All posts by markkharris55

About markkharris55

Mark K. Harris is an officer in United States Coast Guard who has enjoyed over 16 years of active duty naval engineering assignments. He is married to his beautiful wife Vanessa for 8 years; they have three children Joshua, Andrew and Hannah. They are actively involved with our church and other community based activities. Having had the opportunity to both learn and lead during his career on both Coast Guard Cutters and high level Naval Engineering units, Harris’ intention is to continue in the Coast Guard for or beyond twenty years. After that, we will reevaluate family, ministry and career priorities to determine all opportunities that might be available to us.

Fire Alarm 

A fire alarm is a standalone device or a complete network of devices, installed in a building or an area, which gives audible and/or visible warning of an outbreak of fire in that building or area.  Therefore, does the fire alarm really do what it is supposed to do?  I ask that question because just the other day I was in a hotel room working on the computer when the Fire Alarm went off.  When it started going off, my immediate thought was is this a test, do I smell smoke, do I need to go downstairs, why is this disrupting my day?  At no point did I ever really think that the very function of the alarm was even a possibility, a fire.  So, while the fire alarm is to inform you of the dangerous fire, to this day it is universally disregarded.  Unfortunately, once you’ve been engulfed by the flames it becomes too late.  

I see that the Bible is often seen with the same universal disregard.  The Bible is God’s love letter to His children, and it is just as important to ensure that people do not die without the knowing just how much God Loves them through the ultimate act by Jesus Christ. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

God did not just love the world but “God so loved the world.” This is greater than what we consider love; so now makes this love mean “going beyond the ordinary.”  It’s not just a physical love but a sacrificial love.  God would later take that word sacrifice to a never before seen level, when He placed all of His cards on the table by giving His only begotten Son for the lives of everyone else (including you and me).  Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We cannot disregard the Love that God has shown each of us like we disregard a Fire Alarm when we initially hear it.  Because just like an ignored fire alarm, not realizing God’s love for you becomes dangerous when you realize it too late; at death (Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord).  Do not wait until you’re engulfed in flames to realized just how much God loves you!!

The Inside Man 

1 Sam 19:1-2 Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David. So Jonathan told David, saying, “My father Saul seeks to kill you. Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you. Then what I observe, I will tell you.

Back in 2006 Denzel Washington stared in a thrilling movie about a bank heist. The plot of this movie revolved around the incredible and somewhat noble plan to conduct a bank robbery. The key to this heist was that someone on the “inside” who was very familiar with the bank, its operations and its contents, was the key member of the team planning the robbery. Now what does this movie have to do with this scripture?? Absolutely Nothing, it was just the perfect title for this message, and I owed it to you, to let you know where I got it.

In the text we find Saul the King of Israel, on the war path attempting to capture one of his newest valets, David (the warrior that had just defeated Goliath). Saul here in this text speaking to his son Jonathan and all of his servants, informing them of his desire to kill David. Jonathan was not only his son, but his #1 military leader, next in line to become King; therefore, nobody was closer to the King than Jonathan. 

Meanwhile David was running for his life to escape the sword of Saul, but he had an inside man. Let’s look at how having somebody on the inside benefited David and how it can benefit us:1. 

  1. Jonathan Knew the King’s Heart: vs Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. There is something to be said about having an Inside Man. Here Jonathan is hearing directly from the King and based on their relationship, the King will share things with him that he would not share with just anyone. Now in this case, Saul shared with all of the servants his desire to kill David, but Jonathan had also heard all the other conversations which led to this declaration. He was close enough to his father the King to be there when Saul “took to David” and would not let him return to his home anymore; as well as when the Israelites sang about David’s victories and angered Saul. Jonathan, because of his closeness to the King, knew when and why Saul’s heart towards David changed and it was because of this knowledge that he would seek to aid David. 
  2. Jonathan Loved David: vs but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David. Although Jonathan loved his father the King and stood to be the next King should something happen to Saul, Jonathan had every reason to be on board with killing David. However, he loved David; the Bible said, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (1 Sam 18:1-2).” Jonathan knew there was something different about David, he could see God’s hand on his life and even though the King desired David dead, Jonathan would not let that happen; he even took off his own Robe, Armor, Sword, Bow and belt, giving them all to David (literally the cloths off his back).
  3. Jonathan Knew David’s Location: vs So Jonathan told David, saying, “My father Saul seeks to kill you. Once Jonathan heard what Saul was planning for David, he sought out David. Because their souls were tied, they knew one another’s every move. Jonathan went directly to David, because he knew exactly where he was, to let him know it was no longer safe for him to return. 
  4. Jonathan Had a Strategy to Escape Death: vs Therefore please be on your guard until morning, and stay in a secret place and hide. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are. Not only did he know his location, but he also knew a plan to help David escape Saul’s murder attempt. Jonathan warned David, then gave him directions to hide and watch for a signal of what to do next. Jonathan knew what the King wanted to do and where David would be, he had all the information to give David the best plan of escape, but the key to David’s safety was his trust Jonathan and believe what he said. If David didn’t listen to him, Saul might have had any of his other servants kill David. Jonathan gave David a strategy, but David had to trust & believe in it.
  5. Jonathan Spoke to the King on David’s Behalf: vs and I will speak with my father about you. After preparing David for any potential attacks, Jonathan took his fight for David to the next level. He appealed to the King on David’s behalf. Because of everything we’ve already discussed, Jonathan knew the best way to speak to the King. He could pull on Saul’s heart strings and know exactly what aspects of David that drew him to Saul’ good graces initially. In verse 4 we see. Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you. For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?” Think about it, the first thing he says is don’t sin against David. Why that? Well, Saul had just recently been told by Samuel that because he sinned, he would lose his entire kingdom; so that correlation would trigger an immediate self-evaluation. Secondly, he reminded Saul of David potentially sacrificing his life for King’s sake. Then he reminded Saul of the Joy the LORD brought him by using David. This appeal was well crafted and very effective because in verse 6 we see Saul’s response “So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, ”As the Lord lives, he shall not be killed.

So, I mentioned earlier that we would see how it could help us as well. I’m sure several of you have an idea of where I’m headed but ride along anyway. We all have an Inside Man. This Person knows the heart of the King very well, their relationship is so close there is no space (literally) between them. This Person Loves me and you tremendously as if we were His only Son. He knows exactly where we are all the time, whether we are at our highest heights or our lowest lows. He knows our location and just how to get to us. He has a strategy to help us escape death and He learned it directly from the King’s mouth. This Person speaks to the King on our behalf daily, hourly and every minute of the day. Our Inside Man is the Holy Spirit; He is our Comforter and Friend. He lives inside (the hearts) those of us who have believed that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and for those of us that have not yet believed, the strategy is simple: God sent Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for all of our (Mine & Yours) sin.   Because of His sacrifice we have only to believe;“Romans 10:9-11 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.

The Inside Man is now Inside of You and He desires to help you in every area of your life.

Praise Through the Shaking

Acts 16:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed

OK so imagine this; You are living out your purpose and following God’s will for you then suddenly you find yourself in the darkest period of your life.  Here we find Paul, traveling with his friend Silas and they are doing what they love, preaching the Gospel of Christ, declaring His great works, and casting out daemons (you know, having so much fun).  Only not everyone was happy with Paul’s lifestyle, (when people are changed not everyone is OK with that).  In this case it cut into some people’s wallet.  That caused Paul to find himself behind bars; locked up at midnight.  Many people would break down, lash out in anger or crumble under the disappointment.  Not Paul, he and Silas started praying and singing to God.  Let me clarify that; they were already praying and singing (that is a message in itself).  Now what happened after that was an absolute miracle and honestly, it’s a miracle that is rather famous and well know by many.

However, there is a little nugget that I found in this familiar text which really pricked my heart today.  Paul and Silas were lifting praises to the Lord in their time of suffering, then the text says Suddenly there was a great earthquake.  So, let me get this straight.  Paul and Silas were preaching Jesus and teaching numerous cities with great impact.  So much so verse 5 says So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.  The then found a possessed young girl and Paul cast out the demon in her and they were imprisoned.  With all of that happening to them their first action is to pray and sing to God.  Then, a great earthquake.

My problem here is the realization that we often skip over the fact there was an earthquake.  Now I’m not a Californian, and even though I lived there for a few years, I have never experienced a significant earthquake.  But if you can imagine the entire earth below your feet violently shaking, so much so that the foundation that you are counting on to hold you and everything around you up begins to physically break before your eyes.  The rumbling on its own has to be absolutely terrifying; a shaking ground so much so that you are unable to keep your balance and you literally hold on for dear life. 

Now I know that Paul was probably praying and singing out of habit because “Praise is what he do.”  But there had to be some of him that was taking this action because he believed that God would step in and save, he and Silas from this Jail (bondage experience).  Yet instead, he had to hold on literally for his life.  This tells me that when we are trusting God to move on our behalf, we must be able to praise Him through the shaking.  Just when we believe that we are at our wits end, when we think it cannot get any worse….here comes the shaking (there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken).  The earthquake that destroys, it tears down walls; it crumbles worldly foundations, and it impacts not just you but many of the people closest to you.  But it was the earthquake that also brought forth the breakthrough, literally opening closed doors and breaking chains of bondage (and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed). 

Praise on through the great shaking in your life.  Paul had already experienced God’s Love and Favor many times; remember he had been beaten, stoned and even run out of town (for the Gospel’s sake).  He believed in God and knew that regardless of what was coming, the Lord would deliver he and Silas.  He was not afraid, nor was he panicking; he was trusting. 

That trust allowed him to remain focused, and at peace (Isa 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You).  The trust was in the precious work of Jesus on the Cross.  He knew that because God gave His only Son so that we could have all our sins forgiven, that his future was solid, even if Jesus didn’t deliver him.  Our deliverance comes with a little shaking; Jesus died on the cross so that we could all be delivered with His salvation (Jesus’ entire life was vigorously shaken).  From all of the this, I just want you to remember, after the shaking, you WILL walk through open doors and be FREE from your chains.

Return to The King

1 Sam 17:57
Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand

I was listening (yes I said listening) to this text recently and this verse really jumped out at me. David had just gone through a virtually impossible battle and yet came out victorious. When I say impossible; the entire Israeli Army were not willing to take on this battle, they wanted no part of it. However, this young teenager (David) would step up and do what even the King’s top Generals weren’t willing to do, go against the Philistines Giant.  What can we take from that?  David’s Courage, we need to be courageous and attack those giants in our lives that seem impossible.

However, that is not what jumped off the virtual page for me.  The actions David took following his victory.  You know there are a lot of times when we are in the midst of a battle, we become so consumed with figuring our way out or what it will take to win. So much so that the minute we’re done we drop everything and celebrate.  While we go directly to God with our desires to fight our giant or overcome the challenging situation; how often do we forget to return to God after the victory.  David in this text, goes from victory to honor to evangelism.  Let’s see how his actions after the greatest breakthrough can help us to respond to the blessings in our own lives.    

  1. David Routed His Enemy: vs Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine. The text says that David slaughtered the Philistine (Goliath). If you’re a sports guy like myself the term “rout” is often used when talking about dominating your opponent. A rout is when you jump on top of the other team and then relentlessly don’t let up until the game is over. So much so the other team eventually just gives in. David did just that, He jumped at the chance to attack Goliath, the text says “that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” The little shepherd boy annihilated this great warrior and just as David told Goliath, he “came in the name of the LORD.” Just as David took on His giant with God as his source of power, we can and should do the same. 
  2. David Returned to the King: vs Abner took him and brought him before Saul. What was David’s first stop after defeating Goliath? The King. After his biggest victory, David made a b-line for the Throne. When God gives us the victory, we should return to the King of Glory and acknowledge His favor and power. Don’t believe me, then let’s check with Jesus: after cleansing 10 Lepers He said this when one of those healed returned to worship: So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” The Samaritan returned and worshiped Jesus who’d given him the victory over leprosy. 
  3. David Rendered the Evidence: vs brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. When David returned to the King, he showed up with the head of the Giant. He came back with the evidence of his victory. The word render actually means to “provide or give (a service).”  David was giving confirmation to King Saul that the task was indeed completed.  It became his visual testimony. Testimonies are powerful and the book of Revelations reminds us of that fact in chapter 12 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Our testimonies can give hope to others going through similar personal battles, increase the faith of other believers, and may draw non-believers to Christ. 

As we see David’s actions going into his biggest challenge and after his greatest victory; I believe we can see his heart (A Man After God’s Own Heart) towards Authority.  As well as the roadmap he gives us to show our gratitude to the Lord for the many victories He’s given us.  The Truth is, God will continue to bless us because He loves us; He has made it possible for all our sins to be forgiven (if we will believe in Him and His loving sacrifice).  Whether we give Him praise or not He will bless us, however when we make it a lifestyle of honoring Him, His Mercy and Grace extended towards us, just like the one Leper who returned to worship Jesus; we will also be made whole.   

Is This The End?

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for [a]all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, [b]pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

When I was growing up as a young 10-year-old, one of my favorite groups was New Edition.  One song in particular that I used to sing in my mirror was “Is This The End?”  It was the teenaged romantic asking his “girlfriend” if their relationship was over.  I was so into the song that I used to try to figure out who I would sing it to (because I was 10).  However, now that I am nearly 5 times that age, that same question, “Is This The End,” sparks a much different thought.  With everything that is going on in the world today; Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Flooding, Tornadoes, Uncontrollable Wildfires, Countries being overtaken; not to mention a widespread Virus that continues to linger and morph itself into a stronger version.  Could this be the end coming closer or as I told a friend earlier today “Is Jesus walking up that Cloud?” (He’s coming back in a Cloud-Revelations)   

Jesus’ Disciples asked a similar question about the end; the book of Matthew records a conversation where Jesus answered this question of when the end would be.  The wanted to know when their Savior would return for them.  In His response, Jesus begins by reminding them not to be deceived by those who claim to come in His Name.  There is only one Jesus and One way to God the Father.  Don’t be swept away by the latest trend, Ted Talk or the smoothest speechmaker; they are frauds.  After this great insight, Jesus then begins to give a plethora of things which will mark the signs of His return to earth. 

  1. Wars and Battles:  vs 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  Unfortunately, war has become all but too common and rumors of wars are spoken on a daily basis.  Well I guess we can check that box. 
  2. Pestilences and Earthquake:  vs 7 And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.  In case anyone was unaware, the word Pestilence is defined as “a fatal epidemic disease.”  We all know this way too well.  Since 2020 we’ve been living this nightmare.  Result, another checked box.  Interestingly enough, Jesus said that these would only be the beginning of sorrows.
  3. All Sorts of Chaos:  vs 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  People are killed if they are Christians in some countries; here in America we might get talked about, disrespected, maybe even “trolled on Twitter,” but hated none the less.  The other items like lawlessness everywhere, our love growing cold, and hate being shown for one another; we’ve certainly seen that in abundance in the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, another box checked. 

I don’t share this text with you as some sort of “Scare Tactic,” but as a reminder of why we’re planted here on this planet.  Verse 13 & 14 says “13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  We need to tell people about Jesus.  Many will endure all of this and they will be saved, but only if someone is willing to share Jesus with them.  The above truth is that we are in the latter days and according to scripture Jesus could return at any-time.  However, those that have not accepted Christ as their Savior are in the final countdown.  Don’t let that be because they’ve never be offered Jesus Christ.  When we tell them, He will do the knocking at their heart. 

Make sure that you tell someone that Jesus Loves Them.  Regardless of what they’ve done or what they’ve been through, Jesus knows and desires a relationship with them so that He can lead them to their destiny.  Romans 10:9 gives us instructions on how to begin this relationship with Jesus; vs 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  Ask Jesus into your heart, then believe He is who He says He is.  He’ll do all the rest.

I Love You With The Love of Christ!!!

You Made A Way

Is 43: 16. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters

I won’t go into the funny way in which this scripture came to mind, but the premise of the verse is that God has made a way. I know that numerous times He has made a way for me when it seemed like defeat or destruction was imminent.  I know that if you take a few minutes and think about your own life, you will have to admit that God has made a way out of no way for you too. I just want to leave you with these two quick thoughts.

  1. God is willing to speak into our situations. “Thus says the Lord.” A word that is not often thought about is the word Thus. Webster’s defines it as “as a result or consequence of this.” So, the beginning of this verse is saying that; when the Lord speaks there is a result or consequence. When God speaks into our situation, the result or consequence of that situation changes. God has spoken His word into numerous situations that have been documented in the Bible. Therefore, we all have example after example to reflect, receive and stand on when we need God to speak into our situations. God has and will continue to Make a Way for us and as a result our situation can and will change.   
  2. God’s path is not always visible to us, but it is our best path. “who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters.“  I love how specific God is when He used men to pen this bible. God uses the mighty waters of the sea to illustrate something powerful.  I’d like to think that my 20 plus years of military service in the Coast Guard and two tours at sea have given me a perspective of this text.  Now many people have gone swimming at the beach and I’m sure that while enjoying themselves they felt like surviving in the sea was easy.  I thought the same until my first trip at sea. We had what we called “a swim call” in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  We would stop the cutter and allow the crew to jump in the ocean and swim. What I found out very quickly is that although the water looked very calm, once you’re in it the sea the waves are nearly 8 to 10 feet.  In that type of water, it’s difficult to stay afloat and very difficult to get where you’re trying to go.  What you also quickly realize is that regardless of where you are in the sea, it is difficult to navigate by sight.  Therefore, when Isaiah says of God, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters, he understands that we cannot see any path in a sea.  So, when God makes a way, we can’t always see where that way or path is. Any captain of a ship can attest that regardless of what your track line (path) is you cannot look out into the water to see it you must trust your instruments to remain on course. God is willing and ready to Speak into our situations and make a way for us.  However, it’s our responsibility to trust God when He speaks and know that although we cannot see the path, it is there.

A Man After God’s Own Heart (5)

Psalm 23: 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.

Last time we took a look at David’s most well-known Psalm; the 23rd.  The focus was on David’s understanding of God’s Heart.  We only made it through the first 3 verses last post, so today we will look at verses 4-6.  As we continue to see this Psalm for its ability to capture the insight from the one God called a Men After God’s Own Heart. Let’s see what these last verses of this Psalm can show us about the Heart of God.

  1. 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: The Lord’s Presence Removes Fear.  Jesus is with me; His presence is full of love and it is Perfect Love that cast out Fear.  We can take comfort in knowing that regardless of where David ended up God was with him and he knew God loved him.  This text is a reminder that we will all go thru valleys, however, in every valley God is with us and His love comforts us (with His Rod & Staff).  His rod (or His Discipline) can comfort us by understanding that He who God loves He disciplines (Heb 12:6).  When a parent disciplines a child, it is out of their love for the child and wanting the best for them.  It is the same way God loves us that He will step in when we are off track.  His staff (or His leadership) comforts us by providing guidance and support to accomplish the task we have been given.  The staff is used to help man stand and walk; both are areas that we need support in; standing for Jesus and walking in God’s ways.  We can overcome our fears by knowing that God is walking with us; guiding us along the path set for us; and discipling us when we go astray so that we do not end up too for off course. 
  2. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over: The Lord’s Anointing Attracts Blessing and Haters.  When God anoints your head, your cup must run over.  Strong’s defines anoint in this text as to be made fat; to grow fat; to become prosperous.  So, the very act of anointing you is prospering you with overflow (My cup runs over).  The interesting thing about David’s understanding is the fact that God prepared his anointing “in the presence of my enemies.”  One of David’s biggest haters was King Saul and honestly it is easy to see why; David would be Saul’s replacement, David had greater accomplishments than Saul in battle and his fame grew more than that of Saul.  While you can see why Saul would hate on David; yet in the same breath each thing I listed were results of the anointing David walked in.  Therefore, don’t be surprised as God elevates you, that your haters increase.  They are seeing the results of your anointing which are a blessing of overflow of God’s Presence in your life.  Remember that while your God given anointing is an overflowing blessing, it will also attract haters.  So, don’t sweat it; they come with the territory. 
  3. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever: The Lord’s Presence Surrounds Us with Grace.  David’s final verse might be the most significant.  Whenever you hear Psalm 23 mentioned, I’m sure that most folks immediately think “The Lord is my shepherd.”  While that is a very significant statement, as discussed last post, knowing that God’s goodness and mercy stays with us as believers, every day of our lives.  Yet, it is the result of that knowledge which causes the final declaration of David; “I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”  This is a lifetime decision; David declared that from this moment on (what moment; the moment he understood that Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life).  How do we know this?  One word; And.  This conjunction brings these two statements, thoughts, mindset and decisions together; because of God’s goodness and mercy towards me, I will live my life in the Lord (in Christ) for the rest of my life.  We would call this decision salvation; this is when one confesses their need for a savior and believe in their heart that Jesus died for them.  Paul reminds us that “the goodness of God leads to repentance (Rom 2:4).” 

Is it time for you to make a decision, the decision to dwell in the house of the Lord Forever? The beginning of 2021 would be a great time to make that decision.  Maybe you’ve already made that life changing decision, now it is a matter of being reminded that the Lord’s Presence in our lives Removes our fear; Anoints us with overflow; and surrounds us with His Grace.  David was deemed a Man After God’s Own Heart, his drafting of the 23rd Psalm really highlighted his understanding of that Loving Heart of God.  This dive into this famous chapter should help us to comprehend the heart of God a little better.  The deeper we continue to dive into these verses on our own, the more we will comprehend God’s heart and draw us even closer to Him. As we have entered a new year let’s remember what David shared with us from this 23rd Psalm:

  1. The Lord Provides for Our Every Need
  2.  The Lord Guudes Us Toward Peace
  3. The Lord Restores With Righteousness
  4. The Lord’s Presence Removes Fear
  5. The Lord’s Anointing Attracts Blessings & Haters
  6. The Lord’s Presence Surrounds Us with Grace.

A Man After God’s Own Heart (4)

Psalm 23: 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’s most well-known Psalm is the 23rd.  This incredible soliloquy in a nutshell captures just how well David understood God’s Heart.  These verses will help us see just how well aligned God’s heart was to David’s words.  Let’s look at what David understood about the heart of God and what we can glean from it to become Men After God’s Own Heart.

  1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want: The Lord Provides for Our Every Need.   David understood every aspect of being a shepherd, so when he states here that “The Lord is my shepherd,” his expertise on this point was as a Subject Matte Expert.  David treated his job a shepherded with great reverence and pride.  If you recall, David used this expertise and diligence as a shepherd to state his case to battle Goliath.  David knew that as a shepherd, he protected the sheep from bears & lions; he ensured that they were always provided for.  So, when he says the lord is my shepherd, he knows from personal experience that God is never going to leave him wanting for anything nor will God leave him unprotected from any destruction aimed his way.  David reminds us that we can trust God to provide & protect us.   Abraham called Him Jehovah Jireh; the Lord who provides, while we call Him the Good Shepherd (John:10 “I am the good shepherd). The good shepherd gave His life for His sheep.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters: The Lord Guides Us Towards Peace.  What David explains here is that God’s presence in our lives produces Peace.  His peace, which surpasses all understanding and adds no sorrow.  His peace calms us in any chaotic situation.  His peace which makes even the most difficult decision, perfectly clear.  The Lord leads us to peace; even when the journey takes us through hardship, hurt and even pain; our destination remains His peace.  David could relate to this, after all his journey to the throne took him through rejection, ridicule, battles, betrayal, failure and fatigue.  Yet, he ultimately ended up where God told him he’d be before the journey began.  Isaiah said in chapter 26 (Isa 26:3) that “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  We can trust God to lead us by His peace.

  3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake: The Lord Restores With Righteousness.  Restoration is a word that means “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.”  Think of an old car that was once, shiny, sparkling and new.  However, over time has been broken down, parts damaged, paint decayed, even the tires flattened.  Just a mere shell of the car that it used to be.  Likewise, God made us in His own image; but our sin has dented, decayed and damaged His righteousness appearing through us.  There is also another definition for this word, “the return of a hereditary monarch to a throne, a head of state to government, or a regime to power.”  Living in this earthly body will erode the Godliness of us all.  Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual in the heavenly places in Christ.  Yet His righteousness restores our position at the right hand of God’s Throne, because we are positioned in Christ Jesus.  2 Cor 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  Henceforth, God has restored us by His righteousness. 

David provides such great perspective on God’s heart for us that we could not possibly take it all in at one meal.  We’ll look at the rest of the chapter next time.  However, we need to remember that God comforts us with His Presence.  He Provides everything we Need; Leads us into Peace; and Restores us to Righteousness.  This allows us to seek first God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness, knowing that everything we need will be provided and the worry we have are eliminated (Matt 6:33-34).

Thank You For Another One

Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.

As I celebrate my birthday today; I do so with much gratitude and thanksgiving. Not just because it is that season but because of just how Good God has been to me. I have been the beneficiary of many revealed blessings that were not deserved and I’m very grateful.

Oh, Give Thanks

PSALM 106:1 Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

This week is Thanksgiving and it is truly my favorite time of year.  One because my birthday is always within a few days of Thanksgiving and Two because this was the time of year when a majority of my family would travel from across the country to celebrate together.  We would have big dinners and experience fun times being able to see family that I did not often have a chance to see.  Now, while Thanksgiving should be a time that we all spend considering the things that we are thankful for.  But let’s be honest, 2020 has kind of put a “wet sock” on everything; the chaos, lives lost, and social justice discrepancies have sucked much of the excitement of the season out of many of us.  We are not allowed to continue our time-honored traditions, without putting others health in jeopardy of a contagious virus.  We have to make a choice, we can look at this time and be disappointed not really being as thankful as we normally are or we can remember these few things:  

  1. Praise the LORD! The Lord desires our praise because we were created to give Him praise. The Bible tells us that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3). That means he lives, abides or just hangs around praise. He looks for opportunities to hang out with those who praise Him. Check this out; where the presence of the Lord there is Liberty (2 Corinth 3:17; in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). The Bible even tells us that in His presence the enemy melts (Isa 19:1). So, if you’re looking for reasons to be thankful this week; here is one. Because we get to Praise God and receive all of the blessings that comes with it!
  2. He is good! God is so very good to each of us. Have you ever had someone be good to you? What a feeling! So, imagine the richest person in the world and the poorest person in the world both being good to you.  I would have to think that both acts of goodness would look gravely different.  We would probably lean towards the richest person’s good being better than the poorest. Well, now imagine the all-powerful; all knowing and ever-present God being good to you. His acts of goodness are so much greater than the others.  That’s who we have being good to us every day. He seeks after us, waiting to find ways to be good to us (Isaiah 30:18). What does the bible say about the word “good?”  According to many verses, good means: to be pleasant, agreeable, excellent, rich, valuable, appropriate, becoming, happy, prosperous, understanding, kind, ethical, benefit, bounty.  God is all these things in our lives. So, if you need another reason to be thankful, use this:  God is Good to Me!!!
  3. His mercy endures forever. We long for God’s Mercy and Grace.  His mercy endures throughout our entire life and beyond. God has been so merciful to us. The many things that I have done wrong, where I failed to live according to His standard; where I have hurt others; both those closest to me and those whom I did not really care about; am I’m sure you could say something similar.  If you like me know the powers of God’s mercy; mercy that allows us to be merciful to others and even more importantly merciful to ourselves. You remember that His mercy covers us completely; our every hurt, every pain, every tear and every heartbreak. God’s mercy endures; meaning that it goes well beyond expectation, it suffers patiently and long; it remains in existence even when we give up. Why does God show us such great mercy?  Because of Love (1 Cor 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails).  If I can give you one more reason to be thankful during this season, God is enduring with you daily and He’s saturating you with Mercy and Grace.

Thanksgiving in a pandemic can be the most depressing one of our lifetimes if we allow it. However, when we remember we’ve been created to Praise; that God is Good to us and that His Mercy endures forever; we can and should be thankful.