SAFE IN HIS PRESENCE

Psalms 23 “The LORD is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the LORD’s house for days without end.” This Psalm can arguably be called the most familiar chapter of the Bible. I have used a more modern version here than the King James that is more familiar. I find that different versions may give me new insights into familiar passages. I’m concentrating on the following section of the Psalm. “Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.” The first thing that pops out at me here is that the Shepherd doesn’t lead his sheep around or away from this valley. But goes with them through the valley of death. Did you hear that? Through and with. Because the Shepherd is with them there is no fear. They trust in him to keep them safe even in this dark place. The Shepherd’s tools reassure the sheep that everything will be alright. The rod is a weapon to be used in defense or offence as needed. So the sheep are comforted knowing that the Shepherd has the strength, ability, and tool to protect them from those that would do them harm. The staff was a long stick with a curved end that could be used as a weapon if needed, but its primary purpose is to protect the sheep from themselves. The staff corrects the path of wayward sheep by general nudges or perhaps not so gentle for those more prone to wander. The crooked end is perfect for lifting those who have fallen or become stuck. There rod to protect from outside threats and the staff to protect them from themselves. Truly ,I fear no harm, for he is with me. Prayer Lord, Master, Protector, in times like these we need your protection more than ever. There may be an invisible danger in the air we breath or the things we touch. We believe that you want only the best for us. Whether you lead us around three danger or take us through it, we put our truest in you. Your will be done. Amen Also visit my other blogs
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    What it’s the Greatest Commandment?

    Exodus 20:1-7 And the Lord spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who led you away from the land of Egypt, out of the house of servitude. You shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on earth below, nor of those things which are in the waters under the earth. You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them. I am the Lord your God: strong, zealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my precepts. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. For the Lord will not hold harmless one who takes the name of the Lord his God falsely.” This is the long version of the first three of the Ten Commandments. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” “Jesus said to him: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) Jesus, in effect, rolled the first three commandments into one. Those three all deal with who God is, and how He is to be treated by humankind. He is to be loved completely. Love God more than your self, your spouse, your children, your country, your job, your bank account, your hobbies, your television, your … your anything. Anything, that is cherished above the Lord, is an idol. “You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them.” Prayer Lord, forgive us for those times we have allowed or hearts to be drawn away from you. Lord, we adore you. “Your teachings are worth more to me than a thousand pieces of silver and gold. (Psalms 119:72) Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    First Choice or Last Hope

    Our church has a wonderful prayer chain. Anyone can email a prayer request to the church. That email is then forwarded, along with a wonderful prayer, to all who have agreed to be “prayer warriors.” However, I often notice from these requests that it appears that prayer (God) is the final option when going to God should be the first option. And I will admit that I am too often guilty of this myself. Understand I have nothing against modern medicine. Indeed I thank God for the wisdom and knowledge is available to us. However, I fear that our faith in doctors is sometimes greater than our faith in God. James 5:13-15 13. Are you having troubles? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing. 14. Are you sick? Ask the elders of the church to come and rub oil on you in the name of the Lord and pray for you. 15. If such a prayer is offered in faith, it will heal anyone who is sick. The Lord will heal them. And if they have sinned, he will forgive them. Philippians 4:6-7 6. Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. 7. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. Prayer Lord, we believe that you hear our requests. We believe that you will answer in your time and in your way. Forgive us for not coming to you first. Forgive us for turning to you oily when we have given up hope. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    (For further reading: Preaching to People Who Have “Heard it all Before” — By: J. Brian Tucker )

    “Forgive Me” Prayer

    Psalms 50:1-19 1. Unto the end. A Psalm of David, 2. when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he went to Bathsheba. 3. Be merciful to me, O God, according to your great mercy. And, according to the plentitude of your compassion, wipe out my iniquity. 4. Wash me once again from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 5. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. 6. Against you only have I sinned, and I have done evil before your eyes. And so, you are justified in your words, and you will prevail when you give judgment. 7. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sinfulness did my mother conceive me. 8. For behold, you have loved truth. The obscure and hidden things of your wisdom, you have manifested to me. 9. You will sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be cleansed. You will wash me, and I will be made whiter than snow. 10. In my hearing, you will grant gladness and rejoicing. And the bones that have been humbled will exult. 11. Turn your face away from my sins, and erase all my iniquities. 12. Create a clean heart in me, O God. And renew an upright spirit within my inmost being. 13. Do not cast me away from your face; and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. 14. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and confirm me with an unsurpassed spirit. 15. I will teach the unjust your ways, and the impious will be converted to you. 16. Free me from blood, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will extol your justice. 17. O Lord, you will open my lips, and my mouth will announce your praise. 18. For if you had desired sacrifice, I would certainly have given it, but with holocausts, you will not be delighted. 19. A crushed spirit is a sacrifice to God. A contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn. As I was meditating on David’s prayer for forgiveness, it occurred to me that the was praying for absolution for sins that he had been caught in, the adultery with Bathsheba and the dearth of her husband. David also ask for forgiveness for iniquities that he alone ores aware. And finally for the obscure and hidden things of which God, in his wisdom, our aware. Prayer Lord, forgive my sins of which others are aware. Lord, forgive my sins of which only you and I are aware. Lord, forgive my sins of which only you are aware. Amen.

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    ©2020 Thomas E Williams

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Bounce, bounce, bounce. Our young neighbor spends most of his free time shooting hoops. He is only in elementary school now. By the time he reaches middle school and high school, he will amassed thousands, maybe tens of thousands of hours dribbling that ball and aiming for that net. I have to believe that it will make him a force to be reckoned with. Practice makes perfect, they say. Paul encouraged the church at Philippi to practice what is good and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8-9 Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. And do what you learned and received from me—what I told you and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you. His advice to that first century church still hold true today. By continued practice of what its good and worthy, we will be preparing ourselves to stand inn the day of judgement and give a good accounting of our life. Prayer Heavenly Father than you for sending Jesus as our perfect example of the life you expect us to live. Give it’s the courage, strength, and wisdom to follow the prompting of your Holy Spirit. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    THINGS NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT GROWING OLD

    2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles.” .
    1. Nobody said it would be this difficult and sometimes painful to just to get dressed in the morning.
    Nobody explained that one third of my income would be spent on doctors, medications, and supplements. And that was after the insurance had paid.
    I don’t recall anyone explaining about the mysterious “traveling” pain that would move from body part to body part.
    There are bits and pieces of me missing more everyday, hair, teeth, eyesight, hearing, and memory.
    Speaking of memory, there’s the panic when I forget something … did I just forget or is it dementia?

    Prayer

    In the midst of all that troubles us in this live, we believe as did Paul when he wrote, “That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles. Thank you for your promise of life unending. Amen. Also visit my other blogs
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    NO UNEMPLOYED

    Matthew 11:25-30

    At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from wise and intelligent people and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, this is what pleased you. “My Father has turned everything over to me. Only the Father knows the Son. And no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son is willing to reveal him. “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    I read this scripture, before I accepted the forgiveness of God’s gift of love and restoration, and it frightened me. I didn’t understand the truth of “Place my yoke over your shoulders.” I imagined a heavy wooden yoke placed upon my shoulders and then being forced to pull a plow or a wagon with a huge load in it. Now, having accepted the gift of salvation, I realize that I previously had my own yoke on my shoulders and was pulling that load alone. With Jesus’ yoke, we are sharing the load and he is doing nearly all of the work.

    Make no mistake, in the kingdom of God there are no unemployed. Every Christian had a duty to perform. However, Christ is with us doing all of the heavy lifting

    Prayer Thank you Lord for lifting that load. I ask now for the strength to lighten the load of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE HIT THE LIKE BUTTON AND MAYBE LEAVE A COMMENT.
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    THEY HAD ONE JOB TO DO

    Mark 14:32-42

    Then they came to a place called Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, “Stay here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him and began to feel distressed and anguished. He said to them, “My anguish is so great that I feel as if I’m dying. Wait here, and stay awake.” After walking a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible he might not have to suffer what was ahead of him. He said, “Abba! Father! You can do anything. Take this cup of suffering away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine.” He went back and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour? Stay awake, and pray that you won’t be tempted. You want to do what’s right, but you’re weak.” He went away again and prayed the same prayer as before. He found them asleep because they couldn’t keep their eyes open. They didn’t even know what they should say to him. He came back a third time and said to them, “You might as well sleep now. It’s all over. The time has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to sinners. Get up! Let’s go! The one who is betraying me is near.”

    This person had one job to do, paint two parallel yellow lines in the middle of the road. For mile upon mile he had done just that. And then something happened. Maybe he dozed for just a moment or maybe he was distracted momentarily. For whatever reason, he failed to do the one thing he was supposed to do.

    Jesus gave Peter, James, and John one job to do, wait and stay awake. He had told them, “My anguish is so great that I feel as if I’m dying.” Three times he prayed and they slept. One simple job, and they failed … repeatedly!

    Imagine for a moment that your best friend had just told you that they felt like they were dying and they asked you to wait and watch over them while they prayed. What would you do? Now put yourself in the other place. You are the one who feels like your dying. What would you expect of your friends?

    I would expect to pray with my friend and have them pray with me. I certainly wouldn’t expect them to fall asleep when I was at my darkest hour.

    Prayer
    Lord, forgive us for times that we also “fall sleep”. It may no not be actual sleep but times when inattentive to you calling to us. Or those times when our friends have needed us and we’ve not been there for them. Open our ears that we may hear. Open our eyes that we may see. Open our minds that we may know. Open our mouths that we may speak, and open our hearts that we might love. Amen

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    True Peace

    2 Chronicles 14:6 

    The king of Judah built fortified cities in Judah. For it was quiet, and in his time no wars had arisen. For the Lord was generously granting peace.

    I remember something a Marine friend of mine said, “Nothing is a frightening as a time of peace.” I think I know what he meant. Countries use a time of peace to build up their defenses. More weapons can be stockpiled during peace than during war. Resources can be used to prepare for the next battle, the next war.

    True peace is more than an absence of fighting. Jesus said, “Peace I leave for you; my Peace I give to you. Not in the way that the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let it not fear.” (John 14:27)

    His peace is the true peace. It is the peace you carry inside you. It is the peace of knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, teaching, guiding, and protecting you. His peace is with you during times of conflict not just between conflicts and wars.

    Prayer
    Lord, we see conflict all around us, nation against nation, neighbor against neighbor, and family against family. Strife is everywhere, at home, at school, and at work. We now claim your peace that passes all understanding.
    Amen.

    ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

    Luke 4:16-21

    Luke 4:16-21, 28

    And he went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. And he entered into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the Sabbath day. And he rose up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. And as he unrolled the book, he found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because of this, he has anointed me. He has sent me to evangelize the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to preach forgiveness to captives and sight to the blind, to release the broken into forgiveness, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of retribution.” And when he had rolled up the book, he returned it to the minister, and he sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “On this day, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

    And all those in the synagogue, upon hearing these things, were filled with anger.


    First a little history. The practice in the synagogues was to have seven readers every sabbath, the first a priest, the second a Levite, and the other five Israelites of that synagogue. Jesus was raised in, and a member of, that very synagogue. As a member, he may have often been one of the readers for the day. However this day was special. This was the day that he announced to family, friends, and neighbors his God given ministry.

    Family and friends may be the hardest to whom you ever minister. Those who’ve known you longest know all your failures, the foolish things, and perhaps the sinful ways of your past. But they are the ones whom you most want to seer saved.