Tag: care

Jan 28 My forgiving Shepherd

Jesus ShepherdLord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that I need to forgive others. The parable You share with Your disciples clearly depicts that I have been forgiven so much more than I can ever repay. From day to day, I forget that; and it seems so easy to harbor ill will toward those who hurt me, and want to see them punished.

It feels like if I forgive them, I’m letting them get away with something, releasing them from the consequences or punishment of their hurtful actions. Some who have grieved me don’t even ask for forgiveness.

The truth is: I am the one set free when I forgive. And I am being obedient. So I am doubly blessed when I can forgive others. Help me remember this the next time I face these circumstances.

And show me right now if there is someone that I haven’t forgiven. Lead me through whatever steps I need to take to get right with them and right with You.

The 23rd Psalm is the first passage of scripture I memorized. You tell us to hide Your Word in our hearts, and this is one that I did. Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd. Don’t know that I like being characterized as a sheep all that much; they are such smelly, stupid animals.

But I understand a lot of accurate parallels can be drawn. And the depiction of the care and protection the shepherd provides paints a wonderful picture of Your love for man and for me.

Thank You for providing for my needs. Thank You for knowing when I need to rest and be restored; and for affording those times of rest and restoration, making sure I have what I need physically and spiritually.

Thank You for leading me in the path You have chosen for me; and for being there with me so there is no need to fear. When evil threatens, I am calmed and quieted by trusting Your presence and Your ability to defend me completely.

I draw strength from Your promises to protect and provide for me all the days of my life, and then to take me to be with You for all eternity. My Shepherd. My Savior. Amen

Matthew 18:23-35; Psalm 23

 

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Sept 23 Do not Fear

blue-1238986_640Father, thank You for more wonderful words of comfort and promise:

“Do not fear

for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

fear-2083653_640In the Garden of Eden You walked with and spoke with Adam.  There was a close and open relationship between the two of You.  But when Adam sinned, the next time he was in Your presence, he said “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid.”

Fear had never been a part of the relationship before.  But now that there was sin, there was fear.  I have lived all my life in a fallen world where fear has a place.

But here, You say to me “Do not fear”.  And the reason: “because I have redeemed you”.   And since Your completed work on the cross, I am in right standing with You.  I am in close relationship with You, like Adam was in the garden before sin.

And those precious words: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” bring such intimacy and tender closeness.  You know me.  You call my name.  I am Yours.  I belong to You.

Along with that relationship comes a promise of care and protection.  What confident assurance it gives me!  What a sense of being loved and protected I have with those words!

I am assured that when I face difficult times, when I am in deep waters, when I am in danger of being swept off my feet, You are there with me.  Your presence accompanies me.  And Your promise guarantees me that the waters will not sweep over me and take me away.

Recently I have seen very dramatic pictures of the power of water: destructive, deceptively strong and damaging.  Statistics presented highlight how little moving water it actually takes to unbalance a person, a car, a house; and sweep it away.  But Your promise is sure.   The waters will not sweep over me.

Thank You for Your true promise.  Thank You for the confidence You give me in facing difficulties and hardship; that You are with me.  That I will pass through them.  That I will arrive on the other side.  With You.  Amen

Isaiah 43:1-7

July 28 Family and Spiritual heritage

photographs-1209751_640O Father, when I think of how fortunate I am, and all the blessings You have given me, it takes my breath away, and I am humbled to tears. Even before I was born, You determined when I would be born, and where, and to whom. There were generations that came before me who knew You and worshipped You. That is a godly heritage I must not take for granted.

David was a man after Your own heart. And yet his lineage is full of men who were idolatrous, murderous, and evil. Jehoshaphat followed You and taught others to worship You, yet his own firstborn, Jehoram, when given the rule, murdered all his brothers to secure his reign. He married a daughter of Jezebel, a manipulative and evil woman. After Jehoram’s gruesome death, his youngest son, Ahaziah took over and was encouraged into more evil by his mother. Later, this evil mother, upon learning of her own son’s death, murdered all the siblings and offspring so she could reign in her son’s place!

But she missed baby Joash. Joash was hidden and raised by godly people. When he came to reign at the age of seven, he ruled rightly in Your eyes.

I know, Father, that You call each of us. Some come from broken homes and dark, painful backgrounds. But we each owe You a debt of gratitude for every divine influence and godly person You put in our path. I can think of relatives, Sunday School teachers, preachers who taught me to love You and seek to know You. But I also remember neighbors, friends, even strangers, who taught me godly lessons – some without even knowing it. I am grateful, and thank You for each one of these.

As I look back over my life, I can see that I would not have all I have now, be all I am now, or love You the way I do, without Your intervention and Your loving care. There is no doubt in my mind – You were involved in a personal relationship with me before I even knew You.   Thank You for all You have done.

Father, it also challenges me to be that divine influence in the lives of others You bring across my path. Help me see opportunities to point others to You. Open my eyes to recognize when I can say something, do something, be something that will benefit the faith of others. Use me Lord, to pass on the blessing. Amen

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21

June 25 Miracle Worker!

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Lord God, You never cease to amaze me! You are involved so intimately in the lives of Your people. You genuinely care for them. It gives me such hope!

 

You warned the man and woman who made a room for Elisha to leave the country to spare them from a seven-year famine. And when they returned to beg for their house and land, You orchestrated that the king who could grant their plea, had just then heard about the miracle of Elisha raising their son from the dead! The timing couldn’t have been better! They received back what they had given up to obey You, and more!

When the ruler-ship had gotten so bad; leading Your people into idolatry and doing only evil in Your eyes, You took action. You had a just and godly ruler anointed over Israel. Under Jehu, the line of Ahab was removed. The people were able to return to worshiping You.

When Your servants Paul and Silas were imprisoned, beaten, and put under special guard, You orchestrated an earthquake to free them! Even more, You allowed them to work in the lives of their enemy, sharing the Gospel with their jailer, and bringing salvation to him and his family!

How can I doubt that You, who have done all this on behalf of Your people, will do the same for me? How can I think that my problems are beyond Your help? You, who control earthquakes and famines, kings and jailers!

I am Your servant, Lord. So I cry to You for mercy. I rely on Your character of faithfulness and righteousness to defeat the enemy that pursues me and crushes me to the ground.

Even when circumstances discourage me, and cause my spirit to grow faint and my heart to be dismayed, I remember these and other works of deliverance. I meditate on all You have done and consider the power in Your hands.

And I know, without a doubt, that You will preserve me in Your righteousness. And that I am Yours forever. Amen

2 Kings 8:1-6; 9:1-13; Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 143:1-12

May 18 My Good Shepherd

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Sheep?? Father here you refer to believers as sheep again.   Those dumb, smelly animals that seem to have no sense at all! Without a shepherd looking out for them and rescuing them, they will perish. They walk into running water, and due of the weight of their wet hair can be pulled under and drown.

They walk into briers and thorny thickets and get their hair so tangled they can’t move and will stand there till they starve. Or they will wander away until they are too far from their protection and fall victim to predatory animals.

But in the same way, they are perfect to describe me. I can go after something I think I want, taking risks till I am in a place where I am lost, and no longer safe. I can find myself entangled in circumstances and relationships feeling like there’s no way out. I have found myself in over my head with things moving so fast around me I become unbalanced and in danger of being swept away. I too need a shepherd.

You describe Yourself as The Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep, who will not lose one of His sheep, and who lays down His life for His sheep. And takes it up again. And for my part, even a stupid sheep knows their Shepherd’s voice. And I have heard Yours.

You speak to me in Your Word of Your unconditional, sacrificial love for me. You encourage me with scriptures that offer inspiration and strength. You offer me direction with an inaudible voice in my heart. You amaze and bless me with the beauty and diversity of Your Creation: flowers, sunsets, vistas of mountains and beaches, a child’s face, a friend’s smile.

Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd, Lord. And that I am Your sheep. Amen

John 10:1-21

Jan 28 My forgiving Shepherd

Jesus Shepherd

Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that I need to forgive others. The parable You share with Your disciples clearly depicts that I have been forgiven so much more than I can ever repay. From day to day, I forget that; and it seems so easy to harbor ill will toward those who hurt me, and want to see them punished.

It feels like if I forgive them, I’m letting them get away with something, releasing them from the consequences or punishment of their hurtful actions. Some who have grieved me don’t even ask for forgiveness.

The truth is: I am the one set free when I forgive. And I am being obedient. So I am doubly blessed when I can forgive others. Help me remember this the next time I face these circumstances. And show me right now if there is someone that I haven’t forgiven. Lead me through whatever steps I need to take to get right with them and right with You.

The 23rd Psalm is the first passage of scripture I memorized. You tell us to hide Your Word in our hearts, and this is one that I did. Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd. Don’t know that I like being characterized as a sheep all that much; they are such smelly, stupid animals. But I understand a lot of accurate parallels can be drawn. And the depiction of the care and protection the shepherd provides paints a wonderful picture of Your love for man and for me.

Thank You for providing for my needs. Thank You for knowing when I need to rest and be restored; and for affording those times of rest and restoration, making sure I have what I need physically and spiritually. Thank You for leading me in the path You have chosen for me; and for being there with me so there is no need to fear. When evil threatens, I am calmed and quieted by trusting Your presence and Your ability to defend me completely. I draw strength from Your promises to protect and provide for me all the days of my life, and then to take me to be with You for all eternity. My Shepherd. My Savior. Amen

Matthew 18:23-35; Psalm 23

Nov 13 I am in Awe

Father, the city and leaders and people of Tyre had everything worldly possible to bring them success in material possessions and reputation. Yet, they fell. They took pride in their commerce and accomplishments and that pride kept them from worshipping You. They saw themselves as gods. And Your judgment fell on them.

Lord, do not let me think more highly of myself than I ought.   Thank You for Your example of being a humble servant.   As I try to follow Your example, if I ever think too much of myself, refocus me on Your greatness.

iceland-1751463_640

Psalm 111 reminds me that ”Great are the works of the Lord…glorious and majestic are His deeds”. When I ponder all of creation, I am amazed by Your imagination! I am captivated by the diversity in size and color and design! I am overwhelmed by the power of Your mountains and seas and winds.

I love seeing pictures of majestic waterfalls, lush green jungles with brightly colored birds, schools of shiny fish swimming in the sea, brilliant flowers, water-colored sunsets. All this is just a part of what You do. Besides creating and sustaining all this, You have created the intricacies of each human body: from the tiniest of cells to the diversity of faces and fingerprints! And not just bodies, but You know the mind and spirit of each individual on the planet!   You’re indescribable – uncontainable – unfathomable! You blow my mind!

And a wondrous part of who You are is that You do not just set all this in motion and then sit back to see where it goes. You involve Yourself in the life of each of Your precious creations.   You speak, protect, provide, lead, feed, forgive, save. And all that You do is just and right. You have provided these later generations with Your written Word.   It teaches Your truth and Your character so all can know You, and Your faithfulness, Your uprightness and Your salvation.

You say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. The Hebrew word ‘yare’ translated as ‘fear’ here, is used in this sentence referring to a person in an exalted position: You. Thus, the meaning includes a reverence, a standing in awe, whereby the individual recognizes the power and position, and renders the proper respect. Father, I acknowledge Your power, Your sovereignty; and give You all honor and praise! Let me continue to grow in wisdom. How great and awesome You are! “To You belongs eternal praise”! Amen

Ezekiel 27:1-28:19; Psalm 111:1-10

Nov 9 The Shepherd’s Rod

Father, I can see a pattern in Your treatment of Your people. You revealed Yourself to them in Egypt and told them to “get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt”. And although You delivered them, they continued to worship a golden calf. Yet You did not destroy them, “for the sake of Your Name”.

shepherd rodIn the desert they rebelled again, but You did not pour out Your wrath, “for the sake of Your Name”. Then their children, who You led and protected in the desert, rebelled, not following You; but, “for the sake of Your Name” You preserved them.  Generations later, the nation of Israel continued to defile itself, and You acted to “disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries”.   However, You would not let them inquire of You, and spoke only through Ezekiel the Prophet. It was always Your purpose that they would be Your people and You would be their God. And Your judgment of them was just, as they “passed under Your rod”.

Father, I come now, to seek You, to inquire of You. There are so many things in my life that I need Your wisdom about, Your guidance, Your direction. I need Your strength to bear up under the challenges, and Your peace to sustain me through them. I need Your patience where I need to wait, and Your boldness where I need to act. I want to see where You would have me join You in Your work so I do not spend my energy on fruitless endeavors.

My part in this is to be sure my life is rid of idols. I will examine my actions, my attitudes, my relationships, to be sure nothing and no one is stealing my passion to live for You.   I want to “pass under Your rod” for Your inspection and loving care.

This is the same rod of which the Psalmist wrote “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me”. A shepherd uses his rod for many things. One is to have the sheep pass under it. It is a way of counting to be sure every sheep is where it should be and accounted for. It is also a way of inspecting them. As each sheep passes, the shepherd looks to see that each is well fed, rested, and not ill.   As the rod parts their hair, inspection is made of the skin for wounds, parasites, anything that would indicate a need for further care.

Father, I am a sheep of Your pasture. Inspect me. Look for any sign of weakness or disease in me. When so, heal me and I will be healed. Strengthen me with Your Word and with Your presence. Be sure that I am where I am supposed to be. I too, am called by Your Name. So I desire to live in obedience so that Your Name will be preserved and honored. Father, let my life glorify Your name. Amen

Ezekiel 20:1-38

Sept 21 “Carry each other’s “burden”

Father, Your Word tells me to help others to carry their burden but to carry my own. I was confused until I looked at the original Greek and found that there are two different words.

In this passage of scripture, they are both translated as ‘burden’.   Where You say “Carry each other’s [burdens] and in this way fulfill the law of Christ”, that word is ‘baros’. Although it is translated four times to read ‘burden’ a more complete definition is ‘heaviness, weight that would weigh you down, pressing on you, difficult requirements’. But where You say “each one should carry their own [burden].” The word is ‘phortion’ which simply means ‘something to be carried’. So there is a difference here in the amount of weight and in the ‘burdonsomeness’ implied in the original meaning.

One way I think of it is that each person should be capable of carrying their own backpack – the weight of normal daily responsibilities. But they would need help with a steamer trunk – an extraordinarily unusual additional amount of hardship that would come with an illness, or accident or trouble.

Father, show me how to help others who are in need. Let me go out of my way to see how to help them. And Father, I trust You will bring help to me when I am in need as well.

Thank You for Paul’s words here reminding me how to relate to other believers. It is so easy to get off track by comparing myself to others. It sets the stage for jealousy, or pride. But You say to help those believers who are overcome by sin. And not to do it pridefully, but humbly and gently, aware that the same mistake could happen to me if I’m not careful.

Father, You made us to care for each other. You knew that this world would be a challenging place, and that we would need each other. Thank You for bringing friends and loved ones around me when I need their help. Sometimes I don’t even realize I need it, till You bring someone who calls and cheers me up, or says something encouraging.

Help me also “not become weary in doing good”, so that I also may “at the proper time reap a harvest if I do not give up”.   Thank You for the way You inspire believers to care for each other.   Amen

Galatians 6:1-10