Friday, January 30, 2015

Proverbs 16:6b-7

Sitting with the Shepherd

Proverbs 16:6b-7

"And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." 


Meditation

We often think that the blessing that comes to us when we do what is right, comes because to us because we are doing the right thing. That implies that our blessing is something that we have either earned or are responsible for. Such is not the case because as this verse emphatically states, "He" makes his enemies to be at peace with him. As humble servants fully reliant on our Master, we must gratefully acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from up above. Everything that we ever had or ever will have comes from the Shepherd's hand. Our gratitude itself will then be a way to please the Lord.


Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Our culture glibly proclaims that "God helps them that help themselves!" The Gospel says that "God helps those who cannot help themselves." How have you found this to be true in your personal experience?

2.     Is it ever right, or pleasing to God to take pride in what we do for Him? Why or why not?

3.     How can we glorify the Lord with a similar attitude of grateful appreciation?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, You alone are the Giver of every good and perfect gift from up above. I confess that at times I have tried to take credit for those blessings that I have received from you imagining that I was somehow responsible for procuring them for myself. I understand today that I am totally dependent upon you, for in my own strength I can do nothing. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit that I may be able to manifest the righteous life of Jesus Christ today for Your glory. Amen 



"Freed In Christ",

Friday, January 16, 2015

Matthew 7:3-4

Sitting With the Shepherd

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?" 
(Matthew 7:3-4 NKJV)

Specks and planks, our Lord couldn't make His point any clearer. The comparison is dramatic, but so is my flawed perspective at times. Too often I magnify the shortcomings of others and minimize my own inherent flaws in my own imagination. As usual Jesus takes the opposite viewpoint, encouraging His followers to look at it in a similar manner. I am afraid that sometimes My Savior's admonitions are so simple that I gloss over them and don't allow them to impact me as deeply as they should. What He is telling us as His disciples is to stop being so critical of others until we are honest about our own sins and shortcomings. He wants us to humble ourselves and lower our opinion of ourselves, and consider others more highly. After all this is what He did, and being His disciple means doing the same thing? The question we must ask ourselves is are we willing to hear His counsel and apply it to our lives or will we miss it because of its simplicity?

"Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself."  Thomas A. Kempis

Responsive Prayer 
"My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I confess that too often the sins of others are far more visible to me than my own. Help me to accept the conviction of Your indwelling Holy Spirit that I may not consider myself more highly than I ought. May I instead be merciful with others that You will be merciful with me. Amen"

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (p. 4). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sitting with the Shepherd
An interactive exchanged life devotional

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."" (Matthew 11:28–30, NKJV) 
Meditation
Most people I know love to receive an invitation, and this one comes directly to us from the Savior. But I think perhaps because it has become so familiar to us we tend to take it lightly and pass over it without due consideration. An invitation is only as good as the one that it comes from so this one is special. It comes to us directly from a Savior Who loves us and has undergone significant suffering on our behalf. He is also our Creator and the Judge of our life so it is relevant to us that rather than being harsh, He describes Himself as "gentle and lowly in heart." Also He offers us something so wonderful that we can scarcely imagine it, "rest for our souls." Finally the best part is that we don't have to wait until we die to enter His rest but instead it is available now!

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What burden do you need to give to the Savior that is causing you to become weak and heavy laden?
2. Why is it significant to you that Almighty God describes Himself as "gentle and lowly at heart?"
3. What is keeping you from fully responding to Jesus' invitation right now?

Responsive Prayer
My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I confess that I have been struggling through this life and trying to carry my own burdens. I receive Your invitation as coming from One Who is gentle and lowly in heart. Because of Your great love for me I desire to enter into Your presence and find rest for my soul. Thank You for not making me wait until some future date to receive this gift but bestowing it on me right now!    Amen