30 Days of Prayer and Praise–3!

30 Days of Prayer and Praise–3!

A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 NIV

Day Three

Lord,

Just as David saw You as the Great Shepherd, we look to You as the protector of all Your children. For we are–those who truly Believe–the ones we know You will never mislead, abandon, or forsake. We know–if just one of us is lost–You will never give up on us and will lead us back to You. It is because of You, O God, that we can rest each night, knowing the angels You have assigned us are on duty–and will alert of us any impending danger. It is because of You that we can rise each morning, knowing that You will speak to our hearts, warning us and guiding us along the paths You desire us to take. It is because of You that we have no need to fear what the enemy might do, because You prepare us to recognize the tricks of the enemy. It is because of You that we lack nothing, but have everything we need. It is because of You that we can walk with our heads held high, never ashamed of who we are or who You are and all You’ve done for us. We thank You for anointing our hearts, brimming over with the love You have poured out on us–to love others–unconditionally and filled beyond measure with compassion to fight for the rights of those who are in need and feel the threat of injustice or inequality.

Lord Jesus, it is because of You that we know--when we live our lives in praise of You, goodness and mercy accompany us on our daily journey and we have no need to fear what may happen, for You have ordered our steps and we will obey. We are living in a day when people are doing what’s best in their own eyes, but we intercede on their behalf and pray they will hear and obey and see You in all they do.

It is because of You, we can lift our hands in praise of You and know we are covered, from head to toe with blessings from on High, always in position to hear You and obey. Thank You for lifting every burden from our hearts and strengthening us with the joy You have for us. Thank You for giving us a desire to please You in all we do, for we know–that You will give us the desires of our heart. Thank You for speaking to the hearts of all who love You, guiding them in all they do, ready to do always, the right thing as determined by You and not man.

You are the only One worthy of our praise and we give You the glory that belongs only to You. Hallelujah!

All this we ask and thank You for in the name of Jesus, Amen!

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The Lord Is!

The Lord is my my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for name’s sake.(Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)

A familiar passage of scripture reference should always be re-viewed for fresh introspection and although what I am inspired to say today may not be fresh for some, it will encourage others. We have no need to fear what the enemy might do when we know–The Lord is–everything we need.

Since David was a shepherd caring for his father’s sheep, he knew exactly what a shepherd’s role was–as a caretaker for the flock which would later provide for the family.

So what does a shepherd do? The shepherd’s role is to make sure the sheep–all of the flock–are kept safe from harm, led to good grazing areas and by water. The shepherd makes sure that the sheep lack for nothing and when some stray or fall off cliffs, the shepherd is there to lead them back to safety or to rescue them, making sure they get back in the sheepfold unharmed.

Considering the fact that most leaders in the churches are supposed to model the role of a shepherd, are they doing so? Are church leaders feeding the sheep or fleecing the sheep? Are they concerned with the welfare of the sheep or do they only care about their own well-being? Are they guiding the sheep along right paths–The Word of God–or are they pimping The Word, selectively, to make the sheep think they are more than they are and emptying the pockets and bank accounts of the masses?

If we truly understand the picture that David paints for us of the role of a shepherd, we’d have to admit that many of our church leaders are not good shepherds–with a heart to please God. And this is why so many congregants are mislead, misused and abused by those in leadership for their hearts are far from God and when they distort The Word of God for personal gain–the enemy gets a foothold in the heart of the building which influences the sheep and they are lost.

But if The Lord is–our Great Shepherd–we are confident that all of our needs are met in Him. We know that He will never lead us astray, but will always lead us to rich pastures (or passages in The Word) so we’ll be well fed and have our thirst quenched by The Word. When The Lord is our Shepherd, we can sleep at night without worry about tomorrow because we know that angels are guarding us throughout the night and we have nothing to fear. When The Lord is our Shepherd–He speaks those things to us that the Father says and we develop a desire to please the Father–knowing how He wants us to live, thrive and survive the attacks of the enemy.

The Lord is–our healer, our comforter, our provider, our counselor, our teacher, our guide through all the muck we face in life and when we hear and obey–we are victorious and nothing the enemy does, no weapon tossed our way, will have any effect on our lives or our desire to please God. The Lord is everything we will ever need and He will lead us to those He has anointed and appointed to lead His sheep–in all truth, according to The Word.

We need to know The Word for ourselves so when we hear someone say something that is not The Word, we’ll know it and not be led astray, opening the door for the enemy to step in and destroy our lives. Know The Word–Know The Lord. If we don’t know The Word, any fool can lead us astray when they make sounds like they know The Word, when they don’t even know The Lord. Be wise, knowledgeable and realize that wolves (in shepherd’s clothing) disguise themselves with just enough Word to get close enough to devour. If they are not saying what The Lord says and reminding people who The Lord is–run and don’t look back!

Church Leaders–Pay Attention!

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:1, 11 NIV)

There is so much that can be said about this entire chapter of Jeremiah–if I spent time expounding on each verse, it would take me over a month to complete it. But when I woke up this morning before 6:00 a.m., these are the verses of scripture that were playing over and over in my head and in particular, verse one.

Though many would attempt to deny that what was said to the prophet Jeremiah applies to us today, they would be wrong. Since some of those same folks constantly reference Jeremiah 29:11 (including me), we must understand that we cannot selectively determine which passages are applicable whenever it’s convenient. ALL SCRIPTURE is there for our learning, good for reproof, and direction, if we would just seek God for understanding.

Yesterday, my husband and I witnessed (in a video) a pastor pouring bleach, water and detergent over the heads of people–“washing away their sins.” How abominably ignorant of him and his followers to risk physical injury to eyes, ears, or other regions of their bodies. We are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ–shed on the Cross–and nothing that man can do will ever wash away our sins.

In a number of churches, the church leaders are gay and promoting a lifestyle that is opposition to living according to the Word. In one such church, the pastor is a woman and her wife is the first lady. I’m praying for them to see the need for repentance and to stop misleading God’s flock. And herein lies the problem–many church leaders see their congregation as their flock, not God’s.

When people are not aware of their responsibility as a church leader or are just interested in the position as a status symbol, they veer away from the Word in order to make themselves special. They are special alright–in need of special prayer.

If God has ordained and anointed a person for leadership in a church–the development of the church is dependent upon God, not them. They should be in constant prayer, ready to hear God speak and ready to obey what He says. The people who come into the church do not belong to the pastor or church leader–they belong to God. When we abuse or misuse that which does not belong to us there is a penalty to pay and in this passage of Scripture (read all of it), we see God is not playing around with His proclamation against those who mislead His children.

In fact, most of the churches or religious institutions do not exist because God ordained them–they are cults, established by narcissistic persons who have a need to seen and thought important. They are encouraged in their own eyes by their ability to influence people into doing foolish things–we’ve seen the evidence in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, and in other places–where people died led by those narcissists. Jim Jones, David Koresh, and so many more. There are other cults around that have not reached notoriety as yet, but I’m sure we’ll see them soon.

How do we know a religious groups is a cult? They are easily identifiable; they esteem themselves more highly than the Word of God and in many cases, they go beyond the Word in their interpretation and begin to think they are equal to God. Whenever a person thinks they are a god, there is a problem. Whenever a person thinks they can foretell the date and hour of Jesus’ return, there is a problem. Whenever a person encourages and promotes living in opposition to God’s Word, there is a problem. God has already prepared their final dwelling for all eternity–the lake of fire, if they do not repent.

I’m sure there will be some who think I’m bashing preachers, but I’m not. I’m warning church leaders–everywhere–do not forget that God is the same–yesterday, today and forever. His purposes and intent for mankind have not changed, and when anyone changes what God has said for their own purposes–to mislead and encourage living in sin, they are going to judged by God, not me–for misleading God’s flock.

Why Jesus Said, “My Father and I Are The Same.”

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV)

This statement has triggered controversy for generations since many have not understood why Jesus said this or to whom. The simple explanation is this–God the Father and God the Son are one in purpose and intent. They do not vary nor are they ever in conflict with one another. God is Spirit, and loved us so much He decided that the only way to reconcile mankind back to Him, was to make the ultimate sacrifice, the blood sacrifice that many recognized as atonement for sin, so He came–wrapped in flesh and born of a woman–to experience life as we do–tempted to sin, but didn’t. Under the Law, a pure lamb was to offered and Jesus is the pure Lamb–sacrificed for the sins of man–for all who believe.

But let’s go back and see what led to this statement when the Jews questioned Jesus’ veracity.

John 10:24-29

v. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

v.25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me,

v.26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

v.27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

v. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand,

v. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

What follows is the attempt by them to stone Jesus for blasphemy–accusing Him of claiming to be God when He was a mere man.

Some people–those who say they believe and those who don’t–still do not understand that Jesus and God are one. When we pray to the Father, in Jesus’ name, we are talking to both and Jesus said (in another verse of scripture), whatever we asked of the Father in His name, it would be given to us. When we attempt to separate God as one entity and Jesus as another, and Holy Spirit as another, we nullify the power of the three since they are One in purpose. I have never understood how people can say they believe in God and yet not believe God or in how they can establish, “Jesus Only,” doctrines.

Before Jesus came (God in the flesh), God spoke to the people through the prophets or whoever else He chose to use. While He was here on earth, He was limited by His fleshly body to a point, but He knew what people were thinking and He knew all the Father had spoken to those of old and this is why the Pharisees were amazed at the knowledge He had since He had not been taught by them. Jesus is The Word so He would certainly know The Word as God spoke it to those who were before Him. Now, since His ascension back to heaven, we have access to Him through Holy Spirit and when we are filled with His Spirit and allow His spirit to guide us in all things, we no longer have need for others to “tell us” what The Lord says about anything. But this is for those who Believe! God is yet speaking to us, directly–and those who know His Word, know His voice when we hear Him and He knows all who belong to Him, by our obedience to His Word. Glory Hallelujah!

When we belong to God, we listen and obey. If we do not belong to God, we will not hear and certainly will not obey. So, when people claim to believe in God yet encourage or promote others to live in opposition to His Word, they are really saying they believe in a force greater than them, but since they do not what God has said, they cannot believe God.

Jesus is the Great Shepherd, I am one of the sheep who belongs to Him and I know His voice because I know what the Father has said. It is my relationship with God through His Son, that I can stand firmly on The Word as my foundation for living and knowing how to live–unconditionally, but also knowing that loving comes with the responsibility of correction, and instruction. 

God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ are one and since I belong to them, my purpose is the same as theirs–to bring all into the knowledge of who He is, acceptance of the work on the cross for our sins, and encouraging obedience in all things so we can all hear, “Well done” and live with Him for all eternity.

More about what Jesus said and why, next time.

A Title Means Nothing If The Role Is Not Fulfilled!

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2,3 NIV)

What does a good shepherd or a good leader do?

Being a good shepherd and being a good leader–in anything–means that the people are more important than the title. There are many people in leadership positions in churches who hold titles–pastor, bishop, apostle–and few of them are actually shepherds. How do we recognize them?

The shepherd realizes that those in the congregation are “not his/her people” but they have been given the responsibility to watch over the flock–feed them God’s Word, correct them when they go astray, warn about impending dangers, and provide them direction and instruction they can use to teach others. How many church leaders are actually doing this? Many are more concerned about how “they can influence others with their sound or things they amass” and never take the time to get to know those in their congregation or what they need.

I remember being in a meeting that was not being held in a church when the man who was the pastor of the church I attended came in late, needing to be seen, and announced that he knew his flock. But he didn’t recognize me as a member. I didn’t say a word, but that struck a chord in me. He wasn’t interested in serving the needs of the people because he didn’t know what the people needed. Not long after that meeting, I left that church when bizarre behavior starting ruling.

The same is true for leaders of other non-church groups. Some people only want leadership positions because of a title. Titles mean absolutely nothing if the person holding the title is not fulfilling the duties. I’ve recently been involved with a parent-organization for the high school my grandson attends and discovered that the reigning president has not fulfilled their duties from the outset, but is now angry they were voted out of office. They were not interested in “doing the role” they obtained, but only in being a position they could use to bully others. What I don’t understand is why. Holding a title means nothing and impresses no one if people don’t do the job that goes with the title.

These have not been good examples for anyone; especially the children in knowing how to be a good leader and even more important in how to demonstrate good sportsmanship when losing–an election or a game. No character–no grace; no grace–no room for entitled personalities–who do nothing but create problems for others.

If what we do on any level is not done from pure motives–it will not succeed. God knows the heart and He watches all we do and He hears everything we say. We cannot hide from Him and when He exposes a person’s true character, they can no longer hide from people.

In a position of leadership–we must always question our motives for being there and when we are incapable of fulfilling the role of that position, we must leave it to those who are capable and will do.