The Good Shepherd’s Love {{Devotion}}

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep (Jn. 10:14-15, NLT).

My favorite passages are those who acknowledge God as my Shepherd. I am someone who has both been led astray by other humans and one who has heard my Shepherd’s Voice and still ran away.

Maybe, you can relate? It’s easy to find ourselves in either position, isn’t it? Our great God is the Perfect Shepherd. He knows how to lead us and is the Shepherd with the strongest ability to lead us in the way we ought to go.

Our Lord Jesus is declared as our Good Shepherd in John 10. As our Good Shepherd, He shows us the way to eternal life. He lives out what we are taught in Isaiah 30:21 – which says:

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has passionately, loving – laid down His life for His sheep – who are actually those who believe and follow Him. As we follow the Lord, we are loudly declared as His very own. And over time, He even gives us ways to impact the Kingdom of God. We are given ways to passionately love, in a similar way to how Christ Jesus has loved us. While we will never be able to show the exact love He has shown, we can passionately love just as He has loved us.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God (1 Peter 5:2, NLT).

We are invited to feed the Kingdom of God. God has assigned to each of us a particular place of ministry. Maybe it is in our homes, through our blogs, or on the soccer field (or in the stands). Wherever you are: If you are a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, then, this verse is for you.

You may not feel important “enough”, or equipped. But the truth of the matter is: God has a purpose for  your life. Before you were born or became engulfed in your trial, God set you aside with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose still stands.

We are invited to join our great Lord at work, and share the Good News with others. While every day isn’t our best day, we have been given many new opportunities to share with others that our God is the absolute best God and Savior! He is far greater than we could ever imagine, and He is working all things together for His good (and ours).

And the really good news is: we don’t have to actually see God’s hands moving – to know He is most definitely working. When things get tough and we begin to doubt He is working, may we remember faith is choosing to trust what we know about our great God – through His written word, the Bible!

Unsplash Photo: Scott Webb

In Him,
Stacey

Meeting My Shepherd

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! {Luke 15:3-7, NLT}

Today, I want to focus on the lost sheep that our Lord Jesus purposely went and redeemed. He saved this sheep from danger and brought them home. Friends, we are His sheep.

Anyone who has repented from their sins and chosen to follow Jesus Christ – is one of God’s sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. {John 10:14-15}

I have grown fond of the illustration as God as my Shepherd. Ever since I studied John 10 in a seminary course, I have felt drawn to seeing God as my Shepherd. However if I am honest, I haven’t always allowed Him to shepherd me. I have been a stubborn sheep who goes astray. But, He never stops pursues me – thankfully.

I want to start out by explaining what repent means. To someone unchurched or even someone like me, I needed the definition. I don’t want to use the word “repent” lightly or misuse it when I write an Instagram post, etc.

Repentance means:

→ To change one’s mind.
→Turn from our sins, and turn to Jesus Christ.

When we make the decision to turn from our old life and follow our Lord Jesus, there is much rejoicing in Heaven. The Lord is going to keep cheering us on, as we seek to bury our old sins in His strength and make Him our number one choice.

He doesn’t leave us in this process of trusting Him with our lives. He gives us every ounce of strength, courage, and grace we could ever need.

Hang in there, dear friend. Take heart in the fact that our great God is going to keep cheering you on.

For myself when I make decisions, I need to remember my “why”. We see this word in health related challenges. “Remember your why” in the context as the reason for what you are doing.

For us, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to remember the One who has laid down His life for us. We make our decisions based on this love relationship we have with Jesus Christ.

See Galatians 2:20; Psalm 23

Featured Unsplash photo by Pawan Sharma.

In Him,
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Abundant God + New Study

God is the God of abundance! He makes a way, even when there seems to be no way. Lately, I have felt empty. I am house confined right now. And, it’s hard. Some days my health allows me to open our window’s blinds to see things like sunshine, birds, and small children at play. Some days, it just doesn’t allow for that. Some days, I am too tired, nauseous, or tachycardiac to do even the simplest of things like – washing dishes or eating a small meal.

Even so, I am learning God is our God of abundance. A few days ago, I was able to sit with this passage and it gave me much needed encouragement!

O God, when you led your people out from Egypt, when you marched through the dry wasteland, the earth trembled, and the heavens poured down rain before you, the God of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, you provided for your needy people (Psalm 68:7-10, NLT).

No matter what we have lost due to our choice to follow our Lord Jesus, or perhaps health, relationships, etc, God will replenish. He will not leave us, so we feel the weight of what used to be. He can {and will} fill it with something increasingly better – if we will allow for Him to.

As we draw near to Him, He continues to fill us up with His presence and strength!

In the world we live in, it can be too easy to begin comparing today to yesterday. Each day is a gift. Let’s allow God – our generous God – to show up and surprise us with His marvelous works!


Our Newest Study –

It can be hard to stay encouraged while dealing with chronic illness or other trials life throws our way. It can be harder to sit and read our Bible, with all the details swirling through our heads. This is why I wanted to start a new Bible study through Gracefully Overcoming on the book of 1 Corinthians. This first segment is 6 weeks long and takes us through the first three chapters.

I invite you to join us, as we step into 1 Corinthians starting Monday, October 1st. This weekend is when I will share our “cheat sheet”, so we know where we will be going each day.

This study, my goals are pretty simple:

  • Limit our daily verses to no more than four verses. This makes it easier for those with difficult lifestyles or chronic pain to join in the joy of our study.
  • Make this a Monday through Friday study. This gives us the weekend to get caught up if we find ourselves already behind by the end of the first week. {Anyone else find themselves in these messy spots?}
  • Each week, there will be a discussion question found over on the Facebook page. As well, as the daily threads.
  • Ideally, there will be a weekly blog post {Possibly Tuesday of each week}.

Featured image by Lÿvean Imedecis.

In Him,
Stacey

Our Sacred Works (Diving Into Corinthians)

 

I am ready to rejoin Diving into the Corinthians. Feel free to join me. The journal is different than others, but available for purchase.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-23.

Build with Care (v. 10-11)

Like a skilled architect and master builder, I laid a foundation based upon God’s grace given to me. Now others will come along to build on the foundation. Each serves in a different way and is to build upon it with great care (v. 10, VOICE).

It begins with our choosing to follow our Lord Jesus Christ. He is to be King over our lives. When our Lord is in full control of our lives, this is where we get the opportunity to truly build with care. Friends, what we do matters. Through Jesus Christ, our Resurrected Savior, we can make an eternal difference.

We may have little energy, but God can do so much with our little. Let’s be intentional in how we choose to live.

Everything we do/say can be used to spread the Gospel, and to show others the magnificence of God.

Works of Eternal Weight (v.12-15)

. . . Everyone’s work will be put through the fire so that all can see whether or not it keeps its value, and what was really accomplished (v. 13, TLB).

We can’t judge the quality of our deeds based on this world. Only our great God can determine what was honestly accomplished. This is what will happen on the Day of Christ’s Judgment. Was our works done with a pure heart and for God’s Kingdom?

This can be a scary thing to think about. But, let’s point our gaze on the works of Jesus Christ who has saved us! God can do so many amazing things on our behalf. His grace not only saves, but enables us to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Holy Temple (v. 16-17)

Do you remember in John 14 (v. 15-17), where we are promised the Holy Spirit as Christ’s followers?

The Holy Spirit lives in every single person who has chosen to trust Jesus Christ as their King. He is the One doing this amazing work in us, as we live out our faith in Christ. Because of this relationship we are changed!

This sacred friendship we have with God impacts every aspect of our lives.

The Wisdom (v. 18-23)

So don’t be proud of following the wise men of this world. For God has already given you everything you need (v. 21, TLB).

If you are like me, you might need to reread that last sentence. God truly has given us all we need! We do not lack anything, because God is our Awesome Shepherd who has provided for every single one of our needs.

Make God’s wisdom more important in your life, than anything else. While some might trust in this world, our trusting priority needs to be reserved for Jesus Christ. Let us remember that all things belong to our Lord Jesus Christ!

Featured Image by Hưng Nguyễn Việt of Unsplash.

In Him,

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May 2018 Goals {Update}

We are half way into the month of May. How are your goals going? I wanted to share a little bit about how it is going for me. Maybe, my sharing will help you set some goals or carry them out with a bit more enthusiasm.

We all need friends who lift us up, help us to walk this journey of life, and continue to trust our Lord God!

Remember Moses, Aaron, and Hur’s inspiring moment? Moses was in need; Aaron and Hur were there for him, and left an eternal impact. That impact has stirred my heart since 2011 when I began my journey of accepting my health decline and using this time as a way to give|receive help.

Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset (Ex. 17:12, NLT).


We know sharing and community are important for our journey, and that of others as well. So, let’s get to sharing in this Christ centered community.

As I sit here and evaluate these things, I know the ultimate goal has to be found in the delight myself in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord finds good pleasure in being with me, and I need to keep drawing nearer to Him – and seeing what is hindering me.

Do

Guilt free rest? No.
Keep up on housework? More than before.
Exercise without flare up? For most part, yes.
Eat more plant based? Actually yes!
Listen to more sermons? Not really. It’s an area, in which I do need to grow.
Praise music|coloring as worship tools? Yes, but need to color more (mental health).

Read

Have I been reading? I actually have! They are mostly Kindle books, so off the intended list of books. But, I am really loving the opportunity to listen and gain spiritual insight from other strong Christians who are learning to trust the Lord and surrender everything to Christ!

What have I been reading?

  • “How Can I Be Blessed?” – R.C. Sproul {Finished}
  • “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” – Nicki Koziarz {50%}
  • “Party of One” – Joy Beth Smith {59%}
  • “Made Like Martha” – Katie Reid {13%}

My not so secret to reading has been taking my Kindle with me on my walks. I have begun walking each morning, as a way to greet God and begin my day on a good note. The depression has made life unbearable, and exercise is one of the best ways I know to handle it.

Be

. . . Flexible.

Have I…

been able to get up early to get stuff done? Yes. It has only been in the last week, though. So, I need to make it a continuing habit.

allowed myself to simply listen to Scripture versus compulsively taking notes? I am slowly growing in this area.

seizing family time? I seem to be more available during the week for my family, aside from night time. The true test of this will be on the weekends, when I have the opportunity to spend time with my “nearly 8” year old niece.

Featured image by Estée Janssens from Unsplash.

Seeking Him on the good days and bad,

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