The Shepherd Christian Ministries

Listening to the Shepherd's Voice


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Jesus Christ is Risen

(Luke 24 : 6 & 34)

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In God’s Hands

2017-01-01

“I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.’

And he replied ,
‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you
better than light
and safer than a known way !’

So I went forth
and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night .
And he led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

 

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(Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957)

May God bless us all throughout 2018 –
and enable us to walk forward with our hands in His,
as He leads, directs and encourages us in
accordance with His promise.
Thank you for your company and support in our journey this past year.
May His Light shine ever stronger for you as you press on with Him.

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The Always Prayer

The Lord's Prayer

Reflection:
The Lord’s Prayer, taught by Jesus to His disciples, is not the only prayer that we can pray to God. Jesus Himself prayed in different ways and with different words on occasion. We can see this in His great prayer recorded in John 17, as well as in His heartfelt prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest, trial and crucifixion.

However, in its pattern and content it is the most complete prayer possible, and helps us to keep our focus and balance. It prevents us from becoming totally self–centred and crisis pray-ers. It is addressed to the Father and the first three requests focus on Him – His honour, His kingdom and His will and purpose. Only then do we turn to the specifics of our own situations and our general and particular needs.

Being the prayer that Jesus gave us it is therefore, unquestionably, a prayer that God would want to hear and to answer. It is also a prayer to use when in doubt about what to ask of God, and it can be adapted to any situation and circumstance. For example, when praying for a person (including yourself) it can be used as follows:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name – in Joe
Your Kingdom come, – in Joe
your will be done, – in Joe
on earth as in heaven
Give (Joe) today (his) daily bread.
Forgive (Joe his) sins,
as (Joe) forgives those who sin against (him).
Lead (Joe) not into temptation,
but deliver (Joe) from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
Amen

 

  It is a wonderful prayer for parents to use for their children, and god-parents for their god-children. It can be used for people, churches, institutions, cities and countries. In its unadapted form it should be the prayer of every church and every Christian believer both morning and evening –at least.

Response:
Pray it meaningfully – focussing intentionally on a different request every day, to deepen your awareness and understanding. Savour it and enjoy it’s completeness.

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to live Your prayer. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 10

“For yours is the kingdom, the power
and the glory, forever.
Amen.”

Reflection:
This ending appears to have been added to the Lord’s Prayer at a later stage. It is such a glorious acknowledgement of God that it has remained.

It summarises the great words of praise attributed to King David.

“David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
(1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

Above everything else we are reminded that

  • The Lord God Almighty is the one and only supreme ruler – there is no other
  • All power belongs to God. No one and nothing can stand in the way of His will
  • To God alone belongs all and any honour and glory – it is so great and overwhelming that all must bow before Him in awe and worship.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

We must never forget the glory and holiness of  our Lord God, the Almighty and Everlasting One.

Response:
Worship God by word and life for the wonder and glory that is His.

Prayer:

Heavenly God, Creator and Sustainer, Redeemer and Saviour, Father and Friend, open my eyes to more of the Truth that is You – and draw me deeper and deeper into Your love and service. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 9

“Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
 (Matthew 6:13)

Reflection:
There is an acknowledgement in this prayer, given to us by Jesus, that evil is a reality – and that it stems from the ‘evil one’ himself. Fallen humankind has become very open to temptation whilst the way of the Lord is to resist it because we have a different and higher vision. On the road of Life along which the Lord will lead us we will encounter many trials and temptations. He does not cause them – in fact many will be of our own making – but can use them to strengthen and teach us as well as show us more of His love, power and faithfulness. The prayer commences with an acknowledgement of our weakness in asking that He leads us along paths where the temptations will not be too great for us in our present state of life and faith.

 Jesus experienced for Himself the reality of the devil’s attacks in the temptations that He underwent in the desert at the beginning of His ministry. He also faced them during His ministry as they came through others and as He prayed and suffered in Gethsemane. He confronted their reality too in people from whom He cast out evil spirits.

 Scripture gives us one of the reasons for Jesus coming to earth,

 “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8)

 The early church warned believers to be aware of the devil.

  •  “Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

 The Christian is drawn into the conflict that exists as the devil tries to inflict harm on God by attacking His people and leading them astray – not only into obvious sins but also into doubt and confusion.

 As believers we are equipped with the Bible – the Word of God – which we should know so well that we will immediately recognise what is counterfeit or contrary to its teachings and revelation. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit of God Who lives within us. We believe in the Messiah Who has defeated the enemy and will come again to finally destroy him. We are thus enabled to Recognise that the devil is at work in the world, to Refuse to accept the thoughts that he gives us, and to Resist his efforts to draw us off the Way of God.

 In our own power we are not up to it. But in the faith and power of God we can stand firm. If and when we do fall we must remember that Jesus stoops beside us – not to belittle us as we lie face down in the mud but, even at that very moment, to deliver us from evil, to encourage us, and help us to stand again and ‘have another go at Life!’

 Praise be to our glorious, loving and gracious Saviour!

Response:
 Never give up believing and trusting in Jesus our Saviour.

Prayer:

Father, deliver me from evil – today, tomorrow and every day – when I stand and when I fall; for Jesus sake. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 8

“.. as we forgive those who sin against us.”
(Matthew 6:12)

 

Reflection:
Suddenly, and for the first time, a condition appears. Where God’s love is unconditional, and where salvation cannot be earned but can only be accepted and lived, it appears that now something more is required of us. It is so important that Jesus went on, after teaching His disciples the prayer, to enlarge upon it,

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

 Both here, and in others teachings of Jesus, the message is quite clear. If we are to carry on receiving the unmerited and complete forgiveness of God we must not then presume to continue to hold anything against somebody else. If God is prepared to forgive us all and everything then we must be prepared to pass that love and forgiveness on to others, and in the same spirit.

 Peter asked Jesus,

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  (Matthew 18:21-22)

 That is, without limit.

 There are a couple of important points to highlight:

  • We sin – therefore we need to be fully forgiven by God – every day!
  • Others sin – and need to be fully forgiven by God – every day.
  • If we want God’s forgiveness then we have to forgive – or at least work towards forgiving – those who have hurt or offended us. Sometimes it is not easy and takes much prayer and perseverance. Remember, as you battle to forgive someone, that someone else may be battling to forgive you! (Hullo!!!) That means me too!
  • Not to forgive others creates a hardness in our hearts that stands between us and God as much as it does between us and others. Jesus, who came to reconcile us to God, seeks to reconcile us to others as well.
  • We are not entitled to withhold forgiveness until the other person comes and grovels before us! Jesus is our great example.

“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33-34)

 Finally, we are so incomparably rich in the love, grace and forgiveness of God – why should we then act as if we were impoverished frowns? It might mean that we haven’t yet appreciated the great love of God – for love and forgiveness travel hand in hand.

Response:
Examine yourself for people against whom you hold a grudge. Ask God to help you. Say your forgiveness of them aloud and ask God to bless them.

Prayer:

Father Your great heart longs to forgive me – please help me to open myself to You by forgiving others, in Jesus name. Amen.

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