Where He Leads Me

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One of my favorite songs is the hauntingly beautiful Where He Leads Me, by Twila Paris.  The song speaks about discerning God’s still, quiet voice among all the noise of the world and following our Great Shepherd wherever He leads us.  

Lyrics to Where He Leads Me

by Twila Paris

There's a great, broad road, through the meadow,
And many travel there,
But I have a gentle Shepherd,
I would follow anywhere,
Up a narrow path, Through the mountains,
To the valley far below,
To be ever in His presence,
Where He leads me I will go.


And there are many wondrous voices,
Day and night they fill the air,
But there is one so small and quiet,
I would know it anywhere,
In the city or in the wilderness,
There's a ringing crystal clear,
And to be ever close beside Him,
When He calls me I will hear.
Where He leads me, I will follow,
When He calls me I will hear.

There is a great, broad road to nowhere,
And so many travel there,
But I have a gentle Shepherd,
I would follow anywhere,
Though the journey take me far away,
From the place I call my home,
To be ever in His presence,
Where He leads me I will go.

 

Jesus told his disciples, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  (John 10:27).  Daily I pray that I will hear the Shepherd’s voice leading and guiding me along the path He has laid out for me.  Where He leads me is where I want to go and where I will go.  He will not lead me astray, and His plans for me are wonderful. 

The Great Shepherd has a wonderful plan for you, too.  If you are feeling lost, turn to Him and let Him take control of your life.  If you are confused by all the voices of the world trying to lead you astray, take time each morning to spend time reading God’s word and praying so that you will be able to discern His voice from others.

 

You can listen to “Where He Leads Me” on YouTube at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjV2Fc15oQ0

Drinking Deeply

Great words to inspire us all to drink deeply of the living waters that Christ offers. As we drink deeply, from the excess with flow God’s love to share with others.

TLP

Earlier today, I posted about Ezekiel 47:1-12, a story about a river the prophet saw coming out from the temple, the very place God was said to dwell on earth. Everywhere that river flowed, from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, life sprang up where it hadn’t been before.  If you missed it, check it our here.

At the end of that post, I posed three questions and asked you to consider them, they are: What is God telling us in this vision about His presence? What is God telling us about the source of life? Do the words “living water” come to mind when you consider these things?042814 078-LR

Did you get a chance to think about them?

Here’s how it struck me: This story comes from a prophetic vision, not a historical event and so we ought to take it that way. Water flowed from God’s presence that brought life…

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A Challenge

I wanted to share this insightful blog. It looks at Paul as he ponders whether he would prefer to die and go to be with Christ or continue to work to share the Gospel with others. What an awesome choice! It is a win-win!

TLP

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Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and…

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Have You Tasted Jesus?

Beautiful illustration that one cannot know Jesus from studying books. One most “taste and see that the Lord is good” to really know Jesus.

Fresh Manna - Bible Devotions By Tim Burt

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

At the University of Chicago Divinity School, each year, they have what is called “Baptist Day.” On this day, each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every “Baptist Day” the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center.

One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr.Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours attempting to prove that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection, the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo… because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

After about 30…

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God, Sex, and Popular Culture (Ephesians 5.3–6)

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SCRIPTURE READING

Ephesians 5.3–6

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT

We live in a sex-obsessed culture.

Turn on the television during prime viewing hours, and you’ll see advertisements, entertainment news shows, sitcoms, and hour-long dramas awash in sex. Unfortunately, very little of the sex takes place in the context of marriage, and almost none of it has real-world consequences. When was the last time you saw a realistic portrayal of sexually transmitted disease, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, or the financial disadvantage of single-parent homes?

But sex, like every other human behavior, has consequences. Why don’t television and other popular media deal with those consequences realistically, instead of just portraying sex as a harmless free-for-all? I would suggest that it is because they—as well large chunks of our culture—are committed to an ideology of sexual liberation whereby any sexual choice is moral (and therefore above criticism), as long as it is freely and authentically chosen. Call this…

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A Timely Word


Proverbs 15:23 says, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!”  That verse sprung to mind this morning as I spent a few minutes on Facebook yesterday.  I had awaken up feeling a bit overwhelmed and burdened.  The last couple of months have been more stressful than our normal life.  

Some of the stress, such as dealing with the declining health of older loved ones, is a normal part of life.  It’s not pleasant, but it is unavoidable. Other stress is productive, as it pushes us to accomplish tasks that need to be done.  Some other stresses are really external to my life, involving loved ones walking through difficult situations.    Those are not really my burdens to bear.  I can’t affect those situations except through prayer and offering godly wisdom when I am asked.

Even though I knew all that, I awoke feeling the weight of those burdens.  I was feeling a bit ‘woe is me,’ and went so far as to ask the Lord, “Can’t we just have a couple weeks without so much stress?”   That’s what I was feeling when I opened Facebook and the first status update I read was from a dear friend Joe:

So………. to all my friends………… remember and repeat after me,
“THIS!……… is the day that our Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad!”Let no one define you today but you. Think about this, if you were writing the story of your life, why would you give the pen to someone other than yourself?

You are valuable and worth much to your Father in Heaven!. and to me too.

jus sayin’


Wow.  What a timely word.  As if that wasn’t enough to get me back on track, I skimmed down further and read a post from my friend Becky.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Another very timely word. I am so thankful that God knows just what we need to encourage us as we walk through the trials of this life.  Sometimes He speaks to me through His word, and other times He allows someone to speak a timely word to me.

Have you noticed God speaking just the words you need to hear at the time you need to hear them?

Thwarting Plans

In my devotions currently I am reading through the Psalms.  This morning I came across Psalm 33:10 – 11, “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the people.  But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. ”  I’ve read these verses before, many times, and they encourage me that God’s plans will come to fruition.  Yet today they struck me in a new way.

Christians often exhort one another to pray that God’s purposes will be fulfilled in our nation and in the lives of our family and friends.  And we should.  Our nation needs to turn our collective hearts back to serving God–the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Christians across our nation pray that our leaders will seek God’s guidance in decision-making, that our nation will repent of its sins, and that we will acknowledge our dependence on God.

Yet, Psalm 33:10 encourages us to do more.  It tells us that God will thwart the plans of those who oppose Him.  It says to me that I should pray deliberately for the plans of those who do not honor the Lord to fail.  I should pray not only for Congress to pass laws that are in keeping with God’s commands, but I should actively pray for the failure of bills that don’t agree with God’s word.  I should pray for our President to make decisions that honor God and to be dissuaded from decisions that do not honor God.

On the one hand, this differentiation might seem like mere semantics.  However, as I see it, praying for the failure of those whose who purposes are not in line with God’s will puts me on the offensive.  Many Christians in America are very passive concerning the government.  We pray as Christ taught us through the Lord’s prayer, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done,   on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6: 9, 10)  We feel that we have done our part by praying for God’s will to be done, and we sit  back and watch our nation move further and further from God.

The time has come for Christians to actively pray against the forces that are driving our nation from God.  We need to pray for God’s will to be done and we must pray for the plans of those whose purposes are not godly to be thwarted.   Our God is strong and mighty; He is fully capable of ‘foiling the plans of the nations’ and causing His plans and purposes to be achieved, if we ask Him.

I encourage you today to go on the offensive.  Begin to pray for God’s will to be done and for God to thwart the plans of those who oppose Him.  If Christians across this nation do so, I believe American can still be a nation under God.

Honoring God With Our Money: Practical Money-Management Tips (Part 2)

This week’s lesson on honoring God with money focused on practical money-management tips.  These ideas have been culled from books, magazine articles, and internet sites, including Crown Financial Ministries and Christian Financial Concepts.

Today’s tips focus on ways to save on clothing and medical expenses for your family.

Saving on Clothing:

1)      If you can sew, consider making clothes.
2)      Make a written list of clothing needs and purchase during the “off” season when possible.
3)      Select outfits that can be mixed and used in multiple combinations rather than as a single set.
4)      Frequent the discount outlets that carry unmarked name-brand goods.
5)      Shop at authentic factory outlet stores for close-out values of top quality.
6)      Select clothing made of home washable fabrics.
7)      Use coin-operated dry cleaning machines instead of commercial cleaners.
8)      Practice early repair for damaged clothing.
9)      Learn to utilize all clothing fully (especially children’s wear).
10)   Check out Goodwill and the Salvation Army for clothing.
11)   Have clothes swapping parties.  Works for kids’ clothes and grown up clothes.

 Saving on clothes

Reducing Medical Expenses:

1)      Prevention is cheaper than treatment.
2)      Teach children to eat the right foods and clean their teeth properly. Good diet, rest, and exercise will most likely result in better health.
3)      Ask doctors and dentists in advance about costs.
4)      Shop for prescriptions and use generic drugs when possible.
5) Be sure to use doctors and labs that are in your insurance network.

Coupons for medical services

Falsely Convicted

Yesterday a man was released from prison in California after a judge determined he had been falsely convicted.  Daniel Larsen was sentenced to 27 years to life in 1999 under California’s “three strikes” law after being convicted of illegally carrying a concealed weapon.  Larsen claimed that a knife found under a car at the scene of a fight was not his but was thrown under the car by another man.  No one actually saw Larsen with the knife. Larsen served more than 13 years of his sentence before a judge ruled that Larsen is “actually innocent” of the charge, thus freeing him.  For more detail on the story, please go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/daniel-larsen-freed_n_2916889.html

While Daniel Larsen was not guilty of the crime for which he was imprisoned, he is a twice convicted burglar.  The previous convictions resulted in Larsen receiving a much harsher sentence than one would expect for a concealed weapons violation.  Still, Larsen was not guilty of the crime he was charged with and I am thankful that he has been rightly released.

I have been thinking a lot about wrongful convictions in the past few weeks since I watched the movie ‘The Next Three Days.’  In this movie, Russell Crowe plays the husband of a woman convicted of murder on the basis of circumstantial evidence and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Crowe is absolutely convinced of his wife’s innocence and exhausts all his resources and legal options in an attempt to have her conviction overturned.  When all his efforts fail, he decides to break her out of prison.  I won’t reveal any spoilers–the movie description tells you everything I have mentioned.  It’s an intense, dramatic movie, and I highly recommend it.

Watching ‘The Next Three Days’ got me wondering how I would cope if I were falsely convicted of a crime.  I’m certain that I would not want to my loved ones to attempt to break me out of jail.  Committing a crime and risking innocent lives is not the way to right a wrong.  Of course, I would want my family to exhaust all legal options to secure my freedom, and I would pray that God would intervene on behalf.  But, what would my atttitude be?  I would hope that my attitude and my behavior would point others to Jesus Christ.

The Bible is full of examples of godly men who were imprisoned, enslaved, or murdered when they had done nothing to deserve those fates.  Joseph comes to mind as an exemplary role model.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and later imprisoned after being falsely accused by his master’s wife of making inappropriate advances.  Yet, Joseph honored God in prison. We read in Genesis 39:21 -23  “The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.  The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Because Joseph honored God, God honored Joseph.  Eventually, Joseph was released from prison and elevated to the second highest position in the land.  Joseph could look back later in his life and tell his brothers that he forgave them and that his imprisonment was part of God’s greater plan.   “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  (Genesis 50:20)

Of course, I hope and pray to never have the experience of being falsely convicted of a crime and imprisoned.  However, if it did happen, would have the faith and trust in God to view it as part of His larger plan?  Would I use that time to share God’s message of mercy and His plan of salvation with other prisoners?  Would I be able to focus my attention on heavenly goals, knowing that what happens on earth is but for a moment, but that which glorifies God has eternal value and significance?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I truly don’t want to find out.  However, every day I have the opportunity to find myself in circumstances that are less than ideal.  I need to view every circumstance as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with those whom God puts in my path.  Whether I am confined to a jail cell or a hospital bed or a desk at a job I don’t like, I am free to be all that God has called me to be in my present circumstances.

I rejoice that Daniel Larsen has found earthly freedom.  I pray that while he was in prison that he had a real encounter with Christ and that he experienced true freedom even while still incarcerated.  Today we all have the opportunity to chose true freedom in Christ or bondage to sin.  If we know Christ as our Savior, we have the opportunity to look at every circumstance as a chance to share Christ.

How do you think you would respond if you were falsely convicted of a crime?