Is God your Shepherd?

good shepherdDavid saw God as His shepherd and wrote about him in Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.          The shepherd provides.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.       The shepherd guides
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.                                          The shepherd restores.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;                                      The shepherd protects and comforts.
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me              The shepherd knows the future and
in the presence of my enemies;                                prepares for me.
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me        The shepherd is with me eternally.
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

Do you regard the Lord God as your shepherd?  The shepherd was the one who tended, cared, protected, defended and loved his sheep.  God is described as the shepherd of the nation of Israel in Isaiah 40: 10-11 “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,….He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young.”  Jesus described himself as the good shepherd in John 10:11 “ “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Then in John 10:14-16 “ “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. (Here Jesus was referring to those who were not Jews, the Gentiles.) I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”   Jesus is the perfect image of the good shepherd.  The sheep listen to Him, know Him and He sacrifices Himself for this beloved sheep.  What a beautiful pictures of our loving God.

good shepherd 1Today as you reflect upon God, consider the 23rd Psalm and Jesus’ words in John.  Know that you are loved and cared for by your loving heavenly Father and that your good shepherd, Jesus, will guide, protect, defend, hear, and love you. 

Linda

Come with me and praise His Name!

PowerPoint PresentationLast fall I was working on a series based on the names of God.   It is essential to our faith to learn as much about God as possible because the more we know God the more we can be assured He is who He says He is and will do all things He promises.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are incomprehensible (an attribute of God) and yet God desires that we know Him.  Our finite minds can only take in so much of our omniscient God, but we know from life’s experiences that we can grow and as we do we stretch ourselves to learn more.  I love this quote from Daniel 11:32b.  Daniel was in a very turbulent time and he wanted to encourage the people that knowing God would give them a firm foundation to withstand the trials of their present day. but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”   That is my prayer for us too, that knowing more about our God will cause us to stand firmly planted and willing and able to take action for Him.

Psalm 148 is a psalm of praise to God as the creator of all things about earth and the heavens.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;              
    praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.        The psalmist call upon all people to praise His name because of all He has created in the heavens.  He continues….

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
    for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!                                                           The psalmist calls upon all people to praise the name of the one  who created all nature and peoples on the earth.  

psalm 148In verse 13 points us to the name of the creator, the Lord who is worthy of all our praise because He is above all, greater than all He created and He alone is worthy of our praise.  If we think the creation is wonderful, it is nothing compared to God himself.  The creation pales in comparison to the Creator God.  This psalm is a call to all of creation to praise the creator and a reminder that He is greater than all.

I challenge you this summer to come along with me to explore greater depths of God’s character as we look into the Word and focus on Who God is by name.  His name is worthy of all praise!

Linda

Remembering Father’s Day

 

 

Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”

Proverbs 23:24 “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.”

Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s approach has caused me to think reflectively about  my earthly father, Henry Beecher Chrisp. He was a loving father, but demanded that we behave well, work hard, show respect and not give up easily.  He loved to work with his hands building things and to fish.  Dad loved the outdoors by cultivating flowers, growing a vegetable garden or simply taking a hike or ride through the forest.  He had a deep faith in God.    He showed me God, the Father, through his compassion and love for me.  Dad was always one to love what we did and took pride in our accomplishments.

I hope your own father reminds you of God, the Father,  in some personal way.  I felt blessed and fortunate to have a father who loved me and wanted the best for me.  I know all earthly fathers are not like that.  Fortunately, we all have a perfect Heavenly Father we can look up to and depend upon.  He will always be there for us and promises to never leave us or forsake us.   Thank you Lord.

Have a blessed Father’s Day filled with good memories or activities with your father.

Linda

The 5 W’s of Pentecost…Let them speak to you today!

Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

untitled (2)What?  The arrival of the promised power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

41c6fe8801d24ef215fba3f9fc1c28b5Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic- tongues of fire- and noisy- as a strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew something or someone was coming.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”      Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

What does June 6th mean to you? Sacrifice, freedom, honor….

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the “D-Day” invasion of Europe in 1944.   Known as Operation Overload it was cloaked in secrecy and

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Today the Allied flag still fly in memory.

various rumors were spread to mislead the enemy as to when the attack would take place.  General Eisenhower had originally chosen June 5 for the invasion but bad weather made that impossible,  so they moved forward as weather cleared on June 6.  It was the largest amphibious attack in history and some 156,000 plus troops from Great Britain, Canada and the United States landed on various beaches.  When I visited Normandy, I realized how great the coordination had to have been to attack simultaneously the different beaches.  The British and Canadians captured beaches code named Gold, Juno and Sword.  The Americans captured Utah Beach but faced heavy resistance on Omaha Beach where over 2,000 Americans died.  Some historians estimate that more than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the D-Day invasion, with thousands more wounded or missing.

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Beautiful and serene today, but then were covered with barbed wire and obstacles to stop the troops from landing.

 

 

 

By the day’s end, some 156,000 troops had landed successfully and led what is thought to be ‘the beginning of the end for Germany’.  By the end of August, northern France had been liberated and by the Spring of 1945 the Germans were defeated.   The coordinated efforts of all the commanders were lead by General Dwight D Eisenhower.  They successfully adapted and overcame to defeat the enemy.

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The Rangers attacked under heavy fire from the Germany guns in these bunkers on top of the cliff.

 

IMG_0810
This beautiful beach cliff was the setting of the American Rangers’ attack that morning.

 

As we ponder this day in history, let us give thanks to those who gave their lives and those who fought bravely in the face of grave danger and survived.  Thank you to those who came home and lived lives of honor and courage after having experienced the horrors of war and to those who did not return.

IMG_0826Normandy, a place of remembrance.  Let us remember their sacrifice for our freedom and not take it lightly as the cost was great.

Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
May the memories bring you blessings today.

Linda

 

Are you in the crowd? Why did Jesus come to you?

There is one other post-resurrection appearance I want to think about as we wait for Pentecost.  Paul recounts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the appearances between Christ’s purposeful death and resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,(Christ died and rose again with purpose foretold in scripture)and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Paul is referring to his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus that happened sometime later.)

eyewitnessesHave you ever wondered about the large gathering of 500 that saw Jesus?  What was His purpose?  In each post-resurrection appearance, Jesus purposefully met with those who needed to see Him most- the grieving Mary, the doubting Thomas, the guilt ridden Peter and the unbelieving disciples.  What could have been His reason for appearing to 500?  Perhaps He wanted those who did not know Him as intimately as the disciples to experience His love and power first hand?  Perhaps He wanted to make known the reality that He was alive and they could carry on.  Perhaps He wanted to comfort, ignite, give hope, ….  Seeing Him again, knowing the reality of His death on the cross, knowing He had been buried and was alive for them to see must have been eyeopening, challenging, fearsome, awesome, unbelievable…..  One can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus.

Today as you think about this, try to picture yourself as one of the 500.  We have an advantage as we have His indwelling Holy Spirit within us to convict us and bear witness to our faith.  We do not need to see Him to believe.  Jesus addressed this issue in John 20:29 as He spoke to Thomas.  Jesus said to him, “Have you john 20 29 #2believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   Faith is a blessing from God.   Thank Him today for your ability to believe even though you were not there with the 500. You can know that He loves, cares for you and is with you always.

Linda

Ascension Day- up He goes!

Acts-1-1-11-The-Ascension40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His ascension is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts.  It took place on a mountain top in the vicinity of Bethany according to Luke 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”  Mark also adds in Jesus’ destination after His ascension, Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   In the  book of Acts, Luke, the author, gives us a more complete picture of this event.  Acts 1:9-11 “And after He said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. 10 While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, 11 who said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The disciples who were focused on where Jesus went and  the angels assured them that Jesus will return in the same way He left.   Jesus had lovingly told them that He would send a helper to guide and empower them in His absence.  Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus wanted His followers to be about telling others of the kingdom and the good news of the salvation and forgiveness available to each one though Jesus.   The promised Holy Spirit would come upon them in just 10 days at Pentecost and then the truth of Christ and His work would revolutionize the world!  

Christs returnAre you anticipating the return of Christ?  Be encouraged with these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

apologetics-1-peter-3-15-28354Are you telling others about your Savior as you wait?  Be encouraged by Peter’s words: 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”   Be ready to tell others of your HOPE in Jesus!

Have a blessed Ascension Day, and may our prayer be, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus”.

Linda

Are you ready? Jesus calls us to be part of His Plan “A”.

Today’s meeting with Jesus took place on a mountainside in Galilee.  I had always associated this scene with the ascension,  but it is a separate incident.  Jesus did give the ‘Great Commission’ at His ascension but he also gave it here sometime before the ascension.

the_great_commissionMatthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    

There were 11 disciples because Judas had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.  However, there were probably others along with them as in verse 10 earlier in the chapter Jesus had said to the women at the tomb garden, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   Scholars think that the people Matthew is referring to as ‘doubting’ are the other brothers who also accompanied the 11 to the mountainside and does not refer to the disciples.  The heart of Jesus’ message is He wants the message of salvation and redemption to go out to all the world.  It is their job to spread the ‘good news’ to the world.  He promises to go with them (and us) throughout all the ages to come.

the_great_commissionHave you ever considered that you are God’s plan A?  There is no backup plan for spreading the news of redemption to the world- we are it!  God promises that His word will not return empty or without use, Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,  but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   God also promises that His will cannot be thwarted, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Jesus did His part- He came to earth, lived, died on the cross to redeem us and rose from the grave conquering sin and death.  We have our part to do now- tell others about marvelous, amazing, redemptive Jesus!   Since you are part of plan A, whom will you tell today?    Remember there are many ways to tell others about Jesus.  Yes, you need to be able to give a full account of the gospel which according to 1 Peter 3:15, “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,   However, you can witness each day to the power of the risen Christ in your life by what you say, how you respond, who you help, what you do for others, how you treat them, etc.  Our lives speak for Jesus along with our mouths.  We can give a word of praise to God for little and big things in our lives and others will hear it.  We can mention a verse of scripture and how it applies to our circumstances, we can offer to pray for a colleague or neighbor who is in need or lend a helping hand without being asked.  There are many ways to show you love Jesus and that He is the driving force behind what you say and do.  All of these witness to His power of redemption.  At any point you are asked, you need to be willing and able to give words to your faith as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us- the reason for your hope.

matt 28 16Be encouraged today and mindful of the position and commission Jesus gave to me and you.  Be bold for the gospel and let the gospel drive you thoughts, actions and words today.

Linda

“The Memory of the Righteous is a blessing”… Semper Fi (forever faithful)

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Normandy cemetery, Normandy, France

For this holiday- Memorial Day- the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day” just does not express the appropriate sentiment.  Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifice of soldiers who have died in war.  It began after the Civil war and was originally called ‘Decoration Day’.  It was later extended to honor all fallen soldiers in any war.  Jesus told us in John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than his, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Anyone who joins the military knows they might be called to go to war and fight.  Believing in life, freedom and the independent pursuit of happiness is declared in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights and gives motivation and heart to their call to defend our nation.  It is an honorable calling that is worthy of our acknowledgement and remembrance.  Proverbs 10:7The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
 but the name of the wicked will rot.” 
  Who will you remember today that has answered the call and given their life for their friends?  You and I need to consider ourselves their friends and it is our obligation to their sacrifice that we remember them.  Scripture teaches that remembering will be and is a blessing to us.  Remember both the living and the dead, as both made or are making sacrifices on our behalf.

Will you attend a parade, a breakfast, have a time of prayer, watch a war movie?   Any of these things can be a cause to remember those that have fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice for you and for me.  Have a blessed Memorial Day!  I think that would be the proper greeting and I send it to you!

Linda

IMG_0816Prayer:  Thank you Lord, for those brave men and women who have given their all- their lives- so that I can enjoy the freedoms our country provides.  Help me to be honoring to their memory and sacrifice knowing they laid their lives down for me, someone they did not even know.  Give me an attitude of thankfulness for those Veteran’s that are still living and help me to honor them.  Lord, give our leaders wisdom and a sense of unity in working to preserve that for  which so many have died.  Amen.

P.S. This year we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the “D” day landing at Normandy where so many died, June 6, 1944.   Today, remember their great sacrifice for freedom.

How easily we are distracted!

The last section of the Sea of Galilee post-resurrection appearance of Jesus involved both Peter and John.  Still impetuous Peter inquired of the Lord about the things the Lord knew about, and Jesus refocused him.  John 21:17-19 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”   Peter was distressed at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Then Peter asked about John and received this reply from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22How can we be encouraged by this scene today?  Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his better than mine type stuff?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  Later Peter so beautifully 1 peter 1 22wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

Linda