Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 1:8-9

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 1:8-9 Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 2

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Over the past few years, as our daughter has been raising our grandson, she has shared how thankful she is for our love, teaching, guidance, and discipline/instruction, even though, at the time, it she didn’t necessarily appreciate it. Now, she and her husband try to raise our grandson and granddaughter in the same way, with their own uniqueness and challenges of the changing times. It is so comforting to know that all those tough teaching moments intermixed with extreme patience, love, and sleeplessness have been instilled in our children, which they can now draw from in their own toolbox of parenting skills. 

Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon encourages children and parents, in their respective roles, often. Today is the first of many familial words of encouragement. Today it is specifically directed to children.

Let’s top up our coffees and see what Solomon has to say…

Proverbs 1:8-9                                                                                                                             Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction                                                                         and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.                                                                      They are a garland to grace your head                                                                                   and a chain to adorn your neck.

Solomon’s words in today’s passage to children, take the fourth commandment one step further:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

The fourth commandment is the only commandment with a promise: If you obey and honour your parents, life will go well for you. What Solomon is adding to this commandment is that not only will life go well for you and beautify your life if you honor and obey your parents’ wise instruction, but that you also will be a beauty to those around you. In other words, your actions and words will bring beauty and guidance to those in your life. Not only do you feel handsome when you dress in fine clothes, but others see your beauty. In the same way, by heeding and instilling your parents teachings in your life, you are putting on fine clothing to be enjoyed by yourself, and seen by others.

So if you are frustrated by your parents’ words, be patient and obedient, heeding the guidance and wisdom they impart to you. Ask the Lord to help you to be honourable towards them. Also, it may be beneficial to take time to reflect on your parents’ teachings that perhaps you may have abandoned, and consider their God-given place in your life, then pray to God to subdue any rebelliousness with willingness and joy, especially towards those teachings and habits that would draw you closer to your Saviour.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for parents that give so much of themselves to providing me with the love, guidance, teachings and discipline needed to help me to know you and to be adorned with your beauty through my actions and life. Forgive me the times when I do not honour my parents and am rebellious. Help me to be obedient and patient towards them. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

Coffee w/t Solomon Proverbs 1:1-7

Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life

Devotion 1

Good day friends! I pray your August has gone well, and that your summer has been relaxing and refreshing! I have thought of you often, and I am excited to begin our weekly devotions with you and the wise words of Solomon.

Like any wizened person, it is in our best interest to sit and listen to what they have to say and to heed their instruction. We’d be fools not to! So it is with great joy and excitement that Solomon will be joining our weekly morning coffee time, as we work through the Book of Proverbs. Let’s top up our coffee’s and get started…

Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,  doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,  but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Just think… Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. God blessed him with such great wisdom and discretion. Royalty came from all over the continent to experience for themselves the wisdom of Solomon… and they were never disappointed. In fact Queen of Sheba said it like this in 1 Kings 10:6..7: “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true…Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.”

Now in the book of Proverbs, Solomon imparts his wisdom to us.  In the introductory passage above we are informed of the purpose of the writing of this book of the Bible; to learn what is right and just and fair, and to learn what it means to display prudent behaviour. He desires to teach the young in order to be knowledgeable and discrete, and for the wise to add to their wisdom and to give guidance to those willing to be discerning. But first and foremost, and above all, is the understanding that true wisdom and knowledge comes from the fear, knowledge and respect of the Lord, and living according to his instructions. To deny, ignore, or despise such wisdom would only be foolish and self-detrimental.

Life is not easy; it’s filled with difficult decisions and consequences to each action or behaviour. So if we have been blessed with the knowledge of God’s grace in Christ for our eternal good, and also God’s instruction for our earthly wellbeing, why would we human beings- choose to deny or despise such assistance? This is the plague of the human heart as it is drenched and dripping in sin and in opposition with God. May our constant prayer through these devotions with Solomon and his proverbs be one of cleansing of our hearts. May we be open and hungering for God’s wisdom to be poured out in our lives, and our hearts and minds awakened to his practical guidance in our earthly walk.

Prayer: Dear Lord, As I dig into your wisdom through the words of Solomon in his proverbs, please open my heart and mind to hear and understand what you are saying for my life, as well as, all people – young and old alike. Give me clarity of mind and courage to heed and follow your instruction for my good. In Jesus name, I pray. AMEN!

A Sabbath-Rest

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:9-11a

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I am sharing with you today that I will be having a Sabbath-rest for August which will include abstaining from writing and posting the devotional blogs. I will continue to post the week’s readings for those enjoying our Journey Through The Bible, but I will not be posting my weekly devotions for August, as I am finding that I am needing time to get back to just resting in the Lord during my morning times of devotion with him. Instead of just focusing on him and giving him praise and thanksgiving, and joyfully extending  all my prayer requests heavenward, I am finding I am focused on deadlines, and post times, and scheduling, and the list goes on and on.

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The world might tell me I’m weak because I can’t fit it all in, and rightly so. But in knowing my limits and temptations, I’m aware that it is time for me to take a sabbath – time to rest and refocus on the Lord. With renewed focus and clarity, it is my hope to begin working through Proverbs for my weekly devotional blog, starting in September.

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When taking our Journey Through The Bible this past year, I was captivated by the practicality and wisdom of the proverbs. I hope you will join me as I share my thoughts on these wonderful little nuggets of wisdom.

I look forward to having our Monday morning coffee visits, starting back up on Monday, September 3, 2018.

God bless you throughout August and always!

In Jesus’ love and mine, Brenda

Our One Constant

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

My husband and I are away on a beautiful vacation to the Hawaian Islands to celebrate our 30th Anniversary. As I sit on the balcony and watch the waves lap up onto the rocks, I am prepared to start my day like I do every other day- with my Lord. It doesn’t matter which day it is or where I am sitting, but each day he meets me wherever I am.

Let’s top up our coffees and revel in this reality….

Our One Constant

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-29

Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever thought about how it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what your day holds, or what you are going through- no matter what- God is with us. Whether I’m on vacation in Hawaii or Cuba or Europe or any part of the world, he’s there. Whether I’m sick in bed, or waiting for the birth of a grandchild or preparing the day for a loved one’s funeral, he’s there. Whether I’m emotionally celebrating a mountain top experience, or I’m psychologically going through the darkest of days, he’s there with me. God is the one I can talk to every single day, every circumstance, every single time. He starts my day- every day.

Over the years, our earthly confidants come and go. The joys of our lives grow up and move out to start their own households and lives. People in our lives come and go. Life’s highs and lows drift through our days in an ebb and flow. No matter where in the world our days take us- physically, emotionally, psychologically- the Lord is always with us. We never need to miss him. Where we are, he is. He is our one and only constant this side of heaven.

So where ever today takes you or tomorrow or the next, know that God is with you. If you are planning to leave for your summer vacation, remember to have him go with you. Where ever you are, God will join you as you take time to be with him. He will guide your days and give you rest at night, every day and every night. He is our One Constant!

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank-you for always being with me. Thank-you for loving me and guiding me. Here I am in _____(name the place you are in right now)___________. Forgive me all my wrong doings and keep me from sin. Guide me this day in your grace. Give me the wisdom I need to tackle the decisions and situations with which I will face. Help me to love those people you put in my path. I lay before you now my thanksgivings and my requests…… Dear Lord, thank-you for being my one constant! In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: It’s so easy to not bother taking time with the Lord when you’re not home. However, over the next month I ask you to challenge yourself – take this prayer with you by copying it into your notes on your phone or rewriting it or whatever works best for you, and take it with you where ever you go for the next month. Then as you say it, take a look around at your surroundings and know that our Lord is present with you exactly where you are at that moment. So no matter where you wake up  each morning, over the next month, you will be reminded to include Jesus in each day.

Got Your Umbrella?

umbrellaGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Although recently, we have had some rain, it is not uncommon that during the summer months it can easily become drought-like in Southern Ontario.

The farmers and foresters really feel its effects when it is so dry, as well as home owners as it is not uncommon for residential properties to have lawns that look like harvested wheat fields. In fact, harvested wheat fields look more lush than our little patches of golden grass.

 

 

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So, why do I have a photo of an umbrella when I’m thinking about drought-like conditions. Well, it all reminds me of a parable I heard in the movie Facing The Giants. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend that you do.

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share the parable and where the umbrella fits in….

Got Your Umbrella?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:4-7  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:1-3

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2b-3

grass.jpgIn the movie, Facing the Giants, one of the characters shares a parable about two farmers who endured a drought. Both farmers prayed to the Lord. One farmer continued to go around downcast. The other farmer walked around with an umbrella. The question was then asked, “which farmer believed that God would answer his prayer?”

rain2This parable is very convicting because how many times do we pray about or for something and then go on complaining or worrying about it. On the contrary, when we have lifted something up to the Lord, we need to know and trust beyond a doubt that God is listening, God is working, and God will reveal a response. The act of prayer is not just equal to us picking up a phone and talking into it. It requires us to dial directly to him and to speak face to face with our all-knowing and all-loving God, just as we would a dear friend. This is an intimate conversation where he is intimately present. The great thing is that He wants us to tell him all our requests; great and small. No prayer request is too insignificant and no request is too big for him.

rain3When we give our needs and life’s situations to God and ask Him to guide us and the outcome, we can release it and trust that as events arise and the outcome is attained, whatever it is, it has been accomplished according to his will for our lives. That doesn’t mean we get what we want. It means we get what He knows is best for us. At times we may feel disappointed, but other times we may be the recipients of watching God reveal Himself in our lives in miraculous ways.

umbrella2Ultimately, may I encourage you to seek the Lord with all your requests and always be prepared for an answer. Seek his guidance first in all things and always trust the answers, so that just like the farmer who trusted God to answer his prayer in the midst of his drought, you may answer a confident ‘yes’ when asked, “Do you have your umbrella, too?”

Prayer: LORD, today I lay before you____________________________. Please take this from me or walk me through it. May the outcome be according to Your will. Please guide me to be open and willing to do all that you would have me do. Grant me patience as I await the outcome. Help me rest in your loving arms and be at peace. In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Is there something on your heart? Give it to the Lord in prayer. At times, I physically lift up my hands as if I am holding something tangible in order for the Lord to take it from me. Feel free to this, or something like it, if it will help you. Then trust that He has lifted it from you and is taking care of it. Pray for patience until it comes to pass and be watchful for miracles as he works out the response through you and the situations around you.

Blessed? …Be a blessing!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Last week we talked about how we should not always look at how we are being blessed or not blessed, but rather, how God may be using us to be a blessing to others. This week’s devotion is an extension of that concept of being a blessing to others.

Let’s top up our coffees and dig into it a bit further….

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Blessed? …Be a blessing!

 

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 1 Corinthians 7:7b

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

giftWithout a doubt, whether you believe it or can see it or not, you have been blessed with gifts and abilities by our gracious God. So in addition to unconsciously being a blessing to those God sets in your life- as we discussed last week- you have been blessed with these gifts and abilities, with the sole purpose to bless others and, in so doing, give God glory.

As a young person, I loved singing. I wasn’t necessarily good at it, especially radio songs, but I had a high voice and I loved the sounds of harmony, so I joined the church choir with my Mom. At the age of about 13, I sang soprano with a group of people who much, much older than myself. Overtime, the choir director worked with me and had me sing solos in church, and I loved it! There was and is nothing like singing to and about the Lord. The Holy Spirit moves you in these pieces like no other songs. It is not uncommon that I am brought to tears with emotion and elation when practicing a piece for worship service.

God has instilled in me a desire to sing. Some day he may take it- my desire and/or ability- away, but in the meantime I must share it as part of my stewardship to bless others; to help lead the music in worship by singing his praises in church, to sing at gatherings and church socials or where ever I am asked. Sure, I could just simply sing secular stuff. In fact, singing in the secular realm with secular music is more popular and is received and requested more often by many more people. However, it is in singing God’s praises and giving him glory where my purpose in having the gift truly lies.

In the same way, God has blessed you with unique and specific gifts and abilities, and your sole purpose is to bless others with them and, in so doing, give God the glory. So may I encourage you to use your gifts and abilities to bless all those around you, but especially within the church, and for God’s glory. For in so doing, you will be doubly blessed.

pianoPrayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you have blessed each and every human being with gifts and abilities. Help me to see and nurture the gift(s) you have given me and to use them for your glory in the secular realm, but especially, in your church. Guide me to be a good steward of these gifts that they may bless others. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Think about your gifts and abilities; those things you are good at and enjoy doing. Do you use them for the benefit of others? for the church? or do you keep them to yourself? Think of one thing you can do this week or on a regular basis where you could use these abilities to bless someone else, or within the church.

Blessed to be a Blessing…

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Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Have you ever questioned your life? Why you were born? Why certain things were happening to you? …Well, as a child, I used to ask myself that question all the time: why was I even born?

It wasn’t until I got older that I learned of the answer.

Let’s top up our coffees and I will share…

Blessed to be a Blessing

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will... Ephesians 1:11
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Please note: Due to the age of the photo, there is discolouring under our eyes. Please disregard.

 

I remember wondering as a child, “Why I was born?” I was told, I’m sure with love and humour, that I was an ‘accident’, which made me think that my family was just putting up with me because they had to. I am the baby in a family of five children. The sibling next to me is five years older than me. There were eighteen years between my sister, the eldest, and myself. My parents were older and tired by the time I came around. And when I got to school age, there was no assistance with homework,  nor cheers in the bleachers on my behalf, when I played team sports. There was nothing special in me, and my life was the average middle class life. Oh poor me! Why was I born? (Please note the sarcasm.)

 

It wasn’t until I began to enter adulthood and I looked back on my family and their love for me, and I watched and I reflected… I saw the relationship of my parents, and I thought on that. I saw my Dad’s lack of faith, and my Mom’s faithfulness to go to worship on Sundays and give her meager $5 in offering, which was what my dad would allow, and I thought on that. I saw the love and the grief of my Mom, in particular, towards my brother who had been killed in a car accident when I was three years of age, and I thought and thought and thought on that.
I remember, as such a wee one, the day the policeman came to the door to tell us that my brother Billy had been in an accident and that he died at the scene. He was 21 years old. Of course, being so little, nothing really registered in me. However, as I got older, and prepared to have a family of my own, I reflected on the realization of the extent of pain that the death of my brother would have had on my parents, in particular, my Mom. I cannot fathom such pain, and it brings tears to my eyes the thought of such pain. …And then it hit me: My purpose! …It was not for me and how I would be blessed, nor what I would accomplish. My purpose was to be my Mom’s purpose for waking up in the morning, for not being able to let herself fall into the bottomless depths of pain and grief and sorrow. My ‘being’, became God’s help to my Mom in order for her to get through the pain of her eldest son’s death.

Upon this realization, everything I had ever questioned began to make sense. I may have been an accident to my parents, but not to God. He knew exactly what he was doing! It was not my faith or my conscious acts that blessed my Mom. God blessed my Mom by giving her ‘me’, and I was just to have breath and live. I did not come to be blessed but God desired me to be a blessing to her.
It was then that God’s words truly sprang to life for me in Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” and the beginning of Jeremiah 29:11,‘ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord…’ There was nothing I, nor anyone, planned that permitted these events to occur and allow my Mom to survive such tragedy, only what God purposed. He worked everything, in accordance to his desire, to care for my Mom and my family. Even in death, he has guided us all to Christ – my brother Billy came to faith just a year or so before his death, and my Dad came to faith, many years later, just two years before he passed away, and all of us in between have been brought up in the faith. May God guide us in his truth, and to raise our children and grandchildren in his saving grace.
In the same, whatever questions you may have about your existence: why you were born into your particular family, situation, etc…, just know that it wasn’t an accident, no matter how wonderful nor how dysfunctional it may be. God created you to be whom you are to be a blessing to those around you. He will give you the physical, emotional, psychological strength to overcome, if you let him. You may not know what your purpose is, and each day may be a struggle, but trust God to guide you through it, and be strong in the Lord. One day, may he open your eyes to see your purpose. To show the blessing you were to those in your life, and may you see the blessings that he undoubtedly will bestow upon you as you trust in him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for guiding my life in order to be a blessing to others and for caring for me, even when I can’t see it. Help me to trust you in all things and to know that I am exactly where you need me to be and to be your light and seek your strength always. For I “know that in all things [you] work[s] for the good of those who love [you], who have been called according to [your] purpose.” (Romans 8:28) In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection:
1 If you are questioning why the things in your life are happening, cling even more so to the Lord, trusting him to know. May you be strengthened as you seek his strength, courage and peace in the midst of the unknown and chaos. Consider not how you are being denied blessings during all of this, but, instead, how you can be a blessing to others and the light of Christ to them.
2 If you know someone going through such questioning times, let them know they are not alone, and share with them the blessing they are to your’s and others’ lives, and, again, not to focus on being blessed but on seeing themselves as the blessing to others.

Freedom

CanadaGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Yesterday, July 1st, was Canada Day. It is the day, in Canada, when we celebrate and give thanks for this beautiful Nation of ours; to celebrate our freedom and the rights we have.

 

Let’s top up our coffees and reflect on what true freedom means….

Freedom

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
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Happy Canada Day!

On July 1, Canadians celebrate their country. I love my country – Canada! …and I don’t know a Canadian who doesn’t. We are thankful for so many blessings that this nation gives us – its beauty, its industry, its social care (health care and education), its democracy…but most of all we are thankful for our freedom. We are free from war, free to speak, free to worship, free to dress as we like, and the list goes on and on. In Canada, we live peaceful lives of which I am very thankful, and on July 1st we celebrated this nation and all that it gives us with great joy and pride. 

Canada3In the same way, we should celebrate the freedom we have in Christ. With great joy and pride we need to celebrate this ultimate freedom and peace that is ours. In Christ, we have freedom from the slavery and guilt of our sins, and ultimately, freedom from death and the peace in knowing that life eternal is ours. There is nothing that can take away that peace we have in Christ- “…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation!” (Romans 8:38b-39a) We should be singing from the rooftops and holding a celebration like no other.
No matter what may come to meet us on our life’s journey we can endure it in the security of knowing Christ has conquered any outcome – good or bad- that might come from it. In the good and peaceful times of our life we can rejoice in the blessings bestowed upon us. And in the spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological war zone times of our lives we can remind ourselves that, “I’m but a stranger here. Heaven is my home.” Yes! In Christ, Heaven – the eternal dwelling in the presence of God himself-  is our ultimate country of origin. The country where “he will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4) We can walk securely in knowing that the pain and sorrow of life will pass. No matter what may plague us here and now, we can hold a smile in our hearts in knowing that it doesn’t have the power to take away our freedom and peace that we have in Christ, and his unrelenting love that he bestows upon us. We can be like Paul and Silas as they sang hymns in the midst of being in prison, for it is in our times of bondage when others truly see the joy and freedom we have. So today and every day may we celebrate…

Happy Heaven Day!!heavens.jpg

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank-you for this country I call home! Be with our leaders that they may seek your will and serve us with wisdom and integrity. Help me to do my part in caring for this beautiful land that you created. Thank-you for the assurance that Heaven is my home through the redeeming work of Jesus, my Saviour. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection: Take time to reflect on all the blessings your country gives you and give thanks for them. Take to the Lord in prayer any glaring issues that may be a burden to your country and trust God to be guiding the outcome for the good of the people and that the Lord may be glorified. Pray for your leaders. Then…Reflect on the depth of freedom you have in knowing that no earthly burden or trial can have any power over you, in Christ. Rejoice in that and maybe even have a little Happy Heaven Day celebration, even if it is just by yourself with your coffee….lol

Our Shepherds

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

img_5437Last week we reflected on fathers and men who have guided and influenced us. In the same light, I then began thinking about our spiritual leaders, our congregational shepherds, our pastors (or whatever term your denomination may use).

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share…

Our Shepherds

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:10-13

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

 [ Submission to Governing Authorities ] Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. Romans 13:1-2

[spoken by Paul, a shepherd of the gospel] I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Romans 15:30

I have always had great respect for those in authority due to the fact, simply, that we are called to respect and obey authority. Although this is God’s command, I have come to view those in authority quite differently. When I was younger, along with the need to be respectful to those in authority, came my ignorant and naïve thought that the individuals who held these positions of authority were to be perfect, superhumans in their positions and were performing their duties perfectly: all police officers were 100 percent law abiding, politicians were 100 percent truthful to their citizens, and pastors were 100 percent Christ-like. So child-like, I know. As I have grown older, I have come to learn that this respect is due the position- yes, but as for the individual holding such position, he/she is still a sinner, just like you and me. They are no different. They struggle with temptation, addictions, weakness, insecurity, pressure from the sinful world, weakness of their sinful self, and Satan’s lies. This realization particularly blew my mind when I learned this about our church shepherds: pastors, priests, reverends, etc. If you were like me, I respected my pastors because of their Christ-like care of His Bride, the church; their encouraging words, their words of guidance and correction, and the fact that I only saw them as perfect icons among their people.

Holy ScripturesI have since learned that it is not fair to put our shepherds on these pedestals for many reasons. First, because it’s not true; they are sinners, they make mistakes and hopefully our pastors are humble enough to admit their errors and are living examples of God’s gift of reconciliation: asking for and receiving forgiveness. Secondly, when we place them so highly, we can become very critical and begin to pick out every little mistake they make. Soon this attitude allows Satan to stir us to becoming bitter or disheartened with our Shepherd’s service, our church, and at times, God Himself. Finally, I believe this type of attitude gives people an inaccurate view of Christ. When people- especially non-Christians, new believers, and our children- hear the gospel preached from the pulpit and see us all acting on our best behaviour in church, while the whole way home we’re complaining and nitpicking about all of their imperfections, we are seen as hypocrites; no better than the Pharisees. (Check them out in the New Testament. Neither John the Baptizer nor Jesus had positive things to say to or about them.) When others see us in this light, we certainly are NOT the lights that Christ calls us to be. In this light, Satan is winning at using us to keep others from knowing our loving, merciful, grace-filled God, that sent His one and only Son to take to the cross their sin, my sin, my pastor’s sin, my church’s sin, and to pay the deadly price that I, they, we deserve.

praying

Our shepherds need our prayers. We need to pray for their families, for their peace of mind, for their dedication to the Lord, for the wisdom and humility to be leaders that help us see the living, daily presence of Christ in our lives, for their willingness and courage to let Christ work through them to be whom He needs them to be for those souls within the community they live and serve. Then, we need to pray for ourselves and how we can be helpers to him/her in our harvest field. Besides serving, this may mean sharing with them when things need to be changed, added, or removed within the life of the congregation. And if such sharing is truly felt, then after much prayerful consideration and God’s guidance, share it with your shepherd in respect and humility, praying that God give you the words to lovingly express your concerns, and that your shepherd receive such words with an open heart and self-sacrificing willingness to seek what is best for your congregation and community, according to God’s Word alone.

pastor

I believe that our shepherds deserve our respect as our representatives of Christ in the church, but they also need our support which includes lifting them up to the Lord in prayer, acknowledging that they too are forgiven sinners, like you and me, and  openly working with them for the good of those souls whom they have been called to serve, through loving and honest communication and action. God bless our shepherds!

Prayer: Dear Lord, please be with Pastor/Rev./Father__________. Help them to be all you would have them be for this congregation. Give them the strength and will to overcome any adversity in body, mind and soul that they may be facing. Bestow your peace and mercy upon them as they seek you in leading, teaching, and guiding us to a living faith and strong relationship with You. Help me to be whom You need me to be to support them, just as Aaron simply held up Moses arms, when Moses became weak. Forgive me if I speak poorly of ________ or negatively towards the members or events of the congregation. Help me to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, in order to permit our congregation to walk in the path that you have prepared for this congregation. Let my actions and words be an example of your love and mercy to those whom are watching, like the children and those who do not know you yet. Let them see your reflection in me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: If you don’t already, include your pastor(s) and their family in your prayers each day this week, and following. Take time to thank them for giving of themselves for the sake of the gospel and for being the beautiful feet that brings the good news to your ears, your congregation and community. Finally, take time to reflect on the type of conversation you may have concerning church affairs and your pastors. Do you put the best light on it? How would people view your shepherd and church if all they knew about it is how you speak about them? If need be, take time to repent of any that may need forgiveness. Then, consider how you may be part of the solution for a concern about which you feel deeply.

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