Out To Pasture

Have you ever felt overlooked or felt invisible? Maybe you’ve been working faithfully at your job and a promotion or position opened up at your company and they gave it to the “new kid on the block.” Maybe you had an older sibling that got all the attention growing up. Maybe the other guy on your baseball team is always getting the credit for the teams win. Whatever the case, I’m sure you can relate to what I’m talking about.

In 1 Samuel 16:1-13, we read about a situation where David is overlooked. Let me put this story in context for you. God has rejected Saul as king, so He sends Samuel on a mission to anoint the next king of Israel. God tells Samuel to go to the house of Jesse because one of his sons is going to be the next king. Samuel goes there and Jesse presents all of his sons before Samuel but none of them God says is to be anointed king. However, Jesse didn’t bring all of his sons to Samuel, he left David, the youngest son, out in the pasture tending the sheep. Jesse assumed that the next king was going to be one of his older sons and thought that there was no way it was going to be David.

David wasn’t even invited to the party that was being thrown by his father to anoint the next king. I’m sure David must have been upset and frustrated having to hangout with the sheep while everyone else was in the house being considered for king. I’m sure he was thinking to himself “What’s wrong with me? Hello? I’m over here. I’ve been faithful and obedient all this time and you’re not even going to consider me for king let alone invite me to the party.”

I too have asked myself those same questions. I have found myself in David’s shoes before. There has been times in my life where I have felt overlooked, forgotten, or invisible. But God hit me on the side of the head with this statement recently “If you remain obedient, I will prove faithful.” This was a gut check for me. It changed my whole attitude and perspective. I now know and trust that God will lift me up and promote me in His perfect timing in order that He gets the glory, I get the joy, and the world gets the good.

So if you are feeling overlooked today, know and trust that God sees you and that if you remain obedient, He will prove faithful.

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Break Free

In Acts 16 there is a very familiar passage. You probably know this story fairly well. Paul and Silas are thrown in the inner most part of prison. They are pretty much in solitary confinement, locked up in stocks, and placed under maximum security. Looks as if all hope is lost. But at midnight, they began to praise God, suddenly there is an earthquake, the prison is shaken, and all of the prisoners are set free.

Now I’ve heard this analyzed, dissected, and preached countless times and in every instance it is always determined that Paul and Silas praising God is the reason why the prison was shaken and they were set free. But recently I heard Apostle Ron Carpenter point out something I had never heard or seen before about this well versed passage of the Bible.

David writes that God inhabits the praises of His people. (See Psalm 22:3) Therefore, what Apostle Ron Carpenter pointed out, the reason why prison was shaken and Paul and Silas were set free was not because of their praise but because God had stepped into the prison with them. The prison might have been able to hold Paul and Silas but it couldn’t hold God. It might have been able to keep Paul and Silas restrained, but it couldn’t keep God contained.

I don’t know what your situation may be, but know this. The prison you may be in might be able to hold you but it can’t hold God. The enemy may have you locked up momentarily, but when God says it’s time to break the chains, He will set you free. The prison you’re in can not and will not contain the purpose that God has placed within.

God is about to step into your situation and move mightily on your behalf. Lift up a shout of praise and break free.

I Got A Feeling

Have you ever believed something so strongly, but because of certain circumstances or feelings, you started to doubt that belief? Maybe you were believing that your son or daughter would turn themselves around, but because of something they did, you started to doubt that. Maybe you were believing for your business to start to grow, but because of the recent economic hit, you began to doubt that. Maybe it was a certain career you were striving for, but because you’ve had to change your major three times, you’ve started to doubt that as well.

John the Baptist was the same way. Earlier in his ministry we see him boldly proclaim, not just once but three times, that Jesus is the One that everyone has been waiting for. (See John 1:15-36) But later on, because of being thrown in prison, John starts to doubt what he had previously boldly proclaimed. (See Matthew 11:2-3)

So many times we fall into this trap. I too have fallen victim to my feelings as well. The enemy loves to place things around us to make us doubt what God has placed inside of us. Don’t let your circumstances dictate your God, let your God dictate your circumstances. Don’t allow your feelings to make you doubt God’s faithfulness. Keep on believing. Keep on trusting. Hold on to your faith.

You may find yourself in a tough place right now, but don’t allow the prison you may be in sway you from believing the promise that God has said. Don’t fall into the feelings trap any longer. Break free from the prison and start standing on the promise.

What Are You Thankful For?

With the radio stations playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year, stores putting out Christmas displays at the end of October, and houses hanging Christmas lights before the turkey is put in the oven; it seems like Thanksgiving has become forgotten. With all the hustle and bustle, the advertisements, and the deals the day after on “Black Friday,” Thanksgiving can easily be overlooked.

It can be very enticing to fall into the trap of being ungrateful for everything we have been blessed with in our lives. So I challenge you and urge you, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to please take the time today to sit down and reflect on all the things in your life that you are thankful for.

With that being said and since today is Thanksgiving, here are a few scriptures to help you in giving thanks.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep on His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5 NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14 NKJV)

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 NKJV)

Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7 NKJV)

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30 NKJV)

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Psalm 95:2 NKJV)

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 NKJV)

Torn

When I was young, my church’s youth group took a trip to see one of those strong man demonstrations. You know the one when they break stacks of bricks with their elbows and forearms, where they bend iron rods, and fold up frying pans like they were the morning newspaper. The thing that always fascinated me was when they would tear a whole telephone book in two. They would make it look so easy as if they were tearing apart a single piece of paper.

This reminds me of the fact that when Jesus died, the curtain in the temple that separated people from entering into the Most Holy place was torn in two from top to bottom. This is so important that three out of four gospels recorded it. (See Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45) Now the Most Holy place was only allowed to be entered once a year by the high priest and was believed to be where God dwelled. So the significance of the curtain being torn was to announce to everyone that man was no longer separated from God and that we all can have access to Him. The writer of Hebrews says it this way “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may find mercy in times of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

But I believe there is a reason why Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention that the curtain was torn from top to bottom. I believe the curtain being torn from the top to bottom signifies that God came to man through the person of Jesus. So many times we try with all our striving to get to God but the truth of the matter is there is nothing we can do to get to God. We always fall short. No matter how many degrees we can achieve, we fall short. No matter how many zeros we add to the right of our bank account, we fall short. No matter how high we can climb up the proverbial ladder, we fall short. Paul writes it this way “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

So quit your striving and start surrendering today.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Have you ever been watching one of those medical shows, like “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy” when they get a patient that has a severe disease that could possibly spread? The first thing they do is evacuate everyone and confine the patient to a controlled wing of the hospital. The reasoning behind this is because they don’t want the disease to spread to others.

Or maybe you remember a few years back hearing in the news about the spread of the anthrax virus. The people that were infected by the disease were quarantined until the virus was controlled. People were running around scared hoping not to be infected.

I heard Judah Smith, Senior Pastor of The City Church, in his most recent message say “Unclean no longer contaminates clean, but because of Jesus, clean contaminates unclean.” In other words, as Christians, we shouldn’t be worried about being affected by the world because now we should affect the world.

For example, there is no such thing as darkness. Darkness is just the absence of light. When light appears it expels the darkness. John writes it this way “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 ESV)

No longer walk around scared of the darkness. Because of Jesus, you have the light that overcomes the darkness. Sin has no more hold on you. You contaminate the world, it no longer contaminates you.

Left Behind

There has probably been at least one time in your life that you can recall where you were disappointed, let down, or abandoned.

Maybe it was a broken promise. Maybe it was a time where you needed that certain someone and they weren’t there. Perhaps it was a father that walked out on your family. Or maybe it was a close friend that didn’t show up in that tough time when you just needed someone to confide in.

Whatever the case, I want to encourage you today. I want to let you know that you have a Heavenly Father who will never leave you. You have a friend in Jesus that will stick closer than a brother.

I heard Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, say “The only thing that Jesus has ever abandoned is a grave.” David said it this way in Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV) God said this recorded in the book of Hebrews “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) Even Jesus, Himself, said “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

There is a poem called “Footprints” by Mary Stevenson that my parents had hanging on the wall in the house that I grew up in that exemplifies this truth so profoundly. This is what it says:

“One night I had a dream–
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
“I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
“When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

So if you’re feeling abandoned or forsaken today, know that Jesus will never leave you. Even in times when you think He’s no where to be found, He is right there carrying you through.

Amazing Grace

Have you ever had a situation in your life where, when you look back at it, you wonder how in the world did I ever get through that? For instance, I played baseball for like my whole life. This one situation in this summer league I was playing in, whenever I look back at it, I have this thought. I was on third base and was trying to steal home on a wild pitch. The catcher, in an attempt to throw me out and because he was in a wild rush, spun around and threw the ball toward homeplate without looking. Because of that, he threw the ball wild and it hit me in the face. I had to get rushed to the hospital and, after an x-ray, it was determined that I had broken three bones in my face. The doctor told me that, if the ball had hit me an inch one way, I could have lost my eye. Everytime I look back at this instance in my life, I can’t help but think how blessed I was to not have gotten hit by the ball in my eye.

Yesterday I was reminded of God’s amazing grace. God grace is not only enough to save us, but is also sufficient to sustain us. God said it this way to Paul in 2 Corinthians:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

If you look back on your life, you will probably find instances in your life where God’s grace has sustained you. Places where you were about to fall apart but His grace was sufficient to hold you together. Places where a storm arose in your life but His grace was sufficient to see you through.

The fact of the matter is that in life you are either going into a storm, going through a storm, or coming out of a storm; but no matter what know that God’s grace will not only save you but it will sustain you. His grace is sufficient for you!

Vote For Pedro

With today being election day, everyone is making their way to the polls to vote for a new president.

I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for in this post because frankly whether you vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, whether you vote democratic or republican; I don’t really care.

The reason why I say this is because I don’t think one man can fix the mess that we are currently in or the problems that our country has. I believe the problem we have as a nation is not political, it’s not educational, it’s even not economical. The problem with our nation is spiritual. Our problems can’t be solved in a man but in The Man, Jesus Christ. (See 1 Timothy 2:5) I heard Reverend Samuel Rodriguez say “It’s not the donkey or the elephant . The only agenda that can save America is the Agenda of the Lamb.”

I’m not worried about the status of our nation hinging upon who gets voted in today as the next president of the United States. I know that my Savior, my King, my God is still seated on His throne and as long as He is still seated then I have nothing to worry about. I know that He is still in control. I know that He is sovereign. I know that He still reigns.

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