Monday, March 22, 2010

In the Valley

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. - Psalm 23

Even in the valleys, He's still God. We love the mountaintop experiences where you know the victory's won and you just feel so close to God. But, not much grows on top of the mountain. It's the valleys. It's the valleys that links one mountain to another. It's no accident that Psalm 22 is about Mount Calvary where Jesus paid it all. It's no accident that Psalm 24 is about Mount Zion. But, what links Psalm 22 to Psalm 24 is a psalm about a valley. What you can find in the valley?

I. God is there ...for thou art with me...(Psalm 23:4)

    He said He would never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) You may look around in your valley and not see God. You may not sense God. But He's there. He doesn't lose sight of us in the valley. Standing somewhere in the shadows you'll find Jesus.

II. Growth is there ...thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

    Growth is there. Without His loving correction and guidance, we would not learn from our ill ways. The Shepherd shows the way. We should ask God, "How do I get to that next mountain?" Or instead of "God, get me out of this valley!" we should ask, "God, what do you want me to get out of this valley?" Grow.

III. Grace is there ...Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:5-6)

Talking about amazing grace! It doesn't matter what we must face, God's grace is sufficient. It may just be another thing.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

It's good to know that whatever valley, whatever storm, whatever we may be facing is just another one of those things that God uses to accomplish His will. We should glory in these valleys, as hard as that may sound, because God is using us as an instrument of His will.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Weeping Willow

The tree stood tall and proud,

As it offered the woman its shade.
It tried so hard to protect her.
For, it felt she was afraid.
She leaned against its trunk.
Her sobs rustled through the leaves,
Sighing lightly like the breeze;
Echo's of a heart that grieves.

The tears ran like a river
And watered deep the roots,
Bringing forth the blossoms
That would later bear the fruits.

The tree stood tall and proud
As the soldiers checked it out.
"I think this one will do.
Cut it down," he heard them shout.

They cut and carved upon that tree;
Stripped it of blossom and bark.
Then, they made a rugged cross.
That's the day the world turned dark.

As Jesus hung upon that tree,
He was the last fruit it would bear.
For, Jesus was the fruit of God.
He was longsuffering and full of care.

The tree no longer stood proud,
As the blood of the Lamb did stain.
It bent with the weight of its shame
And it wanted to weep from the pain.

Jesus whispered to the tree,
"From this day forth shall you cry."
Thus grew the weeping willow
That had watched the Savior die.

The Weeping Willow Easter Poem © Claytia Doran


But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God's Healing; My Healing

And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. -Matthew 8:7

Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Although I was spiritually-sick at the time, I was physically healthy, young and active. I developed a lemon-sized swelling in my groin area. Because of the sensitive location on my body and the painlessness, I did not alert anyone to the condition, but after several weeks of seeing this knot on my body, I became increasingly worried. I told my parents who immediately went to God in prayer.

We went to a doctor which conducted blood tests, a physical and in depth interview to produce a diagnosis. After several hours of waiting, the doctor returned to our room with a heavy sigh. His diagnosis was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This cancer, although not usually terminal, with radiation therapy and possible chemotherapy, the doctor informed us that I should be able to live a normal life. “What surgeon would you like to use?” he asked.

We were shocked to say the least as is everyone that has been diagnosed with any cancer. I advised him that I lived 150 miles away and to let me do some research closer to home before we schedule the procedure. We made an appointment to come back a week later. My parents continued to pray. Thus began the Phase Two of the healing. My parents called me every day to check on me and to assure me that they, their church and several other churches were praying for me. I thanked them, but silently tried to map out the remainder of my life.

Just a few days later, I began to notice the swelling reduce. I was happy, but chalked it up to wishful thinking. I relayed the hope to my parents, who were still much in prayer. A few more days passed and, just like that, it was nearly gone! One week from that initial diagnosis, we walked into the doctor’s office still apprehensive, but with smiles on our faces. A few tests later, the doctor came to our room with a smile on his face and some good news. He tells us that the swelling has reduced and that there were no signs of cancer. Praise God!

God healed me when I was undeserving. God healed me regardless of what I was. God healed me in spite of me. Because of His grace, love, and mercy towards sinners like me. I owe it all to Him.

I believe!

I was healed of cancer. :)

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. -Jeremiah 17:14

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Master Builder

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? - Mark 6:3

Jesus was boldly teaching in the synagogues so much so that the listeners were amazed at the authority and wisdom of His teaching. They were awestruck at one they thought was just an ordinary Joe. One day, they saw Him carrying wood and then the next day He was carrying the Word of God with boldness and authority as if He wrote it. They remembered Jesus as a little boy, handing His daddy Joseph the hammer and the saw. They remembered Jesus and His brothers outside the lumber yard. They remembered Jesus and His mother polishing the freshly constructed furniture that the family had built. But now, they see Him...they hear Him as He stands and teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath like noone they had ever seen or heard before.

Is not this the carpenter?

Now, let's not get too hasty and judge these folks right off the bat! If you and I were in that crowd, we would be astonished, too! If we went by what we had seen all those years before and not by what was happening right before our eyes there in the synagogue.

But what was more amazing to Jesus than the boldness and wisdom in His own teaching was their lack of faith. The scripture says in verse six that He "marvelled because of their unbelief". Did they not realize this was God in flesh? Did they not realize who was before them? Did they not realize that He was the Master Carpenter? The Master Builder?

Is not this the carpenter?

1.) Afterall, He built the Universe.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: - Colossians 1:16 
Here are some basic truths: Jesus must have existed before the universe, and He must be greater than all He made. Thrones, dominions, principalities, powers are all divisions of rank, and so since Jesus created them, therefore He is greater. Is not the builder greater than what he built? Is not the Creator greater than the creation? He is great. All things were created by Him and for Him.

2.) He built the Bible.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1
The Word. It was in the beginning. It was with God and it was God. The Word of God. The Bible is the written Word of God. The inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. It was written by over 40 different men, over a span of 1600 years and not one word is contrary to another. It was written by over 40 men, but it only has one author...the Holy Ghost. God inspired or God breathed.

3.) He is building the Church.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. - Matthew 16:18
The redeemed, the forgiven, the saved, the believers, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the Church is being built by the Master Builder. Daily, the church is being built by God. We, the Church, are a called-out assembly chosen by God...built by God. Amen.

4.) He is building a city.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. - Revelation 21:2
He is preparing a city the likes of which have never been known other than the vison of John the Revelator. It is a bright city, a holy city, a prepared city built by the hands of God. Chapter 21 details the city so beautiful with precious stones, pearly gates, a street of gold, but the best thing about heaven is that the Lord is there.

Is not this the Master Builder? Is not this the divine Designer? Is not this the Carpenter?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Rope

As most of the rafters swam away from the cap-sized boat, there was one man who was swept away by the swift moving water. The standers-by could only see his bobbing head and his lifeless body helpless at the mercy of the mighty river.

Then, as the man regained consciousness, he raised his arms in desperation. "Help," he shouted. But the power of the rapids continued to pull him down river.

When all seemed lost, he reached out his hand and found something...a rope, a life-line, that was thrown out by rescuers who had scrambled strategically down the river and in mathematical precision tossed forth a rope to save the life of this man.

A rope saved his life.

Ropes are rescue tools. Ropes can be used to save people from drowning. Ropes can be used to save people from falling off a cliff.

Jesus is a rope. A rope used for security. A rope used for stability. A rope used for salvation. Jesus is the rope to save you from drowning. Jesus is the rope to save you from being carried away. Jesus is the rope to keep you from falling.
Grab hold, believe, have faith! Call upon His name!
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Romans 10:13
There's power in His name. Good news: You don't have to stay the way you are. You don't have to keep drowning. You don't have to keep falling.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  -Acts 4:12
Spiritually, there's only one rope. The rope has been extended to you. The rope has been tossed to you who are headed for sure destruction, depression, death. The rope has been thrown to you to save you from a devil's hell. You may not even feel like you deserve it.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8
We don't deserve it. But, by His grace, love, and mercy, God extends His hand to me and you. Nothing we could do, or have done, but only by His grace, love, and mercy. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Amen. No matter where we are or what we have done, Jesus loves us anyway and He holds out the rope for us to take hold.
Grab hold, believe, have faith!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear;
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.
Words: Joseph Scriven, 1855
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1868

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13