St. Patrick

Psalm 23: 1 – 3

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!  I decided to donate today’s devotional to Saint Patrick. Did you know St. Patrick was a shepherd? His story reminds me  of David who was also a shepherd boy. Patrick was abducted from his home in England and sold into slavery to an Irish land holder. There, much like David, he spent his youth tending sheep.

I wrote to you recently about feeling alone. I said you are never really alone because God is always there with you. There is a big difference between solitude and loneliness. These two lads, David and Patrick, spent much time with only the company of God and sheep. In that solitude with God, their faith was forged. They learned how to be by themselves without ever truly being alone. In their shepherding, they met THE shepherd, the great shepherd. In this famous psalm, David portrays, beautifully, the characteristics and manner of the shepherding God.

Patrick said that in his solitude, he grew closer and closer to God. The time he spent watching sheep was also spent in prayer. The more he prayed, he said, the more the Spirit grew in him. He was not bothered by cold temperatures nor was he plagued by fear.

As I ponder these two shepherd boys who grew to be giants of faith, I realize how little quiet and solitude most of us enjoy. Sometimes I feel we are a lost generation. We are either too busy, filling our days with every kind of distraction, or we are lost in loneliness when we should be reveling in time with our beloved. How is it that neither Patrick nor David fell into despair in the night watches?

Do you long to know Jesus as they did? Do you hunger for the kind of confidence in God they knew? It is for all of us, but there is a price. We must spend time in prayer and in seeking. What did their prayer look like? They were out in the fields for days and weeks. Did they pray like we have been taught, or did it take on the tone of conversation? Did they praise and worship God?

We have an opportunity to never be lonely again and to grow in the strength and confidence of the Lord. It takes humility, which I understand, can be a stumbling block. None the less, we can know what Patrick’s development looked like if we would begin our own journey in prayer. It begins with opening your heart and then your mouth to God. Begin to speak to Him. When we have spoken with Him for hours, then we shall find it possible to pray for days.

Did you ever wonder why the great shepherd leads us beside quiet waters? I think we have found the answer.

Alone Again, Naturally

Matthew 28: 20

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

When I was a kid, there was a song by Gilbert O’Sullivan titled Alone Again Naturally. I liked the song back then but to listen to it now, well, I am in a much different place and have some answers I didn’t have then. It is quite a sad song should you listen to the lyrics. The thing is, most of us have dealt with loneliness at some time or another and so the lyrics resonate with many.

If you are a Christian, and I know you are, there is no reason to suffer with loneliness. Has not our own Jesus, our beloved, made us a vow. He is with us. In fact, his name means “God with us.” Yet, we have struggled. If you have felt alone, you are not alone in that feeling.

The problem is that we weren’t taught how to be so connected with Jesus that we can be fully aware of him with us. You can become so attuned to his presence with you that if you accidentally belch, you will apologize to him. I want to lead you into this kind of relationship with him today if I can. We also have personal coaching available if this is a longing of your heart.

You see, the church presents sermons on Sunday. They are instructive, corrective and sometimes inspiring. In small groups, we tend to do Bible Studies, or we are taught to follow Bible Studies in our personal time. If you have been with me for long, you know that I think the Word is powerful truth and I continuously encourage you to spend time amongst its pages. However, I am not trying to get you to become a Bible scholar. I don’t really care if you can quote scripture and verse. We were taught to study the Bible, but that led us to an intellectual approach to the Word. When you understand that Jesus is the living Word then it becomes more about meeting a person than becoming well versed. I encourage you to the Word because I want you to find Jesus among its pages. I don’t want you to study it. I want you to lose yourself in it. I want you to allow the Word to minister to your needs. When we approach the Word with our hearts rather than our minds, then amazing things begin to happen. One of those miracles is the full comprehension of Jesus with us every minute of every day.

Studying the Bible can be fruitful, but engaging in the Word is the real deal. That is where you let Jesus guide you. Sure, you read the words on the page, but it is more than that. I have had times when our Father has led me from one scripture to another to another until they all combined to create one narrative. It is an amazing experience but not a unique one. This becomes everyday engagement.

I want you to never feel lonely, and you absolutely can achieve that status, but it does not come from seeking Jesus with your mind or simply reading the Bible. You see, there is actually a big difference between the Bible and The Word. The Bible is an amazing book. The Word is a person. I can understand if this blows your mind, but once you cross over the river to bask in the Word, you will never be the same and you will never be lonely.

So, let me help you bridge the gap of difference. Before you open your Bible, pray out of your emotions, out of your heart for Jesus to lead you, to meet you in the pages and in your time with him. Ask him to lead you to what he would like to show you. If you begin reading the Word in an open hearted, submitted way, you will find truth and encouragement. If you are only opening the Bible so that you can do your duty, or to learn the words, then you won’t find Jesus. You’ll just find a great book. Listen, there are non-believers who are true Bible scholars. That’s not what you want for yourself. You want the embrace of Jesus. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that why you are a Christian?

Never be lonely again. Open the Word and find the lover of your soul. Don’t study the Bible, look for Jesus in it and if you can’t quote great passages, but you find Jesus and he wants to move in with you, then you win!

One last thing – I am writing this to Christians. I am not trying to convert non-believers. I am trying to lead well-intentioned Christians to a deeper relationship with our beloved. I know that no matter who you are and no matter how wonderful your relationship with Jesus, you still want more. I also know there are millions of Christians who have an intellectual relationship with the trinity and with the Bible and are unfulfilled. So, this is for you. Come closer and never be lonely again. You never have to feel that horrid feeling again, ever.

Be blessed my beloved.

If this has touched your heart and you want more, reach out to our coaching staff. We would love to help.

Alone . . . Not!

John 16: 32

Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

This conversation takes place just a short while before Jesus is betrayed into the hands of the priests. Jesus told his followers what was to come. He was fully aware of just how alone He was to be very shortly. No one, not even Peter or John, would stand with Him. Peter denied Him three times in fact. Jesus knew that He was going to be left all alone before it happened and yet He had a revelation of never being alone. His Father, and ours, was with Him and He was confident in that.

All that Jesus ever had He bequeathed to us. Actually, he said that it was to our advantage that He leave so that we could have even more than was available at that time because the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out (John 16:7). He took everything that was bad with him and left all that was good from Him. He gave us all he had. You, therefore, can have the same confidence of never being alone that Jesus had. Jesus’ mission on the earth was one of reconciliation. He reconciled us back to the Father so that we could enjoy the close, meaningful relationship with the Father that was always the Father’s intention. You never have to be alone again, and you never will be. Do not mind your feelings, i.e. feeling alone. The feelings are false, and the fact is that the Father will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus bore that burden for us. No matter how desperately alone you feel, understand that you are never alone. Know it with the same confidence that Jesus knew. Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are with you to the end of the age.

Alone and Afraid

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

This is one of those verses we want to be true. It is also a good verse upon which to test your resolve. Are you a believer? Do you believe this verse is an actual promise from God to you? Can you stand on it? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Face it, there are times that despite our spirituality, we just feel alone. Intellectually, we know better. At least we know that the Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake us. Sometimes, though, you look into your spirit, you try to quiet yourself and all you hear is silence. It is in those times we must preach to ourselves and that is exactly what Father told me to do recently in my journaling. He said, “Preach to yourself what you would say to someone else.” That advice and the idea that He is with us all the time has stayed with me a lot lately.

The whole truth is that God cannot leave us even if He wanted to. Of course, you know He wants to be with you 24/7. He said to me, “That has been the point of this whole thing. It’s the reason I sent Jesus to earth.” This brings to my remembrance the promise in John 14: 23, “If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” God’s purpose in sending Jesus to earth was so that we could again come into communion with Him. He wanted to establish a community of believers for Himself where He could set up His home within our hearts and be with us forever. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “. . . but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” (John 14:16). If He abides in us and with us, how can we ever be apart from Him? Those verses account for the abiding presence of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. That’s pretty good company.

This should give us GREAT comfort and confidence. Today’s verse is from the Old Testament. How much greater is the good news since Jesus graced the earth. Even back then it is said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31: 8). Why should we be fearful or forlorn? Why should we be depressed or lonely? Our Father, our beloved, is with us every minute of every day. He and His heavenly host even watch over us while we sleep. God gave up Jesus whom He loves so that He can be with us night and day. He is not about to abandon us now after all the work He did to make His home with us.

Jesus said he left his peace here for us (John 14: 27). This verse is only four verses after Jesus said that he and the Father would make their abode with us. Part of that peace, it seems to me, is in knowing that the Holy Trinity is with you all of the time, day and night, at work at home. Whatever you do, wherever you go, they are there, with you. I write this hoping it will help you create more of a “God with me” identity. We need not be afraid or tremble. We can be strong and courageous of whatever tomorrow brings for our Lord and God is with us and goes before us. He will never, for one minute, leave us nor will He ever forsake us. You have a friend, a permanent friend, who, if you will let Him, will be your best friend for all time.

Never Forsaken

Hebrews 13: 5 – 6                 Index Card 6

He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

This verse speaks about confidence and I find myself thinking, “Yes, this is the kind of confidence I need.” I want to be unafraid. I want to abound in radical trust in the Lord. Life will certainly take on a different flavor when we trust the Lord that extensively. We will answer His call on our lives. We will believe we can do what he says we can do because he is our helper. We are not alone. He will not abandon us.

I used to often feel lonely. Now I almost never do. I have grown in my awareness of God with me, Jesus in me and the Holy Spirit leading me. I certainly am not in the full radical trust in the Lord Jesus that I would like to live but I have learned that he is always with us and thus, we never have to feel alone or lonely. His word is good and it is true. He will never leave us nor forsake us. You will never be abandoned or left to fend on your own. Amen.