Miracle of the String: She Spoke the Words of Faith

In Mark 5:25-34, we read a story about a woman that dealt with an issue of blood for twelve years. This woman was desperate and needed a miracle. The first step of faith that she took was “She heard of Jesus”. But her steps of faith didn’t stop there. The next step that she took was “She Spoke the Words of Faith.”

I don’t mean that she spoke these words out loud, but she spoke these words within herself. Verse 28 says, “For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.'”

She had heard about Jesus. She knew of the healing power that flowed from Him and she knew within herself that if she could press through the crowd and just touch the string on His garment then she would be healed.

Words are powerful. There is power in the words that we speak.

Proverbs 18:21(NIV) says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” We have the power, through our words, to speak life and death into our situation. We have the power to speak to our faith.

There are times that we belittle ourselves. We talk down to ourselves and say things like, “God doesn’t care about me.” Or “God won’t heal me.” The truth is God loves us and all He wants is the best for His children.

Part of putting our faith into action is speaking life into ourselves and speaking to ourselves in faith. You need to change the words that you say to things like, “I can be healed.” And “I can receive a miracle.”

The words we speak does matter. We need to speak life into us.

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When the Last in Line Gets Chosen for the Team

The casting agent enters the room with her top picks for the show’s leading man and lady. The new series will follow the spellbinding story of a clan that builds a powerful, world-impacting family tree. This is the pilot, and it is crucial to make the right call on the individuals who will fall in love and launch this Kennedy-like family of influence and fame.

Producers and writers alike have waited breathlessly for this moment, the moment when who they have envisioned as the leading characters will be finally realized in an actor and actress. But when they turn to see who has been tapped for these most special of roles, the thud of their collective jaws hitting the majestic mahogany conference table muffles their mutual groans.

There before their wide eyes, instead of the expected vibrant, young couple with gleaming white teeth and tanned and toned bodies, stand a 75-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman. Not what they had pictured for their production.

And yet, this is what God has chosen. His screenplay called for a couple to launch a new nation, one that would impact the entire world. As he would say, a nation through whom “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abram and Sarai stand there, adorned perhaps by dusty old robes and crowned with wispy white hair and loosely fitting skin and as befuddled as anyone else. God chose them to begin a nation. An unlikely pair, especially after factoring in the fact that Sarai was barren. How could God expect to start a nation with a woman who could not bear children?

To complicate the story line, it will be 25 more years before they actually have their child of promise. By that time Abram and Sarai will be 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively (and their names will be changed to Abraham and Sarah). Perhaps Social Security checks will help this special couple decorate the baby’s tent and they’ll be able take naps when the baby does. And the rest, as they say, is history. His story.

God picks people you and I wouldn’t necessarily select to take part in his story. In fact sometimes we are shocked who plays the starring roles in his stories. Unlike the way we do business, he taps people, not merely because of their abilities, but for their availability. God searches for people who are open to be used by him. Since he uses only those who are willing to be used for his purposes, there is no doubt that it is he who is doing the wonder-working. Let there be no doubt, throughout history he is the one making things happen.

That’s good news, isn’t it? In the business world, you may not have a great pedigree. In academics, you may not be a Rhodes Scholar. You may not have a lot of money and you may have average looks. But you may be sitting in a pretty good position to be a top pick for God’s work.

Join us this week as we continue “The Story”. Service starts at 10:30 am.

Psalms 23 Part 6

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

David finishes this chapter with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Notice how David sums up this chapter. After all that he has done to describe the Lord as the Shepherd he says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” In other words, if I truly believe that the Lord is my Shepherd and all the ways that I described Him as a Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The truth is we have to make a decision. Is the Lord your Shepherd? If you make a decision to follow the Lord and accept Him as your Shepherd, then you choose to follow Him wherever He leads.

Choosing Christ takes Faith. Faith means that even though you may not see God you believe that He exists. We can look around and see the effects of God. We can look all around us and find things that we may not see, but because of their functions we believe they exist.

Faith is what has brought many individuals through difficult times.

  • Noah had faith when he built an ark to save his family from a flood that would come from rain that he had not yet heard of.
  • Abraham had faith believing that God would provide the sacrifice to replace his son that God had told him to take and sacrifice.
  • Moses had faith to believe that God would part the waters when he stretched his staff over the Red Sea.
  • Joshua had faith to believe that the walls of Jericho would fall down when they marched around the wall.
  • Gideon had faith that he could conquer the Midian army with just the 300 men that God left him with.
  • Samson had faith that God would give him one more chance to strike down the Philistines when he stood between the pillars that held the building up.
  • Esther had faith when she stood before the king that God would save her people.
  • Nehemiah had faith when he went to rebuild the wall that God would bring the people together to help him do it.
  • Mary had faith when she accepted the calling of being the mother of God.
  • Joseph had faith when he took Mary as his wife.
  • We can see the faith of the believers. Even when they could not see how their circumstances would turn, they had faith that God would see them through their situation.

God will take care of us. He will get us through everything that we are faced with. We just have to have faith and believe that he will do it.

How often do we truly have faith? Do we truly lay our life in his hands? How hard do we try to hang on to it on our own? We can look at different people and see that when they tried to take their life in their own hands, that is when they got themselves in trouble.

  • Remember Adam, when he decided to listen to the woman and not to God, that is when he was kicked out of the garden.
  • Remember Abraham, when he decided to take Sarah’s maidservant Hagar as his wife and not wait on the promise from God is when he got in trouble and Hagar and Ishmael were banished.
  • Remember David, when he decided to stay home from battle is when he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed.
  • Remember Jonah, when he decided to not go to Ninevah is when God had a fish swallow him up to get his attention.

The truth is God has a great plan for us, but when we decide to do things our way is when we get out of God’s will and our life falls a part. We need to choose faith and believe that God has our best interest in mind. I don’t know about you, but I choose faith. I choose the Lord to be my shepherd. I know that what David wrote is true.

The Lord is MY shepherd, I shall not want. He makes to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. His rod and His staff they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. And since I have accepted the Lord as my Shepherd, then goodness and mercy will follow me the rest of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23 Part 4

Read Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Now, let’s look closer at verse 4. It says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Think about this for a moment. The Lord, our shepherd, feeds us in the pasture, He leads us on the trail, and accompanies us into the dark ravine where unknown danger lurks. After He has made us to lie down in green pastures and He has quenched our thirst with streams of water and He has restored us and led us in the paths of righteousness for Him. Remember we represent Him. Also know this, we are going to go through some dark times in our life.

We might get bad news about a loved one. We might get bad news about our health. We might get bad news about our job. We are going to feel like we are in a dark place. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” He walks with us through the valley.

Think about this, the longest shadows are cast in the late afternoon even as the heaviest tests often come at life’s sunset—it is during that time that we must go through “the valley of the shadow of death”. If you are a wise person by that time you will have chosen your Shepherd.

On the narrow trail, the shepherd “led,” but in the most difficult hour of all He is alongside: “you are with me.” In trials, friends and family can only accompany us so far… and then we are alone. But He will never leave us.

Look at Hebrews 13:5. It says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I can remember times when I felt so alone that no one understood what I was going through. God reminded me that He was with me. I can remember some dark times in my life when there seemed to be no one to cry out to, but God was there to hear my cry.

When we are walking through the valley He is there with His rod to protect us from attack, and His shepherd’s staff reaches out and pulls us near when fears come our way. And when we make it through the valley He is there as well, waiting.

Think about all the saints in the Bible that faced trials in their life. How did they make it through those trials? It was with God walking by their side. Think of the Old Testament heroes… Abraham when he went to sacrifice his only son, it was God that provided the sacrifice. What about Jacob when he went to meet his brother for the first time after he had stolen his birthright, it was God that brought forgiveness between the two brothers. What about Joseph when he was thrown in the pit by his brothers and later sold to slavery, it was God that placed him in the palace as governor of Egypt. What about Daniel when he was placed in the lion’s den, it was God that closed the mouth of the lions. What about the three Hebrew Children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace, it was God that kept them from burning up in the fire.

Think about all the times that Peter, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Mark, John, and all the other disciples spent in jail because they preached Jesus, it was God that brought them through those valleys. We are going to face valley’s, but it is God that will take us through those valleys.

David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23 Part 1

Out of all the Psalms in the Bible, Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all Psalms. You see it everywhere. One of the most popular places that you will find Psalm 23 is somewhere on the funeral program. This Psalm is used in most funeral eulogies. Songs have been written about this Psalm. And many people can quote this Psalm.

Let’s take a look it.

Psalm 23:1-6

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Lets look at verse one. It says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

In order for us to understand the fact that the Lord is our shepherd, we must first understand what a shepherd is. If anyone knew anything about being a shepherd it was David. David was a shepherd from a very young age. We know that when he was chosen king, he was attending his father’s sheep. (1 Samuel 16:11)

During the time that this verse was written, shepherds were of great importance. There was an abundance of sheep in this region. The people were shepherds before they were farmers. The role of the shepherd consisted of many jobs.

The shepherd was to care for the sick and wounded sheep. When they crossed the water the shepherd made sure that they would cross safely. The shepherd would find the sheep that strayed from the fold. The shepherd would find food for the flock. The shepherd even knew each and every one of his sheep; he would even give a pet name to some of them.

In John 10:11, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd. He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

We are the sheep and Jesus is the good shepherd. Understanding the fact that Jesus is the good shepherd and we are the sheep, then we know that Jesus is our provider, guider, our protector and healer. He is our keeper and shearer. He is our nurturer and defender.

“There is an old story of two men hiking in Wales. They came across a boy in the mountains keeping his sheep. The travelers talked with him about shepherding, and the conversation went to Psalm 23. One of the men told the boy, “Think of the five fingers of your left hand. Let each word stand for one finger. You can meditate on Psalm 23:1 by grasping each finger, one at a time, with your right hand.” They showed him how to do it. The man grabbed his thumb and said, “That stands for ‘The.’” The index finger was ‘Lord,’ and they talked about who the Lord was. The middle finger stood for ‘is’ – present tense, right now. The fourth finger was ‘my.’ And the little finger stood for ‘shepherd.’

The following year the men returned on another hiking trip, and this time they stopped at a small wayfaring house for a cup of tea. On the table was a picture of the very boy they had met a year before.

‘Yes,’ said the woman, ‘that was my son. He died last winter in a storm. He fell down a cliff and lay there a long time. Only later did we find him.’

Then she said, ‘There was something strange about it, though, which we’ve never understood. When we found his body, his right hand was grasping the fourth finger of his left hand.’

‘Yes,’ said the men, ‘we can explain that.’ And they told the mother what had happened the previous year. The boy, in griping his finger, was simply reminding himself, ‘The Lord is MY shepherd.’

When we realize that the Lord is my shepherd, we can understand that He is always taking care of us.

Jesus knows our wants and desires and He wants the best for us.

The rest of verse one says, I shall not want. The message translates it as, “I don’t need a thing.” You see with Jesus as your shepherd, you will not need anything.

Our wants, our appetites and thirsts for happiness, plenty, health, fulfilling relationships and things. Only the good shepherd can meet our deepest needs.

The unfortunate thing is we try to fill our life with stuff that don’t matter in this life. Some people feel empty inside and they look to everything to try to fill that emptiness. They look to a career. They think that if they just work harder, climb the corporate ladder, be the best in their company or make lots of money that it will fill the void. Matthew 16:26 says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Some people try to fill the void with relationships. They think if I can just make lots of friends or they go from relationship to relationship they believe they can fill that void. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Some people try to fill the void with substances. They take a drink wanting to take the pain away or they shoot up wanting to forget about everything. They hope that these things fill the void. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

We try to fill our life with stuff. Stuff cannot fulfill what only Jesus can fulfill. With Jesus there is no void, there is no wants. I am fulfilled in Christ. Only Christ can fulfill any void that you may have. You cannot fulfill the void with status, or money, or relationships, or drugs and alcohol.

Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is MY shepherd. I shall not want.”

I Choose Christ

This past June, my wife and I, decided that it was time to put our house up for sale. We had many memories made in this house. Both of our children have found friendships in the cul-de-sac that we live in. We have seen our kids learn to walk in this house. It has been a great house to raise our young family in. Our decision to move was based on the fact, we felt God wanted us to be closer to the church that we are pastoring in the town next to us. So we put the house on the market.

This past Saturday, we got a call from our Realtor saying that we had an offer. The next day we met with our Realtor to accept the offer. We were extremely excited. Finally we could begin looking for the home that we believed would be the home that we could build our future on.

One day later, we get a call from our Realtor saying that the buyer did not pass her credit check and that the deal was being terminated. We, as you could imagine, were devastated.

During this whole ordeal I have reminded myself that I am not the master of my domain, God is. The day that I asked God to control my life was the day that I agreed to place my life in His hands. Whatever direction He leads me in, I go. Whatever doors He opens, I accept. Whatever doors He closes, I accept. I gave up what I wanted for my life the day that I surrendered my life over to Him. God is my master.

Just because I think it is my will does not mean it is His will. I believe sometimes God is testing us. I believe He wants to see how far we will go to completely trust Him. When I chose Christ, when I chose to have faith in Him, I chose to forsake all and follow Him.

The disciples chose total surrender. They left everything behind to follow Christ and the direction that He had for their life. I love what Mark 1:16-20 says. It is the scene where Jesus sees Simon and Andrew fishing. Jesus says to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Verse 18 says, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Notice how there was no hesitation. This was not a decision that they had to think about.

A little farther down the way, Jesus comes to James and John fishing. Jesus gives them the same option. Verse 20 says, “they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after Him. Please understand, this was the family business and they left it all to follow Jesus. They didn’t think twice about it. They didn’t ask their father what he thought. They just left and followed Christ.

They knew there was something different about this man and they had to find out what it was.

When I made the decision to follow Christ I knew there was something different about this man and I wanted to know more about Him.

There may be days when I have disappointments, there may be days when I don’t understand all that He is asking me to do, but I know that He has never led me astray and my life is better for it.

There will be other buyers that come around, I’m sure of it. God has my best interest in mind. If you have chosen to follow Christ, then He has your best interest in mind as well. Don’t settle for second best, settle only for God’s best.