Does Anybody Really Know Me?

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Return of the Flock” by Anton Mauve (19th Century) From the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
     Why do we feel alone?  Does anybody care?  Does anybody understand what we are going through?  Where is God in all of this?
     In this life, we often feel that people really do not know the “real me”. They know our superficial self, but they do not our real person. We go days on end feeling as though we are an unknown cog in the wheel of life. What does God say about this?
     “He calleth HIS OWN SHEEP BY NAME, and leadeth them out.” (John 10:3) What a comforting thought! Our Good Shepherd knows us! In God’s eyes, we are not a number, but we are the objects of His love! He knows what we are thinking. He knows our sorrows and joys. He knows our defeats and victories. He knows our loneliness and confusion.
     His knowledge of us is based on His love and His commitment to take care of us. For this reason, He is there to take us by the arm and say: “This is the way, walk ye in it.”  (Isaiah 30:21) God knows us intimately and He knows the pathway that is best for us. Not only does He show us the way, but He walks with us as we travel the path that He has laid out for us.
     As Christ’s sheep, we do not have to walk alone. Jesus knows us and He knows the way! The question is: “Will we travel with Him, as He leads us each day?”

“Thou Art With Me” (Comfort from God)

IMG_7512 FOUR VERY COMFORTING WORDS! “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.” (Psalm 23:4)

The valley of death is a place of fear, anxiety, loneliness, vulnerability, and doubt. When David wrote this Psalm, he knew that whenever he faced danger, the Good Shepherd would be with him to provide for him and protect him. Are we alert to the presence of our Good Shepherd whenever we enter the deep valley?

1. When I am lonely, thou art with me.
2. When I am discouraged, thou art with me,
3. When I am without hope, thou art with me.
4. When I am sick or facing death, thou art with me.
5. When I am confused, thou art with me.
6. When I am lukewarm spiritually, thou art with me.
7. When I am facing a trial, thou art with me.
8. When I am being tempted, thou art with me.
9. When I am sorrowful, thou art with me.
10. When I am rejected, thou art with me.
Let Jesus walk with you today, no matter what you are facing.

“Thank you, Lord, for being my Shepherd. I know that your perfect love casts out every fear in my life. Help me to be alert to your presence at all times. Too often, I focus on my circumstances instead focusing upon you as my Good Shepherd. Your presence gives me hope in despair. Your presence gives me the strength to go through whatever valley that I may enter. Thank for your constant presence in my life. Amen”

PARALYZED BY GUILT

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Guilt can paralyze us! Guilt can cause us to doubt God. Guilt can kill our joy and peace. Guilt can isolate us from others. Guilt can even bring us to the point of taking our own lives.

What causes guilt in our lives? Guilt is caused by our own sins. Guilt also occurs because of regrets in our life. We think of things that we could have done in our life that we never did. Guilt is also caused when we feel as though we failed those whom we love.

Guilt never brings us to God, but takes us further away from Him. We often confuse guilt with conviction. Conviction comes from God. His purpose is to bring us back to Himself. His conviction says: “Yes, you have sinned, but you can repent and confess your sin to me and you will be completely cleansed and forgiven” (See 1 John 1:9)

Guilt doesn’t come from God, but from within ourselves. Also, guilt can come from others who want to manipulate us to do their bidding. Lastly, guilt can come from Satan, who is called the “accuser of the brethren”. Whatever the source of our guilt it must not find a home in our lives.

What can we do with our guilt? “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.” (Psalm 25:7) We can take our sin and guilt to God and leave it there. His mercies are new every day. When we come to God with a repentant heart, He will never send us away unforgiven. He assures us time and time again of His love and mercy. He will never hold our confessed sin against us.

A Prayer Concerning Our Guilt “Dear Father, I thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. I thank you for your love that never quits on me. You know the regrets, the guilt, the sins that have come into my life time and time again. You have seen the results of my guilt. Yes, I have tried to deal with my guilt on my own, but without success. Father, you alone can take my guilt and shame from me. You alone can restore the confidence, joy and peace in my life when I deliver all my guilt unto you. Thank you for your work of restoration and cleansing in my life. Amen.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! A NEW NAME AND A NEW RESOLVE

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all the followers of this blog! I thank you for following this blog. It has been about three years since I have contributed to this blog. Recently, I have restarted writing. I hope to write more consistently this time. I have also changed the name of my blog to: “Bible Treasures for Today”. I have done this to focus on the purpose of the blog. Using my name as the title did not really reflect the purpose of the blog. I do hope that you will join me as we continue once again to explore the treasures of the Word of God. Please encourage others to subscribe as well.

Here are some verses which help us to focus on all that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 31:3 “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
Heb 13:5 “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, let us be thankful for God’s love, presence and grace!

Where are the Nine?

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“Have you heard the news? Jesus is coming!” The excitement was building in the lives of ten men who were filled with leprosy. Their lives were miserable. Not only were they suffering physically, but they also were suffering socially, emotionally, and spiritually. They were desperate. Soon, Jesus was on the outskirts of the village. This would be the lepers last chance.

“There He is!” They all shouted in unison. Jesus was a distance away. If only they could shout loud enough for him to hear. They began to shout: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Then Jesus turned and saw the ten lepers and said these beautiful words: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” Their excitement could not be contained. As they left the scene to go see the priest, they realized that they were completely healed! However, in the midst of their excitement only one of them returned to thank Him.

As the one healed leper approached, Jesus questioned the people. “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Only one man had the realization that Christ merited his heartfelt gratefulness.

Today, many people come to Jesus with their needs. Like the lepers, we have physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Many people don’t ever think about thanking Jesus.  Yes, people will say: “I am thankful for this or for that.” However, they do not give their thanks to anyone, especially Jesus. In reality, giving thanks demands that there is someone who is the  recipient of our thanksgiving.

Today, Jesus asks the same question: “Where are the nine?” Are we one of the nine or are we like the one leper who returned to Jesus to give thanks?

Waking Up with Jesus (The Joy of Morning Prayer)

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Sunrise on the Canadian Prairie: by Mark J Booth

How we start our day often dictates how we view the rest of the day.  There are many days when I feel confused or even anxious.  I feel like I am running on empty.  What is the problem?  Perhaps, I have forgotten the pleasure of starting my day with the most important person in my life, my Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist, David, understood the importance of starting the day with a time of prayer with the Lord.  “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

1. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of our need of God.  David lived his life with one trial after another.  These trials were a constant reminder to him that he needed his Heavenly Father daily.  When we start our day with prayer, we are saying to God: ” I need you throughout this day.  I need your wisdom.  I need your strength.  I need your protection.”  Morning prayer enables us to come to God with all humility

2. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of the greatness of God.  David recognizes the greatness of God when he writes: “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God.” (Psalm 5:2)  David constantly writes about the attributes of God.  Morning prayer enables us to start the day focusing upon God.  We remember that our God is faithful, merciful, loving, holy, just, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing, and wise.  We also remember that He is our Father, who wants to take care of us throughout the coming day.

3. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it enables us to sort out our priorities.  David says: “I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)  David was a man after God’s own heart because he had the proper priorities in his life.  David started his day by seeking direction from God.  His relationship with the Lord was the top priority of His life.  When we start the day with the Lord, we are saying to him:  “My relationship with you is the most important priority in my life.”  Wrong priorities create confusion and very anxious days.  When our relationship with the Lord is right, everything else will fall into its proper place.

4. Morning prayer is a pleasure because we can share our burdens with the Lord.     David writes: “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies: make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8)  David faced many enemies.  These enemies were a great burden upon David.  We begin our day with many burdens.  We have burdens in our family.  We have burdens at work.  We have financial burdens.  We have health burdens.  We have many other burdens.  Our morning prayer time is a great opportunity to cast these burdens upon the strong arms of our Heavenly Father.  “Cast thy burden upon the LORD and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  (Psalm 55:22).

Every day begins with a great opportunity to talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  When you love someone deeply, it is a pleasure to start the day with them.  Prayer is not a chore, but a pleasure.  God is always available to listen to us, but are we ready to speak to Him?

“Dear Heavenly Father, there are many mornings that I forget to take the time to talk with you.  I have forgotten the pleasure I derive from spending this time with you.  You are patiently waiting for me every morning.  You are always ready to listen.  Help me to come to you each morning with an open heart, remembering that you also take pleasure in hearing from me. Amen”

A Spiritual Inventory for 2015

Bennett Park, Charlotte, Michigan, USA  (Photo by Mark J Booth)
Bennett Park, Charlotte, Michigan, USA (Photo by Mark J Booth)

The year 2015 has arrived. Perhaps, we have already made some goals for this year. We may plan to do more exercise or eat less food. Perhaps, we want to travel more, or have a goal to get out of debt. In light of our goals for 2015, will we take the time to do an inventory of our spiritual lives?

God says in Haggai 1:5: “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” God’s people had returned to their land, but they had neglected to rebuild the temple. They were too busy with their own affairs. to concern themselves with God and His priorities. Today, we often neglect our spiritual lives because we become preoccupied with all the activities in this world. Like the Israelites, have we neglected to take an inventory of our relationship with God?

The word “consider” means to note thoroughly, to perceive clearly, to think deeply. This word is used sixty-six times in the Bible. Why does God place such a priority on this word? Is it because He knows that we have the habit of keeping busy so that we don’t take the time to consider our walk with Him? Here are some questions to help begin an inventory of our spiritual lives.

1. How well do I know God? “That I may know Him.” (Philippians 3:10) These words show Paul’s great desire to know the Lord in a personal way. He didn’t just want to know about God, but to know Him as His Father, Lord and Friend. To know God means to spend time with Him in His Word. This means that we study His Word to learn more about His character, His works, and His promises. To know God means to spend time in prayer with Him. To know God also means to spend time meditating upon Him in order that our love and desire to please Him will grow.

2. How well do I know myself? “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:” (Psalm 139:23) We often find it difficult to allow God to search every aspect of our lives. We like to focus on all of our “good points” and we tend to ignore our sins or weaknesses. God gives us His Word to enable us to see areas that we need to change in our lives. When we read the Word of God, do we allow God to convict us of our sins? Do we allow Him to show us areas in our lives in which we need to improve? Do we allow Him to show us our apathy in spiritual matters? Examining our lives may not be pleasant, but it is a great step in moving forward in our spiritual lives in 2015.

3. How well do I use my time? “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) Time is a gift that we often waste on matters that are not very important. We have many tools today to save time; yet we seem to have less time than ever to do those things that are important.

The Apostles Paul understood that his greatest priority in life was to mature in his faith. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) His time, efforts and focus were upon his spiritual well-being. We spend a lot of time taking care of our physical bodies, but what about our spiritual life? Time is a gift that we can invest in those things that promote our spiritual well-being.

4. How well do I encourage those around me? We often focus upon our own lives and we forget the impact that our lives have upon other people. One of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas. He was a man who was always encouraging others.

     He encouraged others by his example. He did this with his generous gift to the church (Acts 4:36-37). The Bible also says about Barnabas: “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith:” (Acts 11:23) If people followed our example what kind of Christian would they be?

     He encouraged others by his friendship. Barnabas extended the hand of friendship to Paul when nobody else did. (Acts 9:26-27) People need friends, but our culture of isolation has kept us from reaching out to others with the needed hand of friendship.

     He encouraged others with his words. Barnabas was a leader who encouraged the early church in Antioch with his words (Acts 11:23) We can use our words to discourage a person or to encourage them.

     He encouraged others by giving them a second chance. John Mark had failed on the first missionary journey. Paul didn’t want to take the chance to take John Mark on the second journey. Barnabas choose to give John Mark a second chance. This same John Mark would later write the Gospel of Mark. People will fail us, just as we fail others. Will we give them a second chance?

5. How well do I glorify God in all that I do? The greatest purpose of our life is to bring glory to God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) God wants to be glorified in all that we do. Do we glorify God in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions? De we glorify God in our family? Do we glorify God at work or school? Do we glorify God with our plans and goals in life?

We have come to another crossroads in our lives. We have a great opportunity before us. What will we do with this opportunity? We can move forward in our spiritual lives or we can remain stagnant. God desires us to move forward in our spiritual lives. Will we take the time to make an inventory of where we are spiritually?

“Dear Heavenly Father, I am entering a new year. I know that I have fewer years ahead of me than behind me. It is critical that I allow you to clearly show me, what I need to do in this coming year. Help me to know you more intimately. Guide me as to the use of my time. Use me to encourage the people you bring into my life. Above all, I want to glorify you in all that I am and do. Thank you for the blessings of 2014. Thank you for continuing your work in and through my life. Amen”