Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Last week we talked about how life is hard... that becoming a "Christian" does not make life's problems...go away... What we need to is to recognize that God is working. That no matter where we are our God is with us. Yes, I am fully aware that this doesn't always seem to be true; but He is always with us no matter where we are...This is one truth that we all must hold on to. No matter what is going on in your life, remember that God is there. Another truth we need to hold on to is; That matter what is going on in your life, recognize that God is there. You see these two principles we all need to be part of our lives. The nation of Israel did things to remember that God did things... In 1samuel 7:12 the prophet Samuel sets a stone for the nation to remember of what God has done and is doing. The stone was called, Ebenezer. Remembering what God has done for us will help to keep us on track to trust Him in the future... It is so easy to forget what God has done for us... How He has helped us through various struggles of life... So we too need to remember! Now the second principle goes with the first. We must give God thanks...and praise... for the things He has done. So many times God does something for us... we don't recognize it or we just brush it off with little importance... and sometimes we might give a little thank you... You see we are created in God's image, His likeness... Just like us when we do something for someone... we appreciate the thank you... And sometimes even more. You see God does so much more than anyone you will ever know and God will use people... to do for you so much more than you ever will know... so as we thank people we must remember to thank our God even more.
Friday, April 12, 2013
We have just finished Psalm 23; so what next? Well let us stop and reflect on this Psalm a little more. You see for some of us we read this Psalm and guess what; It just doesn't seem real... You see my life is just_____ or things...are just____....and .... Some of us are in such turmoil and some of us are in such situation and some are in places... that they cry out saying is God real? Or they cry out saying does God care? You see They start out with reading "God is my Shepherd" and they want Him to be... but they cannot see Him leading... they are in such turmoil, places, situation and... there seems like there is no way out...They ask, Is He leading? Or they say "I don't see any still waters or green pastures and rest?" Even I sometimes say these things or things like these when life is hard... You see no matter what you may have heard... life is hard. Also life is not fair! Some of us live in places that in of themselves make life hard. When one becomes a believer(Christian), follower of Jesus Christ; there seems to be this thinking that life becomes easy... all your problems...will be fixed... you have arrived! But that is not the case! One thing that does happen is that now God will be with you to help you through... but for life on earth becoming easy... that is not a promise of God. What He does promise is everlasting life in Heaven a perfect place. A place with no pain, sorrow.... or sin. You see Psalm 23 is a process...we need to hold on to the end. To the day we are in glory and we can see the big picture of our life and how God was working even when we couldn't see Him... that He was leading us... to His Son and to the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven. One thing I do know that life on earth is hard, even with Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I cannot imagine how much harder it would be without Him... So let us all encourage each other to stay the course of following Jesus Christ.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Last weekend we celebrated Easter Sunday. Now let me tell you Easter Sunday has a lot of different meanings/observance ... Depending on who you talk too. If you go to the stores you will see a lot of Easter things, chocolates bunnies ... different types of candies... Easter baskets... Easter bunnies and Easter eggs... and the hunt for Easter eggs... Some dress up.... Even churches do things a little different... For the most part more people think that Easter is something special... even if they really do not really know why... So what is Easter? A little over 3 months ago we celebrated Christmas, The birth of the baby Jesus, Emanuel - God with us. Another big day that is celebrated by many. So with Christmas God with us...the beginning if you will to Easter the finishing of His work on earth. You see God has/had a plan; He sent His son for a purpose. That purpose was to pay the price of our wrongs, bad thinking, bad actions...(we call this sin). That price was to shed His blood on the cross and to die. But to prove that He was God...after three days He rose from the dead. Now let's not get caught up saying that this is a fairy tale/myth... That is what most think or even might think, some might think it might be true...but not sure. Here's the thing one must believe that Jesus is the son of the living God. That He was born...and that He died on the cross and on the third day He rose again! That He did all this and more for me, for you, for him, for her... He did this because He loves you.... Now it is for us, individually, to believe and to trust Him, Jesus... So that we can believe and say, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" We believe that He will do what He says He will do for us, Everlasting life with Him in heaven.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
As we continue on our study in Psalm 23, we come to a section that is hard to to to... what would be the word or words to use here. The phrase is, "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, " Let me begin with that this is a hard passage for all of us. As we live our lives, we sometimes cannot see the goodness in what we are facing... nor can we feel the lovingkindness. Sometimes life is hard... and for some of us it is harder... and for some it is harder than one can think of. We often ask or think, where is the goodness, the lovingkindness? How can it be here in this situation... I believe that a key to understand this phrase is in the word, "follow". You see the goodness and lovingkindness follows us, it doesn't go before us. You see we need god's help in the present. That is we need His help while we are going through life that no matter what we are going through that God's goodness and lovingkindness will come into play. So when we are walking were we shouldn't we turn to God for His goodness and lovingkindness (forgiveness). Now we also need to see that our God is helping us through those times... Have you seen God doing things in your life? Goodness and lovingkindness. Think about it how do we know that God is working? When He does for us the things we cannot do for ourselves. When He comes to the rescue or when He makes a bad situation not that bad... When we look back on our life seeing God working... Now next week We will touch more on this though. One verse to help us, Romans 8:28 "And we know for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."
Monday, March 18, 2013
As I was thinking about what to write this week, I really pondered to not write anything. It's been a hard week, a hard couple of months and a hard year. In times like these it is not easy to write about heaven; even though we have the hope, as believer's in Jesus Christ..., that we will be going to Heaven to be with our Lord. So this week think about your walk with Jesus Christ! It is so important, so many of us in different times of our lives, neglect that walk with Jesus; we go astray. Like sheep we go astray...for whatever reason. So today is the day to return...to Jesus. Today is the day to trust Jesus. So on to our study, did you notice that the psalmist started to refer to us not as sheep but, as a person (verse 5). Sheep don't need a table to eat, people do. The psalmist continues this to the end of the psalm when He says, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." You know when we go to heaven we don't go as sheep, no but as a person. A person with a personality. A person that God wants to fellowship with; a God who wants us to dwell in his house. You see God wants us there in heaven with Him. A place more glorious than we can think...It's perfect and God will also perfect us. Now there is only one way for that to be done. That way is through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Some may say, that by saying that I'm narrow minded...But think about it, no matter how hard we try to be good...don't we all fail; never mind trying to be or act perfect. Or how about this has anyone else ever came back from the dead to live forever? Only one. So why not put your trust in the one that has; Jesus Christ. The one who says He can do it for you; if you believe in Him.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Our next phrase is a hard one to get a handle on. "Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life." As we walk our lives on earth, it is evident that it is hard. That difficult times are here and we can see them in the future. Not only that, there is a lot of bad things that happen in this world. Living life even when there is clear sailing also takes a lot of work. On top of that we are always in a learning mode. Think about it, we need to be learning, thinking all the time because each day is different and problem....come and we need to go through them....So life is hard and seeing God's goodness and loving-kindness, well sometime it's just hard to see. So let's talk about the everyday grind of life. Work, school, chores, cooking, eating and interacting with one another. All of these things can bring, let's call it stress, Work can be work. but sometimes it seems to be too much work. School well school is school, and sometimes we don't get what needs to be learned right away. Chores some days those task seem to be so big....The eating thing sometimes even causes problems. Do I need to go into socializing with each other. There is a principle we need to grasp. It is in Roman 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Now as believers, this verse is true. All things work together for good. Let me tell you it is hard sometimes to see the good. Sometimes the "good" doesn't show up right away! It's days....behind. Sometimes the "good" isn't the "good" for you, but for someone else; a greater good. Now that's when it really gets hard. Now we also must remember that God's loving-kindness never fails. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins; His mercies are new every morning, great is thou faithful, oh Lord.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Do you like it when someone does something for you? Doesn't it make you feel good. When someone does something, just for you, in a special way; because they love you. Well so far we have been looking at all that God does for us, as we walk on this earth, that is in relation as The Lord being our shepherd. Now in verse 5 there is a little more personal note; the Lord as host... The Lord is doing 2 more things for us. The first, He prepares a table for us. That is He provides a meal or meals... for us. I don't know about you but food just seems to taste better when someone else is cooking. Think back, has the Lord been providing in this way for you? Taking care of the need of physical food for nourishment? He does more than just lead us to the feeding trough. He provides the food also. Psalm 23:5 "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup over flows." Now to the second thing He does. Anoints our head with oil. Well this is something that we don't do now a days. Well in, the good old days, that is biblical times, one would anoint his guest when they came to their home. It showed respect and honor...and made the guest welcomed. An example of this would be Luke 7:36-46. Isn't that great that our God welcomes us... not because of our deeds or because we are so and so; but because of who we are in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. You know that Gods arms are wide open for His children, when we are having a bad day or we mess up or whatever, we can always go to our loving Father. His loving arms are waiting to hold you... If you have never trusted... the Lord Jesus, He's waiting for you, no matter who you are or where you have been or what you have done, He's waiting for you to come to Him... Now when you have experienced all that God has and is doing for you, you can say just as the Psalmist say, "My cup over flows.". Don't let the world cloud your vision as to seeing all that God is doing for you. Sometimes we look around, we see this and that, and it looks a whole lot better than what we have. We think that if we only had this or that we would be better off...but letting God provide is the best way. Let me tell you, I know it's not easy. Let me say that again it's not easy, and boy do I know it. Also we even sometimes think if I was over there, I would be better off...we forget to let God lead...We need to let Him be the Shepherd! For He is the Good Shepherd! And as we see He does a lot more than leading, directing, protecting...He cares for your health(food) and He also cares for you socially (He welcomes you, anoints your head). Remember He is also our Father.
Monday, February 25, 2013
So, how did you do last week? Did you see God? That is did you see God working in your life, the rod as power for protection, security...or the staff as guiding, leading, rescuing...or have you thought back to times that God did something for you. It is very important to recognize when God is doing things... for you. Be it big things or small things. It is also important to recognize when God is working in the body of believers, also. So stop for a few minutes think about the things that God is doing, He's working...He's doing...Yes, our God is alive and well, He is active. Why is it so important to see God working? Well if you think about the section of Psalm 23:4c we are looking at "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." We only talked about, the rod and staff. We didn't talk about how they comfort. You see you can't have the comfort of God without seeing God working at some time or times in your life. You experience His comfort, it is real. Yes, we read about it in the word...we believe, we have faith...Yes, we need all this but our faith also involves real life experiences. For example You ask for forgiveness of a wrong...(sin) you have done... God forgives you and you experience peace...the burden is taken away. Hopefully the same happens when we ask of our brothers and sisters. Being forgiven, doesn't that bring you comfort? Now to comfort. Let's try to understand this word a little more; it will bring you more "comfort" as you apply it to this Psalm. We usually think of comfort, as comfortable, nice things...but it also has other meanings or expanded meaning. For example strengthening, aid; can you see that God does this, with His rod and staff? Have you ever asked for strength, wisdom...Another meaning of comfort is to condone, in time of trouble, worry...We talked about that a little bit a few weeks ago but He also comforts us in times of trouble...Has God worked for you in your times of trouble, worry...Has He made difficult or hard problems...go smoothly? Sometimes he uses His rod, power but for me mostly He guides me through. Even when I am still being stubborn. Let me tell you when God is helping me...it brings great comfort. When I hear of God working in people lives...it brings me comfort and joy.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Have you ever been lost? As children being lost is not a fun experience; in fact it is a fearful...experience. As adults we think of being lost as not being able to find our way to a particular destination. Some may even think of it as the unsaved. But if you really think about it we get lost in so many ways. Not sure of directions to take in the decisions of life or is it O.K. to do this or that...that feeling of indecision, direction...it's like being lost; not knowing which way to turn, where is______, what is this or that about... Psalm 23:4c "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." "Your rod and Your staff", two different things even though similar. The rod here is a club, a weapon to defend against predators... a sign of security. Now the staff if something different, it is a long pole type with a crook at one end. Remember the children stories? Little Bo Peep, The Charlie Brown Christmas...It is for guiding and rescuing. Isn't our God great! Here we have illustrations of God. First a God of strength and power, rod. Next we have God as leading and caring, staff. What is so great is that there are two different things that show His might...You see our God is so much more than we can imagine, when we need the guidance we see the staff. When we need power, protection we see the rod. Have you followed the staff of God? We sing the songs about following God but have you taken the time to recognize when God has been, "waving"..., His staff for you to see and follow? Also have you seen when God has been using His rod to protect you? You see our God is active, doing more than we can see, but so many times we don't even recognize anything that God is doing and we miss Him doing His work...You know that He loves us so much He's working all around, His rod and His staff. Stop and take a look. Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." verse 10 "Cease striving(Be still) and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Monday, February 11, 2013
As I write this week my heart is sadden. Sometimes life is just hard; something happens to you or a loved one, a friends...be it hard times...sickness and even death. As we mentioned before we live here on earth and it's not perfect; we also have bodies that are not perfect, we all will die one day. Well this week a friend went through this ordeal of sickness to death. It was hard on me, but I can't imagine all the pain.... the family is going through. Never mind the trying to go through life in the future. It's hard to be talking about this at this time but this is where our study is right now. For the most part we have been talking about going through the trials of life and the fears that are part of life. We haven't talked about death. Yes, that is also a part of life. I'm not going to go to deep here but hopefully what is said will enable some of you to go deeper. You see as believers we have "hope" in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That "hope" is eternal life and so much more. There is a peace that comes from that "hope". It doesn't mean that we don't have hurts...when something happens. Instead we have a bold confidence that our God can do what He promises. Psalm 23:4b and 6b "for You (God) are with me;" and "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." You see my friend has this "hope" in Jesus Christ and his family also has this "hope". That one day we will see him again in heaven. It doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, that we won't miss him...but we know he is in good hands and in a better place. That someday in the future our time will come and we will see him again. How blessed it is when we know that God is with us...So when these times come we have "hope". Do you have Jesus? Do you believe He is the Son of God? That He rose from the dead and is alive? That He paid the price so you can have eternal life? Is John 3:16 a truth that you believe? "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Monday, February 4, 2013
What were we talking about? That's right fear! Last time we talked about let's say, fear in general, maybe a little of fear of men and situations; but on a "small" scale, that is little fears. Even though some might consider the example big. We also came to grips that fear is a real thing and it affects both men and women. We listed some words associated with fear so we can understand fear better. One word that caught my attention was worry, did that also get your attention? As men do we worry? Yes, is the answer for many of us. We might put things off as concerns; but really we are worried about, whatever it is. So what is one thing that is big for us as men? What I'm going to do is to group these areas into one word, that is work. Be it lack of work, not enough money, the feeling of failure, of providing or not measuring up....you look over at others and wonder what am I doing wrong; why do I struggle? I work hard...Does my family understand, I'm trying...don't have enough money for this bill of that bill...Then something breaks, you live from pay check to pay check and it seems that the hole is getting bigger... Have you ever seen the movie "RV"? Well it's about a guy, whose job is in trouble, His boss is on his case about doing better or he will replace him with, Larry. So instead of going on vacation to Hawaii; he rents an R.V. so that he can work and drive it to where a big company meeting is going to be, so that he can make his presentation. (doing this without telling his wife). All in an effort to save his job. Now during that trip he does some stupid things. But when his wife and children find out, he says this, "I didn't want you to know that my job was in trouble". You see for us men there is that fear, of work, and it also hits in all types of ways. It is real, I know I'm not the only one. The fear of not performing at work....and not performing as to providing for the family needs. The need to be respected and needed, at work, at home...feeling of being important... Let's face it, it is real for us men! We need help in our work; His help. We need help at home; His help. Ps. 146:5 "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in Jehovah his God: Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in the; who keepeth truth forever; Who executeth justice for the oppressed..." You know it is a great feeling when we rely on God. That is when we are able to do our everyday things with Him helping us. We should be happy, full of thanks and praise...We have a God who cares; who cares for each of us. Sometimes we just need to stop and ask for help. It seems easy, just ask for help, but we are men....we try to do things...on our own. That sense of accomplishment-well it is still there when we ask God for help. It is more rewarding when God helps, try it and see. The creator of heaven and earth wanting to help you.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
As I was thinking of writing this week on the next phrase, "I will fear no evil", I wasn't too sure how to tackle it. The easy way out will be to only address it as it relates to death; I will not fear, death. Or better yet I will not fear death because I have hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus, my Savior. But fear is a powerful thing! It can be used mightily by our enemy, Satan. Or even be an emotion that cripples us as we walk here on earth. Sometimes we don't even know what fear actually involves or means. We don't understand the different types of fear. Types? Let's not think that I'm an authority. Now there are words that we use that are associated with what we call "fear". In a little bit we will see a list of these words. What is very important to realize is that fear is a very real thing. It doesn't matter who you are "fear" in some way or another is part of our life and needs to be addressed. It is addressed by God numerous times and He wants us to work on it in our Lives. It is easy sometimes to recognize certain fears as silly but fear grips each of us differently... You know each of us, men and women, have fears. Yes, not only girls have fears, us men have fears too. We just try to hide it... So let's get to the list of words. Frighten, afraid, dread, anxious, anxiety, panic, danger, terror, pain, worry, apprehensive, scared, nervous and concerned. Now when we see these words and associate them with everyday life; can you see fear or types of fear? It is real and comes in different forms and levels. Each of us deals with these words differently and we also associate differently when we try to explain these words. For example some are afraid to speak in front of a lot of people, there is a big fear, while some only have a little concern, while some are just terrified... As with this fear and others we have a choice in how we will deal with them and how (sometimes) they will affect us. In Heb. 13:5-6 "Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you." so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do with me?" Fear is a very real thing; it can come from within ourselves or it can be from outside sources. So this week we focused on; let's call them fears of doing everyday life. In a week we will continue to talk about fear and address the word "evil" as it relates to fear. We all have fear(s), so remember Heb. 13:5-6.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Yes, it sure does look pretty. But then again, so doesn't spring, summer and fall. Yes, we live in a beautiful planet. But if you look around you can see that the snow in places starts to get that dirty look. The same with our planet or world you can see the beauty, but there in the midst or not too far off, is let's call it dirt for now. The earth is a dangerous place. It's true, not only that, you also have to factor in time. That is that time ages things...and that we live in time and things could change in a moment. Also with that time is everyday life, the interaction with the world, nature and people. We have good days and we have bad days. We watch the news and we sometimes can't believe what happened. If you really break it down we live in a dangers world, where it is easy to get hurt... where bad things happen every day. Psalm23:4a "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" So we are walking here on earth, and there is death before us all. Never mind all the other hard stuff. You see as believers death is just a shadow, it is something we need to walk through; on the way to eternal life. This earth is not our home, it's just part of our journey and there is no way around it. So while we are here we need to be lead by the Lord and follow Him. He will lead us through this valley(earth) and bring us home. Have you ever read about Corrie Ten Boon? She was a Christian lady who live during W.W. 2. During the war she was arrested and sent to the prison camps, the ones you see pictures of, that takes you breathe...away. Terrible, terrible places. But she had a firm foundation in Jesus our Lord. You see no matter where we are Jesus is there. He's active. He's leading....It doesn't mean that the outcome will be great here and now, but that the future outcome will be, eternal life in heaven. You see Corrie lived through the prison camps; but her sister Betsie, who was with her did not. God took her home and now she lives in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One day we all will be called home. For us death is only a shadow, because we have life in Him, Jesus our Lord.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Have you ever recieved a box of chocolates? The kind with all the different types and fillings? You start picking the ones you know you like then you are at the hit or miss stage, let's face it some fillings just don't go good with chocolate. Maybe it's just me! So toward the end of the box your guessing what might be a good one and sometimes you are taking the advice of someone as to which are the good ones; just to be disappointed. In life there is are lot of people giving advice and also a lot of people seeking advice. A lot of times this advice is like the advice with the box of chocolates, it's hit or miss. Psalm 23:3b " he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." You know what's so great about our God? His name and what is associated with His name. In this verse we are going to look at righteousness. That is doing right...let's break it down into 2 areas, the first with doing right and not sinning and the second as to making a right decision; more over a decision that is morally right...as compared to a decision where we benefit, and it's questionable and without honor or merit...You see it's not the outcome of the decision that is important but the motive behind the decision. Also it is not just doing the good in our actions but the why we are being good, the motivation to act good. As with both, our motivation should be our love to please our Lord... Now here's the important part. God always leads us in paths of righteousness, always. He is not a God who directs us to do evil. His leading is for good. Now let's not get caught up in when God used people to judge...or when God sends discipline on someone(s)....Remember sin has a hefty price and sometimes hefty consequences. When we are going astray, we must think who am I following? God? Myself? Satan? or the world? You see God wants to lead and He is leading, but think about it, it is so hard for us to follow. Just like playing follow the leader, we eventually want to lead. Or even playing Simon says, we eventually want to be Simon. Sometimes we need to stop, just stop and give the control back to God. Sometimes we need to stop believing the lie that certain things, questionable things are o.k. Paths of righteousness as to the super high ways of unrighteousness in this modern time. When you find yourself in a place or time when it seems questionable, just stop and think, am I following the Lord? Is there someone else leading? Or am I leading? When you are in a wrong place, for whatever reason, are you looking to be led out by the Lord? As men we tend to try to fix it or figure it out on our own; without the Lord. Let's begin to follow His lead.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Is something missing? Life is going good; you like your work, you have a nice family, you have a nice home, the bills are paid and there is even extra money for a lot more. But deep down there seems to be something amiss. Something is not right and you just can't explain it. Your happy, because of all that you have, but deep down there seems to be one more thing you need. You know for me that need, was there, but I didn't know what it was. Now I know what it was but, there was a time I didn't know what I needed or even what would fill that deep need and I was seeking different things to fill that need. Let me give you an example that might help us understand this. Have you ever received a gift from someone, father, mother, brother, sister...that you know they gave it because they had to? There was a friction there between you and that person. So you receive the gift but truly you are not as happy as you would have been if the friction...between you and the giver was not there or made it right before hand. You see the gift just doesn't have the meaning... You are not as appreciative as you should be. There is something amiss between the two of you, it might be you who was wronged or you might have been the one who wronged the other. Deep down you want the relationship to be restored. You want to be in a right standing with that person. Now to our text Psalm 23:3a "He restores my soul". The Lord restores my soul, that is the Lord Jesus restores my soul. Jesus is the only one who can do this. We can't do it, and yes we do try, with all types of things...But we can do only one thing. To turn to Jesus. You see that deep need is to be brought back into a right relationship with God. The relationship that we have broken; unlike the example above with you or another breaking the relationship. We must come to terms with, we broke the relationship and that God restores it through His Son Jesus Christ. That we broke it with our actions, be it bad behavior, bad thinking or not doing what we are suppose to... "All have sinned" Romans3:23a. We all have gone amiss or astray; that is away from God. So God reaches out to us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not sent His Son to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged, he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John3:16-18. So there we have it, it is Jesus Christ who restores, gives us life. Who forgives us our sins...1 John 1:9 " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Thank you Jesus!