The Lord is My Shepherd, I have All that I Need!

Early in the morning, a shepherd would lead the flock to a spot to graze. He watched them the entire day, making sure not one of them got away. If any did wander off, he would find them and bring them back with the rest. In these lands the sheep required water and he would have to guide them to a running stream or wells where he would fill up troughs for them to drink. At night he brought the flock home, counting each one as they passed through the gate to make sure none were missing. His day didn’t end when they were corralled at sunset. Many times he had to guard them in the night through the darkest hours from attacks of wild beasts or attempts from thieves. Ever vigilant, ever protective, and always loving is the shepherd’s heart towards his sheep; seeing to their every need.

“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 Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (NLT)

Father, today we commit our brother into your shepherding hands to watch over him as he goes on this long journey away from his family. We know that you will be his shepherd both day and night, his guide, because he follows after you Lord. We thank you for protection for him wherever he is while he is on this journey and we thank you that he will be a beacon shining for you. We also commit his wife and boys to you to watch over her and lead her in her daily life while he is gone. We know that you provide All that we need and we thank you for your provision and your comfort. We love you Father and we thank you for your wisdom and guidance. We thank you for your goodness and your unfailing love in this difficult time and we know that your plan is better than ours. We submit to your will Father and we thank you again for loving us and providing for us. In Jesus name, Amen!

Sharing Love

This morning I was thinking about our local outreach ministry. This is a ministry that distributes food to people once a month through government and state agencies. Food is also donated through one of the local grocery stores several times a week for dispersion. They have a thrift store which sells clothing, furniture, appliances, toys, and other items. Another service they offer is to help people with their utility bills when they can’t afford them due to hardship through an application procedure. When there is a tragedy such as a fire or personal family traumas, they furnish essential belongings such as food, clothing and furniture. The first time I toured it, I had tears in my eyes hearing about all of the wonderful things they are doing. It really touches my heart! I’ve only been able to help distribute the food one time and volunteer a few times in other ways. The people who come to collect their food once a month really grab my heart. I cannot imagine what some of them have gone through. I’m crying as I write this because  I’m sure it is difficult for them to show up and have to take handouts each month. There may be a few who are ‘using the system’ but they need Jesus too! Those who work there may be the one person that is able to connect with them and show them love. I don’t know how they ended up where they are in their life today and it isn’t any of our business. We should just share God’s love. If Jesus met them he would love them. What a transforming power love is!

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:3-7

I was reminiscing of when I used a pressure washing brush to scrub the sidewalk around the ministry. As I washed, I prayed for the people who come in there that they might be touched. I prayed that every person who walked across the sidewalk might be touched by the power of God and that none of them would leave without a seed planted in their hearts. I also prayed for the people who work there that their hearts might have the right attitude to share Jesus’ love and to see others with God’s eyes not human eyes.

As I was washing, I saw how the soap and water washed away the dirt. In the areas that were exposed to light the dirt wasn’t as thick. Isn’t this how our own lives are? People who are exposed to the light (Jesus and the Word) are freer from sin but those who live in darkness have more sin in their lives. It was in the dark recesses that the dirt was harder to clean. Think about places where sin is more rampant, they are places which are busier at night and are dimly lit. I also noticed how some blemishes on the sidewalk came up right away while others could not be removed. I thought about how many of the people who come through those doors will have scars. Some of the scars will be visible and some will not. It’s easy to remember or have empathy for the ones who have visible scars but we have to remember those with invisible scars need love and empathy as well; scars from emotional turmoil or illnesses that aren’t evident. I prayed for all of these people and I cried and sang praise songs as I cleaned. I thought if Jesus were here he would reach out and touch these people. Jesus isn’t here, but I am and I hope that everywhere I go, I allow the Christ in me to be sensitive to reach out and touch others.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

I truly hope that I reflect the image of Christ and his love.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13


Time Alone with God

I have been an exhorter in the past and I want to re-establish my role by encouraging others.  My question to you is; how often do you have time alone with God? If we’re too busy for God, then we are simply too busy. When I allow God to be in charge of my life, I am amazed at how much more productive I am. When I put Him first; everything falls into place. I have developed five points on how to put God first in my life. Five is the number of grace and the acronym I have used spells out the word GRACE.

G – Getting to know God:

We can’t reach others without first having our own time with God.  We have to know what the Bible says in order to share it. So why do many of us try to live a Godly life without having personal time with God? When we study the Bible, it overflows to the rest of our life.  Out of that wealth, we are able to minister to and encourage others. What we put in is what comes out. If I FILL my heart and mind with the Bible, there is not any room for negativity. We can strengthen our relationship with God by communication and observation otherwise it won’t grow. With our friends we listen and find out as much about them as we can. This is how our relationship with God should be; sharing and communicating, finding out everything we possibly can about Him (getting to know God). Satisfied living comes through knowing God. Matthew 5:6 (Amplified) “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be completely satisfied.”

R – Refusing self:

Just as we should ask about our relationships “What can I do to make this relationship better?” we should ask about our relationship with God. When we focus on what we do rather than what we can get, we become selfless instead of selfish. When we put our own self first we are giving into our weaknesses.  In Galatians 5:20-21, the Bible speaks of idolatry. The definition of idolatry is “excessive devotion.”  This could mean loving ourselves more than others. Jesus’ example was to put the needs of others first by being a servant. Luke 22:27 “Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

A – Asking:

Asking for wisdom and making our petitions known before God is how we should pray, simplicity is the best approach. Our time should begin with prayer. “Never stop praying.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 We should have confidence in our prayers just as Abraham did.  When Abraham prayed that Lot would be spared from the destruction of Sodom, obviously he had confidence in that prayer because we read he had slept that night.  Genesis 19:27 “Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence.” If Abraham didn’t believe Lot would be spared, I don’t think he would have slept.

C – Charging

Letting God be the one that charges us up. Most people don’t try to withstand a trial or problem without running to God in prayer. But why not just be hooked up to God all the time? Think of yourself as a three-prong electrical plug. The bottom prong is for “Grounding!” That grounding should plug into the Bible. Notice how it is fatter than the other two and relate that to how much we should draw on the Bible. Then take a look at the other two prongs.  Notice how they are wider at the tip? Those prongs represent our outstretched hands in worship. Once they are ‘plugged into’ the socket they are harder to pull out. Now, take a look at the holes in these prongs, relate these to ears. These two prongs make the circuit complete and if we are not listening to God along with praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible, then our circuitry is incomplete. I know people who cut off the third prong because it doesn’t fit. They take a risk of getting shocked. We need to be careful that we don’t cut off our relationship with God by only praying and not reading the Bible, which makes a one-way relationship.  Also, if we were to tape up the holes on the prongs, and we only went to God in prayer, then how can we hear? In Romans 10:17 the Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”

E – Exalting:

When we hear from God, how can we help but exalt or worship Him by praising Him in spirit and song? Exalt means to raise in rank, honor, power or character. We should exalt God far above everything and everyone. I love the song “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Chris Tomlin. This is how I feel about God. I cannot keep quiet about all the things he has done for me. Worship is so important in our daily walk, it isn’t just for Sunday, and God loves to hear our praises! “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” John 4:23

We live in such a “give me” society that it’s no wonder we expect God to do everything while we just carry on until we ‘need’ Him. Grace is freely given, unmerited favor, the Love of God, and the influence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us. God gave us his best through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, a perfect sacrifice, his resurrection, and the Holy Spirit. He graced us with the Bible, but what have we given in return? Sometimes we offer a mere pittance of a prayer before our meals or a ritualistic prayer before bed when God deserves our best! The very least we can do is give of our time to communicate with Him. I encourage you to show God honor for the grace he has shown you, he loves you and wants to bless you by communicating with you. Have some time alone with God today and every day. Your life will be better because of the time you spend.