Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shepherd – Part 6

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalms 23:6 NLT)

With our adventure firmly underway we have come to recognize the beauty of our Shepherd. It's his unconditional love that has been at the center of this journey. As we have heard his voice, followed him, he has provided all our needs. Gently leading us to rest in green meadows, a place where our strength is restored and he has instructed us in the right things that bring honor to his name.

We've found courage when facing death and discouragement, because our Shepherd has absolute authority over all things and His rule will never end. He has blessed us and invites us to a close personal relationship with him. He takes pleasure in publicly honoring us with the blessings of peace, health, relationships, and prosperity.

Undoubtedly we are undeserving of this great love and care we have experience in our physical existence, but this is not the end of the blessing- His faithful love endures forever! (Psalms 100:5). The psalmist wrote the shepherd's “goodness and unfailing love pursue me all the days of my life.” We underestimate the full meaning of this passage if we think “days of life” are the here and now- our lives are eternal.

Remembering the eternal existence of our Creator, who is not made of flesh and blood as we, but what we understand as spirit. Our true nature or life is spirit. We are made to live eternally, not in these temporary shelters we now inhabit. Our physical days are numbered here on earth, but our spiritual days are not.

With all the benefits of following our Shepherd, we will have the eternal blessing of living all our days in His glorious presence, in a home not made with human hands, but one that has been specially prepared for us, it is the House of the Lord. A real home we will never have to leave and the eternal fellowship with those who have gone before us. What an amazing future awaits us! What an undeserved benefit.

I am excited for the future, for all the earthly days that I have been given and for eternity of blessing promised, but with all this joy I feel, it saddens me for those who refuse the call of the Shepherd.

His voice calls out all day and all night for those who are lost, “Come to me all you who are heavy burdened! Take my yoke upon you! Let me teach you! Find rest for your souls!” (Matthew 11:29 Paraphrased). Like a light shining in the darkness for all to see, there are those who will not come to the light to find what they are looking for.

Some have followed false shepherds who have led them down the wrong paths. Some look for shepherds who will tell them what they want to hear, and still others have become so disillusioned that they will not listen to anyone.

For those who will not come to the saving grace of our Lord or have chosen their own paths, their eternal destination of is at risk, they will live forever, but not with the shepherd or in the house of the Lord. They will live eternally separated from the Lord, because of a single choice- refusing to come the Lord Jesus Christ, so that He could heal them and give them life.

If that is where you are today, not sure of what Shepherd you are following, listen for the voice of the One True Shepherd. He calls to you to bless you, to restore you, to heal you, give you a hope and a glorious future. He will not burden you with things you can not do, but will free you from the bondage to live a life pleasing to Him and fulfilling to you.

“For God says, At just the right time I heard you. On the day of Salvation I helped you. Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT)

David wrote about the Lord, “To the faithful, you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue those who are humble, but you humiliate the proud” (Psalms 18: 25-27 NLT).

Don't wait until this tent is torn down-then it's too late- Put your trust in Jesus today!

Copyright©2011 – tathorpe- All Rights Reserved-

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shepherd – Part 5

“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings” (Psalms 23:5 NLT)

There should be little doubt in the hearts of those who know the Shepherd that He is good, regardless what the circumstances we should find ourselves in. His heart is always the care, feeding, protecting His flock.

“You prepare a feast” He has prepared a feast for us in plain view of everyone. Isn't that an amazing promise, but more than a promise, it is complete. It's a daily feast laid out before us. We are called to a banquet of His love, fellowship, peace, prosperity and His presence, every moment of every day!

This banquet is reserved for those who love, honor and obey Him, it's not available to those who revile and dishonor the name of our Shepherd. Our enemies can see how our Shepherd honors us, how we receive answers to our prayers, are prosperous, have joy and peace, but those who dishonor the Shepherd are not willing to come to Him to receive those things they desire.

Our Shepherd welcomes us as one who one who would be considered “an Honored guest” not just another invitee at a banquet, but a person of privilege. The anointing of oil is reserved for those who have been specially chosen for a position. Kings and priests are anointed. The prophets announced the Messiah as “The Anointed One” A person who carries great authority on earth with all the powers and privileges of Jehovah. (Isaiah 42:1-9)

We also have been anointed with all power and authority through our Shepherd Jesus Christ (Luke 10:19-20), who has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is also God, so don't ever misunderstand the purpose of His presence in our lives. He is what makes us Holy and gives us the right standing with the Father, through Jesus’ payment for our sins.

We are anointed for a special mission in the world and the Holy Spirit guarantees our success as we cooperate with Him. We are set apart has Holy vessels to carry the message of God's grace and blessing to the whole world; every tribe, nation and tongue (Revelation 7:9)

I've recently took up the task of journaling my daily adventure. Over the past nine months I've seen countless blessings come into my life, things that would have normally been lost in memory. Before I began this task of writing down the events and blessings of each day, I would remember those big events, but lose or forget those moment by moment answers that I have taken for granted.

For instance- traveling mercies come to mind. There have been many times I say a quick prayer for travel, and totally forget the answered prayer when I arrive safely on the other side. Seems silly, but those are daily blessings and it's remembering those small moments of the Lord's provision that grow our faith. We recognize the closeness of our Shepherd and experience His care and provision on a constant daily basis.

Another beautiful picture of this blessing is, when we blow it, as we usually do in some way, “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). He never quits or removes his blessing from us, but everyday is a new day to experience His forgiveness, love and praise Him for all these countless daily blessings.

With the knowledge of our Shepherd in our lives and keeping our attention on Him, following Him in all our ways, trusting His leadership, growing up in His Word and walking the paths of righteousness which brings honor and glory to our Shepherd, our lives will burst with streams of living water, flowing over everyone we meet. No one should leave our presence without being drenched in blessings that flow through us to others from our Shepherd. (John 7:38)

The blessings of the Lord chase down the righteous (Proverbs 13:21), He holds nothing back.

“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you. The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me, I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer, I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them.” (Psalms 91:9, 14-15 NLT)

Copyright©2011 -tathorpe -All Rights Reserved-

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shepherd – Part 4

“Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your Rod and Staff protect and comfort me” (Psalms 23:4 NLT).

Death casts its dark shadow in all areas of our lives; it looms in our conscience mind something we can not escape. We are helpless in its grip because death comes to us all. Yet there are many forms of death. One of the most common and least considered forms of death is the death of a relationship.

Sin causes friends to separate, marriages to end and family to disown one another. We think only of death as the end of breathing but what about the death of a career, death of a season of life, death of a lifestyle or even the death of an enemy. Of all these forms of death, the worst of all is the death of hope.

Death means “separation.” Looking at it in this context, it losses some of its sting. We've all suffered from death while we are still alive. Death has robbed us of family, friends, careers and sometimes hope.

Jesus bore the penalty of all death on the cross. He disarmed the enemy of our souls that has fought hard to reign death over our lives. We have victory over all death, because the enemy who robbed us of life, hope, strength, and future, has been destroyed.

Daily we walk with the effects of death, but our Shepherd is always with us, He promised never to leave or forsake [forget] about us ever! (Deuteronomy 31:8). Our Shepherd has walked the path we are on. Jesus suffered in his earthly body all the things we suffer; from loss of family to his own life.

Scripture doesn't tell us when Joseph died, but we know that he did, sometime after they returned from Egypt and before Jesus began His ministry. He experienced death of a career. Scripture tells us that he made his living as a carpenter, before the time came to announce the Kingdom of God. He experienced death of friends and relationships. Scripture tells us how the people, who knew him best turned on him, mocked him and one who betrayed him.

With one event that changed the whole world, He gave up his life to destroy the enemy that we feared so much, the death that ends life. It's the fear or the unknown, when our physical bodies return to the earth from which we were made (Genesis 3:19). Some believe that this life is the end of the road. Jesus proved differently when he rose from the grave and defeated death, the final piece of creation.

We've discovered many forms of death, but the Final Death that Jesus destroyed is the death that separates us from our Father. The death that has separated us from knowing Him, trusting Him, loving Him and believing we have a future with Him.

Scripture reveals many names that God uses to describe His character such as; Elohim-[The Sovereign-Mighty Creator]; Jehovah-[The Unchangeable-Intimate God]; El Shaddai-[The All-Sufficient One]; and Adonai-[Lord and Master], and many more that go deeper to show the awesomeness of His Glory, to express His Holiness, and to encourage us to come into relationship with Him.

The Sovereign One of all we know adores us and has removed all the things that would hinder us from knowing and loving Him, especially the sin and unrighteousness that we are accustomed to living in these mortal bodies.

In Jesus we are given this same power to overcome all forms of death. We need begin the work of healing relationships, look at the future with hope that all changes are for our good and God's glory. We need to realize that death is dead.

Through Jesus absolute authority over everything in Heaven and on earth, our eternal security is assured, so we can rest assured that His rod [Rule] and staff [Authority] can never be changed.

Copyright©2011 – tathorpe – All Rights Reserved-

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shepherd – Part 3

“He restores my soul, and leads me in the path of righteousness, for His name sake” Psalms 23:3

The soul or the heart of humans is where our emotions lay. This is where our decisions and choices begin. Jeremiah wrote “The heart is desperately wicked, who can know it? The Lord replied I know it!” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT).

The evidence is revealed in how we follow our shepherd. Are we totally depended on him? Or do we think we can side-step Him? We make choices based on our soul/heart understanding. If we have very little understanding and trust, we will not obey as we should.

Another use of “soul” can also be described as strength. If we try to accomplish God's will in our own strength, we will fall miserably short. Paul wrote that God strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As we follow our Shepherd, “He restores our soul/heart” He is the one who speaks truth to our heart and encourages us, gives us His strength to keep going when we hit problems. He fills our heart with understanding as we obey.

Coming to the knowledge of truth is not of our own doing. We are unable to know truth on our own, it is our Shepherd who speaks it to us through His word, through His Spirit and through His people. Three safeguards of your soul. Has something in His Word spoken to you? Have you heard His voice in your Spirit? Has someone spoken something to you? He doesn't leave us to guess what His will for our lives are. Listen and Obey.

Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to all those who believed in Him, whose job was to speak truth and remind them of what Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit would “guide into all truth” (John 16:13). He reminds us to keep our attention on the Shepherd who “leads me in the path of righteousness” (Psalms 99:3-5)

The paths of righteousness may not be what we think. Many of the Holy men and women suffered at the hands of evil rulers. They were driven from their homes, lost all worldly possessions, yet they rejoiced in the Lord, who renewed their strength.

According to the scriptures, the desire of the Lord has always been that we; 1) Love Him with all our heart, mind and soul. 2) Love each other with that same love (1 John 3:16). Paul explained real love in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5:

“Love is patient, Love is kind. Love is not boastful, or proud, or rude. Love does not demand its own way, but rejoices whenever truth wins”

This is the Love of God, His heart towards us, and as His children must love Him and others with this same love. This is the path of righteousness that His sheep must walk which will brings Glory, Honor and Praise to His name.

As we follow our Shepherd because He has called us by name, keeping our eyes focused on Him, He leads us to rest and fills our hearts with His peace. He will keep His promises to us, because of His reputation of Love.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NLT)

“Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me [Jesus]” (John 14:1)

“He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak, but those who wait upon the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 29, 31 NLT)

Copyright©2011 tathorpe- All Rights Reserved-