The Shepherd Who Protects {Summer Psalms ’17}

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep  (John 10:14-15)

We are reminded in Psalm 23, that the Lord is our Shepherd. More than told, we are given specific ways God reveals Himself as our very good Shepherd.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless (Ps. 84:11).

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are protected and have every need met. He is the One who faithfully cares for us no matter what is going on in our lives.

He gives us everything we need (vv. 1). I heart the “God verbs” as I call them, where we are able to see how God, our Shepherd, moves for our benefit.

He gives us rest (vv. 2). Not only does He provide physical rest for us, He gives us all the rest we need. He rejuvenates and offers peaceful rest we need to thrive. He is our God and makes sure we lack no good thing (see Ps. 84:11).

He leads us (vv. 2). God makes sure we get to the right place. He is the One who goes before us. He isn’t going to abandon us, half way through His leading us. Our great God leads us the whole way!

He gives us new strength (vv. 3). God is faithful to supply us with strength. Remember Isaiah 40:30-31, where we are taught that God renews our strength. Let’s pray for God to do this for us.

He guides us along the right path (vv. 3). He will lead us on the right path, where we are exactly where we need to be. One way He guides us, is through the Bible. As we seek Him, He will show us which way to go.

He is with us (vv. 4). Take heart in this promise that we find throughout the Bible. When we choose to follow Jesus Christ and diligently seek to obey His commands, He promises to be with us (see Mt. 28:18-20).

He prepares a feast for us in front of our enemies (vv. 5). We aren’t given mere leftovers, but God has thoroughly prepared a table for us. Knowing God’s protection and provision, we can sit down and enjoy our great God – even in the midst of the battle.

He pours oil on our head, giving us an abundance – which includes His favor and rejoicing (vv. 5). We see this lived throughout the New Testament. Despite all we have done, Jesus Christ came, has saved us and restored our relationship with God. In this new life, we are given much favor poured into our lives.

His goodness and love follow us (vv. 6). In whatever we are facing, God’s goodness and love is following those who are genuinely seeking Jesus Christ. Let’s put away the sin, seek His forgiveness, and allow Him to be the One whose love and goodness we are chasing.

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My Own Story: Strength in the Fight {Inspiring Women}

Hi friends! For the months of May/June, we will be using a reading plan given to us by Sweet to the Soul Ministries. Feel free to stroll through their Facebook page and blog. They even have a journaling kit and Bible study for this month’s plan!

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are invited to lean on the Lord for strength. Today, I will be sharing my own story of facing difficult circumstances with God’s strength. This is part one, as we look at Ephesians 6:10 –

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides] (Eph. 6:10, AMPC).

We can be strong in the battle, because we are relying on our Lord Jesus for strength and protection. It brings us back to our need for a relationship with our King! As we come closer to Jesus, He provides all we need to face the storms of life.

My Own Battle –

Summer is my hard time, as I have shared before. I feel like everything within me, becomes greatly tested – during Summer time. This reminds me why I need Jesus Christ in my life. I cannot deal with the things of my life without Him. My strength is not nearly enough to tackle a small portion of the things I deal with.

Jesus Christ is my source of Strength, Deliverer, Companion, Savior, and even calls me His friend. He continues to show me who He is.

I am thankful He doesn’t ever leave my side. I can sit in His presence, and allow everything else fade into the background – as He equips me to carefully handle everything. This is where I am renewed and find healing, as I sit in His presence, talk with Him {prayer}, and read my Bible.

God’s Strength –

Even though this is my difficult time, I am constantly reminded that God’s strength is more than enough to get me through. The strength of my God is all I need.

Throughout Scripture, we are taught about the character of God – His goodness, love, justice, strength, etc. However, it is in these moments that I am able to experience who God honestly is. I am not alone in my battle.

Through the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to remind His followers they are saved, He stays with me regardless of my circumstances. He is my Constant in the midst of a very unpredictable storm. While I cannot do anything to earn His favor or love, He has chosen to love me and stay with me – simply because He wants to.

Because of Jesus Christ, who has saved me, I can enjoy an intimate relationship with my great God and my soul can literally burst with joy – regardless of how unwell I feel.

God’s Passionate Pursuit –

God reaches out to us in the midst of our troubling circumstances. Even though we cannot begin to figure out what is going on or why it is happening, God remains. He constantly pursues us.

Even though we have made ourselves God’s enemies through our choices to rebel against Him, He still loves us and sent His Son Jesus Christ – so we may be with Him again. We can experience forgiveness from our sins and a right relationship with our heavenly Father. All we need is Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price. He laid down His life, so we would be saved.

For many of us, we don’t have a father figure in our lives. This weekend can be difficult for that reason, but keep remembering how much God loves you and is pursuing a love relationship with you.

He wants a relationship with you. He wants to give you His strength among many other good gifts. He is simply waiting for you to respond to His love invitation.

In His Hands,

Signature

Week 5: 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Hey friends!

While it has been a few rough days, I wanted to try and remind us of our goals for this week.

  1. To read and study 1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:8 (click for reading schedule).
  2. To take time to get away and enjoy this week’s memory verse.

As you begin this week’s study of 1 Thessalonians, remember to just go at your own pace and focus on your relationship with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. We have been beautifully redeemed, and it is all about our relationship with Him!

Memory Verse in Context

The goal of memorizing Scripture is simple: to recite aloud, meditate on from our perspective, and allow the verse to become stored in our hearts. The results of such an action is applying it to our lives like we would apply medicine to a wound. Healing is the result, as we are changed by God’s Word.

6 So, then, let’s not go to sleep, like the others, but let’s keep awake and stay sober.  7 People who sleep, you see, sleep at night. People who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But we daytime people should be self-controlled, clothing ourselves with the breastplate of faith and love, and with the helmet of the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, NTE). . .

Some Thoughts

Most of the time, we can find it difficult to stand firm in our faith and making sure we are living as children of light (following Jesus). This is why we need the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:6. We need to remember to stand firm, because it is crucial for our relationship with God through Jesus Christ – our Beloved Savior!

Drawing near to God and standing firm are the things growing our faith, so we need to examine ourselves. When we stand firm, we will draw near to God; And when we draw near to God, we will stand firm.

As we remember about these two desperately needed spiritual disciplines, I am reminded that God has set us apart for Him and His glory. Throughout Scriptures, we are reminded to stand firm. However it is easy to slip up and forget about our set apart lifestyle, when surrounded by temptation. It’s easy to believe the lie that we can fit in with the world, while calling ourselves a child of God. This is also why our time with God crucial.

Many today call themselves a “Christian,” while living for the world and its sinful pleasures rather than drawing near to God and running to His goodness. The lines have been blurred for what has been taught to us as black and white. How can this be, my brethren?

As we draw near to God through prayer and Bible study, we learn the truth and God shows us how to stand firm. We don’t have to give into the things of this world and/or make excuses for it. God wants to show us how to have an immovable faith. We just have to keep drawing near and hold our ground in keeping Jesus first. God wants to show us how to live as people who believe to Him and operate by faith.

Vigilance is not a zealous attempt to read “the signs of the times.” Rather, it is a life lived in faithfulness. . . The alert Christian will be fully armed with faith, love, and the hope of salvation (Asbury Commentary).

Making Promises to God {{Week 5}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:33-35; Numbers 30:2

Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill your vows to the Lord [as a religious duty].’ But I say to you, do not make an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King (Matthew 5:33-35, AMP).

 If a man makes a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself with a pledge [of abstinence], he shall not break (violate, profane) his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).

Devotion

In the context of this passage, we are taught to not issue promises to God. It is not good for us to say, “I will do _________.” While it is our human tendencies to make promises, we tend to not be able to keep them. Things are constantly arising in our lives. Not only that, but God is sacred and holy. Our relationship with God is unlike any other relationship we have, in our lives!

How are we realizing, as Christ followers, the significance of such a promise made?

I remember one time, where I made such a promise to God. I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing. But bottom line, I was afraid and quickly forgetting the greatness of my God. He doesn’t need our promises. He doesn’t need our promises, to activate His life-saving (and changing) grace!

When Scripture teaches us that it is better to not make oaths, God really knows what He is talking about. When we make oaths, we don’t know what the future or even God’s will has in store. Making promises seem to be the popular in the reality of daily living. We remember our human fraility and try to use “pinky promises” to get our kids and others to just be faithful to what they have said.

God is faithful!

Even when we are faithless, God is completely faithful!

Allow God to show you His greatness in your life.

When we begin to grasp, really grasp, the greatness of our God, we won’t make promises. This is the point, where we are utterly aware that God is far greater than we could ever comprehend. God is not one we should “make deals” with. God is Awesome and the richest Treasure of this world.

My hope is to remember the sacredness of our great God. He is very good to His people. We have no way of knowing what circumstances lie ahead, and how it will affect how we carry out our promises.

Lord, Remove the blinders from our eyes. I pray You would show us Your greatness. Help us to remember there is none like You. Thank You that You are sacred, holy, and pour out Your truths in our lives! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Mid-Day Conversation

I wonder what would happen if I could literally hear my Creator and God conversing with the Devil about me. Imagine, based on knowing God and His love for me through His Word, it would go something like this:

Yahweh (God): “Have you considered my servant, Stacey?”
Satan (the accuser): (laughs) “HER? Oh come on, you gotta be kidding me! Not her?!? Anyone, but her! I mean, she is not talented, pretty, smart, or even worth much.”
Yahweh (God): “Oh, but she is. See, you do not know her like I do. I have gotten to great lengths to pursue her. She is my beautiful daughter. Though she may fail, My grace is all she needs. She doesn’t need you, or this world’s version of perfection. She has all she needs: Me!”

This, friends, is just a glimpse. If only, we understood the spiritual attacks beneath our circumstances.

What would happen if we challenged the voices inside our heads that question our unworthiness to be God’s children and walk in obedience to Him. What if we questioned the lies and cross-examined our thought train?

In Job 1, we learn Satan attacks those who are following after God. The harder we follow after God, the harder the attacks may come at us through circumstances, people, or temptation. God pursues us, and we can follow His leading. He is always in control. He is always good.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How is your thought train?
  2. Do you habitually practice replacing the lies with God’s truth?
  3. How is your time in the Word?
  4. What part of your thought train needs evaluation?

See 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8