Monday, June 29, 2015

Instruments of Change

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks. (Psalms 18:25-27 NKJV)

Meditation

Our Father in heaven is gracious in that He meets us where we are at in the moment. I've heard it said that "He loves us just the way we are, but too much to let us stay that way!" He is indeed causing all things to work together for good in shaping us into His image, as we were initially created to be. As the author and finisher of our faith, our Father uses other people and the circumstances of this world to conform our character into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. And rather than grumbling and complaining, which can often times be our fleshly tendency, we can choose to be grateful and in all things give thanks.

But I see another application in this scripture that until today, I hadn't seen. In dealing with others as an instrument of potential change in their lives, we must align ourselves with what the Holy Spirit is working to accomplish. When we perceive a person to be in one of the categories in these verses, it is only reasonable that we align ourselves with what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in their lives. In cooperating with the Holy Spirit we can help further their progress rather than hindering it. A merciful person needs to be dealt with mercifully and a devious person needs to be dealt with shrewdly. This presents a challenge for most believers in giving counsel and assistance to others. To treat the devious mercifully would be to hinder the work of the Spirit in their life and actually interfere with God's discipline. So we must not allow our spiritual condition to influence us in how we minister to them. This requires selflessness in our lives along with the spiritual gift of discernment. Ultimately God saves the humble, but for most of us the Holy Spirit must first bring us to a place of brokenness. May we seek never to hinder the Spirit's work in the life of another believer, but to minister with the wisdom God provides to do so.

 

For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalms 18:28 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     How is God using people and circumstances to conform you into the image of Christ?

2.     Have you helped or hindered the work of the Spirit in the lives of others?

3.     What is God using in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness so He can bless you?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Heavenly Father in heaven, my God, how blessed am I to know You as my Redeemer, Savior and friend. Day by day You open my eyes to the truth contained in Your Word. You have given me Your Spirit as the author and finisher of my faith and caused all things to work together for my good. I confess that too often I view life through a fleshly perspective and don't see what You are trying to accomplish in my life and the lives of those I minister to. Help me I pray to have clarity of vision in seeing Your will and helping to accomplish it. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, June 22, 2015

Genuine Evangelism

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:22-24 NKJV)

Meditation

There is a lot of confusion in the world today about the existence of God and how He should be worshipped. We hear the word tolerance frequently, even seeing it advertised on bumper stickers. We also hear the statement made that "All roads lead to heaven." The Samaritan religion in Jesus' time was a corrupted form of Judaism and Jesus made it clear that it was inadequate when He said, "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews." The only road to God the Father then and now is through the Messiah, Jesus Christ who came through the family lineage of Abraham. That is the truth, a reality concerning human relationships with God.

The statement that God is Spirit is the reality of His true nature. That being the case we must transcend the physical realm in order to worship Him. That can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ. He is THE way, not A way. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 NKJV) (emphasis mine)

The most exciting aspect of this discourse is that "the Father is seeking such to worship Him." Those who are lost and hurting, such as this Samaritan woman have an opportunity to become sons and daughters of the Most High God, part of the elect. When this sinful woman realized that she was in the presence of the long awaited Messiah and that He actually cared for her in a way that no man ever had, she was amazed. In fact John chapter 4, verse 28 says that she left her water pot, the very thing that she had come to the well to fill, and ran into the city to tell others what had just happened. It is speculation on my part but I believe that it was probably the men that she knew best, those who used and abused her! Her past no longer mattered now. What did matter is that was that she had found salvation and the only logical response to receiving a blessing that good is to find someone to share it with.

How do you feel about your salvation? Are you excited about the fact that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth and you have been included in that group? If you are, the only logical response is to share it with others. That is evangelism in its truest form.

 

Questions for Meditation or Discussion

1.     How does God's word clearly contradict the concept that there are many roads leading to heaven?

2.     Why does knowing that God is Spirit impact how we worship Him?

3.     What is the natural response to receiving a tremendous blessing?

 

Responsive Prayer

Father God thank You for seeking me out by sending Your Son Jesus Christ to confront me about the sin in my life and show me the need for a Savior. I confess that there are times when I don't appreciate my salvation as much as I should. I choose today to repent of this and worship the Father in spirit and truth. I love You Father God. Glorify Yourself in me today.  Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Friday, June 19, 2015

Loving an Angry Person

 

Sitting with the Shepherd 

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24 NKJV) 

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?                          (Psalms 27:1 NKJV)

Meditation

I have heard it said that anger is a secondary emotion which is rooted in fear. It is given to us by God as a defense mechanism. When we become angry our senses are alerted, our adrenaline level rises, and we brace ourselves for whatever perceived danger we are facing in a concerted effort to protect ourselves. King David knew fear. He faced lions and bears, a giant named Goliath, and a mad spear throwing king who was trying to kill him. So there were definitely times in his life as there are in ours when he needed to talk himself through the danger and muster up the courage to move forward. Thus the opening verse of Psalm 27 gives us a glimpse of David's human frailty, even though he was a decorated war hero.

Courage in the face of dangerous opposition is a requirement for the servant of the Lord according to the Apostle Paul. When the man or woman of God is confident in the Lords ability to protect them, they are able to avoid an angry reaction to danger and instead be gentle as Jesus Himself was.

In dealing with people who have been hurt or even traumatized in their past we will often have to incur their wrath. When this happens we will feel threatened even though we are not the real reason for their anger. When Jesus was verbally assaulted in His innocence He never retaliated or took it personally. Instead He viewed the attack as a desperate cry for help.

We as servants of the Lord must do the same thing if we are to get past the pain and antisocial behavior, and minister to the deep pain in someone's heart. Gentleness is imperative, as a soft word turns aside wrath. Patience is required because we are trusting in and waiting upon the Holy Spirit to grant healing and bring repentance. In essence we must not be easily offended but willing to get our flesh out of the way in order to truly allow Christ to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free through us.

"THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HAS SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET AT LIBERTY THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED; (Luke 4:18 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. In what way is the God given emotion of anger an asset to us when exercised properly?

2. What enables us to avoid an angry response to another person's anger?

3. Which fruits of the Spirit are especially necessary in ministering to the deeper issues of a person's heart?

Responsive Prayer

Father in heaven, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ  to minister to the brokenhearted and set the captives free. I confess that too often I am easily offended and take an angry person's anger personally. Empower me by Your grace to put self aside and have the courage to speak life and truth into the hearts of hurting people. You alone are the Great Physician and You alone can bring the healing to damaged emotions that no one else can. Empty me of self that I may be filled by Your Spirit and used as a vessel of mercy in Your Kingdom for Your glory honor and praise.  Amen

 

 

 


"Freed In Christ",

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Messenger

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:43-44 NKJV)

Meditation

When we listen to any man it is important to consider his character in order to validate what he is telling us. I've heard it said that the man in the pulpit is what God is concerned with even above the message he delivers. Jesus was speaking here to men who claimed to be sent from God, but were not. Their assumption of spiritual authority was based on their family ancestry rather the intimacy of their relationship with Jesus and their ability to receive from Him what He had received from God the Father.

Today there are many who claim to know God and understand just what He is trying to communicate to us through His word. How do we determine their credibility? According to scripture we will know a tree by its fruit. So we must consider the tangible before accepting the intangible. Just how is their life working out? Do they handle adversity and conflict biblically? Have they born good fruit in having a positive impact on others or is their righteousness superficial? Have they traveled the road we are traveling and done so successfully or not?

Satan's desire to destroy the church and other ministries associated with it has led him to sow tares along with the wheat. The tares which are noxious weeds look so much like the wheat they cannot be uprooted for fear of harming the wheat. In a similar there are false believers sown in among true church planting seeds of discord and deceiving many. In order to perceive the true voice of our Lord we must pray for a spirit of discernment and wisdom.

Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:36-39 NKJV)

Questions for Meditation or Discussion

1.     How do we determine the credibility of one who claims to be sent by God to teach?

2.     What has been Satan's plan to cause discord in the church?

3.     Who in your life has helped to understand the truth from God's Word apart from His Holy Spirit?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ thank You from leaving Your home in heaven so that You could come to earth and carry out the task of redemption. Help us we pray to identify those whom You have truly sent to minister the truth of God's Word to us. Bless them, make their anointing evident and give us ears to hear what You have to say through them. Amen


"Freed In Christ",

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Our Prayer Partner

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.  (Matthew 14:22-23 NKJV) 

Meditation

Immediately on the heels of the only miracle that Jesus performed recorded in all four Gospels, Jesus urged His disciples to get into a boat together, separating themselves from Him and everybody else, to embark on a journey. Surely He was aware the danger that they were facing, and yet He chose not to accompany them. I believe that He knew they had a lesson to learn and needed to be on their own to learn it. He was helping them to exercise their faith in His absence. But Jesus Christ never left them totally alone in the sense that He never stopped praying. The Greek word pros-yoo'-khom-ahee, means to pray to God, that is, supplicate, worship: - pray (X earnestly, for), make prayer. So it is safe to say that He was interceding on His disciple's behalf before the Father. The disciples were fighting a significant storm for a lengthy period of time thinking that they were alone. Jesus Christ allowed them to row for three or four miles before coming to their rescue.

We can learn from this that although we don't always see God's love and care in the midst of a trial, it doesn't mean that He isn't aware or concerned. And although the storms in our life aren't calmed immediately, it doesn't mean He hasn't heard or doesn't care. The disciples were fighting for their lives and He knew it. He also knew that there was a lesson that they needed to learn about faith. He allowed them to grow in their experience before He showed up personally and doing what only He could do. In the same way He loves you and I and lives at the right hand of God to make intercession for us. Once we have learned what we need to learn from a trial He will show up. And in my experience when He shows up, He shows off!

Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:33-35 NKJV)

 

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     What did the disciples learn by struggling with the storm?

2.     When has God allowed a trial in your life to last longer than you would have liked?

3.     How has God answered your prayers in amazing ways when you least expected it?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, thank You for interceding for me in the good times and the bad. I confess that there were times that I doubted Your love and faithfulness. Thank You that You are the author and finisher of my faith, and Your faithfulness never waivers. Thank You for all of the answers that You gave to my prayers that were well beyond my expectations.  Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Be Patient, God is at Work

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:4-5 NKJV)

For of this I am confident, that He who has begun a good work within you will go on to perfect it in preparation for the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 WNT)

Meditation

Sometimes when we are driving a car we are warned to slow down and be careful by a sign that says, "Men at Work" In a similar manner we should upon looking into a mirror at ourselves, or looking at other believers, consider the fact that, "God is at Work." And He most definitely is at work in us, as the above scripture states. That work is guaranteed to be completed in the Day of Christ Jesus, so we are admonished to be patient. God knows how prideful we are. Often on the heels of great spiritual achievement or even in a moment of significant victory over temptation, we get a false sense of accomplishment, imagining that we have arrived. The truth according to scripture is that we have not!

More often than not when we encounter various trials and testing permitted by God we are anything but patient. Instead we cry out for deliverance from our circumstances. But He doesn't seem to hear us and change those circumstances. Perhaps because He has allowed them to be there to teach us something. To change them would circumvent what He is trying to teach us through them.

So instead of asking the questions "Why me?" or "When will this end?" we need to ask God, "What is it that You are trying to teach me through this?" That is the wisdom that James assures will be given to us and with no reproach for asking. Paul shares his confidence that the work that God has begun in us will be completed, not only in our life but in the lives of our fellow believers. Knowing this should change our perspective significantly. Number one is that unlike the world we can accept trials joyfully. And number two is that we shouldn't regard other believers critically knowing that they too are under construction by God.

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     What is the work of God that we need to align ourselves with?

2.     How did we tend to handle adversity in the past?

3.     Why should we not regard other believers according to the flesh and what difference will that make?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God, blessed be Your Holy Name. Thank You for beginning a good work in us when we were regenerated and promising to complete on the day of Jesus Christ. I confess that there are times when I lack the patience and by my most valiant efforts subvert the process rather than contribute to its fulfillment. Thank You Father God for placing Your Holy Spirit in me to live out the life of Christ. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, June 15, 2015

Never Alone

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

And for this purpose it was necessary that in all respects He should be made to resemble His brothers, so that He might become a compassionate and faithful High Priest in things relating to God, in order to atone for the sins of the people. For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able instantly to help those who are tempted and tried. (Hebrews 2:17-18 WNT)

Meditation

Sometimes when we face difficulties and the temptation to become discouraged, we feel all alone and long to share our struggles with someone who we know will lend a sympathetic ear. Maybe we call a close friend or relative who is familiar with our circumstances, hoping to explain exactly how we feel. When they do understand we are relieved and our burden is eased a bit.

Jesus Christ knew that in order to fully understand us and the trials that we encounter in this sinful world, He would need to experience them personally. He allowed Himself to be sent by the Father from His glorious throne in heaven to face the trials and challenges that one day His followers would face themselves.

If anyone fully comprehends what it is like to love deeply and be betrayed by the very one who you love so deeply, it is Jesus. If anyone understands the temptation to give into discouragement due to overwhelming circumstances, it is Him. If anyone knows what it is to be totally misunderstood and be accused of doing the very things that they hate the most, it is Jesus Christ Himself. He suffered greater physical and emotional struggles that any known to man before or after Him. He knew what it was like to be totally alone and forsaken.

But we forget all of that. There are times when we become so self- focused that we are oblivious of the fact that our Savior understands fully what we going through and wants to walk through it with us. In fact that may be the reason that He has allowed the trial to begin with! He is more capable of understanding us than even our closest friend or relative.

And then there is the enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren, the one who mislead the human race into independence from God to begin with, who wants us to forget how capable Jesus is of sympathizing with us. There is nothing that He desires more than to have us isolated and stuck in the illusion that we are totally alone. He would like us to proclaim as God's servant Elijah once did, "I alone am left and they seek to take my life." But all of that is a lie and we must tear down the enemy's strongholds with the truth from God's word.

For we have not a High Priest who is unable to feel for us in our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every respect just as we are tempted, and yet did not sin. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need.  (Hebrews 4:15-16 WNT)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     What is your first resource when trouble strikes?

2.     Why was it necessary for Jesus to experience such turmoil and tribulation in His human life?

3.     Where does our greatest opposition come from and why?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Lord and Great High Priest Jesus Christ, blessed be Your Holy Name. You came from heaven to earth to accomplish the will of the Father Who sent You on our behalf. This was His purpose before the creation of the earth. I confess that too often I am duped into feeling alone, or that no one understands. Help me by Your grace to see through this deception that is intended to keep me independent of You. May I instead come running back to Your open arms to receive mercy and grace in my time of need. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Friday, June 12, 2015

Good Fear

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.     (Psalms 103:11-14 NKJV)

Meditation

In this portion of scripture, the psalmist speaks of God's attitude toward a specific group of people, that being those who fear Him. We must exercise caution in our attempt to draw people to God that we don't minimize certain aspects of His character such as His power, His wrath against ungodliness, and His hatred of all that is evil. If we do so we minimize the necessity of His mercy toward those of us who have turned to Him in love.

Paul speaks of the wrath of God in Romans chapter one;  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them." (Romans 1:18-19 NKJV emphasis added) This wrath is not merely against those who are engaged in acts of blatant evil behavior, but against those who know there is a God (as we all inherently do) and refuse to submit to His authority and glorify them with their lives. Repeatedly Paul warns that God will give those people up, allowing them to spiral down in their unrighteous behavior into total depravity and destruction. Remember that the wrath of God is what destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when they gave into licentious sexual behavior. The wrath of God swallowed up the sons of Korah when they rebelled against the authority given to Moses by God. The wrath of God destroyed the whole earth except eight souls in a worldwide flood. In short the wrath of God is not to be taken lightly. It is coming against all of the inhabited earth to one day destroy the forces of evil.

To those who understand these things and acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over their lives, God the Father shows pity. He does not show pity to those who foolishly deny His existence or refuse to submit to His authority, rebelling even against His righteous standards. He shows pity, the pity of a loving father to His children, to those who fear Him. This fear is not a crippling terror but a healthy reverential respect toward the One who created us from the dust and gave us life.

 

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Why is it necessary to make sure prospective converts grasp the concept of God's wrath against the ungodly?

2.     What sin other than blatant acts of evil will cause unbelievers to incur the wrath of God?

3.     Whom is it that God shows pity to?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Heavenly Father, the Eternal Judge of all mankind, blessed be Your Holy Name. You are the God of Justice and one day Your wrath will be poured out on all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ as an ambassador of reconciliation to all that will confess their sin and receive Your pardon through Him. I confess that my life has not always brought You glory and pray that today it will. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Channels of Blessing

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17 NKJV)

Meditation

Jesus was the ultimate manifestation of God's love. He came and gave all He had for those who least deserved it. Now it is we who have invited Him to come and live His life through us, so we are called to do the same. This world's goods in the verses above does not mean the little extra money that we have left over after our own selfish needs and desires are satisfied. It isn't about tipping God by putting a dollar bill in the collection plate. No, rather it is a heart issue that allows us to manifest the love of God in our daily lives.

We must realize that all we have is from God. Perhaps there was a time in our lives when we had very little. My parents lived through the Great depression in this country and it had a significant impact on them. Material possessions took on increased significance in their hearts to a degree that they were willing to sacrifice other things that in the grand scheme of things were of far greater worth. It sent me spiraling to the opposite end of the spectrum where I willingly despised and rejected material possessions and all this world had to offer altogether.

But I have come to realize that the affections of my heart can be similar to a pendulum that swings from one extreme to the other. Now that the Lord has blessed me with many of the things that I once did without, I must be mindful not to allow those things to take on a greater significance in my heart. If I allow my material possessions to become so important that my heart is shut off from my brother in need. If that happens I will become a prisoner the things that are passing away with the rest of this sinful world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     How can we say that Jesus was the manifestation of God's love?

2.     What are the factors that can influence our view of material possessions?

3.     Why is it fruitless to allow material possessions to capture our affections?

 

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, You own the cattle on a thousand hills and every beast of the field belongs to You. The earth is Yours and everything in it. I confess that too often I allow material possessions to entice my heart and gain control of my affections. Guard my heart Father God and keep me from idols that I may love You and be used by You as a channel of blessing in the lives of others. Amen 

 

 


"Freed In Christ",

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Living for an Audience of ONE

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

A Psalm of David. "Vindicate me, O LORD, For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip.  (2)  Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.  (3)  For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth." (Psalms 26:1-3 NKJV) 

Meditation

There are going to be times in our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we will be the target of false accusations. Jesus Himself said, "I did not come to bring peace but a sword….A man's enemies will be those of his own household." He was viciously persecuted and ultimately put to death not just by the world, but at the hands of religious leaders that should have embraced and supported Him. Anyone who has served in ministry will tell you that the most hurtful opposition that they have faced, apart from their biological family, came from within the church! The psalmist put it this way; "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him.   But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng." Psalms 55:12-14 NKJV 

King David who had been persecuted by God's anointed as well as some of his own wives and sons, knew that ultimately his vindication had to come from only one source and one source alone- his heavenly Father. He also knew that he was in danger of being deceived by his own fallen flesh, so he asked God to examine him and see if there was anything in his mind or heart that would offend God. It was possible for him to ask this because of the confidence he had in the God who he knew intimately and walked with daily as his Father. This relationship enabled him to say, "Your lovingkindness is before my eyes," Those who live in relationship with our Father have always come to that conclusion.

Jesus Himself felt the same way about the loving kindness of God the Father. Although He was persecuted throughout His earthly live and died the most brutal death known to man, His love for the Father and His trust in Him never wavered.

We can learn a valuable lesson from King David and Jesus Christ alike. They lived their lives for an audience of ONE. They were vindicated and exalted in the end by the Sovereign God of the universe. It is as simple as that!

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass, He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Psalms 37:5-6 NKJV 

 Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. Where has the fiercest opposition to your Christian walk come from ?

2. How can we gain confidence in the goodness of God the Father?

3. What does it mean to you to live your life for an audience of One?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God, blessed is Your Holy Name. Your words are sweeter than honey and Your Living Water quenches my thirst better than the clearest cool water this world has to offer. I confess that I have been far too concerned about what others think. May I be continue to be mindful that just as Your lovingkindness is always before me, my life is always before You. May I live a life that is glorifying and pleasing to You.  Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Channels of Blessing

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: "HE HAS DISPERSED ABROAD, HE HAS GIVEN TO THE POOR; HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER." Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, (2 Corinthians 9:8-10 NKJV)

Meditation

God is described in scripture of the Giver of every good and perfect gift from up above. We all at one time or another been the beneficiary of His gifts. Unlike human sources of supply, we are need not be concerned that His supply will ever be exhausted. His love is a prime example of this as scripture says that He lavishes His love upon us. To lavish means to pour without measure. And since love is the greatest gift of all and never runs out, all other gifts are within His ability to provide as well.

If we as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are to be used effectively in the work of the kingdom, then we need to accurately mirror the character of the One Who commissioned us to this work. Paul is admonishing us in our scripture passage above not to be weak and miserly in our giving for numerous reasons. One is that there is no need to be. We have His full assurance that His well will never run dry. The second reason is that we need to be an open channel of blessing, so that His provision can flow through us into the lives of those whom He is trying to reach through us. And finally because if we sow sparingly hoarding the seed rather than planting it, we will reap a less bountiful harvest of righteousness.

God's desire is to impart the righteousness of Jesus Christ into our once perverted and sinful lives. In order for that to happen we need to allow His Spirit to flow through us unhindered. As we allow Him to bless others through us we can be assured that His blessings to us will never run dry.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Why are Gods blessings more than anything known by common man?

2.     What do we need to do in our giving to mirror the character of our Father God?

3.     How does the law of reaping and sowing apply in our ministry for God?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God thank You indeed are the Source of every good and perfect gift from above. You have already blessed me far beyond what I ever hoped, expected or imagined. I confess that in spite of your faithful generosity in times past, I entertain feelings of doubt about tomorrow. I call the enemy to stand down and desist in the Name of my Victorious King Jesus Christ. It is in His Name that I live and pray, Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, June 8, 2015

Who is Your Shepherd?

 

Sitting with the Shepherd 

Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.                      (Psalms 100:3 NKJV)

Meditation

This verse begins with the word "know," which in this case means "to recognize," or "be sure." When there is no doubt in our mind as to who we belong to and will ultimately answer to, we can be secure in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. For those of us who have been prone to attempting to execute the geographic cure to escape situations that were not to our liking, this is a great relief. We must accept the fact that the will of God will not take us where the grace of God won't keep us.

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. A lamb's lot in life is for the most part dependent on who its shepherd is. A hireling will not care for his flock with the same diligence in providing pasture that an owner will for sheep that belong to him. That shepherd goes out before the flock in search of the best pasture, constantly looks out for danger and diligently guards his flock personally. He carefully guides his flock through the valley of darkness (this can refer to the mountain passes that are traversed between summer and winter pastures.) He diligently cares for those who are his own.

When Jesus was on this earth, He was referred to as the Good Shepherd. He told His disciples that because they had seen Him they had seen the Father. We follow Him not because we are driven like cattle, but because we are know Him intimately and are being led like sheep to the finest pasture available.

 

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. How have you experienced the futility of a life lived independently of    God?

2. What do you see as the benefits of allowing God to direct your steps?

3. What is stopping you from fully surrendering to God's unwavering direction in your life?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God, thank you for Your willingness to direct my steps. I confess that in times past I have not heeded Your direction in my life and acted independently to my own detriment. Give me the courage to come to a full surrender of my will that Your will may be accomplished in my life. I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 

 


"Freed In Christ",

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Path of Least Resistance

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:7-8 NKJV)

The Voice of Christ

"From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw the water of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace."

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (p. 115). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Meditation

We are never sure upon awaking just what the day will hold. Jesus told His followers, "It is not for you to know." But we can be assured that if we give ourselves to the work of the Lord that we will receive power from the Holy Spirit Who has indwelt us since the time of our regeneration. There are many who pray for a greater manifestation of the God's supernatural power in their lives and yet never actually experience that manifestation. I have heard it said that the way the power of the Holy Spirit works is comparable to the way electricity works. A person cannot be electrocuted unless there is a clear path for the current to flow out. This is referred to as being grounded. The power of the Holy Spirit operates in much the same manner as it is given to be poured out for a specific calling from God. There must be an outpouring in order for it to flow freely into a person. Jesus said that the Spirit would come upon the disciples so that they could go and be witnesses to the end of the earth. This is a spiritual axiom that still holds true today.

Great men and women of the faith have found that after exhausting their own human resources of power and strength in the service of the Kingdom of God, that there is a deeper well to draw from. When we avail ourselves to this Source of Living Water the results are amazing. Those who are selfishly motivated will not be able to access this source because God will not be used to supply power to that which He has not ordained.

Has God called you to a ministry? It doesn't have to be one that necessarily reaches to the end of the earth. Perhaps it may reach to end of your state, the end of your block or simply within the four walls of your house. Maybe He has called you to raise a child. Or maybe it is to minister to the sick, the lost and the hurting in your neighborhood, or your place of employment. You can be certain that whatever He has called you to do, public or private, He will supply the power to accomplish it for His glory. Remember God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called.

For God is the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. (2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1. In what way does the power of the Holy Spirit operate like electricity?

2. When is that most of us discover the need and availability of God's Living   Water?

           3. What are some of the ministries that God calls us to, and what specifically has he called you to?

Responsive Prayer

Thank You dear Father for redeeming my life from eminent destruction and utter futility and calling me to live for Your glory, honor and praise. I confess that there have been times when I have endeavored to accomplish great things for You in my own strength and failed miserably. Thank You for teaching me that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Be glorified in my life today. Amen

 

 

 


"Freed In Christ",

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Good Followership

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.                                (Hebrews 12:9-10 NKJV)

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:5 NKJV)

Meditation

When we come to a place of perceived maturity in this life we desire to lead rather than follow. But we must be willing to do both. I once read a book on "followership." The author pointed out that there are numerous books on leadership, but in order to lead one must first learn to follow, and not much has been written on the subject. The problem with us is that because of the fall, sin became an inherent part of our being and we went astray. Now we are needing to find our way back, and unless we are led by someone, this just won't happen.

David recognized his need to be led because he acknowledged the fact that he had gone astray. He also knew that the only One that could lead him back was the God that created him and saved him. So he asked that One to lead him in all truth and teach him.

The same holds true for the writer of Hebrews. As a grown man he realized that he had not outgrown his need for a father. So he willingly placed himself under the authority of his heavenly Father. While he may have initially done this out of dire necessity, his ability to submit was sustained by his knowledge of God's character. We too, even those of us who have been hurt by unhealthy authority figures in the past, can trust our heavenly Father to lead us along the best path for our lives. Unless we come to know that as true experientially, our allegiance will be sporadic at best. We must come to God earnestly expecting His loving guidance if we are to be faithful followers, able to lead others.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)

 

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Why as human being beings to we have the need to be led by someone?

2.     How did King David stray from God and find himself in the need to be led back?

3.     What can keep us from accepting God's authority in our lives?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, my God and my Guide, blessed be Your Holy Name. You are the God to Whom every family on earth owes their name. You are the God of my salvation who has led me out of the darkness of this world and into the light of Your marvelous love. Blessed be Your name dear Father, and blessed am I to know You as my Father and be led along the path of righteousness for Your Names sake.  I confess that often times I become distracted and am easily led astray. Thank You for never giving up on me , but being willing to leave the ninety nine to bring me back. I love and adore You Father God. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Remembering the Father's Love

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O LORD. (Psalms 25:6-7 NKJV)

Meditation

Did you ever wonder, when your life on earth is finished, what you will be remembered for? Perhaps there are things that you would like to forget and you are hoping others will also. I believe that holds true with all of us. There are other things that we have done or that have happened to us that bring joy to our hearts and we don't ever want to forget them. We refer to these as fond memories.

The psalmist uses the word "remember" three times in three different ways in just two verses here. The first time he uses it, it is to remind himself of the goodness of God. God's goodness is steadfast and can be relied upon because it has been consistent through the ages. Did you ever ponder over the fact that if God wasn't good the world would be far worse off than it is and there would be absolutely nothing that we could do about it. What if He wasn't merciful and gracious? There would be absolutely nothing that we could do to change it! There are times that we need to remind ourselves of this truth about Him in order to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

The next time that David uses the word remember it is in reference to himself and the realization that he has fallen far short of God's righteous standards. He knows it and he is reminded of his need for God's mercy and goodness. He knows that if God remembered all of his sins and held them against him, he could never stand. The truth is that God has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West. Without an appreciation of that fact we cannot accurately assess the depth of God's goodness toward us today.

And finally David prayed for God to apply His mercy to his account. He knew that God didn't love him for who he was, but because of Who God is. That means that we don't need to jump through hoops to earn God's approval. We already have it. And since it isn't dependent upon our performance, we don't need to doubt it or live in fear that we will lose it. God loves us in Christ because we are His children not because we earn it. Let me ask you a question, "Do your children need to earn your love?"  We can rest assured that God loves us, not because of who we are but because of Who He is. Remember that!

 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:10-12 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     Why is it important to understand the unchanging goodness of God?

2.     How is it possible to remember our sin and not be overwhelmed by it?

3.     What is God's love based on and why does that matter so much?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, Almighty God, You are the embodiment of all that is good and I am truly grateful for that. I confess that my track record in this life has been far from stellar and yet You chose to pour out You great love and forgiveness on me in the person of Jesus Christ. Thank you that as I have confessed my sins You have been faithful and just to forgive me of them and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. May I never forget the magnitude of Your love for me based on Who are. Amen

 



"Freed In Christ",

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blessed is the One...

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (Psalms 19:7-9 NKJV)

Meditation

In a culture where independence is held in highest esteem, we are encouraged by the media to "color outside the lines," and have "no boundaries." Rules appear to be restrictive while we are encouraged to "tolerate" all sorts of evil or we are labeled as religious bigots. It is imperative in the midst of all of this that we remain constantly mindful of the fact that the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. His plans for us and for the world are not good, but evil like he himself is. The natural man is incapable of understanding these things, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. So to listen to their opinions about God, His Word or His church is unprofitable and even a total waste of time. I have heard it said that asking a natural (unsaved) person to reflect on spiritual matters is like holding an object up in front of a blind person's eyes and telling him to look at it! It is not only impossible but it is totally ridiculous.

The psalmist on the other hand knows God. He understands that His statutes, commandments and judgements are good. Since God is intrinsically good, all that originates with Him can only be good as well. Rather than to be rebelled against, they are to be treasured and held in high esteem;  More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalms 19:10-11 NKJV) Understanding the Father's true love for us and His character will enable us to see that His laws are not burdensome but totally beneficial. And in keeping them there is much reward.

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalms 1:1-3 NKJV)

Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion

1.     How does the culture that we live in rebel against order?

2.     Why is it futile to debate about spiritual realities with an unsaved person?

3.     In what way will understanding Our heavenly Father's love enable us to be obedient to His commandments?

 

Responsive Prayer

My Father in heaven, thank You for bringing me out of the kingdom of darkness and ushering me into the kingdom of Your love. Thank You that Your statutes and commandments are not restrictive in nature, but restorative in bringing order to my once chaotic life. Help me I pray to know firsthand the blessings that I receive from being obedient to You. Amen

 


"Freed In Christ",

Monday, June 1, 2015

Exercising Good Judgement

 

Sitting with the Shepherd

 

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:1-3 NKJV) 

Meditation

Judging is a necessary part of life. To judge literally means to decide or distinguish, so there are times when we will be called to judge. What Jesus is saying here is not to condemn another because in doing so we will receive condemnation from them in return and nothing good will come of our efforts.

The Pharisees were being judged here by Jesus for their self-righteous, critical attitude toward those whom they were called to lead. It is imperative for us to understand as believers, that before we became reconciled to God through Christ, He was our Judge. After new birth He became our Savior. We were guilty of heinous crimes against God and declared guilty of numerous offences that were deserving of death and eternal separation from God in hell. If God had not judged us mercifully in our condemned condition there would have been no hope for us. But He didn't. He showed mercy. And because He showed mercy in such great measure, He is asking us to do likewise to those who have offended us.

The measure of any given offense is not measured by only the nature of the offense itself, but by the identity of the one who the offense was committed against. To offend a total stranger is one thing, but to offend one who loves us and has done much for us is another. King David said "Against You, You only, have I sinned," which means our sin is primarily against a Holy and Righteous God. That being the case our sin is far more grievous than any sin committed against us. That is the reason we have a plank in our eye and the one who offended us only has a speck in theirs.

When I approach another person who has offended me with this mindset my approach will be less indignant and more palatable for them. A pearl is a valuable gem, but to a swine it is totally worthless because they can't digest it. Criticism given in a way that can be received will be useful to facilitate change. The goal of confrontation must always be reconciliation in order to glorify God.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.         (2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NKJV)

Questions for Meditation or Discussion

1.     In what aspects of life are you called to distinguish or judge the actions of another?

2.     What example did God set in handling our numerous offences committed against Him?

3.     How can cultivate a God honoring attitude in confronting someone who has offended us?

Responsive Prayer

My Father in Heaven, my God thank You for the mercy You showed me in sending Your Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. I confess that my sins against You, a Righteous and Holy God far outweigh any offense committed against me by another human being. May I always judge those who offend me with that in mind. Amen


"Freed In Christ",