Christian

A Shepherd’s Perspective

“I have concluded based on my years of experience that sheep are stupid. Not just stupid but mind-numbingly stupid— sometimes I wonder how they manage to breath and eat.” Glenn Brunkow, Rancher¹

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I’m re-reading a fascinating book by Phillip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.² Keller was a shepherd for years and relates many things about sheep that most people don’t know.

The book is eye-opening and provides a deeper understanding of our relationship with the Lord, the Great Shepherd. It’s no accident he calls us His sheep!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Psalm 23 KJV

The shepherd watches over his sheep day and night. They cannot take care of themselves and they get into all kinds of trouble. They will drink polluted water, wander off and be attacked by a wild animals, get stuck in the same fence repeatedly, etc.

“He who watches over you will not slumber;” Psalm 121:3

Sheep are fearful, timid, and skittish. A rabbit hopping by suddenly can send them into a panic. But they calm down when the shepherd walks into view and they are comforted. So many times in my life, when I was in a panic, the Lord has comforted me and calmed my fears. That’s when I wonder how people who don’t know Him get through tough times.

We do “not want” because Jesus is always with us, in good times and in bad.  Our joy and peace comes from His presence in our life, not in what we have or the way life goes. We are content to be led by Him, doing His will.

One thing I found interesting is the fact that like humans, some sheep refuse to follow the shepherd and instead do their own thing. (Ouch!)

This can result in lots of serious problems for the sheep, problems they would have never experienced – if only they had followed the shepherd. (I think this parallel is pretty obvious!)

Keller tells how he would lead his sheep to a clean, clear stream and a stubborn ewe would go off and drink from a polluted, parasite-infested puddle instead. Isn’t that what some people do? We choose the unclean ways of the world instead of the ways of God.

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  By this he meant the Spirit,” John 7:37-38 NIV

A good shepherd provides good forage for the sheep, lush green vegetation, so that the sheep can have plenty to eat, grow, and thrive. However, some sheep will wander off and eat from barren, dry brush instead. Many times, we prefer to feed on the barren ground of the world around us instead of the peace and comfort that comes from dwelling in His Word and His presence.

The final parallel I want to share is the most extraordinary. Sheep must have plenty of pure clean water. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to lead them to a lush green field heavy with morning dew.

The sheep can keep fit and hydrated for months just by grazing right before dawn when the field is heavy with dew. The sheep feed heavily and are most content at this time of day. A good shepherd will make sure his sheep have this opportunity to drink in the “still waters” of dew.

“In the Christian life it is of more than passing significance to observe that those who are often the most serene, most confident and able to cope with life’s complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God’s Word.” (Keller)

These are just a few of the many insights from A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.

I don’t know about you, but it gives me great comfort to know that I don’t have to be smart to thrive. I need only to follow Jesus, the Great Shepherd.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 NIV

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 NIV

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

¹https://www.agupdate.com/midwestmessenger/opinion/columnists/glenn_brunkow/the-questionable-intelligence-of-sheep/article_69540f07-7577-5559-bfde-a31ea95acc0c.html

²ISBN 0-310-26790-0 available on Amazon

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Bible, Christian

Does Complaining Make You Feel Better?

That’s why we complain isn’t it? To feel better. After all, I’ve got to get this off my chest! I need to vent!”

But does it really make you feel better? I decided to do an experiment. What would happen if, instead of complaining, I thanked God.

Here’s what happened. The more I complained about my situation (to other people), the angrier I got. But when I thanked God for the positives in this situation, the more at peace I became.

What does God’s Word say about it?

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV

The Amplified Bible makes it crystal clear: ” … in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], 16 holding out and offering to everyone the word of life.”

God knows that when we complain, it has a negative effect on us. In other words, it isn’t healthy. But more than that, a person who doesn’t complain is refreshing to be around. That person shines like a star in the darkness holding out the word of life.

The Israelites complained about everything after God brought them out of Egypt. We tend to think, “How can they complain after God so spectacularly brought them out of slavery?” But are we any different? Hasn’t God brought us out of bondage to sin, and yet we complain about every little thing?

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “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.”

I chuckle every time I read the following passage written by Beth Moore from her book, Breaking Free. She states the exact opposite of Philippians 4:6-7 to drive home a point.

“Do not be calm about anything, but in everything, by dwelling on it constantly and feeling picked on by God, with thoughts like, ‘and this is the thanks I get,’ present your aggravations to everyone you know but Him. And the acid in your stomach, which transcends all milk products, will cause you an ulcer, and the doctor bills will give you a heart attack and you will lose your mind!”

It’s funny because that’s what we do!

Next, I did some research. And there’s plenty of information on it. Consider this article from Penn State University.

“Complaining is also bad for your health. When you complain, your body releases more of the hormone that shifts a human into fight-or-flight mode, the hormone known as cortisol. This directs oxygen, blood, and energy from any system that is not crucial to survival. Frequent complaining results in extra cortisol being released, which puts a person more at risk for high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and strokes.

So what can we do to stop ourselves from complaining? Every time you find yourself making a negative observation, make a positive one instead. It is recommended that a person takes time to think about what they’re grateful for. Doing this can reduce cortisol by 23%, according to research at the University of California, Davis. Decreasing the amount you complain will have an overall more positive impact on your health. So why not start today?”¹

So now science is saying what God said almost 2,000 years ago! I’m convinced. It’s time for me to stop complaining.

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

 

¹https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa16/2016/10/21/what-does-complaining-do-to-your-brain/

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

Christian

Are You Rich?

Is it possible to be rich and not know it? That would be sad, wouldn’t it? Let me introduce you to Jane, a woman born with a silver spoon in her mouth and a billion dollars in the bank.

Every day Jane orders more stuff to make her happy. Monday she ordered a diamond ring and bracelet. Tuesday, a bigger swimming pool. Wednesday, 5 new cars. And Thursday, 1000 pairs of shoes.

But Jane isn’t happy. She’s been locked up in a mansion with servants to wait on her all her life and she has no one to compare her life to. She only knows she wants what she can’t have! And that is – out of the mansion!

Poor Jane. She’s rich, but she doesn’t know it…. If you’re talking about money, that is!

But is she really rich? Does having lots of money make you rich? One definition of rich is “abundantly supplied with resources”.

Jane has money and lots of possessions, but she doesn’t have contentment. She doesn’t have the resources she needs to be happy or content. In spite of all her money, she is miserable.

To be content means “to be satisfied with what one is or has and not wanting more or anything else.” Hmmmmm. 

What is our abundant supply of resources?

It is Christ. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water. He is the source of all we need.

No matter what problems we face, He is our wisdom.

No matter what battle we fight, He is our Defender.

No matter what sadness we face, He is our Comforter.

No matter what fears we have, He is our Refuge and our Fortress.

If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are rich because you have all the resources you need to have a life of peace, joy, and contentment.

Are you rich, but you didn’t know it? Thank God for all you have every day, and find a way to help others who have less. Soon you will realize you have been rich for a long time. You just didn’t know it!

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

Scripture References:

“…Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God…” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV

“How I love you, Lord! You are my defender. The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; He defends me and keeps me safe.” Psalm 18:1-2 GNT

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust … He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge … For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Psalm 91: 2,4,11 NIV

Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 NIV

“The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:33:35 NIV

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that … ” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV

Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich. Why waste your time? For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!” Proverbs 23:4-5 TLB

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

 

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Christian

How To Get Through Tough Times

I paced the floor clutching unpaid bills.  Over and over, I thanked God for His promise, declaring out loud: “My God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”¹  

Thirty years ago, we had three young children, and times were tough. Those were the days when I wouldn’t dream of buying boneless chicken breast when I could buy the whole chicken cheaper and cut it up myself! Eating at McDonald’s was too expensive. I didn’t have money for gas, but then I didn’t have a car! 

During those difficult times, it wasn’t easy to believe God’s promises, but in faith I thanked God anyway. We made it through and God showed Himself faithful over and over again. God met our needs, and He will meet yours, too!

I’m thankful for those days because God showed me His faithfulness with a front row view. These are a few of the Scriptures that brought me closer to Him in my time of need.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 NIV

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 19 NIV

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26 NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 8:10 NIV

“In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.” Psalm 86:7 NIV

“‘Because he loves me’, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.'” Psalm 91: 14-15a NIV

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114 NIV

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

¹Philippians 4: 19

Christian

Stirring Up Hope for the Forsaken

140 Character Christian

Wednesday Walk Though the Bible, Matthew 5:1-12 & 7:28-29 (NIV)

#WednesdayWalk, an occasional exploration of what unknown people might have seen or felt when they witnessed the events in the Bible. This post is from the perspective of a person who encounters Jesus teaching the Beatitudes.

It was another hot day. The dust swirled around my sandals as I hurried along the path. Small stones crunched under my feet as I walked on the barren dirt. My mouth was dry from the heat as sweat dripped down my forehead and back. I was focused on fetching the baskets my father needed when I caught a glimpse of a large crowd on a hillside. I stopped and noticed the people were gathered around a man. “Why would so many people stand and listen to this man in heat like this?” I asked myself.

I hesitated a moment, curious as to why…

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Christian

It’s Just About Time – A True Story

When my son was 6 years old, we moved from the quaint rural town of Auburn (population 1,300) to the basketball capital of the world – Lexington, Kentucky!

As a young adult, I had driven in heavy traffic in St. Louis, but apparently you can get rusty and I’ve never had a great sense of direction anyway

The city of Lexington, Ky has a highway design that can be confusing if you aren’t used to it (or don’t have a good sense of which way is up). It’s based on circles instead of perpendicular streets and looks like a wagon wheel (Whose idea was this?)

Whenever I drove around the main highway circle (They actually named it New Circle Road) and exited onto one of the “spokes” (other main highways), I had a tough time knowing weather to go left or right.

Considering the fact that there were at least 6 lanes to choose from on the exit, I didn’t want to mess up and head off in the wrong direction! I could be on that circle for a long time before I got back to where I wanted to go. (Are you confused yet?)

One day, clueless as to which lane I should get in, I desperately cried out to my “go-to” navigator, my very precocious 6 year old son Zack. (For reasons I don’t understand, he always knew  which way to go.)

“Zack! Which way do I go?” I cried out in panic!

I will never forget the answer I got after about the millionth time I asked him this.

“I think it’s just about time you figured this out for yourself”, he calmly replied in his sweet little southern accent.

Panicking even more since I had only nano-seconds to claim my lane, I yelled, “Just tell me!”

“That way!” he quickly responded.

Saved again!

I’m thankful my little boy could help me with directions, but I’m even more thankful that when I don’t know which way to turn in life, there is One who will always help me. God never tires of showing us the way. He is always ready to guide us and direct our path. All we need to do is ask Him.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you … the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him. (Psalm 32: 8 and 10)

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

Christian

Think You Can’t Hang On?

Is your heart breaking? Are you in deep despair? Is depression crushing you? Even when you think you can’t hang on, God will hang on to you. No matter what life is throwing at you, no matter how weak your faith might be right now, God will hold you fast.

How do I know? I know because He has done this for me. It has been over 60 years since I asked Jesus to be my Savior. Through many trials, through many sorrows, through all my many failings, He never let me go.

He never said, “That’s it! I’m done with her. She’s gone too far now. Enough is enough!”

When I doubted, He held me fast. When I rebelled, He held me fast. When I went astray, He held me fast. When I was in deep despair, He held me fast. When my heart was broken, He held me fast. This is why I love Him and why I praise Him unashamedly.

It is when I acknowledged my own shortcomings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses that I grasped the depth of His great love and forgiveness and understood just how much I really need Him.

If you are searching for love, forgiveness, and mercy, come to Jesus. His love surpasses all understanding. He loves you, yes you.

Scripture for Meditation

“If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there … Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)

“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 8:37-39)

“You are not your own;  you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This Is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

1st Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

realchristianwomen.blog