Archive for May, 2018

The Good Shepherd: Part III

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalms 23:1–6, KJV).

He Anoints Us with Oil

…thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over (Psalms 23:5, KJV).

The Oil

Oil is used throughout Scripture as a symbol of God’s presence, blessing, power, comfort, joy, favor, etc. It is a type and shadow of God’s anointing in and on something. Moreover today, the oil typically signifies the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and the anointing found therein.

Two Types of Anointing

God anoints us two different ways. There’s an internal anointing in which the Holy Spirit gives us the insight, ability, strength, authority, or protection we normally don’t have in order to do a job God’s chosen us to do. There’s an external anointing that occurs when someone prayerfully applies oil to our skin as an outward sign of something God’s doing internally.

Anointing in Our Life

The oil of God’s anointing was typically poured out only on kings and priests in the Bible. But, after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, the anointing became available to all people through the power of the Holy Ghost.

We are all God’s workmanship and we’re created to do good works and walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Before we were born, God created us for a particular calling. Our calling and anointing is where fulfillment, meaning, and purpose come from in life. But, we cannot fulfill our calling if we don’t have the anointing of God. The anointing is the power God’s given us to fulfill our call; therefore, we cannot do it on our own. What God starts in the Spirit we cannot finish in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).

How God Anoints Us

Appointing Comes with Anointing

God never asks us to do something without providing us the ability to complete it. Any assignment from God will come with His anointing and empowerment. God is faithful and through the Holy Ghost, we’ll be able to do what He’s called us to do (I Thessalonians 5:24). Jesus told the Disciples they would receive power after the Holy Ghost would come upon them to be witnesses to the entire world (Acts 1:8). He gave them an impossible assignment, but He made this possible through His Spirit and anointing.

Anointing Makes Us Better

We can never be as good as we can be without God’s anointing. His anointing will change and transform us from the inside out. Throughout Scripture, God called and used ordinary men, but through the anointing they were able to do the extraordinary through God’s anointing. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be king over Israel, and in doing so caused God’s spirit to come upon him changed him into a different man (I Samuel 10:1, 6). Just as onlookers knew the disciples had been with Jesus, others will know we’ve been changed by God and are operating by a power we did not obtain alone (Acts 4:13).

Anointing Makes Hard Things Easier

It’s impossible to do things on our own, but always possible with God (Luke 18:27). This is why we cannot do anything without God’s anointing in our life. God has unlimited resources, and is willing to pour out His anointing to help us become mighty in the spirit (Ephesians 3:16). We don’t have the right resources, but God does! We must let Him step in and overtake us with His presence, and once He does there’s not a mountain we’ll face we can’t conquer (Philippians 4:13). If we try to complete a work for God on our own adrenaline, or turn to worldly resource, we’ll fail. We must turn to Jesus Christ who is the anointed one, who is the only resource for us that springs into everlasting life (John 4:14).

Anointing Helps Us Bless Others

When God anoints us, we’ll start doing the things He does. Jesus proclaimed in Scripture how He was anointed to preach, heal, deliver, set free, and help people understand the Lord (Luke 4:18–19). We have the same anointing upon us, and therefore, can and should do what Jesus did. Ultimately, God anoints us so we can be a blessing to others. Blessing and anointing isn’t just for us. This is why He blesses us until we’re running over; the running over is for someone else!

Fresh Anointing

With every new day and every new challenge, we need a fresh anointing from our Good Shepherd. As Israel gathered manna daily in the wilderness, we also need to seek an anointing from God to sustain us every day. We cannot survive a day without His anointing just as Israel could not survive a day without His manna. We must pray and ask God to stir up His anointing in us and our desire to seek a relationship with Him (II Timothy 1:6–7).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 30, 2018 with Pastor Nave

Notice the Signs

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that have a two-pronged effect on me—excitement and uttermost fear. Deuteronomy 28 is one of those passages. We serve a tremendous God, who is ready and willing to bless us until overflowing if we render reasonable service and obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 28:1–2). If not, we’ll be cursed everywhere we go (Deuteronomy 28:15).

What’s found in this passage of Scripture applies to us today. We’ll be blessed or cursed, but not necessarily in the same way described in Scripture. What was purposeful and affected the people then isn’t always an exact one-to-one in the culture we currently abide, but the truth and principle is still the same.

So, when I read, I always ask God to reveal to me the true principle of His Word and to provide a current example for me to understand and apply. Such a time happened recently when reading these Scriptures. And, in this particular portion—where God spoke of His curses—I was holding my breath, with my heart beating wildly inside my chest:

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind (Deuteronomy 28:64–65, KJV).

Conceptually, I typically think about serving idols as a personal decision—we decide ourselves to put other things before God. But, in this setting of Scripture, idolatry is a curse by God Himself if one doesn’t follow His commandments. He will curse them to serve idols our forefathers never knew. They truly were wood and stone in Biblical times, but in today’s age, what idols would these be?

God spoke to me about our worship of technology—primarily the internet and social media. Now, I’m not saying any of this is wrong, but when we fail to serve the Lord, this tool can become an idol and a curse in our life. The technologies we know today are not ones our ancestors even would know.

The next portion is what struck me the most.

How many people stay up too late on their phones or tablets surfing the Web or checking out social media sites? In the morning they’re tired and weary, cease to function effectively during the day, and do it again repeatedly. They’re missing their rest today.

What’s the percentage of the world’s population who have (or are getting) poor vision with rapid decline because they spend too much time staring at an electronic screen? They’re getting failing eyes today.

How many young children, teens, and adults have taken their life because someone on the internet has harassed them incessantly. Internet bullying is at an all-time high without a foreseeable end. Or, how many people look at what others post on social media and feel like their own life is lacking or uneventful. They long to live any other life than the one God gave them. They’re experiencing sorrow of mind today.

This is just one of the curses we’ll experience as a human race if we don’t serve the Lord. Again, I’ll note there is nothing is wrong with technology. It’s a tool—it can be used for good or bad, and it can be an idol.

God’s telling us to see the signs around us that haven’t captured our attention. We, and the world, need Jesus more than ever before. Lord, help us follow the pathway of blessing and not of Your cursing. Empower us to help others hearken unto Jesus and experience the joy of the Lord. Let us get a holy fear of You, God, but also help us be glad in knowing we serve a God who wants to bless.

Remembering Ed

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again. And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt. And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God (Joshua 22:30–34, KJV).

Another Step Forward From Where We’ve Come

In our spiritual walk with God, we can’t be tricked into thinking we’ve ever “arrived.” There is always another step in front of us, another level God wants to move us. As we read the Word, pray, and attend church, it’s easy to think we’ll get to a place when we shouldn’t face any more trials, tribulations, heartache, and pain. The journey in God seems endless and impossible. But, we must remember to look back. We need to remember from where we came.

An Altar Named Ed

In Scripture, the children of the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh built an altar to God, but a rumor had spread throughout the people they had built an altar to an idol. The other tribes approached, ready to fight, but it was soon learned there had been a misunderstanding. The altar was indeed built for the LORD God of gods (Joshua 22:22). Everyone returned home, relieved that a war didn’t take place that day. An altar named Ed was built to be a witness between the all that the Lord was God (Joshua 22:34).

The word Ed means a witness or a testimony. The people erected an altar to God as a testimony because God had saved them that day. All had come close to death, but God intervened. Knowledge was poured out, truth revealed, and God stepped in as a Savior again.

Remembering Back

We should take time to remember back to specific spiritual moments in our life. When we glance around, we’ll see the “Eds” in our life. We’ll see those specific altars and remember what God has done for us, what He brought us from, how He’s been good to us. No matter where we go in God, the challenges we face and trials we endure, we’ll always look back to see our altar named Ed.

The Word of Our Testimony

Just as looking back to see what God has done for us, our praise and worship to God is just as important. We’ll overcome every situation by our witness and praise unto God (Revelation 12:7–12). We cannot keep silent about what God has done and who He is. We must worship and praise Him for being the King of kings and Lord of lords in our life.

The Good Shepherd: Part II

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalms 23:1–6, KJV).

He Comforts Us with Correction

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalms 23:4, KJV).

Valleys

When Israel was fighting against the Syrian army, they drew the people out into the valley. The enemy soon learned God was not only the God of the hills but the God of the valley as Israel prevailed in victory (I Kings 20). We’re taught early on in our spiritual walk God will take us to spiritual valleys. But, in these journeys, He doesn’t want us to fear, but to be comforted. Wherever we walk, He will be always be with us.

Valleys in our life are inevitable as God’s plan for our life will include both hills and valleys. Peter told the church not to be surprised when trials come (I Peter 4:12). Valleys are also impartial—everyone has valleys. God will rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:14); however, God will deliver the righteous (Psalms 34:19). Lastly, valleys are unpredictable. We never will know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1), so we must trust God in every step.

The Rod and Staff

Our Shepherd’s rod and staff are to comfort us in life. The rod represents God’s power, authority, and protection. His staff represents care, compassion, and correction. These are elements of a physical and spiritual shepherd that impact our spiritual walk.

Sheep have a tendency to wander off, especially when they’re unsettled and wounded. Shepherds take their staff and pull their sheep back in, using it as an instrument for correction. Scripture tells us we’re all like sheep and have gone astray and sinned (Psalms 119:176; Isaiah 53:6). God sends discipline and His correction when we wander off like sheep. Discipline is not punishment; God is training and correcting us for the future.

In extreme cases, the shepherd will break or bind the leg of a sheep so they won’t wander off. God may put a limp in our step to keep us from hurting ourselves in the long run. He doesn’t mean to hurt us, but He’s helping us by putting spiritual guardrails in place. God cares about us enough so we don’t hurt ourselves.

We can’t fall into the trap of believing that God gets even. He’s not trying to punish us! In the end of the correction process, we will learn to seek God’s correction and learn the benefit of being afflicted (Psalms 119:71).

He Leads Us in the Paths of Righteousness

…he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalms 23:3, KJV).

Every decision we make has a right(eous) path to follow. God has mapped out ways for us to walk according to His Word. God wants us to use these paths so He can bring His glory into our life and allow it to be exemplified/shown in our daily life. Jesus promised to go before us, and as He leads, we should follow (John 10:4). We must learn to follow God’s voice calling out to us. If we continue to follow, listening to and abiding His voice will become easier.

We cannot follow a culture that does not follow God. Scripture tells us not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:2). The world or any man should never deceive us into living any way other than according to righteousness (Matthew 24:4). We must follow the paths of righteous Jesus sets as an example for us. The Savior of our soul should be the only One setting our agenda and pathways.

He Prepares a Table Before Us in the Presence of Our Enemies

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies… (Psalms 23:5, KJV).

When our enemy attacks, God will prepare a table—a place of provision—for us. This table is literally a feast with God, and He will literally give us a banquet in the middle of our battlefield. God is about blessing us in public and not just in secret.

Three Enemies

There are three enemies that attack us in life. The first is the world system, which includes changed values, morals, ethics, etc. The world will always oppose God, and therefore, oppose us if we follow Him. We must be careful never to love the things in the world (I John 2:15). Even though we will face tribulation, we can rejoice knowing Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Satan is another adversary who has only an evil plan for our life. He will do anything in his power to distract and destroy us—he’s like a roaring lion, seeking who he can devour (I Peter 5:8). Paul warns in Scripture that we won’t always wrestle against physical enemies but spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). We must always be on guard against this old serpent.

Finally, the last enemy we fight is our own flesh. The more we mature in Christ, the more we learn that we, ourselves, are our largest problem. Paul discussed all throughout Romans 7 how he was constantly at war with his flesh. He knew things he wanted to do, but didn’t do them; he knew what would destroy them, but kept doing them. We must continue to go into battle against our own flesh, through prayer, fasting, and reading the Word. If we’re faithful, we’ll find God will have a table for us to sustain us during each battle.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 23, 2018 with Pastor Nave

Just a Little Pavement in Your Pocket

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

I heard one time that Americans throw away over $50 million in coins a year either in the trash or by dropping it on the ground without retrieval. It was at that moment, I determined in my heart that I would become a millionaire by picking up all the discarded change I see on the ground.

You might be thinking, “Eww—that’s dirty money.” But, when I show up on the list of the top ten wealthiest people in America, you’ll change your tune.
It obviously hasn’t happened yet. I mostly find pennies and nickels. The days I stumble across dimes and quarters are my “big money days.” My husband just looks at me and yells for me to get out of the street or I’ll get run over. Ah, priorities.

You might look at me strangely, with me bent over picking up coins. I’ve had an audience or two on earth, but I wonder how large the crowd of onlookers is in heaven. The Lord and His angels all must be looking at me with utter confusion as to why I am—to quote TF Tenney—shoving a bunch of pavement in my pockets?

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it (Revelation 21:18–24, KJV).

I like to argue that I’m being a good financial steward with other’s money. I don’t go to extremes, and honestly, I realize I’m probably never going to be a millionaire. But, that’s not my goal in life. What’s scary to me, is that it is for other people.

The culture we live in today is obsessed with wealth. We aren’t “somebody” if we aren’t dripping with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, pearls, gold, etc. or have a bunch of it stored away in the bank or investments. What heaven uses as building materials and asphalt, we lose our minds over and seek to obtain it with the wrong motives (Get it now? Pavement in your pockets?). Angels must ask God endless questions as to why we have a stack of “drywall” sitting in the bank, why we hang “rocks” off ourselves, and why we pick up “bolts” off the ground.

Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth where moths and vermin can destroy them but seek to store up treasure in Heaven (Matthew 6:19–20). There’s only one treasure in Heaven—that’s Jesus Christ. He’s our inheritance and wealth.

Today, we’re living on only a down payment (just a little bit) of that inheritance (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14). Instead of spending all of our time grabbing destructible materials, storing them in the bank, and expecting them to multiply into something of worth, we should be making deposits into our spiritual bank with a wealth and substance that has endless worth and can be taken to heaven—the Holy Ghost! We do that through prayer, fasting, reading the Word, and attending church!

The next time you see a discarded coin on the ground, I encourage you to pick it up because you never know—God just might be wanting to bless you with a little “extra” to help you get by in this life. But, remember, you just have a little pavement in your pocket.

Buyer’s Remorse

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Buyer’s remorse is an emotional condition when people feel guilty or anxious about something they’ve purchased. This emotional state can affect us in many areas of our life. However, we should never have buyer’s remorse in our relationship with God. When we make a commitment to God, we need to strive to keep it.

Examples of Buyer’s Remorse

There are many examples of buyer’s remorse in Scriptures. The first instance can be found in Genesis 3; Adam and Eve were beguiled by the serpent to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Once their eyes were open, they had immediate regret (buyer’s remorse) (Genesis 3:7). We’re taught early in Scripture that sin has dire consequences and will never lead us to a place of happiness.

Esau and Jacob were constantly at war in their formative years. Early on, Jacob convinced Esau to sell his birthright in a moment of hunger. He traded the blessings and riches of God for momentary satisfaction in his flesh. After that moment, he spent the rest of his life feeling buyer’s remorse (Genesis 25:29–34).

Why We Experience Buyer’s Remorse

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, drifted away from God toward the end of his life. He had numerous wives and served their false Gods. In Ecclesiastes he writes how he felt an emptiness inside of him. He strove to build large buildings and gain all the wealth he could muster, but there was still an emptiness inside. It was all vanity and vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 2:1). He fell into a rhythm of seeking anything but God, and at each turn experienced buyer’s remorse. He couldn’t find anything earthy to fulfill a place in his life only God could hold. We cannot allow the things of this world to take precedence in our life.

Buy the Truth

The disciples could have very easily felt buyer’s remorse. They left everything they knew—their trades and families—to follow Jesus. If they listened to the devil, they could have become saddened. However, the disciples understood a pivotal truth: buy the truth and don’t sell it (Proverbs 23:23).

In the book of Daniel, we see three Hebrew men who refused to bow down to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:12). Then, Daniel himself refused to stop praying 3 times a day no matter the king’s decree (Daniel 6:10). They knew what they had found in God and wouldn’t trade it for the world. They determined in themselves that they would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

Elijah teaches us keys to avoiding buyer’s remorse. When faced against the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Elijah knew an altar was needed (I Kings 18:30). Me must first prepare an altar in our life for God to dwell and sacrifice our worldly desires for kingdom promises. In order for God to reign in our life, He must be first (Colossians 1:18).

After preparing an altar, Elijah turns to prayer. It’s imperative that we make room for prayer in our daily walk with God. When we have an intimate relationship with Him, he will lead and guide us and answer us when we pray! Elijah prayed it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t for the span of 3.5 years. When he prayed again, the rain came (James 5:17–18).

Elijah’s prayer over the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel made the difference (I Kings 18:36–37). He first prayed the people would know he was God’s servant, but then prayed the people would know who God was—the Lord of all. When we’re bought into the truth, we’ll have a desire for others to know what we do, and we’ll stop at nothing to testify of His greatness!

Finally, after Elijah’s prayer, the fire of God fell and consumed the sacrifice (I Kings 18:38). We need the burning, consuming fire of the Holy Ghost to fall on us and the works we do day-to-day. We cannot function without the Spirit of God present in our life. He will keep us from taking any action to lead us to buyer’s remorse and help us hold true to the valuable things in this life.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 16, 2018 with Guest Teacher, Brother Koonce

The Lord’s Anointed

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed (I Samuel 24:10, KJV).

At one point during Saul’s life, he became jealous of David. To Saul, being jealous of another person apparently gave you the right to kill them. So, Saul began his quest of attacking David wherever and whenever he had the chance. This wasn’t just a game between master and student, Chief Inspector Clouseau vs Cato—it was serious; Saul meant business.

David narrowly escaped his death multiple times. Being ready for a constant attack became too weary to bear, so he ran off and built up an army. As Saul pursued David and his troops to kill them, time after time, God delivered Saul into the hand of David. David had been anointed by God to be king and had favor upon his life. But, David just couldn’t kill Saul. He took a different action instead.

At one point in our lives we’re going to face an enemy. We’re going to pray God delivers us, keeps us under His hand of protection, and maybe even curses them. Eventually, God will put us in a position where we face our oppressor, and we’ll have the upper-hand. He’s ultimately giving us a choice—to do good or bad.

I’ve spent many hours praying and wondering why David didn’t just kill Saul and get it over with. He’d spare Saul’s life and then Saul would just try to kill him again. God was serving him on a silver platter to David, and removing every obstacle for him to walk away as the final victor, but David said, “No.”

Want to know why?

David recognized a key element about Saul: He was the Lord’s anointed.

This isn’t about Saul. It isn’t about David. It’s about everyone in life. You, today, could be sitting on either side of this Biblical drama—Saul or David’s. You could be in the right or you could be in the wrong. But, we all share one thing in common. We’re all the Lord’s anointed.

Yes, I realize Saul was physically anointed to be king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, as was David, but didn’t Jesus Christ die for all of us? Hasn’t the ground been made level at the foot of the cross? Isn’t the gift of the Holy Ghost for all who are far off—even as many as the Lord shall call?

When we look into the eyes of anyone, we’re looking at an anointed child of God. Now, they might not know this yet, or be living that way, but they’re the Lord’s anointed. No matter how we feel—justified or not—we shouldn’t ever put forth our “hand” unto them in any capacity.

We’re all sinners. We’ve all messed up. We’ve all been in need of God’s grace and mercy in our life. So, when given then opportunity, what are we going to extend to another? Judgment or grace? Will we take the high road or the low road? Will we see the anointed person in front of us and help them accept that calling or will we end their future hope?

Let’s be like David and make a proclamation today not to put forth our hand against anyone. We must remember they are the Lord’s anointed.

 

The Good Shepherd: Part I

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (John 10:14, KJV).

A Unique Vocation

Scripture teaches us Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. He’s called the great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) and the chief Shepherd (I Peter 5:4), but Jesus calls Himself the good Shepherd. Shepherds have a unique vocation because they build a relationship with the animals they keep. They spend a great deal of time studying their flock, naming them, and will sacrifice themselves for the sheep when danger arises.

While Jesus calls Himself the good Shepherd, He also mentions He knows His sheep, and the sheep know Him. If we are to know Jesus as our good Shepherd, there are a few things we should remember.

He Makes Us Rest

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters (Psalms 23:2, KJV).

God’s wants to lead us to a place of rest and relaxation at some point in our life. Even still, we tend to live very fast-paced lives and have a problem with taking a break. We claim it’s because there’s too much to do, but there are 3 key elements feeding the problem.

We may not relax because we want more stuff—we struggle with materialism. Scripture tells us not to work so we can get rich (Proverbs 23:4). We can’t get so caught up in money because we can lose it very quickly. We might be suffering from a desire of being like other people—envy. If we envy our neighbor, we’ll constantly be vexed in our spirit (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Lastly, we might be afraid we won’t have enough—insecurity. If we work for ourselves, we won’t ever have enough, but if we work for the Lord, He will always provide (Ecclesiastes 6:7).

God wants us to RELAX, and here’s why:

  • Remember—We must remember our value to God. We have been bought with a price, and therefore, He wants to take care of us (I Corinthians 6:20). We shouldn’t wear out the merchandise!
  • Enjoy—Enjoy what we already have. God has told us we must be content, and if we find this, it’s great gain to us (I Timothy 6:6). Even if we’re not content today, it can be learned (Philippians 4:10)
  • Limit—We must limit our work to 6 days a week. When God set forth the 10 commandments, He placed the same emphasis on all of them. We must remember to remember to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 23:7). Sabbath means a day of rest! We must rest our body, recharge our emotions, and refocus our spirit
  • Adjust—We must adjust our values. When we schedule everything else in our lives, we must schedule in time for God and to be in church! What will it profit us if we gain the whole world but lose our soul (Mark 8:36)
  • eXchange—We need to exchange our restlessness for God’s peace. Jesus said He would give us peace and leave us with peace (John 14:27). He wants us to find rest for our souls

He Restores Our Souls

He restoreth my soul… (Psalms 23:3, KJV).

We all have a spirit, soul, and a body—it’s all a place God dwells. It’s difficult for us to determine the difference between a spirit and soul (Hebrews 4:12), but our soul is the part of us that thinks, chooses, and feels. This part of us can be damaged very easily by the trials and circumstances of life. We can start to get the wrong attitude and the wrong spirit which is not what Jesus has in mind for His sheep. Jesus came so He would restore our souls—to change the way we think and live every day.

If we’re not careful, we can allow things into our life that break our ability to accept God’s restoration and live a changed life. If we have unaddressed grudges or bitterness in our life this can drastically affect the way we think, choose, and feel. More than focusing on those feelings, we need to focus on how to deal with it. If someone hurts us, it puts them morally beneath us. When we stoop to their level and try to get even, we find ourselves on the same level.

We must learn to confess our sins as Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us (I John 1:9). God wants to forgive our guilt and doesn’t want us to experience condemnation—this is only from the enemy! Conviction is one thing, but condemnation is another. We cannot allow our guilt to become overwhelming because it’s too heavy for us to bear (Psalms 38:4). We should confess our sins to get rid of the guilt, agree with God we’ve done wrong, and then experience the peace of restoration that washes over us.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 09, 2018 with Pastor Nave

To Know Him

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

I’m not sure when it happened in my marriage—the point when my husband and I started finishing each other’s sentences or reading each other’s minds. I can say, “Hey, can you…” and from the other room, he’ll shout, “Yeah!” It’s cool and creepy at the same time.

I suppose there’s some pivotal moment in your relationship when you’ve been around the other person long enough you really know them well. You can anticipate their thoughts, how they’ll react to certain things/situations, and their likes/dislikes.

But, the key word here is anticipate. There’s no guarantee you’ll be right, and if you are, it won’t happen every time. Even in the times of astounding correctness on the part of my husband and me, there’s times we’re way off. We’re so far away, the right answer is just a dot in our periphery.

Even with occasional misses, it’s pretty amazing to me that two people can get this way in life. But, there’s an even deeper, more intimate relationship we can have with some One who knows us even better:

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether (Psalms 139:1–4, KJV).

Our Creator knows us—every part of who we are and what we’re to become. What’s astounding is that He’s a sentence-finisher in my mind, before I’ve even spoken. In fact, He already knows what I’m going to think before it manifests in my mind. He’s 100% accurate every time.

Having a Lord and Savior who knows and establishes our goings is a blessing that cannot be adequately described. I’m thankful for it every day and praise my God for being so wonderful. I can’t comprehend Him or what He does, but I am grateful for it.

In the same Psalm, David asked God to search him, know his heart, try him, and know his thoughts” (Psalms 139:23). Why would a man who’s previously praised God for already knowing everything about him, ask for the Lord to know him?

Such intimacy shouldn’t be taken for granted, assumed, or anticipated. No aspect of our relationship with God is owed to us—even such measures as Him knowing us: our thoughts, ways, doings, etc. I’m not saying God would ever shut this off if we’re not grateful for it. He’s God and will always know everything. But, if we’re not careful, the sweetness of the relationship can change.

Would being able to finish another’s sentences, or anticipate their desires, be as sweet to me if it wasn’t my husband? Probably not. That’s a sweetness I’ve come to adore and cherish and wouldn’t want it absent from my life. As I spend time with my husband and engage in growing our relationship, I occasionally remind my spouse I’m thankful for him. I want a greater relationship with him tomorrow than we have today.

With God, we need to praise Him for knowing us, and in the same breath ask Him to continue knowing us. Relish in the sweetness of our relationship with Him, but ask to go a bit farther, a bit deeper. We’ll want to keep asking until we can anticipate His thoughts, His ways, and know His Word. Know us, dear Lord.

FaithFULL: Handfuls of Purpose

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not (Ruth 2:15–16, KJV).

Redemption on Purpose

The story of Ruth is one of redemption. While the book is called “Ruth,” the story is really about God’s answer for Naomi. Just like Naomi, God desires to redeem all of us, from whatever state we’re in. No matter how lost or empty we feel, God will always reach for us and call us back to Him.

How We Can Live a Life Full of Faith

We Believe Everything We Need is in the House of Bread

Naomi and her husband originally dwelt in Bethlehem Judah (Ruth 1:1); Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” They left in a time of famine and dryness in the land and traversed to the land of Moab. In Moab, Naomi’s husband and sons died, and she wasn’t left with anything to her name. She finally returned home, and upon her arrival told everyone to call her Mara, for she was bitter. Naomi left full and returned home empty (Ruth 1:19–20).

What should realize the “House of Bread” is the church. This is a place where the presence of God dwells and has an atmosphere that can change. We cannot allow the weather to affect where we’re living. Regardless of the “dry” times or the rain, God is still positioning us for a blessing in Him. We will always endure seasons in our life, but we must trust God and stay in the “House of Bread.” It’s better to have a dry morsel and peace than a house full of sacrifices and strife (Proverbs 17:1).

We Believe God Reaches on Purpose

When Ruth went to provide for herself and Naomi, she began to glean in the field of a man named Boaz. The law allowed the poor to gather from the leftovers in the field, but Boaz was intentional in telling his men to drop handfuls of food on purpose for he to retrieve. When Ruth returned home to Naomi and explained what had happened, Naomi had a deeper understanding that Boaz was a kinsman to them. She instructed Ruth to continue to glean in his field as God was doing something in their life (Ruth 2:20). God doesn’t do anything on accident—everything is on purpose. If we’re submitted to God and follow His Word, He will not only bless us but will do all that we request (Ruth 3:10).

We Believe God Has a Destiny in Mind

Even when we try to change God’s plans, the Lord will make the bad work out for our good (Romans 8:28). God doesn’t ever stop seeing a destiny for our lives, no matter what we’re doing or how long we’ve been in our “Moab.” God knows the plans He has for us and desires to give us an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).

At the end of the book of Ruth, Ruth and Boaz have a child. It is given to Naomi to raise up (Ruth 4:17). She called his name Obed, and from this lineage came King David and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Naomi had returned back to the “House of Bread” empty but didn’t realize God was getting ready to pour out a blessing in her life she could never have imagined. We must remember, there’s always bread in the House for us!

Lose the Goose

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

National Mother Goose Day is celebrated annually on May 1. It commemorates an 8th century French noblewoman named Bertrada II of Laon. She was considered a patroness of children and known as Berte aux grand pied, or Bertha Greatfoot—Queen Goosefoot. She told charming tales to children and has been credited as building the bedrock of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

Why does this matter? Because the other day when I was watching a TED Talk regarding a research study on blind mice, all day I had the nursery song, “Three Blind Mice” stuck in my head. I have Queen Goosefoot (AKA Mother Goose) to thank for that one.

As I began to reflect on the rhyme lyrics, I remembered just how violent it was. Who wants to sing about blind mice, running for dear life, only to have their tails cut off by a farmer’s wife. Ewwwww. But, where do you think I learned this gem-of-a-rhyme? As a child no less, and it’s scarred me my entire life.

I’ve completed heavy research on nursery rhymes and have found disturbing roots and origins. Often, nursery rhymes disguised unpleasant historical events. In other cases, falsities were documented and told as truth through catchy pentameter, alternate rhyme, or limericks.

As an adult, I can vouch I’m quite troubled with all of this. I’m not a fan of reading or hearing about death, murder, poverty, torture, and other like elements. And, I would argue these are certainly themes children shouldn’t be hearing about—letting alone chanting about or singing in play.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty (II Peter 1:16, KJV).

The Greek word muthos references fables, myths, fanciful stories, and fabrications told to replace or subvert the truth. This has been a common practice throughout the ages, and when Jesus Christ showed up on the scene, the culture wasn’t any different. These fables were “cunningly devised,” crafted in such a way to make the hearer wiser in a so-called truth. In reality, the ambiguous fables confused and convinced the hearer to believe a lie.

In II Peter 1:16, I love how even in the face of fables and fairy tales, Jesus’ believers still decided to oppose the lies and speak His truth. They were eyewitnesses to His majesty!

At this point, I know I’m walking on shaky ground with most readers. If you’ve made it with me this far, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this…

If we’re given an example in Scripture of men and women who chose not to follow familiar verse of their day, and testify of Jesus’ greatness instead, shouldn’t we do the same? In every opportunity we’re given, shouldn’t we be speaking to the majesty of our King?

Unintentionally, we sing and teach the rhymes of Mother Goose to our children, and years later, find ourselves humming the melodies, never to escape them. We don’t normally think twice about choosing to proclaim the greatness of Jesus first—to children, young teens, or adults alike—instead of going with the flow or speaking something that has a cute jingle or rhyme. And, we’re unaware as to what these nursery rhymes are about. If we’re to think on the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, and virtuous things (Philippians 4:8), I’m not convinced nursery rhymes hit the mark…I’m just saying!

I think it’s time for us to pick up literature and song that celebrates our Lord and Savior. Let’s teach our children good, and wholesome Bible stories. I know some veggies who sing a few tales that might get a song-or-two stuck in your head as well, but it will be about Jesus Christ. And, there’s nothing bad about having Jesus on your mind.

Take a moment and think—what do you want to share with your children? What do you want to remember years down the road? Is it time we lose the goose and start wondering about the Word? You decide.