The Lord is my Shepherd….

The Lord is my Shepherd…

23rd Psalm

The Lord is my Shepherd
That’s Relationship!

I shall not want
That’s Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
That’s Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters
That’s Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul
That’s Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
That’s Guidance!

For His name sake
That’s Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
That’s Testing!

I will fear no evil
That’s Protection!

For Thou art with me
That’s Living by Faith!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
That’s Peace and Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
That’s Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil
That’s Consecration!

My cup runneth over
That’s Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
That’s Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
That’s Security!

Forever!
That’s Eternity!

THAT IS GOD’S LOVE………FOR US!

Psalm 23
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads 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 You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Could this be the day Jesus returns…..

Could  this be the day Jesus returns?

Jesus came once to live a sinless life, die for OUR sins and be the first to be resurrected from the grave. As Son of God, He today sits at the right hand of the Throne of God making intercession for sinners. That is you and I………….if we have trusted Him as our Lord and Savior.

Here is a test for us this morning. Answer the following question. Make sure you stop and think about your answer.
• Do you feel Jesus could return TODAY?
• Do my actions and priorities proclaim the same??
o If I do then my actions will give me away!
Jesus will return! How do I know? Scripture tells us so. We are some 1900+ years closer than when we first heard that the Church was in the ‘last days’. When you read scriptures you see that the 1st Church expected His return at any moment. So, how much more should we expect His return now that we are so much closer?

Rom 13:11,12-14 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

John 9:4 “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: The night comes, when no man can work.”

Are you and your family ready? If Jesus does return today it will be to rapture or take His church out of this world and then the tribulation period begins. You or your family members do not want to be “left behind”!

A CHRISTmas Moment….

Luke 12:15 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and
beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist
in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

A CHRISTmas Moment!

Getting mauled at the mall, getting paralyzed in traffic,
overheating your credit card. Christmas can sure make
you tired of shopping. Especially if you can’t find what
you’re looking for. It’s a feeling that’s not unique to
Christmas – many of us are tired of shopping for what will
fill the hole in our heart.

We look for it one relationship after another, one
conquest after another, one experience after another.
There’s this persistent whisper in our heart – “Something’s
missing.” Actually, the something is Someone. That first
Christmas, the wise men’s long search ended when, as
the Bible says, “They bowed down and worshiped Jesus.”
(Matthew 2:11) That’s where your search will end, too.

The Bible says we were “created by Christ and for Christ”
(Colossians 1:16) – which means the hole in your heart is there
until you have Christ. No amount of buying and receiving will fill it.
It took Jesus’ awful persecution and death on the cross to
pay for the sin that’s separated us from God. But now His
love, His peace, His meaning for your life is within your
reach – if you’ll just, “Call upon the Lord for forgiveness.”

You’ve shopped long enough. Come on home.

Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and you shall be saved, and your house.”

Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.”

Are you a Carrot, Egg or a Coffee Bean

II Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

Are you a Carrot, Egg, or a Coffee Bean

A certain daughter complained to her father about her life
and how things have been so hard for her. She did not know
how she was going to make it and she wanted to give up. She
was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that just as
one problem was solved another arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen, filled three pots
with water and placed the fire on high. Soon the three pots
came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the other he
placed eggs, and in the last he placed ground coffee beans.
He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently wondered what
he was trying to do. She had problems, and he was making this
strange concoction. In half an hour he walked over to the oven
and turned down the fire. He pulled the carrots out and placed
them in the bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in the
bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her he asked. “Darling what do you see.”

Smartly, she replied. “Carrots, eggs, and coffee.”

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She
did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take
an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed
the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee.
Her face frowned from the strength of the coffee.

Humbly, she asked. “What does it mean Father?”

He explained. “Each of them faced the same adversity, 212
degrees of boiling water. However each reacted differently.”

“The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after
going through boiling water, it softened and became weak.”

“The egg was fragile. A thin outer shell protected a liquid
center. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.”

“The coffee beans are unique however. After they were in
the boiling water, it became stronger and gave off a rich aroma.”

“Which are you,” he asked his daughter.

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?
Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with the smallest
amount of pain, adversity, heat you wilt and become soft
with no strength?

Are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart
and a fluid spirit? But after a death, a breakup, a divorce, a
layoff you became hardened and stiff. Your shell looks
the same, but you are so bitter and tough with a stiff
spirit and heart, internally.

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean does not get
its peak flavor and robust until it reaches 212 degrees
Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes
better.

When things are there worst, do you get better? When
people talk the most, do your praises increase? When the hour
is the darkest, and trials are their greatest, does your worship
elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Enjoy your coffee this morning….

II Corinthians 12:9 “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness, most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The ABCs of Trials in your Life

James 1:2a “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials”

Notice it is not “if” but it is “when”. Why do you think that would be?

ABC’s

Although things are not perfect
Because of trial or pain
Continue in thanksgiving
Do not begin to blame

Even when the times are hard
Fierce winds are bound to blow
God is forever able
Hold on to what you know

Imagine life without His love
Joy would cease to be
Keep thanking Him for all the things
Love imparts to thee

Move out of “Camp Complaining”
No weapon that is known
On earth can yield the power
Praise can do alone

Quit looking at the future
Redeem the time at hand
Start every day with worship
To “thank” is a command

Until we see Him coming
Victorious in the sky
We’ll run the race with gratitude
Exalting God most high

Yes, there’ll be good times and yes some will be bad, but…
Zion waits in glory…where none are ever sad!

“I AM Too blessed to be stressed!”

The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the
distance between your knees and the floor.

1 Thes. 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

James 1:2,3 “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various
trials; Knowing this, that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Praise you the Lord….terrorists cannot take that away….

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Praise you the Lord…..terrorists cannot take that away….

In our world today there is so much sadness. Suicides, murders
of the living and of those in the womb who have yet to experience their
first breath. Terrorism, shootings on school grounds defying explanation
at least from the scholars of this world. The natural disasters seem to
be increasing and the destruction and death from them also. The heroes
in our world of sports, politics, and churches continue to let us down when
their supposedly hidden lives are revealed.

The news media is having a field day. Each and every day they do
not have to search too far to have sensational stories of new tragedies.

So you say, why give me this to start my day? The Psalm below reminded
me that even when all around us is in peril and maybe even my life is,
there is One beautiful constant……………..

Psalm 146:1-10

Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.

When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.

The Lord loves the godly.

The Lord protects the foreigners among us.

He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever.

He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations

Today, as the Psalmist reminds us I encourage you to put trust
and faith in God and in no event, place or person of this world. Then
and only then is there peace………………..

Philip. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
PRAISE YOU THE LORD!

The Church. A Democracy or a Theocracy

THE CHURCH. A DEMOCRACY or a  THEOCRACY?

 A Dictionary defines Democracy and Theocracy as follows;

  • Democracy; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
  • Theocracy; government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided

Shortly after our salvation experience of 1979 where God drew us to Himself (John 6:44) we began attending a fundamental church. As for church government we had not been involved or active participants in either our previous church or state governments. Yes, we voted but that was the extent of our participation.

While we were unsaved our church lives had witnessed the church government of the Roman Catholic church but we were Sunday only participants so we never really observed or were involved with the RC Church’s’ government and decision making. Nor had we given any thought to whether or not it lined up with scripture. And of course with our countries government we leaned toward a Democracy. It only made sense and seemed to be the best route for all church decisions as well as for U.S. Government decisions. It just made sense that the people would be involved in all or most of the decision making processes of the church also.

So we brought that baggage with us into our new faith.  And of course that logic did not take into account that God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts (Isa 55:8) nor did it take into account the biblical process for church government. The Holy Spirit has put the passage from Isaiah in front of me many times over the past few years reminding me that I cannot rely upon human logic to provide answers. To be lined up with God’s will we must have God’s wisdom and that only comes via prayer and study of His word found in the Bible.

Back to our old church and it’s form of government.  The church government had Elders and Deacons. The Pastor being one of the Elders. For decision making the Elders and Deacons would formulate recommendations and then take them to the congregation for a vote. There were a few exceptions where if the monies were a small enough percentage of the annual budget and the project did not affect certain areas then the Elder and Deacon board could make the decision while keeping the congregation aware of their actions. We participated in that form of church government for the first 32 years of our Christian lives.

Over the years we saw many congregational meetings to approve or disprove Elder recommendations. Most if not all of them usually ended up with some level of hard feelings during and after the process which directly conflicts with God’s command for His Church to be unified and not divided (John 13:34-35). Unity was never the outcome of those meetings. In 2010 our Lord moved us to another city in Iowa and to a new church. After seeking God’s will for where He would have us fellowship and use our Spiritual Gifts we began to attend our new church.

The biggest thing to keep in focus when choosing a church for your family to fellowship at is not what can the church provide you and your family but where can and where does our Lord desire you serve Him while using your Spiritual Gift(s). And of course first and foremost is the research of the church doctrine to make sure it lines up with scripture. Many times the reason we do not find a ministry we would like to see in a church is because God is asking me or our family to attend there and assist or lead in that need at that assembly. So eliminating a church based on their missing a ministry we desire for them to have can be totally outside of God’s will for your life. We did have some questions and met with the lead Pastor  on different questions and at different times and were satisfied that God would have us to attend there. We immediately noted differences in how the decision making process was occuring in our new church versus our old church. The Elders were making decisions based on the congregation being the primary decision making group.

When you study scripture you do not find democracy as God’s form of government. Now do not judge where I am going or more importantly what form of church Government our Lord designed just yet. Read on and be sure to study the scriptures. That is not to say the church is led by dictators seeking their own will. Godly leadership requires the Elders to be led by the Holy Spirit while using God’s direction for His church as their guiding focus. Which is why our God has scriptural requirements for Elders and Deacons.  The qualifications for the Elders and Deacons is outlined in scripture in Titus 1 and I Timothy 3 and 5. Biblical church government is a Theocracy. Remember the definition for each is;

  • Democracy; a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
  • Theocracy; government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided

One example seen in scripture is when the first major conflict came up within the church in Jerusalem. The church at Jerusalem was made up primarily of ‘born again’ Jews. Later  God graciously included the Gentiles. PRAISE IS TO OUR GOD! Some of the saved Jews based on their previous traditions and beliefs started to believe that for the Gentiles to come into the church they needed to be circumcised. I suppose it would be similar to us saying today that for a person to be saved and a church member they need to be baptized or align with some other biblical command or style we felt appropriate. The issue in the Jerusalem church was a candidate for splitting the church. The Elders held the first church counsel to discuss the matter and seek God’s will as seen in Acts chapter 15. When they reached a consensus on what God’s will was on the matter they presented it the church. Not for a vote by the congregation but as God’s direction for the church. The decision was that circumcision was not needed for a person to be saved.

Another example is found in Act’s chapter 6. After prayer and fasting seeking God’s will and wisdom the Elders led the selection of the first Deacons. The Deacons would be ministry leaders in certain areas of the church distributions to see that all needs were met. The Elders directed the Church to seek out a certain number of men with certain qualifications to lead those ministries. The qualifications are very similar to those of being an Elder. Again, no vote was taken on the direction of meeting the need. The Elders led the process via God’s strength, will and wisdom.

Another example is found in Act’s chapter 5. This one having to do with church discipline. The church was growing rapidly and some of the members were not being ministered to appropriately to meet their needs. The first church pooled many of their material resources with the funds being distributed by the Elders as they saw the need. Ananias and Sapphira allowed the flesh to get into their lives and lied about their participation with the church finances. The Elders disciplined them.

Another reason or biblical logic for using a Theocracy form of Church government is found in James 4 and 5. We see there that we are not to judge the motives or intents of persons. That is to be left up to God. Along with that truth goes the Mat 18 concept of what to do with someone who has sinned against you. It is to be between you and them first and if that does not resolve it then you go to the Church leaders. The concept of voting on all matters as a Democracy dictates that the will of the majority rules. That directly goes against scripture.

I Tim 5:17-19 “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.”