"Therefore Jesus said again, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep...whoever enters through me will be saved.He will come in and go out, and find pasture.The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."(John 10:7-10)
At night, the shepherd gathered the sheep into sheep-folds for protection.
Most villages had a communal fold where the sheep slept, guarded by a huge, heavy door.Only the gatekeeper had the key, and only he could decide who would go in or out, thus protecting the sheep from thieves.
During the warm months the sheep would stay out in the fields at night.There was no door to block the entrance, only a walled area with an opening where the sheep could enter.The shepherd would lie down in the opening, using his own body to block the sheep from leaving in the night, and to keep intruders from entering.In essence, the shepherd became the door for the sheep-fold.
That was what Jesus had in mind when he said"I am the gate."
When the wolf comes to devour, our Shepherd will not abandon his post.The night-thief is blocked from entering the fold to steal away the sheep He has worked so hard to save.As sheep, we may feel secure in the green, plentiful pastures the Shepherd has prepared, and drink deeply from the waters of peace and security.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, your presence in time of trouble gives me blessed assurance that all is well even when there is danger all around me; You give me strength in my weakness; You sustain me in my time of hunger; You lift me up when I fall, and you set my feet straight again when I choose to follow the crooked path.Thank you for loving me.Amen and amen.
Every time I hear the song “He Saw the Best in Me” by Marvin Sapp, I am overcome with emotion.When I reflect on those who had expectations of me that I didn’t meet; when I was chastised for being who I am and not conforming – it was a very dark and lonely period.Then, I tried to fit in, to be someone else – settling for being second best at the expense of not being the woman God ordained.I sank further down in the pit of hell instead of rejoicing at my uniqueness!
Satan would have us believe and internalize the words said in various relationships - whether in the workplace or some other interpersonal relationship.Some of us have been crushed by words that are extremely toxic.But, as my friend and prayer warrior reminds me, “Satan is a liar!”And as some of the lyrics to the song say –
He’s mine and I am His
It doesn’t matter what I did
He only sees me for who I am
God created me in His image and likeness and I stand here to witness that He Saw the Best in Me when I was told otherwise; when I was labeled for my looks; labeled for my parents’ stature; labeled for my career choice (according to the world’s definition of success or lack thereof); labeled for not being what others expected; labeled for making mistakes and still standing strong; and labeled for finally coming into His fullness.
It’s been a long, personal journey and I am blessed by His patience with me…knowing that I had to endure the trials and tribulations to know that I am loved and a daughter of the Most High God.
How easy it is to succumb to the haters in the world; those that don’t know the Lord and who would wish ill-will.But, God has a plan for each of us and we have gifts to use for His purpose and His glory and it doesn’t get any better than that.
He Saw the Best in Me!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, September 1, 2010
“Let It Go”
It was one of those picture-perfect days on the Gulf coast of Texas, the kind you savor in your memory so you can recall it during the winters of life.I was fishing from a jetty which extended out into the Gulf of Mexico about a half mile.It didn't matter that nothing was attracted to my line.The salt air on my face and the sound of the waves splashing against the rocks was satisfaction enough.
A hard tug on my line awoke me from my lazy slumber, and I yanked back vigorously.The battle lasted several minutes until I reeled in one of the largest fish I had ever caught.Now, the redfish laws of Texas make it illegal to keep a fish of that species beyond a certain length.You might know that mine was too big to keep, and I felt a twinge of remorse as I released it back into the sandy water.I am left with my memory and my story about the big one that I had to let go back.But I was also given a lesson from the Lord.
How often do you struggle with a problem or concern that is too big for you to keep?It may be something that belongs to someone else or it could be very personal.Isn't it time just to let it go?Releasing a problem is difficult for many reasons; sometimes it is because we have embraced it for so long that we wouldn't know what to do without it.Or, maybe because it belongs to someone else, it feels good to know that a person we love will think better of us because we have become involved in their problem.
The truth is, every difficult situation belongs in the hands of the Father.He is much better equipped to handle it than we are.
Identify the issue, confess that it is too big for you, and let it go.Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Thursday, September 2, 2010
“Are You Persuaded?”
A cartoon was flashed around the internet recently showing a protester carrying a sign which read, “God Hates Homosexuals”.There have been many others touting the idea that God hates everything from abortionists to Catholics, from child molesters to the military.If you look long enough, you’ll find someone who will tell you that God hates just about anything and everything.
Does God hate anything?
Remember that God’s thoughts and actions are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).His plans and His purposes rule the universe (Psalm 33:11).We cannot question His judgments or give Him counsel (Romans 11:33-36), we can only obey His will.God’s Word tell us that His “[holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18 - AMP) and that our carnal minds are enmity (hatred) toward God (Romans 8:7 - KJV).God hates sin so much that He commands us to turn from it or be forever separated from Him.
He hates“haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”(Proverbs 6:16-19)
Note that He doesn’t hate everyone who sins; He knows that we all sin and fall short because we’re human.Those who love Christ and obey His commands are justified by His grace and loved by God(Romans 3:22-24; John 14:15, 23).He hates those who love sin - those that devise wicked schemes and are quick to rush into evil.Yes, God does hate; but, God’s righteous hatred and wrath can be averted.He loves us so much that He sent his Son to bear our sins so we could be made righteous and be in His presence for all eternity... if we so choose.
God has given us all a free gift - salvation through Jesus the Christ.But, He also gave us free will - the freedom to choose.Reject His free gift and stand condemned (John 3:18; Hebrews 10:26-27); or, make the decision to trust and accept Jesus as your Savior, putting your faith in Him (John 3:16-17) and have eternal life.
Do you feel persuaded to make that decision?The following is beautiful hymn that has convinced many not only to make that decision now; but, they have chosen to continually make the decision to follow Christ.It’s entitled “Almost Persudaded” by Phillip P. Bliss, pub. 1871.
“Almost persuaded” now to believe; “Almost persuaded” Christ to receive; Seems now some soul to say, “Go, Spirit, go Thy way, Some more convenient day On Thee I’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded,” come, come today; “Almost persuaded,” turn not away; Jesus invites you here, Angels are ling’ring near, Prayers rise from hearts so dear; O wand’rer, come!
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past! “Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last! “Almost” cannot avail; “Almost” is but to fail! Sad, sad, that bitter wail— “Almost,” but lost!
The choice is yours; the time is short... are you persuaded?
≈ Devotional for Friday, September 3, 2010
"Be Careful What You Pray For"
My grandmother would tell me often, “Tommy, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.”My child-like mind didn’t comprehend the wisdom of those words then.Prayer at that age was much like asking God for stuff, the way I would ask my dad for pocket change to ride my bike to the corner store for a cold soft drink.
“Dear God, I need a new bicycle tire… I want a puppy… I need some new shoes… I saw this fire truck at the store, and I sure could use one of those!”
Maybe God heard a few of those prayers, but I wonder how much they did for Him?Even today, our prayers have tones of self-interests beyond the realm of seeking His perfect will for our lives.What is God’s perfect plan/will for us?Has the heavenly Father created us so that we may always approach Him with our hand out, looking for a quick fix to our perceived needs?
Indeed, God has a plan for His creation and the human race is at the top of the order.He has placed us in a position of authority over the earth and all that is therein.We are in partnership with Him to perfect the work that He began in the Garden of Eden, which means, at times, we must set aside our needs, desires, and wishes, and seek the mind of God to learn what He thinks and wants.He sees the big picture while we tend to stumble over that which is right in front of us for the moment.
The Children of Israel were in the wilderness to learn how to become God’s chosen people.Jehovah provided food for them every day, and gave them strict guidelines for gathering it.But the “rabble” began to complain to Moses that they wanted meat to eat.Prayer was offered to God in order to change the menu, and God sent quail into the camp.Jehovah heard their prayer and answered it.“But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” (Numbers 11:33)
“So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.”Psalm 106:15
Beloved, our mission in prayer should be first to listen!Hear the voice of God, ask Him what He wants for us.Knowing His perfect will for our lives removes the need for self-centered requests.When my heart and God’s heart are as one, the stuff will be provided in His perfect time.I would rather live my life in poverty than to pray for riches and miss the vast wealth that comes from knowing the mind of God in all things.
I leave you with this thought:Authentic prayer is the spiritual manifestation of man’s perfect union with the heart, mind and soul of God.
Be careful what you pray for… you just might get it