The Lord is my Shepherd

Beth and Frank

Scripture: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 NIV

Observation: The Psalmist speaks of the comfort he receives from the Lord.

Application: My lovely wife lost her father last night. He died after surviving a stroke and remaining in a prolonged semi-vegatative state for about the last two years. Her relationship with her parents has been very complicated and stressful for most of her adult life. Most of the stress revolved around Christianity. Laurie is a Christian, her parents are not. She was very close to her dad and his death has hurt her deeply. She feels great sorrow today because her father would never accept Christ as his Savior. Instead of trusting God and accepting Christ, he succumbed to his wife’s wishes and he remained a non-believer. Today, because of the sorrow that she feels for the eternal loss of her dad, Laurie is “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” She has no fear for herself but she mourns her dad’s loss and she does fear for her mom. Her mother has a heart of stone and refuses to believe. So we will continue to know that we are blessed in our lives and we will continue to pray for her mom. One day, because of our prayers and the prayers of others, the scales may fall from her eyes and she may see the truth. Then she too may “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Prayer: Father God, today we are sad. Frank is gone and Beth refuses to believe. We ask that you soften Beth’s heart and remove the scales from her eyes so that she may see and believe the truth. We mourn Frank’s loss and fear for Beth if she continues down the path she has chosen. Thank you for being our protector and strength in times of trouble. Amen

Doug

My Protector

Scripture: Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.  Psalm 22:11 NIV

Observation: The Psalmist is asking for God’s protection.

Application: In this very trying time in our history with all the political uncertainty we have to just call on the Lord for protection. Our strength has to come from God. If we rely on our own power to withstand all the attacks we will fail. When it seems that everyone else has abandoned you remember, God hasn’t. You only have to ask him for protection and the strength to endure.

Prayer: Father, you know how weak I am and how badly current events affect my attitude. Protect me from myself and give me the strength to withstand all of the attacks, spiritual, political, financial, and societal. Thank you Lord. Amen

Doug

Our God is a God of Details

Scripture: The Book of Leviticus

Observation: For the last few weeks we have been reading Leviticus.  I’ve struggled thinking enough is enough; I’m ready to move on.  Lord, why all these details?  In Leviticus we read about the building of the Tent of Meeting.  This is the place that God’s people brought their offerings.  The plans were given to Moses in such detail, down to the last stitch and candlestick.  Throughout Leviticus we see that with great care the Lord’s plans show us how much the littlest things mean to him.  He teaches about sinful behavior giving us laws that leave no room for misinterpretation.  The Lord tells us how to live daily with detailed plans for farming, business, property ownership, and marriage. He  even gives instruction for mold removal.  Details, details, details, verse after verse.  We learn about the rewards that come with obedience and the consequences of sin.  All these details are for our benefit because he loves us.

Application: During our life we are bound to go through times when we question whether the Lord sees what’s happening.   He sees, he’s interested in the details, the very smallest.  We are his children, he loves us. So all those details , those rules that were written for our safety, those details have a protective purpose in our life.  Our loving Lord doesn’t want us to suffer consequences for our mistakes.  Jesus came so there would be forgiveness, which helps heal the guilt we feel and repairs our relationship with our Lord but those consequences will still exist. So love the details, take them to heart, listen to the smallest requests of our Lord. Like a loving parent he guides us daily, so that one day when we face Him we can, with tears of joy and a loving smile say thank you for loving me.

Prayer: Lord, I love you.  Thank you Jesus for loving me.  I make mistakes every day yet you love me in the smallest way.  You encourage me with your word to live a life full of joy and peace.  I love your details because without them I would be lost. Amen

Laurie

A Changed Life

Scripture: “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking. ‘Quick!’ he said to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’  Acts 22:17,18 NIV

Observation: Paul is speaking to the hostile crowd about his transformation to Christian as he is being arrested.

Application: I had a heavy heart last night as I prayed with my wife. I feel that the Lord’s return is near and that gave me an urgency in my heart.  That said, I fear that many friends and family that have known me all my life will never be able to accept that I am truly converted and they will never see the truth of Christ because time will run out for them.  In essence, I may be the reason for some people denying Christ and eventually being lost for eternity.  That is a sad commentary on my spiritual legacy. I know, I know, we all have free will to choose and decide for ourselves about Christ, but that doesn’t ease the sorrow that I feel at the thought of being at least partly responsible for another’s choice for or against Christ.  When we are forgiven by our Savior for our past God looks at us and sees a new creation because Christ’s blood covers us and all He can see is perfection in Christ. Unfortunately many times we have a difficult time seeing ourselves the same way that God sees us.  Often times so do the people who know us best.  I feel a great responsibility to pray for the ability to see myself as changed so that my life might show Christ to all with whom I come into contact. I pray that I am not too late.

Prayer: Lord, you know my heart and only you know the hour of your return. I pray to be seen as a new creation by myself and others so that those closest to me may come to know you and have a relationship with you. Amen

Doug

Be on Your Guard

Scripture: Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  So be on your guard!
Acts 20:30,31a NIV

Observation: Paul is speaking to the elders from Ephesus to beware of false teachers.

Application: Paul’s admonition hits very close to home. Since my wife and I started this blog I have been concerned that I only write what I feel that the Lord has given me insight to write.  My worst fear is that I mislead someone by stating a false doctrine or an inaccurate conclusion from my reading.  Paul says it’s “your” responsibility to question and check the accuracy of any teaching or teacher. I’ve clearly stated that I am not in the clergy.  Allow me to restate that, I am not a theologian. This blog is born out of a want to share insights that the Lord gives me daily from my reading. Still, you must critically look at what I share and make sure that it lines up with scripture as you understand it.

Prayer: Father, I pray that my words are your words. I don’t want to mislead anyone and I pray that I never do. Amen

Doug

The Joy of the Lord…

Scripture: After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Acts 16:23-25a NIV

Observation: In prison, Paul and Silas sing praises to the Lord.

Application: “…and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b While Paul and Silas had every reason to mourn their situation they chose to be glad of heart and sing praises to the Lord. They knew where their strength came from. It came from knowing the Lord. Where does your gladness, your joy, your strength come from?

Prayer: Father, thank you for being my strength and my source of joy. Amen

Doug

Teach Me Lord to Be Sensitive

Scripture: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.  For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”  Acts 15:19-21 NIV

Observation: New believers needed guidance.  The Lord gave some basic instructions for the apostles to share with new believers.  He stressed the importance of not making things too difficult for them.  The Lord didnt want new believers discouraged by rituals and Paul didn’t want the focus of salvation taken off of Christ.  Some of the more mature believers and converted Pharisees had trouble seeing and putting into action what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Application: Once again I’m thinking how critical I can be.  I have my preferences on how I like my church, worship and the bible.  I need to be sensitive to other believers and what’s important to them.

Prayer: Father you know me. I love you and I recognize you are the only way to have peace in my life.  I need your help to see other believers and seekers through your eyes and minister to their needs.  That is the most important want in my life to serve others as I would serve you.  Amen

Laurie

In the Morning and Night I Must Seek My Lord!

Scripture: Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.  He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come.  Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it.  Exodus 30:7-9 NIV

Observation: The Lord gives us directions for seeking him daily. He tells us we must come before him morning and night offering only what is worthy and without distraction.

Application: I must confess we have been studying in Exodus for the last few weeks in Sunday School.   We have been focusing on how the tabernacle is a model of Christ, salvation, our relationship with him and prayer.  That being said the scripture above tells me:
1.  The Lord wants me to set aside time every morning and every night to seek him through his word and prayer.
2.  The Lord gives this model to me through Aaron who tends the incense each morning and each evening.  The incense is my seeking, reading and prayer, which is fragrant to him.  I see the word “regularly” in the above scripture and I’m so guilty because consistency is not my forte.
3. The Lord wants quality from me.  This must come without distraction or worldly attitude.  I can always clutter my mind with sin and busyness.
4.  This model was written in the second book of the old testament, which tells me the Lord already knew my heart and he knows yours too.
Obviously, this is going to take a lot of grace and patience from the Lord, but all I have to do is ask him and he will provide!

Prayer: Lord, you have convicted me!  How can I serve you if I’m not taking the time to know you and spend time with you?  Clear my mind and heart of thought born of the world and any distraction.  Help me to stay focused on you.  I live for you Lord and my only true hope is found in you. Your loving servant Amen

Laurie

Says Who?

Scripture: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:36-39 NIV

Observation: Peter laid out the steps to gain eternal life.

Application: How do I become a Christian?  “Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he died for your sins, and that he rose from the dead and reigns in heaven!” Says who?  “Peter in the book of Acts, that’s who!”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the simple plan to save my life. I pray that others follow the steps Peter laid out and become followers of you too. Amen

Doug

The Rocks Cry Out

Scripture: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  Luke 19:38-40 NIV

Observation: All creation will proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

Application: Our responsibility to Jesus is to acknowledge him before men. That’s our great commission.  “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'”  Mark 16:15 NIV.  Jesus is the good news. If we don’t tell the world about him, our trees and rocks will.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. Help me to boldly proclaim him before men. Amen

Doug