The Good Shepherd

Guest Post by Mrs. Sarah Guedry

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

John 10:27-28 NIV

It is so interesting to me that Jesus compares us to sheep throughout the Bible. Sheep require care. Left to their own will- they will surely perish. They need the shepherd’s guidance, care and protection.

Occasionally a mother sheep will reject a lamb. The lamb is called a “bummer.” Truly a disappointment. But a good shepherd still sees the lamb’s value. He takes the sheep into his personal care. He holds it close to him. He personally cares for it until the lamb is strong enough to join the herd.

That little lamb never forgets the shepherd’s voice. It is a devoted follower and may even earn an important role as the “bell sheep.” The bell sheep gets to wear a bell that the other sheep will follow. The bell sheep must know the Shepherd and follow him faithfully.

Jesus is still teaching me a simple truth. He has not called me to “be the best I can be.” He never said “strive” “juggle all the plates” “do it all.”

Nope. Not in the Bible – that’s not His voice.

He did say, “Love the lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.” (Matthew 22:37)

When I strive to be all the things I think I should be- I end up a bummer. So many times I’ve fallen to my knees heart heavy in disappointment and so weary. Overwhelmed, frustrated, hurt, lost.

My good shepherd picks me up. He comforts me. He doesn’t say “figure it out.” He says “follow me.” When I fix my eyes on Him He provides everything I need.

Father, thank you for your faithful love and great compassion. We are worse than “bummers.” We were not rejected- but rebellious. Father draw us close to your side. Teach us to love you. Let our hearts desire nothing more than you. Fix our eyes on you and teach us to confidently follow you without fear or worry. You are our good Shepherd and we can fully rely on your care. Let our lives, love, and joy be a beacon- a bell – that will lead others to you.

All of my Hope

🎶 I’m calling on the name
That changes everything, yes
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
God, turn it around
All of my hope
Is in the name
The name of Jesus
Breakthrough will come
Come in the name
The name of Jesus🎶

Whatever struggles or trials you are facing today let me remind you of this sweet, sweet promise – God can turn it around.

Call on His name.
Believe in the power that His name holds.
And whatever you do – don’t give up hope in Him.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” Romans 12.12

Plenty of Room

There really is enough room for everyone of us. That’s why God put us on this big ol’ world in the first place.

Rays of Sunshine Inc helps kiddos in school – as many as we can. However, we could never help every child in need. Thankfully, there are many other non-profits that do what we do.

What about adults though? Once again luckily there are many entities and individuals that help adults and senior citizens – including one of my life mentors who I adore.

If you start to think about all of the hurting people that need help across this planet you can easily become discouraged and overwhelmed.

But if you focus on who God needs you to minister to – and how He is going to help you out along the way – than you’ll be surrounded by His peace.

I keep seeing memes about clapping for other people. Yes, encourage one another for sure. But more importantly – pray for them. Pray for their ministry. Pray for strength.

When you pray for them you are furthering God’s Kingdom.

Let’s. Make. Heaven. Bigger.

I’ve never met anyone with more than two hands, and just two hands cannot do all the ministering that this spinning planet needs. We all need to pitch in. We all need a ministry. And the cool thing is that everyone’s ministry is different; yet, they are all the same.

How far does your own personal world stretch?

Are you reaching who you need to reach?

Are you praying for other brothers and sisters in Christ that are trying to reach people as well?

Let’s commit to God.

Let’s commit to us.

Let’s commit to one another.

It’s go time.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15

God Given Talent

As a young child, I can remember sitting for hours and watching music videos with my grandfather. We’d watch music videos starring all the greats: Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, George Strait, Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker, Shania Twain, and all the rest. My grandfather especially loved to listen to Martina McBride, and he always referenced her “God-given talent.” As a young child, I remember wishing that God had given me the talents he’d so graciously bestowed upon the beautiful Martina McBride. And while my love for music continues to grow well into adulthood, that musical talent I desired so much never fully panned out for me.

A few years ago, I completed a self-assessment for a college course in which I was enrolled. The self-assessment focused on finding and growing each person’s unique strengths. I was shocked to find that some of my strengths were utterly foreign to me, while others were personality traits that I always felt needed to be ‘toned down’ to reach the personal and professional growth I aspired to obtain.

As I reflected on the self-assessment findings, I quickly realized that I’d been so focused on identifying and refining my weaknesses that I’d completely overlooked my strengths. In fact, I’d focused solely on my weaknesses for so long that I’d actually mistaken my strengths for personality defects instead of seeing them as my own God-given talents. 

The bible states that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

But how can we reach our greatest potential when we form to society’s expectation of identifying and overcoming strengths above identifying and growing strengths into talents?

For example, when your child brings home his/her report card, which indicates a 98 in math, 85s in social studies, science, and reading, and a 77 in writing, what do you truly see? In which subject do you then provide the most focus and discussion with your child? At one point, I would have answered that the C in writing now requires the most attention, but the truth is, the A in math is the area to focus. Clearly, math is a strength that needs to be nurtured and developed so that it may become a talent to one day serve God’s work.

This isn’t to say that the child should not still try to improve upon his/her writing abilities, but the main focus should be on the area in which the child is naturally talented. I’ll ask again, how can we reach our greatest potential when we form to society’s expectation of identifying and overcoming strengths above identifying and growing strengths into talents?

Since uncovering this truth, I have shifted my focus and energy to developing my strengths into talents. I still work toward building my capacity upon my areas of weakness, but my true focus is on continuously building my strengths into expert talents. I may not have the voice of Martina McBride, but God has provided me with the strengths I need to do the work that He intends to accomplish through me. 

Today, I challenge you to take a moment and reflect upon the strengths you bring to the world. If you find that it is easier for you to list your weaknesses than your strengths, then it’s time to refocus on discovering the strengths God bestowed upon you. Your potential waits to be unlocked so that you might better serve the Kingdom of God.

He’s Coming

🎶One day His trumpet will sound for His coming

I’m about to get really real because this is real.

That trumpet is gonna sound sooner than later.

Are you ready?

Who have you told?

What have you done to prepare?

This is a beautiful promise from God that you can count on. So when this world gets grim – almost too much to bear – just remember His promise.

He is coming for you.

He is coming for me.

He is coming.

In the meantime, my hope for all of us is that this promise is what we are truly focused on. We’ve got work to do, y’all.

Every. Single. Day.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36

Gather Round

Don’t you just love a good campfire? The sound of the wood crackling. The amazing smell (as long as it doesn’t get in your hair) and the peace that comes with quietly sitting and gazing into the flames.

Over the past three years I have traveled across the country with my family. During that time we have watched as words like “relationships,” “community,” and “gathering” have changed. While much of the country has been shut down, if I’m being honest, not much has changed in our lives. We were already homeschooling our three boys and working from home, but we were also already in the habit of working to create community around us.

And that’s part of the reason we love a good campfire. There is something about circling up your chairs that opens people up and helps them to drop their guards. We’ve seen it time after time. The fire gives people a little mental barrier, like that wall of fire is helping keep them safe. And because they aren’t gazing at a screen their mind is free to wander. So it does. The warm glow almost always leads to conversations that go deeper than the weather. It allows everyone that sits inside its influence to begin to dig into their wants and desires, their hurts and hangups.

You probably remember the command we are given in Hebrews 10:25:

“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near…”

But do you remember the verse before it?

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,”

The gathering is a precursor to the love and good works. The two are tied together.

So today, let me encourage you to press in to your community. Let me encourage you to set up some chairs, gather some wood, stack up some rocks around them, invite some friends (or people you would like to become your friends) and light a fire in a real and a figurative sense. Be intentional about how you can build community where you are, and by so doing, how you can encourage others toward love and good deeds.

Love It

People are always going to talk.

If what they are saying doesn’t align with what God has already said – don’t you dare listen. I would say in one ear and out the other, but the fact of the matter is you don’t need to let it in at all.

God within you needs to be bigger than human words.

God within you needs to be bigger than human opinions.

God within you needs to be bigger.

God’s truth is the only truth you need. Get in His word and soak it in.

Memorize it.

Quote it.

Write it.

Live it.

And if someone says something about you that just doesn’t sit right with your soul – you’re gonna have to pull an Elsa and just let that mess go.

People are always going to pass judgement on you; however, there’s only one true Judge – one true King. And the judgement that He passes is the only judgement that counts.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

My Shepherd

Guest Post by Krissy Melancon

💛 Guest Post by Mrs. Krissy Melancon

Is your mind troubled today with worries? Are you experiencing anxieties that you may not be sure how to handle? Do you find yourself feeling as though you are beating your head against the wall trying to stop the mental torments that this life on Earth can bring?

I recently read about how sheep can get their heads caught in briers, and then sometimes die trying to get themselves untangled. There are also insects that plague sheep by laying eggs in their nostrils, which then turn into worms.

The sheep are known to beat their heads against the rocks trying to kill the worms that are tormenting them, but in fact they are only causing injury to themselves. To help their sheep, a shepherd will anoint their head with oil, and therefore bring a calm and peace to the distress of the sheep. 

Psalms 23 has been a favorite scripture of man, and it too refers to the shepherd and how he cares for his sheep. It begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and so it places us in the role of the sheep and God in the place of our shepherd.

It states, “He anoints my head with oil,” and now this part of Psalms makes so much more sense to me. The Lord cares about our mental anguish and mental torments, and He is quick to anoint our heads with His spiritual oil bringing peace to our minds. 

Today, do not allow the enemy to torment your mind with worms. Call on the Lord to anoint your head with oil, and pray over your situations.

Look for Him, and you will find Him. I can see him in the wind that is blowing through the trees this morning – in the birds and butterflies that fly around. I see Him in the faces of our children, and the eyes of my husband.

I hear Him in laughter – in the thunder and lightning of the storms. I hear Him in a small still voice, and strongly through the Gifts of the Spirit and ministers when I have needed Him the most.

Most importantly, I feel Him around me, His love, His comfort and His strength. Whatever is meant to come out of the trials of this life we may never understand, but one thing is certain – He will not leave you comfortless or alone.

If you don’t know the God I speak of, please find a way to meet Him.

He is waiting.
He is worth it.
His name is Jesus, and He already loves you.

Pray Psalm 23 today and invite Him to surround all areas of your life. 

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Choose Christ

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

Life is full of choices. Take a moment and think of all the many choices you make daily.

Now that you have thought for a moment, I hope one of your choices each day is to walk with our Lord and Savior. I don’t say that lightly. You choose to do something with the relationship you have with Christ.

As a youth director, I have many students wonder what their purpose may be in this world. What will they do after they graduate, will they get to continue playing the game they love, who will they marry, what type of family they will raise, & yes it goes on and on. How I respond and encourage them is simply reminding them the Lord reveals our purpose to us. That’s simply to live out the great commission we find in Matthew; “Therefore go, making disciples of all nations”. Although that’s demanded, he leaves it up to us to act upon. Does that make sense? You choose to love others as yourself, you choose to be positive, you choose to put on your armor of Christ daily, you choose to share, & to put your full trust in him as your personal Savior.

Your choices matter. It’s time to be reminded of your purpose, and your mission.

Josh Wilson said it best, “I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.”

It’s deep, but we will all stand one day & either be told, “Well done, my good & faithful servant.” (Matthew 25) or “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7) That is why I do not take this lightly, and I hope you don’t either. Choose to be known by your fruit. Choose obedience. It’s not easy, and you definitely will not be perfect. That’s okay. Once you begin to choose his way, his path, you have a new peace and strength to face

this world daily. You realize the importance of choosing the Heavenly Father. You can’t make it without him.

He’s counting on you to go and make disciples. Today, begin doing what you were made to do, and that’s choose Christ.

Just Imagine

Today we are going to cross paths with different people doing different things.

Different hurts.

Different hopes.

Whether we are on a conference call or in the grocery store let’s stay in this frame of mind:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17

Imagine how different our world would be if we did just that.