November 2, 2017 Give Thanks

John 14_1

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Ezekiel 34:31 You Are His Sheep

You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 34:31

In this passage God is upset with the leaders of the temple. They were focused on themselves, rather than the people. He calls them shepherds who are not taking care of their sheep.

Now God calls the people His sheep and that He is their God. He plans to take care of them and meet all of their needs. They are to live with no fear, because He is their good shepherd. This is ultimately seen in Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus provided for His sheep the highest offering one can give, His life.

Going through life, is like walking through a wilderness that one has never been in before. For each person, each step is new and brings with it new challenges.

Walking in the wilderness can bring about things that appear to be dangerous. Things such as briars, poison ivy, and fallen trees. These are the immobile things. Then there are the wild animals and bugs that can cause harm. Some of these things are unseen, until one is right upon them and it is too late. There may also be limited light, because of the tree and bush coverage. This makes it difficult to see the path or things in the way.

As a believer, you can walk with assurance, because God is leading you. He will ensure that you have all that you need, just like a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. If a shepherd’s sheep get harmed or die, it does not do him any good. In the same way, if God’s sheep are harmed, it does Him no good.

God has given His word to be a light to your path. He has given His Son to take away sin, which is the sting of death. God has also given you a mission to do, which provides the nourishment you need. He also provides the peace and rest in the middle of the wilderness you are traveling in.

There will be a day when God calls you home, so that you will no longer have to travel in the wilderness. Until that day, you can trust Him to provide for all of your needs. You are His sheep, His pride and joy.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your shepherd; that you will trust God’s provision for your life; that you will follow God’s lead in your wilderness; and that you will know God’s peace in your life. 

Lamentations 4:12-13 The Unexpected

The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem. But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous. Lamentation 4:12-13

Jerusalem had been a very powerful city, in a very powerful nation during its time. It was set on a high hill with a great wall surrounding it. Attacking it and overcoming it would have been very difficult. All over the world, other nations knew that taking Jerusalem would have been nearly impossible. Yet, it happened, it was destroyed for a time, the unexpected happened.

The only reason that the enemy was able to take Jerusalem was because of the sins of the prophets, priests and people in the city. God handed Jerusalem over to the enemy because of sin.

Just like Jerusalem was confident that no one could conquer them, many other nations and people feel as though the enemy has no chance of overtaking them. People hide behind their money, power and position believing that those things will protect them from all harm or destruction.

Others hide behind church or a position in church. They feel that because they are a leader in the church or go to church each week, that they are immune to any destruction. As they stand behind these things, some will live in a sinful lifestyle, rebelling against God and His commands. They feel as though they are protected because they go to church and call themselves ‘Christian.’

God sees through their false living. He sees how each person is really living his life. He knows whether a person is really following Him or not.

In the end each person will stand before God to give account for his life. If one believes in Jesus and is following Jesus, God will see it and he will be saved. If one does not really follow Jesus, regardless of what his words say, God will also see it and the person will not be saved.

You have to make the choice to follow God. Do not trust the things of this world or yourself, put all your trust in Jesus. If you are against God, you can be overcome. God will win in the end.

Who are you really following today?

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will obey God with all of your life; that you will trust God in every area of your life; and that you will be saved by Jesus. 

Jeremiah 51:46 Do Not Fear Rumors

Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler. Jeremiah 51:46

While the Israelites were in Babylon under captivity, God told them that there was coming a day when He would destroy Babylon and they would be set free. During that time He gave warning that there would be many different rumors. Rumors that would strike fear in the hearts of many people, however, they were not to be afraid at all.

Thousands of years later, rumors are something that still runs rampant in this world. With the speed of information at lightning fast, rumors spread even easier. News sources are not always to be fully trusted as to telling what is really happening. Many times the news is slanted to push an agenda. Facebook is filled with stories of pictures and articles of things happening, many of which may not be true.

One area that rumors run heavy on is of war and destruction. Fear of attacks from terrorists are constantly in the news. Fear of foreigners runs high, because of terrorism.

As you hear all these rumors, you must keep in mind that God is in control. God knows exactly what is happening at the moment. It may be God is using an enemy to strike a nation, in order to get their eyes back on Him.

As a believer, everything that occurs is for a purpose. It is the purpose to get your eyes back on God, or to build you up stronger in the Lord. When rumors of war, destruction, death, economic collapse, or anything else occurs, turn to God and seek Him. Seek God’s protection in and through it all.

Some of those rumors may never occur, while others will happen. Either way, God is not surprised or worried. If He is not surprised or worried, then neither should you be.

Do not think, that because of all these rumors, God is not in control or does not care. He does. There will come a day when either you will be called home to heaven, or Jesus will return and take you home to heaven. Rumors will never change that fact.

I pray today that God will calm your heart in fearful times; that you will know that God is in control; that you will not fear any rumors or news that you hear; and that your complete trust will be in God.

Jeremiah 30:22 God’s People

“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22

As the people of Judah were being sent into exile in Babylon for punishment, many were thinking that God no longer wanted them. The punishment was going to be very severe and God would seemed to have abandoned them altogether. God did not abandon them completely. He stated that after a time He would restore them. He also told them, while this was occurring, that they would be His people and He would be their God.

Going through life can bring some very troubling times. It may often appear as though God has abandoned a person for life, because of the trials that one is going through. Because of choices that were made, there may be times that God will discipline a person to get him back on track. Other times, it will just be the consequences that God allows because of some poor decisions to walk away from Him.

You may have made one of those bad decisions in your life and you may be going through some discipline right now. It can be painful and feel as though God has left you. The devil and this world will try to tell you God has left you. Your mind may be telling you that God has abandoned you and wants nothing to do with you. It is not true. Never forget that God said He would never leave you, nor forsake you.

Even though you may not be an Israelite, you have become one of God’s children when you accepted Jesus and the work He had done for you. God is always right there to be your God and He wants you to be a part of His family, His people. You were grafted into the vine.

God wants to be your God. He wants you to be one of His people. He has great plans for you, if you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to be God. When you allow God to be the master of your life, He will guide every step you take. Everything that occurs will be for your benefit. God will not do anything that will be there to harm you or destroy you.

Are you trusting God to be your God?

Do you know that you are one of God’s people?

I pray today that you will know God as your God; that you will know that you are one of His people; that you will walk the path God has for you; and that you will obey God in every area of your life.

Be Ready, Without Fear

hurricane harvey

Over the last few weeks weather has played havoc on the lives of many people in the United States and several island countries nearby. Two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have hit the coasts and created a lot of damage.

damages harvey

The first hurricane, Harvey, hit land only a few hours from where I live in Texas. Houston, itself, is only about 1 1/2 hours from my place. I had many friends who live in some of the coastal cities and the Houston area that were hit very hard. Several completely lost their homes, others had their homes completely flooded out. It was a very bad storm.

flooded homes

During the last 2-3 days before the hurricane hit, people started running to the stores to purchase food and water. In the days before, till several days after the hurricane, many of the shelves in the store were bare. As fast as the stocker could pull water off a cart and put it on the shelves, the water was snatched up and purchased by someone.

bare shelves

Along with the shelves becoming bare of food and water, there was a run on gas. People quickly ran to the gas station to fill up. This occurred even more, once they heard that the oil refineries were broke down. There was a great fear of a shortage of gas. Gas and food prices started to rise in the fear.

Even now, after a week of Harvey being gone, there are gas stations that shut down nightly because they are out of fuel. People are still lining up at the stations to get gas. Talk is everywhere about the fear of the shortage of gas and prices going higher all the time.

I will not try to spiritualize the hurricane and say that God is judging America. He did not tell me that, so I will not say that either. It may or may not be true. God does use natural disasters to punish a nation. And there is sin in this world, so there are also natural disasters that will take a toll on human life.

What I do want to talk about is being ready without fear. Panic had risen in the hearts and minds of many people. This had caused the people to run to the stores and buy as much as they could, as fast as they could. This was all done out of fear and lack of preparation.

Many people live their Christian lives in the same way. They react to situations in their lives out of fear and lack of preparation.

Some negative situation happens in the life of a person and immediately he runs to God, crying out in fear and desperation for help. He then opens the Bible and scours it for verses of hope dealing with his situation. Prior to this situation, he never prayed, except at an occasional meal, or at church when the pastor asks everyone to bow their heads and pray, and he never opened the Bible, unless the pastor asked him to directly. The Bible sat on a shelf, collecting dust all week, until Sunday.

dusty bible

This is not a picture of someone who is ready. It is not a picture of someone who is prepared for whatever may come his way. It is only one of fear and desperation, just like those running to the stores to get food or gas during and after the hurricane.

2 Timothy 4:2 New International Version (NIV)

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Paul had told Timothy to preach the word and be prepared at all times. Although Paul was talking about directly preaching to people the gospel message, it can be seen in preaching the Word of God to situations in your life.

As a believer you must study and know God’s word in your heart and mind at all times.

Psalm 119:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Hiding God’s word in your heart and knowing it all times will keep you from sin. Running in fear is not trusting God. Not trusting God is a sin.

Time in Gods Word

The only way you can know God’s word and have it hidden in your heart is if you spend time in His word. The only way you can know God’s will for your life is if you spend time talking with God about it. And if you talk to God about it, you must listen to what He has to say.

God is a God of peace, not fear and panic. He is always in control of every situation in your life. Whether the situation is of hurricane size, or a bump in the road, God is still there with you. Know this before you hit that situation and you will have His peace and comfort in the storm. Spend time with God and His word, before life gets rough with a bad storm.

Do not place yourself in a position of running in fear to God’s word, drastically searching for some help. Know it before the time of need comes. Then you will be able to confidently go before God with your needs, knowing that He is there and in control. You will be ready for anything and not have any fear.

Prayer

Today as you think about this, please be praying for those affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and any other states or countries in their path. Pray for their peace, protection, and restoration.

Isaiah 37:5-6 Do Not Be Afraid Of Reports

When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard–those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.” Isaiah 37:5-6

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had come up against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. The city was threatened to be overrun and everyone killed. He boasted about the power that Assyria had and all the other nations he had overcome already. The people were afraid of him, because his army was much stronger and Assyria had destroyed many other nations.

King Hezekiah sent some people to Isaiah to find out what God had to say about the situation. Basically Isaiah said that they were to ignore the reports that were being delivered by Sennacherib’s men. God saw what he was saying and how Assyria was blaspheming Him.

Since that time the methods of delivering messages have changed, but the messages often being delivered are the same. Watch any news channel and you will see many reports of danger and threats. One nation is always threatening another nation. One group of people is threatening another group of people. Governmental laws threaten some people. Reports of epidemic sickness arise. Reports of economic collapse are everywhere. Reports of violence, rape, murder, theft are always out there. Fear is found everywhere.

As a believer in Jesus, you will hear these reports on a regular basis. There is nothing to stop these reports. However, you do not have to live in fear because of the reports being made. God is greater than any power in this world.

Just as Hezekiah did, you must bring those reports to God. He is the one who is really in control of everything. Without His permission, nothing can happen.

Instead of running in fear of those reports, give them to God and trust Him in how to deal with them. Trust that God knows what is best to be allowed or stopped. There is purpose for everything that happens in this life, both the good and the bad things. God will use everything, but all of it will be used for your benefit, if you allow Him to use it that way.

Are you fearing those reports?

Or are you trusting God with those reports?

I pray today that you will know that God is in control; that God will help you to not fear any bad reports; that you will bring all reports before God to deal with; and that you will be a witness of God’s great power to this world.