I was a wandering sheep (verse of the week)

In church this Sunday, we sang the hymn I Was a Wandering Sheep. This song really struck me. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. My pastor completed his series on Psalm 119 this morning, and has mentioned several times that the Psalm shows us what true piety is. Throughout the Psalm, the psalmist gives us a good example to follow. In the first below, he says that he does not forget the Lord’s commandments. Do we forget them?

I do.

Every day.

Psalm 119:176

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.”

We are like sheep. We have gone astray so many more times than we can count. (Isaiah 53:6) So many times on a day to day basis do I find myself needing to course correct.

Here are the first two verses.

1 I was a wandering sheep,
I did not love the fold;
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled.
I was a wayward child,
I did not love my home;
I did not love my Father’s voice,
I loved afar to roam.

2 The Shepherd sought His sheep,
The Father sought His child;
They followed me o’er vale and hill,
O’er deserts waste and wild:
They found me nigh to death,
Famished and faint and lone;
They bound me with the bands of love,
They saved the wandering one.

This song hit a little too close to home for me, you know? So often I find myself straying, not wanting to be controlled. Loving sin and roaming from the fold of God…

The first verse left a bad taste in my mouth. Because, let’s be honest, nobody likes being convicted.

Then this song finishes the story. 

 Jesus my Shepherd is;
‘Twas He that loved my soul,
‘Twas He that washed me in His blood,
‘Twas He that made me whole;
‘Twas He that sought the lost,
That found the wandering sheep,
‘Twas He that brought me to the fold,
‘Tis He that still doth keep.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”

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Whom shall I fear?

My my. It has been a while since I’ve done anything remotely productive here. 

Anyway

I figured I share something I’ve learned lately. 
(Seems logical, I suppose)

Anyway

It’s common knowledge that through Christ, death and the devil have power over us no longer. Paul boldly announces this in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

So it is true. If Christ is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8) 

Sadly, this truth is lost to me in many ways, but my failure is most prominent when I lie down to sleep. 

The devil cannot have victory over me. But he robs me of peace. 

In the dark, my imagination goes wild.
Any image can be used against me. I wimp out, turning every doll in the room so its eyes cannot see. I move anything and everything that resembles any shape that frightens me. 

I could go into much greater detail, but I won’t dwell on it. Simply put, it’s ridiculous. It’s childish. It’s embarrassing. It comes and goes in phases, and I hate it.

This week has been one of those times. It began with a strange dream about one of my images that frightens me. A few odd things later, and I was left fearing the fear I knew would try to overwhelm me once again.

And once again, I was instead overwhelmed by my God. 

I’m not a fan of popular worship songs. They always seem shallow and repetitive, all with the same message, designed to instill the same gushy feeling in the throngs that sing along.

Apparently, though, a simple worship song that suddenly was stuck in my head was all I needed to pound the truth into me. 

“I know who goes before me.
I know who stands behind.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

“The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.”

And only one other line really applied.

“And nothing formed against me shall stand.”

Victory over my fears is only possible through Christ.
Not by pretending I’m not a wimp.
Not by running around in a panic.

Truly, Christ’s power and goodness shines all the brighter in the darkness of my weakness.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) 

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Guest Post: Grace in Time of Need

This guest post was written by Cosette. All right reserved. 😉

Hebrews 4:15-16: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

But we forget that too easily. We forget that Jesus Christ perfectly understands every single struggle every single human being has ever needed to confront. We also forget that He not only understands us, but He wants us to come to Him for help. We forget that He is the Lord of the universe but He intimately relates to each of us. He will give us grace in time of need; we need to boldly come to His throne of grace… Let me tell you a story of the not-so-observable side of something I recently went through… (but beware… there might be some run-on sentences, for effect 🙂 )
I was feeling alone, empty-hearted, stale, confused, misunderstood… my hope was torn, my life was spinning, and I was dizzy, lost, and disoriented. I was falling, falling, falling… when a thread of confidence and hope surprisingly kept me from hitting the bottom of the pit. The confidence that He felt alone, empty-hearted, stale, confused, and misunderstood, just as I had, and the hope that He wanted me to reach for and receive His comfort and consolation that because of His mercy and grace I would be lifted out of the pit of discouragement and up to the plateau of heavenly peace… was more than my heart could hold and what it could not hold poured itself out in the form of tears.
There you have my personal experience, but the great thing is that He understands Your experience. He is with you, princess of Heaven, and He understands you more than anyone ever will. Reach and receive His comfort and consolation, for because of His mercy and grace He will lift you out of this pit of discouragement and up to the plateau of heavenly peace.

  

This guest post was written by Cosette. She’s a lovely young lady who posts over at Day by Day, and {aspiring to be} Radiant.  Check her out! 🙂

Thanks so much, Cosette!

 

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Verse of the Week: 9-28-13

1 Peter 1:3-5

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. “

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Guest Post: Trap

This guest post was written by Athelas.

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A million miles away from where most of us live, there is a little girl who lives on her

own.

If she were to stand up, you would be able to see every bone in her body, but she does

not stand.

She just sits there, eyes staring blankly at nothing, her legs pulled up to her chest and

her arms wrapped tightly around them.

She is waiting for death to come.

She is around seven years old, but her body is small enough that she could be

mistaken for a two year old because of malnutrition. Nothing protects her skin from the

elements. There is no food to fill her empty body.

This is one of the forgotten children.

Clothes have always been an important part of every culture and people group. “Wear

bright clothes; don’t wear bright clothes. Wear more; wear less.”

For the modern Christian girl though, it has become more than that. It is about being

modest and being beautiful at the same time.

And it has become a trap.

Do not misunderstand me: this comes from a girl who prefers long sleeved shirts that

reach her collar-bone and skirts several inches below her knees.

But it would take very little effort to find a girl who has spent more than a hundred

dollars on clothes this past year, and has given up nothing to the children who so

desperately need help.

The girl I mentioned earlier is not fictional. She is real. She is hurting, she is dying,

she is now.

Why, when food, water, and clothing are not even an option for some, is a major

part of the Christian world obsessed with clothes?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be modest and beautiful. I do not ask you

to abandon your standards or conform to the patterns of this world.

But is it worth the life of a child?

If we put half the effort we put into “beautiful modesty” into the lives of these

children, how many of them could we save?

I do not speak to condemn you, nor to judge you, for I too do the same thing. I only

ask you—I beg you—examine yourselves. Do not forget these children who are dying in

favor of remembering clothes.

This is what the world does.

This is not what the children of God do.

“She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20

“Then he will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cured, into the

eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me

nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink I was a stranger and you

did not invite me in I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison

and you did not look after Me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or

needing clothes, or sick or in prison and did not help You?’

He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you

did not do for Me.’” Matthew 25:41 – 46

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Photo by RealPlus Photography

This post was written by Athelas. 🙂 She blogs over at A Wayfaring Stranger. Thank you so much, Athelas! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Only Comfort

After a few busy weeks, I log into my WordPress account and look at my dashboard. I immediately notice that it’s been 4 weeks since anything was posted, and that got me thinking: “What am I going to write about?!”

Then it hit me

The only reason I can think, breath, or do anything, is because I have an almighty God.

I have a God who is all powerful, non-changing, everlasting, awesome, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. My All in All.

Without Him, I have nothing. Did you get that? Nothing. 

He is my only comfort in life and death.

(To quote the Heidelberg Catechism)

Q 1: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the Devil. And so preserves me, that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all this must be subservient to my Salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of Eternal Life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to life unto Him.”

We saw this often at my church as a congregation, but I never really think about it’s meaning. Think about it: “without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head“. God knows how many hairs we have on our heads. He knows our fears, our doubts our worries. He know how I’ll do on my math test, how many hours I’ll sleep tonight, and just… everything.

“Man’s chief end is glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” (Shorter Catechism Q/A #1)

God deserves to be glorified. More than anything else, He totally deserves our hearts, full attention, and praise. We are to meditate on Him day and night, pray constantly, lean on Him.

And the truth is, He loves it when we pray to Him. He loves to hear our voices lifted up in song. He loves it when we cling to Him, because He truly is all we have. Because during hard times, the only thing that will truly and completely comfort us, is God.

 

 

Jesus is my only comfort in life and death. What’s yours?

 

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Verse of the Week: 8-11-13

Earlier today, I talked with some young kids (preschool-ish) at my church about fear in Sunday School. We drew pictures of what scared us, and talked about how God gives us courage to face our fear, and how He will always strengthen us and help us do what’s right, even when afraid. Many of them were scared of the same things, like the dark. I’ll be honest, I’m terrified of the dark, or, I guess a more accurate way to put it is that I’m afraid of what might be hiding in the dark.

This afternoon, I was thinking about how easy it would be not to be afraid if I memorized more scripture. That way, I could say the verse(s) while in fear. God promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, and the scripture is full of encouraging and powerful verses that have helped so many people while in fear.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Excerpts from Psalm 91

“He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  . . .For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. . . . “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;   I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

What strengthens you when you are afraid? What are you afraid of? How does God help you face your fear?

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Verse of the Week: 7-28-13

Psalm 15

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

A Psalm of David.

“15 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.”

((English Standard Version (ESV)))
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Review: Growing Up Christian, by Karl Graustein

Growing Up Christian front cover

Melody and I attend this awesome youth bible study at our church on Wednesday nights. We’ve done the book Don’t Waste Your Life,  by John Piper, and just recently finished Growing Up Christian, by Karl Graustein.

This book is instructive, encouraging, convicting, and well-written. You should read it!

Anyway, I thought I’d tell you about it: what I thought, how it convicted me, and what it’s like. Keep in mind that this is my opinion on the book. I’m sure many more qualified people have done reviews on it, and I’m sure they are amazing. Feel free to look them up and link them in the comments.

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There are many devotional books for teens out there. This is one written for “church kids.”

If that term is unfamiliar to you, it means kids who are growing up in a godly family, and regularly going to church. Kids who “grow up Christian.”

As Marvin Olasky says, the book “Helps Christian teens to count their blessings and pray for more. ”

Now that’s a pretty brief description of basically the entire book.

At the end of each chapter, there’s a song on the same topic as the chapter. Songs like Haven’t You been Good? and Before the Throne of God Above. There’s also a bible verse, and prayer guidelines at the end of each chapter. The chapters each have a theme, so to speak, and most of them have a short story at the beginning illustrating a problem that “church kids” face throughout life.     I found those very helpful.

Quote from the book (Chapter 8: Building a Firm Foundation) :

“We need a personal relationship with God – a faith and a walk of own. We need to personally know, believe, and apply every truth of Scripture not because our parents or pastors tell us they are true, but because we personally know they are true. We need to firsthand knowledge of the Word of God and firsthand love for our Savior. We cannot simply know the stories of the Bible and attempt to repeat what we think our parents believe. We cannot be satisfied with surface knowledge. We cannot take our faith casually. We cannot afford to halfheartedly approach the Bible, what we believe, or why we believe it. We need to make sure to lay a strong foundation in our spiritual lives by loving and pursuing sound biblical doctrine.”

Now that’s convicting. Take a moment and read it again and analyze it. Think about it. Do you take your faith casually? Do I? I am constantly thinking about this quote. It really makes me think. Do you want a personal relationship with God? Are you laying a strong foundation in your spiritual life? Am I?

“The more we know about the Bible, the stronger our affections should be for our Lord. And the more we love Him, the more we will want to live in a way that pleases Him.” (Chapter 8 quote)

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This book has so many truths, and I’ve reread and reread and reread it. I’m constantly wanting more, more, more. This book is definitely worth the time and money.

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