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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The 23rd Psalm is one of the best known and most beloved in the Bible. The psalmist David was a shepherd before he became king and it was from his experiences in that humble position, he was able to pen this psalm. Even though most of you already know it by heart, I think it fitting to reproduce the words here:

  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 .

This Psalm speaks of all the things the shepherd does for his sheep. He provides, comforts, cares for and protects the sheep. It is the same with Jesus. He is our provider, our caregiver, our comforter and our protector. He is always by our side. Just as a shepherd never leaves His sheep, Jesus never leaves us. He says,  "I am with you alway , even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28 : 20).

Even though it is not mentioned here, Jesus referred to Himself many times as the Good Shepherd. In John 10: 11, he says, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." On Good Friday we observed  Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. He willingly gave his life for us, His sheep. And on Easter Sunday we will celebrate His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.

As Christians we have a lot to rejoice over. He is risen! And when He returns for His sheep, He will take us to  dwell in the house of the LORD for ever . Amen! 

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will You Wave Palm Branches?

The church I attended as a child had a Palm Sunday tradition where the congregation would leave the building just before the sermon and walk a short distance into the village waving palm branches. It was something I looked forward to. Why? I'm not sure. I knew the significance of what we were doing. My mother had read it to me, and I'd heard it in church. We were reenacting what took place when Our Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on that first Palm Sunday, and I guessed I liked making believe that I was a part of that parade.

But even as a child, I knew that something awful happened after Palm Sunday. The same people who waved palm branches at Jesus Christ and spread their clothes for Him to ride on were the same people who cried out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" days later. How could that be? Sadly, we have only to look at our own fickle selves. Today we sing and dance and clap our hands in fervent worship and praise, but tomorrow when temptation and hardship and pain come we quickly forget what He did for us 

Oh, we do not cry out "Crucify Him!" as the Jews did, but every time we give in to sin and temptation, murmuring and complaining we crucify Him, because it was our sin that put Him on the cross.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healedAll we like sheep have gone astray ; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53 : 5 - 6).

Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, let us make it last. Let us continue to worship and praise Him even when Holy Week is over. Let us praise Him when the bills are not paid, or our children are acting crazy or a layoff appears imminent.  Let us say like Job did, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him" (13 : 15).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Will Jesus Work In A Bar?

From a bar to a church

This question came to my mind as I read about a Kentucky church that started out in a bar. Gospel Light Baptist Church of Hazard, headed by Pastor Chris Fugate, will celebrate its one-year anniversary this year. Pastor Fugate, a state trooper and evangelist, oversaw a policemen's prayer group. One morning as they were praying, a non- Christian gentleman drove up and offered them his bar for a church. The interior of the building had black-painted walls, a dance floor and Budweiser signs everywhere, but the group moved in and within a year their membership had grown to 400 and they had baptized 100 people. Isn't God amazing?

The strippers go to church

I heard this story this week. A stripper from Miami was murdered by her husband. When a group of ladies from a nearby church heard of it,they took flowers to the club and offered their condolences to the manager. No, this club didn't turn into a church, but all the strippers were in church that Sunday.

A beautiful teenager

Which grandmother does not boast about her grandchildren? I am as guilty as any, but one of my co-workers has really great reasons to boast. You see, her granddaughter was born a preemie, weighed less than one pound and was not expected to live very long. My friend brought one of the diapers and a vest the family has kept to remind them of God's awesome goodness. She brought them to show another co-worker who was receiving a lot of scary news from her doctor about her pregnancy. Let me tell you, when I saw the clothing my eyes became misty. That vest and diaper would not fit an average-sized doll. The child's mother had them specially ordered from another state. Today, the child is a lovely teenager who recently celebrated her sixteenth birthday.

Will He work in a bar?

The answer is yes. Jesus will work anywhere you want him to. He will work in your heart, in your home, in the heart of your loved ones, on your job, and even in a bar. Ephesians 3 : 20 says, He is able to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think." Jesus Himself said, "... With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10 : 27). If you are worried, or having doubts about God answering your prayers, feast on these scriptures and see what God can do.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

God Answers Prayer

Many times the news that comes to us from around the world about Christians being persecuted for their faith can be very discouraging. Two years ago I published the following post:

An Iranian Christian is in prison facing a death sentence for leaving Islam. Iran's Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who has been in prison since last year, although Iran has not executed a citizen for changing faiths since 1990. The pastor's death sentence sends a strict warning that other Iranians who have converted to Christianity could face a similar fate. Let us pray for Pastor Yousef and other Christians worldwide who are facing persecution.

Today I am happy to say that Pastor Yousef has been freed and he attributes it to our prayers on his behalf. Speaking at the Christian Solidarity Worldwide's national conference, Pastor Yousef said he is alive today because of "what your prayers did for me."
The pastor continued, "My prayer is, I ask the Lord to bless you for what you did for me as a small member of the Body of Christ. Today my presence here is the will of God and the result of what your prayers did for me."

Isn't that wonderful news? God does hear and answer prayer.   

Christianity in British schools

In other good news from around the world, a recent poll in England revealed that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed want Christianity taught in schools. Fifty-one percent said that Christianity provides a moral compass that helps children decipher right from wrong. This should put us to shame here in the US where we have taken Christianity out of our schools.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

When Fear Strikes

I know I've written on this subject before, but this past week I received some awful news that the son of one of my in-laws was murdered. I barely knew the young man, but fear, anxiety and sadness reared up like a three-head monster. I used to think I was invincible, had all the answers, knew all the scriptures. But last week my armor seemed to have a hole in it somewhere. As a mother, my mind was filled with negative thoughts, I lost sleep and found myself crying at odd moments. Scared, I wondered if I was becoming depressed.

But thank God for His comforting word and for good Christian friends who prayed with me. As I lay in bed unable to fall asleep, I recited scripture after scripture: Psalm 91, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 1 : 7, 1 John 4 : 18, Philippians 4 : 6 - 8 and many others. My anxiety persisted but eventually loosened its hold. I can think of that incident now without my heart pounding and without crying.

As I look back on that horrible week, I thought of Elijah, mighty prophet of God, who ran for his life when Jezebel threatened to kill him because he had slain the prophets of Baal.

"But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die ; and said , It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19: 4).  

 There were many great prophets in the Bible, but few could be compared to Elijah. His story reminds us how easily we can become discouraged when the enemy attacks us. This mighty man of God was fearful to the point of being suicidal. However, the Bible goes on to say that the Lord sent an angel twice to minister to Elijah. 

"And he arose, and did eat and drink , and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God" ( v 8).

I had to have the Holy Spirit minister to me to get me out of my state of anxiety and depression. Without Him I would be lost. Are you suffering from anxiety and/or depression?  These conditions should not be taken lightly. In some cases you may need to be seen by a healthcare professional, but in all cases you need the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Immerse yourself in His word, in His presence, in His healing power and watch that anxiety vanish. 


Here are some books that contain prayers that will help you get through those anxious times when the words simply cannot come.

 Finding Peace For Your Heart A Woman's Guide To Emotional Health

The Power of a Praying® Woman Deluxe Edition

Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Emotions So They Don't Control You