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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The unfamiliar voice of the Shepherd

The Shepard and his Sheep
Read: John 10:1-18

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. - John 10:27

The sheep know their voice

Two shepherds lead their flock to graze; one heading north the other south. As the men greeted each other so do their sheep, hundreds commingling into a sea of unrecognizable wool. 

There are no brands, or unique markings just sheep. So how do these shepherds separate their flock? Each man shouts a cadence or whistle, systematically parting the sheep like the Red Sea, triggering the flock to fall in line with their rightful master. What appeared to be disorder was resolved with a voice that only their sheep recognized.

God's sheep

Over 200 times sheep is mentioned in the Bible. Sheep where important to the people of that time as well as they are symbolically referred to as God’s people. David, a shepherd himself, wrote the 23rd Psalm which illustrates what a “personal” relationship with God should be like.  The Lord is my Sheppard and I shall not want

We like sheep often go astray, turning to our own ways Isaiah 53:6.  We pay attention to unfamiliar voices while seeking greener pastures of living. In the prime of life, we find ourselves following the voice of leaders, government, and even strangers forgetting that God guides us! All too often, in the mist of personal crusades, people find themselves lost confused and sometimes trapped. Their cries for help reach the ears of many, yet individuals who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, mistaken the Master’s voice with thieves, who want to physically and spiritually steal kill and/or destroy.

Hearing God's voice

Understand God's voice is not always audible it is unlike that of Cecil B. Demille’s version in the movies - a talking bush. Through and bible study, learn God’s voice.  Become acquainted with God’s communication by Practicing, resting, and abiding in God for spiritual comfort. There will be frustration during your process of tuning into Christ and keep in mind the green pastures, shadows of the valley, and flowing waters are temporary yet the message is to follow the shepherd and develop a relationship; these things will never fade.

The Good shepherd

A good shepard know their sheep
Jesus told his followers that he is the good shepherd his sheep know his voice and he calls them by name. To be one of the chosen, humble yourself and desire the need to commune with Christ. Shake off the negative characteristics of sheep: demanding, stubborn, straying, easily influenced, fearful, as well as restlessness. Make way for a better relationship by becoming totally dependent of the shepherd for every need. We all have fallen into ruts and are easily thrust aside in life, but thanks be to God, for Grace and Mercy which will allow us to live in His goodness and loving kindness all the days of our life


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

G.A.P.S. - God Answers Prayers Still

Bridging the G.A.P.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures James 4:3

A large number of Christians are members of the D.U.A.P. club; ‘Doubter of Unanswered Prayers'. These individuals argue God does not respond to prayers. Desires were not met when wanted. 

There is a misconception that prayers are instantly answered. Let me remind you God hears all prayers however it’s only in due season he responds. Jesus stated whatever you ask in my name I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son John 14:12. What’s most often omitted from this verse by believers is they are not asking in Jesus name for the desires. Furthermore, prayers are typically for your own satisfaction opposed to the Father being glorified in the Son. John also elaborates, prayers are answered because we keep God’s commandment of believing in the name of Jesus Christ and loving one another 1 John 3:22-23.

God Answers Prayers Still

Praying can close G.A.P.S., (which stands for God Answers Prayers Still) 
Prayer is empowered by reading, meditating, and studying God’s word daily. I ran across an acronym, T. R.I. P., which teaches how to pray using scriptures. 

THANKS: What in this verse makes me thankful?

REGRET: What in this verse causes me regret?

INTERCESSION (prayer): What does this text lead me to pray for?

PURPOSE: What action does this text encourage me to take today?
prayer changes things

During your supplication, incorporate T.R.I.P. to develop your relationship and grow in faith. Don't fall back into bad habits of quarreling in your mind  and asking God with some doubt. He who has doubt is like waves of the sea James 1:5-8. Such a mind set will keep Christians confused, bitter, and angry with God. 

Transform the mind

Transformation of the mind and spirit begins when you show humility and start applying the A.S.K. principle during prayer, as Jesus stated Matt 7:7: ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find and it will be opened.

There is blessedness from answered prayers when you lift God’s name in praise, trust in him and ask, with right motives. Though weeping may endure for a season, in return God arms you with strength by turning your mourning into dancing, and depression into gladness. Never be silent, sing praise and give thanks to God so that your prayers will not fall in the GAPS again.

Tigner J. Rand

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Run and not Grow Weary

Ms. Simons - 94 year old - May God continue to
add joy in your life!

Let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth Ecclesiastes 11:9

As a child, there are dozens of things to do: swimming, riding bikes, or climbing trees. Time seemed to last forever along with a body with an endless supply of energy. We put away childish things as the sands of time transformed playing into the responsibility of adulthood, the dog eat dog world of work, work and more work. Somewhere along the way we forgot to bring from obscurity into view that joyful heart of our youthful days. In its place is a heart filled with fear, doubt, and exhaustion from the race called life.

God places people in our lives as examples as to how we should live. Take for example Ms. Simon, a 94 year old vibrant energetic lady who is always cheerful. Each Sunday she enters the church gracefully wearing an enormous smile. This particular morning, as Ms. Simon made her way to her predetermined seat (three rows from the front), I over heard someone ask how she is doing, her reply, “I’m running a race”. Even though her once spry stride, of years gone by is now calculated unhurried steps which require the aided of a walker  I assumed her statement was based on her relatively great distance she has traveled over the years.

Though out service, my mental note of running was forever in the forefront of my mind. Wondering what her response would be and how will she perceive my curiosity. As church adjourned I made my way through the crowd to enquire about her statement. With a gleaming smile and in such a childlike way she replied; “can’t you tell by how young and active I am.” One could not help but to return a look of favor and agreement along with a response of Yes I can. In continuous response, “It’s a race of life that I am running; I feel good and thank God.” I have to believe that Ms. Simon is a living example of Isaiah’s words;” those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Despite the trials and tribulations of life I took one lesson from this brief encounter. The race of life is not for the swift. Though it is commanded there is nothing better under the sun than to eat drink and be merry Ecc. 8:15 I must also renew my strength and hope with the Lord by letting the stresses of the day go! Learn to enjoy life, let your hearts give you joy as in the days of your youth. Take time in life to enjoy family, friends, children or grandchildren.

In parting, I thanked Ms. Simon for her time, thanked God for her presences and continuous happiness. In a soft spoken voice she smiled and thanked me right after snapping this photo. I pray that God will bless me to have such longevity of life and look this good at 94!

Tigner J. Rand

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