Valley of the Shadow – Part 2

…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  Psalm 23:4-5

In David’s Psalm I often picture a meadow of the greenest grass in the very heart of the dark valley. There, while the enemies of the sheep peered down sept-oct-2013-025_crop_cropfrom the rocks, the Good Shepherd stood guard over the sheep as they grazed. They calmly eat then lie down to rest, trusting that they are safe. When they hear the silent footsteps of the enemy or see a shadow move in the distance, they have only to glance up to reassure themselves that the shepherd’s staff and his heavy rod are there. Then they rest their heads back down on their hooves and sleep.

What enemies are you facing today? What fear is keeping you from finding green pastures to rest in? When you trust in Jesus Christ as your Good Shepherd you will discover that He has also prepared a table for you. It does not matter what dangers you face, His rod and staff will keep you in perfect peace even in the presence of your enemies!

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Is that you?

I have other sheep too who are not of this sheepfold, I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock with one Shepherd. John 10:16

When someone calls our name, even in a crowd we automatically stop and look to see why. Jesus is telling his disciples that they are not the only ones. He has people of every kind who will also be his sheep. Our unifying factor is not our race, language or family background. What makes us all one is that we have one Shepherd.

Maybe one reason that our churches are struggling to grow is that we haven’t yet gotten Jesus message. Can it be that Sunday morning at 11 AM is the most segregated hour of the week? Jesus says one flock with one Shepherd. Can you hear Him now?

The Lord my Good Shepherd

Psalm 23:1-2 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures

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If you have been struggling with God over changes coming like unwelcome visitors into your life then remember that sheep have to be kept moving. If sheep graze too long in a single pasture it will become overgrazed and die. In the same way God is always drawing us out of our comfort zones (those green pastures of yesterday) and leading us to what may seem difficult and unnecessary. “Why can’t He just let us rest here for a little longer?” we ask. But God is always our Good Shepherd. He is our Good Shepherd both when we lie down in green pastures as well as when He leads us on to new and far off places!

Prepare for change. He has new green pastures for us to lie down in today if we will trust Him with all our hearts.

Left Handed in a Right Handed World

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves        Matthew 10:16

How I painfully remember the upside down feeling of learning to write. I was born left-handed, but at Hamilton Elementary, all children learned their penmanship right-handed. Nothing seemed to work for me. I gripped the pen the wrong way, I held my paper entirely upside down, and there on my report card appeared every quarter the inevitable F. Sept-Oct 2013 037

My teacher undoubtedly did me a great service, seeing as I learned type at quite an early age, but what I could never shake was the feeling of being wrong side up and different. That same upside down, feeling is what Jesus is preparing us for as he sends us out to the world. Once we begin to follow Jesus, there are times when everything we do gets turned on its head.

He tells us we are going out like sheep among wolves. There is no real competition when it comes to a fight between sheep and wolves. The wolves have bigger teeth, are stronger and can run circles around sheep. Nevertheless the master sends us out because we have one thing the wolf can never have. We have the shepherd!

For some of us in the church when we get in our first wolf-fight,  our tendency is to sign up for the “How to fight like a Wolf” seminar. We think if we could just try a little harder, change our tactics or develop a quicker response, we would finally come out on top. But that wasn’t our Lord’s idea at all. What Jesus wanted was for us to be ready for the wolves, by walking right behind Him. Being strong and well protected by our teeth can never compare to having the protection of our the Lord. We are no match for the wolves, but they will run away from us as fast as they can, when they come face to face with the Shepherd. Then He will make us lie down in green pastures, even when our world seems upside down.

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Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it Jesus it’s my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be dear Lord – Let it be