me; and they have kept thy word.  What?  What did He mean they kept His word?  Right up until the end of His human life, the disciples still didn’t understand what was going on and still doubted who He was.  So, I had to look up what ‘kept’ meant: to guard by keeping the eye upon. (Strong’s)

       Jesus said the disciples heard the word, received the word, and believed (For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 17:8) but when you read, you realize they still had doubts, questions, and misunderstandings until after Jesus reappeared after His resurrection.  With all these flaws- and more- how could Jesus say they kept His word?

       Well, they were the first ones to hear the good news from the mouth of the Savior in His human form.  And though lots of people heard the same good news, many had hardened hearts and couldn’t receive it.  The disciples heard and received it even though they didn’t comprehend it all then.  Three years with Jesus and they had not achieved true understanding. Still, they were the ‘guardians’ of the words Jesus spoke, and they kept listening and receiving all He had to say.

       They also went out and did all He told them to.  From following a man to secure a room for Passover to going out in teams of two preaching the good news and ministering to folks, the disciples did what Jesus asked of them- at least most of the time we read about.  I guess that’s something to say.  I’d like to believe I could do what the Lord asks of me 100% of the time, but like the disciples, I’m flawed, and I occasionally doubt, question and misunderstand.  Still, I choose to follow Him knowing that He can use me as I am with all my flaws for His glory.

       Now we are the ones to guard His Word here on the earth.  We are living epistles of the Lord walking on the earth (2Cor. 3:2) to show forth who He is, how much He loves them and that He wants to be with them right now.  Jesus wants to use each and every one of us.  We, in our flawed state, with our doubts, fears, questions, mistakes, misunderstandings and stumbles, are to keep His Word and express the love of Jesus Christ to the world.

Are we succeeding yet?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Love Sundays

       Every Sunday possible, I walk into my local church (or one we’re visiting) and I see the wondrously differing variety of people that our God has created.  There are an assortment of heights from tall to vertically challenged people with red/ blond/ brunette/ gray/ black hair and a mixture of colours in between.  Some are happy, some sad, some worried, some content and some walking around that don’t even know which way is up anymore.  Each person wonderfully unique and needed on this journey called life.

       Church is not a building, but the people in the building.  We could surely survive without ever stepping foot inside another church building, but we could never endure without the people who are the church.  They make me smile, they make me cry, they make me laugh, they make me groan, they help knock chips off my shoulder, and remind me I am unique and special- just like everyone else.  I need each one of my brothers and sisters to help me along in this journey, and (horror of horrors! J ) they need me!

       Each one of us is a piece of the puzzle, incomplete without the others.  We are differing shapes and colours, but it takes each of us to complete it.  One piece missing ruins the whole thing and the picture would remain unfinished.  But together, we are a complete picture of the church of Christ, glorious and beautiful without fault (spot or wrinkle Eph. 5:27): complete.

       To all those who know, love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, I am very glad you are a part of my family.  I am grateful for the assortment of people in our family.  It would be pretty boring if we all looked or acted the same.  Instead, God has given us diverse personalities, thought processes, gifts, and emotional dispositions just to keep things interesting.  And just think… if you haven’t worked out a way to get along with one of your fellow brothers or sisters, you’ve got all eternity with them to figure it out!

God is so good!!!