Tag Archive: christianity


July 29, 2013
Taming the Tongue
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

Friend to Friend

It had been one of “those” mornings and I was behind schedule in preparing to teach the women’s Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. I am fairly certain I did not exude peace and joy as I rushed around – as my Mama would say – like a chicken with its head cut off. The auditorium was set up correctly. The soundman had my power point ready to go and was waiting to do a sound check. The coffee pot was plugged in and doing its thing. Smiling ladies gathered to greet the Bible study members as they arrived. I paused and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like everything was ready – everything except my heart.

I knew I needed to spend some time alone with God before standing to teach His Word, so I found a quiet room where I could escape for a few minutes of solitude. As I began to pray, the door flew open and crashed against the wall behind it as the husband of one of our group leaders burst into the room. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy and that whatever was wrong was definitely my fault. In a very loud and very angry voice, the man began to explain the problem, ending his tirade with the question, “And just what are you going to do about it?”

Sidebar: Guess what lesson I was teaching that particular morning. Remember, God definitely has a sense of humor. The lesson title was “How to Tame Your Tongue.”

I knew what I wanted to say to the man. I also knew God didn’t want me to say it. In a rare moment of wisdom, I faced my accuser with a smile and whispered, “I’ll tell you exactly what I am going to do. I am going to do whatever it takes to make you happy.”

I was completely unprepared for the man’s reaction. His mouth fell open, his eyes widened in surprise – no, make that shock – and he stumbled backwards as if I had hit him. The silence was deafening. We stared at each other for what seemed like an hour before he finally whispered back, “Thank you!” Without another word, the man turned and literally ran out of the room. The most amazing part of this story is that from that day on, he has been one of my strongest encouragers.

The Bible works, girlfriend! When God says that a gentle answer “deflects” anger, He really means it. In this verse, “deflect” means “to change course” or “to force the alteration of plans.” When anger is met with love, it is forced to change its destructive course. The plans of the enemy are altered when they are forced to comply with God’s truth. A sweet response yanks the fuse right out of an emotional time bomb that is set and ready to explode. We need to choose our responses instead of allowing our reactions to dictate the words we speak.

Godly responses begin in the mind. I believe that our thought life is the front line of battle for the control of our entire life. Psalm 34:13 warns, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” The word “keep” indicates action on our part. We decide. We choose what is allowed to take up room in our minds. It is literally the idea of a guard standing at the gate of the city, stationed there to keep watch. He is there by invitation only. If we want to live right and speak right – we must think right.

Godly responses come from the heart. If there is something wrong with our words, then there is something wrong with our heart. The truth of Proverbs 16:23 is profound in its simplicity, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.”

A judge utters a few words and a guilty man is taken to death row.

A friend speaks a word of encouragement and a desperate heart finds hope.

A mother lashes out with angry words and the light in her child’s eyes is gone.

A wife offers a word of forgiveness and a marriage is restored.

A gossip makes a phone call and a reputation is destroyed.

A teenager says “no” and changes the course of her life.

Words are powerful. Words can destroy or build. We need to make the choice today – to respond in the right way to those angry words that are surely headed our way tomorrow.

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In the introduction to this series we discussed briefly the different types of suffering that a believer will experience over the course of their life here on earth. We understand as believers that suffering, at whatever stage and in whatever capacity we meet it, is a tool designed by God as a directive catalyst toward spiritual maturity.

As we move through this study we will gain valuable insight on exactly how God uses suffering to train, correct, strengthen, and even protect His people. When this study was first introduced to me in its original form some years ago, it changed my perspective on how I view and received adversity in my life. This is extremely important in the process of moving along the continuum towards spiritual maturity.

As we move deeper into this study you will be faced with a multiplicity of scripture. The reason for this is that a life void of scripture is a life void of power. It is the primary priority of every believer to engage in the consistent daily study, intake, digestion, metabolism, and inculcation of Bible doctrine. One of the greatest deficiencies of the modern believer is sound doctrine, resident in their souls. We tend to lean too much toward emotionalism, which has no foundation to support us when we are bearing the burdens of conflict and suffering.

Some of the core concepts in this lesson were originally presented by the late R.B. Thieme Jr., someone I have always respected as a Bible teacher and expositor. Over time, I have revisited these concepts multitudinous times and I have developed a deeper understanding and the concepts have broadened. It is not important who gets credit for this, because God is the author.

Suffering has multiple purposes and these purposes can best be understood in relation to the believer’s spiritual growth or progression towards spiritual maturity. Basically there are five categories of Christian suffering. The first two are primarily associated with spiritual childhood (the stages of spirituality that range from spiritual infancy through spiritual adolescence. These two categories are designed as punitive measures by God. The last three are associated with spiritual adulthood and are designed for the sake of providing blessings for the believer.

It is important to understand that although these categories of suffering are associated with certain stages of spiritual advancement, they can be experienced by any believer at any time. For instance, a spiritually mature believer can find themselves in a state of carnality and suffering as a means of punitive (punishment) and correction; while an immature believer can find themselves suffering for blessing through making good choices.

This study series is designed to examine the multiplicity of problems that believers encounter in the way of suffering and the divine solutions available to them in any stage of suffering. Suffering has purpose and the answer to dealing with suffering is extensively delineated through scripture. We will learn how to engage our struggles without becoming emotional, frenetic, unglued or defeated.

The five categories of Christian suffering are as follows:

Punitive

  1. Self-Induced Misery – the consequences of poor decisions.
  2. Divine Discipline – the move of God to correct poor decisions and wrong actions

For Blessing

  1. Providential Preventive Suffering – Pressure applied by God to prevent you from making the wrong decision or doing the wrong thing (Paul’s Thorn in The Flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7-9)
  2. Momentum Testing – Suffering used as a barometer to gauge the believers progression and impetus towards spiritual maturity
  3. Evidence Testing – Suffering used as evidence of a believer’s maturity and God’s sovereignty

All suffering, in some way is designed by God for the purpose blessing; the circumstances that surround the suffering will provide the clarity that reveals the purpose. The important thing is for every believer to have doctrinal orientation so that they might be able to understand the spiritual implication of the physical manifestations that are contributing to their suffering.

One of the primary problems with a vast majority of Christians is that they use emotion as a barometer and catalyst to move them through their daily encounters. God designed emotions to be a responsive mechanism not the catalyst for problem solving the issues of life. We are to have Bible doctrine inculcated deeply into our heart (the right lobe of the soul) in which a foundation is developed on which the believer can learn to apply the doctrine that they have learned to the circumstances that they encounter.

Suffering functions as a guardian for the adult believer in the same way that a parent functions with as a guardian for a child. Basically the restraints that are used and put in place for children are replaced and enforced by suffering. The dynamic of suffering serves to deplete us of our own resources and it forces us to lean and depend on God for our daily provision. Suffering makes us more pliable for the hands of the Potter.

In the same way that parents are more than disciplining agents for their children, suffering is not simply God’s way of disciplining us. Suffering is a great instructor as it demands your attention. As we are forced to use the provisions of our God, our appreciation and love for Him is strengthened and we become more in tune with His will for our lives.

As we move through this study series we continue to develop a new perspective of suffering as we dismiss both, the proclivity for asceticism and the victim complex. We will learn that when properly engaged, suffering will always catapult us toward our divine destiny.

Contrary to popular beliefs among many believers, suffering is not something to be sought out, there is no intrinsic value in suffering itself. The value is in taking the lesson and the purpose involved in the suffering and maximizing its potential. Suffering should never be a perpetual force in the life of a believer. If it is, there are other elements that must be addressed.

In the same sense, believers are not to take on a victim mentality when faced with suffering and adversity. They should engage it with faith and certainty that a sovereign and omniscient God is in complete control. When the believer uses all of the Divine assets at their disposal, there are no circumstance that can negatively impact their peace and state of happiness. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

“Christianity is not a religion of  suffering. Bible doctrine explains suffering, and metabolized , applied doctrine alleviates suffering in the soul. There is no asceticism in the protocol plan of God. Despite false teaching to the contrary, suffering for its own sake is not a legitimate Christian objective.

 

 

 

Tragically, many Christians never learn the doctrine of suffering. To their way of thinking, Adversity creates an aura of spirituality. Presumptuously claiming to follow Christ in His sufferings, they attach importance to their own pain as if it brought them closer to God. They distort their lives to fit a crippling false doctrine. They assume God honors self-sacrifice and commands them to suffer. This malignant idea breeds arrogance, destroys capacity for life, and blasphemes the character of God.” (R.B. Thieme Jr.)

 

 

 

Dr. Rick Wallace

 

 

One of the most crippling forces in this ethereal journey of Christianity is asceticism. When the Christian believer does not understand suffering as it relates to God’s divine plan, they erroneously apply value to being in a state of suffering. Too many believers have adapting suffering as their lot in life. They fail to realize God’s purpose in it for them, so they miss the chance to advance. God has no desire for you to be miserable, but He will use whatever means is necessary to insure your success in fulfilling your designed purpose. Paul endured suffering to insure that he would not be destroyed by his own arrogance (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

 

 

 

Suffering always has a purpose, whether for correction, protection, testing, or blessing. It is not God’s desire to destroy your happiness, but to provide you with the resources and assets that will solidify your happiness irregardless of your circumstances. Inner happiness is not circumstantial, it is based on the immutability of God and your position in His royal family. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

 

“…and they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the words of their testimony.”

Don’t let the enemy rob you of your testimony. He wants to convince you to give up in the midst of the battle. He understand that through Christ you already have the victory as long as you stand.

As he paints his illusionistic portraits of negativity and despair his purpose is to distort the view of faith. If he can get you to believe his lie you will not retain the testimony of God’s deliverance. Listen, their is no trial, temptation, heartache, valley or pit that you can find yourself in that God has not already planned your deliverance. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Don’t accept the negative report of the enemy.

He will tell you that the prolonged length of your struggle is an indication of your failure, when the Word of God has revealed repetitively that struggle has no deadline and delay in deliverance is not indicative of denial of delivery or absence of faith. God has set a path and much of it is appointed for the duration and nothing you do will expedite the situation. Abraham waited 25 years before the fulfillment of the promise. The Children of Israel waited centuries for their deliverance from the Egyptians. Joseph, before them, waited thirteen years before the vision became reality. I could go on. What I can tell you is that the longer the delay, the greater the destiny.

Hold on to your testimony for dear life. Your testimony is a powerful weapon in combating the enemy. Your testimony speaks the powerful words of victory and deliverance. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Hold on to your testimony with all that is within you.

You will overcome, just hold on to your faith and your testimony. They both have power. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

November 21, 2012

Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” – (Matthew 11:28-230 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Here’s a question. Do you think obedience to God is easy or hard? Hmmm. Obedience may seem hard at first, but in reality, obedience is the easy way. It is difficult to cope with the messes we get into when we don’t obey. The consequences of sin are hard to deal with. Think about the times you have disobeyed or turned your back on God. What were the results? Easy? Hard?

Satan will try and convince you that obedience is much too hard, that it carries too high a price, but he will never tell you the cost of not obeying God. He will never tell you the glory moments you will forfeit by refusing or ignoring God’s invitation to join Him.

Practicing Acts 17:28 (In him we live and move and have our being.) will never lead to sin. When we wrangle from God’s embrace and set out on our own, that’s when we get in trouble. God isn’t telling us to obey to make life difficult. God wants us to obey to make life less difficult. The end result of obedience is the blessed way…smooth moves.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30). The yoke is simply a farmer’s understanding of the divine dance of obedience. When two oxen are yoked together, they move as one—walking in tandem to the bidding of the master. Usually, an older, more experienced animal is yoked with a young upstart. The apprentice ox learns from the more seasoned ox as they walk along tethered together. If the younger animal tries to surge ahead, the yoke chokes at his neck and slows him down. If he lags behind, the yoke chafes at his neck and prods him to hurry along.

And what does Jesus say about this yoke? It is not hard. It is not difficult. It is not heavy. It is easy. It is light. Being yoked to Jesus actually makes life much simpler…smoother…more peace-filled.

God said to the people of Israel: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18). A river flows unhindered over rocks and boulders as it moves from one place to the next. It flows around them, over them, and past them—all the while smoothing rough edges. A river doesn’t strive to get from one place to another. It simply flows. That is the glory life of living and moving and having our being in Christ. We simply flow with a sacred inner calmness. Sometimes circumstances will be like tumultuous white-capped rapids, other times like a lazy gentle stream. But the life in union with Jesus keeps flowing. Moving forward. And in the journey, we catch glimpses of sudden glory in the scenery as we move between life’s banks.

Obedience is so much more than following a list of do’s and don’ts. Practicing religion rather than enjoying a love relationship with Jesus is like trying to plow the field alone. It will exhaust you rather than energize you. You will feel like a martyr and then wonder why others around you seem to be so joyful in their calling. Obedience because of our love relationship energizes our lives. Obedience out of a sense of duty or law drains. Always drains.

Religion operates on a “works of the law” principle: “I obey God, therefore, I am accepted by God.” Relationship operates on the gospel of grace principle: “I am accepted by God through the finished work of Jesus, therefore I obey—because I love and trust Him.”  We’re going to talk more about that in the next chapter. This is important to understand because until we grasp the difference, we will never experience the joy of living and moving and having our being in Christ.

Obedience is aresponse to love. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching,” (John 14:23-24).

Sometimes relinquishing control and following Jesus’ lead through obedience can feel uncertain or awkward, like when your dance partner leads you into a new move for the very first time. But each time you say yes to God, a new passion and peace flows through your veins until eventually, hopefully, a total transfusion of Christ-centered living replaces self-centered stubbornness. Intimacy becomes sweeter. Passion grows stronger. Glory moments become easier to see. Unique glory moments…selected especially for you.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, thank You for loving me enough to provide boundaries in which to experience the abundant life. Help me to obey You quickly and fully, so that I can experience all that You have for me. I don’t want to miss a single blessing because I’ve chosen to walk through the wrong door.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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The voice of condemnation

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: forthe accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

This is another one of those common tactics of the enemy that we see literally all the time in the ministry of deliverance. The accusing spirit is an anti-Christ spirit, because it approaches people with no love, but a tone of condemnation. It works through a voice; the voice of condemnation. It constantly tells you how much of a failure you are. It tells you how your heart is not right with God. It tells you that if you don’t read your Bible every day, that you aren’t serious about your relationship with God. It basically tells you that you’re never good enough. This is the exact opposite nature of God. It tears down rather than builds up. The accusing spirit uses the letter of the law to lay heavy burdens and crush it’s victims, just as the Pharisees would do:

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:4

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

The accusing spirit works hand in hand with the family of religious spirits and strongholds, including legalism.

The accusing spirit will manifest in a variety of ways. It can cause accuse a person directly, it can cause them to accuse others around them, or it can accuse God in a person’s mind.

Anytime the enemy brings up your past failures, that is the work of the accusing spirit. This spirit feeds on past mistakes, in order to justify how that person is supposedly a failure, even though the Blood of Christ has washed away those failures and cast them into the depths of the sea! In this way, the accusing spirit is an anti-Christ spirit, because it deliberately writes off the work of Christ and the shed blood of Jesus.

A while back, I wrote a teaching which I highly recommend reading, it’s on how to discern Condemnation versus ConvictionWho speaks the voice of condemnation? The accusing spirit! Even when the accusing spirit seems to be pointing to the answer, the burden that it lays on the person is overwhelming or irrational. For example, it may tell a person that they must go back to everybody that they have ever wronged, and apologize… then they can be forgiven. That is not only unBiblical, that is salvation by works, and God’s Word tells us that if we try to be made right by works, then we have fallen from grace:

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4

And getting us to fall from grace, that is, to stop trusting God’s mercy and grace for our salvation and justification, is exactly what the accusing spirit wants to do.

As I said earlier, the accusing spirit is a voice. It speaks to us. It may even sound righteous, because it speaks of how failures are bad. It’s true that failures are bad, but what Christ has done for us the a remedy to our failures.What the accusing spirit wants us to do is overlook or even discredit God’s remedy for our failures! Sound like a Satanic mission? That’s right! This spirit has all the makings of being righteous, even a minister of righteousness, but inside is a raving wolf seeking whom he may devour. He’s busy carrying out the work of his father, the devil.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

The whole motivation behind this ugly demon spirit is to discredit the work of Christ in our lives. We failed, Jesus forgave, but this spirit keeps pointing to the mistake, as if Christ did nothing to erase it! Isn’t that terrible? It is SATANIC!

The fruit of the accusing spirit is widely varied. Self-hate almost always involves the accusing spirit. Guilt, and fear resulting from guilt (when you feel ashamed, you’ll be afraid like Adam and Eve were when guilt drove them to hide from God). Doubt, unbelief, hate, judgementalism, critical spirit, resentment towards God, feelings of hopelessness, shame, etc. The list goes on and on.

What does the accusing spirit really want to do? Tear apart your faith and wear you down spiritually. He wants you to walk in guilt, condemnation, and never feel worthy of God’s glorious plan for your life. It’s goal is to wear you down, and make you weak as a child of God.

The accusing spirit thrives on repeated failures or bondages, or iniquities.Pornography or lust, for example, is a perfect example. A person can keep failing, but have their heart right before the Lord. They feel terrible each and every time they fall into that sin. Paul told us in Romans chapter 7 that he struggled with repeated failures in his own life as a Spirit-filled believer! A person who doesn’t understand their bondage may have no clue that pornography is usually a bondage with roots that need to be ministered to. The accusing spirit, however, is right there to tell them how dirty and sick their mind is. This is, again, the work of the accusing spirit.

The accusing spirit is a finger-pointing spirit. It is a blaming spirit that specializes in digging up the past, and blaming somebody for it. That somebody could be you, others, or God. It works hand-in-hand with a critical spirit, or judgementalism.

Bottom line, the accusing spirit will always point to the problem (even if it’s been washed away by the work of Christ), while the Holy Spirit will always point you to the solution. If there is a case of true guilt from un-repented sin, then once the person confesses it and is forgiven, the guilt should be an issue of the past. If the person continues to struggle with guilt, then (a) they have not mentally accepted the fact that their sin has been washed away, or (b) the accusing spirit is at work. Once a sin is confessed and forgiven, the Holy Spirit stops convicting, but the accusing spirit doesn’t stop, but continues to badger the person over their failures. The accusing spirit will also work in conjunction with spirits of guilt, shame, condemnation, hopelessness, etc.

How do we combat this deceitful spirit? For one, we need to fill our mind with the voice of God’s Word (concerning the forgiveness of sins, God’s love and mercy, etc.). We need to learn to recognize the voice of the accusing spirit and cast it down.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

Being that this is a spirit which builds strongholds in our minds, we need to be diligent in renewing our mind with God’s Word, in order to undo the damage that it has done to our thinking patterns.

It’s also possible that the accusing spirit, along with other related spirits such as religiosity, legalism, shame, etc. need to be driven out as well. You can tear down strongholds all day long, but if a spirit needs to be driven out, it will keep working against you to rebuild those strongholds. ~ Practical Teachings & Studies from the Word of God

The Guestbook

July 3, 2012
The Guestbook
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody,” – (2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Just before leaving our rented condominium after a week of sun, sand, and surf, at Hilton Head Island, SC, we found a treasure tucked under some old magazines on the coffee table. It was a 6 X 8 inch white guest book, signed by previous vacationers who had also shared a relaxing week away from home.

Feeling somewhat like a “peeping Tom” craning to peer into someone’s window, we cracked open the book and stole a glimpse into the personalities of our fellow travelers. With each entry, we visualized what the guests looked like, decided if we would like to invite them over for dinner, and surmised whether they had an enjoyable vacation together.

Have a look for yourself and decide with whom you would like to share a cup of coffee or would like to have as your neighbor:

· “Thank you very much for the use of your condo. We thoroughly enjoyed our first, but not last visit to S.C.”

· “Had a great time. Enjoyed your villa very much! However, you need to have the springs in the couch repaired. Very uncomfortable to sit on. Thank you.”

· “We have decided that this is where we’d love to live. It’s a golfer’s dream. Your courses are beautiful. The girls loved the beach, parasailing, bike rides, horseback riding, shopping! I love my tan. We will be back to visit! If you are ever in Arkansas, come to Stuttgart. We are 50 miles east of Little Rock. Stuttgart hosts the World Championship Duck Calling Contest every year during Thanksgiving weekend. We are known as the “Rice and Duck Capital of the World.” Riceland Rice comes from our little town and the ducks feed off of the rice fields during the winter after harvest. It is some of the best duck hunting anywhere. Thank you for the use of your condo. We’ve had a great week here.”

· “We really enjoyed your villa, but we won’t be staying here again. We just booked another villa at Colonnade for next year a couple of doors down for almost $300 less.”

· “Hello. My name is Amanda and I got here yesterday. So far we are having a good time. I’m eleven-years-old and I came here with my mother, grandmother, and my Aunt Loretta. She got here at the same time we did, but she is leaving tomorrow. We came all the way from Lake Wylie, S. C. I love it here and might be back next year.

· “It has been a fabulous time. This villa is bigger than our home! My niece is sure she saw a whale at the Old Oyster Factory, but we are sure she saw a buoy. Greg and Dad played golf together and we all played mini-golf. We went bike riding and “gator chasing.” The ocean is breathtaking. I’ve never seen it before, so I’m still in awe!

”When we first came, the keys wouldn’t fit, you forgot to give us a pass, and we almost ran over a biker. Get better service! Two grandmas were with us! Sixth time here – never happened before.”

The Bible tells us that we are simply visitors here on earth (1 Chronicles 29:15). The words we speak are also our entries in the Guestbook of Life.

What entries am I writing with my attitudes, actions and words for the world to see? Will they think that I was a crabby old lady who wanted better service? Will they think I savored each day here with my wonderful family? Will they think that I would have preferred another life just a few doors down? Or will they think that I so enjoyed my time here that I wanted to share it with anyone and everyone who was passing through?

Do you want to know what we wrote in the Guestbook before we left?

“Thank you for the use of your beach home. July fourth is a time to celebrate our great country with its many freedoms. Our hope for all who follow us here is that you will know the freedom which comes from knowing the Truth that sets us all free (John 8:32).” Steve, Sharon and Steven Jaynes

Matthews, NC

None to Help But God

 
None to Help But God

 

“Lord, there is none beside thee to help.” (2 Chron. 14:11, RV).

 

Remind God of His entire responsibility. “There is none beside thee to help.” The odds against Asa were enormous. There was a million of men in arms against him, besides three hundred chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help; his only hope, therefore, was in God. It may be that your difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back on your Almighty Friend.

Put God between yourself and the foe. To Asa’s faith, Jehovah seemed to stand between the might of Zerah and himself, as one who had no strength. Nor was he mistaken. We are told that the Ethiopians were destroyed before the Lord and before His host, as though celestial combatants flung themselves against the foe in Israel’s behalf, and put the large host to rout, so that Israel had only to follow up and gather the spoil. Our God is Jehovah of hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at any moment to aid His people. Believe that He is there between you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before Him, as clouds before the gale. –F. B. Meyer

***

“When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust;
When nothing is sure but that God still reigns,
That is just the time to trust.

“‘Tis better to walk by faith than sight,
In this path of yours and mine;
And the pitch-black night, when there’s no outer light
Is the time for faith to shine.”

***

Abraham believed God, and said to sight, “Stand back!” and to the laws of nature, “Hold your peace!” and to a misgiving heart, “Silence, thou lying tempter!” He believed God. -Joseph Parker


Mary Had a Little Lamb

June 14, 2012
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend
As a little girl, I really did have a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. I can remember the day my mother showed me the lamb and explained that she did not have a bottle with which to feed the stray lamb. I did. I agreed to let the lamb have my bottle if I could have the lamb. I have been fascinated by the unique relationship between sheep and their shepherd ever since.

Shepherds live with their sheep, finding places for them to eat and drink, providing shelter from the storms and protection from the heat. Sheep must eat the right amount of the right kinds of grass at the right times…or they will die. If the sheep eat too little one day and too much the next day, some of the bacteria that live in the stomach of the sheep will reproduce at abnormal levels, creating toxins which cause sudden death. This problem was even more complicated for the shepherds of the Bible.

The type of shepherding referred to in the Bible is not the farming of fenced pasture lands but nomadic grazing. The shepherd must carefully plan the path and lead the way so the sheep have neither too little nor too much grazing and are able to get to the water hole on time. Pastures are often lost to extreme heat which means the shepherd has to scour the countryside in search of green grass. Several flocks of sheep are gathered together at night in a sheltered place so shepherds can share the watches of the night, protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves. Good shepherds are always willing to risk their lives to save their flocks from any harm, any enemy and even from themselves.

Sheep are dumb, can never be left alone and often stray, requiring the shepherd to find and rescue them.  A shepherd never pushes his sheep but rather leads his sheep, going before them, making sure they are not walking into danger. The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid and when faced with a fearful situation, to run. Without a shepherd to care for the sheep, they will not last long.

Personally, I definitely fit the profile of a sheep. I can’t count the number of times I have stubbornly stuck to my plan, foolishly thinking that it was better than His plan, only to end up in some pit somewhere, calling for help. Psalm 40:1-3 has become my life maxim – with one exception. I rarely wait patiently! Remember, I am a sheep!

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (NIV).

I sometimes allow fear to drive me to a place where I am trapped by doubts and darkness…until He rescues me. I try to satisfy my hunger by eating the wrong things found in the wrong places at the wrong times. The result is always the same; my soul remains ravenous for what is good while stuffing my heart and mind with what is bad.

Like every sheep, I don’t like to be pushed. Good shepherds do not push, no matter how great the temptation.  A good shepherd stands in front of his sheep, gently calling their names, leading them to a place where he has already been, positioning himself between danger and his sheep. When I am tired and ready to give up, I tend to withdraw from the other sheep and even from my Shepherd. Many of us have somehow bought into the lie that we can make it on our own or that the rules, the commandments of God, do not necessarily apply to us…just those other sheep. The longer I serve God, the more I realize just how much we need each other and how much we need Him.  When will I learn that I cannot do life on my own – as a sheep or as a shepherd?

A good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and for me. I am so glad He was willing to lay down His life for every single sheep – the cute, fluffy ones as well as the dirty, broken lambs like me. Maybe it is time for us all to stop, listen for His voice, seek His plan and remember that we are indeed needy sheep who are called to love and lead other needy sheep to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

How many of you have a problem with patience? I am not speaking of your tolerance for the horrible driver in the next lane or the reserve you show when your 2 year old spills something on your carpet. I am talking about the patience it takes to wait on God when Satan has his foot pressed down against your neck. I am talking about the patience it take sit quiet while your name is being scandalized and you have done nothing wrong. I am talking about the patience required to press through an illness. That patience that is necessary to get through those “Lord not again” moments.

James says that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trails so that the testing of our faith may produce patience, but let patience have its perfect work, so that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It seems that there is a dynamic force working in patience. Power and completion does not seem to come through the immediate extraction from our trials, but through the patient endurance of the struggle.

Paul said that we should glory in our tribulations because tribulation produces patience, and patience, character; and character, hope. So the very thing we are fighting so hard to escape is the very thing that is molding us into what we are to be and providing the patience to endure the struggle and and obtain the prize.

Praise God! ~ Bishop Rick Wallace
http://rickwallaceministries.com/

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