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Shepherd's Corner

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Choices . . . and Consequences

Friday, December 11, 2020

One day in the future “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

Unbelievers are not the only people who will one day give an account of their lives before the judgment seat of Christ. Believers will as well, and that ought to make us tremble. This thought caused even the apostle Paul, our brother, to tremble when he thought about that coming day (2 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Becoming a child of God does not free us from accountability, instead, that new relationship with Him intensifies the matter of accountability.  God, whom we now call “Father,” is also our creator and our judge. We respond to our heavenly Father’s infinite love with heartfelt love for Him, but we must never lose our reverence for the Almighty.

Almighty God will never force His will on us, but He will always make us give an account for how we responded to Him and to His activity in our lives. In this life we have the freedom to choose our course of action -- but we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. We either receive God’s gracious offer of salvation by faith, or we do not -- and the eternal consequences of our choice is already set.

In closing, the choice is ours; but the consequences are determined by God almighty. One thing is clear:  we all will appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Our hope is to hear those wonderful words “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

 

Approaching Our God

Friday, November 06, 2020

“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.” Psalms 100:1-4

Psalm 100 is all about coming into God’s presence in a way that honors Him and puts our hearts in the right place. While each line fairly bursts with joy and can be meditated on individually, the psalm as a whole is a call to worship. As we begin to gather, the psalm provides inspiration and direction. Coming before His presence with singing is more than an outward action; it’s a heart that’s already blessing the Lord. To enter His gates with thanksgiving begins before we enter worship.  A thankful heart is a sign of connection with our Lord; it is a heart poised to receive from God.

In the Old Testament language, coming into His courts means we are getting closer to the temple’s inner room where God’s presence dwelt. But in the New Testament experience, we already have access to God because Jesus’ death removed the veil separating us from His presence. (Matt. 27:51) Now, we press in closer to God, giving Him the praise He deserves for who He is and what He has done.

There is no “formula” for entering God’s presence. Some of you may say in private, “I don’t know how to talk to God,” but our God is not impressed by fancy words and sees the intent of the heart.  The HEART! Psalm 100 inspires us to prepare our hearts and mind as we prepare our bodies and clothes. It reminds us that we are not just ‘going to church’ or praying; we are coming into the presence of a living, giving God to whom we owe the deepest gratitude and worship. Let us hear this call to worship as clearly as they did thousands of years ago and press into Him with thanksgiving, praise, blessing, and prayer.

God has listened and heard our voices in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected our prayers or withheld His love from us! In our present time, many are seeking ways to approach God and can’t find the words. In prayer your words may be those of the Bible, church tradition, an inspirational writer, or spoken from the depths of your heart. Whatever words you use be meek, pray humbly, pray trustingly … pray daily ... pray thankfully.

“Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear, says the Lord.” Isa.65:24-25

 

Appreciating Godly leaders

Friday, October 30, 2020

Paul speaks in 1 Timothy 4:12 to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” When choosing a spiritual leader, it is definitely a tall order to fill - from a human perspective. When God appoints a spiritual leader, character, not age, is the determining factor.  Let’s reread 1 Timothy 4:12 completely: Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

When God calls a spiritual leader from His people, that person will be effective only to the degree that he is in a solid, life-changing, life-giving relationship with the Father. Serving God calls for Godly people, but even for the saintliest among us, service is not a right.  Rather, service in God’s kingdom is a privilege given to those who walk with God and who reflect His character.

If you are blessed to be in a position of leadership, ask God regularly to help you serve Him with a humble awareness of the privilege He has granted you. Ask the Father to make your life a Godly example that others can emulate for their good. If you are led by Godly leaders, pray regularly for them, thank God for them, and express your

appreciation to the leaders themselves. Humble servants who faithfully handle the Word of God are a rare and precious gift to the church and ought to be treated as such.

God's Presence With Us

Friday, October 23, 2020

“The woman bore a son called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him”  Judges 13:24

A male baby was born as a gift of God to Manoah and his wife. He was dedicated at birth as a lifelong Nazirite, which meant he could not cut his hair, drink strong wine, or touch a corpse.  Ultimately Samson violated all three restrictions, but in Samson’s youth the Lord blessed him. God give him amazing strength and unbelievable victories. While growing up I would see the Bible movies about this man Samson and I was so impressed by the strength given to him by God. I would ask God to give me the strength of Samson and the wisdom of Solomon. This was my daily prayer while growing up in my youth. Have any of you ever had this same desire?

You see, Samson knew Gods’ great blessing on his life, but this man's susceptibility to sensual pleasures was his downfall. Let us learn from this. Samson was defeated not by his enemies, but by his lack of self-control. This is something to ponder. Sadly, he was unaware when the Lord departed from him (Judges 16:20). It is possible to be so preoccupied and distracted from God that we, like Samson, do not even notice the Lord’s strength departing from us. Our God is not obligated to save us from adversity we encounter as a result, especially if we have brought it on ourselves.

Sadly, Samson ultimately forfeited God’s blessing on his life and ended his days in humiliation and grievous bondage. Like a lot of people, Samson‘s life had held great promise, yet he took God’s blessing for granted. As a result, Samson's downfall was great which is a pity.

As I grew and matured as a man I knew He had blessed me with great natural strength and I remember what happened to Samson.  Not only did God bless me with natural strength, but I also received mental and spiritual strength as well. With these blessings come great responsibilities and accountabilities. We all have these strengths and will always have these blessings if we stay obedient to His Word. 

What lesson does Samson’s life have for us today? God is my Helper - Psalm 54:4; God is My Salvation - Psalm 62:7; God is My Strength - 2 Samuel 22:23, Habakkuk 3:19; God is My Refuge - Psalm 46:1; God Gives Wisdom and Knowledge - Ecclesiastes 2:26; God Knows Your Heart - Luke 16:15;

His Presence with Us, AMEN!

Our Default Settings Can Be Changed

Friday, October 09, 2020

In the beginning, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) In Romans 3:23 it tells us: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

 We all have default settings. Let me share a few thoughts on this. Default settings on a computer are the hardware or software controls preset by the manufacturer. Incorrect default settings can result in strange looking documents, messed up applications, and bogged down computers. Have you ever unthinkingly hit “yes” when your computer asked you something, and then realized you’d made a mistake? The result can be chaos.

 We have personal default settings as well. The default setting, we have about an issue includes the position from which we operate, the mind-set that organizes our thinking, and the context we provide ourselves for dealing with problems and challenges. These are determined by two realities:  we’re made in His image, and we’ve been infected by sin. Spiritually, we’ve all benefited from and struggled with some of our default positions. Some are great: Jesus is Lord; He is trustworthy; He works everything together for good. These are healthy default positions that bless us and others.

Some defaults can hurt God, others, and also ourselves. Sinning, being wounded, or living in error can create default settings that make us react unrighteously, hear others incorrectly, and come to inaccurate conclusions. When we act on those conclusions, we can get into a world of hurt.

 So, here is the Good News.  The good news is that, like computers, our default settings can be changed by our choices and the blood of the Lamb. Today, let's realize that many of our natural reactions are based in wounds that God wants to heal and in wrong thinking that He is working to correct.

 In closing, you have heard people say, “I am too old to change,” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but I say this: “Lord, thank You for loving us despite our shortcomings in our lives. We are still created in Your image. You can heal us and correct our way of thinking if we will listen and heed your ways. We thank you for this and all other blessings. Amen.”

 

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