A great way to grow closer to the Lord is to read His word, pray, and write down what He is teaching you! Many of the people at Paradise Calvary Chapel do just that and we get to share them with you here!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
I love this scripture. So simple and so comforting. With the Lord as our Shepherd we will never be in want of anything. This illustration of the Lord being our shepherd is such a beautiful picture of the loving character of our God. God’s word gives us so many different illustrations, but this one in particular is one that God uses in my life time and time again to remind me of His unconditional love.
Being a shepherd is a job that requires every part of you. Sheep are not considered to be wise animals. They are fearful. They are timid. They are wanderers. They flee in the in the presence of danger. But, in the same note they know that their shepherd is with them. To protect them. To take care of them. To lead and guide them. To provide for their every need! The shepherd loves and cares for his sheep day and night, no matter what!
In our ladies’ bible study we have been discussing how the Lord (our Shepherd) restores our souls. We have been discussing what restoration looks like and how we, as the Lord’s sheep so desperately need that restoration, the refreshing and renewing of our hearts and souls that only the Lord can bring. I have recently just been through a restoration process of my own with the Lord. My relationship with the the Lord had come to a halt. I was feeling complacent. I wasn’t going backwards but I definitely was not moving forward. My pride was allowing me to believe that I was fine.
I love the Lord. I know God’s word and what it says, but I had gotten to a place where I was no longer pursuing the Lord. What I found I was actually avoiding Him. I was avoiding Him because I was fearful of what He might say, or reveal about the condition of my heart. Thankfully, my Shepherd pursued me, broke down the walls of pride, and my heart began to soften.
It was hard, and painful, but it was necessary. I began to seek Him again. I began to pray again. I was no longer avoiding Him. He was completely restoring my heart and soul. Bringing me back to the place of intimacy with Him that I once had. The definition of restoration is the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it or cleaning it. What a beautiful picture! This is what the Lord did for me. Even more than that, He allowed this process of restoration in my life so that ultimately He could get the glory. So that the people in my life could see the goodness of the Lord, my Good Shepherd. The good shepherd who left the ninety-nine for me. Thank you Jesus!
"He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake."
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:12-13).
If life has taught me anything, it’s that adults are a myth; there’s no such thing in this world as a “grown up.” When I was young, I believed in the myth wholeheartedly; I even had such fanciful thoughts that I would one day become one of these creatures. Alas, the world has shown me the truth, there is no such thing as adults—just large children.
I’ve worked around kids; I have many nieces and nephews. They’re loud, impatient, petty, short-sighted, and—quite often—they don’t know any better. Now, children can be adorable, as well; there are very few things as adorable as when they do their best to make their parents happy. Nonetheless, they can be a handful even on the best of days.
As I’ve observed children and how they behave, I’ve come to the realization that they are exactly how God sees us. There is not one description that I gave for a child that I can not help but feel applies to adults. If you think I’m wrong, spend some time driving and just wait and see how long it takes before someone has the exact same look of a three-year-old throwing a tantrum. Seeing the world as what amounts to a gigantic playpen really gives perspective to how God sees us. When we’re rebellious and disobey God, and then lie, say that we’ve done nothing wrong, and blame other people for our mistakes, it looks eerily similar to how a toddler first refuses to follow the rules, and then does everything to avoid being punished. Conversely, when we do well and seek to please God, the picture of that child trying his hardest to make breakfast for his parents comes to mind; he makes a mess and he uses the wrong utensils, yet it’s still heart-melting to see him putting so much effort into making his parents’ day. Sometimes, we mess up, and we become that child who broke a plate, or who got hurt playing. Some of us know that the best thing to do is go tell Dad. Other times, we get the brilliant idea, “Hey, I can handle this,” and the situation can very quickly become much worse. I can admit that there have been times in my life that going to the Father for help hasn’t been the first thought that came to mind, but it would be so much better for me if I did. It brings God joy when we want to please Him, but it’s also important to remember when to go to Him for help—He’s the only grown up we can ask, after all.
This year, my husband started praying for more faith, and when I found out, I couldn’t believe it. That meant the Lord might put us into situations where we’d have to be mature enough to have that extra measure of faith, and I was praying, “Lord, please don’t do that to me!” We were obviously conflicted. Ultimately, though, I knew faith was something we should pray for.
I’ve never had a terminal illness like cancer or anything, but I’ve consistently had health problems since I was a teenager, whether it was illness or injury. When we were growing up, it seemed like I was always the one that was in the hospital, or needing to go to this doctor or that doctor. Before I was a Christian, I used to ask my aunt, the spiritual counsellor of my life, “Why is God doing this to me? I have three siblings, why does this only happen to me?”
Now I’m a believer and God has taken me so far in being content with my body. At least, I think I’m content--that whatever happens, happens--but when something happens out of the blue, I still ask “What’s up Lord? Why would You do this to me?” Now there’s new stuff, but I believe the Lord is using this to grow my faith. On a daily basis He is showing me He can give me a different measure of faith.
James 1:2-3 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” I know that whatever it is that’s happening to me—whether it’s nothing, or something I have to deal with it for the rest of my life—I know it’s in His plan for something good. So it doesn’t matter if it ends up being some rare disease that there’s no treatment for; it doesn’t matter, because whatever I go through, the Lord is going to be there. It might mean I’m going to get to witness to people I would have never met if I didn’t have something wrong with me. We don’t know what the Lord is going to do, but I know in some way it’s going to be used for good.
Getting a new job is exciting. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, hopefulness, and change is blissful. However, after few weeks, months, or years, that feeling seems to wear off. It becomes easier to see the flaws and problems that once were coated by the excitement. Irritation and disappointment, seem to, arise more easily and frequently. Conflicts and tensions that weren’t there before spawn and spoil the experience. It becomes tempting to compromise and retaliate, even to throw in the towel.
Lately I was more prone to get frustrated at work. I got easily irritated. I got consumed by thoughts of how I would do things better. I started to notice things that get completely overlooked and unaddressed. It started to affect my attitude. I was no longer coming to work excited and thankful. Instead of being unmovable in the Lord i was swayed by the flaws of this world. I was no longer showing grace to my coworkers. I wasn’t being patient and kind. Instead I was showing the “I don’t care” attitude. I began to complain and focus on all the negative aspects of the job.
Fortunately, our God is faithful and long suffering. He reminded me “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17. Another scripture that kept coming to mind was 1 Corinthians 15:58 “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast. Immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I kept asking God, everyday before work, for the past few weeks, to give me strength, grace, peace, and joy. He has been so faithful to answer and now I get a chance to share that with my coworkers. In a place that is filled with complaints, resentment, and hopelessness, God is moving and bringing light to the lost. It’s those situations where unbelievers can see the hope we have in us. In face of adversity and tribulation we have confidence in God. We can rejoice in times of trouble. We can be calm during an intense storm. We can praise though the toughest pain. For God no issue we bring to Him is too small or too big. Our circumstances are not hidden from Him. Wherever we are, God is with us.
I’m a thankful for the place God has placed me in. I lost sight of it for a while but God has brought me back. I’m overjoyed and excited to go to work again. I can stand confident in God’s promises and hope that we have in His resurrection though HIs son Jesus Christ.
“Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
These verses come to mind as a mother. I put my kids to bed and I want the day to be over. The day is not over til multiple drinks are had, every sudden ailment has been checked, every moment of the day I may not know about is mentioned, questions about biblical doctrine need to be answered and suddenly they are very hungry!
The moment it’s bedtime I am the servant that says great my night is mine but it can be another hour before it is! And even then there is no guarantee something more serious won’t come up to change my time to servant time. I need to hang this scripture up and read it at bedtime so I am ready for the battle at night! Do my children thank me before they fall asleep? Not always, but I still do these things to show love as I am commanded.
This scripture has led me to spend some time thinking about a servant. As a servant, the fun times are an abundant blessing but a servant is generally not called for those instances. A servant is called when things are all wrong. The spills, sickness, disobedience and things breaking. Also bed time! All the things I would run away from and feel overwhelmed! Or the times I’m tempted to say I’m off the clock! As a servant it also doesn’t matter what the house I serve in looks like. It can be a dirt floor or a mansion or something in between but none of it’s his to hold onto and claim. A servant has to pray for his needs and has little more! I thank God for this abundant season I am in!!!!!
At the end of the day I need to say I have done all those things which you commanded me in the environment you provided today. I am an unprofitable servant. I have done what was my duty to do.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
I have heard it said that you shouldn't ask God for two things; faith and patience. This is because for both of these characteristics of a person to grow, you have to be placed in situations where they are pushed to their limits. Lately I have been feeling convicted about the amount of faith that I have in most situations. I am good at putting up a facade by make exclamations of faith, but in my heart I can feel anxiety and fear push out the peace and joy that faith brings. Because of this, I have reluctantly, hesitantly been asking God for more faith and while it hasn't been easy, I am so thankful that I did.
I have struggled with fear and anxiety for most of my life; starting when I was a teenager. Whenever I would be faced with a trial or stressful situation, my reaction in the flesh is to analyze the threat from every angle possible and determine all of the possible outcomes. This would quickly spiral out of control until I was left with a list of the most horrible “what ifs?” I could come up with. This continued for a good part of my life until I met the Lord and starting studying His word. It was only then that I realized that this spiral I had been experiencing was something I was choosing. I was choosing to handle situations under my own strength instead of choosing to have faith in God’s provision.
As I have walked with the Lord the past years, I have found it easier to choose faith, but have found that I am not consistent in choosing faith. I would read verses like Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Since I have been asking for faith, God has put me into situations where my only option is to trust that He will come through. It has definitely challenged me, but I wouldn’t trade it because the more I have trusted God in these situations, the more he has grown my faith. That has been my realization through this whole process: we must be pushed out of our comfort zone on a regular basis to effectively continue to grow our faith.
Once I accepted that I will regularly and continually be pushed out of my comfort zone, it became much easier to just trust the Lord through those seasons. I no longer see trials as catastrophic, but as little pushes from the Lord outside of my comfort zone to develop my character. Each time realizing a new area that I can stop trying to provide for myself and have faith that the Lord will provide in my weakness.
In comedy, they say that timing is everything. This was certainly the case when a routine mailbox stop resembled a late-night comedy skit about the perils of the popular ride-sharing trend.
Upon returning home from a long day of errands, my husband stopped the car half a block from our house to retrieve our daily load of junk mail from box #9. As he exited out the driver’s side door, I sat waiting in the front passenger seat. Suddenly the door behind me sprung open and I heard a woman’s voice breathlessly thanking us for waiting and profusely apologizing for her delay.
When something completely unexpected comes at you out of nowhere, it takes your brain a few seconds to catch up. Confusion reigned for all three of us in those few seconds; my husband and I wondering why this thirty-something woman dressed in nightclub attire thought nothing of joining us, and this loquacious stranger now occupying our backseat abruptly stopped mid-sentence with a look of horror on her heavily made-up face.
Obviously in her head-down haste to make up for lost time, she jumped into the first vehicle she saw erroneously assuming it was her Uber ride. When it became painfully obvious to her what she had done, a very different round of apologies began and she quickly jumped out. We assured her that all was well and that no harm was done.
I was recently reading Proverbs chapter 2, focusing on verses 1-11 when my mind went back to that day at the mailbox. I was prompted to compare my own reckless haste as I sprint through my often hurried days to the woman who had carelessly jumped into a stranger’s car. Oblivious to the spiritual dangers that lurk, I often charge ahead from one activity to another without even a prayer for guidance. In comparing wisdom to foolishness, Ephesians 5:15 says, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.”
Back in Proverbs 2, verses 1 through 5 clearly map out wise, thoughtful driving through life as opposed to foolish, feckless riding along. It’s a call to be both studious and vigilant in the things of God. This is my takeaway from the passage:
* Receive God’s Word and treasure His commands
* Listen for the wisdom He speaks as you read and pray
* Understand the personal application of His Word
* Ask Him continually for discernment and understanding
* Search endlessly as in a treasure hunt for the knowledge of God
In verse 5 we are offered the priceless gift of understanding both the awe and the intimacy of knowing God! The abundant promises contained in these few verses also include wisdom, righteousness, justice and the assurance that God is our Mighty Shield and the Preserver of our way.
“When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.” (Proverbs 2:10-11)
In my life, the sin of pride has been a reoccurring theme that I’ve struggled with even before I was saved. It’s not the only sin that I’ve had to deal with since God saved me, and He has helped me with a lot of those faults, but sometimes pride still rears it’s ugly head. I become puffed up in my success and I start to think I deserve the glory when it’s God that has done this in my life. Thankfully, He has the love and patience to head me off at the pass before I fall back into those old habits.
Lately I’ve been feeling haughty, at work—also at home, even at church. I’ve reached a level within my company where my opinions and voice matter, I’m important. I was starting to believe that I deserved my respect, that I had earned it myself, maybe even deserved more; I was valuable, shouldn’t I be treated that way? I was feeling prideful. However, I recently made some mistakes that cost the company money, a lot of money. I wasn’t fired or anything like that, but I’ve lost the standing that I once had. It was humbling to say the least, and that’s when I realized the trap that I been walking right into. I had started to believe the sweet lies my pride had been telling me, that I had earned my position, when in reality all of my success has been a gift from God.
Looking back on it now, it’s obvious that God was showing me that He had placed me where I am and that it wasn’t what I had earned; and God had to show me that He had blessed me with the gifts and talents that let me be in that situation. He knows what my spirit is, and that I was feeling prideful. It’s not unlike King Saul. God raised Saul up from his family to be king over Israel. He started out humble, but eventually he believed that he deserved the success that he had, but it all came from God. When Saul became too prideful and disobeyed God, God gave those blessings to someone else, King David.
King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Thankfully, my fall was that hard, and while it hurt, I know from past experience that it was for the best. I feel that God taking me down even a few pegs is saving me in the long run. He has blessed me with a great family, a wonderful wife, a successful job; and it’s easy to start to believe that these are things that I’ve earned. The Lord knows when our pride is getting the better of us, but He also knows when we recognize our failures and come before Him with a broken and contrite spirit.
Patience has been a big lesson during the last six months. I have two small children, and they require a lot of attention. I gave myself a year-long break from life just so I could be with the baby—and maybe get over the sleep deprivation. After this break, I returned back to being a part of ministry in the church. This was the plan I had with my second daughter, and when the time to return came around, I was excited to get back into ministry and begin serving again. But God had other plans. The next few months, our family faced intense spiritual warfare, and for the longest time I didn’t recognize that it was a transitional season in our family’s lives. It was a way for God to say to me: “Hey, when storms hit you, you don’t rely on me, and I need you to change your perspective.”
The storms lasted four months. A huge part of those storms was that I kept having panic attacks. It was all very bizarre. I’ve gone through transitional periods before, but nothing like that. It taught me, though, about God’s faithfulness to stay with me, to wait for me to figure out how to ask for His help. I had to sit through some storms and analyze what I would need ask for. I had to question myself: “If there’s one thing I need from God to get me through this, what would it be?” One day I would ask for His wisdom, and then I would feel shaken again and would ask for His strength. It was all God teaching me how to rely on Him daily. Now that I’m not in it, I can see how it prepared me for where I’m at right now. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
I’m in a new business adventure—super fun!—that has me inside strangers’ homes and outside of my comfort zone. It’s allowed me to work much more with unbelievers and to share the gospel; something that God really impressed upon my heart during those rough months. That season of storms was not fun—it was awful! But if God hadn’t prepared me the way He had, I would be on much shakier ground now, like the foolish man that built his house on the sand. I learned that every minute that I’m not fully relying on God is another moment that I am much more prone to falling into temptation and to sin.
1 Timothy 2:1
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
It has been about seven months since I moved back to Las Vegas from Southern California and have been attending Paradise Calvary Chapel. God’s grace has continually allowed me to witness and be a part of the moving of the Holy Spirit in the body of our church. It has reaffirmed some things, changed some of my various views, given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of our Father’s unending supply of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace but the biggest revelation has been the answered prayers of all the brothers and sisters in Christ.
Through prayer has came an enrichment of praise, worship, thanksgiving, as well as the reading, studying, meditating, and application of the Word on a daily basis. The most enlightening part has been the intercession for others. James talks about the importance of prayer for one another in meeting certain needs. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his book “Life Together” that “Intercession is a daily service we owe to God and our brother. It’s a gift of God’s grace.” Christians pray anytime and anywhere---and they make a difference. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing”.
I have discovered that while praying for others I must not be afraid to ask others to pray for me. Life is happening for everyone but prayer is a bond of unity to strengthen all who participate. Jesus told us to love our enemies and those who persecute us. How do you do that without prayer?
The apostle Paul reminds us that the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us and it is for the saints according to the will of God. Further along in Romans 8, he tells us that Christ who is risen and at the right hand of God makes intercession for us. With Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding for me encourages me to intercede for others.
Intercessory prayer shows our love for others whether they are believers or non-believers. We forget ourselves in prayer for others and only ask that God’s will be done. One of the most powerful things someone has said to me is “I’m praying for you”. It shows me that they only want what God knows is best for me and that only He can accomplish it.
Who are you praying for today?