Tag: Shepherd

May 18 The Good Shepherd

stained-glass-1751919_640

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 protect me when the wolf comes to attack and defend me from every enemy.  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

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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

 

Jan 8 Creation – infinite universe!

night-skyI love Psalm 8! It makes me wonder how many times David must have gazed up at the stars in the heavens and contemplated You, the Creator of it all. As a shepherd, he would have spent many, many nights outside with the sheep; resting, guarding the flock, alone with his thoughts.

The skies where I live are never really dark. We have the light from a major city and suburbs all around. The stars are visible, but not nearly as impressive as when I saw them from the middle of the Sinai Peninsula. We stepped out of a bus on a lonely road in a part of the world where light pollution is not even a remote issue, and were completely amazed at the number and brilliance of stars visible to our naked eye.

It was one of those “awe” moments. You just stand, mouth agape, drinking in the magnitude of the millions of stars. It makes you oddly aware of how huge the universe is, stretching out before your eyes; and how small and minuscule a single person is, standing on one spot of one planet in one solar system of one galaxy in that universe.

Today, the skies above the hills around Jerusalem are also filled with light. But how dark it must have been back then. How truly bright and brilliant the night sky must have been when one lonely shepherd looked up and pondered the universe and its Maker.

God, You truly have set Your glory in the heavens.  And “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have made and set in place” – I also marvel that “You are mindful of man.”

Who am I that You concern Yourself with what concerns me?

How is it that You can know the number of hairs on my head: a number that changes every day?

And You don’t just know me by what You see on the outside, You know my innermost thoughts, my motivations, my words before I speak them.

Thank You for taking such care creating this amazing place You made for us to live. Its beauty, its vastness, and its infinite diversity blow my mind! Its magnitude is incomprehensible.

As much as I can know about this world in my lifetime, I can never begin to understand all the things You hold in balance so this planet stays together and is capable of supporting the lives You’ve placed on it.

But I can give You the credit due.

You alone are the Author, the Creator, the imagination and the power behind its creation. I can acknowledge that it is You who keeps it all together and in motion. And honor You as Almighty God.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Amen

Psalm 8:1-9

Dec 27 A sheep in Your flock

Father, the picture You paint for Zechariah of Your people is “the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.”

CindySheepMany times sheep get themselves into trouble on their own.  They wander away, eat what they shouldn’t, become prey for wolves or lions.  They get caught in thorns, fall into deep water, or become lost.  But no danger is greater than that of not having a good shepherd.

A shepherd provides for his sheep in so many ways.

He looks out for them.  He prepares good pasture by removing noxious and poisonous weeds before the sheep get there.  He makes sure the area has sufficient clean, still water for them to drink.

He protects them from predators, and goes after them when they wander off.  He carefully examines them to see if they are in need of medicine to keep them healthy and free from parasites.

He provides shelter from inclement weather and moves them to new pastures before the grass becomes over-grazed; or to completely new areas when the weather turns too cold.

Israel’s priests and leaders were not being good shepherds to the people.  And You pronounced “Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock!” 

But blessed am I – for You are my Good Shepherd!  You do not turn me over for slaughter.  “You are the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – You remain faithful forever.”

When I get into trouble, You answer my call and come to my rescue.

When I wander, You call me back.  I know Your voice because You have called me by name, and I have learned I can trust that voice.

You give me the Holy Spirit that speaks to me and warns me away from poisonous things that would make me sick; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

You protect me from the evil one who prowls around like a predatory lion looking for someone to devour. When I get caught in thorny situations, You provide a way of escape.  If I will but keep my eyes and ears open for Your leading, I will see the way out.

When I fall into deep water, or walk out there on my own, You are with me in the water, and You do not let the flood overtake me.

You are my Help!  You are my Hope!  You are my Good Shepherd.  And “I will praise You all my life.”  Amen

Zechariah 10:1-3; Psalm 146:1-10

 

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light on man

Father, thank You that You are light.  You are The Light!

I desire to walk in Your light.  I understand that there is nothing that You do not already know, nothing is hidden from You.  Even if I were to walk in the darkness, You would still see everything.

When there is sin in my life, sin is darkness.  And because I do not want to be in the dark, I will confess my sin before You.

I am like a sheep that strays from the safety of its shepherd.  You are my Shepherd.  Father, seek me when I get lost.  Return me to Your presence.

When I agree with You about what sin is in my life, and turn from it, You are faithful to forgive that sin and restore my fellowship with You.  Again, thank You.

Like the Psalmist, I pray “May my cry come before You” so You will “give me understanding according to Your Word.”

When I cannot see what direction to go, Father, shine Your light on the path I should take.  Help me recognize the difference between light and darkness so I can avoid the darkness.

Father, “may my lips overflow with praise” and “my tongue sing of Your Word.”  Do not let me forget to be thankful, acknowledging when You rescue me, when You reveal truth to me, when You encourage me.  Remind me to not only “stop and smell the roses” but to express my gratitude to the Creator for the roses and for a nose.

“Let me live that I may praise You”!  My Creator.  My Encourager.  My Teacher.  My Rescuer.  My Restorer.  My Shepherd.  My Light!  Amen

I John 1:5-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 24 Help me walk in the light

Word lamp unto my feet

“Dear friends, I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

Father, help me live this kind of life.  I am bombarded every day by media who through advertising and entertainment would have me believe that worldly values and immorality are the only way to be happy.  Many of these skewed values presented would lead me into sin.

Father, if I have embraced these desires, take them away from me.  Let me be so busy enjoying doing good and pleasing You, that I do not even think about, or have time to be involved in ungodly activities.  Bring opportunities to me that will use my gifts and bless others so You will get the credit.  Help me make choices that will honor You.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…”  I do not wish to be a doormat for others.  I believe by “submission” You mean power or strength under control.  While in the flesh, Jesus, You had all the power in the world, but it was still “submitted to” or “under the control of” God the Father’s will.

Let me learn humility and submission by Your example.  Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

Help me live in submission to the authorities You place in my life.  This would be legal and government officials, those in positions of authority as I work and minister, and those You place in my personal life.

Peter says “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Ultimately, I am a sheep, Your sheep.  Father, let me flourish in Your flock, and always be near to and obedient to You, my Shepherd.  Amen

I Peter 2:11-3:7

Nov 16 Helpful Last Words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers…

Remember those in prison…

Marriage should be honored by all…

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”          

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit.  Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.

Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life.”  In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray.  They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep.

Today we also have spiritual leaders whose lives do not honor You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment so I will not ”be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bringing inner peace, to fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on bald heads!

There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You.  Very famous and powerful people buy into these ”religions.”

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them.  Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews.  I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones.  It is what I seek with all my heart

“May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.”

Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me.  May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times.  Provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me.  Lead me to what will please You.  And may the success bring You glory!  For ever and ever.  Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-10; Hebrews 13:1-24

 

Nov 9 The Shepherd’s Rod

shepherd rodFather, 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”.

In 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

July 30 The Good Shepherd

sheep-690198_640For many believers, the 23rd Psalm is a passage of scripture known by heart. Many more are familiar enough to recognize the phrases that describe the Shepherd’s care.

But what do all the references really mean? I have only seen sheep in petting zoos and on back roads in sheep country. I really don’t know very much about them. And the impressions I have are not too favorable toward them being a smart or regal animal.

But I have read a wonderful book written by an actual shepherd who takes each verse and explains it from the perspective of a shepherd, and why the sheep need and value each specific thing in this Psalm.

I understand that You, Lord God, are the Good Shepherd, who plans for, provides for, cares for, calms, protects, feeds, guides, restores, heals, comforts, and sacrifices for, even lays down Your life for, the sheep. And I am that sheep.

Thank You Father that You are my Shepherd. Other sheep have masters who do not care about them. They go hungry and become diseased, living a life without shelter or protection. But You provide all things for me. You meet my every need.

You provide a place for me to rest that is full of the nourishment I need and free from pests, aggravation from the rest of the flock, and fear of predators. You lead me where clean, fresh, shallow water stands still for me to drink from so I don’t become sick from dirty, poisoned water. Or get dragged down or carried a way in deep, rushing water.

When I become world-weary and feel discouraged, depressed, and are down-cast, You renew me. You give me hope, and bring restoration to my life.

Father, thank You for showing me a good, right way to live that will bring honor to Your name. Left alone I would go my own way and become entrapped in the selfish, greedy ways of the world. Thank You that even in the darkest places, where I am the most vulnerable, You go with me and protect me. You bring me through these valleys to a higher place.

You drive away the predators who seek to devour me with Your rod: a symbol of Your power, authority, and strength. Thank You that I have Your Word, and that there is power in it. And that it can also be used as Your staff, to examine, corral, and direct me. In Your protection and direction I am comforted.

I am blessed Lord, that You have walked this earth before me. You know every trial, every temptation I will face. And You have prepared me for it. Like a shepherd removes the poisonous plants before he brings his sheep to feed, You have prayed for me while I’m in this world. Even with enemies all around, You stand guard and intercede for me, praying for my faith to be strong.

“You anoint my head with oil” to consecrate and heal me.   For sheep, it is a life saving measure to drive out parasites that would lay eggs causing inflammation, blindness, and death.   The Holy Spirit in my life brings understanding and healing to me. And overflows my cup with abundance and blessing.

Yet even when there is suffering in my cup, Your suffering on the cross, and the life You poured out for me, pours over into my cup and overflows it with Your strength and vitality and blessing.

Because You are my Shepherd, You bring goodness and mercy into my life. But You can also help me leave it in my path, as a legacy to others. I can deposit into other’s lives, blessing, forgiveness, encouragement, inspiration, and peace. Help me do that.

I choose to be in Your flock, Your household, forever! I will never leave. I want to be in Your presence, in Your care, all the days of my life, and then after that, for eternity. Amen

Psalm 23:1-6; A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

July 6 I am a sheep

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

CindySheepThis reminds me of the 23rd Psalm. The sheep are made to “lie down in green pastures”.   And although I would much rather be thought of as an eagle or lion, I am very much like a sheep. I’ve recently learned that sheep need four things to be able to lie down and sleep. They need freedom from fear, anxiousness, hunger, and pests.

A sheep’s main fear is from predators. Because they don’t have speed or cunning or defensive claws, talons or fangs; they rely on their shepherd for protection from predators.

Anything can spook them. It is the watchfulness and skill of their shepherd that allows them to feel safe enough to put fear out of their minds.   And it is the same with me. I know there is no enemy, real or imagined, that is too big, no foe more powerful than You, my Shepherd.

You are my shield, my fortress, my deliverer. There is no enemy that is a match for Your power. You can see an enemy coming from any direction, any time, because You are everywhere, all the time.   So I am safe and can rest when I am in Your presence.

Anxiousness in the flock comes from the rivalry and competition for status and position. Like a ‘pecking order’ with chickens, sheep have a ‘butting order’. It’s hard to eat or sleep in peace when being rammed or butted out of the way is a possibility. When the shepherd appears, the flock’s attention is shifted; the butting stops, and rivalries are forgotten.

Similarly, there is tension in many of my relationships. In some, there is jealousy, in some, rivalry, hurt feelings, or a sense of being ‘done wrong’ or not appreciated. But in Your presence Father, none of that matters. Those things fade. I’m humbled. I’m relaxed and content. When I put my focus on You, my Shepherd, I am in a place of peace.

When sheep are hungry, they will stay on their feet and continue to wander around for one more mouthful. Until they are satisfied, they will not lie down. Besides physical hunger, if I am emotionally or spiritually unsatisfied, I cannot rest. It is only You, Father, who can meet all my needs. Rather than continue to chew on the same old issues and sins, You have shown me a ‘promised land’ where I can live in Your victory and have all I need. There, is peace and safety.

Sheep can be tormented and driven to distraction by all kinds of flies and ticks. Without the care of a good shepherd who applies repellants, dips and balms, a flock will be unable to eat or sleep at all. They can literally be ‘bugged’ to death.

When things ‘bug’ me, I too need to come to You, my Shepherd. Lying down to go to sleep, all the worries of the day return to replay in my mind.  There have been nights I hardly slept, anxious about my circumstances and what I would do. But when I give them over to You, Lord, You give me a new perspective. I see things differently.

You show me ways to deal with things, solutions I couldn’t have imagined.  Or tell me to stand aside and You will handle it for me.   Or help me forget about it and move on. You give me peace, so I can sleep.

Thank You for being my Good Shepherd. Remind me to take advantage of the peace and safety You offer me.

Remind me to spend time in Your presence. There I find freedom from all fears, anxiousness, hunger and pests. When my sleep is sweet, it is a gift from You. And You alone, O Lord. Amen

Psalm 4:8

May 18 My Good Shepherd

stained-glass-1751919_640

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

Dec 27 A sheep in Your flock

CindySheepFather, the picture You paint for Zechariah of Your people is “the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd”. Many times sheep get themselves into trouble on their own. They wander away, eat what they shouldn’t, become prey for wolves or lions. They get caught in thorns, fall into deep water, or become lost. But no danger is greater than that of not having a good shepherd.

A shepherd provides for his sheep in so many ways. He looks out for them. He prepares good pasture by removing noxious and poisonous weeds before the sheep get there. He makes sure the area has sufficient clean, still water for them to drink. He protects them from predators, and goes after them when they wander off. He carefully examines them to see if they are in need of medicine to keep them healthy and free from parasites. He provides shelter from inclement weather and moves them to new pastures before the grass becomes over-grazed; or to completely new areas when the weather turns too cold.

Israel’s priests and leaders were not being good shepherds to the people. And You pronounced “Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock!”

But blessed am I – for You are my Good Shepherd! You do not turn me over for slaughter. “You are the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – You remain faithful forever.”!  When I get into trouble, You answer my call and come to my rescue. When I wander, You call me back. I know Your voice because You have called me by name, and I have learned I can trust that voice. You give me the Holy Spirit that speaks to me and warns me away from poisonous things that would make me sick; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You protect me from the evil one who prowls around like a predatory lion looking for someone to devour.
When I get caught in thorny situations, You provide a way of escape. If I will but keep my eyes and ears open for Your leading, I will see the way out. When I fall into deep water, or walk out there on my own, You are with me in the water, and You do not let the flood overtake me. You are my Help! You are my Hope! You are my Good Shepherd. And “I will praise You all my life”. Amen

Zechariah 1:10-11:17; Psalm 146:1-10

 

Dec 10 The lion has roared…

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“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.”

Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos. His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people. He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem. At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well. But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity. He voiced Your displeasure of and coming judgment on a list of nations were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct. Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless. My country has been blessed. And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct. Right now, that is not looking good. Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?” Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?” He was telling people there was a real and present danger. I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

You also revealed Your plan to John through Revelation.   He wrote down Your Words to specific churches. I believe they were real churches at the time, but I also believe the same words are meant for Your church today.

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart. And let me act accordingly. Like the church in Ephesus, do not let me tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people. Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary”.

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You. Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it. Increase our faith so we have the perseverance to remain true to Your Name. Do not let us be led away from Your teachings by the temptations of Balaam who tempted the Israelites into immorality and idolatry.

Father, thank You for revealing Your plan to Your servants the prophets. Let me hear and heed these words that are for my life and my country. Open my ears and my understanding. Amen

Amos 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light-on-manFather, thank You that You are light. You are The Light! I desire to walk in Your light. I understand that there is nothing that You do not already know, nothing is hidden from You. Even if I were to walk in the darkness, You would still see everything.  When there is sin in my life, sin is darkness. And because I do not want to be in the dark, I will confess my sin before You.

I am like a sheep that strays from the safety of its shepherd. You are my Shepherd. Father, seek me when I get lost. Return me to Your presence.

When I agree with You about what is sin in my life, and turn from it, You are faithful to forgive that sin and restore my fellowship with You. Again, thank You.

Like the Psalmist, I pray “May my cry come before You” so You will “give me understanding according to Your Word”.   When I cannot see what direction to go, Father, shine Your light on the path I should take. Help me recognize the difference between light and darkness so I can avoid the darkness.

Father, “may my lips overflow with praise” and “my tongue sing of Your Word”. Do not let me forget to be thankful, acknowledging when You rescue me, when You reveal truth to me, when You encourage me. Remind me to not only ‘stop and smell the roses’ but to express my gratitude to the Creator for the roses and for a nose.

“Let me live that I may praise You”! My Creator. My Encourager. My Teacher. My Rescuer. My Restorer. My Shepherd. My Light! Amen

I John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 24 Help me walk in the Light

“Dear friends, I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

Word lamp unto my feet

Father, help me live this kind of life. I am bombarded every day by media who through advertising and entertainment would have me believe that worldly values and immorality are the only way to be happy. Many of these skewed values presented would lead me into sin. Father, if I have embraced these desires, take them away from me. Let me be so busy enjoying doing good and pleasing You, that I do not even think about, or have time to be involved in ungodly activities. Bring opportunities to me that will use my gifts and bless others so that You will get the credit. Help me make choices that will honor You.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…”. I do not wish to be a doormat for others. I believe by ‘submission’ You mean power or strength under control. You, in the flesh, Jesus, had all the power in the world, but it was ‘submitted to’ or ‘under the control of’ Your will. Let me learn humility and submission by Your example. Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

Father, in doing this, help me live in submission to the authorities You place in my life. This would be legal and government officials, those in positions of authority as I work and minister, and those You place in my personal life. Peter says “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Ultimately, I am a sheep, Your sheep. Father, let me flourish in Your flock, and always be near to and obedient to You, my Shepherd. Amen

I Peter 2:11-3:7

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

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

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Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

May 18 My Good Shepherd

stained-glass-1751919_640Sheep?? Father here you refer to believers as sheep again.   Those smelly dumb 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 follow 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

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLord 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