The Shepherd Test

Sheep need a shepherd

Matthew 9 and 10 Jesus spent a fair amount of time walking among the people, listening to their conversations. He saw those paralyzed both physically and spiritually. He saw a desperate father in need of direction when all around him was collapsing. He encountered religious leaders who could not or would not see the helpless, the needy, and unloved. Instead of meeting their needs, they watched Jesus, ridiculed and scoffed, and attributed his work to Beelzebub. They lacked the one thing this flock needed: compassion. They were just like the foolish, worthless shepherds of Zechariah 11:17 who left the flock to fend for themselves. Jesus noted that times had come and gone, but it was still like in the times of Zechariah. The sheep were scattered with no one to lead them. In sharp contrast, in Psalm 23, we see a picture of the good shepherd who leads, restores, and binds up the brokenhearted. Jesus is that Good Shepherd. His sheep hear his voice, and they follow Him, and He is even willing to lay down his life for the flock.

Somewhere there is a sheep in need of the Good Shepherd’s compassionate touch. 

If Jesus came now, would I pass the test of a good shepherd?

True Discipleship means…

True Discipleship

Mark 4-5; Matthew 8:14-31 To Leave the Results to God

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would” bring good news to the afflicted; bind up the brokenhearted; proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;” [Isa 61:1] Yet, some did not experience those blessings because Satan, the master deceiver, had one goal: to blind “the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Co 4:4]

Take for example the sower parable and the seed on the walkway which fell where the birds came and ate it up. There are hearts just like the pathway, so hard that the seed cannot penetrate. Just like the birds which snatch the seed away, Satan snatches away the Word from the hardened heart.

Why does God allow this? Why does He leave them untended and in need of tilling and preparation? We must trust the words of Deut 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever,” One day, God will answer those questions; in the meantime, we must look after the other seeds, till the soil, water and fertilize so they may sprout and take root. That is discipleship.

Where are you sowing, tilling, and tending the soft hearts and leaving the results to God?

Beware of Fame

Fame is Fleeting

2Kings 14, 2Chron 26 You have heard this phrase: “the apple never falls far from the tree.” We find the truth of that parable in the life of King Uzziah, the son of Amaziah. Amaziah had a problem with pride, and Uzziah, it seems, had the same problem. So whereas many wanted to see the death of Amaziah and sent assassins to carry out that dastardly deed, they looked up to his son Uzziah (also called Azariah).

Uzziah was a good king for many years. He did what the Lord desired, and he reigned for 52 yrs. He did what the Lord approved just as his father Amaziah did…BUT. There is that little word again to draw our attention to the whole story. What happened after the “BUT?” The author of 2Kings doesn’t tell us the entire story, but the Chronicler does.  It seems that, like Amaziah, he had a problem with pride. He became very famous and powerful, and BUT, (there is that little word again BUT) once powerful, his pride destroyed him. His undoing was fame. He thought he could do not only what a king does but also what a priest does. So there is a lesson here for us; beware of fame because it becomes a temptation. Remember, these wise words: After pride came, disgrace followed; but wisdom came with humility.” [Prov 11:2]

Will Uzziah’s son learn from his grandfather and father? Stay tuned.

How to be wise!

wise advice

Prov 5 There is an old saying, “loose lips sink ships.” Solomon wisely counseled his children to avoid that which seduces. It is tragic that later in Solomon’s life, his many wives turned his heart away from God. Seduction is one of Satan’s tools to disarm and destroy. He does it by twisting scripture, adding half-truths, or just offering what sounds and looks good. Yes, Solomon’s words have a profound warning ‘seductive words are smoother than olive oil.’ Eve was his first victim; King David was another. Will we add to his quiver with our lack of paying attention to these words of counsel? Solomon is offering to us the fruit of falling for Satan’s tools of seduction.

That leaves us with the question: How does one avoid being seduced as Eve was or as King David? First, we must be attentive to wisdom which is prudence in action. Secondly, we must pay close attention to the understanding of those who are wiser than us. Thirdly, we avoid Satan’s seduction by this counsel: ‘Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.’ [Pro 4:23] And “love God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” [Mar 12:33]

Whose voice will you listen to today? 

“How to Meditate on God’s Word”

How to read and meditate

Psalm 119 Here is a simple method for reading and pondering the words of scripture. Begin with a series of questions. For example, in the first stanza of 119, there are just eight verses. Try asking, as you read, some or all of these questions.

Follow this example:

  1. What words are repeated?
    1. blessed
  2. What attribute of God is noted?
    1. God has ordained His precepts; therefore, God is worthy of our praise, for He is a God of order and design for men. 
  3. Is there a contrast or a comparison noted?
    1. Those who follow in God’s footsteps are blessed. In contrast, those who do not are shamed. 
  4. Which synonyms are given? 
    1. Precepts, ordinances, law, statutes, commands 
  5. Is there a result from the psalmist meditation that you could apply to your life?
    1. No shame comes to those who focus on God’s commands. 
  6. Is there a command that I need to obey? 
    1. Learn God’s just regulations, keep God’s statutes
  7. Is there a challenge given?
    1. I will keep God’s statutes.
  8. Is there a plea to God for some area of his life to which you can relate?
    1. Do not abandon me; pray that my heart is predisposed or steadfastly directed towards knowing and applying God’s precepts.
  9. Is there a verse that I can take with me all day today?
    1. [Pick your own]

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

God gifts men/women to do the work of the ministry

Exodus 36 to 38 That phrase was coined in the early ’20s to sell Victor Radios, but, in reality, chapter 36 shows us the gift that keeps on giving. God is the one who gifts each person. He gifted the artisans to build the Tabernacle, but He also gifted the people with a willing heart to give to the work. No matter where God has placed you, you have been equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Thinking through all that the supervisor Bezalel had on his plate, he must have learned quite a bit in Egypt. We wonder what his “job” was there. In Exodus 5, we read “The Israelite foremen.” Was Bezalel one of those who learned how to direct a crew that would be under him to build? Where did he learn the working in gold? Did he learn it back in Egypt and now wondered how God was going to use him? That’s how I think. God and I have a conversation: I tell God, “don’t waste this,” use me in your work with the skills you have given to me. What do you say to God?

My father-in-law, was one who could “see” how something was made. If something broke, he would always say, if someone built it, then someone can fix it. He could study a broken piece and could see beneath the outer to the inner and then repair it or rebuild it into a new piece. He passed that on to DA, and he is always saying to me: if someone designed it, then someone can fix it. Both my father-in-law and my husband were/are amazing.

My own Dad didn’t live long enough for me to really understand his gifts, or for me to appreciate them, but he had an inner gift of tenderness that he passed on to me. He could see where a heart was hurting, and he could reach out to fix that broken heart. Unfortunately, his gift was short-lived, and the one person he needed to reach most, he was not able to. I can’t wait to get to heaven and talk to Bezalel and Oholiab and rekindle that relationship with “Grandpa Floyd.”

The people gave willingly and had to be restrained finally. Do I give voluntarily, or do I hold back and wait? God has blessed us. Are we giving willingly and without thinking about the amount or the gift but only that it is being used for God’s kingdom work?

Perhaps you don’t see yourself as a Bezalel or a Oholiab, but only see yourself as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.[Ps 84:10] God can use your talents wherever He has chosen.  All He asks is for a willing heart.

Molded for His purpose

Do I see myself on the potter's wheel?

Genesis 30 and 31 Integrity

Neither Jacob nor Laban are considered to be faithful and men of integrity. Their words and actions reveal their hearts, but when Jacob remarks, “my integrity will testify for me later on,” we want to add our yes and amen. How often do we echo words such as those and then wonder where did that thought come from? We want to ask Jacob; Do you really believe that truth, or is this how you want to be known? 

Did Jacob really think he was a righteous man? No one is righteous apart from the saving grace of our Lord. [Rom 3:10] God wants us to know this truth: “He/God guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” [Psalm 23] It isn’t for us but for God. He is the master potter, and He molds the clay for His purposes. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand,” [Jer 18:1-6]

We are a sinful people and in need of His righteousness so He can guide us step by step. That is why God has put those words in that psalm. God has given us examples to ask: how is God guiding them; is God guiding me? In the case of Jacob, we can say yes— even though he hasn’t yet come to grips with his deceptive ways, God is at work in his life molding him just as He is in yours and mine. 

 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” [Eph 2:10]

Your thoughts? Love to hear what you think.

Fear, Faith, and Discipleship

fear is the opposite of faith

Philemon “Fear and Faith”

God in his sovereign love directed the runaway slave Onesimus from Colossae to encounter Paul, an aged prisoner, somewhere in Rome. Watching Paul and hearing his story, he would see, not fear but a peace that passes all understanding. He would learn the truth and power of forgiveness that would forever change his heart and soul. You too might be just like Onesimus, a runaway. You are fearful of today and tomorrow but God is calling you to Himself. It was because Paul took Onesimus and discipled him that he moved from being a willing slave of the evil kingdom of fear and bondage to being a bondslave of the heavenly kingdom.

Yes, Onesimus would have to return to Colossae and Philemon to “face the music.” However, before he was useless, but now he was useful not only for Paul but also for his earthly master. Don’t you want to meet him in eternity?

Are you like Onesimus? Are you running away from God? Are you living in fear of what lay ahead? Jesus says: Come follow Me and I will remove all your fears and give you the peace that passes all understanding!