A call beckoning the Hundredth Sheep
January 2019 – longer hours of daylight…a new year…a new beginning
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Lots of folks conjure up some resolutions about this time of year, and most of them fail in their quest; who to trust as we attempt to navigate the pitfalls of life? What does the Word of God teach? A new year will not change anything; only a changed (transformed) mind can! A re-NEWED mind…thinking thoughts in a NEW way!
The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile. Psalms 94:11
Thus says the LORD: cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. Jeremiah 17:5
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possession … I John 2:16
…as a man thinks within his heart, so he IS! Proverbs 23:7
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? I Corinthians 1:20
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"… "The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." I Corinthians 3 19-20
…do not be conformed to the world [thinking like everyone else!]. but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind [think in a new and different way!] that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… II Corinthians 10:5
How blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, nor stand in the path of sinners...but his delight is in the law [instructions for living] of the Lord Jesus...and in His law he meditates [ponders, contemplates] day and night! He will be like a strong, stout tree growing by a never ending stream of fresh water, whose leaf does not whither, and bears fruit in season. The wicked are not so.... Psalms 1:1-3
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God,
so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
New Year’s Resolution:
Let us each, individually, BEGIN each day before our loving heavenly Father, reading and feeding on His written Word; read prayerfully, quietly, in humility and repentance, asking Him for His input (if uncertain where to read, go to the ‘wisdom book’; for example, on the 3rd day of any month, read the 3rd chapter of Proverbs; on the 25th, the 25th, etc.)
…And let us END each day also humbly before our loving heavenly Father, again reading and feeding on His written word
Top Ten Practical EVERY Day Tasks ESSENTIAL to an Abundant Walk with Jesus
I heard someone declare a few days ago ‘all we [as believers] can do is ‘pray and fast’. This formula sounds like a sure way to suffer defeat after defeat in one’s spiritual walk. So - what ARE the things that every single believer should be doing every single day? Our loving heavenly Father, He has given me THESE -
1) Never forget the GOSPEL - the ‘good news’ - that there IS a BETTER WAY for ANY human to navigate through the inevitable rough waters of life rather than the ‘usual’ way of ‘lying, cheating, stealing, terrorizing, the dog-eat-dog vengeance to get even, and foolishly trying to ‘medicate’ our resultant pain…’ - by following the instructions given us by our loving heavenly Father…enabling us, (by His grace and not our ‘merit’), to enjoy an abundant lifetime of adventure and fellowship with Him even in going through the roughest times…with ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control’ [Galatians 5:22]…oh – and not to mention an eternity in His presence!
2) Feeding on His word…for wisdom in living…for inspiration…for stimulating of our faith!
3) Obeying His instructions (beginning with love God and love / encourage your neighbor; forgive…)
4) Guarding our thoughts (no anxiety or doubt, no anger, no lust, no going back to past mistakes…)
5) Binding demons (they are never far away!)
6) Exercising our spiritual gifts, whatever they might be, as often as opportunity arises
7) Remembering what you have learned so you can pass the wisdom along to others, and remembering the times He has interacted in your life for times when your own faith needs bolstering!
8) Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. Proverbs 19:20
9) Set your mind on things above…you are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language... Do not lie to one another… Colossians 3:2, 8, 9. And - Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33.
10) And yes - PRAYER, an on-going 2-way conversation with the Creator of the universe…is THE ultimate! Pray in humility and repentance, letting your Father know what is on your mind! If nothing else, ask your loving heavenly Father to break your heart…for what breaks His!
-COMMITMENT TO CHRIST IS A DAILY CALLING-
Our joy, as believers, comes by walking with Jesus,
by seeing that we have value to Him!
That we are valuable, each individual!
The ‘joy’ of non-believers, skeptics,
is collecting stuff,
deceiving others (for ‘power’)
and trying to win fights;
(not a very good joy...)
Every Day Prayers for THIS NEW YEAR and EVERY YEAR!
…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in PRAYER… Romans 12:12
…whenever you pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you… Mark 11:25
…one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…
So [Jesus] said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
HALLOWED be Your name…
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us…
Luke 11:1, 2, 4
[‘hallowed’ is a word somewhat difficult to pinpoint in the English language, but is a blend of ‘respected, esteemed and valued as sacred, holy and divine…]
Consider – we each have one mouth and TWO ears! Be still, and listen to Him!
Prayer Before Sleep Every Night –
Father - thank you for Your love! For watching over me today…thank you for my blessings - food to eat, a place to sleep, the folks I came in contact with today…may my interaction with them be pleasing to You! I ask that You continue ministering to them in whatever need they have.
I am tired now; I ask for a good night’s sleep tonight…minister to me even as I sleep…restore and revitalize my body, spirit and mind…create in me a clean heart and a steadfast spirit…restore my soul…deliver me from evil.
Dispatch an angel at my bedside as I sleep to protect me from the dark evil entities…don’t let the enemy take me back to past unpleasant memories, particularly – ______________________________________________ [we ALL have some!]; don’t let the dark evil entities give me thoughts of anger, unforgiveness, anxiety, or lust. Grant me the sweetest of dreams!
Let me wake up at the right time in the morning refreshed, full of vigor, full of focus, full of faith, full of joy…ready to walk with you, serve you and be forged by You one more day. In Jesus’ name, amen!
Prayer Upon Waking Each Morning –
Father - thank you for a good sleep… I ask for a closer walk with You…to recognize Your very presence, Your smallest whisper. Give me a clearer vision of how You are using me, where You are taking me, what you are forging me in to.
I ask you direct my steps today….keep me safe…let no harm come to me…put folks in my path I am equipped to encourage; may ALL I come in contact with today be blessed! May the nature of Your Holy Spirit manifest in me today – thoughts, words, and deeds…plainly evident for all to see! In Jesus’ name, amen!
The Shower Prayer (Cleansing Prayer) –
Thank You, Jesus, For THIS day! Please – clean and heal my body in EVERY way -
In Jesus’ Name - AMEN!
(pray this prayer all day long…every hour if you like! And especially as you take your morning shower –
Pray as you lather up; after you finish the prayer and soaping,
rinse and watch all the dirt flush down the drain into the sewer! Yeah!!)
Prayer of Affection and Hope -
Loving Heavenly Father, thank You for seeing me
not as I am, but as who You envisioned me to be when You created me!
Please reveal to me all choices of mine that have broken Your heart!
Thank you, Jesus, for dying for my sins!
Every time I come upon a ‘strong’ person,
I want to know - what ‘DARKNESS’ did you conquer in your story?
Mountains do not rise up without earthquakes.
– Kiatherine Mackennett
© Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Life
These ‘DARKNESSES’, relentlessly, deceitfully, and powerfully….
seek to enshroud EACH of us!
In His strength, and ONLY His STRENGTH, can one persevere...ALL glory to Jesus the Christ! '
Hence, this ‘conquering' is a CHOICE...the choice to allow Him to raise us up!
An essential element of our own role in this 'conquering' is our CHOOSING to FORGIVE!
(Had Jesus Christ of Nazareth in his death on the Cross
not already forgiven the one we think we should hold some ‘grudge’ against!!?
Is UNforgiveness not THE most toxic and most unloving stuff known to man!)
A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength…
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:5, 10
‘HAPPY’ holidays, friend! May our loving heavenly Father continue to watch over you as He causes you
to grow in wisdom and faith, and may He grant you a season of making many pleasant new memories!
However make no mistake – experiencing happiness, joy, is not some random quirk of luck or fate or alignment of the planets…and especially in no way related to the quantity of swallowed liquid spirits that originated in a bottle; God’s very WORD gives us the ‘formula’ (and happiness is not an achievable objective, either; it is a result of doing other things GOD’s way…a consequence…a fruit):
HAPPY are the people whose God is the LORD! Psalms 144:15
HAPPY is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God… Psalms 146:5
HAPPY is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding… Proverbs 3:13
…whoever trusts in the LORD, HAPPY is he… Proverbs 16:20
…he who has mercy on the poor, HAPPY is he. Proverbs 14:21.
When you eat [reap from] the labor of your hands, you shall be HAPPY… Psalms 128:2
A man has HAPPINESS by the wise counsel given by his mouth… Proverbs 15:23
…counselors of peace have joy [HAPPINESS]... Proverbs 12:20
Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice… Proverbs 29:3
…HAPPY is he who keeps the revelation. [the vision from God regarding life purpose] Proverbs 29:18
How HAPPY is the man who does not walk in the way of the wicked [Godless] nor sit in the seat of the scornful nor stand in the path of sinners...but his joy [HAPPINESS] is in the instructions of the Lord, and in His instructions he ponders day and night... Psalms 1:1-2
[Wisdom speaking] how HAPPY is the one who listens to me...watching
...guarding [his thoughts!]....; therefore, listen to me...for HAPPY are those who keep my ways;
Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wise instruction is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.
Rejoicing [being HAPPY] in His inhabited world, my delight [HAPPINESS, joy] was with the sons of men;
For whoever finds me [wisdom] finds life [an existence that is alive and abundant – full of HAPPINESS]
-Proverbs 8: 34, 32, 10-11, 31, 35
The fruit of [abiding in the holy Spirit of God] is love, JOY [HAPPINESS], peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Galatians 5:22-23
…In Your Presence is fullness of joy [HAPPINESS]; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalms 16:11
…these things we write to you that your joy [HAPPINESS!] may be full. I John 1:4
No Choir Girl
I had just begun the routine of making monthly trips to visit my parents in Georgia, 6 hours away, leaving Fridays after work. Prayer before leaving…seeking safety and for Him to direct my steps.
Honor your father and your mother…
Not satisfied that I had discovered the best route, I tried a new short cut. It was late and it was dark. Before long I decided I better stop and ask directions. I was lost in a small town.
Acknowledge me in all your ways, and I will direct your steps…
I had been told many times before that I was ‘easy to talk to’. I don’t know the exact formula, but being humble, non-judging, open-minded and Spirit-filled help! And here it happened again - I was just an unknown person who struck up a conversation with another unknown person. It turns out, we were both seeking directions. And almost immediately the conversation turned to spiritual matters. And became a confession.
Sexual abuse as a child. Divorces. Boyfriends. Homelessness. Hunger. Drugs. Sexual Depravity. And finally jail. How ‘friends’ from ‘the street’ came to help when she was released from jail a few weeks earlier, and no one else. This was no choir girl! She was more lost than I was. I needed a map; she needed a Saviour!
…they tested and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies,
but turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;
She stopped speaking of her sorrowful past for a moment, realizing how free she felt to openly speak with me. Out of the blue, she said - ‘I think you were sent’.
I asked ‘by whom?’ She looked up toward the sky…toward heaven.
I agreed. I said ‘I think you’re right.’ And truth be known, I knew she was right.
She told me how she knew she needed to get out of her current drug-controlled lifestyle. How she had prayed……for help, For encouragement. For direction.
She stopped again to think for a moment. And asked if I was a preacher. I told her no. Maybe more like a ‘special agent’. (Not secret, ‘special’, as all believers are called to be!) I told her I had spent time low in the gutter too. I told her how God these days had sent me many times - to encourage many other folks. Still in their own gutter. At just the right time. In just the right place.
…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…. [I Peter 3:15]
I asked her name. So I could pray for her. Jackie! I encouraged her to read God’s Word every day. Proverbs, if no where else! I taught her how she literally has a spiritual adversary. An enemy! Stalking her, out to ruin her. Destroy her. Completely. And when he trips her up in the future, to get back up! She need NOT stay ‘down’.
…be vigilant because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I taught her, when she senses the enemy stalking and seducing her, if she can’t think of a prayer or words to bind the enemy, another effective approach is to sing! Godly, upbeat music. The enemy can’t stand it!
By wise counsel you will wage your own war…
So I will sing praise to Your name forever; that I may daily perform my vows.
Jackie asked what song I might sing when under attack by the enemy. I started singing the doxology for her. ‘Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…’ Jackie joined in! She knew the words! And then she sang ‘O Holy Night’. From memory. A Capella. A truly lovely voice. Alto. Angelic. Godly. She told me she had spent many years singing in a church choir! A little old country church in South Carolina.
I asked if I could hold her hand and pray with her. She obliged. And then she touched her forehead to mine as I prayed. Thanksgiving for His love. Confession for our foolishness. And for wisdom and strength to get past our addictions. Our demons. Relentless and ubiquitous…but powerless in the presence of the work of Jesus on the Cross!
As I paused for a breath, Jackie prayed aloud her own words! Words that were not unheard, nor ignored by her heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Jackie’s jail time had been long enough to pretty much get past her addictions. But she had gotten right back into the ill-advised lifestyle – when only the old ‘friends’ from ‘the street’ came when she was released …to help her get her life going again. They gave her a place to stay. They gave her some clothes. They gave her some money. And they gave her some addictive chemicals and needles and stuff.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way…hungry and thirsty…
Folks from the church choir she once sang in? Folks she knew the 5 years she was a paid church music minister? Her own dad, a long-time well-known preacher? Alas - all no-shows.
Then He will say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
Then they also will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
Then He will answer them, saying. ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
And now, on this night, by this stranger sent by her loving Heavenly Father, she had been encouraged to get back on the road God had prepared for her. To walk with Jesus. To exercise her spiritual gifts, or risk being in a spiritual funk. And to fight her seemingly ever present evil and deceptive enemy.
…they cried out to the Lord in their trouble
and He delivered them out of their distresses.
She asked me to pinch her….so she would know our ‘encounter’ was not a dream!
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
To this day, Jackie remains in my prayers, and remains ‘clean’.
Deliver those who are drawn to death…
I just received a DVD in the mail, a Christmas Cantata recorded a month or two ago by the choir from a little old country church in South Carolina. I can’t wait to listen to it, especially to see if I can pick out a familiar voice in the alto section!
Oh come let us sing to the lord…oh sing to the lord a new song…
© 2010 - S.T.Mann, creative commons license –
may be reused with attribution
January – a month marking longer hours of daylight…light!
…Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the LIGHT of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12
Arise, shine; for your LIGHT has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1
For the commandment [instruction, teaching, principle] is a lamp [a light]
and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life… Proverbs 6:23
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5
I had completed an architectural design for a colleague named Bobby about a year earlier. Bobby was a trusted repeat client located several towns away, maybe 45 a minute drive, each way. Despite calling Bobby quite a few times over the year, we never could seem to connect to get the billing paid.
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… self-control…. Galatians 5:22
Finally we made our phone connection. Embarrassed it had been such a long time since I had completed my work, Bobby insisted that if I stop by his office that very day between 12 and 1, he would ‘cut me a check’, and I wouldn’t have to wait for the postal service. And he might have another project for me to start on as well!
When I arrived, I learned that Bobby had been called away at the last minute to meet a potential customer of his own to work out some urgent unanticipated detail, but he would return by 2 P.M. I don’t remember having as much difficulty with payment for any other project. Shrug. I pretty much let God manage that department.
…a man of wisdom/understanding has a calm spirit Proverbs 17:27
Having learned the practice of filtering my thoughts (‘right thinking’), I wasn’t concerned with ‘wasted’ mileage and time due to new ‘run arounds’; God probably had something else for me to focus on while I had time on my hands in a relatively out of the way location. I brainstormed to be productive in time already spent.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps Proverbs 16:9.
I recalled another design project for another client, a restaurant, not too far from Bobby’s office. I had never gotten around to visiting the finished project. Being mid-day, lunch time I was on my way for a light lunch.
The restaurant had been nicely constructed, as designed, but the one memory that made an impression in my mind was a solitary young woman furtively smoking at the main entrance.
As I approached to enter, passing within a few feet of her, she had just finished her smoke and turned to reenter the building. I held the door for her and nodded a ‘hello’. Noting how embarrassed she seemed to be by the smoking, I heard my voice say - ‘it sure is hard to get past, isn’t it?’ referring to the smoking, then entered the restaurant, thinking of food.
After ordering a sandwich, I sat down alone at a table getting ready to attack my lunch. A few moments later, a group of folks including Sherry headed toward the door. As she the group passed my table, I managed to get her attention and handed her a business card…inviting her to call sometime if she wanted.
A few days later, she called! She needed to talk! It turns out Sherry had divorced a man a few months before. As she told me, when they drove home after church each week, the man was in the practice of stopping at a liquor store, then going home to beat her! Worse, the abusive man she had been married to was also the pastor of the church!
Sherry and I kept in touch a little, and while I never mentioned her smoking, I encouraged her to read God’s Word each day and to be active in her faith. She began singing at the little church she now attended.
Across the street from the urban apartment where she now lived, a God-fearing group opened up a ‘night club mission’ open to anyone several nights each week. Sherry began attending and found she loved encouraging the folks who wandered (or staggered in) so much, that she went almost every night the place as open. Her compassion for others and ability to teach and encourage proved to be strong spiritual gifts for her.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2
Sherry told me her new adventures as we continued to keep in touch. One day maybe just 3 or 4 months after we first met Sherry told me she realized she had not smoked in a week. And no longer even had any desire/craving for the unhealthful practice! Her addiction had been overcome as she walked with Jesus!
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33
Ah, Sister Sherry was no longer ‘smokey’ Sherry!! In humility, finding her life’s sustenance at the Cross of Calvary, in God’s grace…no longer seeking immediate desperate solutions to her unbearable problems…no longer needing to ‘medicate’ her pain with the false and harmful deceptions of the world.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. II Corinthians 5:17
So, for Sherry it seemed, and maybe for all of us, getting past obstacles or completing projects or ‘missions’ given to us by God…even addictions, may not be a matter of rolling up our sleeves and gritting our teeth and trying harder or fancier ‘new year resolutions’. Rather, it is a matter of doing what it is God designed us and hand crafted us to do!
Jesus said to them, "My food [sustenance] is to do the will [His work!] of Him who sent Me… John 4:34
© 2007 - S.T.Mann, creative commons license –
may be reused with attribution
Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16
Mission: the ‘mission’ of this monthly devotional is to encourage the reader to consider the possibility of the existence and awesomeness of God Jehovah as a loving heavenly Father who cares about the well-being each of us more than we can imagine…and to encourage a growing day by day, moment by moment relationship with Him!
God does not want to merely give you strength;
He wants to BE your strength!
Time to choose:
You can start [a new path!] or you can stop [walking right back to where you always have ended up…]
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
and see if there be any wicked way in me…
and lead me in the way everlasting…
Those who leave everything
in GOD’s hand
will eventually see
GOD’s hand In EVERYTHING!
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Continue to set an example….in your words, in your conduct and actions,
And in your love, faith and purity
I Timothy 4:12
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17