Every morning I begin my day with a cup of coffee and a climb up the stairs to my sanctuary where I spend time with my Bible, devotionals, prayers, and Jesus.
One of my devotionals is “These Days,” a daily devotion for living by faith, published by the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Its format is scripture, devotional, prayer.
Today’s scripture was:
He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.”
In the devotional, the author, Hope Douglas Harle-Mould, wrote about the comfort Jesus provides. She included a poem she wrote to Our God of all Faithfulness:
“We pray for a cure; God sends us healing. We pray for continued life; God gives us new life. We pray death will not come; God overcomes death. We pray in anguish; God weeps with us. We pray in fear; God teaches us to laugh. We pray for ourselves; God gives us each other. We pray for miracles; God fills us with love. We pray for the future; God showers us with blessedness. God, help me trust the voices heralding your hope.”
I am assured as I read and pray and study God’s word, that just as he carries the lamb in his arms, he will be faithful to carry me.
As I descend the twelve stairs at the end of my devotional time, I recite my personal TWELVE STEP PROGRAM Thank You, Jesus, for the:
Peace (that are mine). Help me with
Faithfulness (which brings blessings),
Help me live humbly with an attitude of gratitude, and
A response of generosity, forgiveness,
Obedience, and integrity. In Jesus name, Amen!
When I get to the 7th step, I see the metal sculpture that says, “Blessings” above my door. It was a gift from our dear friends, Jim & Terry, so I pause to thank God for their faithful friendship. When I get to the bottom of the stairs, I see this cross on the wall:
It was made by Native Americans. I pause to pray for them and their peace and prosperity. I send occasional gifts to schools for Native American children – – places like St. Labre’ and St. Joseph’s – and they faithfully write back acknowledging my small donation.
Faithfulness is a two-way street. We pray to God faithfully; God answers. We give to people who touch our hearts; they give back with gratitude & smiles. We read God’s Word faithfully each day; He gives us wisdom and discernment, understanding and blessings.
Check out this different version of that old song, The B-I-B-L-E… I love it! What a way to learn to names of the books of the Bible, huh?
How do you begin your day, my friends? What does FAITHFULNESS mean to you?
Thanks for visiting today. I hope your Friday is blessed, indeed!
“Being confident of this, I take great comfort knowing He who began a good work in me will carry it out to completion…”
Aren’t those comforting words?
God is doing a good work in me, this I know. But that doesn’t mean I am going to be without troubles. Hurt and pain are guaranteed in this world. Through scripture, we can be comforted by knowing that God is faithful, and is always looking over us.
Our Heavenly Father truly cares and is our protector and comforter in times of need. Whatever the circumstance may be, we can use comforting Bible verses to find a peace that passes understanding.
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Are you facing a difficult circumstance? Something over which you have little if any control? Maybe it is job related. Maybe it is health related. You might be in a state of transition. Perhaps there are relational issues …
Whatever it is, know this: Loved ones who walked before you faced some of those same challenges. They walk with you today… And they intercede for you.
I believe that. I feel my mom and my sis, and I hear the Holy Spirit. I am not alone.
This rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” always inspires me and comforts me. If Andrea, who is blind, can face his daily challenges and reassure us of life’s constant Companion with such sincerity and conviction, who am I to doubt the Comforter?
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Maybe you, like my friends Scott & Cheryl, have recently lost a loved one – a parent, a sibling, a dear friend, a pet… If so, I pray you will feel the comfort of our Lord and His promises of Eternal Life. Be at peace.
3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Every day we all need encouragement and words of comfort!
May you feel the loving arms of our God of peace and comfort embracing you – And may you pass along those comforting hugs to all you meet who need your love and kindness.
Embrace The comfort Offered by others Then return the favor Comfort
Comfort Makes life A little easier Even in our sorrow Care
Whisper Your cares To our God He hears every word Believe
Reach Hold hands Hug your friends Even virtual hugs matter Express
Love Is comfort Comfort in Action Never underestimate your love Increase!
Last night Bob & I received word that his brother-in-law, Stan, was in ICU. He had fallen in the shower and was unconscious. The paramedics came, performed CPR, broke three of his ribs in the process, but made sure he was breathing. Took him to the hospital. Stan and Bob’s sister, Bonnie, live in Oregon. We can’t hop in the car and go there, but thanks to technology, we can reach out in love. We can pray and ask our friends to pray, too. God hears. God cares. We can show we care, too.
Today we learned that the family has asked for Stan to be taken off of life support. He never regained consciousness… and if he survived, his brain would not be functioning properly. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is not continued life on this earth, but the peace and comfort of eternal life. Thank God for our faith. We know we will meet again in heaven.
There are so many ways to show love. What are some of the ways you embrace comfort across the miles?
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
Hope to see you tomorrow.
I’m sending my love your way.
Knowing our dear Stan is departing his earthly body, I am sending this lovely video “If Tomorrow Starts Without Me” to comfort our sweet Bonnie and their children, Tammy & Todd… and all the Hunt/Smith/Beekman family with my love. May they find it comforting.
I’m told Mother’s milk Protects a baby at birth And provides comfort
It’s a bit risque’ To post such a photograph But it proves a point
Innocent Babies Who nurse on their mother’s milk Have immunity
Like that babe in arms We, too, are safe – protected In the arms of God
“And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety.”
Prayer of Protection
The light of God surrounds me The love of God enfolds me The power of God protects me The presence of God watches over me Wherever I am, God is.
I repeat that prayer As I begin every day, Standing in this spot.
I turn off the light And let God’s light shine through me – Reflecting His Love.
Everywhere I go, I have faith that everything Has His protection.
The Bible is full Of protection promises Here’s three hours worth!!!
No, I don’t expect you to sit here for three hours and listen to all these scriptures, but they prove a point… just as that nursing baby proves a point. Protection is out there. Protection is yours. “Wherever I am, God is.” Believe it! Own it!
God is my refuge… my Savior. Jesus said, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
I pray you feel His protection this day, too.
God bless you!
I hope you found comfort here.
The Lord is my Shepherd…. He refreshes my soul and guides me along the right path. Fear no evil…
Today a good friend of ours Is having to say good-bye To her furry companion Such days make me cry
The doggy’s name is Hannah. She’s been a faithful friend. Companionship and a love – Giving comfort to the end
I wrote this poem for my friend, Fran, as a comfort as she sees Hannah off on her final journey. Bon Voyage, dear pup. You’ve been a treasured friend for over 15 years. You’ve earned you eternal reward!
I don’t have to understand In order to believe. I just have to trust – And know it’s okay to grieve.
When tragedy strikes – Like the death of a friend – I don’t have to comprehend Why my friend’s life must end.
I can just believe There’s a heaven and a hell. My friend will ascend To eternity to dwell.
In heaven are the ones Who lived by the Cross. They accepted God’s grace, So their death is not loss.
There are people and pets In that paradise up high. I don’t have to understand – Just anticipate the sky!
Rest in Peace, Sweet Hannah. Your cross to bear has ended – Your life you shared and blended. Your soul to heaven ascended.
Have a blessed Saturday. Say a prayer for my friend, Fran.
These pictures below are from a book by Cynthia Rylant titled, “Dog Heaven.” It was a gift to us from the Colorado State Veterinary Hospital staff after our beloved Boston, Angela, died following a two year bout with cancer.
And thank God there are fields for romping in Heaven.
See ya round the bend. (Do you have a pet waiting for you in Heaven?)
Let God tell you, “You are not alone.” Let God gently hold you. Let God listen to your pain and sing your worries away. Let God remove the darkness. Remember, He accepts you as you are. God is nature. He created the earth and you. You are never alone.
God bless you, dear friends. Listen to His healing words of love and let Him hold you. Have a beautiful Sunday evening/night. I’ll see you tomorrow.
For God did not give us A spirit of cowardice, But rather a spirit of power and of love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Do we have enough self-discipline To take advantage of this time – This time to just BE and just LOVE And make the world a better place?
Ann Weems, in Putting the Amazing Back in Grace, wrote: “Remember, you’re in charge of remembering that God is in charge, and that’s a big job that will last a lifetime.”
God’s got this!! Have a peace-filled Sunday, my friends.
Oh, and in case you, like us, missed church today, here is the sermon for today that our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley sent out via e-mail.
Find a comfortable chair, grab a cup o’ tea or coffee, and augment your Sunday with a worshipful, inspiring message:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE
Read Psalm 23
Not long after becoming the pastor of three small churches in the mountains of Virginia, I was asked to give the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class of Bath County High School. It used to be, at least in the Bible Belt where I grew up, that local high schools have both a Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremony. The Baccalaureate was held one evening, a day or two before the actual Graduation Commencement. And it was tradition to invite a religious leader in the community to speak. However, I’m not sure that the message I delivered was what the school administration, or even the students, had in mind.
In most cases, the message given would be a positive one meant to motivate the students to go out and change the world, such as: “You are God’s ambassadors, the hope for a broken world!” Or: If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” Or, perhaps: “Shoot for the Moon, for even if you miss, you’ll find yourself among the stars!” Most Baccalaureate, as well as, Commencement speakers would have them believe that they can be and do anything they set their minds to, (but with God’s help, of course).
I, however, felt that it was my duty to inform them that they were nothing but a bunch of “harebrained” sheep. I saw that! You raised your eyebrows, didn’t you? (Note from JanBeek, see the picture of sheep I put at the end of this sermon!)
Yet, that is what the Bible says. Yes, as much as we would like to think of ourselves as having the heart of a lion, we share more in common with sheep.
You see, like sheep, we tend to stray easily and lose our way. I’ve have been told that if one sheep spooks and tears off in one direction, all the others will follow. Imagine a bunch of sheep running up a hill. Suddenly the one in front makes a sudden left turn, and all the others, with no questions asked, mindlessly follow. If the one leading heads right off a cliff, tumbling to its death, all the others follow right off the cliff as well. But, you say, “We’re not like that!”
I heard recently about a young married couple. The wife bought a country ham to cook for her husband’s family who were coming over for dinner. Before putting it in a pot to bake it, she cut both ends off. “Why did you do that,” her husband asked. “I did it because that is the waymy mother always did it,” she said. Calling her mother on the phone, she asked: “Mom, why do we cut the ends off a ham before cooking it?” “I don’t know. I do it because it is the way my mother always did it.” Calling up her grandmother, she asked, “Grandmother, why do we cut the ends off a ham before baking it?” “I don’t know why you and your mother do it, but I always did it because it wouldn’t fit in my small baking pan.”
Yes, if one sheep spooks and tears off, all the others will follow. Still, you say, “We are smarter than that!” (Try to find a roll of toilet paper, or a bottle of hand sanitizer these days. Just saying.)
Attending a Montana State University lecture not long ago, the speaker, a journalist professor, pointed out just how partisan our country has become. He said that we have lost the will, and therefore, the ability to listen and dialogue with those who disagree with us. “We only listen to those news networks that confirm what we believe to be true,” he said. “We socialize with those who believe like us. In other words, we are like sheep who follow blindly our own flock.” Oh, by the way, did you know that a flock of sheep are called a “MOB?” Google it.
Secondly, sheep not only tend to follow their “mob”, they are also fragile creatures. Ken Davis, a comedian, tells of growing up on a sheep farm. He said there was an old ram on their farm that loved to sneak up behind him and butt him when he wasn’t looking. He hated that old ram. One day he spotted the old bruiser coming around the back of the barn. Determined to get back at that old ram, he looked around for something to hit him with. With nothing in sight and ram rounding the corner, Ken jumped out and hollered: “BOO!” It was all he could think to do.
“Startled,” Ken said, “that old ram just keeled over AND DIED!”
Later, his father confronted him, “Son, you hit that sheep, didn’t you?”
“No dad, I said, BOO! and it just died!”
A crack of thunder is all it takes to scare a sheep literally to death. As much as we like to think of ourselves as indestructible, this present pandemic and the fact you are reading this sermon in your own home, shows just how fragile we are. Our Lord Jesus said: “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…give us this day our daily bread…and, deliver us from evil’.”
Yes, we are like sheep who are in need of a Shepherd. We need help. Going it alone, depending on our own wiles, spells certain disaster. I remember one sheep herder/shepherd telling of turning his flock loose one night in the mountains to graze alone on their own. He knew it was a risk, because sheep cannot defend themselves, much less outrun, even the slowest predators. Sheep tend to go astray, grazing along without looking where they are going.
He did, however, leave them in the care of his trusty sheep dog. Locating them the next morning, he discovered that they had wandered into a rather rugged mountain park. Being the rather clumsy animals that they are, more than a few of them had managed to fall over while feeding on the uneven ground. He found sheep scattered around the meadow upside down on their backs unable to get up. He said: “I had to go around picking up sheep and placing them back on their feet.
The Prophet Isaiah warns the Israelites of the danger of going it alone. “See, the Lord’s arm is not too short to save … to pick you up when you have fallen.” (Isaiah 59:1)
While I doubt that anyone was prepared for me to compare the graduating class of Bath County High School to a “flock”, or should I say “mob” of sheep…the foolish notion that the future of the world rested on their shoulders is categorically untrue! The longer I live, the more I am convinced that what we need to make it in this world is not popularity and success, not financial wealth or even personal happiness.
What we need is Christ, the Good Shepherd, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and instruct us in the proper order of our lives. For, “The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures; he leads us beside still waters; it is our Shepherd who restores our souls, who leads us in right paths. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear not evil…”
Notice how Psalm 23 reverses the order of how we tend to live our lives. It is our tendency to approach life head on, burning ourselves out. And then, turn back to God in search of rest and soul-restoration after a week of chasing the illusive American dream. Yet, notice that this Psalm reverses the order. First, there is the Shepherd who provides what we need most, rest and soul restoration. Only then is it possible to find meaning and purpose in God’s emerging kingdom or face dark valleys.
This is the blessing Jesus wanted Martha to see when she was burning herself out by busying herself in the kitchen. Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part…” (Luke 10:41-42).
Notice how the New Testament church began in Acts 2:46-47: “They followed a daily discipline of busying themselves with programs and activities, burning themselves out, so that people liked what they saw and everyday their numbers grew…” ??? NO! NO! NO!
It says: “They followed a daily discipline of worship in the temple, followed by meals together in their homes, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Everyday their numbers grew as God added those who were saved.”
Yes, Genesis tells us that “God created the world and on the seventh day, and then He rested.” That’s true, but WE ARE NOT GOD! Christ died for our sins, our weaknesses, and on the first day of the week He arose from the dead! So, we begin with rest, worship, and spiritual recreation before facing the challenges of daily living and serving our God.
We are His sheep, who find our rest in the arms of the Good Shepherd, so that He might equip us for the facing of this hour even as we face this dark valley of the shadow of death. For we are not alone, for God in Christ is with us. Amen.
Read Psalm 23 again.
In what new and unique way have you felt God’s comforting presence?
See ya tomorrow. Thanks for visiting JanBeek and for hangin’ in there together. Have a beautiful Sunday. Together, in FAITH, we shall overcome!!