My Shepherd

Guest Post by Miss Bailey Graber

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”-Psalms 23:1

I absolutely love this verse because it’s simple. I personally tend to overthink everything, so to have a verse that is short, sweet, and complete is a true treasure. Yet even while it’s only nine words, I still struggle sometimes with remembering it. 

The 23 chapter of psalms starts by declaring who God is and who He needs to be from our side of the relationship–our shepherd. But, life isn’t always perfect, and we don’t always have Him as our one guide. Why do we let that happen, and why is it that we fail to remember a nine worded verse? 

The simple answer would be the devil distracts us with shiny, new worldly items and promises us that they will make us more accepted…but we know that is a colossal lie.

It will always be a struggle to put God first if we allow the devil to distract us with these things. It could be as innocent as a ten-minute TV break, which turns into a thirty-minute break, into a three-episode break, which then turns into a binge-watch. The devil uses unintentional actions towards the Lord to intentionally mess us up. The truth is, it’s a struggle to put God first sometimes because we have to deny our fleshly desires and do the will of the Father. But putting God first doesn’t always have to be a struggle. 

So, start small.  Instead of checking the socials first thing in the morning, read the bible for five minutes. Instead of grooving to that song with some raunchy lyrics and a great beat, listen to some fun worship music. (Maverick City Music is a great one for that). 

Creating a habit of putting God first won’t happen overnight, so be patient with it. If you don’t know what to do to place God in the throne room of your heart, just do the next right thing that has Him involved. 

After the psalmist declares who God is, he orders himself to find every want and need in Christ. 

He points out to us that if God is our shepherd, not only does he guide us, but he provides for our needs. Why should we want anything but the Lord? He created us and cares for us. If we want something more than we want HIm, we should check our hearts to see who’s really on its throne. 

I’ve failed countless times at putting Him first, but the beauty of the gospel is that God is not only patient but forgiving too. He is gracious when helping us out of our troubles and forgives us when we fall short. While we are at the bottom of the ocean, He comes to us to save us. 

I encourage those of you, who like myself, find it difficult to remember the importance of those nine words to take the first step towards putting God first. He’s patient with us, so be honest with Him. If you’re struggling, tell Him so, and in return, He’ll help. Start small, and over time with practice, it will be easier to put God first. 

After all, He is our Shepherd. What more could we want?

Trust & Faith

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Harris

What holds you back? What causes you to hesitate when it comes to abandoning your will and submitting to God’s?

If you are a believer in Christ you may think, “I’ve given my life to Christ and I’m saved”. That is true, but there are two separate parts to being a believer. The first, of course, is receiving redemption and forgiveness for our sins through Christ Jesus. It’s the second part, the on-going sanctification work within us that we often struggle with.

A lot of times we hesitate because we like being comfortable and are afraid the Lord will ask us to do something we don’t want to do. Other times we may not want to give up certain things or sin because we like doing what we want. We end up ignoring those parts of the Bible or the Holy Spirit when He convicts us, trying to show us the Lord’s will. You may have other reasons or fears that hold you back from saying, “Not my will Lord, but Yours be done”.

It comes to a question of trust or faith. Do we really trust God with our future? With our families, our finances, our very lives? The idea that we can control things is an illusion. Also, as a believer, we don’t get to just accept God’s grace and forgiveness but continue to live however we want in the ways of the world without dying to our flesh or submitting to God. The Lord requires our obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

So, whether you’ve been a believer for 3 minutes or 30 years, a teenager, stay at home mom or a CEO, Jesus is still beckoning us: “Take up your cross and follow me.” The question is will you? Let’s determine to start July with a resounding “Yes!”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. ~ Matthew 16:24-25 NIV

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. ~ Colossians 3:1-3 NIV

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

Available

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

I am available.

For a long time I wasn’t. I knew where my heart was, but my physical body and mind were in a different place. I knew where I was called, but I was too preoccupied by EVERYTHING else. I was NOT available.

I’ve always been for serving others. If you love Jesus, you love people. Although this is so true, we must serve Jesus stronger than we serve people. If you’re serving Jesus with all of you, the being a servant for people will come naturally. This reminds me of Paul. When we think of his character and the history he left behind, he walked away from a lot when he became a Christian.

Here’s the thing – we have to be available for the Lord. We have to stop booking our schedules so full that we do not have time to stop and listen to what he has for us. Being “too busy” is not an excuse. It’s a distraction from the enemy.

Let’s be REAL honest – you can even be too busy with church activities that you forget the purpose behind it all.

For real.

One of the last things my sweet Granny shared with me before she went on to be with our Lord was, “Do not be fifty years old just learning how to say no.” It’s okay to tell others no. It’s okay not to do everything.

It’s not about myself, it’s about Christ. That may mean a little bit of suffering. That may mean saying no to a few of your favorite things. If you’re available for the Lord, it’s worth it.

You’ll come to a time in your life where you have to focus on your family and where the Lord is taking you. Your family and friends need you to be available.

Besides, nothing will be done well if you’re being stretched too thin.

Now I ask you. Are you available? Are you able to say yes to the Lord today? What can truly help you be available? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

See the Savior

Guest Post by Mr. Wayne Fridelle

Every time the Word of God is opened, read, studied, taught or preached, we should see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Matter of fact, all of scripture is pointing us to Christ. Remember, “every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” Today, with the Lord’s help, I want us all to be reminded of how important it is to “See the Savior” as we look into His Word. God is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Lord and our King! Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is our Savior — (these truths are remarkable and indisputable).

This morning, as I share verses from Psalm 19, I want you to know that you can “See the Savior” in His creation, in His Word and you can see Him in His grace and forgiveness. These things are shown to us through His Son Jesus.

Psalm 19, points us to salvation, redemption and the grace of God found in Christ Jesus. We see in this Psalm what God has given to man. Let us never forget what Christ has done for us.

1. We should “See the Savior” in creation.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” Psalm 19:1-6 KJV.

You see, the Heavens declare the power and wisdom of God. They also “tell out” His purpose and plan. Creation is a witness of God to man; its majesty and power direct us to Christ. “All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Isn’t the picture of God, that we have in creation, wonderful? Creation shows us the power He has and how awesome it is to “See the Savior” in creation.

2. We should “See the Savior” in His Word.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7-11 KJV.

In these verses, there are seven things that David states about the Word. (Here are 3 of them). David shares with us: 1. The law is perfect. The word is perfect and you are not; therefore, it was given to show us that we are all sinners before God. (Sinners need a Savior). 2. The law is pure. In its purity it will show you the purpose of faith. 3. The law is true. Not only is the Word true, but it shows us truth. Actually, it shows us Jesus, the truth Himself, for He is “full of grace and truth.” The Word is perfect, pure and true showing us that we can “See the Savior” in His Word.

3. We can “See the Savior” by His grace and forgiveness revealed to us in Christ.

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14 KJV.

Let us remember that Jesus Christ only is capable of forgiving sin. He paid the price for our sin with His blood and life. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He is the only one that can cleanse us from our sin, for He is “our strength and redeemer.”

The point: God’s creation, Word, grace and forgiveness show us His glory – His Son, the Savior, Jesus.

“See The SAVIOR.” It’s time, you see who He is and what He has done for you. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

As an assistant pastor, and called preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I often have the opportunity to preach and teach God’s Word. I am so thankful for each opportunity to share Christ, with anyone. Though I am not the greatest writer, I am thankful for this platform and this opportunity as well. Believer, I want you to be reminded of the power and presence of God in your life. These are things that you can be reminded of daily. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you.” God bless, and have an awesome day.

It’s no secret

When you are trudging through a season of heaviness – or maybe even just one solitude situation that is weighing you down – there is a residual affect that can disturb every other aspect of your life.

It makes everything heavy. Just a few descriptors that Webster gives for heavy are:

▪️Difficult to lift or move

▪️Substantial

▪️More than the normal size, weight, or force

▪️Moving slowly or with difficulty

▪️Mentally oppressive

Y’all, that’s a lot to bear on your own. I know. I’ve been there and done that more than once in my almost 40 years.

What if I told you that I have the secret to making it through? It’s really no secret, though. It’s Jesus and a few amazing prayer warriors.

Will it still be hard? Yup.

Will it still be heavy? Yup.

But it won’t be AS heavy. God will literally lift that load up off your shoulders and help you carry it.

Let Him.

And your knee-hitting, verse-calling, hand-raising, Bible-believing besties—they got you.

Let them.

Don’t try trudging through a torrential rainstorm alone.

Call out.

Dial out.

Ball your eyes out.

But don’t do it alone.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

Building

Now, I’m no parenting expert – I’m mean I’m only 17 years into this gig. However, Frank, my sisters, and myself (it takes a village, y’all) have always made a conscious effort to build our girls up.

We don’t talk about weight. We talk about being strong. We don’t talk about how we look in clothes. We talk about being healthy. We don’t talk about following trends. We talk about feeling good.

We compliment. A lot.

We build up. Every single day.

The other day Maggie and I had to unload a huge cooler of crawfish (because if that ain’t Texan) by ourselves because my men weren’t home. Now, please understand the 12 year old girl is freakishly strong – her momma not so much. I said, “Maggie, I’ll try my best but you know I’m a big ol’ wienie.”

And then she said these words:

“Mom, you’re a lot stronger than you think you are.”

Boom. Hallelujah. Amen. Girl Power.

Guess what I did? I lifted that big ol’ crawfish cooler right up out of the car and into the garage – because SHE said I could.

I said all of that to say this:

▪️If we want women that lift each other up – we need to raise them.

▪️If we want women that will be each other’s biggest cheerleaders – we need to shape them.

▪️If we want women that clap for us – we need to clap for them first.

Mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and anyone else – Build. Them. Up.

Build them them so the world can’t tear them down. Build them up so that they, too, will be a builder.

“Kind words are like honey sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

Love

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Harris

Love. When you hear the word it typically brings warm fuzzies, cute and cuddly images of people, family or friends, or special memories with them to our mind. But real love, God’s love, is that and so much more. Love is not just a strong emotional response or even an abstract idea, but a way of life and direct command from the Lord. It is how we are identified as believers in Christ. Love is deliberate, intentional, consistent, resilient and unshakable. Love is the very the character of God.

Loving others the way God commands us to can sometimes be hard because we don’t get to pick and choose who we love. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us, how are we any different? Even the ungodly do that. Love is a decision we make to be obedient to God to extend the same love He gives us to others, whether or not we think they are worthy. The Bible tells us we have to love our enemies, pray for and even bless them. In some situations, it may have to be from a distance but nevertheless, we have to do it. What does that look like on a daily basis? Maybe praying for the guy who cut you off on the way to work. Maybe it’s praying for and blessing the coworker who is rude to you. Maybe showing and sharing God’s love is just being kind to the frazzled mom with three kids in front of you at the grocery store.

There are a million little ways and opportunities each day that we can love other the way God wants us to if we will just stop and ask the Lord to show us how. You will be amazed at how it will change your whole perspective and increase your joy simply by being obedient and loving others the way God tells us to. Remember, His love never fails.

The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8 TPT

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 TPT

However, I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them. For that will reveal your identity as children of your heavenly Father. He is kind to all by bringing the sunrise to warm and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil. What reward do you deserve if you only love the loveable? Don’t even the tax collectors do that? How are you any different from others if you limit your kindness only to your friends? Don’t even the ungodly do that? ~ Matthew 5:44-47 TPT

Emotions

Guest Post by Mrs. Christle Jenkins

Emotions.

God created, God given. But boy can we allow one or more of them to spin out of control at times. God created us in His image and with that He gave us the gift to feel.

We have so many emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, love, compassion, guilt, hatred, and the list goes on and on. God intended for us to use them to respond to situations in our lives.

Our response reflects what is truly in our hearts. Scary huh?? Why?? Because our emotions can often be corrupted by our sin nature. What we choose to think and dwell on can cause our emotional state to be positive or negative.

Honestly, it is easy to have a positive emotional response when things are going great. When God’s will seems so clear and we feel like He has heard all of our prayers, when He has given all that we desire in the moment and we feel so blessed and content.

We have people all around us who love us and celebrate us, and we do the same for them. It makes us feel so good when we have the means to help our family, friends, or even the less fortunate, and to have compassion for someone who is hurting. And oh, how we love when people show us gratitude for what we have done. In these moments it is so easy to walk through the day with our heads held high, our emotions are all in check, and we can easily choose joy. These are all good feelings and God loves for us to experience times like this.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:2-3

BUT… God has also given us emotions that can be difficult to control. Sadness, anger, and guilt are just a few that prove to be more challenging. Yes, they are God given, in that we feel them in so many areas of our lives. We must be careful and most definitely learn to use self-control in our responses.

God wants us to trust Him with every fiber of our being, even when we want to allow our emotions to go haywire. We need to pray and patiently wait for God’s help.

When we feel sadness over a loss of someone we love or we face trials and tribulations, which we will, we must stay strong in our walk with God. When we seek his will and guidance, He will give us comfort and peace.

If our thoughts dwell on our sadness and pain we can fall into traps of anxiety and depression, hindering the good that God wants for us. He wants us to seek Him and experience the peace and comfort that only He can give. When we fully accept God’s help then He will give us the ability to in turn help others. There is no greater reward than to help someone else, even when we are still struggling.

“All praise to God, the Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

Anger can be an emotion that a lot of us may battle daily. I mean the struggle is real!!! There are so many things in one day that can cause us frustration or irritation and that can easily lead to anger. Sometimes it can be the small issues like someone cutting us off in traffic, or we get the wrong food at the drive thru, or even a justified anger when we must stand up for ourselves.

Other times it can be something bigger like someone you love hurting or rejecting you. Either way we must always remember to respond with love and patience. When we choose to respond with anger, we cause more damaging consequences. We may blow up instantly and spew out all our feelings on someone and in turn cause hurt that we never intended. Then, when we calm down, we feel guilt.

When we feel instantly angered, we need to be quiet, go to God in prayer and ask if our anger is justified, and even if it is, ask for help to respond with love. We should never seek revenge or let our anger cause us to act in a hateful manner. We must learn to truly seek God’s will for our response. 100% of the time He will lead us to a loving, forgiving response full of grace and mercy.

“But You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

As I said, acting out on anger can lead to feelings of guilt. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, and we know we have failed to do God’s will we feel guilty. Guilt is not all bad, whether it is a sign that we need to consider what God is trying to tell us. Most of the time it stems from a sin in our lives, and it is His signal to draw us back to Him. But God does not want us to hold on to our guilt. When we do it hinders what God intends for us to be. It causes feelings of inadequacy and makes us feel unworthy.

We place ourselves higher than God when we fail to believe that He will take away all our guilty stains. All we must do is heed the warning, repent of the sin, and turn away from it. Then we should feel grateful that we are back in a place of comfort and peace. Praise God, he makes it so easy for us!!

“But if we confess our sins to Him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

Comfort & Complacency

I was reading the story of Rahab. (She is one of the women highlighted in the book Faithful. This book is beautiful and inspiring. I hope you will read it and listen to the music from the project.)

God shifted my look to Joshua and the people of Israel.  I don’t like to think about their conquest.  It is hard for me to see our holy and loving God sending out an army to annihilate kingdoms and peoples.  But God commanded Joshua to go reclaim Canaan and destroy all of the people living there.  

I have to remember that there are no stories unheard by heaven.  There are no hearts overlooked and truly evil had taken over these cities and peoples. God’s mercy is confirmed in the story of Rahab, whose faith saved her house from destruction in Jericho.  

Back to Joshua…

I love that he was afraid.  One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is found in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  

The words “be strong and courageous” are mentioned three different times in just chapter 1.  God knows Joshua needed to hear it, and we do too.

Sisters, He sent them to battle to reclaim the land He had promised them, and He went first. Rahab tells us that the word was out.  People had heard of Yahweh who had parted the Red Sea and delivered the Isrealites from Egypt and the hearts of the entire city and all of Canaan were “melting with fear.”  

What battle is God preparing you to fight today?  What has evil stolen that He is ready to reclaim?  I am thankful that we are not involved in a physical battle right now.  But I am realizing that I have made comfort and complacency my idols.  

God never promised us comfortable lives.  Faith does not grow out of comfort, and my heart is trembling as I write those words.  I want to desire God more than “success” “happiness” and “security.” Those are all my fake idols.  They are temporary and fleeting, and yet I work so hard to hold on to them.  

God has called us to love Him first and then to love each other.  He has commissioned us to tell the good news.  He says to put on the breastplate of righteousness, take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, and the shoes of peace.  

Our enemy is prowling like a lion.  He wants to steal, kill and destroy. He has stolen relationships around us. He has filled hearts with discontentment, greed, selfishness, lust, pride.  

Sisters – it is time to fight back on our knees. Speak the truth in your conversations with coworkers, friends, children, EVERYONE boldly.  God goes before you.  He is preparing the way, He is working on their hearts.  Be strong and courageous!  Speak the truth with confidence and joy.

The same God who brought down the walls of Jericho wants to take down the spiritual walls in our homes and our cities. Pray them down. Speak them down. Love them down. Worship Him until He brings them down. Blow the trumpets. The battle belongs to the Lord. Stand up – or kneel down and fight it today.

Father, mark our house with the blood of Jesus. Write your name on my heart and the hearts of my husband and children. I declare war on depression and discontentment. I claim your victory over our relationships. Father, draw us close to you so that we can look at your face and know that we have nothing to fear. Use us to further your kingdom, to bring you glory. I am overwhelmed and humbled that you would want someone like me in your presence and in your army. Father, I am your vessel. Fill me and pour me out. In Jesus name, Amen.

Summer Slow Down

That sweet, sweet summer slow down…..

Where ya at girl?

I mean seriously. We are two weeks in, and I feel like my summer theme song thus far has been shake, rattle, and roll.

Anyone else? Just me? 🤪

At times when life feels topsy-turvy and way too curvy this is what I know:

Lean in.

Lean on.

Trust in.

Count on.

Sweet, sweet Jesus.

On the good days, the bad days, and the absolutely crazy days – God is God and He is oh so good.

So if you see a lady standing in the middle of her yard, staring through binoculars, waving a white flag – it’s just me. It’s just me looking for Miss Summer Slow-Down.

She’s coming.

I can feel it.

Jesus has it.

I know it.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28